Upon completing the main library of content I set out to build, I wanted to take the opportunity to share some personal reflections. I also share some helpful information form Elder Ballard, published in the Ensign, on how meeting the challenges of our day require greater gospel learning effort than in the past.
Okay. So, this is kind of a different video. This is kind of a conclusion video, a key recap video. The video library that I set to build is built. It’s complete. I made a list of every attack against the Church that I thought was critical to address and go through, and we’ve covered them all there. But, I would like to say please stay subscribed to the channel. This is supposed to be a library that you come back to, and you want to bookmark it and always keep it there. It’s not stuff that’s really going to go out of date, in a sense, and there may be some things I’ll add periodically as the resources come out.
Also, I may occasionally do a video, if the need arises, to add something. I’m really glad that I did the Evidences series. That was a lot of fun. It was really exciting. It doubled up my work, so it was really exhausting in that sense, but I don’t know if you remember this quote from Elder Holland that I used in the introduction video, but I love what he said. He said, “We still need that spiritual confirmation in the heart, but not to seek for and not to acknowledge intellectual, documentable support for our belief when it is available is to needlessly limit an otherwise incomparably strong theological position. We ought to be more assertive than we sometimes are in defending our testimony of truth.”
So, I felt like that’s what we were doing with those Evidences videos, lots of fun. Okay. The total video count ended up being somewhere around 80 videos, half answering questions videos and half Evidences videos. I put these in the playlists so you’ve got them separated out by those categories as well. If you have subscribed recently, go back and listen to a lot of the videos in the past, especially some of those earlier ones there.
I will say that definitely the production quality, this was my imperfect offering. So, I did the best I could. The quality of the videos, I know I struggled. Even to the end, I still had people telling me, “The audio, the audio.” Okay, I started with my iPhone. I upgraded the microphone several times. In fact, this one right here, got this that I’m using. I don’t know if you can see it, but I’ve kept it off to the side and instead of in front of me and maybe that would’ve helped if I’d done it. Maybe I should have put stuff on the walls for the echo.
But anyway, we did the best we could. It was really focused on the content, and I kind of wish I had spent a little more time focusing on the production value, but so sorry. But, here’s the thing: when you see the imperfections of that, think about the theme of a lot of the videos, and we talk about how the work rolls forward regardless of the weaknesses and the challenges along the way in the Restoration. It’s still true and powerful.
Also, I had a hard time picking where to do these videos. I wandered around the house in the beginning of things and finally settled down into this desk area and it’s really been effective, I think, and helpful for me in doing it in a consistent location. I know we had lighting problems occasionally on there, and I know that my speech occasionally got a little too fast, the cadence there, especially when I was trying to cram a lot of content into a certain video and try and keep it to a limited time-frame. I decided to kind of let the videos run.
Somebody just said, “Make sure you do due diligence to the content and not worry so much about the length.” So, you can change the playback speed on there. I do that to a lot of the videos I listen to. I change this, quicken the speed a little bit, but you can go in and alter the settings and slow them down to 0.75 X or speed them up on there. So, just Google it. You can learn it. It’s different on a phone than the computer, tablet, on the way you do that. But then also, if there’s content errors, then I tried to make corrections in the description area.
Remember, I’ve got all these resources, my top picks, to go deep on topics. I put them all down there below. I’ve got the website, Latter-day Saints Q&A, the ‘Read the Blog’ section is where you can get all the transcripts now on the videos. I’ve got almost all of them there now. I’ve set up a Facebook page. I haven’t really given it any attention, but it’s there. Latter-day Saints Q&A … the title of the channel on Facebook.
I want to say one thing about it. Occasionally, I might have appeared sluggish in a video. I just want to say I have a full-time job and I was doing this on the side, but it became literally a full-time job in and of itself. I’m not kidding you. It was probably 40 plus hours a week doing these videos. It was tough trying to comb it down. I had to look at every angle of attack, knowing these are going to be in cement. Once you put them on YouTube, you’re done. It’s there, you can’t change it. So, it’s very daunting task in trying to really pull that through, exhausting.
So at times, I almost pulled all-nighters occasionally there, and so I apologize, but occasionally that caught up to me and I might’ve appeared a little sluggish in videos, but that’s why on there. So also, I will continue to monitor the comments and we can interact that way. Please ask questions, I’ll answer them as best I can and share things, additional thoughts on there. I’m trying to keep it very civil so there might be reasons I might not post different things, but I didn’t want to do any comments in the beginning.
In fact, I didn’t. I thought, “There’s places for that online. This is just a resource library of content. I don’t want it to be this debating thing and make the comments become even more of a focus than the video.” But somebody told me I was screwing up the algorithm on YouTube. They really want you to allow comments, so I guess … I didn’t even know you could approve them. So anyway, once I realized that I thought, “Okay, I’ll do this,” and I’m really glad. Thank you.
Many of you have made comments and it’s been really great to interact there. You can reach out to me on Facebook too if you want to Facebook message me on there. My wife’s sitting right here, she’s been amazing. Those PowerPoint presentations, it’s all her. She’s been amazing, coming up with the pictures and things that really make the extra spice in the videos, I think, there. So it’s been fantastic.
I just want to thank my daughter also, who’s done a fantastic job in editing the videos and posting them and doing all that. I don’t have a clue on how to do all that. She’s been fantastic. I’ve got another daughter that did the transcriptions and editing of all the transcriptions, it’s been fantastic. So, it’s been kind of a family affair. It’s been pretty fun. Also, I would just say, please share the videos, get the word out. I’m trying to create more awareness now, the resource is there.
So just as you see where it might help somebody, please share the channel. Okay, I want to share a few quotes though here that I thought were very helpful, just macro, big picture of this channel. Of doing this and maybe going through and talking more of … think of this term, “inoculation”, and just going through and talking about a lot of these maybe criticisms of the faith today because it’s being shoved in our kids’ faces there. It’s all around us now, these attacks.
So, I think it’s maybe just getting exposed in some ways to it, in a very faithful way, to just understand it because these things can hold up to scrutiny and criticism, but it’s better to understand and learn them from the very faithful process and way and talk about them.
So, a couple of things I wanted to share on this. Bonnie Oscarson in the October 2016 conference. She said, “About a year ago, I visited with a mother of young children who decided to take a proactive approach to inoculating her children against the many negative influences they were being exposed to online and at school. She chooses a topic each week, often one that has generated a lot of discussion online, and she initiates meaningful discussions during the week when her children can ask questions and she can make sure they’re getting a balanced and fair perspective on the often-difficult issues. She is making her home a safe place to raise questions and have meaningful gospel instructions.”
In our tech-driven, information-savvy world, attacks on our faith are multiplying, I think in intensity and frequency. President Nelson keeps talking about this in his talks. This channel is an example of proactively, in a faithful way, inoculating our loved ones from the possible exposure. I shouldn’t say possible. It’s not a matter of “if”, it’s “when” today. So, I think it is helpful, again, to have these resources and from faithful members being produced.
Okay. So with regards to inoculation, I really felt directed to share here a very pointed message from Elder Ballard. I was almost stunned actually that this was in the Ensign because this was a pretty intense talk that was given to Church Education System employees. So, seminary instructors, institute directors, et cetera, religious educators. But it was printed in the Ensign. And look at the top of this, what was said at the top of the article.
It says, “In these remarks to Church Educational System religious educators, Elder Ballard shares principles and counsel that apply to all who teach in the Church.” And so I thought, “Wow, that really could apply in the sense to everybody.” Parents, everyone that teaches here. So, what follows are a few of my favorite parts from his presentation, from the Ensign article. So he says, “As Church education moves forward in the 21st century, our educators need to consider any changes they should make in the way they prepare to teach, how they teach, and what they teach, if they are to build unwavering faith in the lives of our precious youth. Gone are the days when a student asks an honest question and teacher responded, ‘Don’t worry about it.’ Gone are the days when a student raised a sincere concern and the teacher bore his or her testimony as a response intended to avoid the issue.”
“Gone are the days when students were protected for people who attacked the Church. Hearing a pure testimony became the catalyst that changed early convert’s lives forever. The same can be true for those you teach. However, given the reality of today’s world, pure testimony may not always be enough. Early converts were clean and pure and free from pornography and worldliness as they sat at the feet of inspired missionaries, teachers and leaders. The spirit easily penetrated their soft and pure hearts.”
“Today the story is much different. Some of your students are already infected by pornography and worldliness before they even reach your classes. It was only a generation ago that our young people’s access to information about our history, doctrine and practices were basically limited to materials printed by the Church. A few students came in contact with alternative interpretations. Mostly our young people lived a sheltered life. Our curriculum at that time, though well-meaning, did not prepare students for today.”
I thought that was powerful. What he’s saying is, “A day when they have instant access to virtually everything about the Church from every possible point of view. Today what they see on their mobile devices is likely to be faith challenging as much as faith promoting. Many of our young people are more familiar with Google than with the gospel, more attuned to the internet that to inspiration, and more involved with Facebook than with faith. In the face of these challenges, what are the opportunities and responsibilities gospel teachers have in the 21st century? Obviously you teachers must love the Lord, His church, and your students. You must also bear pure testimony sincerely and often. Additionally, more than at any time in our history, your students also need to be blessed by learning doctrinal and historical content and context, by study and by faith, accompanied by pure testimony, so they can experience a mature and lasting immersion to the gospel and a lifelong commitment to Jesus Christ. Mature and lasting conversion means they will stay in the boat and hold on throughout their entire lives.”
Then he said, “For you to understand the doctrinal and historical content and context of the scriptures and our history, you will need to study from the best books as the Lord has directed (D&C 88). The best books include the scriptures, the teachings of modern prophets and apostles, and the best LDS scholarship available. Through your diligent efforts to learn by study and by faith, you will be able to help your students learn the skills and attitudes necessary to distinguish between reliable information that will lift them up and the half truths and incorrect interpretations of doctrine, history, and practices that will bring them down.
This is exactly what I do when I need an answer to my own questions that I can’t answer myself. I seek help from the brethren in the Quorum of the Twelve, and from others with expertise in fields of Church history, and doctrine.” I thought it was powerful that Elder Ballard was saying this. “Gospel teachers should be among the first, outside students’ own families,” now catch that, “outside of student’s own families to introduce authoritative sources on topics that may be less well known or controversial so that students will measure whatever they hear or read later against what they have already been taught.”
“We give medical inoculations to our precious missionaries before sending them into the mission field so they will be protected against diseases that can harm them. In a similar fashion, before you send your students into the world, inoculate them by providing faithful, thoughtful, and accurate interpretation of gospel doctrine, the scriptures, our history and those topics that are sometimes misunderstood. To name a few such topics that are less known or controversial. I’m talking about plural marriage, seer stones, different accounts of the First Vision, the process of the translation of the Book of Mormon, the book of Abraham, gender issues, race and the priesthood, and a Heavenly Mother.” All videos on the channel here.
“The efforts to inoculate our young people will often fall to the Church Educational System teachers. With those thoughts in mind, find time to think about your opportunities and your responsibilities. Church leaders today are fully conscious of the unlimited access to information and we are making extraordinary efforts to provide accurate context and understanding of the teachings of the Restoration. A prime example of this is the 11 Gospel Topics Essays on LDS.org that provide balanced and reliable interpretations of the facts for controversial and unfamiliar Church related subjects. It is important that you know the content of these essays. If you have questions about them, please ask someone who has studied them and understands them. In other words, seek learning even by study and by faith as you master the content of these essays. You should also become familiar with the Joseph Smith Papers website, the Church history section on the Church website, and other resources by faithful LDS scholars.”
“The effort for gospel transparency and spiritual inoculation through a thoughtful study of doctrine and history, coupled with a burning testimony is the best antidote we have to help students avoid and deal with questions, doubt, or faith crisis they may face in this information age. As you teach your students to respond to these questions, let me warn you not to pass along faith promoting or unsubstantiated rumors or outdated understandings and explanations of our doctrine and practices from the past. It is always wise to make it a practice to study the words of the living prophets and apostles, keep updated on current Church issues, policies and statements through mormonnewsroom.org and LDS.org, and consult the works of recognized, thoughtful and faithful LDS scholars to ensure you do not teach things that are untrue, out of date, or odd and quirky.” Sorry that was very long, but I thought it was critical and I couldn’t believe this was in the Ensign. It was absolutely fascinating and fantastic, I thought, that this is being addressed in this direct manner.
I thought it was great. And in the videos I use a lot of these Latter-day Saint scholars. That’s what I try to really do. Pull this all together and then put the sources down in there, and have all that information there. I also wanted to share this quick quote from Marion D Hanks. He talked about theological illiterate. It takes effort to learn, and we can passively be members of the Church. He said, “No one knows anything about Christ’s work simply by being born a member of the Church, and often he knows little about it after years of unmotivated exposure in meetings or classes. He must learn. And learning involves self-investment and effort. The gospel should be studied as carefully as any science. The literature of the Church must be acquired and read.”
“Our learning should be increased in our spare time day by day. Then as you put the gospel truth to work in daily life, we will never find it wanting. We will be literate in the most important field of knowledge in the universe, knowledge for lack of which men and nations perish, in the light in which men and nations will be saved.”
One of my heroes is John A. Widtsoe who attended Harvard. And he actually got two awards that are stunning to think of that he got both of these, got the award for the greatest depth of knowledge in something, chemistry was his major, but also the award for the greatest breadth of knowledge. How can you get that at same time in the same college. And at Harvard of all schools. But here’s the kicker. When he went off to Harvard, this was his motto or his goal was 50/50. He was going to study the gospel the same amount of time that he studied everything else.
That’s amazing. So I think that’s a great … it’s one of my goals. Got to think like that. That’s powerful to have those kinds of ideals and studying the gospel like Elder Hanks just shared there. Okay. Now I had to finish with this because this quote here from President Nelson in General Conference. It was stunning. It was his first talk as the prophet. And when he said this, I thought, “Wow, it’s going to be a lot easier to be a member of the Church,” when he talked about the miracles that were coming, the greatest miracles are yet to come and they’re on their way. But then he says these words that made it sound like it’s actually going to be harder to be a member of the Church, even with that, so listen to this.
“I am optimistic about the future. It will be filled with opportunities for each of us to progress, contribute, and take the gospel to every corner of the earth, but I’m also not naive about the days ahead. We live in a world that is complex and increasingly contentious. The constant availability of social media and a 24-hour news cycle bombard us with relentless messages. If we are to have any hope of sifting through the myriad of voices and philosophies of man that attack truth, we must learn to receive revelation.”
“Our Savior and Redeemer, Jesus Christ, will perform some of his mightiest works between now and when He comes again. We will see miraculous indications that God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, preside over this Church in majesty and glory. But,” so this is in the same paragraph. Look at this, “But in coming days, it will not be possible to survive spiritually without the guiding, directing, comforting, and constant influence of the Holy Ghost.” Even with the miracles. That’s my comment there. “My beloved brothers and sisters, I plead with you to increase your spiritual capacity to receive revelation. Let this Easter Sunday be a defining moment in your life. Choose to do the spiritual work required to enjoy the gift of the Holy Ghost and hear the voice of the Spirit more frequently and more clearly.”
So I just had to share in conclusion that my experience of doing these videos has been life changing. I have to just tell you, spending, like I said, 40 plus hours a week doing this is exhausting but exhilarating too. I would pray for ministering angels to help me. I would have thoughts come. Even when I was just talking, they would just come that I hadn’t even prepared, but my greatest prayers were the prayers after the videos. I would pray not that there was some perfect offering that I was doing, totally imperfect, but that it was acceptable to the Lord. And to feel the Spirit in those moments where some of the greatest joys of my life.
It was absolutely amazing that those miracle experiences of true joy and peace sometimes hard to put into words really. But it came after going through and when I focused on the criticisms to face it, to square up to it and look at it from every angle and then to realize how powerful the defenses are on these things. It was majestic. And then my favorite video, if you want to know my favorite video is absolutely the Book of Mormon: Match It. Because if you think about it, that is the tangible witness of the Restoration. God knew what it was going to be like in these last days and we needed to have … I remember as a missionary how powerful it was to just hand somebody that tangible book and say, “Don’t believe me. You do your own experiment with this book.” And it’s powerful.
And then that book, match it. Exactly it. Match it. It’s miraculous how we have that book. How it came forth is just … it’s unbelievable. And it is our witness to the Restoration. So these videos were very much focused on logic and the mind there. And I think like that a lot, process things from a very rational, logical approach, not dogmatic and just thinking through all those things. But the heart as well. And that’s what President Nelson was talking about in the heart, the spiritual witness. And so that’s the personal effort is getting it in our mind and thinking those through, but then praying and the witness, Alma 32, trying it, testing, seeing it taste good there. It’s only through that process, and I’ve done that personally. And like I said, it’s been life changing for me personally to go through this, and I’ve got a much stronger witness and testimony.
I had a very strong testimony going into this, but it has been such a rich blessing to go through the process of doing both, addressing the criticisms, but the greatest was the Evidences. That’s been just absolutely phenomenally joyful to me personally. And I will just say my testimony has just multiplied exceedingly through this whole process. I think the Lord just said as a compensatory blessing, and so it’s a reward, I think, as we spend time sacrificing in the kingdom. The Lord, I think, will give us that compensatory blessing of increased testimony as we do that. I share that with you in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
Latter-day Saints’ Q&A is a video series not produced by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but by me, an ordinary member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, an independent voice, with a passion for studying Church history and defending the faith. In this series, I provide evidences for the restoration, and address tough questions posed by critics of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, offering faithful answers based on accurate research and historical references which will be posted at the end of each video.