The Faith Necessary To Persevere: D. Todd Christofferson’s Three Facebook Chiasms

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D. Todd Christofferson (facebook.com)

D. Todd Christofferson has been a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints since April 2008. Prior to this, he served in the Presidency of the Seventy beginning in August 1998 and as a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy beginning in 1993. He has also served as a regional representative, stake president, and bishop.

Professionally, Elder Christofferson worked as an attorney on the East Coast of the United States, including working as a law clerk for Judge John J. Sirica during the Watergate trials. He also served in the United States Army.

Like the other members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Elder Christofferson has had a Facebook account since 2013 “to provide people a safe and official way to follow the ministry of the Brethren.” Elder Christofferson regularly posts his testimony of various Gospel principles and inspirational experiences from his life and ministry.

Elder Christofferson’s Facebook posts are frequently written using a chiastic structure, as evidenced by his posts on 20 September, 29 November, and 8 December 2016. This article presents a diagram and detailed analysis of each of these chiasms.

[Note: For an in-depth explanation of our methodology read our article, Recognizing Parallelisms and Chiasmus in the Scriptures,” under the Methodology tab.]


8 December 2016

A: Yesterday I was blessed to speak about the Book of Mormon at the Library of Congress and to offer a prayer at the United States Senate.
B: I am grateful for the opportunity I had to share my faith in Jesus Christ and testimony of the eternal truths contained in the Book of Mormon.
C: Since its publication in 1830, the Book of Mormon has garnered much attention. Most recently the Book of Mormon has been added to the list of “Books That Shaped America” and listed fourth on the Library of Congress’s “America Reads” list of most influential books in American history. The Book of Mormon stresses the importance of faith, repentance, baptism, and the guidance of the Holy Ghost in our lives.
D: I testified to those in attendance at the Library of Congress that the Book of Mormon was literally translated by Joseph Smith from ancient golden plates through the gift and power of God.
D: For Latter-day Saints, the translation of the Book of Mormon was a miracle.
C: What began with 5,000 copies in a small print shop in Palmyra, New York, in 1830 has resulted in millions of copies available in multiple languages around the globe. Beyond its impact on American literature and culture, for Latter-day Saints the Book of Mormon remains “the keystone of our religion.” It brings peace and comfort, counsel and guidance, inspiration and encouragement to over 15 million members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints worldwide.
B: My own witness of Jesus Christ is rooted in both the Book of Mormon and the Bible. It is in an ongoing study of the Book of Mormon that my knowledge and understanding of the Savior continues to expand and deepen.
A: I invite all of us to ponder the significance of the Book of Mormon and discover or rediscover its teachings.

dtoddchristofferson_bom_fbchiasm
(facebook.com)

A=A: “I was blessed to speak about the Book of Mormon at the Library of Congress” equals “I invite all of us to ponder the significance of the Book of Mormon and discover or rediscover its teachings.” Elder Christofferson’s visit to Washington D.C. included both his speech about the Book of Mormon at the Library of Congress and his prayer at the United States Senate. This chiasm, however, focuses on his speech at the Library of Congress. Elder Christofferson’s message was not limited to those in attendance at the Library of Congress. Rather his invitation to “ponder the significance of the Book of Mormon” was addressed to “all.”

B=B: “[M]y faith in Jesus Christ and testimony of the eternal truths contained in the Book of Mormon” complements “My own witness of Jesus Christ is rooted in both the Book of Mormon and the Bible.” Elder Christofferson’s speech at the Library of Congress gave him the opportunity to share his “witness of Jesus Christ” and testimony of the Book of Mormon. These two are related, since it is from the Book of Mormon (and Bible) that his witness of Jesus Christ has grown.

C=C: “Since its publication in 1830, the Book of Mormon has garnered much attention” complements “What began with 5,000 copies in a small print shop in Palmyra, New York, in 1830 has resulted in millions of copies available in multiple languages around the globe” and “The Book of Mormon stresses the importance of faith, repentance, baptism, and the guidance of the Holy Ghost in our lives” complements “It brings peace and comfort, counsel and guidance, inspiration and encouragement to over 15 million members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints worldwide.” Accentuating the positive, Elder Christofferson focuses on the growing acceptance of the Book of Mormon in American society and of its “keystone” role in the LDS Church. In addition to its literary and cultural influence, the Book of Mormon provides an active, spiritual influence in the lives of Latter-day Saints around the world.

D=D: “[T]he Book of Mormon was literally translated by Joseph Smith from ancient golden plates through the gift and power of God” complements “the translation of the Book of Mormon was a miracle.” The central focus of this chiasm, and indeed a major theme of his full speech, is that the translation of the Book of Mormon is a modern-day “miracle,” evidence that the “power of God” is active in the world today.

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Elder Christofferson speaking at the Library of Congress (facebook.com)

29 November 2016

A: For years, those in the Africa Southeast Area have had only one operating temple that they could visit to participate in saving ordinances for themselves and on behalf of their deceased ancestors—the Johannesburg South Africa Temple.
B: During my recent visit to Africa, I was able to witness the anticipatory joy many in the area are feeling for the three additional temples in the area that are either under construction or have been announced in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Zimbabwe, and Durban, South Africa.
C: Members in this area have always faced many challenges to get to the temple. Travel is expensive—so are passports and visas.
C: Many members of the Church have been blessed by donations to the temple patron fund to help them get to the temple for the first time, but regular attendance has been extremely difficult.
B: With the expansion of announced temples in the area, the increased desire among members to enter into sacred covenants is palpable. Likewise, the number of those who are doing family history work so they can extend temple blessings to their ancestors is also ramping up. It is very clear to me that the people of Africa are spiritually inclined. They believe in God, and they naturally look to Him for help. Their desire to attend and serve in the temple is an inspiration to me.
A: I pray that we all will make it a goal to attend the temple as regularly as our circumstances allow. It is thanks to the covenants that we make in the temple that we are able to have the faith necessary to persevere and to do all things that are expedient in the Lord.

dtoddchristofferson_africatemple_fbchiasm
(facebook.com)

A=A: “For years, those in the Africa Southeast Area have had only one operating temple that they could visit to participate in saving ordinances” complements “make it a goal to attend the temple as regularly as our circumstances allow.” The limited availability of the temple in the Africa Southeast Area is a reminder for “all” Church members to place a high priority on attending the temple “as regularly as our circumstances allow.”

B=B: “During my recent visit to Africa, I was able to witness the anticipatory joy many in the area are feeling for the three additional temples in the area that are either under construction or have been announced” equals “With the expansion of announced temples in the area, the increased desire among members to enter into sacred covenants is palpable.” The announcement and construction of a new temple is always exciting for faithful Latter-day Saints, but especially so in areas where accessibility to a temple is limited.

C=C: “[M]any challenges to get to the temple” equals “regular attendance has been extremely difficult.” The central focus of this chiasm emphasizes the real challenges that Church members in Southeast Africa face in their efforts to attend the temple. Travel expenses are such that many members must rely on “donations to the temple patron fund to help them get to the temple for the first time.” This emphasis on the challenges they face in their efforts to attend the temple helps those of us who live closer to a temple understand the excitement the African Saints feel at the construction of three temples closer and more accessible to their homes.

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Elder Christofferson visiting the Saints in Southeast Africa (facebook.com)

20 September 2016

A: It was a great blessing to be able to participate in the Philadelphia Pennsylvania Temple dedication with President Henry B Eyring last weekend.  
B: It is significant to have this temple located in the city so central to the birth of the United States of America.
C: Here the Declaration of Independence was debated and adopted and has inspired the hearts of mankind ever since with “self-evident” truths that are fundamental to the plan of salvation—“that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”
C: Here the Constitution of the United States was drafted. Of that great document the Lord declared, “I have suffered [it] to be established, and [it] should be maintained for the rights and protection of all flesh, according to just and holy principles. … And for this purpose have I established the Constitution of this land, by the hands of wise men whom I raised up unto this very purpose.”
B: What happened in the United States from 1776 forward was vital to the opening of the last dispensation and reestablishment of the Church of Jesus Christ on the earth. The nation that began here has been the host of the kingdom of God on the earth, and as the Prophet Joseph Smith prayed, so we pray, “May the kingdom of God go forth, that the kingdom of heaven may come.”
A: Now, in a sense, the circle is complete as a crowning element of the latter-day work, a holy temple, is dedicated in the birth city of the United States, the city named for brotherly love.

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(facebook.com)

A=A: “Philadelphia Pennsylvania Temple dedication” equals “a holy temple, is dedicated in the birth city of the United States, the city named for brotherly love.” Each temple dedication is a special and momentous occasion, but the construction of a temple in the “birth city of the United States” is especially significant.

B=B: “[C]entral to the birth of the United States of America” complements “vital to the opening of the last dispensation and reestablishment of the Church of Jesus Christ on the earth.” The construction of a temple in Philadelphia is significant because the “birth of the United States of America” that happened here enabled the “opening of the last dispensation and reestablishment of the Church of Jesus Christ on the earth.”

C=C: “Here the Declaration of Independence was debated and adopted” complements “Here the Constitution of the United States was drafted” and “‘self-evident’ truths that are fundamental to the plan of salvation” complements “maintained for the rights and protection of all flesh, according to just and holy principles.” Specifically, our founding documents — the Declaration of Independence and Constitution — proclaim “‘self-evident’ truths that are fundamental to the plan of salvation” and protect our “unalienable Rights” according to “just and holy principles.” Freedom of religion, guaranteed in the 1st Amendment to the Constitution, provided an environment where the restored church could be organized, despite persecution from individuals and groups.

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President Eyring and Elder Christofferson at the Philadephia Temple dedication (facebook.com)

Conclusion:

Elder Christofferson’s use of chiasmus in these three examples from his Facebook page transform his social media posts into mini-sermons that invite introspection and application. His first chiasm invites us to read the Book of Mormon. His second chiasm invites us to prioritize temple attendance. His third chiasm invites us to recognize the significance of a Latter-day Saint temple in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. As with our other articles on chiasmus in the social media posts of the apostles, Elder Christofferson’s Facebook posts are a reminder for us to ponder the words of the prophets even though they may appear in ordinary places.

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