"The moral foundation of our doctrine can be a beacon light to the world and can be a unifying force for both morality and faith in Jesus Christ. We need to protect our families and be at the forefront together with all people of goodwill in doing everything we can to preserve light, hope, and morality in our communities."
When President David O. McKay’s father was serving a mission in Scotland, he encountered antagonism toward the Church. He decided to preach the doctrines of the gospel without mentioning the Restoration or the Book of Mormon. As the days passed, President McKay said, his father continued with this approach until his mind became so darkened and despondent that he felt he would have to leave his mission and go home.
As a last resort, he decided to go into a cave and pray for help. While he was praying, a voice came to him, “Testify that Joseph Smith is a Prophet of God.” He consequently changed his approach and began to testify of the Book of Mormon and of the Prophet Joseph Smith. As a result, President McKay said, his father discovered that many were touched by the spirit of his words and believed and were baptized (see David O. McKay, Cherished Experiences from the Writings of David O. McKay, comp. Clare Middlemiss , 11).
I hope we can learn from this experience. If you want to reach people, if you want to change hearts, if you want to be successful in your missionary work, testify of the divinity of the Book of Mormon.
Before we go any further, we must understand why this inspired book of scripture is the heart of missionary proselyting. Conversion to it is conversion to Christ, because this book contains the words of Christ. The very title page of the Book of Mormon proclaims its purpose: “To the convincing of the Jew and Gentile that Jesus is the Christ.”
Additionally, conversion to this inspired book is conversion to the gospel of Jesus Christ, because it contains the fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The Lord told Joseph Smith in the Doctrine and Covenants, “And again, the elders, priests and teachers of this church shall teach the principles of my gospel, which are in the Bible and the Book of Mormon, in the which is the fulness of the gospel” (D&C 42:12).
Finally, conversion to the Book of Mormon is conversion to the divine, prophetic calling of the Prophet Joseph Smith. It is the divine evidence of the truthfulness of Joseph Smith’s calling. Either this is all true, or it is not. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained it best when he wrote:
“To consider that everything of saving significance in the Church stands or falls on the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon and, by implication, the Prophet Joseph Smith’s account of how it came forth is as sobering as it is true. It is a ‘sudden death’ proposition. Either the Book of Mormon is what the Prophet Joseph said it is, or this Church and its founder are false, a deception from the first instance onward."
If anyone, regardless of his position in the Church, were to advance a doctrine that is not substantiated by the standard Church works, meaning the Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price, you may know that his statement is merely his private opinion. The only one authorized to bring forth any new doctrine is the President of the Church, who, when he does, will declare it as revelation from God, and it will be so accepted by the Council of the Twelve and sustained by the body of the Church. And if any man speak a doctrine which contradicts what is in the standard Church works, you may know by that same token that it is false and you are not bound to accept it as truth.
I hold in my hand the Book of Doctrine and Covenants, and also the book, The Pearl of Great Price, which books contain revelations of God. In Kirtland, the Doctrine and Covenants in its original form, as first printed, was submitted to the officers of the Church and the members of the Church to vote upon. As there have been additions made to it by the publishing of revelations which were not contained in the original edition, it has been deemed wise to submit these books with their contents to the conference, to see whether the conference will vote to accept the books and their contents as from God, and binding upon us as a people and as a Church.
There is only one safety; there is only one cure; and that is to take the pure and unadulterated word of God and set that up as our standard of measurement, and measure every creed and doctrine and dogma by that yardstick. That which will not square with the declarations of Almighty God we can lay aside as unsuited for the need of man. . . .
The Standard Works of the Church are the measuring rods the Lord has given us by which we are to measure every doctrine, every theory and teaching, and if there is anything that does not conform to that which is given to us in the revelations, we do not have to accept it. Whether I say it or anyone else says it, whether it comes through the philosophy of men, or whenever a statement is made, that is in conflict with what the Lord has revealed, you should know what course to take. So far as I am concerned, I will just put it aside. And I don't care how many men may believe it. I don't care how much backing it has in the world of so-called science or philosophy. If it does not harmonize with what the Lord has revealed, to me it is not worth anything.
The Joseph Smith Translation is not just a better Bible; it was the channel, or the means, of doctrinal restoration in the infancy of this Church.
Procedures, programs, the administrative policies, even some patterns of organization are subject to change. We are quite free, indeed, quite obliged to alter them from time to time. But the principles, the doctrines, never change. . . .
The Christian faith is the most exciting drama that ever staggered the imagination of man – and the dogma is the drama. That drama is summarized quite clearly in the creeds of the Church, and if we think it dull it is because either we have never really read those amazing documents or have recited them so often and so mechanically as to have lost all sense of their meaning. The plot pivots upon a single character, and the whole action is the answer to a single problem: What think ye of Christ?
I want to say to my friends that we believe in all good. If you can find a truth in heaven, earth or hell, it belongs to our doctrine. We believe it; it is ours; we claim it.