My Witness: Henry B. Eyring’s Facebook Chiasm

henry b eyring_facebook_photo
Henry B. Eyring (facebook.com)

Henry B. Eyring has been a counselor in the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints since October 2007. Prior to this, he served in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles beginning in April 1995. Like the other members of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, President Eyring has had a Facebook account since 2013 “to provide people a safe and official way to follow the ministry of the Brethren.” On a regular basis he posts inspirational or instructive statements and occasionally includes an image.

On April 6, 2016, President Eyring posted his testimony of several things — Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, Joseph Smith’s First Vision, priesthood keys, The Book of Mormon, and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Upon closer examination, President Eyring’s Facebook post is a chiasm. Instructive in many ways, it could be considered a mini-sermon.


Diagram and Analysis:

A: I bear you my witness that God the Father lives, a glorified and exalted Man. He is the Father of our spirits. He and His Beloved Son, both resurrected and glorified, appeared to the boy Joseph Smith in a grove of trees in New York. They were there. The Father spoke to Joseph, first calling him by name and then introducing His Son.
B: Heavenly messengers came to restore all the priesthood keys of authority.
C: Joseph translated the Book of Mormon by the gift and power of God.
C: It had been written on plates by ancient prophets, one of whom gave them to Joseph and took them back when the translation was done.
B: The keys of the priesthood are on the earth today.
A: As a witness of Jesus Christ, I testify to you that I know He lives and that He leads His Church.

henry b eyring_facebook_status
(facebook.com)

A=A: “I bear you my witness that God the Father lives” complements “As a witness of Jesus Christ, I testify to you that I know He lives” and “He and His Beloved Son … both appeared to the boy Joseph Smith” complements “He leads His Church.” In this section, President Eyring testifies of two things. First, by equating his testimony of God the Father with his testimony of Jesus Christ, President Eyring is referring to the concept of divine investiture of authority, whereby Jesus represents or acts on behalf of Heavenly Father in all that He says and does. By testifying of both the Father and the Son, he is also referring to the process described in John 14:12-27, whereby Christ becomes the Second Comforter to the faithful, and, as Joseph Smith taught, “even He will manifest the Father unto him, and they will take up their abode with him” (TPJS, 151). Second, by comparing the origin story of the Church with the status of the Church today, President Eyring is testifying of the ever-present and very real leadership provided by the Lord through His living prophets.

B=B: “[P]riesthood keys” is equal to “keys of the priesthood.” The keys of the priesthood that were restored to Joseph Smith by “heavenly messengers” are still operative “on the earth today.” In other words, the Church has not drifted into apostasy, but has enjoyed an unbroken line of authority to act in the name of the Lord from the days of Joseph Smith to the days of Thomas S. Monson. This is in accord with prophecies concerning the latter-days. (See Isaiah 54:9-10; Jeremiah 33:15-18; Official Declaration-1; Jeffrey R. Holland, “Terror, Triumph, and a Wedding Feast.”)

C=C: “Joseph translated the Book of Mormon” complements “written on plates by ancient prophets.” The Book of Mormon contains the writings of ancient prophets and was translated by Joseph Smith “by the gift and power of God.” In other words, The Book of Mormon was not written by Joseph Smith nor any of his associates but is the record of ancient prophets. This process, of mortal man receiving divine help to accomplish God’s purposes, is the key to understanding the unfolding of the Restoration. Isaiah used this same example, the translation of The Book of Mormon, as a model to illustrate this process in the unfolding of the “marvelous work and a wonder” in the latter-days. If we have “eyes to see” we can see this process in action in the Church today as God works through man to accomplish His purposes.


Conclusion:

President Henry B. Eyring skillfully uses chiasmus to pack greater meaning into his relatively brief Facebook post. At first glance, his post is a powerful testimony of what he personally knows about the Restored Gospel. By using chiasmus, however, he is able to modestly disclose more intimate details about his testimony and how it was received. Ultimately, his Facebook post is a concise, inclusive witness of what he knows by revelatory means.

While much of what is posted on Facebook is intended for quick and easy consumption, President Eyring’s chiasm encourages us to slow down and ponder upon the words of the prophets, even though they may appear in commonplace spaces. With the knowledge they possess — the result of personal faithfulness and the gift of revelation — we can rely upon their teachings as if they come directly from the Lord.

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