Elder Jeffery R. Holland, Apostle for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (frequently misnamed the Mormon Church by the media) spoke to a group of Harvard Law School students on Tuesday, March 20, 2012, during the annual Mormonism 101 series sponsored by the Latter-day Saint Student Association. In Elder Holland’s address, he focused a good deal on the restoration of the fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
“What brings me to you today is not a message of reformation but of restoration,” he said, “the restoration of that church Christ established by His hand in the meridian of time and which He has reestablished by His hand in this present time.” Elder Holland also said, “In the western world religion has historically been the basis of civil society as we have known it, and if I am not mistaken, men and women of the law are committed to the best—that is the most just—civil society possible. So thank you for taking religion seriously.”
Elder Holland spent several minutes talking about the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ on the earth in our day. He spoke of Joseph Smith, the man who organized The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1830, receiving an angelic visitation in 1823, wherein he was called to complete a work he had been called of God to do. Elder Holland went on to discuss Joseph Smith’s first vision, in which he was visited by God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ.
That day is inextricably linked with this day and any meaning my visit on this campus may have for you. There is not time to walk through 190 years of Latter-day Saint history since that epiphany, but suffice it to say that young Joseph Smith’s declaration in 1820 is our declaration today and forever—that there was a true church once in the meridian of time, in which Jesus Christ was the chief cornerstone and the personification of its divinity, with mortal men called as prophets and apostles to form a foundational footing around Him. These apostles, with other teachers and priests, pastors and members in general constituted a figurative building, a church, which Paul described as being “fitly framed together . . . for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, [and] for the edifying of the body of Christ.” That is our first testimony—of Jesus Christ as the literal Son of God, of the merciful and redeeming gospel he brought from the Father to the earth to share with all of God’s children, and of the church Christ established to be the vehicle for communicating those truths and offering those ordinances.
But our next testimony is that after Christ’s ascension and with the death of those early apostles the church and its divinely ordained succession of priesthood authority was lost, taken, removed from the face of the earth.
Elder Holland spoke a great deal about Mormonism and its theology. He talked about the differences between Mormonism and other Christian denominations, but also reminded other Latter-day Saints (as well as other Christians) to focus more on the similarities of our beliefs.
During the question-and-answer session which followed Elder Holland’s address, the question of authority was raised and why The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints claims it is the only true church on the earth.
Doris White is a native of Oregon and graduated from Brigham Young University with a degree in English and a minor in Editing. She loves to talk with others about the gospel of Jesus Christ.