David A. Bednar has been a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints since October 2004. Prior to this, he served as “an Area Seventy, Area Authority Seventy, regional representative, twice as a stake president, and as a bishop.”
Professionally, Elder Bednar worked in academia for two and a half decades. Following the completion of his PhD in 1980, he “joined the business faculty at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville.” From 1997-2004 he was president of BYU-Idaho, leading its transition from junior college (Ricks College) to four-year university.
Like the other members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Elder Bednar has had a Facebook account since 2013 “to provide people a safe and official way to follow the ministry of the Brethren.” Elder Bednar regularly posts experiences and photographs from his world-wide ministry, doctrinal mini-sermons, and his testimony of Jesus Christ.
On January 11, 2017, Elder Bednar posted his thoughts on New Year’s resolutions and “the process of turning unto God.” Chiasmus in his post emphasizes the “reality” and “power” of the “Savior’s atoning sacrifice” in our imperfect efforts to “become better.”
This article presents a diagram and detailed analysis of Elder Bednar’s Facebook chiasm, which features complementary and equivalent pairs. For an in-depth explanation of our methodology read our article, “Recognizing Parallelisms and Chiasmus in the Scriptures,” under the Methodology tab.
Diagram and Analysis:
A: While the Lord desires that we strive consistently to become better, He also knows we will make mistakes. B: Thankfully, a loving Savior has provided a way for us to heal from spiritual wounds and illness by turning to and coming unto Him. C: As we begin this new year, let us remember and focus our lives upon new beginnings, or as Elder Neal A. Maxwell described it, “turning away from evil and turning to God.” C: I can think of few gospel principles that are as positive and encouraging as repentance and the process of turning unto God. B: As we learn about and focus our faith in the Redeemer, then we naturally turn toward and come unto Him. A: I testify of the reality and of the power of the Savior’s atoning sacrifice and of the blessings of hope and peace for our souls made available to us because of His great offering.
A=A: “He also knows we will make mistakes” complements “Savior’s atoning sacrifice.” Because the Lord knows we “will make mistakes” in our strivings to “become better,” the “Savior’s atoning sacrifice” brings “hope and peace for our souls.”
B=B: “Savior” equals “Redeemer” and “turning to and coming unto Him” complements “naturally turn toward and come unto Him.” It is the “Savior” and “Redeemer,” Jesus Christ, to whom we need to turn and approach in order to be healed from “spiritual wounds and illness” (see Acts 4:12). By learning about and focusing our faith in Christ, we will “naturally” turn and come unto Him.
C=C: “[T]urning away from evil and turning to God” equals “repentance and the process of turning unto God.” The central focus of this chiasm addresses the beginning of a new year and the appropriateness of focusing “our lives upon new beginnings.” At its very core, improving aspects of our lives is a form of “repentance” and part of the “positive and encouraging” process of “turning unto God.”
Elder Bednar’s Facebook post invites us to include the atonement of Jesus Christ in our New Year’s resolution efforts and helps us focus on “turning away from evil” and “turning unto God.” Chiasmus in his post adds richness to his message by defining terms and providing further insight into how to make the atonement naturally operative in our lives. It also helps us understand that we need not be perfect to enjoy the “hope and peace” the Atonement brings.
Quentin L. Cook has been a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints since October 2007. Prior to this, he served as a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy beginning in 1998. He has also served as a bishop, stake president, regional representative, Area Authority, and member of the Second Quorum of the Seventy. For his professional career, he worked as an attorney and healthcare executive in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Like the other members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Elder Cook has had a Facebook account since 2013 “to provide people a safe and official way to follow the ministry of the Brethren.” Elder Cook regularly posts inspirational thoughts and snapshots from his world-wide ministry.
On December 1, 2016, Elder Cook posted a brief report about a recent visit to the Philippines. Chiasmus in his post emphasizes that the Saints’ love for and commitment to the Savior is the secret to their happiness and the cause of the Church’s impressive growth in the Philippines over the past 20 years.
A: As a newly called General Authority of the Church in 1996, my first assignment was with members in the Philippines. I have returned several times since, but this recent visit to the country marks 20 years since my first assignment. I was pleased to see how the Church has grown there and witness how the gospel of Jesus Christ is changing lives. B: In the last 20 years, the number of members of the Church in the country has nearly doubled. We are certainly pleased with the growth—but not surprised. I have always been impressed by the positive attitudes of those in the Philippines. It is a land of beautiful smiles, and the people there are some of the happiest people you will find anywhere. C: I believe they are so happy because they have a sincere love of the Savior. C: You can really feel a warmth from the people. Their commitment to modesty, kindness, and other Christlike virtues is apparent. B: Because of their love for the gospel of Jesus Christ, where there once were branches 20 years ago, there are now stakes. The Primary children from 20 years ago are now returned missionaries, and the returned missionaries are now Church leaders. Their lives serve as a testament to me that the gospel of Jesus Christ lifts us out of life’s challenges. It empowers us to have joy in spite of difficult circumstances. A: I pray we will all follow the examples I saw from the members of the Church in the Philippines to make the Savior and His Atonement the foundation of our lives. When we do so, He will help and heal us.
A=A: “[M]embers in the Philippines” equals “members of the Church in the Philippines” and “the gospel of Jesus Christ is changing lives” equals “He will help and heal us.” This chiasm describes members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Philippines, and serves as an example of how the “gospel of Jesus Christ [changes] lives.” This change comes about as Church members “make the Savior and His Atonement the foundation of their lives.” As they do so, Christ “help[s] and heal[s]” them.
B=B: “In the last 20 years, the number of members of the Church in the country has nearly doubled” equals “where there once were branches 20 years ago, there are now stakes” and “some of the happiest people you will find anywhere” complements “joy in spite of difficult circumstances.” The LDS Church has seen impressive growth in the Philippines over the past 20 years “[b]ecause of their love for the gospel of Jesus Christ.” Although they experience “life’s challenges,” the Gospel of Jesus Christ has lifted and empowered them to “have joy in spite of [their] difficult circumstances.” As a result, they are “some of the happiest people you will find anywhere.”
C=C: “[T]hey have a sincere love of the Savior” complements “[t]heir commitment to modesty, kindness, and other Christlike virtues is apparent.” The central focus of this chiasm emphasizes their “sincere love of the Savior” that is manifested through their “commitment to modesty, kindness, and other Christlike virtues.” This commitment enables their happiness and is the root cause of the impressive growth of the Church in the Philippines.
As with our previous articles on chiasmus in the Facebook posts of the Apostles, this post by Elder Cook reminds us to slow down and ponder the words of the prophets even though they may appear in ordinary places. By following the example of the Saints in the Philippines, we can find happiness and strengthen our wards and stakes by centering our lives on “the Savior and His Atonement.”
Bruce R. McConkie served in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from October 1972 until his death in April 1985. Prior to this, he served in the First Council of the Seventy beginning in October 1946. Professionally, Elder McConkie practiced law and worked on a newspaper editorial staff. During World War II, he served as an army intelligence officer.
Elder McConkie is remembered for his prolific writing and extensive doctrinal knowledge. His books, Mormon Doctrine, Doctrinal New Testament Commentary (3 volumes), The Messiah Series (6 volumes), and A New Witness for the Articles of Faith, are classics in Mormon theology.
Elder McConkie is also remembered for his final public testimony of Jesus Christ given in General Conference on April 6, 1985, thirteen days before his death. He explained how he gained his own witness of Christ, described the events of the Lord’s atonement in vivid detail, invited church members to put forth the effort to gain their own witness, and closed with a powerful testimony. This final address, titled “The Purifying Power of Gethsemane,” is chiastic, featuring both chiasms and parallelisms throughout. This article presents a diagram and detailed analysis of his concluding testimony (the best-remembered portion of his final address), followed by a less-detailed treatment of eight additional chiasms and parallelisms.
A: And now, as pertaining to this perfect atonement, wrought by the shedding of the blood of God— B: I testify that it took place in Gethsemane and at Golgotha, C: and as pertaining to Jesus Christ, I testify that he is the Son of the Living God and was crucified for the sins of the world. He is our Lord, our God, and our King. D: This I know of myself independent of any other person. I am one of his witnesses, E: and in a coming day I shall feel the nail marks in his hands and in his feet E: and shall wet his feet with my tears. D: But I shall not know any better then than I know now C: that he is God’s Almighty Son, B: that he is our Savior and Redeemer, A: and that salvation comes in and through his atoning blood and in no other way.
A=A: “[P]erfect atonement, wrought by the shedding of the blood of God” equals “his atoning blood.” The shedding of Christ’s blood was an essential component of his “perfect atonement,” by which salvation is made possible for all mankind.
B=B: “Gethsemane and at Golgotha” complements “Savior and Redeemer.” Christ shed his blood at both Gethsemane and Golgotha in order to become our Savior and Redeemer. By overcoming spiritual and physical death he made it possible for us to be forgiven of our sins, be resurrected, and become like our Heavenly Parents and enjoy the blessings of exaltation.
C=C: “Son of the Living God” equals “God’s Almighty Son.” Christ is the Son of God.
D=D: “I know of myself independent of any other person” complements “I shall not know any better then than I know now.” Through personal revelation, Elder McConkie is a primary source for the events of the atonement. This sure knowledge would not increase “in a coming day” when he would personally meet Christ in the spirit world and “feel the nail marks in his hands and in his feet” and “wet his feet with [his] tears.” As mentioned in the introduction, Elder McConkie’s death occurred thirteen days after giving this talk, on April 19, 1985.
E=E: “I shall feel the nail marks in his hands and in his feet” complements “shall wet his feet with my tears.” Although this personal meeting with Christ would not increase his witness of Christ and the events of the atonement, the emotions of the moment would cause him to weep with gratitude for the blessings of the atonement extended on his behalf. (For similar events in the scriptures, see Luke 7:37-38 and 3 Nephi 17:10.)
Additional Chiasms and Parallelisms:
#1: This chiasm describes the process whereby Elder McConkie developed his own witness of the atonement of Christ. As he studied the words of the prophets, “the Holy Spirit of God” testified to him “that they are true.” As a result of this divine witness, whereby he “heard his voice and know[s] his word,” Elder McConkie possessed his own independent knowledge of the atonement of Christ. As a witness of Christ, his teachings about the atonement become the voice of the Lord to us in our efforts to qualify for our own witness.
A: In speaking of these wondrous things B: I shall use my own words, C: though you may think they are the words of scripture, words spoken by other Apostles and prophets. C: True it is they were first proclaimed by others, B: but they are now mine, for the Holy Spirit of God has borne witness to me that they are true, and it is now as though the Lord had revealed them to me in the first instance. A: I have thereby heard his voice and know his word.
#2: This parallelism details six key aspects of the atonement. The first two proclaim it to be the pinnacle event or act in all of eternity. The final four describe the glorious blessings that have come as a result of the atonement.
A: His atonement B: is the most transcendent event that ever has or ever will occur from Creation’s dawn through all the ages of a never-ending eternity. A: It B: is the supreme act of goodness and grace that only a god could perform. A: Through it, B: all of the terms and conditions of the Father’s eternal plan of salvation became operative. A: Through it B: are brought to pass the immortality and eternal life of man. A: Through it, B: all men are saved from death, hell, the devil, and endless torment. A: And through it, B: all who believe and obey the glorious gospel of God, all who are true and faithful and overcome the world, all who suffer for Christ and his word, all who are chastened and scourged in the Cause of him whose we are—all shall become as their Maker and sit with him on his throne and reign with him forever in everlasting glory.
#3 This parallelism details what we know and what we don’t know about Christ’s sufferings while he was accomplishing the atonement.
A: We do not know, we cannot tell, no mortal mind can conceive B: the full import of what Christ did in Gethsemane. A: We know B: he sweat great gouts of blood from every pore as he drained the dregs of that bitter cup his Father had given him. A: We know B: he suffered, both body and spirit, more than it is possible for man to suffer, except it be unto death. A: We know B: that in some way, incomprehensible to us, his suffering satisfied the demands of justice, ransomed penitent souls from the pains and penalties of sin, and made mercy available to those who believe in his holy name. A: We know B: that he lay prostrate upon the ground as the pains and agonies of an infinite burden caused him to tremble and would that he might not drink the bitter cup. A: We know B: that an angel came from the courts of glory to strengthen him in his ordeal, and we suppose it was mighty Michael, who foremost fell that mortal man might be. A: As near as we can judge, B: these infinite agonies—this suffering beyond compare—continued for some three or four hours.
#4: This chiasm describes the mockery inflicted upon Christ by the leaders of the Jews and Romans following his arrest. With their worldly authority Annas, Caiaphas, Pilate, and Herod mocked Christ’s divine and rightful authority by placing a “crown of thorns” upon “his trembling brow.” With their saliva they mocked his holy face, which is only revealed to his special witnesses in our day. With “vicious blows” they mocked his sacred body that was part mortal and part immortal, and which was his vehicle for overcoming spiritual and physical death on our behalf.
A: They took him to Annas, to Caiaphas, to Pilate, to Herod, and back to Pilate. He was accused, cursed, and smitten. B: Their foul saliva ran down his face C: as vicious blows further weakened his pain-engulfed body. C: With reeds of wrath they rained blows upon his back. B: Blood ran down his face A: as a crown of thorns pierced his trembling brow.
#5: This chiasm describes the agony Christ experienced as he “carried his own cross” toward the “hill called Calvary.” As a result of the physical and spiritual torture he had experienced over the previous twelve hours, Christ “collapsed from the weight and pain and mounting agony of it all.” Insightfully, Elder McConkie describes how the “helpless disciples” of Christ “looked on” as he was nailed to the cross and experienced a similar agony “in their own bodies.” Perhaps this experience prepared them to carry their own crosses as they worked to spread the Gospel throughout the ancient world.
A: Then he carried his own cross B: until he collapsed from the weight and pain and mounting agony of it all. C: Finally, on a hill called Calvary— C: again, it was outside Jerusalem’s walls— B: while helpless disciples looked on and felt the agonies of near death in their own bodies, A: the Roman soldiers laid him upon the cross.
#6: These two parallelisms describe the essential roles of Adam and Christ in our eternal development. By bringing death into the world, Adam is the “father of mortality.” By bringing life into the world, Christ is the “father of immortality.” Without the Fall, mankind could not experience “mortality and death.” Without the Atonement, mankind could not experience “immortality and eternal life.”
A: As Adam brought death, B: so Christ brought life; A: as Adam is the father of mortality, B: so Christ is the father of immortality. A: Thus, Creation is father to the Fall; and by the Fall came mortality and death; B: and by Christ came immortality and eternal life. A: If there had been no fall of Adam, by which cometh death, B:there could have been no atonement of Christ, by which cometh life.
#7: This parallelism describes the process of moving from having “a superficial knowledge” to possessing “a sound and sure knowledge” of the Atonement. We must “cast aside the philosophies of men” that encourage us to have only a passive reliance upon the Lord. We must cast aside “the wisdom of the wise” who only believe what they can see. Instead, we must seek to have “faith like Enoch and Elijah.” In order to “believe what [Enoch and Elijah] believed, know what they knew, and live as they lived,” we must “hearken to that Spirit which is given to us to guide us into all truth.” In other words, we need to develop our spiritual capacities and sensitivities, so that we can confidently act on revelation and see the hand of God in our lives.
A: Many of us have a superficial knowledge B: and rely upon the Lord and his goodness to see us through the trials and perils of life. C: But if we are to have faith like Enoch and Elijah D: we must believe what they believed, know what they knew, and live as they lived. A: May I invite you to join with me in gaining a sound and sure knowledge of the Atonement. B: We must cast aside the philosophies of men C: and the wisdom of the wise D: and hearken to that Spirit which is given to us to guide us into all truth.
#8: Continuing in this process of “gaining a sound and sure knowledge of the Atonement,” this parallelism focuses on the role of scripture study. Elder McConkie invites us to “search the scriptures,” which means we must “read” them, “ponder” their contents, and “pray” for spiritual insight and confirmation. By accepting the scriptures as “the mind and will and voice of the Lord,” “our minds” will be open to divine instruction and testimony about what happened in the “three gardens of God” — the Garden of Eden, where spiritual and physical death were introduced into the world; the Garden of Gethsemane, where Christ overcame spiritual death; and the Garden of the Empty Tomb, where Christ overcame physical death. These events are “the very power of God unto salvation.” Hence, the scriptures that teach and testify of these events are also the power of God unto salvation, since they help us develop faith in Christ.
A: We must search the scriptures, B: accepting them as the mind and will and voice of the Lord C: and the very power of God unto salvation. A: As we read, ponder, and pray, B: there will come into our minds a view of the three gardens of God— C: the Garden of Eden, the Garden of Gethsemane, and the Garden of the Empty Tomb where Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalene.
Chiasmus in Bruce R. McConkie’s final public testimony, “The Purifying Power of Gethsemane,” emphasizes and clarifies different aspects of his message. First, it details the process of how he gained his own witness of the atonement of Jesus Christ and how we can gain our own. Second, it brings to light unique aspects of his witness, suggesting that each person’s witness may be unique in certain details while agreeing in essentials (for an example of this in the scriptures, see 1 Nephi 15:27). Lastly, it demonstrates the strong witness of Christ that we can each possess if we put forth the required effort, as did Elder McConkie.
In a previous article we presented a chiasm President Henry B. Eyring posted on his Facebook wall in April 2016. This article presents chiasmus in “Our Perfect Example,” his General Conference address from October 2009, in which he testifies of the power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ to help us “become better” throughout our lives.
One chiasm from this address is cited in our e-book, A Chiastic Analysis of ‘The Family: A Proclamation to the World’ (Westbench Publishing, 2016). In this article we present a diagram and detailed analysis of this chiasm, followed by a more general treatment of two additional chiasms from President Eyring’s address.
Diagram and Analysis:
A: Just as Jesus used a child in His mortal ministry as an example for the people of the pure love they must and could have to be like Him, B: He has offered us the family as an example of an ideal setting in which we can learn how to love as He loves. C: That is because the greatest joys and the greatest sorrows we experience are in family relationships. D: The joys come from putting the welfare of others above our own. That is what love is. D: And the sorrow comes primarily from selfishness, which is the absence of love. C: The ideal God holds for us is to form families in the way most likely to lead to happiness and away from sorrow. B: A man and a woman are to make sacred covenants that they will put the welfare and happiness of the other at the center of their lives. A: Children are to be born into a family where the parents hold the needs of children equal to their own in importance. And children are to love parents and each other.
A=A: “[C]hild” equates with “Children” and “pure love” equates with “parents hold the needs of children equal to their own … [a]nd children are to love parents and each other.” By comparing a child in the meridian of time to children in contemporary culture, President Eyring shows the timeless importance of the family. In order for families to be successful, they must possess “pure love,” which he chiastically defines as parents holding “the needs of children equal to their own in importance” and children loving parents and each other.
B=B: “[F]amily” equates with “A man and a woman” and “learn how to love as He loves” equates with “put the welfare and happiness of the other at the center of their lives.” Like the Proclamation on the Family, of which he is a signer, President Eyring defines the family as being “between a man and a woman.” The “pure love” described in the previous section also applies to the relationship between husband and wife. In this section, he defines this love as putting “the welfare and happiness of the other at the center of their lives.” C=C: “[J]oys” equates with “happiness” and “sorrows” is the same as “sorrow.” By seeking after and possessing pure love in our familial relationships, we can experience the “joys” and “happiness” God intends us to experience. If we reject or fail to cultivate this love, then we will experience “sorrow,” the opposite of happiness. D=D: “[J]oys” contrasts with “sorrow” and “love” contrasts with “absence of love.” The central focus of this chiasm emphasizes President Eyring’s definition of “pure love.” In the first part, “joy” is the fruit of “love,” which is “putting the welfare of others above our own.” In the second part, “sorrow” is the result of “the absence of love,” which is “selfishness.”
Chiasmus in this passage from President Eyring’s talk reinforces his definition of “pure love,” or the love that Christ expresses and that we are to express in our families. By understanding that “love” contrasts with “selfishness” and “sorrow” contrasts with “joy” and “happiness,” we can more deliberately and successfully develop this kind of love in our familial relationships. Ultimately, we can achieve what President Eyring describes as “the ideal of a loving family.”
Additional Chiastic Structures:
#1 — This chiasm corrects the mistaken view of those who think they have “no need to improve” or who have “given up trying to be better.” Instead, the message of the Gospel is that “we can and must expect to become better” throughout our lives. The key to personal improvement is praying for the gift of charity so that we can be “true followers” of Christ and prepared for His Second Coming.
A: There may be a few who mistakenly feel they are good enough and a few who have given up trying to be better. B: But, for all, the message of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ is that we can and must expect to become better as long as we live. C: Part of that expectation is set for us in a revelation given by God to the Prophet Joseph Smith. It describes the day when we will meet the Savior, as we all will. D: It tells us what to do to prepare and what to expect. D: It is in the book of Moroni: “Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons of God; C: that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this hope; that we may be purified even as he is pure. Amen.” B: That ought to help you understand why any believing Latter-day Saint is an optimist about what lies ahead for him or her, however difficult the present may be. We believe that through living the gospel of Jesus Christ we can become like the Savior, who is perfect. A:Considering the attributes of Jesus Christ should quash the pride of the self-satisfied person who thinks he or she has no need to improve. And even the most humble person can take hope in the invitation to become like the Savior.
#2 — This chiasm describes an experience President Eyring had of watching a group of children sing the well-known Primary song, “I’m Trying To Be Like Jesus.” He observed that the children sang with determination and confidence, fully believing perfection through the Atonement of Christ was possible. Such is the power of inspired music to build testimony.
A: How that wonderful transformation will happen is captured for me in a song written for children. B: I remember watching the faces of a room full of children singing it on a Sunday. Each of the children was leaning forward, almost to the front of the chair. I could see light in their eyes and C: determination in their faces as they sang with gusto. D: You may have heard the song too. I hope it will sound forever in our memories. I only hope I can give it the feeling those children had. D: I’m trying to be like Jesus; I’m following in his ways. I’m trying to love as he did, in all that I do and say. At times I am tempted to make a wrong choice, But I try to listen as the still small voice whispers, “Love one another as Jesus loves you. Try to show kindness in all that you do. Be gentle and loving in deed and in thought, For these are the things Jesus taught.” C: It seemed to me that they were not just singing; they were declaring their determination. Jesus Christ was their example. To be like Him was their fixed goal. B: And their eager looks and their shining eyes convinced me that they had no doubts. They expected to succeed. They believed that the instruction of the Savior to be perfect was not a hope but a command. And they were sure He had prepared the way. That determination and confidence can and must be in the heart of every Latter-day Saint. A: The Savior has prepared the way through His Atonement and His example. And even the children who sang that song knew how.
In his writings that we have thus far presented, President Henry B. Eyring is a master of chiasmus. He writes with a high degree of precision and care in an effort to clearly teach the doctrines of the Gospel. In “Our Perfect Example,” he uses chiasmus to help us see that perfection is possible through the Atonement of Christ and to motivate us to keep putting forth the effort to improve. He also shows how “pure love” or unselfishness is the necessary key to establishing a happy family. The existence of chiasmus in the writings of our Church leaders is an invitation for us to carefully study and ponder their messages.