Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Elder John A. Widtsoe on choices between good options in life

Elder John A. Widtsoe (1872-1952) was born in Norway. He was raised by his widowed mother who immigrated to Utah when John was 11. He was educated at Harvard and in Europe, and had formative roles in programs in several Utah universities including BYU. He served as an apostle from 1921 to his death in 1952.
"In life all must choose at times. Sometimes, two possibilities are good; neither is evil. Usually, however, one is of greater import than the other. When in doubt, each must choose that which concerns the good of others—the greater law—rather than that which chiefly benefits ourselves—the lesser law. The greater must be chosen whether it be law or thing. That was the choice made in Eden."
- John A. Widtsoe, Evidences and Reciliations 2:78

Elder Widtsoe was one of the formative thinkers of his generation; with works like A Rational Theology and Evidences and Reconciliations he provided many thoughtful insights into our doctrine. In this example he considers a fact that has been echoed by many leaders since—the choices that we make between options that aren't always between good and evil:

That last sentence is also very significant. This was, I think, probably the first time Eve's actions in the Garden of Eden were presented in this way, not as a tragic catastrophe but as a choice of a greater good. We can all be grateful for that example!

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2018)

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