The 17th annual Sidney Sperry Symposium brought together some of the top scholars in the Church to present in-depth analyses of the "doctrines of exaltation" taught in the Doctrine and Covenants.
Some 700 people attended the Feb. 4 symposium, sponsored by BYU's Religious Education Department and the Church Educational System. Severe winter weather had made travel difficult for many of those attending.Chauncey C. Riddle, professor of philosophy at BYU, delivered the keynote address and focused on the new and everlasting covenant.
"Human beings are saved by the grace of Christ, but only after each does all he or she can do to perfect, purify and enoble himself or herself," Riddle said.
The professor explained that the saving grace of Christ is His new and everlasting covenant and power of atonement. This saving grace was made possible through the Savior's righteous and perfect faith in His Father.
"Thus, human beings may be saved only by binding themselves to Christ," Riddle explained. "It is as if our task is to stand straight and tall before our Father, but, because of the fall, we are broken and twisted. The Savior is our straight and tall splint. If we bind ourselves to Him, wrap strong covenants around us and Him that progressively draw us up into His form and nature, we can become righteous as He is and be saved." But without Him we are nothing.
Riddle said the "righteous" people spoken of in the scriptures are not those who are or can become righteous by themselves. But they are those who have bound themselves to Jesus Christ by the promises of the new and everlasting covenant and have kept those promises.
"Only in Him and by Him are they able to do any good thing," he said. "The righteous acts they do are not strictly their own acts, therefore, they take no credit for them. . ., butT give the glory to God."
Enduring to the end and loving God with all one's heart, might, mind and strength will help a person gain his or her eternal nature, Riddle continued.
"He and she become one with God . . . . The purpose of the new and everlasting covenant is to provide a means whereby every human being may come to be able to fulfill the first covenant, to do all things whatsoever their God commands them. But the first covenant cannot be fulfilled by one who has sinned.
"Therefore it is only through living vicariously in Christ that any mortal fulfills the first covenant and thereby is enabled to become exalted," he continued. "Thus, Christ wrought eternal life for us in love by satisfying justice for us vicariously. He extends mercy to all who will learn to love until their love can satisfy the demands of Father's justice."