The Last Lecture

a speech outline

In so doing. it became apparent early on that most church members regarded my views with the same hesitation and scorn that they reserved for reports of ufo sightings. Over the last 40 years or so. I found myself breathing rather rarified air: None of my fellow Saints seemed aware of the information I had ferret out and then sought to share with them. In fact. Called the “Last Lecture. That study resulted in a distinctive view. That’s what I would like to do today. Larson The ancient cosmology taught by Joseph Smith is a temporal gospel truth not yet widely perceived or appreciated by members of the Church. understanding temporal gospel truths requires much study and prayer. if you will. I have dedicated my spare time — outside raising a family and earning a living — to an in-depth study of the restored gospel. They almost entirely discounted what I sought to teach. this is what I would want to say to you right now. WERE � ARE TO COME The Last Lecture a speech outline Copyright © 2007 Anthony E. and they regarded me as nothing more than a purveyor of “odd knowledge” having little to do with their understanding of the gospel or the real world. Y ears ago at byu. If I knew I was going to be called home tomorrow.THINGS AS THEY ARE. vanishings in the Bermuda Triangle and chance encounters with Big Foot or Yeti in remote regions of the world. one that prompted me to become an author and lecturer — roles I had never previously contemplated in my wildest fantasies. . Just like everything else in the gospel.” it was formatted to give the lecturer the opportunity to speak as though it were the last address he or she would give before dying — a sort of gospel last will and testament. a new lecture series was instigated.

Ere long. guided by inspired men. could this seeming dichotomy be resolved? What had apparently blinded the majority of church members to such information? The answer was actually quite simple. who had dropped the ball. On the one hand. I questioned my own conclusions. How could it be that with revelation in the church there would be gaps in our gospel knowledge? It just didn’t seem logical or possible. How. the Saints. Thanks to a quiet revolution in the natural sciences. this information was notoriously obvious and readily available. I had simply discovered for myself something that every Latter-day Saint should also have learned in the course of a thoroughgoing study of the restored gospel. seemed to know little or nothing of the things I had discovered. I was confronted with a dilemma. the modern church. I was unique only in that I had followed that distinct . this conceptual and perceptual gap widened. I discovered whole areas of thought and information of which most members were seemingly totally unaware. it had sweeping implications for every aspect of the gospel.The Last Lecture 3 As time went on and my research progressed. most members would already know these things. the evidence continued to mount as my research progressed. with leaders who I knew to be inspired. On the other. At first. we all belong to the one. How could it be that everyone else had missed this information? Logic and reason suggested that I had probably shimmied out on a faux limb. Nevertheless. It was apparent that this traditional symbolism touched on more than simply prophetic imagery. my research uncovered the indisputable fact that these ideas had been taught in the early days of the church by general authorities. And this puzzled me as much as it perplexed others. but not easy to see and sometimes hard to acknowledge. It’s not that I had discovered something heretofore unknown. There could be no doubt about the validity of the concepts I was learning. It was we. After all. I wondered. Most reported that they had learned these concepts from the horse’s mouth: the prophet Joseph Smith himself. the evidence was overwhelming that the concepts were correct and had been taught early on in the restoration. including temple iconography and ritual — perhaps one of the least understood facets of the restoration. otherwise. true church. So.

as the Lord charged them to do. most of us are stuck in that early growth stage in our gospel progression. The rest of the information is our responsibility. again. Let me demonstrate the indifference or apathy of the Saints for you. most Saints have never taken the time to study those few pages. books. Instead. What we hear in general conference talks and in church each Sunday is meant to support one mission and one mission only: convert the Saints and get them moving along the right path. Even though it’s only just about 200 pages long. spiritual and secular. most of us balk at true study. carefully orchestrated and calculated to reach out to nonmembers and new members alike. My rejoinder is to ask. History of the Church? How many of us have read his views firsthand? No truly earnest member can claim they understand their founding prophet if they have not read his own statements on a myriad of issues. Yet. What the brethren have concentrated on. most members don’t even know it exists. True. . I had gone without reservation where others feared to tread. we’ve not found time to fully study the gospel. manuals. How long have you been a member? Five years? Ten years? Most of your adult life? How is that not enough time to do a little reading? Most of us have read untold volumes in our lifetime: newspapers. Or. Yet. we fulfill our callings and even comply with church standards sufficient to go to the temple for the higher ordinance work. all well designed. to get them solidly based in the fundamental principles of the restored gospel.) There is a wealth of information there. by divine design. like recalcitrant children. our virtual passbook to salvation and exaltation. They had elected to ignore those bits as irrelevant or misleading.The Last Lecture 4 trail of evidentiary breadcrumbs through the informational forest. It’s a virtual treasure trove of gospel information. etc. Instead. It’s missionary work. what about Joseph Smith’s own diary. we depend upon the general authorities and others to spoon-feed us. magazines. Yet. how many of you have taken the opportunity to read through the Bible dictionary in your scriptures? (Hold up the scriptures. Some may say that they can’t be expected to do all that reading. And therein lies the flaw in our logic. For example. are the basics: the first principles and ordinances of the gospel.

Therefore. the symbolism of our temples and the language of the prophets. Littered with seemingly bizarre imagery. He only confirms and comforts. This has been explained to us over and over. the symbolism in its ordinances. Nothing could be further from the truth. We suppose that merely listening and reading a bit. too. we struggle with huge information gaps. Due to our almost complete failure to truly study the “fullness” of the gospel. coupled with sincere. prayerful supplication for answers. eludes us. Those are evidenced by our gospel blind spots: the imagery of ancient wisdom used in the metaphors of prophecy. we have no clue about the origins of such an odd metaphor. We all know. we do so largely without understanding what we see and experience there and in our reading of the scriptures as well. just as we do the scriptures. So. for example. taking it entirely for granted. rites and rituals as well as the icons in its architecture are a mystery to us.The Last Lecture 5 Yet. This is key: The Spirit is not a teacher. we dismiss it as unimportant or too mysterious for anyone but the most inspired of prophets to interpret. our church leaders would have repeatedly explained it in minute detail. just as they do fundamental gospel elements. too. You must learn a thing first by research and study before the Spirit can confirm the truth of it to you. . Read about Elder Cowdery’s dilemma in D&C 8 and 9. So. invisible and unacknowledged. will yield all we need to know. Even for those among us who attend the temple regularly or work therein. with the symbolism of the scriptures. that the phrase used therein “the mountain of the Lord’s house” refers to the temple. How is a temple equated to a mountain? We don’t even exhibit so much as a little curiosity about such symbolism. it appears far too confusing and unfathomable for the average member. This. The notion that we can ‘read’ the temple. is the case with prophecy. We suffer from what I call the Oliver Cowdery syndrome: We think that truth will be given us without any effort on our part. But. we suppose that if it were truly vital to our personal repository of gospel knowledge.

and you will learn what I’ve learned. and we disparage the fullness of the restored gospel. We are missing that much. not your bishop not your stake president … not . Joseph Smith had to study the Bible to come across the notion that God would answer his questions for him before he could be given that first vision. It takes real effort on your part and true inquisitiveness to formulate a focused concept sufficiently well developed to pray about. What a sad state of affairs.. Likewise. And surprisingly. let me say that what I have learned is not peripheral to one’s gospel knowledge and understanding. There’s no magic. We set at naught the efforts of the prophets to enlighten us. Reading the Book of Mormon came before praying about it to get a confirmation of its truth from the Spirit. It’s no mystery. in summary. (Tear the binding right down the middle and toss half of it on the floor. How did you come by your testimony? It was necessary that you first inform yourself about the gospel before praying about it. ask second. That’s the way it works: study first. we may as well tear our scriptures in half and throw one of the two halves away. it’s nearly invisible to you. and I’ve successfully and enlighteningly employed these concepts to make sense of temple symbolism and prophecy. (Hold up the Bible. Only through concerted effort and diligence will this wisdom become apparent to you. I’ve only found and followed the trail of breadcrumbs left there for us. But. He’s that anxious to lead you forward. So. I am not the keeper and purveyor of odd knowledge and irrelevant information you may have taken me to be. sermon or counsel to you: Study! Look closely. casual reading does not qualify as study.and more. I’ve diligently tracked it where it was intended to lead those who exercise due diligence. So as I noted at the outset of this talk. the Spirit reveals the truth of what you’re studying or formulating before you ever get the chance to ask.The Last Lecture 6 Think about it. But like the obvious nose on your face..) Without it. Study means work. I’ve documented my concepts in the statements of early church leaders from Joseph Smith on forward. this would be my last lecture. as often as not.) We may as well listen to the gospel message half asleep. And no one else can or will do it for you — not your home teacher. It is essential.

blogspot.com/ For online classes. videos.mormonprophecy. It’s not the responsibility of the brethren to explain every nuanced detail of the gospel to you. newsletters and published books exploring this material in depth: http://www.com .The Last Lecture 7 even the prophet. get after it. “Do it…now!” For more essays from this series: http://mormonprophecy.com/ Your questions or comments are welcome: anthonyelarson@gmail. That’s your job. As President Kimball was fond of saying.

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