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One of those rare, must-have books for every student of the gospel. — Sheri Dew
Over the course of his more than five decades as a General Authority, President Packer has powerfully and thoughtfully addressed many major doctrinal, moral, and social issues. Now his teachings on 25 key topics have been compiled in this encyclopedic guide to better understanding the principles and practices of the Gospel. With hundreds of quotations, his most memorable stories, and dozens of photographs chronicling President Packer's service, this amazing reference tool is the most definitive book of our time on gospel questions and is a must-have for your personal library.
- The Great Plan of Happiness
- Obedience and Faith
- Repentance and Forgiveness
- Covenants, Baptism, and the Gift of the Holy Ghost
- Spiritual Development
- Revelation and Spiritual Experiences
- The Scriptures
- Righteousness and Perfection
- Measurable Principles
- Chastity and Dating
- Family Relationships
- Teaching and Church Doctrine
- Learning and Scholarship
- Economics and Welfare Principles
- Government, Laws, War, and Freedom
- Church History and the Restoration
- Preparing In the Last Days
- Meetings and Auxiliaries
- Priesthood and Its Exercise
- Leadership and Following the Brethren
- The Kingdom Rolls Forth
- Temple Work
- Spreading the Gospel
- The Gospel In Our Lives
- Pages: 600
- Published: October 2008
About the Author
Boyd Kenneth Packer was the tenth of eleven children born to Ira and Emma Packer in Brigham City, Utah. After graduating from high school, he served as a pilot in the US Army Air Forces from 1942 to 1946. He served in the Pacific theater of World War II.
After the military, he attended Weber College (now Weber State University), where he met his wife, Donna (Smith). They married in the Logan Utah Temple in 1947 and had ten children. After their marriage, he attended Utah State University, earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees and later an EdD from Brigham Young University.
He has served as a General Authority of the Church since 1961 and an Apostle and member of the Quorum of the Twelve since April 1970. He served as Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve from 1994 to 2008 and was made President in January 2009.
In addition to his natural gift to teach, he was blessed with a remarkable gift as an artist. President Packer’s artistic bent and love of nature are as integrally a part of him as his spirituality, compassion, steadiness, and humor.
Government, Laws, War,
“There is no freedom without law.
There is no freedom without responsibility.” (68–11)
Everything sacred is being trampled. There isn’t anything that’s sacred that isn’t being stomped on now. (08–02)
It is important that the rights of women, men, and children be preserved. I am for protecting the rights of a woman to be a woman, a feminine, female woman; a wife and a mother.
I am for protecting the rights of a man to be a man, a masculine, male man; a husband and a father.
I am for protecting the rights of children to be babies, and children and youth to be nurtured in a home and in a ¬family.
I am for recognizing the inherent God-given differences between men and women.
I am for accommodating them so that we can have physically and emotionally and spiritually stable, happy individuals and families and communities. (77–03, p. 9)
No civilization has survived the dismantling of the family. Everyone, in or out of the Church, now seems to agree that what is wrong with the world centers on the failing of the family structure.
While world leaders and court judges agree that the family must endure if we are to survive, many of them use the words freedom and choice as tools to pry apart the safeguards of the past and loosen up the laws on morality, marriage, abortion, and gender.
If enough people protest limits on conduct, the limits are moved farther out and behavior that was once prohibited is reclassified as normal, moral, legal, and socially acceptable. The bonds of marriage and kinship are seen as bondage rather than as sacred ties. In spite of the worthy intention to strengthen families and protect children, the United Nations, in recent declarations on the International Year of the Family, defined the family as most any collection of people who are living together.
And its view of children offers, in the U.N.’s own language, a “new concept of separate rights for children with the government accepting the responsibility of protecting the child from the power of parents.”
No civilization has survived the dismantling of the family. (95–04)
If morality exists in a nation, it exists in individual hearts. There needs to be enough of us who have faith enough and who are moral enough to desire that which is right. Virtues, like love and liberty and patriotism, do not exist in general, they exist in particular. If morality exists at all, it exists in the individual heart and mind of the ordinary citizen. Such virtues cannot be isolated in any other place—not in the rocks or in the water, not in trees or air, not in animals or birds. If it exists at all, it exists in the human heart. Morality flourishes when the rank and file are free. It flourishes where a conscience is clear, where men have faith in God and are obedient to the restraints He has set upon human conduct. (89–03, p. 67)
The Lord will manifest the way to expose the world’s problems. The many problems facing us are complex. There are no simple answers. The more I meditate upon them, the more they show themselves in their various forms and become almost too formidable to me to even approach. Except for those eight words, . . . “having first obtained mine errand from the Lord,” except for that qualification, I would quickly recommend retreat and capitulation. But with that, I have no doubts . . . that within the foreseeable future we will give the lie to much that is taught in the world today. (ABE, p. 151)
The sins of Sodom and Gomorrah are now spread across the world. The sins of Sodom and Gomorrah were localized. They are now spread across the world, wherever the Church is. The first line of defense—the home—is crumbling. Surely you can see what the adversary is about. We are now exactly where the prophets warned we would be. (04–02, p. 9)
Tolerance can be a dangerous trap. The virtue of “tolerance” has been distorted and elevated to a position of such prominence as to be thought equal to and even valued more than morality. It is one thing to be tolerant, even forgiving of individual conduct. It is quite another to collectively legislate and legalize to protect immoral conduct that can weaken, even destroy the family.
There is a dangerous trap when tolerance is exaggerated to protect the rights of those whose conduct endangers the family and injures the rights of the more part of the people. We are getting dangerously close to the condition described by the prophet Mosiah, who warned:
Now it is not common that the voice of the people desireth anything contrary to that which is right; but it is common for the lesser part of the people to desire that which is not right; therefore this shall ye observe and make it your law—to do your business by the voice of the ¬people.
And if the time comes that the voice of the people doth choose iniquity, then is the time that the judgments of God will come upon you; yea, then is the time he will visit you with great destruction even as he has hitherto visited this land.1
Tolerance can be a dangerous trap. (06–03)
The moral fiber of society is weakening. Something has happened to our collective conscience. Countries have a conscience, just as people do. Something in our national conscience became unsettled. In the end, a clouded conscience cannot conquer. In the end, a clear conscience cannot be defeated.
Something is weakening the moral fiber of the American people. We have always had couples live together without marriage, but we have not honored it as an acceptable lifestyle. We have always had children born out of wedlock, but we have never made it to be respectable. And we have never before regarded babies, whether conceived in or out of wedlock, to be an inconvenience and destroyed them by the thousands through abortion—and this while barren couples yearn for a child to raise.
We have always had some who followed a life of perversion, but we have never before pushed through legislation to protect that way of life lest we offend the rights of an individual. We have never been this “liberated” before.
We have always had those who were guilty of criminal acts, but we have not put the rights of the accused above the rights of the -victim.
If one single soul does not wish to listen for a moment to a public prayer—one which does not offend, which even pleases the -majority—we are told we must now eliminate prayer completely from all public life.
We have always had addictive drugs, but not in the varieties we have now and not widely sold near public schools, even elementary schools. When perversion and addiction are justified as the expression of individual rights and call up a pestilence which threatens even the innocent, must the right of privacy preclude even individual testing to help find out where it is moving? What kind of personal freedom is this, anyway? (89–03, pp. 63–64)
Justice is misrepresented. Nowadays justice is so misrepresented that the victim of a crime often receives much less of it than the criminal. And legislation which is supposed to vouchsafe freedom of speech is cleverly twisted to protect the pornographer and penalize the victim. (77–08, p. 159)
WAR AND THE GOSPEL—MILITARY
This nation has fought to protect her own and others’ indepen-dence. Few generations have passed in this land without a call to arms. Threats to our independence have recurred with persistent regularity. Only twenty-one years passed between the armistice in 1918, which ended World War I, and September 1939, when World War II began! Who was it that said, “We learn from history that we learn nothing from history”? With little hesitation, this nation has responded to threats to freedom with military action. We have fought not only to protect our own independence but also to secure or protect it for other nations. Sustained by a courage that comes only from a moral people, we have fought for our homes and our families, our lands, our country, our rights, and our religion. “Chains,” President David O. McKay said, “are worse than bayonets.”2 (89–03, pp. 61–62)
One can serve in the military and yet be a righteous example. To you who have answered that call [to military service], we say: Serve honorably and well. Keep your faith, your character, your -virtue.
While war permits stomping out of a man’s heart the reverent and tender virtues that exemplify true manhood, military service does not require it. You can serve and yet be exemplars of righteousness. (68–03, p. 60)
Those called into the military can enjoy the blessings of God. You brethren, as holders of the priesthood, now are called to answer this call to the military. We want you to know that you can deserve, and will deserve, as you serve, the blessings of Almighty God. You will come to know that you will find a closeness in a challenge that otherwise would be impossible. . . . We know you’re physically prepared because you have been accepted on that basis. You are mentally alert and able, you have been able to qualify to the degree necessary. . . .
And now if you have a balance with your spiritual maturity, then this is the beginning of a great and important thing in your lives and the Lord will bless you. (68–11)
We do not encourage our members to avoid military service. We do not take the position as a Church to aid, nor abet, nor to encourage our members to avoid their military service. We ought, as citizens, to have open to us any of the options that are offered as citizens, and yet finally, when our responsibilities are before us, and we find the necessity of answering the call to military service, then we answer that call honorably and fulfill our citizenship responsibilities. (68–09)
Often the innocent are victims of war. In armed conflicts there are casualties. Sometimes clean, worthy men, innocent of any desire to kill, devoid of any aggressive will to own that which belongs to someone else, fall victims of the confused, wicked ugliness of ¬war.
“For,” the prophet Moroni said, “the Lord suffereth the righteous to be slain that his justice and judgment may come upon the wicked; therefore ye need not suppose that the righteous are lost because they are slain; but behold, they do enter into the rest of . . . their God.”3 There are homes among us now where this heartbreak is known.
I read somewhere some simple lines of verse about a mother—and a telegram. Deep within lies a seed of strength and consolation—understood, perhaps, only by those who have faith. I can read but a few lines.
“Killed in action . . . in the line of duty.”
Blind went her eyes with pain. . . .
A moan of mortal agony,
Then all became still again.
“Oh God! . . . my God! . . . where were you
When my son was being slain?”
And the scalding tears of bitterness
Drenched her cheeks like the summer rain.
But a soft voice seemed to whisper
In the twilight’s afterglow,
“I had a son . . . at Calvary . . .
Two thousand years ago.” (68–03, pp. 60–61)
Our greatest national threat comes from moral decay within. Following World War II, Winston Churchill wrote, “The human tragedy reaches its climax in the fact that after all the exertions and sacrifice of hundreds of millions of people, and of all the victories of the righteous cause, we have still not found peace or security, and that we lie in the grip of even worse perils than those we have surmounted.”
We find ourselves against a frightening prophetic certainty that it is happening to us again—with an ominous terrible suspicion that this time the decay is within.
It is one thing to be bound together, armed and united on a moral course, fearless of the attack from godless or amoral or immoral adversaries. It is quite another to realize that we ourselves are becoming amoral—even immoral—perhaps godless.
That is what we are to guard our nation against! (74–10)
The balance of decency has shifted. Strength that comes from decency, from morality, is the one, the essential ingredient required for the preservation of freedom, indeed for the preservation of humankind. And there is reason to believe that we are losing it.
Something changed. Perhaps for the first time since Concord Bridge that balance of decency and morality is shifting past the center. The balance, which measures the morality of all of us put together, is slowly tipping in the wrong, fatal direction. These lines written to describe another time and place seem to fit our circumstance now.
That which they would never yield
To military might,
They threw away unwittingly
When evil came by night
And scattered tares among the grain.
They did not rouse to see
Their fundamental moral strength
In mortal jeopardy.4 (89–03, p. 62)
WORKING FOR GOOD ¬GOVERNMENT
How may the Constitution be saved? It has been prophesied that the Constitution of the United States will hang by a thread and that the elders of Israel will step forth to save it.5 In my mind that does not require a few heroes in public office steering some saving legislation through the halls of Congress, neither some brilliant military leaders rallying our defense against an invading army. In my mind, it could well be brought about by the rank and file of men and women of faith who revere the Constitution and believe that the strength of democracy rests in the ordinary family and in each member of it.
That saving strength rests in ordinary fathers and mothers who do not neglect the spiritual development of their children. It rests in fathers and mothers who will send their sons and daughters to the four corners of the earth to teach that if we will follow in His word, “then [we will be his] disciples indeed; and [we] shall know the truth, and the truth shall make [us] free.”6 (89–03, p. 68)
This Church and its faithful members will defend the Constitution. There occurs from time to time reference to the Constitution hanging by a thread. President Brigham Young ¬said:
The general Constitution of our country is good, and a wholesome government could be framed upon it; for it was dictated by the invisible operations of the Almighty. . . .
Will the Constitution be destroyed? No. It will be held inviolate by this people; and as Joseph Smith said, “the time will come when the destiny of this nation will hang upon a single thread, and at this critical juncture, this people will step forth and save it from the threatened destruction.” It will be so.7
I do not know when that day will come or how it will come to pass. I feel sure that when it does come to pass, among those who will step forward from among this people will be men who hold the holy priesthood and who carry as credentials a bachelor or doctor of law degree, and women, also, of honor. And there will be judges as -well.
Others from the world outside the Church will come, as Colonel Thomas Kane did, and bring with them their knowledge of the law to protect this people.
We may one day stand alone, but we will not change or lower our standards or change our course. (04–02, pp. 10–11)
This land will be a land of liberty unless our purposes run counter to God’s. The Book of Mormon . . . in repeated references designates this land as “choice above all other lands,”8 and “a land of liberty” unto those who possess it.9 This book of prophecy also established a great responsibility upon the citizens of this land and declares that when the purposes of the people become destructive to the purposes of God, they are in danger of losing liberty, the most precious of all gifts. (55–01)
How to stand worthy of public trust. Occasionally we find an individual who holds, or is seeking to hold, high public ¬office.
Such a man may claim to be worthy of public trust. He may insist that he would not cheat the public, or misrepresent them, or mislead them, or break faith with them.
We may ask ourselves, what does that individual do with a private trust? A good measure of him is to determine how he keeps covenants relating to his family. . . .
A man who is not faithful to his marriage partner and to his family is hardly worthy of confidence and trust.
If he would cheat on his marriage vows . . . surely he must stand unworthy of any great public trust.
He cannot claim this to be a private matter with no bearing on his integrity before the public. (80–01)
It is God’s will that men be free people. One of the most significant principles in the Church, even from the beginning, was the principle of liberty. The Lord declared in His revelations that it was not commensurate with His will that men should be in bondage one to another, that religiously and politically there was to be no aristocracy with dictatorial rights. And He declared that “for this purpose have I established the Constitution of this land, by the hands of wise men whom I raised up unto this very purpose, and redeemed the land by the shedding of blood.”10 (55–01)
Following the gospel plan will keep us free. In our search for happiness, let us set as our goal eternal life, and eternal joy. If mankind would but avail himself of the great gospel plan which includes all that is calculated to bring happiness and joy, there could be no fear of losing the priceless gift of freedom. We would then be on the Lord’s side of the line. Perhaps then we could more fully realize the significance of the promise given by the greatest of all: “Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”11 (55–01)
Freedom must be built on righteous principles. Along with the great knowledge that this is the chosen land of God, we have been warned and forewarned that the foundation of freedom must be built on the observance of righteous principles. (55–01)
Freedom cannot survive when the rights of the individual are fanatically promoted. Neither can freedom long survive in a society where the rights of the individual are fanatically promoted regardless of what happens to society itself. The rights of the -individual—the ideal, the virtue—when pressed to the extreme, like other virtues will presently become a vice. Unless they ensure some balance, activists, lawyers, legislators, judges, and courts who think they are protecting individual freedom are in fact fabricating a new and subtle and sinister kind of dictatorship. (89–03, p. 65)
Belongs on your shelf...
by Customer - reviewed on September 17, 2008
alongside the classics - Gospel Doctrine, Discourses of Brigham Young, etc. Elder Packer is an insightful teacher and the format of the book makes finding things easy. It's arranged topically, plus, each quote is preceded by a short synopsis. Very nice.
This is not a compilation of talks
by Customer - reviewed on October 03, 2008
I've always thought that President Packer was one who was straightforward in his instruction. This book combines his teachings from his many years of service, all easy to find and understand because they are listed by subject, with pictures and information about his life and experiences. There are some topics that others may find controversial, but President Packer lines it all up.
by Paul - reviewed on November 10, 2008
Great daily thought book. Excellent for a review of mormon beliefs from A to z or as a night stand quick thought to ponder book. Written in short thought format or read complete chapters. GREAT READING
by Tracy - reviewed on October 26, 2008
I am putting this on my Christmas list! Everyone should have this book!
Perfect Father's Day Gift
by Mary - reviewed on June 08, 2009
This is the best Father's Day Gift. My husband and I have always admired President Packard, and to have the sermons he has given in one collection is a treasure.
by Carol - reviewed on August 15, 2009
I have told many people about the way 'Teaching, No Greater Call' has influenced my life and this is another great book! I like how the book has been formatted for easy reference.
I'm going to get this one!
by Rachel - reviewed on October 22, 2008
A friend just read this book and so highly recommended it that I am heading out tomorrow to get it.
by Travis - reviewed on November 06, 2008
Anything from Elder Packer is as good as a gold nugget when it comes to learning more about the Gospel.