Thursday, October 30, 2014

True or False: Packer's Prediction

Myths and legends abound in Utah Mormondom. They’re passed from one Sunday school class to another and they always seem to grow in the telling. Some are so vague or farfetched you can tell they’re fishy right away. But others can seem pretty legit, especially if they’ve been passed around for long enough. One of these involves a statement supposedly made by President Packer regarding how valiant youth will be treated in the Spirit World. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could prove or debunk myths like this, and give the sources to back it up?   


   
            Say no more! That’s right, folks. It’s time to play...



True
Or
False?





 (Cue game show music…)



            Today’s question: 


              

 Did Boyd K. Packer once make this statement regarding the youth of the Church?

           


You were in the War in Heaven and one day when you are in the spirit world you will be enthralled with those who you are associated with. You will ask someone in which time period he lived in and you might hear, "I was with Moses when he parted the Red Sea," or "I helped build the pyramids," or "I fought with Captain Moroni." And as you are standing there in amazement, someone will turn to you and ask, "Which prophet time did you live in?" And when you say "Gordon B. Hinckley," a hush will fall over every hall, every corridor in heaven and all in attendance will bow at your presence. You were held back six thousand years because you were the most talented, most obedient, most courageous, and most righteous. Are you still? Remember who you are!


If you’ve been in the Church long enough, you might remember hearing this quote in seminary or in sacrament meeting. It’s obviously a powerful statement, just the kind of thing you could use to drum up enthusiasm in a Young Men’s or Young Women’s group. But, did Elder Packer actually make this dramatic statement?






True or false?


And the answer is…






       
 False!




Sorry, folks. This one’s been debunked by the man himself. Back in 2001, Elder Packer released a statement regarding this quote and its attribution to him. He said:
            “I did not make that statement. I do not believe that statement. The statement, on occasion, has been attributed to others of the First Presidency and the Twelve. None of the Brethren made that statement.”

            That’s a pretty solid rebuttal. But even that couldn’t kill the rumor. The quote continued to circulate among well-meaning Mormons who never stopped to verify the source. Because of the quote’s resilience, the First Presidency later sent out a letter to local leaders to be read in sacrament meeting. Among other things, the letter declared: “This is a false statement. It is not Church doctrine.” It further urged leaders to “see that it is not used in Church talks, classes, bulletins or newsletters.” So for anyone wondering if you’ll be bowed to in the next life, I wouldn’t get your hopes up.
           
But remember, even if this particular quote is nothing but melodramatic twaddle, that doesn’t mean we’re not a blessed generation. President Ezra Taft Benson said in one of his conference addresses “You have been born at this time for a sacred and glorious purpose. It is not by chance that you have been reserved to come to earth in this last dispensation of the fullness of times. Your birth at this particular time was foreordained in the eternities. You are to be the royal army of the Lord in the last days. You are ‘youth of the noble birthright.’ ”
And it was President Hinckley who said “I have great confidence in our young people as a whole. I regard you as the finest generation in the history of the Church. I compliment you, and I have in my heart a great feeling of love and respect and appreciation for you.”
So there you go. Two prophets both saying the people of the Church are a chosen generation with great potential. These statements were both made in general conference and are on public record, so these are the quotes to put your money on. You’ll also notice that neither of them said our generation is better than others, either. Rather, it seems pretty clear that each and every generation of people is chosen and foreordained to do their part in God’s work. We can’t assume we are stronger or more spiritual people based on what generation we were born in. That would be superstitious nonsense. In fact, the term ‘chosen generation’ comes from 1 Peter 2:9. So if they’re a chosen generation, does that make us the really chosen generation? And then the next generation of youth after us will be the really, really chosen generation, and so on? I don’t think so.
So if you ever hear this myth being thrown around, just remember, it’s your devotion to Christ that matters, not the dispensation you were born into. Because Christ is the only one we’ll really be bowing down to. Case closed.


Sources:
 Benson, Ezra T. “To the “Youth of the Noble Birthright”” Ensign May 1986: n. pag. Web. <https://www.lds.org/ensign/1986/05/to-the-youth-of-the-noble-birthright?lang=eng&query=youth+of+the+noble+birthright>.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Newsroom. First Presidency Releases Statement. Church News. Deseret News, 8 Mar. 2008. Web. 9 Oct. 2014. <http://www.ldschurchnewsarchive.com/articles/51715/First-Presidency-releases-statement.html>.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Newsroom. Pres. Packer Refutes QuoteChurch News. Deseret News, 28 Apr. 2001. Web. 9 Oct. 2014. <http://www.ldschurchnewsarchive.com/articles/39791/Pres-Packer-refutes-quote.html>.
Hinckley, Gordon B. “A Chosen Generation.” Ensign May 1992: n. pag. Web. <https://www.lds.org/ensign/1992/05/a-chosen-generation?lang=eng&query=chosen+generation>.

“Mormon Urban Legends or Folklore/Boyd K. Packer: Youth Generals in War in Heaven.” –FairMormon. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Oct. 2014. <http://en.fairmormon.org/Mormon_urban_legends_or_folklore/Boyd_K._Packer%3A_youth_generals_in_war_in_heaven>.

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