Skip to main content

He does speak...but men need the faith to hear Him

I would suggest just reading (or listening to) the entire talk by Hugh B. Brown. Text is pasted on a "page" of this blog and original transcript and audio is available at:  http://speeches.byu.edu/index.php?act=viewitem&id=114

…Perhaps I can do this more quickly by referring to an interview I had in London, England, in 1939, just before the outbreak of the war. I had met a very prominent English gentleman, a member of the House of Commons, formerly one of the justices of the supreme court of England. In my conversations with this gentleman on various subjects—“vexations of the soul,” he called them—we talked about business, law, politics, international relations, and war, and we frequently discussed religion. He called me on the phone one day and asked if I would meet him at his office and explain some phases of the gospel. He said, “I think there is going to be a war. If there is, you will have to return to America and we may not meet again.” His statement regarding the imminence of war and the possibility that we would not meet again proved to be prophetic.
When I went to his office he said he was intrigued by some things I had told him. He asked me to prepare a brief on Mormonism. I may say to you students that a brief is a statement of law and facts that lawyers like President Wilkinson prepare when they are going into court to argue a case. He asked me to prepare a brief on Mormonism and discuss it with him as I would discuss a legal problem. He said, “You have told me that you believe that Joseph Smith was a prophet. You have said to me that you believe that God the Father and Jesus of Nazareth appeared to Joseph Smith. I cannot understand how a barrister and solicitor from Canada, a man trained in logic and evidence, could accept such absurd statements. What you tell me about Joseph Smith seems fantastic, but I think you should take three days at least to prepare a brief and permit me to examine it and question you on it.”
I suggested that we proceed at once and have an examination for discovery, which is, briefly, a meeting of the opposing sides in a lawsuit where the plaintiff and defendant, with their attorneys, meet to examine each other’s claims and see if they can find some area of agreement, thus saving the time of the court later on. I said perhaps we could see whether we had some common ground from which we could discuss my “fantastic ideas.” He agreed to that quite readily. I can only give you, in the few minutes at my disposal, a condensed and abbreviated synopsis of the three-hour conversation that followed. In the interest of time I shall resort to the question-and-answer method, rather than narration.
I began by asking, “May I proceed, sir, on the assumption that you are a Christian?”
“I am.”
“I assume you believe in the Bible—the Old and New Testaments?”
“I do!”
“Do you believe in prayer?”
“I do!”
“You say that my belief that God spoke to a man in this age is fantastic and absurd?”
“To me it is.”
“Do you believe that God ever did speak to anyone?”
“Certainly, all through the Bible we have evidence of that.”
“Did He speak to Adam?”
“Yes.”
“To Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jacob, Joseph, and on through the prophets?”
“I believe He spoke to each of them.”
“Do you believe that contact between God and man ceased when Jesus appeared on the earth?”
“No, such communication reached its climax, its apex, at that time.”
“Do you believe that Jesus was the Son of God?”
“He was.”
“Do you believe, sir, that after Jesus was resurrected, a certain lawyer—who was also a tentmaker by the name of Saul of Tarsus—when on his way to Damascus talked with Jesus of Nazareth, who had been crucified, resurrected, and had ascended into heaven?”
“I do.”
“Whose voice did Saul hear?”
“It was the voice of Jesus Christ, for He so introduced Himself.”
“Then, my Lord—that is the way we address judges in the British Commonwealth—I am submitting to you in all seriousness that it was standard procedure in Bible times for God to talk to man.”
“I think I will admit that, but it stopped shortly after the first century of the Christian era.”
“Why do you think it stopped?”
“I can’t say.”
“You think that God hasn’t spoken since then?”
“I am sure He hasn’t.”
“There must be a reason. Can you give me a reason?”
“I do not know.”
“May I suggest some possible reasons? Perhaps God does not speak to man anymore because He cannot. He has lost the power.”
He said, “Of course that would be blasphemous.”
“Well, then, if you don’t accept that, perhaps He doesn’t speak to men because He doesn’t love us anymore and He is no longer interested in the affairs of men.”
“No,” he said, “God loves all men, and He is no respecter of persons.”
“Well, then, if He could speak, and if He loves us, then the only other possible answer, as I see it, is that we don’t need Him. We have made such rapid strides in science and we are so well educated that we don’t need God anymore.”
And then he said—and his voice trembled as he thought of impending war—“Mr. Brown, there never was a time in the history of the world when the voice of God was needed as it is needed now. Perhaps you can tell me why He doesn’t speak.”
My answer was: “He does speak, He has spoken; but men need faith to hear Him.”
Perhaps some of you are wondering how the judge reacted to our discussion. He listened intently; he asked some very pointed and searching questions; and, at the end of the period, he said, “Mr. Brown, I wonder if your people appreciate the import of your message. Do you?” He said, “If what you have told me is true, it is the greatest message that has come to this earth since the angels announced the birth of Christ.”
This was a judge speaking—a great statesman, an intelligent man. He threw out the challenge: “Do you appreciate the import of what you say?” He added, “I wish it were true. I hope it may be true. God knows it ought to be true. I would to God,” he said, and he wept as he said it, “that some man could appear on earth and authoritatively say, ‘Thus saith the Lord.’”  (emphasis added)

Hugh B. Brown, “Profile of a Prophet”, BYU devotional, October 4, 1955. 
Recording and transcript available at:  http://speeches.byu.edu/index.php?act=viewitem&id=114

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The God of the 4th Watch (S. Michael Wilcox)

The scriptures are our Father in Heaven’s letters; only He knows more than I did as a father what you and I would need.  There are times in our lives when we need to open the letter and communicate with our Father in Heaven, and understand what He is like and His concern for us.  I would like to share this morning, with you, four letters from my Father in Heaven that have been very important to me—that I hope will be indicative of the power that the scriptures can be for us as we face different trials and challenges of our lives.  The first letter is called "The Fourth Watch." That letter comes from the sixth chapter of Mark.  The Savior has fed the five thousand that day, and in the late afternoon, early evening, He is sending his apostles down into the ship. He will dismiss the multitude. He wishes to pray that evening, and then He will meet the apostles a little later on the shore and they are to pick Him up.  In late afternoon, early evening, the apostles get on the sh

Bread or Stones: Understanding the God We Pray to (W. Michael Wilcox)

Amazing talk about the nature of God, answers to prayer, adversity, etc.: https://devotionalarchive.byuh.edu/node/332.html https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dR2xdzkEIQk&feature=youtu.be Bread or Stones: Understanding the God We Pray to Devotional Talk Given at  Brigham Young University-Hawaii  March 31, 2009 S. Michael Wilcox  Religion Instructor & Author CES Institute of Religion A number of years ago when my daughter was about your age, she was just out of high school, she went to one semester at BYU and then she got an opportunity to go to the Soviet Union (former Soviet Union) and teach English in Russia. Now this was before e-mail and cell phones, and communications between the United States and the Soviet Union were not going to be really good. She was eighteen; we were a little bit worried that there might be moments or times when she would need to talk with a parent, and not be able to because of communication difficulties.  So I decided that I would write her a series

Other Books Will Come Forth (Welch)

Let me share a personal story to illustrate this point. During my time in law school at Duke University, I attended a class in the Duke Divinity School from James Charlesworth. He was a very prominent Dead Sea Scrolls scholar working at that time on a translation of Jewish and Christian texts from around the time of Christ that had never been translated and published in English. In this class, we were charged with reading a certain text. Charlesworth presented it as one of the most puzzling texts he had ever run across. His question was: Is it Christian or Jewish? He had no idea where it might have originated, because it was quite unlike anything else that he had ever seen. He explained to this seminar that it tells a story about a man named Zosimus who leaves Jerusalem. He goes out into the desert, wanders and gets lost in a big mist of darkness. He then arrives at the banks of a big ocean or river. He cannot move. He is afraid because he wants to know the way to a life of righte