18 Comments

  1. I also really enjoyed Elder Holland’s testimony, it was great! It really is the keystone of our religion.

    I also likes his explanation that those entering apostasy must go over, under, or around the Book of Mormon. I have found this to be true.

    -David

  2. Yeah, what an amazing talk! It seemed to me that he was somewhat offended that people would suggest that Joseph Smith, and himself and the other brethren, would devote their lives to something that was a farce.

    In researching a post I’m working on at my site, I found this quote from Elder Holland that seems to be his directive to all of us, to take the same stance that he proclaimed in his conference talk yesterday:

    “I feel about this as C. S. Lewis once said about the divinity of Christ: “I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: [that is,] ‘I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God.’ That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic—on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg—or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronising nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to” (Mere Christianity, New York: Macmillan Publishing Co., 1952, pp. 40–41).

    “I am suggesting that we make exactly that same kind of do-or-die, bold assertion about the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ and the divine origins of the Book of Mormon. We have to. Reason and rightness require it. Accept Joseph Smith as a prophet and the book as the miraculously revealed and revered word of the Lord it is, or else consign both man and book to Hades for the devastating deception of it all, but let’s not have any bizarre middle ground about the wonderful contours of a young boy’s imagination or his remarkable facility for turning a literary phrase. That is an unacceptable position to take—morally, literarily, historically, or theologically.” Jeffrey R. Holland (“True or False”, New Era, June 1995.)

  3. F Ferkin

    His example of Smith brothers reading from the Book of Mormon in Carthage made such a clear point, including his display of the very Book of Mormon they had. It was a powerful argument.

    It is so true that the Book of Mormon is a stumbling block. It is a physical thing. It may be difficult to “see” faith or forgiveness or truth, but you can hold the Book of Mormon in your hand and how it came about in a way demands an answer. You do have to climb over it to get out of the church.

  4. What is interesting is reading the response from critics and the misunderstandings they have regarding Elder Holland’s talk. People are asserting that he was trying to use a “silver bullet” (which he wasn’t. He said it was one of 1000 evidences for his testimony. He actually alluded to other evidences such as the BoM witnesses and the “literary and Semitic complexities.”), that dying for one’s belief doesn’t make it true (missing the significance that these were both witnesses to the plates, one being the founder and translator of them), and that we failed to prove the BoM with archeological evidence (which wasn’t even the point). I find it odd when such individuals start claiming “logical fallacies” on Holland’s part.

  5. Dan

    I haven’t heard such a powerful testimony from one of the Apostles in a long time. This was amazing! This really helped to re-anchor me in a sense and I am sure it will do that for many others!

  6. In my memory, the last apostle who was so passionate was Elder LeGrande Richards.

    My thought while hearing Elder Holland’s talk was “Preach it, Brother!”

  7. rp

    I loved Elder Holland’s talk, and C.S. Lewis just may be my all-time favorite writer, but I think the all-or-nothing “Lord, Liar, or Lunatic” idea is a logical fallacy of false dilemma.

  8. rp: Joseph Smith, as a human, could have been fallible, mistaken, or operating under limited understanding. But he was still a prophet as much as Abraham, Moses, Isaiah, etc. The men who recorded, transmitted, and translated the words of Jesus’ mortal ministry were also subject to human limitations. But they were also prophets and apostles.

    The “Lord, Liar, or Lunatic” (which comes from CS Lewis, no?) seems to me to be an exhaustive logical description of the figure known in the Bible as Jesus of Nazareth.

    Joseph Smith may not have understood all the ways in which the Lord was using him. But we (his contemporaries and us) have even less understanding of how the Lord used Joseph.

    To state that the Book of Mormon might be a “pious fraud” would require that either Joseph Smith lied about the book’s provenance, or else that God sent an angel who lied to Joseph.

    There may be room to “nuance” some of Joseph Smith’s (and Brigham Young’s, and etc.) teachings, because the church has received further light and knowledge since then. The Journal of Discourses contains plenty of stuff that is “not official” or “no longer operative” or “operative but not promulgated” or “operative but not binding” or “ummmm, that person was just plain mistaken.”

    But other than the shortcomings that are inherent in human communication (ie, the transcription, transmittal and translation of His sayings), there’s extremely little, if any, room to “nuance” Jesus of Nazareth who died on the cross. CS Lewis was right, the Jesus of the New Testament was either the Son of God, a liar, or extremely delusional., or a combination of liarn/delusional. And if He wasn’t the Son of God, then His contemporaneous followers who claimed intimate knowledge of His divinity were also liars and/or delusional.

    The scriptures are replete with things like “the wisdom of the wise shall perish” “truth hidden from the prudent”, “truth revealed to the simple”, etc.

    People who consider themselves smart and intellectual can over-analyze things to the degree that they miss the point. I think that’s one way how “smart people” have watered down the pure truths of the Bible, and come up with the wishy-washy pablum that makes up most of modern mainstream Protestantism.

    Please, please, please don’t try watering down the simple truths of the restored gospel. Please, please, please don’t try to “protestantize” Mormonism. There is no “new way” or “middle way” to what Joseph Smith brought forth under the guidance of God.

    I saw within Elder Holland’s talk somewhat of a “smackdown” on the “middle way Mormonism” that seems to be fashionable among the self-proclaimed intellectuals in the bloggernacle.

  9. Great thoughts, Bookslinger.

    I too believe that some members, particularly those in the “Bloggernacle,” seem to want to water down Mormonism. Just yesterday I told a friend:

    I often hear “if only we didn’t have to believe the Book of Mormon is literally true, if only the temple didn’t have all these weird ‘Masonic’ ceremonies, if only the prophet wasn’t the very mouthpiece of God on the earth, if only we didn’t have to live these strict commandments all the time, if only the Church authorities would just allow lesbian and gay couples to marry, if only the Church wasn’t so patriarchal, if only the Church authorities would change this that or the other, etc., etc., etc., THEN I might be able to fully believe and be a good member of the Church.”

    What would we be left with if these members got their wish? Absolutely nothing. It is an excuse for failing to seek faith.

  10. Bruce Gilbert

    It was an honor to say “AMEN” at the conclusion of such a powerful testimony. Because of some of the global commentary that has followed I am reminded of a quote attributed to President Harold B. Lee: “Man always puts a question mark where God intended a period.”

  11. dee

    My husband and I heartily concur. That was a strong, no-holds barred, testimony. There is no time to be lukewarm. We must be as the Lord would have us be, or He will spew us out of His mouth. Grateful to be on the path.

  12. Emmalee

    I have met with Elder Holland in the past and since then am always so excited to hear him speak to us. I loved his address to us and have since used it as an example to bear my own testimony of The Book of Mormon. Elder Holland has become someone I respect and just know will have a message that the world let alone the members of the church need to hear, (or at very least I need to hear). I hope we can all follow the example of Elder Holland and Boldly declare what it is we believe!

  13. Ethan

    Indeed. This talk was a bookend to the talk he gave last Fall about why God still speaks to man. Both had the same urgent tone, utterly defiant to any critics who scoff at the notion of a closed canon. It seems Holland is making a statement to those who ridicule what in reality is quite glorious.

  14. Ian

    I agree whole-heartedly with the comments made above. I was very struck by the words of Elder Holland. I had to watch it again, the spirit and power that he preached with are undeniable. I think this talk will be one that we refer to for generations…AMEN Elder Holland, and thank you for your bold, firm and powerful testimony of the Book of Mormon.

  15. sean

    Oh my word! I love this talk! Elder Holland has such a staunch testimony of the Book of Mormon, Jesus Christ, and the prophet Joseph Smith. I always look forward to his talks, because the second I see his face on the screen, I know to buckle up, because I’m about to get blasted in the face by something awesome!

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