Elder Oaks was awesome yesterday. A few of my thoughts below:
John 17:3: “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.”
What Christians believed in Joseph’s day and for centuries before was not true: that the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost were an incomprehensible, unknowable mystery. According to Elder Oaks, “We believe that the truth about the nature of God and our relationship to him is knowable and is key to everything else in our doctrine.”
Paul references the three members of the Godhead below:
2 Corinthians 13:14: “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all.”
3 separate and distinct beings in the Godhead:
God the Father: Creator and Ruler of the Universe; Father of our spirits; Author of Plan of Salvation
God the Son: First Begotten in the Spirit and the only Begotten in the Flesh; Redeemer and Mediator; He saved us from death by Resurrection and from sin by the Atonement; Jehovah, the Lord God of Israel speaks to and through prophets; God of the whole Earth
God the Testator or Witness: Holy Ghost; Comforter; Personage of Spirit; Agent of Personal Revelation; Mission is to testify of the Father and the Son; Guides into all truth
So what, you ask?!
Please contemplate what Joseph restored. With these truths restored and a clear plan of salvation we have the ultimate road map. We know who we are, who we can become, we know who makes it all possible, and we know whom and why we worship.
Some believe that Jesus’ resurrection was not literal. Some even believe Jesus never lived.
Truth comes to us in 2 forms: from faith (trust based in experience, in this case spiritual) and reason. Virtually all New Testament scholars — both religious and atheist — are as sure of Jesus’ life as they are that Alexander the Great lived. So, when someone says Jesus is a legendary figure, such as Robin Hood or Sir Lancelot you now know better.
So, not only did Jesus live, but he also rose from the dead. I found this video by Gary Habermas (wonderfully tough Evangelical Christian) to be awesome. Gary shows that by accepting only parts of the New Testaments that even the skeptical scholars trust as historical, one can still demonstrate that Jesus rose the 3rd day. In addition, one can be sure that the New Testament (despite what some critics say) is trustworthy and authoritative.
You may want to watch this video a few times. I had to do so to fully understand what Gary was talking about.
So, what does this have to do with the LDS Church? Well, if we don’t have a resurrected Jesus of Nazareth, we don’t need a Joseph Smith to restore His Gospel after an apostasy. You probably already believe this event. I simply don’t think it hurts to understand more scholarship to reinforce your beliefs! After all, more and more folks neither believe in a literal Jesus nor a bodily resurrection.
We have a restored testimony of Jesus Christ, his true nature, and purposes.
Let us share this message with great humility. As Elder Oaks says,
“Sometimes we do this in a way that gives great offense to people who belong to other churches or who subscribe to other philosophies. But God has not taught us anything that should cause us to feel superior to other people.
Certainly all churches and philosophies have elements of truth in them, some more than others. Certainly God loves all of His children. And certainly His gospel plan is for all of His children, all according to His own timetable.”
We believe the priesthood and associated keys were restored to Joseph Smith. However, unique truths and perspectives are found in every faith and people on earth. No one organization has a monopoly on goodness or truth.