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Ballard- Baptismal Challenge

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9 minutes ago, rockpond said:

Again, he said: “it was never our intention to invite people to be baptized before they had learned something about the gospel, felt the Holy Ghost, and had been properly prepared to accept a lifelong commitment to follow Jesus Christ,” said President Ballard.

Is the entire argument on this thread about whether or not most investigators could reasonably have 'learned something about the gospel, felt the holy ghost, and be property prepared to accept lifelong commitments' by the end of the old discussion number 2?

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5 minutes ago, alter idem said:

As I read your criticisms of what he said, you are saying he DOES know where the practice began and therefore inferring he's lying.  But to prove this, you'd need a statement telling missionaries to commit a person to baptism on their first introduction to the church, not matter what--but as has been shown, this is not the case, as missionaries were told to do so, as directed by the spirit.   That's kind of important.

 

I think many missionaries ignored or hurried through that important step, were then dismayed and upset when it turned out in a way they didn't like.  I think some are likely guilty of that, but they want to pass the blame on others, insisting they were taught to do this, when in fact, they made the decision (likely unconsciously) to ignore that they were taught to prayerfully seek guidance and discernment in working with investigators.  I think some may have been pressured by other missionaries who also were inclined to ignore the very important need to follow the spirit.

 

Don't you think that when Pres. Ballard says 'it wasn't our intention', he's talking about this?  It was not their intention that Missionaries would ignore this important step and aspect of missionary work.  It wasn't their intention that numbers would take precedent, to the detriment of being guided by the spirit, it was not their intention that unprepared investigators would be rushed through lessons in order to get a baptism.  Personally, I don't think he's lying about this.

I wonder why it wasn’t addressed back then? Wasn’t it obvious before now that this practice was occurring? 

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Posted (edited)
19 minutes ago, MustardSeed said:

I wonder why it wasn’t addressed back then? Wasn’t it obvious before now that this practice was occurring? 

President Ballard did serve as a mission president.  It would be interesting to know how things were when he served and if this practice was taking place back then.  I'll look up when he served, but not all mission presidents were pressuring their missionaries to get high numbers of baptisms and he may have been one who was more concerned about making sure a investigator was truly converted by the second discussion (when an invitation to be baptized is mentioned, iirc).

(And I agree....I don't believe he's lying, but I do think he should have just spoken for himself rather than stating that all church leaders don't know how this practice began.   I think it's just an error in wording, IMO and of course nothing intentional on his part.)

ETA:

Pres. Ballard served as mission president for the Canada Toronto Mission in 1974.

Edited by ALarson
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27 minutes ago, rockpond said:

It is an invitation to be baptized on a specific future date.  And the invitation is what President Ballard commented on.

Again, he said: “it was never our intention to invite people to be baptized before they had learned something about the gospel, felt the Holy Ghost, and had been properly prepared to accept a lifelong commitment to follow Jesus Christ,” said President Ballard.

 

 

I think Rain excellently pointed this out in an earlier post--Here is the quote:

 

Quote

his touches on a problem I have seen over and over and over again.

I was a missionary 89-90. I learned from the missionary guide. What I constantly saw then and now is that almost everyone focuses on "invite", but the whole process was "Prepare. Invite. Follow-up."

The guide was really clear that BEFORE you invite you prepare and part of that preparing is to "resolve concerns". I can't tell you how many times missionaries skipped resolving concerns before going on. Probably 95% of the time. 

And usually it started with the very first invitation. 

Then you get to the second discussion and you are teaching people who you haven't resolved concerns with in the first discussion and so often when the people hadn't read the Book or Mormon or prayed etc because their concerns were not resolved the missionary jumps right into the baptism invitation because he/she feels the Spirit (truth is being taught) and then thinks the whole system is a failure when the person says no to baptism or yes too early, when really it was the missionary who failed to understand utilize the different parts. 

So now, not only did they miss prepare/resolve concerns because they think follow-up means merely to ask a question and then plow ahead when really it means go back and prepare/resolve concerns.

So no, I don't agree that Elder Ballard is gaslighting etc.  I think from what I've seen is that many missionaries and mission presidents failed to understand how it all works.  

It's funny because I remember when Preach My Gospel came out and everyone was saying it was so different than before, but really it wasn't.  In connection with the Missionary Guide it was very (obviously not completely) similar to what we had before. I kind of felt we needed the name change/new book because people ignored so much of the guide and by changing to a "new" program so that people could get unstuck and start resolving those concerns. Kind of like home & visiting teaching and ministering.

If Elder Ballard had known some people were going to pick apart every word he used in this manner, I think he'd have clarified a little more to explain so there'd be less ammunition for them to use against him.  I think he'd also be incredulous at the verbal minefield apostles walk through every time they open their mouths these days.  What's that saying, about those 'lying in wait'??  There are some who are ready to take anything they can get and try to use it to besmirch and tear down.

Is he claiming that Missionaries were not told to 'invite to baptism' during the first discussion?  No, he didn't claim that--read his continued comments, because he knows as well as any that missionaries are encouraged to 'invite' in the first discussion in Preach my gospel (I suspect he helped write it!)  and trying to insist that he's chiding missionaries for doing this is incorrect.  This false reading is what some are using to make him out to be a liar.  'Properly prepared' are the key words and that's the point, just as Rain explained, that's what he's complaining about.  Those who invite to baptism when they haven't been directed by the spirit and when they haven't properly prepared them to make this invitation, instead leaving this out and rushing a person to baptism just to get numbers.

 

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2 minutes ago, ALarson said:

President Ballard did serve as a mission president.  It would be interesting to know how things were when he served and if this practice was taking place back then.  I'll look up when he served, but not all mission presidents were pressuring their missionaries to get high numbers of baptisms and he may have been one who was more concerned about making sure a investigator was truly converted by the second discussion (when an invitation to be baptized is mentioned, iirc).

Should an investigator be truly converted though before being invited to be baptized at a later date?  In the scriptures, Christ implies that Peter himself, after already being an apostle and having a testimony of Christ, still wasn't truly converted.  (Luke 22:32).

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4 minutes ago, alter idem said:

I think Rain excellently pointed this out in an earlier post--Here is the quote:

 

If Elder Ballard had known some people were going to pick apart every word he used in this manner, I think he'd have clarified a little more to explain so there'd be less ammunition for them to use against him.  I think he'd also be incredulous at the verbal minefield apostles walk through every time they open their mouths these days.  What's that saying, about those 'lying in wait'??  There are some who are ready to take anything they can get and try to use it to besmirch and tear down.

Is he claiming that Missionaries were not told to 'invite to baptism' during the first discussion?  No, he didn't claim that--read his continued comments, because he knows as well as any that missionaries are encouraged to 'invite' in the first discussion in Preach my gospel (I suspect he helped write it!)  and trying to insist that he's chiding missionaries for doing this is incorrect.  This false reading is what some are using to make him out to be a liar.  'Properly prepared' are the key words and that's the point, just as Rain explained, that's what he's complaining about.  Those who invite to baptism when they haven't been directed by the spirit and when they haven't properly prepared them to make this invitation, instead leaving this out and rushing a person to baptism just to get numbers.

 

You quoted me but then refer to people picking apart every word, using "ammunition" against him, lying in wait, besmirching and tearing down.  Since I'm not doing those things I'll assume that your comments are not actually directed toward me.

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20 minutes ago, MustardSeed said:

I wonder why it wasn’t addressed back then? Wasn’t it obvious before now that this practice was occurring? 

I don't know, Elder Ballard would be the one to explain that one.  But, personally, I'd assume it's because the problem wasn't on his radar so much, maybe he's got new responsibilities which have brought this to his attention and it's something he can address. Maybe it's started to come up more often.

Trying to baptize people for only the numbers crops up at times as a problem in various missions, and maybe in the past, it was dealt with in the areas where it was happening and not on a churchwide basis.

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Posted (edited)
5 minutes ago, bluebell said:

Should an investigator be truly converted though before being invited to be baptized at a later date? 

I think the issue (that Pres. Ballard is now trying to correct) is that too many were rushed into baptism before they were "truly converted".  Our retention numbers are really low and that's a big part of why they are, IMO.  It appears the leaders agree and are taking steps to make sure this practice (of rushed baptisms....or pressure on missionaries to produce high numbers of baptisms, etc.) stops.  There's no question that it has taken place over the years in different missions.  Again, I think it has a great deal to do with who the Mission President was and his style of leadership.  

Edited by ALarson
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40 minutes ago, bluebell said:

Is the entire argument on this thread about whether or not most investigators could reasonably have 'learned something about the gospel, felt the holy ghost, and be property prepared to accept lifelong commitments' by the end of the old discussion number 2?

I think that is in part what I am trying to understand.  He speaks against the early baptismal invite practices but then gives a standard that leaves it open to interpreting 1st/2nd discussion baptismal invites as appropriate.

The practice of inviting people to be baptized in the first and second discussions came from the instructions that were in the published missionary discussions (referring to the ones that were published when I was on a mission in the early 90's).  So I am confused by his commend that he and other church leaders don't know where such practices began.

But the second part of his comment is also interesting to me.  As a missionary, I was taught that the investigator was ready to commit to baptism if they had read the Book of Mormon, prayed, and felt the Spirit.  Is that incorrect?

His standard seems to be:

  1. Learned "something" about the gospel.  (An investigator has accomplished this by the end of the first discussion.)
  2. Felt the Holy Ghost.  (Also possible to have done by the end of the first discussion.)
  3. Properly prepared to accept a lifelong commitment to follow Christ.  (I think this could be possible by the end of the second discussion.)
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1 minute ago, rockpond said:

You quoted me but then refer to people picking apart every word, using "ammunition" against him, lying in wait, besmirching and tearing down.  Since I'm not doing those things I'll assume that your comments are not actually directed toward me.

 

I'm sorry! They were not directed at you or anyone specifically. Thanks for pointing that out, I meant to make a general observation. Those who might do this most likely hang out on other forums, not here.😀

It is an observation I make about some criticisms lodged at Apostles for things they've said, which are then picked apart to support a claim.

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13 minutes ago, alter idem said:

Trying to baptize people for only the numbers crops up at times as a problem in various missions, and maybe in the past, it was dealt with in the areas where it was happening and not on a churchwide basis.

Talks in leadership meetings weren't publicized as much in the past, probably due to the cost of hard copies.  So it may have been addressed before, but this is just not well known due to it not being in the public view.

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Posted (edited)
13 hours ago, Scott Lloyd said:

Finally, I find it more than a little ironic that President Ballard is getting blamed on this thread for the development of a general attitude of laxness in such baptism readiness, even though he declares (credibly, in my view) that he doesn’t know how or when such an attitude originated... 

Who is blaming him for that?  I’ve seen no one do that!

And, my husband wasn’t a lazy missionary.  Quite the opposite.  He’s anything but lazy. Just because missionaries obeyed and baptized (sometimes too soon), that certainly does not mean they weren’t hard working and well intentioned.  Remember that those baptisms were approved by his leaders.

Edited by JulieM
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Posted (edited)
13 hours ago, Scott Lloyd said:

Finally, I find it more than a little ironic that President Ballard is getting blamed on this thread for the development of a general attitude of laxness in such baptism readiness, 

My impression was the criticism was not on contributing to the development of the practice, but presenting himself and/or other church leaders as currently unaware of how the development occurred...thus the criticisms on his honesty, labeling him disingenuous, etc.

Edited by Calm
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30 minutes ago, ALarson said:

I think the issue (that Pres. Ballard is now trying to correct) is that too many were rushed into baptism before they were "truly converted".  Our retention numbers are really low and that's a big part of why they are, IMO.  It appears the leaders agree and are taking steps to make sure this practice (of rushed baptisms....or pressure on missionaries to produce high numbers of baptisms, etc.) stops.  There's no question that it has taken place over the years in different missions.  Again, I think it has a great deal to do with who the Mission President was and his style of leadership.  

This does happen. The story in my mission was that three Mission Presidents back the Mission President was super lax and the missionaries got little done. A new president showed up and cleaned up and focused on numbers. The baptism rate was high but retention was non-existent. To quote the Ward Mission Leader in one of my areas: “They got a lot of conversions back then but, with all due respect, they were a lot of nutters.” We had members with 10-20 families on their Home Teaching lists due to this and a lot of people who barely knew or outright did not know they were members. I complained about this in another area and badmouthed the Mission President who did it and one of the members corrected me saying he was a dedicated and good man trying to do his best. I am not sure what to think. I am just glad I was not there then. I used to imagine all the missionaries violating all the requirements for baptism would end up in hell for their misdeeds but I guess I have grown more charitable since then.

Someone mentioned the old Missionary Guide. We used it some.....not as much as we should. I would rather be reading the scriptures then the Guide. I used it a bit with some companions and had one companion who was a zealot about it. Those were tedious study times. He insisted we take turns reading sections and I would read the whole page before he was done with the section so I would recite my portion as quickly as I could and frustrate him with cries of “slow down”. The Missionary Guide also had cassette tapes we would listen to that gave examples of discussions and how to resolve concerns (situations that never actually happened in the field but helpful in some ways I suppose. The thing about the tapes is they often had several good and a few bad examples recorded. The thing was they never used the Sister Missionaries as bad examples and the Elders were about 60/40 on being right/wrong so the joke was that the Sisters were never wrong. One day while at the end of the tape series we were listening and the Sisters came on......and they were wrong. We stared at each other and could not believe what was happening. We stopped the tape and called the other companionship in excitedly to share this special experience. I wish I still had that sense of wonder and enjoyment of such petty stuff. :) 

 

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45 minutes ago, ALarson said:

(And I agree....I don't believe he's lying, but I do think he should have just spoken for himself rather than stating that all church leaders don't know how this practice began.   I think it's just an error in wording, IMO and of course nothing intentional on his part.)

Here are the full paragraphs from the news article. I think some of the confusion is that it's not clear that Elder Ballard said what you claim he said.  The paragraph above states which practices the author claims church leaders don't know where they began.  Am I not reading the news article correctly?

Some missionaries have felt pressure to invite people to be baptized during the first lesson or even the first contact. “These missionaries have felt that inviting people to be baptized the very first time they meet them demonstrated the missionaries’ faith and supports their thinking that inviting people to be baptized early is what is expected,” he said. “Other missionaries have felt that an invitation to be baptized early allowed them to promptly separate the wheat from the tares. In this case, some see the baptismal invitation as a sifting tool.”

Church leaders don’t know where these practices began, but “it was never our intention to invite people to be baptized before they had learned something about the gospel, felt the Holy Ghost, and had been properly prepared to accept a lifelong commitment to follow Jesus Christ,” said President Ballard. “Our retention rates will dramatically increase when people desire to be baptized because of the spiritual experiences they are having rather than feeling pressured into being baptized by our missionaries.”

 

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28 minutes ago, rockpond said:

I think that is in part what I am trying to understand.  He speaks against the early baptismal invite practices but then gives a standard that leaves it open to interpreting 1st/2nd discussion baptismal invites as appropriate.

What does it mean by early though?  And does Elder Ballard ever actually speak out against inviting someone 'early'?

Early can mean early in the discussions (such as in the first or second when there are 6) or early in the investigator's experience with the gospel (such as before they have completed the steps he outlines). 

Quote

The practice of inviting people to be baptized in the first and second discussions came from the instructions that were in the published missionary discussions (referring to the ones that were published when I was on a mission in the early 90's).  So I am confused by his commend that he and other church leaders don't know where such practices began.

This is only an issue if he was speaking against early baptism invitations.  If he wasn't speaking about early invites but speaking about invites that come before the person has done the steps he outlined, then his comment makes sense.

Quote

But the second part of his comment is also interesting to me.  As a missionary, I was taught that the investigator was ready to commit to baptism if they had read the Book of Mormon, prayed, and felt the Spirit.  Is that incorrect?

I can't say.  As a missionary in the late 90s, I wasn't taught this so I can't speak to whether it's correct or not.  

Quote

 

His standard seems to be:

  1. Learned "something" about the gospel.  (An investigator has accomplished this by the end of the first discussion.)
  2. Felt the Holy Ghost.  (Also possible to have done by the end of the first discussion.)
  3. Properly prepared to accept a lifelong commitment to follow Christ.  (I think this could be possible by the end of the second discussion.)

 

  1.  

Yes, I think that's his standard and I think you've outlined well how someone can be invited at the end of the first or second and still be following Elder Ballard's example, thus showing that inviting during the first and second is likely not the practice he was referring to when he said he didn't know where it came from.  But, without him clarifying it's all just speculation either way.

 

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Posted (edited)
6 minutes ago, gopher said:

Here are the full paragraphs from the news article. I think some of the confusion is that it's not clear that Elder Ballard said what you claim he said.  The paragraph above states which practices the author claims church leaders don't know where they began.  Am I not reading the news article correctly?

Some missionaries have felt pressure to invite people to be baptized during the first lesson or even the first contact. “These missionaries have felt that inviting people to be baptized the very first time they meet them demonstrated the missionaries’ faith and supports their thinking that inviting people to be baptized early is what is expected,” he said. “Other missionaries have felt that an invitation to be baptized early allowed them to promptly separate the wheat from the tares. In this case, some see the baptismal invitation as a sifting tool.”

Church leaders don’t know where these practices began, but “it was never our intention to invite people to be baptized before they had learned something about the gospel, felt the Holy Ghost, and had been properly prepared to accept a lifelong commitment to follow Jesus Christ,” said President Ballard. “Our retention rates will dramatically increase when people desire to be baptized because of the spiritual experiences they are having rather than feeling pressured into being baptized by our missionaries.”

 

I'm not sure how you can interpret "Church leaders" to mean anything other than "church leaders"....that's pretty precise and straight forward.

I'm just saying that I feel this is where the confusion or objections are stemming from.  It's just in his wording, IMO.  If he'd stated "I don't know where these practices began" or "I know that some of the church leaders don't know where these practices began", that would be more accurate, IMO.  It's difficult to belief that none of the church leaders know where these practices began.  Otherwise, I'd think they wouldn't know where to look to make corrections.

Edited by ALarson

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49 minutes ago, ALarson said:

I think the issue (that Pres. Ballard is now trying to correct) is that too many were rushed into baptism before they were "truly converted".  Our retention numbers are really low and that's a big part of why they are, IMO.  It appears the leaders agree and are taking steps to make sure this practice (of rushed baptisms....or pressure on missionaries to produce high numbers of baptisms, etc.) stops.  There's no question that it has taken place over the years in different missions.  Again, I think it has a great deal to do with who the Mission President was and his style of leadership.  

I completely agree. I was just questioning the idea that people should not be invited to be baptized until they are truly converted.  

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18 minutes ago, ALarson said:

I'm not sure how you can interpret "Church leaders" to mean anything other than "church leaders"....that's pretty precise and straight forward.

I'm just saying that I feel this is where the confusion or objections are stemming from.  It's just in his wording, IMO.  If he'd stated "I don't know where these practices began" or "I know that some of the church leaders don't know where these practices began", that would be more accurate, IMO.  It's difficult to belief that none of the church leaders know where these practices began.  Otherwise, I'd think they wouldn't know where to look to make corrections.

The quote about church leaders comes from Sarah Jane Weaver, not Elder Ballard.  But it continues to be attributed to Elder Ballard for some reason.  Have you asked Sarah Weaver to explain what she meant since it's causing so much confusion for some here?

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1 hour ago, alter idem said:

I don't know, Elder Ballard would be the one to explain that one.  But, personally, I'd assume it's because the problem wasn't on his radar so much, maybe he's got new responsibilities which have brought this to his attention and it's something he can address. Maybe it's started to come up more often.

Trying to baptize people for only the numbers crops up at times as a problem in various missions, and maybe in the past, it was dealt with in the areas where it was happening and not on a churchwide basis.

I heard he was over the missionary department around the year 2000. Just heard it this morning while listening to someone that spoke about Elder Ballard being over the missionaries during his mission. Maybe he actually helped get things going towards not hurrying these baptisms. I wish he had chosen to admit that it was taught in instructions, but that now they've seen that many converts don't stay active because they weren't truly converted.

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2 minutes ago, Tacenda said:

I heard he was over the missionary department around the year 2000. Just heard it this morning while listening to someone that spoke about Elder Ballard being over the missionaries during his mission. Maybe he actually helped get things going towards not hurrying these baptisms. I wish he had chosen to admit that it was taught in instructions, but that now they've seen that many converts don't stay active because they weren't truly converted.

You wished he would admit something that was not true?

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30 minutes ago, ALarson said:

I'm not sure how you can interpret "Church leaders" to mean anything other than "church leaders"....that's pretty precise and straight forward.

I'm just saying that I feel this is where the confusion or objections are stemming from.  It's just in his wording, IMO.  If he'd stated "I don't know where these practices began" or "I know that some of the church leaders don't know where these practices began", that would be more accurate, IMO.  It's difficult to belief that none of the church leaders know where these practices began.  Otherwise, I'd think they wouldn't know where to look to make corrections.

It is not his wording. It is the reporter summarizing. Note that section is NOT in quotation marks because Elder Ballard did not say it. The writer thought he said something that conveyed that.

I said this earlier. Many are demanding explanations from him and vilifying him for a phrase HE DID NOT SAY.

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3 minutes ago, The Nehor said:

It is not his wording. It is the reporter summarizing. Note that section is NOT in quotation marks because Elder Ballard did not say it. The writer thought he said something that conveyed that.

I said this earlier. Many are demanding explanations from him and vilifying him for a phrase HE DID NOT SAY.

I guess I'm late to the game, he didn't say what is in the OP? 

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Posted (edited)
11 minutes ago, The Nehor said:

It is not his wording. It is the reporter summarizing. Note that section is NOT in quotation marks because Elder Ballard did not say it. The writer thought he said something that conveyed that.

I said this earlier. Many are demanding explanations from him and vilifying him for a phrase HE DID NOT SAY.

I was just going from what was in the OP:

Quote

 

So when Elder Ballard says this...

  Quote

Church leaders don’t know where these practices began, but “it was never our intention to invite people to be baptized before they had learned something about the gospel, felt the Holy Ghost, and had been properly prepared to accept a lifelong commitment to follow Jesus Christ,” said President Ballard. “Our retention rates will dramatically increase when people desire to be baptized because of the spiritual experiences they are having rather than feeling pressured into being baptized by our missionaries.”

https://www.thechurchnews.com/leaders-and-ministry/2019-06-26/president-ballard-baptize-2019-mission-leadership-seminar-50222?fbclid=IwAR2Xo4KtxPd1JFedXKvp1bKtzc95bwEKbxY4X7so8KOTdTm1TFYpVEeU_Tw

 

I did just now look at the link....so maybe this conversation is all just a misunderstanding?  Was she paraphrasing that part?

I guess we'd need to see a copy of his actual talk in order to continue discussing this with complete accuracy.😉

ETA:

However....

I doubt this would have been published in the church news if it contained inaccuracies or misrepresentations of what Pres. Ballard stated.

Edited by ALarson

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