Q&A: Questions and Answers


These answers are printed to give help and perspective, not as pronouncements of Church doctrine.

“How does a Latter-day Saint look at the current Israeli-Arab conflict in light of scriptural references to Judah returning to the Holy Land? Does this mean that a Latter-day Saint favors the Israeli position? How would a Latter-day Saint evaluate the position of the Arabs, who also seem to have legitimate claims?”

Answer/Brother G. Homer Durham

The foregoing questions suggest the idea that there is, or should be (in the current situation), an official, authoritative Latter-day Saint answer “in light of scriptural references to Judah returning to the Holy Land.” Certainly such specific response would be possible, if the First Presidency thought it necessary. However, to my knowledge, they have made no statement on the current situation in the Middle East.

As Latter-day Saints, we have been made aware of the Jews and their place in the house of Israel. That awareness, however, does not suggest that we have policies and attitudes regarding all of their crises and national problems.

The Book of Mormon, a new witness for Christ to the Jew and the gentile, appeared in 1830. Latter-day Saints have always since viewed the return of the Jews to the Holy Land as part of the program of this dispensation.

Leaders of the Church from the time of Joseph Smith have reflected on the return of the Jews. The Book of Mormon in 2 Nephi 10:7 [2 Ne. 10:7] states that the Jews “shall be restored in the flesh, upon the earth, unto the lands of their inheritance.” (See also President David O. McKay’s discussion in Gospel Ideals, Improvement Era, 1953, p. 556.)

The Balfour Declaration of 1917 and the 1948 action of the United Nations terminating British rule, providing for the creation of the State of Israel, provoked private and public expression from leaders and members of the Church. Section 133 of the Doctrine and Covenants [D&C 133] bears directly on the general theme involved. Anticipation of “Armageddon,” scene of the defeat of anti-Christian powers in the Revelation of St. John (Rev 16:16), also has invited reflection and speculation.

The State of Israel has been established. The surrounding Arab states view it as a thorn in the flesh that must be plucked out. Through it all, the State of Israel since 1948 has demonstrated the will to live and to survive.

We need to remember, though, that the Arabs are also children of Abraham. Hence, the complications of any given hour, event, or conflict really suggest another gospel view: namely, that both Jews and Arabs need to rekindle their mutual heritage of kinship and brotherhood. The example of the pure love of Christ and the message of the restoration of his gospel must eventually be the means of reconciliation if there is to be reconciliation.

In the meantime, then, even though there will be many crises, perhaps losses and gains on both sides, we can rest assured that the prophets have foreseen some of the end results. In 1936 President Joseph Fielding Smith wrote:

“Today the words of the prophets are being fulfilled. Judah is being gathered. Jerusalem is being rebuilt and the Lord is preparing to redeem his ancient people. Eventually they will be sitting under their own vine and fig tree, enjoying the fulness of the Gospel, and the blessings of the house of the Lord, in fulfillment of the words of Ezekiel:

“‘Moreover I will make a covenant of peace with them, and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in the midst of them for evermore’—Ezek. 37:26.” (TheProgress of Man, Genealogical Society of Utah, 1952, p. 129.)

Commissioner, Utah System of Higher Education

Sometimes some persons seem to be emotional—even over-emotional—in testimony meeting. Do you have to be an emotional person to have a testimony?

Answer/Sister Lenore Romney

Certainly all members should feel at home in the Church, and bearing our testimonies does not have to be accompanied by overemotionalism. However, to be alive involves being emotional, whether expressed or not, because aliveness consists of being able to feel love, anger, remorse, joy, and other emotions. Admittedly, people display their emotions differently, and events provoke different degrees of emotional response from each of us.

The intensity of our response to various emotions may be part of our inheritance—of whether, for example, we’re male or female. We know also that some persons cannot witness suffering without collapsing, while others seem aloof. Some persons are very efficient in a crisis, and others are inefficient.

Having a testimony and bearing witness of it are two different things. To gain a testimony involves knowledge and experience; one receives confirmation from God that Jesus is the Christ and that the gospel is true. When Peter answered the Lord that he knew Jesus was the Son of the living God, Christ answered: “… flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my father which is in heaven.” (Matt. 16:17.)

Our spirit within us responds as the Holy Ghost bears witness to the truth. A testimony of the truthfulness of the gospel and the divinity of Jesus Christ is thus the highest of all experiences and knowledge. Those who have not experienced this, or who may not be appreciating sufficiently the meaningfulness of this testimony in the lives of others, may not relate to or understand sympathetically what seems at times to be overemotionalism when a testimony is expressed.

Even so, a testimony is not the result of emotionalism but of knowledge, which may inspire high emotional response in some persons when witnessing.

Chevy Chase (Maryland) Ward

Is it justifiable to borrow money for educational purposes?

Answer/Brother Joe J. Christensen

For many years the General Authorities of the Church have counseled the membership to avoid debt. In this era of easy credit and rapid proliferation of credit cards with which one can buy everything from a haircut to a color television set, the temptation to go into debt is greater than ever. Certainly excessive personal debt can be devastating.

However, Church leaders have also recognized the value of good investments and the advisability of borrowing money for legitimate reasons.

President David O. McKay once wrote the following about money management and borrowing for investments:

“A great lesson in life is to learn to spend less than we earn. It is surprising how much success depends upon that little practice and how quickly failure can come in business, or to an individual who spends more than he earns. I am not referring now to investments—investments in education, investments in property. I am referring to unwise expenditures.” (Treasures of Life, pp. 194–95.)

If you need to borrow money for an education, here are a few principles that you should keep in mind:

1. Loans should not replace personal or family responsibilities, nor take the place of part-time work.

2. Try to borrow no more than absolutely necessary.

3. Attempt to procure loans at the lowest interest rate available.

There are many financial institutions that operate through colleges and universities. There are private and public funds designed specifically to help students in need. Some loans for education are interest-free for a few months and then charge a lower rate afterwards. For more information about what is available, check with the office of student financial aid at the school, college, or university you wish to attend.

Naturally a person should do all he can to procure his education on a pay-as-you-go basis. However, if this is impossible, an individual who cannot afford the immediate costs of education may be very wise to obtain a loan, if it means the difference of completing the training or not. For students in the United States, for example, studies show that it is not uncommon that the return on an investment in education beyond high school could enable one to receive at least $200,000 in additional income during a lifetime of work. In anyone’s book that’s a good return for one’s time, effort, and money.

Associate Commissioner for Seminaries and Institutes

“What does it mean to be born again?”

Answer/President Bruce R. McConkie

To be born again is essential to salvation!

Those who are born again are candidates for the celestial kingdom. Those who are not born again can neither see nor enter the kingdom of heaven. (John 3:1–13.) It is thus tremendously important for us to know—

1. What is meant by being born again; and

2. How one may attain this select and blessed state.

There are two births—the temporal and the spiritual. One is a birth into mortality, the other an awakening to that high spiritual state which puts a person on the path leading to the kingdom of heaven. Of these births the Lord says:

“… Inasmuch as ye were born into the world by water, and blood, and the spirit, which I have made, and so became of dust a living soul, even so ye must be born again into the kingdom of heaven, of water, and of the Spirit, and be cleansed by blood, even the blood of mine Only Begotten”—Why this second birth? The Lord’s answer—“that ye might be sanctified from all sin, and enjoy the words of eternal life in this world, and eternal life in the world to come, even immortal glory.” (Moses 6:59.)

That is, mortal man, having been cast out of the presence of God—being subject to sin, must put off the natural man and become a saint. (Mosiah 3:19.) He must crucify the “old man” of sin and come forth “in newness of life” (Rom. 6:1–10) and become a “new” creature of the Holy Ghost (Mosiah 27:24–30). He must become alive to the things of righteousness and return to the presence of God in the sense that he enjoys the companionship of the Holy Spirit.

In our temporal birth we are born to mortal parents and belong to an earthly family. In our spiritual birth we are adopted into a new family, the family of Christ. We take upon ourselves his name and he becomes our Father.

Those who join the Church and live the gospel “have power to become” the sons of Jesus Christ. (D&C 39:1–6.) King Benjamin said to the faithful saints in his day: “… ye shall be called the children of Christ, his sons, and his daughters; for behold, this day he hath spiritually begotten you; … your hearts are changed through faith on his name; therefore, ye are born of him and have become his sons and his daughters.” (Mosiah 5:7.)

For most members of the Church this spiritual rebirth takes place gradually; it is a process. They become alive to one spiritual reality after another as they keep the commandments and seek to sanctify their souls. No one is perfect, and there are all degrees of personal righteousness and spiritual enlightenment among the Saints.

Members of the Church are thus born again degree by degree, and the tests for measuring one’s spiritual status are in the fifth chapter of Alma. To his “brethren of the Church” Alma asks such questions as:

“Have ye spiritually been born of God?”

“Have ye received his image in your countenances?”

“Have ye experienced this mighty change in your hearts?”

“Can you imagine to yourselves that ye hear the voice of the Lord, saying unto you, in that day: Come unto me ye blessed, for behold, your works have been the works of righteousness upon the face of the earth?” (See Alma 5:14, 16.)

So important is it that we members of the Church have our attention centered on being born again that the Lord has provided us an opportunity to partake of the sacrament often and thereby covenant anew to take upon ourselves the name of Christ and to live as becometh sons and daughters in his household.

President of the First Council of the Seventy