Tuesday, September 15, 2015

The Need for Apostles and the Family Proclamation Today by Colin Booth

As I was scrolling through social media recently, I came across the post from a friend and neighbor of mine, who could be described as a less-active member of the Church.  It was a meme depicting the Savior sitting at a table with Thomas S. Monson.  The caricature of Jesus was holding a copy of The Family: A Proclamation to the World and chastising President Monson because the Proclamation contained some concepts that Jesus Christ never specifically mentioned in the Biblical account of his ministry.  I won’t mention which particular social issue was being touted in this meme, but suffice it to say, it’s a hot-button issue that has been in the news a lot lately.
I consider myself fairly thick-skinned and can usually laugh along with people making fun of the LDS Church and its peculiarities.  However, this meme bothered me enough to comment.  While it’s true that Christ never mentioned that particular topic Himself in the Bible, the apostle Paul addressed it quite clearly.  I mentioned this in the comments and pointed out a few other modern topics that were never specifically discussed by Christ during his earthly ministry.  My friend never responded to my comment and later removed the post entirely.

This experience caused me to do some thinking and reflecting.  There are a lot of things wrong with that meme (the least of which is that Monson wasn’t even president when the proclamation was given.  Gordon B. Hinckley was).  But the major underlying error is the philosophy that if Jesus didn’t say it, then it must not be true or a part of His gospel.  That fallacy completely discounts the mission and authority of the prophets, who preceded the Savior, and the apostles and prophets who succeeded Him after his death and resurrection.  I have rarely come across someone who believes in Christ but not in the apostles or the rest of the New Testament, but apparently they exist, as least when believing so helps them justify their world view.
The fact is: Jesus never intended His mortal ministry to be the end of the gospel.  He hand-picked and trained his apostles to carry on the work after His ascension.  That’s where the concept of authority becomes key.  In Luke chapter 9, the Lord gave his apostles “power and authority” “and he sent them to preach the kingdom of God.”  Even in Amos in the Old Testament, the relationship between God and his servants was clear, “Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets.”  Preaching the gospel is a collaborative effort.  Could Jesus accomplish his work without the help of mortals?  Of course, but that’s not the point.
From the beginning of time, God has called prophets to teach others about his gospel.  Each of those prophets spoke to the people in their day and age and in their language.  While some prophets, such as Isaiah, John the Revelator, and Moroni prophesied mainly for future generations, for the most part, prophets and apostles speak to the current generation (although their words apply universally).  This is beneficial, because as a product of those same generations, they know exactly what challenges, trials, and temptations people are struggling with. 

For the most part, during his mortal ministry, Jesus set forth universal truths and principles.  He didn’t address all the problems future generations would face.  He left the interpretation of those principles to his subsequent apostles and prophets.  Fast forward to the early 1800s.  All of the authorized prophets and apostles of Jesus’ time had died,  and the world had fallen into apostasy due to a lack of organization, continual direction, and priesthood authority.   

Again a prophet and apostle was called, even Joseph Smith.  Priesthood authority and organization was restored.  Again, God spoke through man on earth.  A new council of 12 apostles was called.  Old commandments were reemphasized.  Truths and principles were restored.  New scripture was brought forth.  New and specific revelations were received to guide and direct the people in modern times.  The world had changed and new counsel was required.  I’ll highlight a few of these changes.  In consequence of conspiring men and new technologies, a Word of Wisdom was given to counsel the people to avoid unhealthy and addictive substances. Missionaries were called to preach the gospel around the world.  Temples were built and ancient holy ordinances were again performed in righteousness.  The 19th century ended with Christ’s restored Church thriving and growing.
Around 2/3 of the way through the 20th century, a revelation was received and restriction of priesthood authority for men of African descent was removed.  

Twenty years ago this month, then president Gordon B. Hinckley, as a part of the general Relief Society Meeting, read a proclamation to the world from the First Presidency and Council of the Twelve Apostles.  I was in high school at the time, and I had no idea how prophetic that proclamation would be.  In 1995, it just seemed to me like common sense and something that most people believed and understood.  The last 7 years have shown how quickly public sentiment can change.  Never in the history of mankind, was a document like The Family: A Proclamation to the World more needed than today. 

The Savior didn’t give this message in the Bible, although the principles he offered permeate throughout.  He relayed this important message through modern apostles in preparation for a time when His people would need it the most.  That time is now.  The family is under attack.  Never has the definition of the family been so misconstrued, distorted, or so trodden under foot.  Never before have solid families been more pivotal and necessary in the Church and society as a whole.
Whenever I read that sacred document, I am again impressed by how perfectly it’s worded, and of the depth of the meaning.  The family proclamation is scripture as surely as the Holy Bible, or the standard LDS works.  Not only is it scripture; it’s also Church doctrine.  I had an interesting online discussion last year with a purported member of the Church whom I came across on social media.  I was defending the Church’s stance on a particular social issue and used The Family: A Proclamation to the World as evidence of the Church’s doctrine on the matter.  She claimed that the proclamation was not Church doctrine but rather a guideline.  I couldn’t disagree more.  The family proclamation is most assuredly Church doctrine.  I have some understanding of the review process of the materials distributed by the Church.  I know that everything that has a Church logo has been thoroughly reviewed for content and doctrine.  You can bank on any official statement by the prophet at general conference, which is later also printed in the Ensign, especially a statement with the full endorsement of the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve Apostles, all of which the proclamation has. 

Not only is it doctrine, the proclamation is truth.  Pure truth, unadulterated.  There is no question of translation or interpretation.  It stands on its own and is beautiful in its simplicity.  When I study it, I can feel the presence of an intelligence much higher and more divine than even that of those 15 exemplary apostles.  This document is inspired of God.  It contains the words of Jesus Christ. 

I am no one important.  I don’t have a blog or a lot of social media followers.  I don’t speak for the Church.  I’m just a family man and a member of the Church, trying to be more like Jesus and do what’s right.  And I have a testimony of The Family: A Proclamation to the World.  I know it is true.  It may not be convenient; it does not conform to society’s standards, but it is still true.  I invite you all to read and study it again.  If you have supported causes in opposition to the doctrine contained in the proclamation, abandon those causes.  If you are seeking truth, you will find it there.  Pay attention to how you feel when you read it.  If you diligently seek to find Christ’s message for you in the proclamation, you will find it.           

Here's your chance to find out what we're all talking about!  Click here to read The Family: a Proclamation to the World

And if you enjoyed this post, by Colin, please feel free to share it on Facebook or share your own love of family with a photo using the hashtag #ILovetheFamilyProclamation! And be sure to check out the other host blogs today for more wonderful posts and testimonies about family and check out this LINK to ENTER today's GIVEAWAY, which you can read more about below!  

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We often find The Family: A Proclamation to the World hanging on the wall next to the picture of a temple. Juju Lane has taken it a step further by creating this beautiful gold foil temple using words from the Proclamation!

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  1. I enjoyed reading this post. Thank you for taking the time to organize and share your thoughts.

  2. Thank you, what a great reminder to study the Proclamation and the words of all our prophets.