This is the 161st post in the General Conference Odyssey. We’re covering the Sunday afternoon session of the April 1982 General Conference.
The topic for the first lesson in the new Sunday School curriculum was “we are responsible for our own learning.” That’s certainly a message that came through loud and clear in (then) Elder Benson’s talk, Valiant in the Testimony of Jesus. He cited a prophecy from Heber C. Kimball to Saints in the Salt Lake Valley:
To meet the difficulties that are coming, it will be necessary for you to have a knowledge of the truth of this work for yourselves. The difficulties will be of such a character that the man or woman who does not possess this personal knowledge or witness will fall. If you have not got the testimony, live right and call upon the Lord and cease not till you obtain it. If you do not you will not stand… The time will come when no man nor woman will be able to endure on borrowed light. Each will have to be guided by the light within himself… If you don’t have it you will not stand; therefore seek for the testimony of Jesus and cleave to it, that when the trying time comes you may not stumble and fall.
He also shared a quote from President Harold B. Lee:
We have some tight places to go before the Lord is through with this church and the world in this dispensation, which is the last dispensation, which shall usher in the coming of the Lord. The gospel was restored to prepare a people ready to receive him. The power of Satan will increase; we see it in evidence on every hand. There will be inroads within the Church. … We will see those who profess membership but secretly are plotting and trying to lead people not to follow the leadership that the Lord has set up to preside in this church.
It seems to me that we don’t have to look any farther into the future to see those prophecies and warnings being fulfilled quite plainly. Forget the future, just open Facebook and look at the commentary from the dissident LDS voices. No matter what the Church does—even when it does things that they have been clamoring for and agree with!—the tone is relentlessly critical and cynical.
It’s always important to balance an awareness of the difficulties that lie ahead with the promises and hope and optimism that we also have reason to hold onto, however, and so I liked Elder Durham’s claim in The Future History of the Church that while “There is a great Church history behind us[, t]here is an even greater Church history ahead of us.”