Emergency Preparedness & the Atonement

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from a Stake President's talk at a BYU Devotional

Years ago Elder Boyd K. Packer gave a general conference address titled “The Mediator.” In that address Elder Packer said:

[The Atonement of Christ] is the very root of Christian doctrine. You may know much about the gospel as it branches out from there, but if you only know the branches and those branches do not touch that root, if they have been cut free from that truth, there will be no life nor substance nor redemption in them. [Boyd K. Packer, “The Mediator,” Ensign, May 1977, 56]

I will confess to you that I have participated in—indeed, I have taught—many lessons that, although interesting and motivational, according to Elder Packer’s guide had “no life nor substance nor redemption in them” because they weren’t directly linked to the Atonement of Christ. That’s a serious criticism of much of what we do, and I believe it’s on the mark. I believe that one way—the best way, and possibly the only way—to meet President Hinckley’s challenge to do better at getting the gospel down into our hearts and the hearts of those we love and serve is to focus all we do on the Atonement of Christ. And so, as a newly called stake presidency, we tried to do just that.

We laid down a rule that every sacrament meeting talk and every lesson in Sunday School, Relief Society, and priesthood meetings must be related to the Atonement of Christ in a direct and express way. Our goal was to have all of our meetings filled with “life [and] substance [and] redemption” by having them connected to “the very root of Christian doctrine”: the Atonement of Christ. We told the bishops that if they wanted a sacrament meeting about the principles of emergency preparedness—important principles, to be sure—that meeting would be about “Emergency Preparedness and the Atonement of Christ.” If you cannot figure out the link between the topic you are to teach and the Atonement of Christ, you have either not thought about it enough or you shouldn’t be talking about it at church. Your topic may be fine for the city council, your neighborhood organization, or the commercial break during SportsCenter, but in our limited time in church, we must be talking about the Atonement of Christ.

(Excerpt from a talk by Thomas B. Griffith at a BYU Dev.: "The Very Root of Christian Doctrine."