Beyond Ordinary: Lessons learned from the life of an apostle

Published: Wednesday, Dec. 7 2011 5:00 a.m. MST

I, for one, have consistently stated that I do not know why the right of priesthood and the exalting temple ordinances and blessings were withheld from blacks during most of the existence of the LDS Church. Also, I have not shied away from expressing my belief that in order for one to gain a true understanding of the restrictions, and their lifting in 1978, one must exercise faith in Christ and temper one's knowledge of historical evidence with an eternal perspective.

On the back cover of "Life's Lessons Learned" are found these words from Elder Oaks: "We are commanded to learn by both reason and revelation. Our learnings should be disciplined by human reason and also enlightened by divine revelation. In the end, truth has only one content and one source." I truly believe in those words.

With two Mormons vying as legitimate candidates for the opportunity to face the black incumbent in our nation's next presidential election, both the United States of America and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints find themselves at an unprecedented time and place in their respective histories. Most blacks and Mormons of my generation or older never imagined they would ever see such a day and circumstance.

Thus, I believe it is imperative that all Americans — LDS, black or otherwise — be able to clearly distinguish truth from error with regard to the holy priesthood of God, its divine bestowal throughout the ages and its receipt by differing individuals, groups, peoples and nations since the days of Adam and especially since the establishment of the LDS Church — a time known as "the last dispensation" or "the dispensation of the fulness of times."

Attorney Keith N. Hamilton, an adjunct professor at BYU law school and former chairman of the Utah Board of Pardons and Parole, served as an LDS bishop in San Francisco. He is author of "Last Laborer: Thoughts and Reflections of a Black Mormon."

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