By Jason A. Kofoed
17 August 2014
With all that is so wrong in our day we often neglect to take the time to explore and explain what needs done to make things right. We can't afford to be negligent in a principle so vital, especially in a world such as ours that is filled with people who, sadly and quite simply, don't know where to turn for truth. There are so many among us who are truly good people with good intentions but have so long been deceived and misled that even if they wanted to, they would struggle (as many currently do) to know what they can do to improve not only their individual circumstances but those of the world.
This is where I testify that God still has His chosen prophets and apostles on the Earth today and they continuously labor to lead and guide us along with proper eternal perspective- our only hope for improving our society and humanity in general. If you share my faith you most likely understand where I'm coming from. If you do not, please lend me your attention and an open mind enough to read the following address given by Elder John A. Widtsoe from 1946. Elder Widtsoe was serving as an apostle of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints at the time and the counsel he gave over the pulpit so long ago is more than relevent in our day. While the threat of nuclear war may always be a reasonable concern for us, there are countless other threats that attack us on every front each and every day. While the specifics of the bombardments may very well be dependent upon where we live, the counsel still applies; and the simplicity of the remedies prescribed leave us with absolutely no excuse to not heed and follow, the consequences of our decisions resting soley with ourselves. It is true that there is so much that we cannot control but we had better do our very best in correcting the things which we can. Almighty God will hold us accountable for the good we could have done had we simply obeyed Him and His servants.
Let us all strive to improve ourselves, our families and our communities to the best of our abilities and we can rest assured that the rest will work itself out if it be in accordance with God's will. After all, what other hope do we have?
Faith Under the Atomic Bomb
By Elder John A. Widtsoe
Of the Council of the Twelve Apostles
Conference Report, April 1946, pp. 127-131
A new age began when the atomic bomb was dropped upon the deserts of New Mexico. Thenceforth, man could set free the forces which, under the creative power of God, become our material world. For the first time the solid earth could be made "to fail beneath our feet." An apparently impossible dream had come true.
A POWER THAT BEWILDERS
This occurred in the midst of the madness of murder we call World War II. The hearts of men were already bleeding from the wounds of long years of warfare. Now, the new power seemed as an added unspeakable horror that promised a new type of destruction so awful that the hearts of men failed them. The rising ashes of Hiroshima and Nagasaki appeared as burnt offerings to the incarnation of the world's evil.
Before the possible consequences of this power, we stand bewildered. We imagine our cities, homes, and loved ones, laid low by an irresistible, merciless force. A helpless, hopeless gloom clouds the future. A fear never known before stalks the footsteps of thinking people. True, there is no danger of the whole world exploding into nothingness. So far only uranium 235 can be dissolved into imponderable forces, but the energy that may be released from the limited quantities available, is sufficient, if so directed, to destroy all mankind. In future wars, it is reasoned, since the secret of the atomic bomb will soon be common knowledge, the importance of armies and armaments will fade away. In all disputes, he will be victorious who reaches the enemy first. In view of the history of mankind, filled with contention and bloodshed, can such power be safely entrusted to the world of men? That is the lingering question that disturbs us today.
FEARS ROOT IN DISTRUST OF MAN
Such a question and such fears root in a distrust of man. We are really afraid of ourselves. We have lost faith in humanity and look with suspicion upon every human act. We forget that man was made in the image of God—not merely in bodily form, but in his very nature. The sparks of divinity lie within every human soul, waiting to be kindled into flame. Remember the words of the Lord God, ". . . Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil" Gen. 3:22 And, in the depths of all of us, we prefer to live under the will and loving kindness of God. Could we recover faith in ourselves, the terror of the atomic bomb would vanish.
We have also been inclined to forget God or to give him lip service. Too many of us accept him as a mysterious force or figure, distant from us, who demands appeasement one day a week, in competition with our golf and baseball. We do not believe him to be concerned with our daily needs or the constant issues of our lives. If that be faith, it is spindly, bloodless, useless.
Yet there is nothing more certain than that God in heaven watches over his children on earth; and is concerned with our every act. He permits events to happen, but there are limits beyond which mankind in all its folly may not go. God remains the governor of the universe. His work on earth is not yet finished, and he will not allow his children, here, to perish, despite any discovery or invention of man. Full faith in God banishes all fear.
THE NEED FOR RE-ESTABLISHING FAITH
Our problem then, mine and yours, is how, under the atomic bomb to re-establish faith in God and man; and how to re-educate, regenerate, if you prefer, the will of man, so that the fierce power of the shattered atomic nucleus may be used only in the constructive service of mankind.
We should really be glad that the atomic bomb has come; that we know how to loosen the energies of the universe, to compete with the lightnings of the sky. It should be as a challenge to us. If a new danger has come, then we must gird ourselves with the corresponding strength to meet it, and to compel it to serve us. Really, the coming of the atomic bomb merely calls with increased emphasis for a revision of human ideals, action, and faith.
Re-education or regeneration for faith, may not be easy. To turn a race of men from evil to good, from error to truth, from hate to love, means a battle with many an opposing force. The battle will often be against false but well-established, moss-covered traditions, hiding or obscuring eternal truth; and as often against unsound appetites of body or mind, catering to momentary pleasures, or temporary satisfactions, but leading away from spiritual realities.
THE IMPORTANCE OF THE HOME
The work of world regeneration for faith must begin in the home. Every man lives out in spirit and in deed the teachings of his childhood. In the home, faith is born and made alive, or unbelief is sown. As the homes of a nation are, so the generations of men therein will be. For good or for evil, there is no efficient substitute for the home. Life and the safety of life in the age of atomic energy will depend upon the full acceptance by the home of its responsibilities and obligations. That homes may do so is the clamoring demand of a world starving for peace and the enjoyment of the earth's bounties.
Sadly, it must be admitted that in these restless times, the home has fallen upon evil days. Its purpose is too often forgotten. Parents look more and more to other instrumentalities to perform their natural duties. The family circle has shrunk, by limitation of children and the multiplicity of assumed activities, until it seems incapable of its natural functions. Especially under the threat of the atomic bomb, the careless assumption of home obligations becomes perilous.
Here we must face about. In the home must be taught the most important things of life; faith in God, faith in self, and our proper conduct toward others. There must be a daily outreaching to God. That will engender a trust in him and a desire to love him. By daily family prayer, every member upon his knees, there will be established the habit of communing with the powers of the unseen world, to which atomic energy and all other powers are subservient. To be in touch with the author of all things will do more than all the governments of earth to change the hearts of men from evil to good, and to protect weak humanity. He who thinks of God, and appeals to him daily, has no room for thoughts of destruction.
But one cannot love God without loving the children of God, and trusting them. Let a home make it a practice to speak well of others, and to seek out their virtues. Soon, such a family will discover the virtues, and speak well, of other nations. Inevitably, were this done everywhere, the sun of goodwill would warm the hearts of men; and peace would cover the earth. By such people, and perhaps only by such methods, will the atomic bomb be tamed to useful ends.
SCHOOLS TO TRAIN YOUTH FOR LARGER LIFE
The school, likewise, a close ally of the home, must turn its face toward the greater light. It must courageously train our children for the larger life. During the long years of childhood and youth, our children have been taught every kind of knowledge, from atoms to star clusters, from amoebas to monkeys. But their proper conduct among their fellows and before God is mentioned, if at all, casually, in occasional assemblies. Geography and arithmetic have been raised to the warmth and dignity of required disciplines of the mind, but ethics, not to speak of religion, which determine human behavior, and which always act as restraints upon evil, stand, unwelcomed, shivering before the closed schoolroom door. Such a dangerous taboo was not intended when it was agreed that, in our land, sectarian religion should not be taught in public schools. By the present method, our schools are sending out generations of men of little faith, who are unmindful of their eternal obligations.
The home and the school together could soon eliminate fear from the hearts of men, and in the face of any new power man could discover, establish the day of peace on earth.
THE CHURCH SHARES RESPONSIBILITY
The church also carries blame. It could have given us more courage to meet times like these by teaching the true dignity of the human being as a very son of God, with a divine destiny. Pride of ancestry has saved many a soul from wandering away into forbidden paths.
What is our true relationship to God? We are told, somewhat glibly, that we are the children of God, of his image and of his nature. Divinity lies within every one of us. Then, says modern man, looking into his own soul for eternal answers, we must be more than figures molded from clay; we must be of God's very substance. Our history must go back into times not understandable to the human mind, into the region of pre-existence. Our bodies may be of the dust, but the essence of us is of God. That conception explains man's divine nature. That changes the whole outlook upon life. As very sons and daughters of God, we feel new nearness to God, a new responsibility for our actions. Our works must be of godlike character, else we are untrue to our divine origin. Then, looking upon the atomic bomb, with clear eyes, we know what to do—it must be used as God would use it, for we are his very children.
We may also have failed to give to striving man, wrestling with the deep questions of the soul, a clear comprehension of his destiny. We shall live after death. What then? In that other world we shall possess in a greater degree all the powers we have enjoyed on earth. They will be used actively in an endless, progressive existence. If used properly on earth and in the eternities of the hereafter, we shall by small steps, grace for grace, approach more and more the likeness of God, our very Father. To rise towards such heights, from the dim beginning, has ever been our destiny. Every righteous act has promoted that progress; every unrighteous act has retarded it. The knowledge of our divine destiny, and the conditions of it, would tend to regulate our course on earth. We are to be leaders against all evil, the final conquerors of earth. We dare not hinder our progressive, ascending destiny. Therefore, sober answers are found to the questions of life. Will this act help me in my eternal progressive existence? Then I will perform it. Does it hinder me? Then I will have none of it. I cannot use atomic energy to destroy or murder men, for that would set me back in my eternal advancement towards the likeness of God.
ACCEPTANCE OF THE WORD OF GOD VITAL
Perhaps it is all said in one sentence. The acceptance of the word of God as laid down in the Christian gospel will turn fear into joy, will make the atomic bomb our humble servant.
To that end, home, school, and church must cooperate.
But, it is protested, it cannot be done; it is an idle dream. That is the answer of those who will not accept and prove the truth. The earnest desire for good in every human heart may be covered with uncertainty and the indifference that follows uncertainty; but it is there. No matter how far we have strayed, in every one of us is a feeling of revulsion against evil. The very children of God cannot feel otherwise. If but a few will live the law, they will leaven the lump 1 Cor. 5:6
We have the right to believe that man, who learned to release atomic energy, and who made the atomic bomb, will use it for our benefit. It is our task to teach faith in God, ourselves, and our fellow men, in home and school and church. Then we shall remake the world for peace. Remember the subtle power of words. Ignore war in our speech. Raise our voices everywhere in faith for peace. Then the hearts that now fear the future will be at ease. In time the atomic bomb will become our servant to beautify the life of man on earth.
May it be so, I pray in the name of Jesus, the Christ. Amen.