April 3, 2017
You may have missed it.
With your April Fools Day festivities underway, the breaking news – coming out of Salt Lake City – probably didn’t run across the bottom of the screen while South Carolina/Gonzaga or Oregon/UNC Chapel Hill were fighting to their respective finishes (RIP, South Carolina and Oregon).
The semiannual staging of the Latter Day Saints General Conference happened on Saturday and Sunday, with an estimated 30,000 attending “live” in Temple Square, and innumerable millions more via satellite feeds to Mormon gathering places around the globe.
With all of the headlines over college basketball and Russian hacking, even the major news sources picked up some of the significant take-aways from the messages delivered to the faithful by the higher-ups.
In the Mormon church, their governance structure is well defined. They have a President – currently, Thomas S. Monson – who, with two Counselors, make up the First Presidency. Under that executive committee is the Quorum of the Twelve, who function much like a corporate board of directors. Defined as Apostles, they also are regarded as prophets and – in that office – claim ex cathedra authority (infallibility, by virtue of their position).
In that gathering, Mormons were challenged with the importance of performing ceremonial baptisms – on behalf of their dead ancestors – within the very private confines of their 140 temples, worldwide.
Henry Eyring is one of the Quorum of the Twelve. His inspired perspective about the conduct of the faithful: “They have learned that this work saves not just the dead; it saves all of us. There are now many people who have accepted baptism in the spirit world… This is the work of our generation.”
Methodists regularly play softball against Presbyterians in church league play; neighborhood Bible studies spring up among people whose Sunday lives separate between churches with choirs – meeting in historic buildings – and churches with drums – meeting in school gyms, sitting on folding chairs. Christians have differing secondary doctrines, but a common core: the Eternal God – existing as Father, Son and Holy Spirit – saves lost people through them hearing and embracing the Gospel: “By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time…” (1 Corinthians 15:2-6)
The conditions for receiving God’s grace – and his forgiveness, for eternity – have never changed. The folks who gathered over the weekend in Utah and beyond believe that the dead can be redeemed through vicarious baptism of the living, and the living can be saved through the works prescribed by the LDS church leaders, past and present. Is that message aligned with Scripture?
“Jesus replied, ‘You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God. At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven. But about the resurrection of the dead – have you not read what God said to you, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? He is not the God of the dead but of the living.’” (Matthew 22:29-32)
At the end of the day – at the end of this life – it does matter what you believe…