Personal Online Journal

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Russell M. Nelson and the new First Presidency

Here are videos of the broadcast announcing the new First Presidency and the new Q & A that followed a video of an unprecedented live broadcast announcing the new First Presidency.

Here are some notes I took as I listened to the media questions.

The medium is the message
President Nelson is the father of 9 daughters who are all grandmothers.
Answering questions from international news organizations.

Repeated answers:
We are children of God.

How do we engage millennials?
Eyring: "There were 3 or 4 powerful missionaries in each mission where there are now 50"
Eyring: "How do we hold on to them and not be left behind?"

Oaks: Millennials are more powerful when they are married.

Nelson: One plus one is more than two

Some young people have a hard time relating to an old prophet. What message can you give them?
Nelson: "A well educated person never stops learning"

Question from Dan Rascone of KUTV 2 (Starting at 37:58 of the news conference):
In your opening remarks, you made a plea to those who had left the church to come back. There are those out there that are leaving the church. There's apostasy that is arising in the church. Some of it has to do with early church leadership, and people finding out about. They feel that the church isn't as transparent as it should be. That's hurt growth in the church. What do you plan to do or what message to you have to those that are leaving the church or have problems with the church leadership or principles that have been taught. You have an army of missionaries that are out there. Church growth is not where you want it.

Nelson: "The difference of what is doctrine and what is human"
"Give your leaders a little leeway to make mistakes just as you hope your leaders would give you"

It's a great comfort to me to know that I don't have to take the statement or actions of one particular leader as expressive of the doctrine and expectations of the church. We don't believe in infallibility of our leaders. What we believe in is the organization the church has set in place with multiple prophets, seers and revelators and with a council system. 
Here sit the quorum of the twelve. We'll be working closely with them in the course of our responsibilities and in council, we all in an independent spirit, individually praying for guidance from the Lord. We sit as the Lord's servants to define the doctrine of the church and the expectations of the church. Under the leadership of the President of the Church, we meet in council to determine the direction of the church and the (what are called in the world) the policies of the church. Some of those things called policies are doctrine. Some of them are practices. Some of them are temporary directions like the age of missionary service. But they come out of a council.  
In addition, I would remind those who worry about the things you ask about very appropriately, when it comes to transparency, by the action of this council, we have published the Joseph Smith Papers. On the desk in my office, are those published thus far, and they occupy a space approximately a yard and still increasing. If we weren't interested in transparency, we wouldn't be publishing all the papers of the prophet Joseph Smith and the documents that came out of the founding of this restored church. 
I believe in the system of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I have confidence that their flaws are smoothed by their interactions with each other and with those they serve. Over time, the branches of the tree that produce the most bitter fruit are being pruned. We are becoming more perfect as a church. We will continue to do so until we are fully acceptable to God. Those of us who will, will join into a fellowship with God. We will live as he lives and experience the joy of doing the work he does.


I believe that no policy change is accepted among the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve unless they all agree to it. "I say unto you, be one; and if ye are not one ye are not mine" (D&C 38:27).

D&C 102:3 mentions a unanimous decisions of 12 and/or the First Presidency:
"Joseph Smith, Jun., Sidney Rigdon and Frederick G. Williams were acknowledged presidents by the voice of the council; and Joseph Smith, Sen., John Smith, Joseph Coe, John Johnson, Martin Harris, John S. Carter, Jared Carter, Oliver Cowdery, Samuel H. Smith, Orson Hyde, Sylvester Smith, and Luke Johnson, high priests, were chosen to be a standing council for the church, by the unanimous voice of the council."

D&C 107:27 explicitly says that "every decision made by" the quorum of the twelve apostles or the first quorum of the seventy "must be by the unanimous voice of the same; that is, every member in each quorum must be agreed to its decisions, in order to make their decisions of the same power or validity one with the other—"

I am not aware that the First Presidency must by unanimous. I cannot imagine that, for large policy changes, they would not ensure that they were unanimous. It seems that there is a principle in unanimity that preserves the will of the Lord. We are taught that the Godhead are in perfect harmony. I believe that is the standard by which the FP and Qo12 aspire to emulate.


President Nelson and with his family in 1982

President Spencer W. Kimball conversing with Elder Nelson, who performed his open-heart surgery. Image from Deseret News.

President Nelson (center) skiing with his family. Image from Deseret News.

President Nelson with his first wife, Dantzel. Image from Deseret News.

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