Facilitating Our Growth: Chiasmus in Dallin H. Oaks’ “Opposition In All Things”

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Dallin H. Oaks (lds.org)

Dallin H. Oaks has been a member of Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints since 1984. Prior to his call to full-time church service, Elder Oaks served as a justice on the Utah Supreme Court beginning in 1980 and as president of Brigham Young University beginning in 1971.

In the April 2016 General Conference of the Church, Elder Oaks gave an address on the “essential role” of opposition in our Heavenly Father’s Plan for our eternal development. His address, “Opposition In All Things,” contains several strong chiasms that provide precision in meaning. This article presents one extensive chiasm in detail, providing a step-by-step analysis. Afterward, six additional chiasms are presented and receive a less detailed treatment.


Diagram and Analysis:

A: From the beginning, agency and opposition were central to the Father’s plan and to Satan’s rebellion against it.
B: As the Lord revealed to Moses, in the council of heaven Satan “sought to destroy the agency of man” (Moses 4:3).
C: That destruction was inherent in the terms of Satan’s offer. He came before the Father and said, “Behold, here am I, send me, I will be thy son, and I will redeem all mankind, that one soul shall not be lost, and surely I will do it; wherefore give me thine honor” (Moses 4:1).
D: Thus, Satan proposed to carry out the Father’s plan in a way that would prevent the accomplishment of the Father’s purpose and give Satan His glory.
E: Satan’s proposal would have ensured perfect equality: it would “redeem all mankind,” that not one soul would be lost.
F: There would be no agency or choice by anyone and, therefore, no need for opposition.
F: There would be no test, no failure, and no success. There would be no growth to attain the purpose the Father desired for His children.
E: The scriptures record that Satan’s opposition resulted in a “war in heaven” (Revelation 12:7), in which two-thirds of the children of God earned the right to experience mortal life by choosing the Father’s plan and rejecting Satan’s rebellion.
D: Satan’s purpose was to gain for himself the Father’s honor and power (see Isaiah 14:12–15; Moses 4:1, 3).
C: “Wherefore,” the Father said, “because that Satan rebelled against me, … I caused that he should be cast down” (Moses 4:3) with all the spirits who had exercised their agency to follow him (see Jude 1:6; Revelation 12:8–9; D&C 29:36–37). Cast down as unembodied spirits in mortality, Satan and his followers tempt and seek to deceive and captivate the children of God (see Moses 4:4).
B: So it is that the evil one, who opposed and sought to destroy the Father’s plan, actually facilitated it,
A: because it is opposition that enables choice and it is the opportunity of making the right choices that leads to the growth that is the purpose of the Father’s plan.

A=A: “[A]gency and opposition” is complemented by “it is opposition that enables choice” and “central to the Father’s plan” equates with “the purpose of the Father’s plan.” Agency and opposition are “central to the Father’s plan” because opposition enables choice and making right choices is what leads to “the growth that is the purpose of the Father’s plan.” In contrast, Satan sought to remove both agency and opposition in an effort to thwart the plan.

B=B: “[S]ought to destroy” equals “sought to destroy.” In his effort to destroy the Father’s plan, Satan “actually facilitated it” by providing the opposition needed for agency to function.

C=C: “He came before the Father” is complemented by “Satan and his followers tempt and seek to deceive and captivate the children of God.” Just as Satan seeks to “deceive and captivate the children of God” in mortality, he first sought to deceive Heavenly Father at the council in heaven. Evidently, he tried to take advantage of Heavenly Father’s infinite love for His posterity by guaranteeing to redeem each one, but he underestimated Heavenly Father’s infinite wisdom and sense of justice. Satan’s plan was not even a viable option; it was a complete lie.

D=D: “[P]revent the accomplishment of the Father’s purpose and give Satan his glory” equates with “Satan’s purpose was to gain for himself the Father’s honor and power.” Ultimately, Satan was motivated by pride; he wanted Heavenly Father’s “honor,” which is His “power” (see D&C 29:36).

E=E: “[N]ot one soul would be lost” contrasts with “two-thirds of the children of God earned the right to experience mortal life by choosing the Father’s plan and rejecting Satan’s rebellion.” Paradoxically, in his deceptive efforts to “redeem all mankind,” Satan halted the progress of one-third of the spirit children of God. Only those who successfully opposed Satan’s efforts were qualified to move forward into mortality.

F=F: “[N]o agency or choice … no need for opposition” is complemented by “no test, no failure, and no success … no growth to attain the purpose the Father desired for His children.” By removing agency and opposition, Satan would ultimately have prevented growth and exaltation.


Additional Chiasms:

#1 — This chiasm emphasizes the tempering influence of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, which allows opposition to fuel our progress rather than prevent it through our wrong choices.

A: Central to the gospel of Jesus Christ is the Father’s plan of salvation for the eternal progress of His children. That plan, explained in modern revelation, helps us understand many things we face in mortality. My message focuses on the essential role of opposition in that plan.
B: The purpose of mortal life for the children of God is to provide the experiences needed “to progress toward perfection and ultimately realize their divine destiny as heirs of eternal life.”
C: As President Thomas S. Monson taught us so powerfully this morning, we progress by making choices,
D: by which we are tested to show that we will keep God’s commandments (see Abraham 3:25).
D: To be tested,
C: we must have the agency to choose between alternatives.
B: To provide alternatives on which to exercise our agency, we must have opposition.
A: The rest of the plan is also essential. When we make wrong choices—as we inevitably will—we are soiled by sin and must be cleansed to proceed toward our eternal destiny. The Father’s plan provides the way to do this, the way to satisfy the eternal demands of justice: a Savior pays the price to redeem us from our sins. That Savior is the Lord Jesus Christ, the Only Begotten Son of God the Eternal Father, whose atoning sacrifice—whose suffering—pays the price for our sins if we will repent of them.


#2 — This chiasm explains how opposition takes us from the realm of innocence into the realm of accountability. Confronted with options, we must choose for ourselves and reap the results.

A: One of the best explanations of the planned role of opposition is in the Book of Mormon, in Lehi’s teachings to his son Jacob. “It must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things. If not so, … righteousness could not be brought to pass, neither wickedness, neither holiness nor misery, neither good nor bad” (2 Nephi 2:11; see also verse 15).
B: As a result, Lehi continued, “the Lord God gave unto man that he should act for himself. Wherefore, man could not act for himself
C: save it should be that he was enticed by the one or the other” (verse 16).
C: Similarly, in modern revelation the Lord declares, “It must needs be that the devil should tempt the children of men,
B: or they could not be agents unto themselves” (D&C 29:39).
A: Opposition was necessary in the Garden of Eden. If Adam and Eve had not made the choice that introduced mortality, Lehi taught, “they would have remained in a state of innocence, … doing no good, for they knew no sin” (2 Nephi 2:23).


#3 — In this chiasm, the bitter forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden represents the various forms of opposition we encounter throughout life, including “temptation to sin” and “difficult circumstances.”

A: Significantly, the temptation to sin is not the only kind of opposition in mortality.
B: Father Lehi taught that if the Fall had not taken place, Adam and Eve “would have remained in a state of innocence, having no joy, for they knew no misery” (2 Nephi 2:23). Without the experience of opposition in mortality, “all things must needs be a compound in one,” in which there would be no happiness or misery (verse 11).
C: Therefore, Father Lehi continued, after God had created all things, “to bring about his eternal purposes in the end of man, …
D: it must needs be that there was an opposition;
D: even the forbidden fruit in opposition to the tree of life; the one being sweet and the other bitter” (verse 15).
C: His teaching on this part of the plan of salvation concludes with these words: “Behold, all things have been done in the wisdom of him who knoweth all things.
B: “Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy” (verses 24–25).
A: Opposition in the form of difficult circumstances we face in mortality is also part of the plan that furthers our growth in mortality.


#4 — In this chiasm, opposition is a universal mortal experience and is manifest in various ways and to varying degrees, to the end that we “grow toward what our Heavenly Father would have us become.”

A: All of us experience various kinds of opposition that test us.
B: Some of these tests are temptations to sin. Some are mortal challenges apart from personal sin.
B: Some are very great. Some are minor. Some are continuous, and some are mere episodes.
A: None of us is exempt. Opposition permits us to grow toward what our Heavenly Father would have us become.


#5 — To illustrate how opposition can manifest itself in our own lives, this chiasm shows to what extent Joseph Smith had to face opposition in order to publish the Book of Mormon after translating it. As with our own trials, “the Lord did not make it easy, but He did make it possible.”

A: After Joseph Smith had completed translating the Book of Mormon, he still had to find a publisher. This was not easy. The complexity of this lengthy manuscript and the cost of printing and binding thousands of copies were intimidating. Joseph first approached E. B. Grandin, a Palmyra printer, who refused.
B: He then sought another printer in Palmyra, who also turned him down.
C: He traveled to Rochester, 25 miles (40 km) away, and approached the most prominent publisher in western New York, who also turned him down.
B: Another Rochester publisher was willing, but circumstances made this alternative unacceptable.
A: Weeks had passed, and Joseph must have been bewildered at the opposition to accomplishing his divine mandate. The Lord did not make it easy, but He did make it possible. Joseph’s fifth attempt, a second approach to the Palmyra publisher Grandin, was successful.


#6 — Referring to the words of the Lord to Joseph Smith and the teachings of President Thomas S. Monson, this chiasm informs us that opposition is for our good, since it gives us “experience” and “presents us with the real test of our ability to endure.” While we may wonder about the wisdom of our present trials, Heavenly Father knows that “we learn and grow and become refined through hard challenges, heartbreaking sorrows, and difficult choices.”

A: Years later, Joseph was painfully imprisoned in Liberty Jail for many months. When he prayed for relief, the Lord told him that “all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good” (D&C 122:7).
B: We are all acquainted with other kinds of mortal opposition not caused by our personal sins, including illness, disability, and death.
C: President Thomas S. Monson explained: “Some of you may at times have cried out in your suffering, wondering why our Heavenly Father would allow you to go through whatever trials you are facing. …
C: “Our mortal life, however, was never meant to be easy or consistently pleasant. Our Heavenly Father … knows that we learn and grow and become refined through hard challenges, heartbreaking sorrows, and difficult choices.
B: Each one of us experiences dark days when our loved ones pass away, painful times when our health is lost, feelings of being forsaken when those we love seem to have abandoned us.
A: These and other trials present us with the real test of our ability to endure.”


Conclusion:

Dallin H. Oaks’ use of chiasmus serves to focus the reader’s attention on the meaning of specific passages of his address, leading to a thorough understanding of the role of opposition in our lives. With this understanding we are better equipped to use opposition proactively to accelerate our development, permitting us to “grow toward what our Heavenly Father would have us become.”

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The Downfall of Nations: Chiasmus in Joseph Fielding Smith’s “The Law of Chastity”

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Joseph Fielding Smith (media.ldscdn.org)

Joseph Fielding Smith served as President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from January 1970 to July 1972, after serving as a counselor in the First Presidency since 1965 and as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles since April 1910. His many decades of Church service were known for his prolific writing and fearless defense of Church doctrine.

In September 1931, Elder Joseph Fielding Smith wrote a 2-page article entitled “The Law of Chastity” for The Improvement Era, a Church publication. His article discusses the importance of obeying the law of chastity, describes the essential role of marriage and family in the preservation of human civilization, and provides an expansive view of marriage and family within the Plan of Salvation.

“The Law of Chastity” is predominantly chiastic, consisting of chiasms interspersed with parallel structures. One of these chiasms is cited in our e-book, A Chiastic Analysis of ‘The Family: A Proclamation to the World’ (Westbench Publishing, 2016). What follows is a diagram and detailed analysis of this chiasm and a more general treatment of several additional chiasms from Elder Smith’s article.


Diagram and Analysis:

A: The abuse of this ordinance has been the primary cause of the downfall of nations.
B: When the sacredness of the marriage covenant is lost, and the vows are broken, destruction is inevitable.
C: This principle cannot be received in the spirit of contempt and indifference.
C: It is ordained to be more, far more, than a civil contract.
B: No nation can survive the abuse of this principle.
A: Rome, Greece, Babylon, Egypt, and many other nations owe their downfall to the breaking of the sacred covenant of marriage. The anger of a just God was kindled against them for their immorality. The bones of dead civilizations on this American continent bear silent but convincing evidence that it was unchastity and the disregard of this sacred covenant which brought them to their final judgment.

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The Improvement Era, September 1931 (archive.org)

A=A: “The abuse of this ordinance has been the primary cause of the downfall of nations” equates with “nations owe their downfall to the breaking of the sacred covenant of marriage.” Whatever else may have contributed to the downfall of individual nations throughout history (foreign invasion, natural disaster, civil war, etc.), the “breaking” and “abuse” of the marriage covenant is the “primary cause” of irrecoverable disaster.

B=B: “[D]estruction is inevitable” equates with “no nation can survive.” Whether destruction happens immediately or not, the rejection or abandonment of “the sacredness of the marriage covenant” is the tipping point that ultimately leads to the downfall of nations.

C=C: “Cannot be received in the spirit of contempt and indifference” contrasts with “ordained to be more, far more, than a civil contract.” To regard marriage as merely a civil contract is not enough to ensure national survival; this is equivalent to regarding marriage with “contempt and indifference.” Instead, the eternal implications of marriage need to be recognized and honored.

To shed further light on the role marriage plays in the stability and survival of civilization, the remainder of this article offers diagrams and brief analyses of additional chiastic and parallel structures found throughout Joseph Fielding Smith’s article.


Additional Chiasms and Parallel Structures:

#1 — The following parallelism provides a description of societal attitudes regarding marriage in 1931, which are strikingly similar to present-day attitudes. This indicates a gradual decline of our civilization, which could accelerate at any time as the moral hollowing out continues.

A: There is no ordinance connected with the Gospel of Jesus Christ
B: of greater importance, of more solemn and sacred nature, and more necessary to the eternal joy of man,
C: than, marriage.
A: Yet there is no principle
B: which has been made the butt of coarser jokes, a greater jest by the vulgar and the unclean, and even by many who think themselves refined,
C: than that of marriage.


#2 — This parallelism acknowledges the challenges inherent in marriage, but provides guidance on how best to approach them. It offers a glimpse of the potential blessings available to those who keep their marriage covenant — both in mortality and in the eternities. Marriage becomes the key to expansive, almost incomprehensible progress, growth, and happiness.

A: Marriage is a principle which, when entered, presents more serious problems than any other. It should be received
B: in the spirit of patience and love, even that greater love which comes through the power of the Holy Spirit.
C: Nothing will prepare mankind for glory in the kingdom of God as readily as faithfulness to the marriage covenant. Through this covenant, perhaps more than any other, we accomplish the perfect decree of the Divine will, but this covenant is only one of many required of man who seeks to do the will of the Father.
A: If properly received this covenant becomes the means of the greatest happiness.
B: The greatest honor in this life, and in the life to come, honor, dominion and power in perfect love, are the blessings which come out of it.
C: These blessings of eternal glory are held in reserve for those who are willing to abide in this and all other covenants of the Gospel.


#3 — This chiasm contrasts the eternal destiny of those who prove faithful to the marriage covenant with those who reject the marriage covenant.

A: Others shall not be so blessed.
B: Marriage is the grandest, most glorious and most exalting principle connected with the Gospel.
B: It is that which the Lord holds in reserve for those who become his sons and daughters;
A: all others are servants only, even if they gain salvation. They do not become members of the household of our Father and our God if they refuse to receive the celestial covenant of marriage.


#4 — This chiasm describes the responsibility married couples have to bear children; this is the process whereby the spirit children of Heavenly Father receive physical bodies and are able to continue in their eternal progression. In contrast, because of their rebellion, Satan and his angels have been denied physical bodies and the opportunity to progress.

A: Nothing should be held in greater sacredness and honor than the covenant by which the spirits of men — the offspring of God in the spirit — are privileged to come into this world in mortal tabernacles.
B: It is through this principle that the blessing of immortal glory is made possible.
C: The greatest punishment ever given was proclaimed against Lucifer and his angels. To be denied the privilege of mortal bodies forever is the greatest curse of all.
C: These spirits can have no progress, no hope of resurrection and eternal life! Doomed are they to eternal misery for their rebellion!
B: And then to think that we are not only privileged, but commanded to assist our Father in the great work of redemption by giving to his children, as we have obtained these blessings for ourselves, the right to live and continue on, even to perfection!
A: No innocent soul should be condemned to come into this world under a handicap of illegitimacy. Every child has the right to be well born! Every individual who denies them that right is guilty of a mortal sin.


#5 — This chiasm emphasizes the importance of the physical body in our eternal progression. Since the resurrection is the permanent reunion of the spirit and the flesh, we cannot progress without being born into mortality. This process is the only way to become like our Heavenly Father.

A: The importance of these mortal tabernacles is apparent from the knowledge we have of eternal life.
B: Spirits cannot be made perfect without the body of flesh and bones. This body and its spirit are brought to immortality and blessings of salvation
C: through the resurrection.
C: After the resurrection
B: there can be no separation again, body and spirit become inseparably connected that man may receive a fulness of joy.
A: In no other way, other than birth into this life and the resurrection, can spirits become like our eternal Father.


Conclusion:

The function of chiasmus and parallelism in this article by Joseph Fielding Smith is to reinforce and emphasize aspects of the doctrine being taught. By presenting Church doctrine in this way, Elder Smith makes it nearly impossible to misunderstand the Lord’s purpose for the law of chastity. A chiastic study of his article will strengthen our understanding of marriage and family, which will protect us from temptation and deception.

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Seer Stones: Dieter F. Uchtdorf’s Facebook Chiasm

dieter f uchtdorf facebook profile pic
Dieter F. Uchtdorf (facebook.com)

Dieter F. Uchtdorf has served in the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints since February 2008. Prior to this, he served in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles beginning in October 2004 and as a General Authority beginning in April 1994.

President Uchtdorf was born in Czechoslovakia, but because of World War II was painfully uprooted twice in his boyhood years. He spent his teenage years in Frankfurt, Germany where he joined the German Air Force as a fighter pilot. Afterward, he spent his career as a commercial pilot and airline administrator.

Like the other members of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, President Uchtdorf 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, often including an image or video.

On June 21, 2016, President Uchtdorf posted a four-paragraph message about Joseph Smith’s use of seer stones to translate the Book of Mormon. Upon closer examination, President Uchtdorf’s Facebook post is a chiasm that reinforces and reveals the deeper subtleties of his message. In form and content it is a literary gem.


Diagram and Analysis:

A: Not long ago, the Church published photos and background information on seer stones.
B: People have asked me, “Do you really believe that Joseph Smith translated with seer stones? How would something like this be possible?” And I answer, “Yes! That is exactly what I believe.” This was done as Joseph said: by the gift and power of God.
C: In reality, most of us use a kind of “seer stone” every day. My mobile phone is like a “seer stone.” I can get the collected knowledge of the world through a few little inputs. I can take a photo or a video with my phone and share it with family on the other side of our planet.
D: I can even translate anything into or from many different languages!
E: If I can do this with my phone, if human beings
F: can do this with their phones or other devices,
F: who are we to say that God could not help
E: Joseph Smith, the Prophet of the Restoration,
D: with his translation work?
C: If it is possible for me to access the knowledge of the world through my phone, who can question that seer stones are impossible for God?
B: Many religions have objects, places, and events that are sacred to them. We respect the sacred beliefs of other religions and hope to be respected for our own beliefs and what is sacred to us.
A: We should never be arrogant, but rather polite and humble. We still should have a natural confidence, because this is the Church of Jesus Christ.

dieter f uchtdorf facebook mobile phone pic
(facebook.com)

A=A: “Church” equates with “Church of Jesus Christ.” When the Church publishes material about its history and beliefs, it is not doing so out of compulsion, fear, or embarrassment. Rather it does so with “a natural confidence” because it is the Church of Jesus Christ.

B=B: “‘Do you really believe that Joseph Smith translated with seer stones? How would something like this be possible?’” contrasts with “We respect the sacred beliefs of other religions and hope to be respected for our own beliefs and what is sacred to us.” Oftentimes, people who would otherwise be polite and respectful are highly critical and disparaging of the beliefs of others. Mormons are all too familiar with this, both in our history and in the present day. Rather than develop a victim mentality, the Church shows respect for the “sacred beliefs of other religions.”

C=C: “[M]obile phone” compares to “seer stones.” If man can develop complex, technologically advanced tools to help him accomplish his work, why can’t the God of the Universe provide divine tools to help His servants accomplish His work?

D=D: “”[T]ranslate” equates with “translation.” Both mobile phones and seer stones have the power to translate languages for the use of man.

E=E: “[H]uman beings” equates with “Joseph Smith.” Although Joseph Smith was a prophet, he was also a human being. In order for him to accomplish God’s work he needed divine assistance. On a more subtle level, this reinforces the position that Mormons do not worship Joseph Smith.

F=F: “[P]hones” contrasts with “God.” As mobile phones have developed greater and greater powers, society has become more and more obsessed with them. Oftentimes, consumers will wait in line for several hours just to get the latest model, which will become outdated in a few months. How much different would our society be if we would  place that same devotion toward God (who is all-powerful and all-knowing) and the revelations He gives His prophets?


Conclusion:

A chiastic analysis of President Uchtdorf’s Facebook post emphasizes the subtleties of his message: the Church possesses a natural confidence because it is led by Jesus Christ; the sacred beliefs of all people should be respected, even if they seem hokey; mobile phones, which were a science fiction dream a generation ago, are not much different than seer stones; Joseph Smith was a human being, not a God or Christ-figure; mobile phones are a modern-day idol. Like our earlier post about Henry B. Eyring’s Facebook chiasm, Dieter F. Uchtdorf’s Facebook chiasm is another reminder for us to slow down and ponder the words of the prophets, even though they may appear in commonplace spaces.

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Courageous Things: Chiasmus in Russell M. Nelson’s “Becoming True Millennials”

russell m nelson facebook profile pic
Russell M. Nelson (facebook.com)

Russell M. Nelson has been a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles since April 1984. Following the death of President Boyd K. Packer in July 2015, he was set apart as the president of the Quorum. Prior to his call to full-time church service he served in several leadership capacities, including Stake President, General Sunday School President, and Regional Representative. Professionally, he worked as a surgeon and medical researcher and is internationally respected for his pioneering contributions to open-heart surgery.

In January 2016, President Nelson delivered a sermon at a Worldwide Devotional for young adults. He spoke on “Becoming True Millennials” and shared many examples from his life to illustrate the types of situations and opportunities that lay ahead for the Millennial generation.

“Becoming True Millennials” contains several chiastic structures that add precision to the meaning of specific passages and enrich his overall sermon. This article presents six chiasms from President Nelson’s sermon, divided by two general themes: True Millennials and The Prophetic Process.


Part 1: True Millennials

In the following three chiasms, President Nelson defines what he means by the term “Millennial,” in contrast to how social researchers use it, and instructs his audience about specific things they can do to become “True” Millennials.

#1:

A: Many people refer to you as Millennials.
B: I’ll admit that when researchers refer to you by that word and describe what their studies reveal about you—your likes and dislikes, your feelings and inclinations, your strengths and weaknesses—I’m uncomfortable. There is something about the way they use the term Millennial that bothers me.
C: And frankly, I am less interested in what the experts have to say about you
C: than what the Lord has told me about you.
B: When I pray about you and ask the Lord how He feels about you, I feel something far different from what the researchers say.
A: Spiritual impressions I’ve received about you lead me to believe that the term Millennial may actually be perfect for you. But for a much different reason than the experts may ever understand.

A=A: “[Y]ou as Millennials” correlates with “the term Millennial may actually be perfect for you.” While the term “Millennial” is used by secular society to describe the first generation to come of age after the year 2000, the term also has significant spiritual implications that apply to prophesied events in the near future. Coincidentally, this term is used by the world and by President Nelson, although differently, to describe the same population.

B=B: “[R]esearchers” contrasts with “the Lord” and “I’m uncomfortable” contrasts with “I feel something far different.” The findings and insights of researchers about Millennials are not in agreement with what the Lord has revealed to President Nelson through His Spirit. As a result, President Nelson has opposing feelings about the two messages — “uncomfortable” and “bother[ed]” by the researchers and “something far different” by the Lord.

C=C: “[E]xperts have to say about you” contrasts with “the Lord has told me about you.” The “experts” of the world can be helpful and contribute much with their findings and insights, but what the Lord has to say on a given topic should be of greater interest to us. Where the two differ, wisdom dictates that we should follow the Lord. This is a true principle that applies to every situation and in every setting.


#2:

A: The term Millennial is perfect for you if that term reminds you of who you really are and what your purpose in life really is.
B: A True Millennial is one who was taught and did teach the gospel of Jesus Christ premortally
C: and who made covenants with our Heavenly Father there about courageous things—even morally courageous things—that you would do while here on earth.
C: A True Millennial is a man or woman whom God trusted enough to send to earth during the most compelling dispensation in the history of this world.
B: A True Millennial is a man or woman who lives now to help prepare the people of this world for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ and His millennial reign.
A: Make no mistake about it—you were born to be a True Millennial.

A=A: “Millennial” equates with “True Millennial.” The equality of these terms is conditional, based on whether “that term reminds” young adults “of who [they] really are and what [their] purpose in life really is.”

B=B: “[D]id teach the gospel of Jesus Christ premortally” equates with “lives now to help prepare the people of this world for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ and His millennial reign.” President Nelson provides prophetic insight into the role Millennials play in our Heavenly Father’s Plan. They are teachers of the gospel of Jesus Christ with the purpose of preparing people for the next phase of the Plan. In the premortal realm they prepared people for mortality; today they prepare people for “the Second Coming of Jesus Christ and His millennial reign.”

C=C: “[M]ade covenants with our Heavenly Father” equates with “God trusted,” and “morally courageous things–that you would do while here on earth” equates with “most compelling dispensation in the history of this world.” A covenant with God is a reassuring sign of God’s trust. Millennials need that reassurance as they are living in the “most compelling dispensation in the history of this world,” a time that requires moral courage in order to follow through with their covenant role as “preparers.”


#3:

A: As a True Millennial whom the Lord can count on, you will make history too! You will be asked to accept challenging assignments and become an instrument in the Lord’s hands. And He will enable you to accomplish the impossible.
B: How will you accomplish the impossible? By doing whatever it takes to strengthen your faith in Jesus Christ by increasing your understanding of the doctrine taught in His restored Church and by relentlessly seeking truth.
B: As a True Millennial, anchored in pure doctrine,
A: when you are asked to do impossible things, you will be able to step forward with faith and dogged persistence and cheerfully do all that lies in your power to fulfill the purposes of the Lord.

A=A: “[A]sked to accept challenging assignments” equates with “asked to do impossible things.” President Nelson provides a glimpse of what lies ahead for Millennials. They will be given “challenging assignments” by the Lord, but, like Nephi, they will be able to respond with faith, “dogged persistence,” and cheerfulness, knowing that the Lord will “enable [them] to accomplish the impossible.”

B=B: “Strengthen your faith in Jesus Christ by increasing your understanding of the doctrine taught in His restored Church and by relentlessly seeking truth” equates with “anchored in pure doctrine.” The key to being able to “do impossible things” is being “anchored in pure doctrine,” through study of Church doctrine and “by relentlessly seeking truth.”


Part 2: The Prophetic Process

In the next three chiasms, President Nelson describes the “prophetic process” and shows how this same process is followed when receiving personal revelation.

#4:

A: We sustain 15 men who are ordained as prophets, seers, and revelators.
B: When a thorny problem arises—and they only seem to get thornier each day—these 15 men wrestle with the issue, trying to see all the ramifications of various courses of action, and they diligently seek to hear the voice of the Lord.
C: After fasting, praying, studying, pondering, and counseling with my Brethren about weighty matters, it is not unusual for me to be awakened during the night with further impressions about issues with which we are concerned.
C: And my Brethren have the same experience.
B: The First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles counsel together and share all the Lord has directed us to understand and to feel individually and collectively.
A: And then we watch the Lord move upon the President of the Church to proclaim the Lord’s will.

A=A: “15 men who are ordained as prophets, seers, and revelators” corresponds to “President of the Church.” Although the members of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles each hold all the revealed keys of the priesthood, the President of the Church directs their use. He is the Lord’s mouthpiece on the earth. (See Bruce R. McConkie, “The Keys of the Priesthood,” Ensign, May 1983.)

B=B: “[T]hese 15 men wrestle with the issue” equates with “the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles counsel together.” Before the Lord’s will is proclaimed, the “15 men” put forth a collective effort to thoroughly understand the issue. This is done through reason and revelation.

C=C: “[I]t is not unusual for me to be awakened during the night with further impressions” equates with “my Brethren have the same experience.” In addition to their collective effort, each of the 15 men put forth an individual effort and often receive “further impressions” pertaining to the issue at hand.


#5:

A: This prophetic process was followed in 2012 with the change in minimum age for missionaries and again with the recent additions to the Church’s handbook, consequent to the legalization of same-sex marriage in some countries.
B: Filled with compassion for all, and especially for the children, we wrestled at length to understand the Lord’s will in this matter.
C: Ever mindful of God’s plan of salvation and of His hope for eternal life for each of His children, we considered countless permutations and combinations of possible scenarios that could arise.
C: We met repeatedly in the temple in fasting and prayer and sought further direction and inspiration.
B: And then, when the Lord inspired His prophet, President Thomas S. Monson, to declare the mind of the Lord and the will of the Lord, each of us during that sacred moment felt a spiritual confirmation. It was our privilege as Apostles to sustain what had been revealed to President Monson.
A: Revelation from the Lord to His servants is a sacred process, and so is your privilege of receiving personal revelation.

A=A: “[P]rophetic process” equates with “sacred process.” The example of this process featured in this chiasm serves as a model for personal application.

B=B: “Lord’s will” equates with “will of the Lord.” In order to understand the Lord’s will, we need to be in tune with the Spirit of the Lord, which requires charity.

C=C: “[W]e considered” equates with “we met repeatedly in the temple.” The “prophetic process” includes both reason and revelation.


#6 — President Nelson posted this chiasm to his Facebook page on June 16, 2016, which was the impetus for this article:

A: My dear brothers and sisters, you have as much access to the mind and will of the Lord for your own life as we Apostles do for His Church. Just as the Lord requires us to seek and ponder, fast and pray, and study and wrestle with difficult questions, He requires you to do the same as you seek answers to your own questions.
B: You can learn to hear the voice of the Lord through the whisperings of the Holy Ghost.
B: As helpful as Google, Twitter, and Facebook may seem, they simply do not provide answers to your most important questions!
A: My dear young friends, you can know the mind and will of the Lord for your own life. You do not have to wonder if you are where the Lord needs you to be or if you are doing what He needs you to do. You can know! The Holy Ghost will tell you “all things what ye should do.”

A=A: “Mind and will of the Lord for your own life” equates with “mind and will of the Lord for your own life.” Members of the Church have the same “access” to the “mind and will of the Lord” for their individual lives as the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles do for the Church and the world. The key is developing that gift through “seek[ing] and ponder[ing], fast[ing] and pray[ing], and study[ing] and wrestl[ing] with difficult questions.”

B=B: “[W]hisperings of the Holy Ghost” contrasts with “Google, Twitter, and Facebook.” For our “most important questions,” rather than seeking the wisdom of “experts” and others as found on “Google, Twitter, and Facebook,” we should seek to “hear the voice of the Lord through the whisperings of the Holy Ghost.”


Conclusion:

A chiastic study of President Nelson’s sermon enables a deeper and more thorough understanding of his message, which is filled with inspiring and practical counsel for young adults. In concluding his sermon, President Nelson warned* young adults of the “somber reality … that there are ‘servants of Satan’ embedded throughout society” who make “a mock of that which [is] sacred, denying the spirit of prophecy and of revelation” (see Helaman 4:12). This mockery is in direct opposition to President Nelson’s sermon, which offers keys for developing “the spirit of prophecy and of revelation.” Our hope is that this article will serve to strengthen the youth of the Church by helping them more fully incorporate President Nelson’s message into their lives. As a result, they will be enabled to identify and reject the “servants of Satan” they encounter and, instead, embrace their identity as “True Millennials.”


*This warning is in the form of a parallelism:

A: Around 41 b.c., many Nephites joined the Church, and the Church prospered.
B: But secret combinations also began to grow, and many of their cunning leaders hid among the people and were difficult to detect.
C: As the people became more and more prideful, many of the Nephites made “a mock of that which was sacred, denying the spirit of prophecy and of revelation.”
A: Those same threats are among us today.
B: The somber reality is that there are “servants of Satan” embedded throughout society.
C: So be very careful about whose counsel you follow.

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