LDS leaders affirm church’s devotion to Jesus
While protesters outside the LDS Conference Center in downtown Salt Lake City condemned Mormonism as non-Christian, nearly every speaker inside the giant building Sunday morning emphasized the conviction that Jesus Christ is at the center of Mormon faith, theologically, personally and intimately.
They spoke of the Easter season, of Christ’s sacrifice for humanity, crucifixion and resurrection, his call to discipleship and his message of unconditional love on the second day of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ 179th Annual General Conference.
More than 20,000 members listened in the Conference Center during a morning and afternoon session, while millions more watched the proceedings via satellite in LDS chapels across the world. They heard counsel on temple worship, following the prophet’s instructions, the importance of missionary work, and avoiding pornography.
Several speakers also alluded to current events such as the church’s support for California’s Proposition 8, which defined marriage as exclusively between a man and a woman. Since it passed, thousands of gay rights activists have picketed outside LDS temples and boycotted Mormon businesses.
[Apostle Dallin H.] Oaks also condemned excess in today’s economic downturn.
“The effects of greed and entitlement are evident in the multimillion dollar bonuses of some corporate executives,” he said. “But the effects are more widespread than that. Greed and ideas of entitlement have also fueled the widespread careless borrowing and excessive consumerism behind the financial crises that threaten to engulf the world.”
But most of the speeches focused on LDS views of Jesus.
“It is fitting that during this week, from Palm Sunday to Easter morning, we turn our thoughts to Jesus Christ, the source of light, life and love,” said Dieter F. Uchtdorf, second counselor in the governing First Presidency, in the day’s first sermon. “He is the Savior and Redeemer of the world. … He lived a perfect life and atoned for our sins. He will ever be at our side. He will fight our battles. He is our hope; he is our salvation; he is the way.”
In his first address as an LDS apostle, Neil L. Andersen spoke respectfully of other faiths.
Still, Andersen said, Mormons should not be timid in declaring the LDS Church’s unique beliefs — the Book of Mormon, prophets and priesthood of all worthy males.
“Our knowledge of divine authority should not bring feelings of superiority, it should bring us to our knees,” he said, “All that we are and all that we will ever be, we owe to Jesus Christ.”
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