Sperry Symposium: ‘Calling and Election’

Credit: R. Scott Lloyd
Credit: R. Scott Lloyd
Credit: R. Scott Lloyd


While there is much to be learned from scholars and churchmen of other faith traditions regarding the history, language and cultural background of 1 and 2 Peter, “what follows is a faith-based, Restoration-centered doctrinal investigation of the subject,” Robert L. Millet said at the outset of his Sperry Symposium lecture Oct. 25.

“When it comes to doctrinal interpretation, our principal and our primary source must be the scriptures of the Restoration and the writings and sermons of latter-day apostles and prophets,” said Brother Millet, coordinator of interfaith outreach and professor emeritus of religious education at Brigham Young University.

Brother Millet spoke on the topic “Make Your Calling and Election Sure,” a phrase drawn from 1 Peter 1:10.

“Latter-day Saint writers, including general Church leaders, have not written of the doctrine of calling and election very often,” he observed, “not because it’s a forbidden subject, but rather, a sensitive one. Furthermore, because the Brethren have said very little about it publicly, this is not an announcement that we should somehow avoid it like a plague or that the teaching has somehow fallen on hard times or that it’s been officially relegated to the category of folklore or pop theology or that it’s out of date or that it is no longer held to be the doctrine of the Church.

“For heaven’s sake, this precious truth is found in the Standard Works, within the New Testament and the Doctrine and Covenants, and when it comes to relevance or timeliness in the 21st century, what could be more everlastingly pertinent than the quest for eternal life and the sweet assurance that one’s salvation is secure?”

Regarding the second epistle of Peter, Brother Millet said it is fascinating that the senior apostle begins by addressing himself “to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Savior, Jesus Christ.”

“There’s not one gospel for prophets and another for the rank-and-file of the Church,” he observed. “No, theirs is a ‘like precious faith,’ a faith that is centered in the Lord Jesus Christ, a faith that trusts totally in Him, has complete confidence in Him and relies wholly upon Him.”

Brother Millet said Peter then reports the fruits that flow from such faith. He commented on each:

“Virtue is a condition of uprightness, moral excellence, goodness, a life that demonstrates consistency with truth or with the way things really are.

“Knowledge is vital, because one cannot be saved in ignorance, and because a saving conviction is always predicated upon propositions of truth. …

“Temperance is self-control. … It is the meek person who is restrained, not alone by social prohibitions but more importantly through temperance, self-control.

“Patience is that virtue, that God-like quality that demonstrates one’s trust in God’s program, trust in the Lord’s purposes, acquiescence to the divine timetable. To have patience is to have hope, to be willing to wait on the Lord.

“Godliness is a quality of a man or woman who has yielded his or her heart unto God, a believer whose genuine piety is reflected in his or her willing conformity to divine law.

“Brotherly kindness is more than just nice and attractive. It is a fundamental and vital feature of the outworking of the Spirit of Jesus Christ in our lives. One of the ways we assess our growth unto godliness is the extent to which we’ve begun to value the children of God, to love our brothers and sisters. …

“Charity, the pure love of Christ is, of course, the highest of all the spiritual gifts, the grandest of all heavenly endowments, and that ‘more excellent way.’ It’s Mormon who taught us that true followers of Christ are those who have become, by spiritual regeneration, the sons and daughters of God, persons who have been lifted, purified, transferred by this sacred love into the image of Christ.”

Brother Millet noted that, as Peter states, a man or woman “who possesses these qualities and gifts is neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ, while the person who lacks them is blind, Peter says, and ‘cannot see afar off and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins’ (2 Peter 1:9). That is, the saint who manifests such attributes is not idle, is not unprofitable. Rather, he or she is alive, spiritually productive, contributing regularly and meaningfully to the life of the Church of God and the betterment of God’s world.”

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