In our recent General Conference, a talk was given by Elder Robert D. Hales entitled, "Meeting the Challenges of Today's World." My mind flashed to another talk of the same title by Elder Neal A. Maxwell. I decided to read it in hopes I would find many parallels between the two talks. Unfortunately, I only found one direct similarity, but the messages together were a very poignant testimony of truth.
37 years ago (just one month after my birth), Elder Maxwell stated, "...we shall see in our time a maximum if indirect effort made to establish irreligion as the state religion. It is actually a new form of paganism that uses the carefully preserved and cultivated freedoms of Western civilization to shrink freedom even as it rejects the value essence of our rich Judeo-Christian heritage." He called this state religion, "the secular church."
He continues, "This new irreligious imperialism seeks to disallow certain of people's opinions simply because those opinions grow out of religious convictions. Resistance to abortion will soon be seen as primitive. Concern over the institution of the family will be viewed as untrendy and unenlightened...the secular church will do what it can to reduce the influence of those who still worry over standards such as those in the Ten Commandments."
It's not shocking to see this very thing happening nearly 40 years later. And from hundreds of years ago we read, "Woe unto them that call evil good and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter (Isaiah 5:20)." This "secular church" is beginning to replace real religion, religion based on faith in God.
In our modern day and from Elder Hales we learn, "...that many resist organized religion." The mocking fingers of the Great and Spacious building are becoming ever more pointed and much less discreet than in days gone by. The counsel we receive from both our past leader and our current leader is thus:
"...not being ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ
includes not being ashamed of the prophets of Christ."
- Elder Maxwell -
"We need to tighten our grip on the rod that leads us back to Him.
Now is the 'day of choosing' for all of us."
- Elder Hales -
Whereas Elder Maxwell counseled the young adult disciples of 1978 to study and grasp the doctrine of foreordination, Elder Hales counseled those disciples of today to stay out of debt, study the scriptures, have eyes set on marriage, and to reach upward with faith. Both items of counsel suggest having an eternal perspective. Understanding foreordination requires us to think of our premortal life and the covenants made then, while the suggestions of Elder Hales move us forward into the eternities.
Ultimately, the Plan of Salvation as taught to us in the pre-existence remains in affect! "The Lord will lead you along," reminds Elder Hales. "I testify that if you are there for the Lord, He will be there for you." As the enduring disciples of Christ struggle to remain strong in a darkening world, these words bring hope and light to our souls. There is no need to fear nor to be ashamed.
The rough road of discipleship will never be easy. Elder Maxwell states, "The disciple will be puzzled at times...But he persists. Later he rejoices over how wonderfully things fit together, realizing only then that, with God, things never were apart." And as we go through this final battle, with no knowledge of how long it will last, we can know that with God all things are possible and with God we will win the fight.
- - - - - -
"Fear Not, thou the enemy deride.
Courage for the Lord is on our side.
We will heed not what the wicked may say,
But the Lord alone we will obey."
- - Let us All Press On, Hymns #243 - -