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At BYU, Pres. Thomas Monson relates how Harvard's Clayton Christensen got Book of Mormon testimony

Published: Wednesday, Nov. 2 2011 9:42 a.m. MDT

Clayton Christensen is a Harvard business professor and Salt Lake City native who is an active Mormon.

Evgenia Eliseeva, Eve Photograph

PROVO — LDS Church President Thomas S. Monson pinned a large portion of his devotional address at BYU on Tuesday on the story of how Harvard business professor Clayton Christensen received his testimony of the Book of Mormon while a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford.

Below, we provide the striking full story President Monson told. It underscored his advice that students should anchor their lives in the gospel so their lights may shine as examples to the world.

A year ago, President Monson told a college basketball story about Christensen during the October 2010 General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Christensen decided, while playing for the Oxford basketball team, not to play ball in a championship game that fell on the Sabbath. President Monson used the story to illustrate one of what he described in his title as "The Three Rs of Choice." That story is also provided below.

Both stories are based on a devotional address Christensen gave at BYU-Idaho on June 8, 2004, titled "Decisions for Which I've Been Grateful." Read it here. Find an audio version here.

For more about Christensen, a member of the Deseret News Editorial Advisory Board, see the links provided below the stories.

President Monson on Christensen's hard-won testimony:

May I share with you the experience of Brother Clayton M. Christensen as he sought to know for himself. Brother Christensen has served in many positions of leadership in the Church, including as an Area Seventy. He has received far too many academic awards for me to mention here. He is currently the Robert and Jane Cizik Professor of Business Administration at the Harvard Business School. He is also an alumnus of Brigham Young University, and I believe his son Spencer and daughter Catherine are currently students here.

When Brother Christensen finished his schooling at Brigham Young University, he received a scholarship to go to Oxford University in England as a Rhodes Scholar. When he arrived at Oxford, he realized that it would be somewhat challenging to be an active member of the Church in Oxford. The Rhodes Scholarship Trust that had given him his scholarship had a lot of activities for the recipients of the scholarship, and if he were going to be active in the Church it would be difficult for him to participate in those activities. He intended to obtain in just two years a degree in applied econometrics — a program which took most students three years to complete.

This, of course added to his lack of extra time. He realized, as he thought through how involved in the Church he could be, that he didn't even know for certain if the Book of Mormon was true. He realized that he had read the Book of Mormon seven times up to that point, and that after each of those seven times he had knelt in prayer and had asked God to tell him if it was true. He had received no answer. As he thought through why he hadn't received an answer, he realized that each time he had read the Book of Mormon, it was because of an assignment, either from his parents or a BYU instructor or his mission president or a seminary teacher, and his chief objective had been to finish the book. But now, as he was about to commence his studies at Oxford, he realized that he desperately needed to know if the Book of Mormon was true.

He recognized, as well, that he had sustained himself on a belief in many of the doctrines of the Church and in his parents, because he knew they knew it was true, and he trusted his parents. Here he was, however, desperately needing to know for himself if it was true.

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