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This is Daniel Ortner’s contribution to this weeks’ installment of the General Conference Odyssey.
As I read President Marion G. Romney and Elder Theodore M. Burton‘s talks from the October 1971 conference, I was reminded of the old adage: “If a tree falls in the forest and there is no one to hear it, does it make a sound?” Both speakers spoke of one of the prevailing ills of the world: God speaks, but mankind does not listen, and therefore the world proceeds as if he does not speak. Or as President Romney expressed it, “the predicament in which we find ourselves today has not come about for want of an adequate guide, but rather for want of a listening ear.”
President Romney emphasized that Christ “foresaw and foretold the circumstances in which we find ourselves today.” Likewise, God continues to speak and warn us how to “avoid the calamities foreseen and foretold by Jesus.” Yet, even though god speaks, mankind rejects his word and therefore “there is no guiding light.” In this perilous position, the world continues to drift away from its moorings and away from the teaching of God.
And many of the religions in the world are not declaring these divine warnings. Instead, as Elder Burton notes, “[t]hey give messages full of man’s wisdom, but not of God.” Thus, they fail to provide divine guidance and instead “are trying to speak for God instead of letting God speak for himself.”
But “what is needed most today is not the voice of man, but the voice of God.” We desperately need to hear his voice authoritatively declared. We need to know answers to the pertinent questions of the day, rather than “trying to solve our problems by man’s philosophy and learning and by human wisdom.” For “God’s way is the way to solve our political, moral, ethical, even our financial problems.” But with so many voices screaming “Lo, here is truth” or “No, here is truth” it is difficult to know where to turn.
President Romney and Elder Burton thus focus on the message of the restoration as a solution to this conundrum. As President Romney noted his “purpose is to emphasize the fact that in our troubled world there is now and has been for a hundred and forty years a sure guiding light.” Elder Burton declares that the “day has come” when Christ’s church is on the earth again, and there is a source that people can turn to in order to find truth.
Christ’s church began “quietly” and “un-ostentatiously” and is still hidden from the view of many. And unfortunately, “the majority to whom the Gospel has been taken reject it,” for “they perceive not the light” and they “turn their hearts from [God]”
Thus, God speaks and yet the world does not listen. And the consequences of their unwillingness to listen are dire. The calamities foretold by the Savior will sound with the loud sounds of earthquakes and thunder. For if mankind will not hear the voice of the Lord, they will hear his voice through the elements in tumult.
But to those who would listen, the invitation is still extended: “Come and listen to a prophet’s voice.” We invite one and all and declare to them that Christ lives and “now speaks to the inhabitants of this world in this day and age through living prophets. May we not be heard of hearing, but instead listen with open hearts to the Lord as he speaks through his servants.
- The Word is Mightier than the Sword (Nathaniel Givens at Difficult Run)
- Anatomy of Honesty (G at Junior Ganymede)
- LDS Conference October 1971 – Cultural, Intellectual, and Spiritual Fads (J. Max Wilson at Sixteen Small Stones)
- The Guiding Light (Daniel Ortner at Symphony of Dissent)
- Sincerity, Signs of the Times, and South America (John Hancock at The Good Report)
- The Fullness of the Gospel for the Fullness of Life (Ralph Hancock at The Soul and The City)
- “God…is at the Helm” (Michelle Linford at Mormon Women)
- Love and Lies (SilverRain at The Rains Came Down)
- Prophets Forewarn: Stand in Gospel Light (Jan Tolman at LDS Women of God)