Joseph R. Stuart and Dr. J. Spencer Fluhman: History Department, Humanities
My research concerned the apostolic teachings in the General Conferences of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-‐day Saints from 1951-‐2007. Specifically, I was searching for evidence that the Church has always been Christ-‐centric in its official teachings. Christ was certainly in present, in every talk, but theological discussions were few and far between. In reading the words of prophets, seers, and revelators, I was able to grasp where the Church has come from, and perhaps where it is going in the future.
My research did not turn out the way I expected it to. I expected there to be much more theology in the sermons of Apostles. While this didn’t minimize their efforts to “preach Christ and Him crucified,” (1 Corinthians 2:2) it did show how others could misunderstand the Church’s theological positions: they’re not generally stated plainly; rather, more practical sermons were given, such as how to treat your family and neighbors. My testimony was strengthened that the Lord instructs His children in practical application, rather than scholastic sermons. I saw the Lord’s practicality is often portrayed in the sermons of His servants.
I read each of the sermons of the Apostles and members of the First Presidency, and documented scripture use, who was quoted, and soteriological rhetoric in the sermons. The biggest problem I ran into is when scriptures and those quoted weren’t fully quoted or cited. Another problem is that the Conference Reports were time consuming to obtain, read, analyze, and annotate.
Though my research is not totally complete, this experience has been life changing. As I seek my profession in Church academia, I feel like I have had an un-‐paralleled schooling in understanding the modern Church. This will bless my life, the life of my family, and the lives of those that I teach in and out of the Church for the rest of my life.