February 9th, 2008

General Authorities and General Principles

During today’s worldwide leadership training broadcast, Elder Holland discussed the importance of the family in the church and society at large. Speaking of the ideal family, he noted the reality that there are many who do not enjoy this situation in their own lives. Cognizant of this fact, Elder Holland stated that General Authorities teach general rules, ideas, and standards. These things are then applied specifically into our own lives, as applicable.

I found this to be an eloquent and adequate way of clarifying why our leaders continually champion the “ideal” (as Elder Holland mentioned several times). The vast membership of the church is as diverse as it is large, and therefore our general leaders cannot usually speak in specifics or provide customization to gospel principles, as such an effort would then isolate all those to whom the teaching did not apply.

Instead, they espouse and promote gospel standards that are to be sought after, general rules and guidelines that apply to all of God’s children, regardless of varying circumstances and experiences.

With an increasing (and increasingly diverse) church membership to direct, our general leaders must speak a language common to all, and therefore stick to the milk of the gospel. Such fundamental truths apply to everyone, regardless of age, sex, familial circumstances, profession, and life history. Our local leaders—those who understand our culture, circumstances, and troubles—can then offer specific application and detailed direction within the general gospel framework, tailoring gospel truths to our specific needs and situations.

It’s difficult to imagine what a burden it must be to lead such a worldwide organization and be the Lord’s mouthpiece, offering counsel that will be beneficial to all. We can rest assured, in light of such an arduous task, that God is at the helm and is directing his chosen servants to pass on the messages we all need to hear.

6 Responses to “General Authorities and General Principles”

  1. Sean
    February 9, 2008 at 5:05 pm #

    Nice summary of general principles. I think this applies nicely to Sister Beck’s talk in the October 2007 General Conference. When one looks at her talk as a list of “must-do’s”, like a task list, it may be easy to become offended or discouraged (as many have).

    When the talk is looked at as a collection of general principles that we can strive towards, and use the Spirit to apply in our specific lives and families, it becomes yet another sweet reminder of counsel to be feasted from and to learn from. Perspective makes a big difference.

  2. Jared
    February 9, 2008 at 5:17 pm #

    I find myself increasingly moving to the position that we as individuals and families need to find a ways to open the channels of communication between ourselves and Heavenly Father that we haven’t experienced before in this generation. I think this will come when we realize that the church isn’t the center of our universe, Heavenly Father is. The church is here to helps us arrive at a point where we can draw on the powers of heaven, not the powers of the church. I’m not suggesting we diminish the church but refocus are expectation of what the churches purpose is.

    As I understand the gospel the most important item of business we can accomplish is to fulfill our baptismal covenant and receive the Gift of the Holy Ghost and the attending spiritual gifts that come to us. Anything short of that leaves us much in the same position Christians were in prior to the restoration of the gospel through Joseph Smith.

  3. Yin
    February 9, 2008 at 6:28 pm #

    Speaking of Sister Beck’s talk, I wondered if some of what was addressed, and the emphasis on the diverse family situations of the members of the church, wasn’t partially in response to the criticism of her talk by some women in the church. Just a thought…

  4. Connor
    February 10, 2008 at 4:30 pm #

    Our Stake President announced today in ward conference that only 15% of the stake attended the broadcast yesterday. What’s worse is that our stake center was carrying the broadcast during all four showings, allowing for the maximum possible attendance based on varying schedules. 15% is dismal attendance for something we had been repeatedly invited and encouraged to attend.

  5. David
    February 10, 2008 at 8:29 pm #

    Wow. 15% is dismal – I hope ours was higher (I have heard no numbers). I just have to say that I really enjoyed that broadcast and I think the explanation of general authorities teaching general principles was a good reminder (perhaps even a revelation for some people).

  6. A Cleggsan
    March 23, 2008 at 10:27 am #

    Regarding diversity in today’s church I have an observation:

    ONE: Joseph Smith came from a farm family struggling to make ends meet in upstate New York. But, his neighbors were very much pioneers from various parts of the US and other countries.

    TWO: As the church grew and missionary work extended to England, Denmark, Sweden, Germany and other countries the membership needs became very diverse; pamphlets and scriptures had to be printed in other languages.

    THREE: When Brigham Young brought the Saints west there were many companies that had strange cultural backgrounds and spoke no or little English.

    FOUR: Missionaries were sent far and broad do many places throughout the world bringing members with more diverse backgrounds.

    FIVE: So, in view of these historical matters it seems that the church has always been in the process of adapting and modeling their declarations and pronouncements to best fit all the members needs and to teach them in a language that would fit all who would hear.

    Maybe the gospel really is universal and will fit the needs of all of Gods children adequately.

    Elder Holland is a master at this kind of universal speech as is Elder Eyring and, I should say, all the general authorities, each in their own way. Perhaps that is one of the wonderful things about the restored gospel. We still much preach to every kindred, tongue and people; it probably will not end. Even Paul and Peter and Timothy and all the early Apostles faced similar circumstances and found it necessary to bring the new Saints to a full understanding of this new gospel that Jesus Christ had brought wherein the ways of the old (Moses Law) had been done away with.

    Nice thoughts.

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