Dr. Suzanne Lundquist, now retired from the Department of English at Brigham Young University, sent some materials to my wife today. (They’re friends, and longtime members of a small study group together.) I hope that Suzanne won’t mind that I share the prefatory note that she sent, along with one of the items in her attachment. She did, after all, send her note to a fairly long list of people:
Experiencing Christ and his Love for All Mankind was part of my message to students when I taught Multicultural Literature. I thought you might enjoy reading some of the quotes from those who know Him with regards to God’s Love for All Mankind. And I enjoy seeing how artists represent Christ, so I am sending a few of the paintings I have discovered. This attachment might prove useful during this current crisis of conscience with regards to the worth of souls — Black and White, Bond and Free, Male and Female. Why the abundant differences in race, ethnicity (including languages), class, and gender? Emmanuel Levinas said that “Truth goes towards the stranger.” Perhaps in the confrontation with Otherness, we discover who we are and are able to transcend dualities (the Us/Them mentality). Consciousness is hard won.
“I Know That He Lives”
By Elder Melvin J. Ballard (1873–1939) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
From Bryant S. Hinckley, Sermons and Missionary Services of Melvin Joseph Ballard (1949), 147–57, as reprinted in “Classic Discourses from the General Authorities: The Sacramental Covenant,” New Era, Jan. 1976, 7–11
Context: Melvin J. Ballard’s Vision was given to him while he was working on the Fort Peck Indian Reservation. That context is often left out of quotes from Ballard’s experience. I first give you the reference on LDS.org and then another that includes the context of Ballard’s vision. It is important to place experiences in their contexts. Events “take place,” as N. Scott Momaday reminds us.
I love to contemplate what it cost our Father in Heaven to give us the gift of His Beloved Son, that worthy Son of our Father, who so loved the world that He laid His life down to redeem the world, to save us and to feed us spiritually while we walk in this life, and prepare us to go and dwell with Him in the eternal worlds. …
I recall an experience which I had … , bearing witness to my soul of the reality of [the Savior’s] death, of His Crucifixion, and His Resurrection, that I shall never forget. …
… I found myself one evening in the dreams of the night in that sacred building, the temple. After a season of prayer and rejoicing I was informed that I should have the privilege of entering into one of those rooms, to meet a glorious personage, and, as I entered the door, I saw, seated on a raised platform, the most glorious being my eyes have ever beheld or that I ever conceived existed in all the eternal worlds.
As I approached to be introduced, He arose and stepped towards me with extended arms, and He smiled as He softly spoke my name. If I shall live to be a million years old, I shall never forget that smile. He took me into His arms and kissed me, pressed me to His bosom, and blessed me, until the marrow of my bones seemed to melt! When He had finished, I fell at His feet, and, as I bathed them with my tears and kisses, I saw the prints of the nails in the feet of the Redeemer of the world. The feeling that I had in the presence of Him who hath all things in His hands, to have His love, His affection, and His blessing was such that if I can receive that of which I had but a foretaste, I would give all that I am, all that I ever hope to be, to feel what I then felt!
… I see Jesus not now upon the cross. I do not see His brow pierced with thorns nor His hands torn with the nails, but I see Him smiling, with extended arms, saying to us all: “Come unto me!”
Ballard’s quote, reference II:
The Special Witness
Melvin J. Ballard
Melvin J. Ballard (Quorum of the Twelve)
I know, my brethren and sisters, that no man or woman shall ever come to stand in the presence of our Father in heaven, nor be associated with the Lord Jesus Christ, who does not spiritually grow. Without spiritual growth we shall not be prepared to enter into the divine presence. I need the sacrament. I need to renew my covenant every week. I need the blessing that comes with and through it. I know that what I am talking about is true. I bear witness to you that I know that the Lord lives. I know that he has made this sacrifice and this atonement. He has given me a foretaste of these things.
I recall an experience which I had two years ago, bearing witness to my soul of the reality of his death, of his crucifixion, and his resurrection, that I shall never forget. I bear it to you tonight, to you, young boys and girls; not with a spirit to glory over it, but with a grateful heart and with thanksgiving in my soul, that I know that he lives, and I know that through him men must find their salvation, and that we can not ignore this blessed offering that he has given us as the means of our spiritual growth to prepare us to come to him and be justified. Away on the Fort Peck Reservation where I was doing missionary work with some of our brethren, laboring among the Indians, seeking the Lord for light to decide certain matters pertaining to our work there, and receiving a witness from him that we were doing things according to his will, I found myself one evening in the dreams of the night in that sacred building, the temple. After a season of prayer and rejoicing I was informed that I should have the privilege of entering into one of those rooms, to meet a glorious Personage, and as I entered the door I saw, seated on a raised platform, the most glorious Being my eyes have ever beheld, or that I ever conceived existed in all the eternal worlds. As I approached to be introduced, he arose and stepped towards me with extended arms, and he smiled as he softly spoke my name. If I shall live to be a million years old, I shall never forget that smile. He took me into his arms and kissed me, pressed me to his bosom, and blessed me, until the marrow of my bones seemed to melt! When he had finished, I fell at his feet, and, as I bathed them with my tears and kisses, I saw the prints of the nails in the feet of the Redeemer of the world. The feeling that I had in the presence of him who hath all things in his hands, to have his love, his affection, and his blessing was such that if I ever can receive that of which I had but a foretaste, I would give all that I am, all that I ever hope to be, to feel what I then felt! (Improvement Era, October 1919, No. 12, vol. XXII)