I’ve been thinking about which conference talks really resonated with me this time around, and wanted to hear from you about which ones were your favorites as well. There were many that made me think or that made me feel a great connection to the speaker or to the spirit but there was one that stood out for me: Elder Holland’s talk about the Book of Mormon. It seemed to be a talk out of the past. It’s the kind of talk we don’t hear very often now because it is not a comfortable or warm and inviting talk.
Some were a bit offended by it or felt it ignored the very real historicity problems that they themselves feel about the Book of Mormon. But Elder Holland did not give the talk for the purpose of explaining how to deal with whatever problems you might have with the Book of Mormon. He gave the talk to simply testify of his knowledge that the Book of Mormon is the word of God. How did he say that he knows this? Did he say that he had sifted through all the potential scientific and historical objections that had been raised by the critics of the Book of Mormon? No, though Elder Holland may at times have explored those issues, he did not discuss the issues or their potential answers, he simply testified of his knowledge of the Book of Mormon’s truth by personal revelation. He also testified that the actions of Joseph and Hyrum just prior to their deaths provide an additional testimony of its truth, as well as the fact that no satisfactory explanations for the Book’s origin have ever been found, other than the story of divine origin given by Joseph .
Tellingly, he quoted Nephi’s final testimony, one of the most moving and powerful testimonies of God ever recorded, to my mind:
10 And now, my beloved brethren, and also Jew, and all ye ends of the earth, hearken unto these words and believe in Christ; and if ye believe not in these words believe in Christ. And if ye shall believe in Christ ye will believe in these words, for they are the words of Christ, and he hath given them unto me; and they teach all men that they should do good.
11 And if they are not the words of Christ, judge ye—for Christ will show unto you, with power and great glory, that they are his words, at the last day; and you and I shall stand face to face before his bar; and ye shall know that I have been commanded of him to write these things, notwithstanding my weakness.12 And I pray the Father in the name of Christ that many of us, if not all, may be saved in his kingdom at that great and last day.13 And now, my beloved brethren, all those who are of the house of Israel, and all ye ends of the earth, I speak unto you as the voice of one crying from the dust: Farewell until that great day shall come.14 And you that will not partake of the goodness of God, and respect the words of the Jews, and also my words, and the words which shall proceed forth out of the mouth of the Lamb of God, behold, I bid you an everlasting farewell, for these words shall condemn you at the last day.15 For what I seal on earth, shall be brought against you at the judgment bar; for thus hath the Lord commanded me, and I must obey. Amen.