Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Dallin H. Oaks on defending the truth while avoiding contention

Elder Dallin H. Oaks (b. August 12, 1932) served as president of BYU from 1971-1980.  He was then appointed as a justice of the Utah Supreme Court, and resigned when he was called to the Quorum of Twelve Apostles in 1984.
"We are to live in the world but not be of the world. We must live in the world because, as Jesus taught in a parable, His kingdom is 'like leaven,' whose function is to raise the whole mass by its influence (see Luke 13:21; Matthew 13:33; see also 1 Corinthians 5:6-8). His followers cannot do that if they associate only with those who share their beliefs and practices. But the Savior also taught that if we love Him, we will keep His commandments (see John 14:15).
"The gospel has many teachings about keeping the commandments while living among people with different beliefs and practices. The teachings about contention are central....
"Even as we seek to be meek and to avoid contention, we must not compromise or dilute our commitment to the truths we understand. We must not surrender our positions or our values. The gospel of Jesus Christ and the covenants we have made inevitably cast us as combatants in the eternal contest between truth and error. There is no middle ground in that contest."
- Dallin H. Oaks, "Loving Others and Living with Differences," Ensign, November 2014, pp. 25-28
Click here to read the full article

The Savior's way has never been isolationism. He never asked His followers to "associate only with those who share their beliefs and practices." Just the opposite—He wants disciples to reach out in love and kindness. Contention over practices and beliefs is never appropriate.

There will inevitably be differences between disciples and others, because of the covenants we have made to defend the truth. There will continue to be a "contest between truth and error" in which "there is no middle ground." But we must always "seek to be meek and to avoid contention" if we are truly disciples.

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