Prophet Writes Bold Letter to Unbeliever on Absolute Truth
Hat tip to Daniel Ortner for posting the link to an incredible First Presidency Message published in a 1978 Ensign -- a must share! The message is actually a letter that then president of the Church, Spencer W. Kimball, wrote to a non-believer (John), on the topic of absolute truth. I can't tell for certain, but in the closing remarks President Kimball gives the impression that the person he was writing to was a member of the Church struggling with his faith, who had many questions that deeply concerned the prophet. He also shared that the content of the letter is "to all others who may hear it..." Apparently the reason it was published for the entire Church. Here, I will share excerpts:
Read full letter: Absolute Truth
"I wrote, some time ago, a letter to a disbeliever. Much of what was said in that letter has been on my mind lately and I wish to share the substance of those thoughts. With that explanation you will better understand the point of view assumed and the style in which it is given. Writing to this young man, who was battling with his thoughts, I said:
Your resistance and argument against the truths of the gospel have given me grave concern.
I realize I cannot convince you against your will, but I know I can help you if you will only listen and let me call to your attention some salient truths, and if you will listen with a prayer and a desire to know that what I say is true. I would not, even if I could, force your thinking, for free agency is the basic law of God and each one must assume the responsibility for his own response; but certainly each of us must do his part in influencing for good those who might need some assistance."
"This true way of life is not a matter of opinion. There are absolute truths and relative truths... There are many ideas advanced to the world that have been changed to meet the needs of the truth as it has been discovered. There are relative truths, and there are also absolute truths which are the same yesterday, today, and forever—never changing. These absolute truths are not altered by the opinions of men. As science has expanded our understanding of the physical world, certain accepted ideas of science have had to be abandoned in the interest of truth. Some of these seeming truths were stoutly maintained for centuries. The sincere searching of science often rests only on the threshold of truth, whereas revealed facts give us certain absolute truths as a beginning point so we may come to understand the nature of man and the purpose of his life."
"We learn about these absolute truths by being taught by the Spirit. These truths are “independent” in their spiritual sphere and are to be discovered spiritually, though they may be confirmed by experience and intellect. (See D&C 93:30.) The great prophet Jacob said that “the Spirit speaketh the truth. … Wherefore, it speaketh of things as they really are, and of things as they really will be.” (Jacob 4:13.) We need to be taught in order to understand life and who we really are.
God, our Heavenly Father—Elohim—lives. That is an absolute truth. All four billion of the children of men on the earth might be ignorant of him and his attributes and his powers, but he still lives. All the people on the earth might deny him and disbelieve, but he lives in spite of them. They may have their own opinions, but he still lives, and his form, powers, and attributes do not change according to men’s opinions. In short, opinion alone has no power in the matter of an absolute truth. He still lives. And Jesus Christ is the Son of God, the Almighty, the Creator, the Master of the only true way of life—the gospel of Jesus Christ. The intellectual may rationalize him out of existence and the unbeliever may scoff, but Christ still lives and guides the destinies of his people. That is an absolute truth; there is no gainsaying."
"The Gods organized and gave life to man and placed him on the earth. This is absolute. It cannot be disproved. A million brilliant minds might conjecture otherwise, but it is still true. And having done all this for his Father’s children, the Christ mapped out a plan of life for man—a positive and absolute program whereby man might achieve, accomplish, and overcome and perfect himself. Again, these vital truths are not matters of opinion. If they were, then your opinion would be just as good as mine, or better. But I give you these things, not as my opinion—I give them to you as divine truths which are absolute."
"Some day you will see and feel and understand and perhaps even berate yourself for the long delay and waste of time. It is not a matter of if. It is a matter of when."
"Experience in one field does not automatically create expertise in another field. Expertise in religion comes from personal righteousness and from revelation. The Lord told the Prophet Joseph Smith: “All truth is independent in that sphere in which God has placed it.” (D&C 93:30.) "
"If I can only make clear this one thing, it will give us a basis on which to build. Man cannot discover God or his ways by mere mental processes. One must be governed by the laws which control the realm into which he is delving."
"Any intelligent man may learn what he wants to learn. He may acquire knowledge in any field, though it requires much thought and effort. It takes more than a decade to get a high school diploma; it takes an additional four years for most people to get a college degree; it takes nearly a quarter-century to become a great physician. Why, oh, why do people think they can fathom the most complex spiritual depths without the necessary experimental and laboratory work accompanied by compliance with the laws that govern it? Absurd it is, but you will frequently find popular personalities, who seem never to have lived a single law of God, discoursing in interviews on religion. How ridiculous for such persons to attempt to outline for the world a way of life! "
"One cannot know God nor understand his works or plans unless he follows the laws which govern. The spiritual realm, which is just as absolute as is the physical, cannot be understood by the laws of the physical... You must go to the spiritual laboratory, use the facilities available there, and comply with the governing rules."
"When we were spiritual beings, fully organized and able to think and study and understand with him, our Heavenly Father said to us, in effect: “Now, my beloved children, in your spirit state you have progressed about as far as you can. To continue your development, you need physical bodies. I intend to provide a plan whereby you may continue your growth. As you know, one can grow only by overcoming... "If you will agree to exercise control over your desires and continue to grow toward perfection and godhood by the plan which I shall provide, I will give to you a physical body of flesh and bones and a rich and productive earth, with sun, water, forests, metals, soils, and all other things necessary to feed and clothe and house you and give to you every enjoyment that is proper and for your good. In addition to this, I will make it possible for you to eventually return to me as you improve your life, overcoming obstacles and approaching perfection.”
"We are now on trial—on the proving ground. This, also, is an absolute truth. It cannot be disproved. It is an incontrovertible fact. If one can accept these unassailable truths, then he is ready to start his experimentation and his laboratory work."
"Adam and Eve transgressed a law and were responsible for a change that came to all their posterity, that of mortality... They and we became mortal, subject to illness, pains, and even the physical dissolution called death.
This resurrection... is the work of Jesus Christ, the Savior, who, because he was both mortal (the son of Mary) and divine (the Son of God), was able to overcome the powers governing the flesh. He actually gave his life and literally took it up again as the “first fruits,” to be followed by every soul that has ever lived. Being a god, he gave his life. No one could take it from him. He had developed, through his perfection in overcoming all things, the power to take up his life again. Death was his last enemy, and he overcame even that and established the resurrection. This is an absolute truth. All the theorists in the world cannot disprove it. It is a fact."
"The Lord set up his program of organization fully, gave the governing principles and doctrines, and delegated his full authority to his officers to teach and perform ordinances. He ignored all the multitudinous religious organizations then extant and all their man-made doctrines and philosophies and set up his own divine plan. This is true. If all the proponents of the “-isms” on all the continents disbelieve it, it is still true—an absolute truth."
"Even before he went to Calvary, the Lord knew that his young and pitifully small organization could not long resist the wolves of antagonistic philosophies and the terrific persecutions which would come, but he left some stalwart apostles and others to guide and build the kingdom. The Savior knew beyond doubt that an apostasy would come. It did."
"With the authorized servants martyred and both authority and doctrines gone, the world went into a spiritual tailspin and plunged into the Dark Ages, wherein the true understanding of God and his plan was not upon the earth, when gross darkness enveloped the people, when there was little progress even in material things and an almost complete void of spirituality. This apostasy is a certainty. There is no room for doubt. God’s church was lost for the moment, as it had been through many centuries in the past."
"Now, with the doctrines perverted, the priesthood gone, the organization corrupted, and the knowledge lost, there must come another awakening. And, as the prophet Daniel prophesied millennia ago, there finally came a day when another restoration of truth should come, this time never to be lost. We have that promise now, that even though individuals may fall, the Church and the gospel are here to stay, and all the powers of the earth and hell cannot effect total apostasy again. This much-needed restoration came through the Prophet Joseph Smith, who followed in the march of the prophets Adam, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, and Moses, and the Lord Jesus Christ. And this is the Church organized through revelation by the Savior: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It was organized by revelation from Jesus Christ. It was given full and complete authority, full and complete plans and programs."
"The tiny organization, begun in 1830 with six members, has had phenomenal growth to some four million in that short period. It is here to stay. This church of Jesus Christ (nicknamed Mormon) is the “only true and living church” that is fully recognized with the authority to perform for him, and the only one with a total and comprehensive and true program which will carry men to powers unbelievable and to realms incredible.
This is an absolute truth. It cannot be disproved. It is as true as the near-spherical shape of the earth, and as gravity; as true as the shining of the sun—as positive as the truth that we live. Most of the world disbelieves it; ministers attempt to disprove it; intellectuals think to rationalize it out of existence; but when all the people of the world are dead, and the ministers and priests are ashes, and the highly trained are mouldering in their graves, the truth will go forward—the Church will continue triumphant and the gospel will still be true.
"Opinion? Of course, there is a difference of opinion; but again, opinion cannot change laws or absolute truths. Opinions will never make the earth to be flat, the sun to dim its light, God to die, or the Savior to cease being the Son of God."
"Now, it is a good question which has been asked by millions since Joseph Smith phrased it: How am I to know which of all, if any, of the organizations is authentic, divine, and recognized by the Lord?
He has given the key. You may know. You need not be in doubt. Follow the prescribed procedures, and you may have an absolute knowledge that these things are absolute truths. The necessary procedure is: study, think, pray, and do. Revelation is the key. God will make it known to you once you have capitulated and have become humble and receptive. Having dropped all pride of your mental stature, having acknowledged before God your confusion, having subjected your egotism, and having surrendered yourself to the teaching of the Holy Spirit, you are ready to begin to learn."
"[T]he time will come when there will be a surrender of every person who has ever lived on this earth, who is now living, or who ever will live on this earth; and it will be an unforced surrender, an unconditional surrender. When will it be for you? Today? In twenty years? Two hundred years? Two thousand or a million? When? Again, to you, John, I say, it is not if you will capitulate to the great truth; it is when, for I know that you cannot indefinitely resist the power and pressure of truth. Why not now? Much time has been lost. The years ahead can be far more glorious for you than any years in the past."
"Now, with great humility, I send this message to you, John, and to all others who may hear it, with a prayer in my heart that you will not cast it aside, but that you will think it through and ponder about it as you pray about it. There must be an open mind, a sincere heart, a desire, a reaching. The assurance will definitely come to you, but not unless you make an effort. I bear testimony to you that this is true. I know it. I send to you a solemn warning; and when you stand before the judgment bar in the not-too-distant future, you will know then that I spoke the truth with your eternal welfare in mind. Please remember that I have tried to bring this matter to your attention with such force that it would impress you."
"You cannot cast off this appeal and warning without grave responsibility. You will have to answer to your Creator if you ignore it, just as I would have to answer if I ignored it. I am doing my best to present it. I know that this is the only complete, divine, eternal program which is recognized and approved of God! "
"You may know, as did Joseph Smith, Paul, and Peter, and as do a great number of your contemporaries. This is not another church. This is the Church. This is not another gospel or philosophy. This is the church and gospel of Jesus Christ.
Our Father lives; his Son lives. I am so sure of this that I am willing to bear witness of it with the last effort of my tongue and lips. I am willing to go into eternity and face my God with this testimony on my lips. Of these truths I bear witness in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen."
Read full letter: Absolute Truth