Truth will continue to flourish, LDS leader President Uchtdorf says

Published: Monday, March 17 2014 11:15 a.m. MDT

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf gives keynote address in Conference Center Theater on the second day of annual Church History Symposium sponsored by BYU and Church History Department.

R. Scott Lloyd

Speaking to the annual Church History Symposium, President Dieter F. Uchtdorf declared, “The pursuit, discovery and application of truth are what we are on this earth to discover.”

President Uchtdorf, second counselor in the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, gave a keynote address in the Conference Center in Salt Lake City on March 7, the second day of the two-day symposium.

He drew his theme from a quoted remark by novelist Michael Crichton: “If you don’t know history, you don’t know anything. You are a leaf that doesn’t know it is part of a tree.”

“History teaches us not only about the leaves of existence,” President Uchtdorf commented. “It also teaches about the twigs, branches, trunks and roots of life. And these lessons are important.”

He said the gospel of Christ that the LDS Church embraces encompasses all truth “but it specializes in the knowledge that will be of greatest worth to us in this life and throughout the eternities to come.”

God warns his children repeatedly not to place their trust in the world’s wisdom, observed President Uchtdorf, “yet we have an almost irresistible desire to assume that the leaf of information we have in our possession is a representation of all there is to know.”

He spoke of his childhood living in a small branch of the LDS Church in Zwickau, East Germany, where he sometimes had the assignment to work the bellows that supplied air to the pump organ in the branch meetinghouse.

“I loved our little meetinghouse with its stained glass windows that showed Joseph Smith kneeling in the Sacred Grove,” he said. “When I was young, I supposed that this was what the LDS Church looked like – that what I was seeing in Zwickau was what every other member of the LDS Church saw during their Sunday experience throughout the world.”

Now, almost 70 years later, he has seen that the LDS Church outwardly appears different in the various areas of the world, he said. “I can affirm that it is of the same spirit and the same essence wherever you go. It rests upon the foundation of the blessed Redeemer and it is guided by the rock of revelation.”

President Uchtdorf said God is able to make great things come out of small beginnings. “In fact, this is often his preferred strategy.”

He gave as examples the small Galilean town of Nazareth, the hometown of Jesus, and the small town of Palmyra, N.Y., where Joseph Smith experienced the First Vision.

“From these two unlikely and disregarded places – Nazareth and Palmyra – emerged two figures who would change the world,” he remarked.

Heavenly Father teaches his children repeatedly not to place their trust in the wisdom of the world, President Uchtdorf said. “And yet we have an almost irresistible desire to assume that the leaf of information we have in our possession is a representation of all there is to know.”

He warned, “We must not abandon God’s revealed truth – which comes from the roots and source of all righteousness and truth. For what we see, in contrast, is the truth of our leaf.”

He related an incident of Frederick the Great, the 18th century King of Prussia. After a military defeat, many of Frederick’s soldiers scattered in confusion. A soldier brought before the king was asked why he had run away.

“Because things were going badly for your majesty,” was the reply.

“Frederick reflected for a moment, then said mildly, ‘I suggest that you wait a week. Then, if things are still going badly, we will quit together,’” President Uchtdorf recounted.