Some Notes on Elder Holland’s Conference Talk

My Easter-season message today is intended for all, but is directed in a special way to those who are alone or feel alone or, worse, yet, feel abandoned. These might include those longing to be married, those who have lost a spouse, and those who have lost–or have never been blessed with–children.

Elder Holland deserves major props here on two counts–first, for actually speaking about Jesus at Easter time, and second, for directing his thoughts specifically to those who often feel left out of the counsel given during conference. He is going to talk about the solitary journey Jesus himself would have to walk during the final week of his mortality as he effected the Atonement.

Note that he alludes to the Triumphal Entry “on the Sunday preceding Passover, a day directly analogous to this very morning,” i.e., Palm Sunday. Near the end he describes the rest of Holy Week: “Passover Thursday with its Paschal Lamb, atoning Friday with its cross, Resurrection Sunday with its empty tomb.” This kind of explicit acknowledgment of Holy Week during spring conference is as rare as it is welcome. I was also happy to see that Elder Holland did not denigrate the role of the cross and overemphasize Gethsemane (a common Mormon overreaction).

Elder Holland describes the arraignment and the trial culminating in the examination by Pontius Pilate. He points out that Pilate “scourged Jesus, [and] delivered him to be crucified.” This scourging was actually a preparatory part of the crucifixion process itself, called the verberatio. I liked how Elder Holland alluded obliquely to Pilate’s “freshly washed hands,” trusting that his audience would be sufficiently familiar with the scriptural account to grasp the allusion.

Elder Holland next describes the meaning of the name Barabbas, “son of the father.” Bar is Aramaic for “son of,” and abbas is the Aramaic word for “father” with the final -s representing a Greek masculine noun ending. I appreciate that in the course of this word play he does not get tripped up by the common, but wrong, notion that Aramaic abba is a dimunitive form meaning “daddy.”

As he discusses Judas, Elder Holland makes a very subtle allusion to the perspective of the Gospel of Judas, that what Judas did was a necessary thing, and concludes that it is for Jesus to judge his betrayer, not us.

In discussing Peter’s denial of Christ, Elder Holland observes:

We don’t know all that was going on here nor do we know of protective counsel which the Savior may have given to His apostles privately….

There has been a fair amount of discussion on the net as to what Elder Holland meant by this. I’ll try to explain.

A long time ago, Spencer W. Kimball read an Easter editorial written by a minister in a newspaper that was very negative towards Peter–he fell because of self-confidence, indecision, evil companions, failure to pray, lack of humility, and fear of man. Then he concluded:

Let us as people, especially those who are Christians and claim to abide by the Word of God, not make the same mistakes and fall as Peter fell.

Elder Kimball was quite upset with this and his blood began to boil within him. In rebuttal, he gave an address at BYU in 1971 entitled “Peter, My Brother,” which was meant to help us view Peter more sympathetically.

When I heard Elder Holland’s comment, I assumed that he was alluding to this speech, and indeed the written version footnotes this address. But I reread Elder Kimball’s talk, and he does not come out and explicity suggest that Jesus directed Peter to deny him. Rather, the talk is more a series of James Faulconerian or Julie Smithian thought questions to help us better appreciate his motivations and thought processes. It’s really a fine address.

Elder Holland himself once wrote an essay, “The Lengthening Shadow of Peter,” which keys off of Elder Kimball’s address. But neither does he suggest that Christ ordered Peter to deny him; he follows the traditional reading of the passage.

The actual idea that Jesus directed Peter to deny him seems to have been an elaboration of Elder Kimball’s talk by a number of BYU faculty. See in particular Andrew Skinner’s “Peter’s Denial,” which quotes also from something written by John Hall (one of my mentors when I was at the Y).

The basic idea is that Jesus is represented as telling Peter he will deny him using a Greek verb in the second person singular indicative future. While that can certainly be read as a prediction, it is also possible to read it as having imperative force (this is called a jussive future). The idea is that it would have been out of character for Peter not to rashly put himself in danger by claiming to know Jesus, but Jesus needed to do this–alone–and he needed Peter to be preserved to lead his Church. When Peter afterwords wept bitterly, he was weeping because he had not been allowed by the Savior to protect him.

It’s an interesting theory, and the pieces all fit together ok, but I personally don’t buy it. I think the motive in crafting it is to defend Peter in a way that doesn’t require defending. The original minister’s editorial was shameful and Elder Kimball was right to react strongly to it, but that doesn’t mean we should overreact in the opposite direction and ruin the scrptural story and deny Peter his humanity.

In any event, I was impressed with the way that Elder Holland handled this. He acknowledged the possibility without committing himself either way.

I was struck by Elder Holland’s acknowledgment that Jesus may not have been fully prepared emotionally and spiritually for the experience of being temporarily completely forsaken, even by the Father himself. I think he’s right, but we do not often hear this kind of frank acknowledgment over a conference pulpit.

When he talks about the atonement, he dips his ladel into a pot of atonement stew, using language from the substitution, empathy and satisfaction theories of the atonement. I say this merely as an observation, not a criticism, since we really don’t have other vocabulary and imagery to talk about that which our finite minds cannot fully grasp.

Near the end, where he tells us that “because Jesus walked such a long, lonely path utterly alone we do not have to do so,” he makes a metaphorical allusion to the Via Dolorosa. This is Latin for “the way of suffering,” and refers to the path Jesus followed to Golgotha outside the City walls where he would be crucified. I cannot recall anyone ever using Via Dolorosa in such a way over a Mormon pulpit, which made the image all the more powerful.

Elder Holland seems to have carved out a bit of a niche in recent conferences, of giiving us addresses with strong doctrinal substance. He seems to have a real talent for doing so, and I think the Saints need some of this at conference time. My congratulations to Elder Holland for offering such a fine talk, and I would encourage our readers to study it carefully when it becomes widely available in written form.

Bookmark Some Notes on Elder Holland's Conference Talk

Comments

  1. Thank you Kevin, for this wonderful analysis. I was strongly impressed listening on Sunday, and now look forward to reading and studying it as well.

  2. Julie M. Smith says:

    I thought it was a phenomenal talk and I appreciate your write-up.

    Does anyone here know Aramaic? I’m wondering how its verbs work and if that would shed any light on what Jesus may have told Peter.

  3. Didn’t Talmage write in Jesus the Christ about Peter being commanded by Christ to deny Him? I don’t know if that preceded President Kimball’s talk, but that’s where I first encountered that theory.

  4. Kevin, thanks for your analysis. This was one of several talks that I felt had great impact for me, and I also noted that it was unusual for a typical GC talk. I especially appreciated the Passover Week/Easter framing that Elder Holland used, which is so often missing in our services this time of year. A remarkable talk, and a great review.

  5. I especially liked that Elder Holland began with saying “It is my belief…”

    I think his views are greatly strengthened by stating them as a personal belief that has found value and strength in, instead of stating them with a McConkie-esque tone of absolute doctrinal authority and truth.

    One thing that I had hoped he would have done in his talk (as he has elsewhere – though I don’t have time to find it), would be to point out that for some reason God may, like he did with Christ, withdraw his presence from us – even (and especially) while we are living righteously. That like Christ we may also cry out in bewilderment, “Why has thou forsaken me?”

  6. This is wonderful, Kevin. Thank you.

    I have really appreciated the last few years of Conference, where each time there has been at least one talk that has dealt with something of doctrinal substance. I have loved that each year, and this talk was right up there with Elder Uchtdorf’s “Faith of Our Fathers” for me.

  7. It was a wonderful sermon and this is a great write-up. Thanks to both Elder Holland and Kev.

  8. I’ve done several years of Aramaic, but I’ve never looked at any of the NT Aramaic work. The relevant grammatical parts would be identical to Hebrew, though. One can use the command form, but sometimes imperfects also have the perlocutionary force of a command. Imperfects are also used for the “future”, so my guess would be that the Aramaic would be more ambiguous than the Greek.

    The Salkinson-Ginsburg Hebrew NT retrojection has imperfects here.

    While formally ambiguous, I think the prior phrase, “before the rooster crows” argues against this reading.

    I’ve never seen anyone but LDS suggest this idea about Peter.

    FWIW

  9. Kevin Barney says:

    Julie, in a lot of languages there is an inherent ambiguity as to whether a future tense has indicative or imperative force. In the movie White Christmas, when General Waverly says “Neckties will be worn in this area!”, he’s not predicting the future, he’s giving an order.

    I seem to recall Nibley trying to take advantage of this ambiguity in the other direction once, by arguing that the command not to partake of the fruit of the tree of knowledge wasn’t really a command at all, but simply a statement. (I didn’t buy his argument in that particular case.)

    I think the way to read such a verb is going to depend on the context, which is what people are really arguing over.

  10. Julie M. Smith says:

    Thanks for the info.

    “While formally ambiguous, I think the prior phrase, “before the rooster crows” argues against this reading. ”

    Can you explain what you mean by this–I don’t follow you.

  11. Kevin Barney says:

    For the jussive future in Smyth’s Greek Grammar, see Sec. 1112, p. 282

    http://books.google.com/books?id=DiQBAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA282&lpg=PA282&dq=greek+%22jussive+future%22&source=bl&ots=rX7CQf95S-&sig=RjeMR2kPwWQqbsKjvij99c-dZ-4&hl=en&ei=PonbSfPmIpCqMtX2_cwI&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=3

    For a discussion of the jussive future in the LXX and NT as a translation of the Hebrew imperfect, see this quotation from a LXX grammar from the b-greek list:

    http://lists.ibiblio.org/pipermail/b-greek/2005-November/036451.html

  12. Steve Evans says:

    Kevin, what do you make of Holland’s statement “that the supreme sacrifice of His Son might be as complete as it was solitary, the Father briefly withdrew from Jesus the comfort of His spirit [lowercase], the support of His personal presence” ?

  13. Kevin Barney says:

    For other examples of the use of the jussive future in the Bible, see p. 37 here:

    http://www.calvinseminary.edu/degrees/greekGrammar.pdf

  14. Piece of irrelevant trivia: The actor who played General Waverly later became a Mormon.

    Oh, and I remember my seminary teacher playing a song (by Wanda Lindstrom?) wherein Jesus tells Peter that he will have to deny Him in order to save himself.

  15. Kevin Barney says:

    I don’t know, Steve. When we start talking about what was necessary for the atonement, since I don’t feel I really have a handle on the mechanics of the atonement, I’m not sure how to react to an assertion such as that.

  16. Kevin Barney says:

    JimD, I didn’t know General Waverly later became a Mormon! Very cool. I see that movie every year as a part of the holiday show at the Music Box theater in Chicago, which is why I can recall the dialogue.

  17. I, too, appreciate this write-up to a wonderful and powerful talk by Elder Holland. In my opinion, that talk is as close as you’ll get to an “instant classic” in General Conference.

  18. Kevin Barney says:

    BTW, the impulse to reseolve what is perceived to be a scriptural problem by positing that the character was commanded by God to do such and so has precedent. The Book of Moses has a midrashic explanation for Abraham being less than forthcoming about Sarah being his wife–he was commanded to do so by God for his own protection. The Genesis Apocryphon follows the same midrashic strategy.

  19. Rameumptom says:

    Thanks, Kevin. I agree that Elder Holland has definitely been a teacher of doctrine. I think that of all the talks this Conference, perhaps Elder Cook’s was as targeted to teaching real and complete doctrine.

    As with you, I noted Elder Holland’s depth of doctrine, and the powerful language he used to describe it. I’ve heard other talks in the past in Conference that attempted to describe Jesus’ life and/or atonement, and few have hit the target so well. This is the difference between a nice Sacrament talk, and the kind of teaching that reverberates within you for a long time.

  20. Thanks, Kevin. Elder Holland is one who especially moves me, and this provides much more background than I would ever have known about. Peter is one of my favorites. I can really identify with the way he loves the Savior with his whole body and soul, yet is sometimes misdirected or stumbling in showing that love. Despite that, Peter obviously accomplished a great deal and was a great servant of the Lord; I can only hope to be the same eventually.

  21. I loved this talk this weekend and it especially being about Easter, and I loved this write up. Thanks Kevin!

  22. Benjamin O says:

    I was probably struck by this talk most powerfully. One thing that stood out for me was how the LDS doctrine of the God-head enables a view that I think is probably unique among followers of Christ–that Christ was utterly alone on the cross, bereft of any support, including that of His Father’s. For Elder Holland to make some of the declarations he did across the pulpit is powerful to me.

    There are few men among the twelve currently that I would be truly excited to see become the next President of the Church, but I sincerely hope he wears that mantle for a while.

  23. Steve writes: “what do you make of Holland’s statement ‘that the supreme sacrifice of His Son might be as complete as it was solitary, the Father briefly withdrew from Jesus the comfort of His spirit [lowercase], the support of His personal presence’?”

    Perhaps some of what’s involved here is related to the passage where Paul speaks of how God made Christ to be sin for us. I take this to mean that for the atonement to be complete, Christ has to know what it is to be forsaken by God and to die in one’s sins. I think such an idea fits nicely into both a vicarious sacrifice model of the atonement (he dies guilty in our place) and the compassion model (he has suffered what we suffer and therefore knows how to succor us).

  24. Thanks, Kevin.

  25. Yeah, not a very well written comment on my part.

    Formally ambiguous- There’s no way to distinguish between a imperfect-indicating-futurity and a future-with-imperative/command-force in Hebrew based simply on the form.

    But if Jesus is giving a command, it seems odd to specify the time it must be done by, i.e. “before the cock crows.” In my experience, roosters don’t just crow at daybreak, so he’s not saying “before the night is over.” It reads much more naturally as a prediction. The fact that Peter forgets about this, and only remembers (Matt 26:75) when the rooster crows immediately (eutheo:s) upon his third denial strongly suggests that he wasn’t consciously carrying out an understood command, but unwittingly fulfilling this prediction.

    BTW, President Hinckley had some good commentary upon this passage.

    “What pathos there is in those words! Peter, affirming his loyalty, his determination, his resolution, said that he would never deny. But the fear of men came upon him and the weakness of his flesh overtook him, and under the pressure of accusation, his resolution crumbled. Then, recognizing his wrong and weakness, “he went out, and wept.”

    As I have read this account my heart goes out to Peter. So many of us are so much like him. We pledge our loyalty; we affirm our determination to be of good courage; we declare, sometimes even publicly, that come what may we will do the right thing, that we will stand for the right cause, that we will be true to ourselves and to others.

    Then the pressures begin to build. Sometimes these are social pressures. Sometimes they are personal appetites. Sometimes they are false ambitions. There is a weakening of the will. There is a softening of discipline. There is capitulation. And then there is remorse, self-accusation, and bitter tears of regret.

    One of the great tragedies we witness almost daily is the tragedy of men of high aim and low achievement. Their motives are noble. Their proclaimed ambition is praiseworthy. Their capacity is great. But their discipline is weak. They succumb to indolence. Appetite robs them of will.” -Link

  26. Rameumptom says:

    Steve Evans wrote: Kevin, what do you make of Holland’s statement “that the supreme sacrifice of His Son might be as complete as it was solitary, the Father briefly withdrew from Jesus the comfort of His spirit [lowercase], the support of His personal presence” ?

    As Elder Holland discussed something Pres Kimball once taught about Peter, I think this is Elder Holland’s thoughts on Elder Matthew Cowley’s teaching that God the Father ran off to the very edge of the universe to hide himself from the pain of His Only Begotten dying.

  27. nasamomdele says:

    Steve Evans #12,

    I thought Elder Holland also spoke of the Savior suffering spiritual death in some way- perhaps that is the connection he is making. I’ll have to go back and listen again.

    Kevin,

    Thanks for this. I was very impressed by this talk in many of the ways that you express: the context of Easter, the references to the Holy Week, the doctrinal focus.

    Not just that, it was a powerful testimony and a stirring story-telling of the last week of the Savior’s life. One thing that impresses me most about Elder Holland is that he takes a scriptural account, tells the story in its appropriate context (no over-Mormonizing), relates the doctrine, and fixes his testimony to it without overbearing the rest of the talk.

    This talk came on as my kids were getting a little rowdy and a few minutes in I knew we had something special that I would want to replay.

    My all-time favorite Holland is “The Inconvenient Messiah” which is a similar format as this talk-using the story of Christ’s fast in the wilderness and three temptations by the devil as the context.

  28. Gilgamesh says:

    I believe the significance of the Father withdrawing His presence is found in Christ’s humanity.

    I have a friend that is a pastor of a Baptist church. One comment he makes often to his parishoners, when they compare their suffering to Christ’s, is that Christ cheated. He was God, so he knew the outcome and really didn’t suffer. This is different with us LDS. God needed to withdraw his presence to make sure Christ could not cheat. He had to be fully human in his death and suffering. That way he would fully identify with us, his brothers and sisters, and the physical, emotional and spiritual suffering we go through in our lives.

    To have a reminder of his divinity would have been a cheat – “Oh yeah – I am God already – so what is the big deal.” Instead we have a Chirst that is hurting, suffering, emotionally bereft, forsaken and alone – that is the human condition and that is what Christ experienced.

  29. Gilgamesh, the problem with that is that Christ is Christ not because of an inability to cheat, but because He is the one person who would not cheat. To hurt, suffer, and be alone, while knowing His true nature, is the paradox of Christ.

  30. jeff Spector says:

    Thanks to Kevin. this was clearly my favorite talk from Conference, which was one of the best I’ve attended. They are all great, but this one in particular was just excellent.

  31. Kevin,

    A wonderful post, thank you for sharing it with us.

    One quibble, though, with your statement , “I was also happy to see that Elder Holland did not denigrate the role of the cross and overemphasize Gethsemane (a common Mormon overreaction).”

    In all of my years in the Church, I don’t think I have ever heard anyone teach that Gethsemane was more important than Golgotha. I particularly enjoyed a discussion on the Mormon Aplogetics board on the subject: http://www.mormonapologetics.org/index.php?showtopic=34255.

  32. Really, Brian? I’ve heard it.

  33. My daughter’s Primary teacher taught her that “the crucifixion was ‘a piece of cake’ compared to the atonement.” So not only did she offer a skewed comparison, she excluded the crucifixion from the atonement altogether.

    Ask a random sample of LDS where the atonement took place, and my bet is that the majority will say “the garden of Gethsemane.”

  34. Morgan Lee says:

    #32 and 33. That’s right. I’m a non-member who picked up a copy of Coke Newell’s Latter Days (an informative book, but one for which I have a few criticisms) a few years ago, and he explicitly argued that the atonement happened in Gethsemane, and added that the cross was “just history”. I have, ever since, understood his assertion to be official LDS doctrine. Have I misunderstood?

  35. Gilgamesh, I believe Christ was fully aware of his divinity as he suffered, and that rather than constituting a cheat of some kind, this awareness worked against him in a profound way: he knew he could’ve ended his own suffering at any time. He didn’t merely submit to pain, he enabled it. The circuit could remain open only through his own unflagging will.

  36. It is interesting . . . the discussion on Peter. I didn’t realize this slant on Peter by LDS.

    It was this past Sunday that I felt led by the Spirit to begin work on this message for upcoming Easter morning:

    “What would Peter say on this day?”

    (p.s. – maybe I will send the CD to Elder Holland.)

  37. Morgan, the Book of Mormon describes the crucifixion as an essential part of the atonement. I’d be happy to provide references if you’re interested.

    imo, “just history” is nothing short of blasphemy.

  38. Steve Evans says:

    Kathy, totally agree. The cross is not just history, not by a long shot – even those who accentuate Gethsemane don’t write off the cross.

  39. The distinction I was taught in some BYU religion classes and at the Language Training Mission (35 years ago) was that Gethsemane was the portion of the Atonement that made possible the forgiveness of sin and Calvary the resurrection from the dead. I have heard similar references many times in gospel doctrine and priesthood meeting since then.

  40. I’ve never heard any “just history” dismissal of the crucifixion. Rather, in my experience, teachers present the events in Gethsemane as chiefly Christ’s triumph over spiritual death, and his suffering and death on the cross as part of his triumph over physical death. Regardless of whether that’s too simplistic or too sharp a division between events, the crucifixion is still taught as an essential part of Christ’s atoning sacrifice, and I’m sure I’ve *never* heard a lesson or talk that trivialized it in any way.

    The sacrament prayers talk about his flesh and blood — i.e., his death on the cross. Our sacrament hymns have had a profound effect in shaping most members’ views of both Gethsemane and Golgotha, given how frequently we sing them — His death on the cross is very much a feature of weekly congregational focus, at least as much (probably more) than Gethsemane.

  41. Encyclopedia of Mormonism also emphasizes Gethsemane as the place where Jesus took on Himself the sins of the world. http://eom.byu.edu/index.php/Gethsemane

  42. David, I’ve heard the same distinction many a time. Too bad it’s not true.

  43. I agree that you’ll be hard pressed to ever hear at an LDS service that the cross is “just history.” And our Scriptures certainly do not agree with that notion. The problem is that there have been plently of talks and lessons given that equate Christ’s great atonement as having happened in Gethsemane, and not the cross. In that sense, Kevin Barney’s comment about it being a “common Mormon overreaction” to “denigrate the role of the cross and overemphasize Gethsemane” was, in my opinion, a good way to describe the situation.

  44. Naturally, the Lord’s passion began in Gethsamane, but it reached its climax on Golgatha.

  45. Kathryn,

    FWIW, I do not agree with the distinction between Gethsemane and Calvary either. I think it is fair to say, though, that the distinction is commonly understood and accepted among many leaders and believing members.

  46. President Hinckley and the current missionary teaching book both talk about the Crucifixion as part of the Atonement.

  47. Brigham Young made an extensive and interesting statement about the Father withdrawing his presence when Jesus was upon the cross and its application to us in a talk given on February 1, 1857, printed in the Journal of Discourses 4:199 (available at http://patriot.lib.byu.edu/u?/JournalOfDiscourses3,560)

    How can I prove myself the friend of God, who has placed all this glory within my reach, unless His influences are withdrawn from me, to see whether or not I will be His friend? At the time when you receive the greatest blessings by the manifestations of the power and Spirit of God, immediately the Lord may leave you to yourselves, that you may prove yourselves worthy of this exaltation. Multitudes, on the right hand and on the left, when this Spirit and power are withdrawn from them, sink into unbelief, and do not know whether there is a God, or not. Ask them, “What did you realize and experience yesterday?” The reply is, “I do not know anything about it. I can see this house, I can see the sun, I can see men and women, but I can say no more.” “Do you believe what you believed yesterday?” “I do not know.”

    Can a man be exalted upon any other principle? When men are left to themselves, it is then they manifest their integrity, by saying and feeling, “I am the friend of God.” Do all people realize that? If they did, let me tell you, they would cling fast to their integrity. When the mind of a righteous man is beclouded by darkness, when he does not know the first thing about the religion he believes in, it is because the veil is dropped so that he may act on the organization of his own individual person, which is calculated to be as independent as the Gods, in the end. When you are fully aware of this, then you are ready to lay down your lives for the cause of God and for His people, if you act on your own integrity and philosophy.

    One of the greatest trials that ever came on the Son of God when he was in the flesh, upon that man whom we hold as our Savior, was when the mob had him in their possession. They spit on him, scourged him, mocked him, and made a wreath of thorns and placed it upon his head (and I will insure that it was so placed on his head as to cause the blood to start), and said to him, “Here is your cross, you poor, worthless scamp, take and carry it on to that hill, for there we are going to nail you to it.” How would you feel in such a time, and at that very hour and moment when this tabernacle suffers, should the Father then withdraw Himself and say, “Now, my son, I will see whether you will prove yourself worthy or not?” Did he walk up the hill? He did, and carried the cross until he fainted under it; then they took it and went on, and he submitted patiently to the will of his Father.

    Will you submit patiently to the will of your Father in the hour of darkness? Will you say that you are the friends of God? O shame! Many of you will not say so, in the hour of darkness. . . .

  48. Gilgamesh says:

    Steve –

    I agree that Christ, as Christ, would not cheat. But I also believe that the Father’s presence would have been a cheat.

    Kathryn said,

    “he knew he could’ve ended his own suffering at any time.”

    I actually don’t believe this. In my opinion, that lessens Christ’s humanity. Personally I believe the only role his Divine nature – inherited from the Father as his literal son – played was to overcome death after his assenscion to Heaven. He needed that genetic makeup to return to life again. I believe the rest of his life was based on his human genetics and human nature. For me that makes his perfection attainable and a realistic example for me to follow. Otherwise, again in my opinion, his Divinity would be a cheat that I do not have and therefore I can not achieve perfection as He and God has commanded.

  49. Great discussion! It seems like Easter week always brings some of the very best discussions in the nacle each year. This and JNS current post certainly fall into that category, at least for me.

  50. Elder Holland’s was a masterful talk.

    Thanks for your thoughts, Kevin.

  51. Antonio Parr says:

    I agree with those who recognize Elder Holland’s talk as an “instant classic”, a la President Faust’s talk on forgiveness and Elder Wirthlin’s talk “Sunday will Come” — talks that are timeless and profound and so beautifully crafted.

    St. Augustine observed that “our souls are restless until they rest in Thee”. Talking of Christ and rejoicing and Christ (and weeping with Christ) are ways of ensuring that he is present in out lives, and Elder Holland’s talk succeeded brilliantly in that regard.

    In addition, for a Church that teaches that we take truth whereever it may be found, I have always been perplexed (and troubled) by the way that we as a people ignore Holy Week. Since we celebrate an event such as Pioneer Day, one would think that we could focus on Passover Thursday or “Atonement Friday” (I liked Elder Holland’s use of that phrase a thousand times more than “Good Friday”) in a way that matches the solemn observance of these seminal events by our non-LDS Christian friends. Thanks to Elder Holland’s talk, perhaps we will begin to move more closely to such a communal practice.

  52. We don’t all celebrate Pioneer Day…

  53. Gilgamesh: Was it a cheat when Christ’s divinity enabled him to suffer more than humans can suffer?

  54. Antonio Parr says:

    52. My point was not to extol Pioneer Day, but to point out that we as a people are not beyond celebrating memorable historical events (recall, by way of example, the celbrations surrounding Joseph Smith’s 200th birthday). Accordingly, we should find it in our hearts and in our lives to mark each year the seminal events of the atonement.

  55. Ed Tuttle says:

    What is interesting about Elder Holland’s talk is its place in the succession of talks he has given. Look at his past few conferences addresses. He drew a line in the sand between Mormon and Protestant ideology, particularly with respect to the trinity. Here, he took great pains to use Protestant themes and language. Did he think he had gone too far and that the Church needs reaching out, not retrenchment? Has he changed his approach to our Christian brothers?

    Also, his comments about Peter being commanded to deny the Savior are important when viewed in context. He harshly criticized Pilot for his part. He expressed amazement that Judas, an Apostle, would betray the Savior. But he then has to consider Peter’s denial. Does Elder Holland believe that the Savior commanded Peter to deny Christ because it is disquieting to have the head of the ancient church act that way? Has the suggestion of infallibility of church leaders — or at least the frowning on “warts and all” history — made us revisionist in our New Testament reading? Or does Elder Holland want to reassure us that a modern Apostle (meaning one after Elder Lyman, the last to be removed) cannot fall?

  56. Antonio Parr says:

    I didn’t find Elder Holland’s talk to be directed to protestants or Catholics, but to Latter-Day Saints, who, according to the late Elder Howard W. Hunter, need to talk more of Christ than we do.

    I would love to go to my Ward on Thursday night and have a meeting commemorating the Last Supper and Christ’s visit to Gesthemane. I would love to take the Sacrament on Thursday night, and then, with my fellow Saints, sing songs of the atonement. It won’t happen this year, but, perhaps, thanks to Elder Holland’s talk, it will happen in my lifetime.

    If there is anything that is lovely or virtuous, we seek after these things . . .

  57. I actually love that idea, Antonio.

  58. #55 – I think sometimes we think too hard.

  59. Late follow up bit of irrelevant trivia. Dean Jagger who played General Waverly in White Christmas also played Brigham Young in a movie about him in 1940. Jagger later investigated and joined the church. Check him out on IMDB.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 8,760 other followers