I have chosen in this review to focus on the final talk of the Saturday afternoon session of General Conference. This talk was given by Quentin L. Cook. I will simply be responding to what I consider to be key parts of his talk with brief thoughts and reflections.
“Hastening family history and temple work in our day is essential for the salvation and exaltation of families.” Quentin Cook
Response from the Book of Mormon, referred to by Joseph Smith as the most correct book upon the face of the earth: “For behold, this life is the time for men to prepare to meet God; yea, behold the day of this life is the day for men to perform their labors. And now, as I said unto you before, as ye have had so many witnesses, therefore, I beseech of you that ye do not procrastinate the day of your repentance until the end; for after this day of life, which is given us to prepare for eternity, behold, if we do not improve our time while in this life, then cometh the night of darkness wherein there can be no labor performed. Ye cannot say, when ye are brought to that awful crisis, that I will repent, that I will return to my God. Nay, ye cannot say this; for that same spirit which doth possess your bodies at the time that ye go out of this life, that same spirit will have power to possess your body in that eternal world. For behold, if ye have procrastinated the day of your repentance even until death, behold, ye have become subjected to the spirit of the devil, and he doth seal you his; therefore, the Spirit of the Lord hath withdrawn from you, and hath no place in you, and the devil hath all power over you; and this is the final state of the wicked.” Alma 34:32-35
“Our Father’s plan is about families.” Quentin Cook
Response from the Bible: “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household. He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.” Matthew 10:34-38
“Elijah’s return occurred in the Kirtland Temple on April 3rd 1836. He declared he was fulfilling Malachi’s promise.” Quentin Cook
Response from Jesus (Bible) “For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John. And if ye will receive it, this is Elias, which was for to come. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.” (Matthew 11:13-15)
“The Saviour was emphatic about the necessity of baptism. He taught, ‘Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.’” Quentin Cook
Response from the Bible. “Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born? Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” John 3:3-6. So, in context, we can see that Jesus wasn’t talking about baptism. He was talking about being born again. The first birth is the physical one that is referred to here as being born ‘of water’ and ‘of the flesh’. Think about the act of giving birth and those words make perfect sense! The second birth here is what Jesus calls being ‘born of the Spirit’. It is this being born again, re-birth or being born of the Spirit that enables one to see and enter the kingdom of God. So we can conclude that the birth we have all already experienced is a physical act, and being born again is a spiritual act. We are not talking about an ordinance here.
“Paul speaks of it (baptism for the dead) in 1 Corinthians, 15th chapter, 29th verse. Joseph has received a more full explanation of it by revelation.” Quentin Cook
Response: This revelation would appear to contradict the Book of Mormon verses from Alma quoted above. It is also worth pointing out that 1 Cor. 15:29 is the only verse that speaks of baptism for the dead, and that in this verse, those who practise it are referred to by the pronoun “they”; in other words, not the ‘you, we, us’ that Paul uses to address the readers elsewhere in chapter 15. Another point worth making is that Joseph Smith’s own ‘translation’ of the Bible threw up nothing around this verse to expand upon what we have here in the Bible today.
“Our doctrinal obligation is to our own ancestors.” Quentin Cook
Response: Mr Cook appears to be referring to D & C 127:5-6 which refers to ‘baptism for your dead’. It would seem to this onlooker that LDS leaders still feel, despite some high-profile controversies in recent years, that the point must be made that LDS members should only be carrying out vicarious work for their own deceased relatives.
Just my musings to end with. A talk lasting sixteen and a half minutes, the final one of the session, and in my opinion, when compared with the others of the session, the only weighty one from a doctrinal point of view. This talk was given two weeks before Easter weekend yet the only true church of Jesus Christ does not seem to focus on the Saviour much it would seem. Jesus got a couple of name checks in those sixteen and a half minutes, nothing more. This talk was all about worship of the family and worship of the temple.
We do get a brief mention of Jesus in the final minute which states: “He overcame death for all mankind, which we could not do for ourselves. We can, however, perform vicarious ordinances and truly become saviours on Mount Zion for our own families in order that we, with them, might be exalted as well as saved.” So that’s it. Jesus enables us to overcome death (as we know, what happens to us eternally depends on whether or not we are exemplary Mormons), but we can actually become saviours for our own families and we can thereby be exalted along with them! We can make ourselves into gods in other words. As I’ve pointed out before, that alluring promise of the serpent is there: ‘ye shall be as gods’!