Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Two Lines of Communication

This entry is part of my general conference application series.

Two Lines of Communication, by Dallin H. Oaks
Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

I've long noticed what appears to be a contradiction when I speak to some Christians about faith and the restored gospel. As our conversation turns to Joseph Smith, most will quickly say that there is no need for revelation today—that all that is required is the Bible and faith. Yet, these same people, often in the next breath, will say that they know that they are right and that their beliefs are 100 percent accurate. (How can they know without revelation?)

As I reviewed Elder Oaks' talk, I began to wonder if the confusion isn't a contradiction, but rather a misunderstanding of terms. His talk speaks of two lines of communication: the personal line, and the priesthood line. In addition to explaining both of these, Elder Oaks stresses that both are important, and neither is more important than the other.

Regarding the personal line—this is where we pray to Heavenly Father and He answers us—my Christian friends do, in fact, believe in this kind of revelation. Here's what Elder Oaks said:

On this personal line of communication with the Lord, our belief and practice is similar to that of those Christians who insist that human mediators between God and man are unnecessary because all have direct access to God under the principle Martin Luther espoused that is now known as “the priesthood of all believers.”

Knowing that most (if not all) Christians indeed believe in revelation, the confusion seems to rest on the priesthood line. The Joseph Smith story is a beautiful account of the bringing back of priesthood authority, and, therefore, the priesthood line of communication (revelation). For some reason, many refuse to believe that God can speak to prophets today as he did anciently. At the same time, some religions rely heavily on the priesthood line:

In respect to this priesthood line, our belief and practice is similar to the insistence of some Christians that authoritative ordinances (sacraments) are essential and must be performed by one authorized and empowered by Jesus Christ (see John 15:16). We believe the same but of course differ with other Christians on how we trace that authority.

Despite the confusion that exists in many regarding revelation and the lines of communication that are available to all mankind, the importance of such remains great. Elder Oaks reminded that "we must use both the personal line and the priesthood line in proper balance to achieve the growth that is the purpose of mortal life." Without these lines of confusion, many are left like the sign shown below, barely hanging on, missing what is really important:

I'm grateful for the knowledge and understanding that were restored and are available to all through both lines of communication as part of the Restoration.

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