Tuesday, March 29, 2016

The Only Education Worthy of a Student

[As a former educator I like to read about education, commencement addresses and the like.  Inasmuch as this blog is in part at least about “living philosophies” of life, I am pleased to share with you a brief but insightful description of a “liberal education” and marry my interest in education and philosophy.  Happy thinking.]


Let’s be historical for a moment.  When you came here, you came voluntarily. There was no state law compelling you to go to college as there was when you were a pupil. Your pupil days were over when you became a student–a person ready and willing to learn in the true spirit of liberal education, regardless of whatever professional program you followed or plan to pursue. Now an education that is liberal is the only education worthy of a student because its goal is to enhance and enrich the freedom of choice that the student exercised by coming to college in the first place. The word liberal comes from the Latin word libera, from which we derive words like liberty and liberate and so forth.
But libera is in turn derived from the Latin word for book–liber.  The Romans apparently saw a relationship between books and liberty–words and freedom.
In brief, they believed that books put minds in motion, and, once in motion, this permitted thinking men and women to go to the right sources, to reach their own conclusions, to make up their own minds and to be free in the only way that finally matters–intellectually free.
Knowledge derived from books together with other forms of knowledge that came to you from personal experience or from sudden inspirations or insights over the past four years constitute a collective gift. And thus has given you a grounding in culture, which is the very foundation of any progressive human society. And the great educator and author Jacques Barzun has reminded us that the word culture is in turn derived from the word agriculture, which is the science of making raw land better and richer without changing its nature. This is exactly what liberal education does to students.

It enriches them from the time of matriculation until the time of commencement and hopefully makes them better than they were when they started without changing their natures. We use another agricultural term–cultivated–to describe people we consider cultured.

Samuel Hazo, “The Only Way to Be: Your Words Must Contain Justice,” address at Carlow University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 9 May 2009, in Vital Speeches of the Day 75, no. 7 (July 2009): 329-30, emphasis in original.

Let’s think together again soon.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

A Latter-day Saint View of the Resurrection©

Danel W. Bachman

[On Easter Sunday, 27 March 2016, my wife and I were invited to give Easter sermons in our sacrament meeting.  We were given twenty-five minutes.  She decided she wanted 10.  Below is the fifteen minute sermon which I gave.]

Good morning brothers and sisters. On this Easter Sunday I come in the attitude of celebration and joy. However, the Sunday morning following the Crucifixion and burial of Jesus Christ may have been a nice spring day in the Holy Land, but for the fledgling Church everything was dark. Though Jesus repeatedly told his little flock and their leaders that he would rise again after he was killed, that idea was so unique that they could not grasp it. Discouragement and gloom settled over the Christian community in Jerusalem. For the disciples it must have seemed that everything ended in tragedy. Two disciples on the road to Emmaus encountered the resurrected Jesus, but did not recognize him. He asked them “What manner of communications are these that ye have one to another , as ye walk, and are sad.” They explained to the stranger about the crucifixion of Christ and one said, “But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel....”(1) The clear implication is that their trust was misplaced and their hopes dashed. Death was the only reality these people knew and it was grim. For the first four thousand years of earth’s history, every man, woman, child, animal and plant that died remained dead. Nobody could conceive of the physical body coming back to life again

Witnesses Ancient and Modern

Not surprisingly then, even with the early witnesses it was difficult to believe.  We all know about “doubting” Thomas. But we also have in the New Testament thirteen different verses, a few collected from each of the four Gospels, which speak about the doubt of the other disciples.(2) For example, even after Jesus visited them several times in Jerusalem, when the Twelve gathered in Galilee as instructed, Matthew 28:17 reports that when the eleven saw Jesus on the mountain in Galilee: “they worshipped him: but some doubted.” The doubt was serious enough that Mark and Luke record instances where Jesus upbraided them for their disbelief. Mark 16:14 says that after he appeared  unto  the eleven as they sat at meat he, “upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them which had seen him after he was risen.”

Nevertheless, there were eventually many witnesses of the Lord’s resurrection.  One well regarded minister observed that Jesus’ “resurrection was not only the greatest and most important of his miracles, but the most abundantly and variously attested.”(3) If we read the four gospels carefully we discover that there is no detailed description of the Resurrection. Rather the records are given over to personal accounts of eye witnesses of his appearances following the resurrection.

Those appearances changed the primitive Church. They put fire in the bones of the early leaders. The primary record which we have of their early preaching is the book of Acts and it reveals something very interesting. The earliest sermons of the apostles recounted therein were almost entirely concerned with Christ’s resurrection. 

But these accounts have been challenged.With the Restoration of the Gospel, however, come new and contemporary witnesses. After the “First Vision” Joseph Smith saw Jesus a number of other times. One of the most powerful is the oft repeated statement in D&C 76 which my wife has already read to you. I would add that this account was written together with Sidney Rigdon, his companion witness.  Mormonism, as far as I know, stands unique with the New Testament and Book of Mormon, where there were often one or more witnesses to Joseph Smith’s visions. We can multiply such testimonies in this dispensation. Here are two which are representative of a 54-page collection I have compiled during my life time:

In 1835, young elder Wilford Woodruff then on a mission in Tennessee was visited by an angel and shown the resurrection in vision. He did not see the First Resurrection take place, but he saw those who were in that resurrection and they were all clothed in white robes. The second resurrection, however was different.  He said, 
Vast fields of graves were before me, and the Spirit of God rested upon the earth like a shower of gentle rain, and when that fell upon the graves they were opened, and an immense host of human beings came forth. They were just as diversified in their dress as we are here, or as they were laid down. This personage taught me with regard to these things.”(4)  
He concluded: “What does this mean? It was a testimony of the resurrection of the dead. I had a testimony. I believe in the resurrection of the dead, and I know it is a true principle.”(5)

In 1980, Elder Ezra Taft Benson said to the youth of the Church: “As one of those called as special witnesses, I add my testimony to those of fellow Apostles: He lives! He lives with resurrected body. There is no truth or fact of which I am more assured, or know better by personal experience, than the truth of the literal resurrection of our Lord.”(6)

Each of us must decide for ourselves to accept or reject the evidence these ancient and modern testimonies provide.(7) Faith is always a choice–because in mortality the evidence never has and never will overwhelm man’s reason and force him to believe.(8) Only at judgment will every knee bow and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus is the Christ.

Power of the Resurrection
The Book of Mormon prophet Jacob and the Apostle Paul both speak of the “power of the resurrection.”(9) What is that power? A detailed study of this phrase would produce many different and important ideas, but the most significant relationship of the” power of the resurrection” is to the Atonement. The resurrection derives its power from the Atonement.(10) Moreover, the Resurrection is one of the crowning results of, primary witness to, and evidence for the infinite Atonement of Jesus Christ. The Resurrection confirms, ratifies, and seals the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

When you think about it, resurrection and procreation are companion processes.  They are similar in that they unite the spirit and the body to create a soul.(11) The first is temporary, the second is eternal. In procreation a physical body is created and prepared for habitation by the spirit.(12) Death is the separation of those two. The Atonement is the power of the resurrection which stands in opposition to the power of death.(13) The scriptures speak of the “redemption of the soul.”(14) The redemption of the soul is the resurrection. The spirit and body are reunited through the power of resurrection, “never to be divided,” again. They are “homogenized” if you will.(15) This redemption of the soul, the scriptures tell us, makes it possible to have a fulness of joy.(16)

Our Article of Faith number 2 tells us that we are not punished for Adam’s transgression. Yet, as descendants of Adam and Eve, we suffer it’s two major effects: physical and spiritual death. Thankfully, the resurrection reverses all the effects of the Fall. It overcomes physical death, but it also overcomes the first spiritual death which we experienced when we came out of the presence of God when were born into morality. Samuel the Lamanite taught that Christ died,
To bring to pass the resurrection of the dead ...  and redeemeth all mankind from the first death–that spiritual death; for all mankind, by the fall of Adam being cut off from the presence of the Lord, are considered as dead, both as to things temporal and to things spiritual.  But behold, the resurrection of Christ redeemeth mankind, yea, even all mankind, and bringeth them back into the presence of the Lord.(17)
All mankind will be brought back into the presence of the Lord to be judged.  But why do we need our body in order to be judged? The answer is not well understood by us as a people, and it is almost never taught to our youth. The fact is that our body is not ours! It belongs to God. Paul wrote to the Corinthians:
What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?  For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.(18)
Our bodies are on loan, which means nothing will be ours permanently until after the resurrection. It means our bodies are a “stewardship” and the owner [God] will hold the steward accountable for what he does with and to the body. This doctrine must be so to make the judgment just. If our bodies are ours, we could argue that we can do with them what we please and it is nobody’s business including God.  This is a popular belief in the world today, even among some Latter-day Saints.  However, if it is true that our bodies are his he can and does give us instructions for its care and the proper use of its powers. The divine laws of the Word of Wisdom and of chastity are clear examples of this doctrine. I testify that our bodies are a stewardship for which we will one day render an account to God.

An interesting corollary to this idea is that nobody can do anything permanent to your body but you. The foibles of genetics and nature,  or  accidents, or intentional harm and disfigurement may appear to permanently mar, impair, or disable the body, but those things are only temporary. They will be overcome in the resurrection. We all enjoy and find hope in this wonderful statement from Alma: [He uses the word “soul” here as a synonym for the spirit.]
The soul shall be restored to the body, and the body to the soul; yea, and every limb and joint shall be restored to its body; yea, even a hair of the head shall not be lost; but all things shall be restored to their proper and perfect frame.(19)
However, the perfection of the physical body in the resurrection may not be absolute for some, nor does it imply the perfection of the soul for all. Joseph Smith also saw the resurrection in vision. He left this wonderful and thought-provoking summary: “All your losses will be made up to you in the resurrection, provided you continue faithful. By the vision of the Almighty I have seen it.”(20) Why did he add the provision, “provided you continue faithful”? For one, later revelations to him concerning the sequence of the resurrection explain, much as did Paul, that resurrected bodies will come forth with a certain degree of divine glory. One of the powers of the resurrection will be to add glory upon the physical body. But the glory given to the body will depend upon the law one chooses to live while in mortality. If we live a telestial law, our body will radiate a telestial glory, akin to the light of the stars. Those who live a terrestrial law will have glory like the light of the moon, and those who live the celestial law–the fulness of the law of the Gospel–will have bodies quickened by celestial glory which is akin to the light of the sun.(21) There will be another limitation to some resurrected bodies. Those who are not exalted in the highest degree of the celestial kingdom will remain “separate and single,” that is they will not be married for eternity and thus will not be privileged to exercise their procreative powers in eternity.(22) So, we see the necessity of the proper care and use of our body in order to enjoy the full blessings of the resurrection.

In conclusion, I love this quotation from Truman Madsen. He said the resurrection 
Clearly, ... is the principle presupposed in all other [gospel] principles. And it is the ordinance foreshadowed in all other [gospel] ordinances, each a stage of progressive birth and higher nourishment, each the symbol and conferral of vitalizing powers through the fundamental elements of His ...  infusing life, light, and spirit.... (23)
The resurrection is one of the greatest evidences of God’s love for we his children. The resurrection is the “sign of Jonas” given to the Jews as the ultimate seal of the legitimacy and truth of his mission and message. The resurrection was to give hope to a fallen and troubled and death-filled world. And ultimately it was intended to bring his children a “fulness of joy.” I rejoice in the resurrection of Jesus Christ and in the hope it gives of our personal resurrection. I celebrate these things on this sacred and holy day, and testify of their truthfulness in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Let’s think together again, soon.


1.   Lk. 24: 17, 21.
2.   Mt. 28:17
    Mk. 16:11, 13, 14
    Lk. 24:11, 25,
    Jn. 20:8, 25, 27, 29, 30-31
3. Charles Petit McIlvaine, “The Resurrection of Christ,” in William M. Smith, ed., Great Sermons on the Birth, Death, and Resurrection of Christ. 1-Volume Edition.  (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1996), 3: 20. 
4. Wilford Woodruff, discourse at the Weber Stake Conference, Ogden, Utah, 19 October 1896, Deseret Weekly, 7 November 1896, pp. 642-43.
5.   Wilford Woodruff, JD 22:332-33, discourse of 8 October 1881.
6.   Ezra Taft Benson, "Five Marks of the Divinity of Jesus Christ," New Era 10 (December 1980), p. 48, emphasis added.
7. On the importance of testimony as evidence, see: Romans 10:13-17; Acts 10:34-43; Moroni 7:29-32.
8.   Ether 12:6.    
9.   2 Ne. 9:6, 12; Phil. 3:10.  Mormon also uses the same phrase in  Moroni 7:41.
10.  Regarding the power of the atonement being the power of resurrection Jacob taught: “Know ye not that if ye will do these things, that the power of the redemption and the resurrection, which is in Christ, will bring you to stand with shame and awful guilt before the bar of God.” (Jac. 6:9) By speaking of both the power of redemption and resurrection, this context seems to make it clear that the power spoken of is the Atonement, which is “in” Christ.  The redemption was possible as a result of the atonement.  For Jacob the resurrection came by the same power.
11.   D&C 88:15.
12.   D&C 49:15-17.
13. 2 Ne. 9:6; Jn. 10:18; Ps. 49:15; Heb. 2:14.
14.   D&C 88:16, 26, Al. 41:2, 12-13.
15.   Al. 11:45; D&C 138:17.
16.   D&C 93:33. 
17.   Helaman 14:15-17.  See also Alma 42:23 among others in the Book of Mormon.
18.   1 Cor. 6:19-20.
19.   Alma 40:23.  See also D&C 138:17.
20. Joseph Fielding Smith, comp., Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1967), p. 296.
21.   D&C 88:18-31.
22. See D&C 131:1-4 and Joseph’s commentary thereon in Joseph Fielding Smith, comp., Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1967), pp. 300-301.  

Orson Pratt held the view that the single in the hereafter were limited in their ability to procreate as God’s way of interdicting production of additional disobedient children.  He said:
Could wicked and malicious beings, who have eradicated every feeling of love from their bosoms, be permitted to propagate their species, the offspring would partake of all the evil, wicked, and malicious nature of their parents.  It is for this reason that God will not permit the fallen angels to multiply; it is for this reason that God has ordained marriages for the righteous only; it is for this reason that God will put a final stop to the multiplication of the wicked after this life: it is for this reason that none but those who have kept the celestial law will be permitted to multiply after the resurrection...for they alone are prepared to beget and bring forth such offspring.”  Orson Pratt, The Seer, pp. 156-57. 
23. Truman G. Madsen, “Of the Garden Tomb,” New Era (April 1971): 6.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

A Simple Lesson in Properly Attributing Quotations to General Authorities"©

There is an interesting quotation floating around the web attributed in blogs, editorials, and even in Book of Mormon commentaries to Elder David B. Haight.(1)  It reads:
Nobody grows old by merely living a number of years.People grow old by deserting their ideals, their faith.There is always the love of wonder, a childlike appetite for what is next, and the joy of your life. ou are as young as your faith, as old as your doubt; as young as your self-confidence, as old as your fear or despair.
In the center of our heart is a recording chamber, and so long as it receives messages of beauty, hope, cheer, courage, and faith, so long are we young.
Recently I wanted to add this to my own commentary on the Book of Mormon but the reference was incomplete. Generally it is attributed to a talk by Elder Haight in the November 1983, Ensign, p. 25. Wanting the title of the talk I went to my collection of Ensigns and was surprised to find on page twenty-five a talk by Paul H. Dunn. Elder Haight’s talk was elsewhere, but did not contain the quotation in question. I did not examine Elder Dunn’s talk, thinking the reference was in error as to date. I Googled some phrases and found it again cited, this time in a talk by Elder Jacob de Jager, “Service and Happiness,” Ensign (October 1993), p. 32, but his reference was back to the same page number in the November 1983 Ensign. So, puzzled I went back to Elder Dunn’s talk and read it.  Sure enough it was there–mostly!  He said:
To those in their golden years, age should only be hateful if it means the cessation of growth, the withering of dreams, the silencing of feelings. And these qualities, after all, have nothing to do with chronology and everything to do with the heart. Douglas McArthur [sic] once observed, “Live with enthusiasm! Nobody grows old by deserting their ideals.  Years wrinkle the skin, but to give up enthusiasm wrinkles the soul. You are as young as your faith, as old as your doubt, as young as your self-confidence, as old as your fear, as young as your hope, as old as your despair.”
So, how did this quotation become associated with Elder Haight?  Read what Elder de Jager said in 1993:
Not long ago, I had the privilege of attending a mission presidents’ seminar in San Francisco with Elder David B. Haight of the Council of the Twelve. He shared with us some thoughts from an unknown author about growing old.
“Nobody grows old by merely living a number of years. People grow old by deserting their ideals, their faith. There is always the love of wonder, a childlike appetite for what is next, and the joy of your life. You are as young as your faith, as old as your doubt; as young as your self-confidence, as old as your fear or despair.
“In the center of our heart is a recording chamber, and so long as it receives messages of beauty, hope, cheer, courage, and faith, so long are we young.  (Ensign, Nov. 1983, p. 25).”
Well now we know where Elder Haight enters in, but we have all kinds of other problems. Elder de Jager says the quotation was cited by Elder Haight, but gives reference to Elder Dunn’s talk, who attributed it to Douglas MacArthur. How did that happen? Moreover, the de Jager version has an additional paragraph of one sentence which is not in Elder Dunn’s talk. Did Elder Haight give Elder de Jager a copy of what he was sharing with the Mission Presidents which included the longer version? If so, why did Elder de Jager cite the Dunn talk when referring to it? Mystery! And Elder Haight apparently said he didn’t know where it came from, but Elder Dunn attributed it to MacArthur. What is the truth?

Well, it is common for people to attribute some version of this statement to MacArthur, but it isn’t his either. I have a trusty book in my collection of books of quotations.  It is entitled, “Respectfully Quoted: A Dictionary of Quotations from the Library of Congress.”(2) It is a compilation of quotations which congressmen and others wanted verified and the staff tracked them down.  It just so happens that this quotation is one of them. The basic story is this: A man named Samuel Ullman (1840-1924) wrote a poem entitled “Youth.” It was privately printed first, but published in 1934. The published version was longer than the private edition which did not have the “oft-quoted ‘you are as young as your faith...”(3) The book goes on to say:
General Douglas MacArthur quoted the entire poem without attribution on his seventy-fifth birthday, in a speech to the Los Angeles County Council, American Legion, Los Angeles, California, January 26, 1955.”(4)
So MacArthur quotes it but doesn’t say where he got it. Others copy, excerpt, and/or edit it and attribute it to MacArthur, such as Elder Dunn’s version. Elder Haight also used some version of it, but didn’t know where it came from. But in a comedy of slipshod errors, copying others without checking, etc., etc., etc., it is now attributed to Elder Haight himself. The entire item is cited in Respectfully Quoted, and most of the elements of the de Jager version are there, but it is a clip-and-paste edit of a longer statement.(5)

Lesson: I suppose there are many lessons to draw from this little foray into frequently cited literary quotations, especially when found on the Internet.  I would boil them down to one: do your own homework thoroughly and carefully, especially if your work will be published. What we all need is a staff like the one at the Library of Congress to track down the source of the quotations we want to use!

Let’s think together again, soon.


1.  K. Douglas Bassett, comp., Doctrinal Insights to the Book of Mormon: Volume Two: Jacob Through Alma (Springville, UT: Cedar Fort, 2007), p. 40.  Apparently several other online Book of Mormon commentaries have copied Bassett without checking his accuracy.

There is a similar problem with the famous quotation "all putts don't drop" attributed to President Hinckley.  Actually he was quoting someone else.

2.  Suzy Platt, ed., Respectfully Quoted: A Dictionary of Quotations from the Library of Congress (Washington, D.C.: Congressional Quarterly, 1992).

3.  Platt, Respectfully Quoted, p. 393. 

4.  Platt, Respectfully Quoted, p. 393, emphasis added.

5.  You can read the entire excerpt from Platt’s book here: www.bartleby.com/73/2099/html

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Modern LDS Youth and the Attractions of Socialism

Socialism is a hot topic especially among the younger segment of our population and I am aware that a number of Latter-day Saint youth are excited about the promises of Socialism.  For some perspective here are statements from three Presidents of the Church on the subject.  It is always good to get the prophetic perspective.

I Did Not Believe The Doctrine

Wednesday, 13 [September 1843]: I attended a lecture at the Grove, by Mr. John Finch, a Socialist, from England, and said a few words in reply. 
I attended a second lecture on Socialism, by Mr. Finch; and after he got through, I made a few remarks, alluding to Sidney Rigdon and Alexander Campbell getting up a community at Kirtland, and of the big fish there eating up all the little fish.  I said I did not believe the doctrine.
Elder John Taylor replied to the lecture at some length.

Joseph Smith, HC 6:32-33, 13-14 September 1843, emphasis in original.

Sunday, 24 [September 1843].  I preached on the stand about one hour on the 2nd chapter of Acts, designing to show the folly of common stock.  In Nauvoo every one is steward over his own.

Joseph Smith, HC 6: 37-38.

As far as I know we do not have John Taylor’s remarks on that occasion (pity).  But we are not without his thoughts on the subject.  Less than a decade later he wrote the classic The Government of God, in which he said the following:

The Evil Results of Socialism

There is also another political party, who desire, through the influence of legislation and coercion, to level the world.  To say the least, it is a species of robbery; to some it may appear an honorable one, but, nevertheless, it is robbery.  What right has any private man to take by force the property of another?  The laws of all nations would punish such a man as a thief.  Would thousands of men engaged in the same business make it more honorable?  Certainly not.  And if a nation were to do it, would a nation’s act sanctify a wrong deed?  No; the Algerine [Algerian] pirates, or Arabian hordes, were never considered honorable, on account of their numbers; and a nation, or nations, engaging in this would only augment the banditti, but could never sanctify the deed.  I shall not, here, enter into the various manners of obtaining wealth; but would merely state, that any unjust acquisition of it ought to be punished by law.  Wealth is generally the representation of labour, industry, and talent.  If one man is industrious, enterprising, diligent, careful, and saves property, and his children follow in his steps, and accumulate wealth; and another man is careless, prodigal, and lazy, and his children inherit his poverty, I cannot conceive upon what principles of justice, the children of the idle and profligate have a right to put their hands into the pockets of those who are diligent and careful, and rob them of their purse.  Let this principle exist, and all energy and enterprise would be crushed.  Men would be afraid of again accumulating, lest they should again be robbed.  Industry and talent would have no stimulant, and confusion and ruin would inevitably follow.  Again, if you took men’s property without their consent, the natural consequence would be that they would seek to retake it the first opportunity; and this state of things would only deluge the world in blood.  So that let any of these measures be carried out, even according to the most sanguine hopes of the parties, they would not only bring distress upon others, but also upon themselves; certainly they would not bring about the peace of the world.

John Taylor, The Government of God, (Liverpool: S. W. Richards, 1852), pp. 23-24.

On Socialism as a Counterfeit for the Law of Consecration

Socialism--a Philosophy Incompatible with Man's Liberty

Another notable counterfeit system to the Lord's plan is collectivized socialism. Socialism derives its philosophy from the founders of communism, Marx and Engels. Communism in practice is socialism. Its purpose is world socialism, which the communists seek to achieve by revolution, and which the socialists seek to achieve by evolution. Both communism and socialism have the same effect upon the individual--a loss of personal liberty. As was said so well by President J. Reuben Clark, Jr., "The two are as two peas in a pod in their ultimate effect upon our liberties."
Why is socialism incompatible with man's liberty? Socialism cannot work except through an all-powerful state. The state has to be supreme in everything. When individuals begin to exert their God-given rights, the state has to suppress that freedom. So belief in God must be suppressed, and with that gone freedom of conscience and religion must also go. Those are the first of our liberties mentioned in the Bill of Rights.
There are some among us who would confuse the united order with socialism. That is a serious misunderstanding. It is significant to me that the Prophet Joseph Smith, after attending lectures on socialism in his day, made this official entry in the Church history: "I said I did not believe the doctrine" (Joseph Smith, History of the Church 6:33).

Socialism Disguised under Welfare State Measures

As citizens of this noble land, we have marched a long way down the soul-destroying road of socialism. If you question that statement, consider the recent testimonial from the Nobel prize-winning economist, Milton Friedman. He indicated that government spending in the United States at all levels amounts to over forty percent of today's total national income. If we continue to follow the trend in which we are heading today, two things will inevitably result: first, a loss of our personal freedom, and second, financial bankruptcy. This is the price we pay when we turn away from God and the principles which he has taught and turn to government to do everything for us. It is the formula by which nations become enslaved.
This nation was established by the God of heaven as a citadel of liberty. A constitution guaranteeing those liberties was designed under the superintending influence of heaven. I have recounted here before what took place in the St. George Temple when the Founding Fathers of this nation visited President Wilford Woodruff, who was then a member of the Twelve and not president of the Church. The republic which was established was the most nearly perfect system which could have been devised to lead men toward celestial principles. We may liken our system to the law of Moses which leads men to the higher law of Christ.
Today, two hundred years later, we must sadly observe that we have significantly departed from the principles established by the founders of our country. James Madison opposed the proposal to put Congress in the role of promoting the general welfare according to its whims in these words:
If Congress can employ money indefinitely to the general welfare, they may take the care of religion into their own hands; they may appoint teachers in every state, county and parish and pay them out of their public treasure; they may take into their own hands the education of children, establishing in like manner schools throughout the Union; they may assume the provision of the poor. . . . Were the power of Congress to be established in the latitude contended for [and it was an issue then], it would subvert the very foundations, and transmute the very nature of the limited Government established by the people of America. [quoted in Donald L. Newquist, Prophets, Principles, and National Survival, p. 342]
That statement, given as a warning, has proved prophetic. Today Congress is doing what Madison warned about. Many are now advocating that which has become a general practice since the early 1930s: a redistribution of wealth through the federal tax system. That, by definition, is socialism!
Americans have always been committed to taking care of the poor, aged, and unemployed. We have done this on the basis of Judaic-Christian beliefs and humanitarian principles. It has been fundamental to our way of life that charity must be voluntary if it is to be charity. Compulsory benevolence is not charity. Today's socialists--who call themselves egalitarians--are using the federal government to redistribute wealth in our society, not as a matter of voluntary charity, but as a so-called matter of right. One HEW official said recently, "In this country, welfare is no longer charity, it is a right. More and more Americans feel that their government owes them something" (U.S. News and World Report, April 21, 1975, p. 49). President Grover Cleveland said--and we believe as a people--that though the people support the government the government should not support the people.
The chief weapon used by the federal government to achieve this "equality" is the system of transfer payments. This means that the federal governments collects from one income group and transfer payments to another by the tax system. These payments are made in the form of social security benefits, Medicare and Medicaid, and food stamps, to name a few. Today the cost of such programs has been going in the hole at the rate of 12 billion dollars a year; and, with increased benefits and greater numbers of recipients, even though the tax base has been increased we will have larger deficits in the future.
Today the party now in power is advocating and has support, apparently in both major parties, for a comprehensive national health insurance program--a euphemism for socialized medicine. Our major danger is that we are currently (and have been for forty years) transferring responsibility from the individual, local, and state governments to the federal government--precisely the same course that led to the economic collapse in Great Britain and New York City. We cannot long pursue the present trend without its bringing us to national insolvency.

Edmund Burke, the great British political philosopher, warned of the threat of economic equality. He said,
A perfect equality will indeed be produced--that is to say, equal wretchedness, equal beggary, and on the part of the petitioners, a woeful, helpless, and desperate disappointment. Such is the event of all compulsory equalizations. They pull down what is above; they never raise what is below; and they depress high and low together beneath the level of what was originally the lowest.
Are we part of the problem or part of the solution?
Recently a letter came to my office, accompanied by an article from your Daily Universe [BYU newspaper], on the matter of BYU students taking food stamps. The query of the letter was: "What is the attitude of the Church on taking food stamps?" The Church's view on this is well known. We stand for independence, thrift, and abolition of the dole. This was emphasized in the Saturday morning welfare meeting of general conference. "The aim of the Church is to help the people to help themselves. Work is to be re-enthroned as the ruling principle of the lives of our Church membership" (Heber J. Grant, Conference Report, October 1936, p. 3).
When you accept food stamps, you accept an unearned handout that other working people are paying for. You do not earn food stamps or welfare payments. Every individual who accepts an unearned government gratuity is just as morally culpable as the individual who takes a handout from taxpayers' money to pay his heat, electricity, or rent. There is no difference in principle between them. You did not come to this University to become a welfare recipient. You came here to be a light to the world, a light to society--to save society and to help to save this nation, the Lord's base of operations in these latter days, to ameliorate man's social conditions. You are not here to be a parasite or freeloader. The price you pay for "something for nothing" may be more than you can afford. Do not rationalize your acceptance of government gratuities by saying, "I am a contributing taxpayer too." By doing this you contribute to the problem which is leading this nation to financial insolvency.
Society may rationalize immorality, but God cannot condone it. Society sponsors Sabbath breaking, but the Church counsels otherwise. Society profanes the name of Deity, but Latter-day Saints cannot countenance it. Because society condones a dole, which demoralizes man and weakens his God-given initiative and character, can we?
I know what it is, as many of your faculty members do, to work my way through school, taking classes only during winter quarters. If you don't have the finances to complete your education, drop out a semester and go to work and save. You'll be a better man or woman for so doing. You will have preserved your self-respect and initiative. Wisdom comes with experience and struggle, not just with going through a university matriculation. I hope you will not be deceived by current philosophies which will rob you of your godly dignity, self-respect, and initiative, those attributes that make a celestial inheritance possible. It is in that interest, and that only, that I have spoken so plainly to you.

Ezra Taft Benson, “A Vision and a Hope for the Youth of Zion,” 1977 Devotional Speeches of the Year, (Provo, UT: Brigham Young University Press, 1978), pp. 76-78, emphasis in original.