John A. Widtsoe

Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (March 17, 1921 – November 29, 1952)

General Conference Addresses

  • April 1921 General Conference
    • The Unifying Power of the Gospel
      • “Whether of high or of low degree, rich or poor, learned or unlearned, of quick or of slow intelligence, from Scandinavia, Germany, England or America, these people, because of the gospel and through the gospel, see alike, apparently think alike, and very largely act alike. There is something within this gospel that unifies all who accept it and who belong to it.”
      • “In a Church which declares that there is a graded salvation, within the ultimate reach of every human being, if he cares to accept of it, there can be no deep-seated fear of the hereafter, especially when we have been told that the lowest glory of this graded salvation is entirely beyond the understanding and wildest fancy of man.”
      • “Truth is always simple; the test of truth is simplicity. That which is dimly understood, which confuses the mind of man, is likely to be but partly true.”
      • “Many religions upon the face of the earth rest upon one isolated truth. Each has taken a great, glittering, .brilliant truth, and upon it has erected an elaborate system ; but because it is only one truth of many belonging to a great principle—which principle is not understood in full—the system of religion is not likely to prevail forever among men.”
      • “I want to bear you this testimony, my brethren and sisters, that we have in this Church the great, everlasting principles of truth, the basic laws of truth upon which we may erect the spiritual and religious structure of our lives, here and hereafter. I want to say also that it is my conviction that the greatest danger that may affect this Church at any time is to depart, ever so little, from these fundamental principles. All that we do, all that we plan to do, must be tied to the fundamental principles of the Gospel. Then we shall have no apostasy in this Church. The apostasies of past dispensations, have come ordinarily when some one has taken a glittering, desirable truth, and magnified it to the forgetfulness of the principle to which it belongs.”
      • “Some may say that this doctrine stops all progress. If we have solid, substantial, unchanging principles which may never be departed from, then how is progress possible? Yet, my brethren and sisters, you all know that the only real progress possible in this world is that which is based upon adherence to simple, general laws of truth. When man discovers some great law pertaining to the universe, and builds upon it, then he and science both make progress. The great principles or laws of truth may be likened to the great steel structure of one of our lofty office buildings—rigid, firm and bolted together so that it may not move or change—yet within those steel beams and girders, around them, above them, below them, are built floors and walls and doors and windows and decorations until the structure meets every want of those for whom it is intended.”
      • “May we also remember that to possess truth is only a part of the problem. We must use it also; and truth cannot be used properly or wisely unless we do, as has been explained here this afternoon, apply to it the authority of the Priesthood of God.”

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