“‘Use the Book of Mormon,’ President Benson Tells Michigan Area Conference,” Ensign, Dec. 1986, 68
More than six thousand Latter-day Saints heard inspired counsel from President Ezra Taft Benson during the Michigan Area Conference in Ann Arbor October 12.
“The Book of Mormon was written for us,” President Benson told the congregation gathered at the University of Michigan’s Crisler Arena. “God told Mormon what to include in the abridgment for our day.”
President Benson added that “the two main purposes of the Book are, first, to be a witness for Jesus Christ and His gospel, testifying of His divinity and our need for a redeemer; and, second, to confound the enemies of Christ and put down false doctrines.”
In his address, President Benson pointed out that the criticisms voiced by “the apostates in the Book of Mormon are the same type that we encounter today in the form of false educational, political, and philosophical doctrines. Joseph Smith’s experience with a minister after the first vision sums up all criticism against the Church today: critics do not believe that God speaks to man today through living prophets.
“Latter-day Saints should use the Book of Mormon in answering objections to the Church,” he continued. “This can be done utilizing the following procedure: through careful and prayerful study we must understand [the Book of Mormon] better. Next, we must answer objections from the scriptures, stating that the correctness of our answer depends on whether or not Joseph Smith was a prophet. Last, to determine whether or not The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has modern revelation, the person voicing the objection must find out for himself if the Book of Mormon is true.”
President Benson stressed the need for “more and better prepared missionaries who know the Book of Mormon. This is a day of preparation,” he added. “We need missionaries to match our message. Those missionaries who use it know that the Book of Mormon is the instrument to convince the hearts of men. There is a difference between those converts who are built on the gospel and the Book of Mormon and those who are not.”
He counseled, “Our homes are not as calm unless we read the Book of Mormon. Our families may be corrupted by worldly trends and teachings if we do not read it. Our missionaries are not as effective if they do not use it. We will not be as spirit-filled unless we hold fast to its truths. …
“Every Latter-day Saint should make the study of the Book of Mormon a lifelong pursuit.”
President Benson was accompanied by his wife, Flora, and by Elder L. Tom Perry of the Council of the Twelve and Sister Perry, all of whom spoke during the conference.
Following President Benson’s address, the choir sang “God Be with You Till We Meet Again.” The closing prayer was offered by President W. E. Barry Mayo of the Bloomfield Hills Michigan Stake.
Elder Keith W. Wilcox of the First Quorum of the Seventy, representing the area presidency, conducted the area conference—the first in the Michigan Area since 1980. Members present represented the eight Michigan stakes and southeastern Ontario.
The first branch of the Church in the Michigan Territory was organized in 1833, four years before Michigan was granted statehood. Its early membership grew rapidly until most of the Saints emigrated to Utah during the late 1840s. From that point, Church growth in the Midwest progressed slowly until Michigan’s first stake, the Detroit Stake, was organized by President Benson in 1952. Eight stakes and two missions have since been organized in an area now consisting of more than twenty thousand members.
Correspondent: Jeff Kulesus, public communications director, Bloomfield Hills Region.