To be LDS is to be a Christian, President Packer says
By ANDREW A. LAMBERT
Universe Staff Writer
"It is one thing to say that we are not their kind of Christians. It is quite another to characterize us as not being Christians at all," President Packer said.
The LDS scriptures are filled with consistent, harmonious witnesses to the divinity of Jesus Christ, President Packer said.
References to Jesus Christ dominate the Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ. Christ is referred to in more than half the verses in the Book of Mormon.
President Packer said the topical guide of the LDS scriptures is the most comprehensive compilation of scriptural references on the subject of the Lord Jesus Christ that has ever been assembled in the history of the world.
He also said the LDS hymnbook is filled with hymns and anthems that testify of Christ. Many of these hymns are revered by Christians throughout the world, he said.
After the audience listened to a selection of Christ-centered LDS hymns, President Packer asked, "Is that the voice of non-Christians?"
Latter-day Saints obey the commandment to do everything in Christ's name, President Packer explained. Prayers, baptisms, confirmations, blessings, ordinations, sermons and testimonies are all concluded in the name of Jesus Christ, President Packer said.
"He is present in all that we believe," he said.
How do LDS Church detractors account for all these references to Jesus Christ? "That is their problem, not ours," President Packer said.
Certain doctrinal beliefs unique to the LDS Church will continue to be misunderstood and disturb LDS critics, President Packer said.
Among these doctrines is scripture in addition to the Bible, continuing revelation through living prophets and the nature of the Godhead.
President Packer cautioned Latter-day Saints to teach the gospel peacefully.
"To argue and debate over sacred things usually generates much more heat than light," President Packer said.
While President Packer counseled LDS youth to peaceably avoid confrontation with detractors, he stated that LDS church members need not submit to unfair accusations and unjustified opposition.
President Packer told LDS youth never to be ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ. "Never apologize for the sacred doctrines of the gospel," he said.
Speaking of LDS critics, President Packer said he believes that as Latter-day Saints remain "peaceable followers of Christ," detractors will ultimately weaken, become divided and disarm themselves.
LDS Church members will have the opportunity to follow his counsel in June when Salt Lake City hosts the annual Southern Baptist Convention. Both Latter-day Saints and Southern Baptists are preparing to convert one another, according to a news release.
Robert L. Millet, dean of religious education at BYU, said President Packer's talk addresses a serious misconception in the religious community.
"Instead of squabbling over theological details, we need to be linking arms to fight against the ills that plague us," Millet said.