LDS Church leader D. Todd Christofferson headlined an Easter conference at BYU on Saturday, which highlighted new scholarship on Jesus Christ and his ministry.
Christofferson talked about the atonement and the sacrifice of Christ that Mormons and other Christians believe is the basis for hope after death.
He said Christ submitted himself to God in the act of sacrificing himself and suggested that church members should be willing to likewise submit themselves.
“I wonder if we, in order to hold our way, to preserve and endure to the end … must similarly devote ourselves to the will of the Father and the Son and their glory,” he said.
Christofferson also offered a chronology of the events surrounding the death of Jesus, something known as the Passion in other denominations, and put the timeline in terms of the current week.
“It’s been less than 24 hours since we witnessed that awful scene of his crucifixion,” he said. “It was a very, very dark time.”
He said the fruits of Jesus’s sacrifice include a pardon from sins, sanctification of actions and immortality.
The conference, coming a week before The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’s 175 Annual General Conference, was free and open to the community. It is the second in three years held at BYU and put together by religion professor Richard Holzapfel.
Holzapfel said by inviting Christofferson, he was hoping to send the message that the conference could help disciples in their preparation for Easter.
“This can prepare you for your worship tomorrow,” he said.
Holzapfel said that too often academics, who made up the rest of the program outside Christofferson, get stuck speaking to each other and not sharing with the public their understanding.
Speakers focused on topics from the early ministry of Christ, including his birth, wilderness experience, calling of apostles, interaction with a Samaritan woman and the Sermon on the Mount.
Holzapfel said the topics were based on the hottest research topics LDS religious scholars have been pursuing, research he said has put BYU scholars on the world map in New Testament scholarship.
He said the BYU scholars have started from scratch evaluating the scrutinized life of Christ to develop their “cutting edge research.”
“We are not afraid of the topic,” he said. “We are not afraid of the evidence.”
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