An apostle of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) addressed students at Harvard Law School on Tuesday during the annual Mormonism 101 series sponsored by the school's Latter-day Saint Student Association. (Read full address here.)
In Harvard’s historic Langdell Hall, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles spoke to a religiously diverse audience about Mormonism’s teachings. He explained, among other things, that Latter-day Saints believe Christ’s ancient church has been restored in modern times.
“What brings me to you today is not a message of reformation but of restoration,” he said, “the restoration of that church Christ established by His hand in the meridian of time and which He has reestablished by His hand in this present time.”
Through this restoration, Elder Holland explained, doctrines about the nature of God, Christ’s ministry and God’s plan for His children were reemphasized and clarified.
Elder Holland further explained the centrality of Christ to Church doctrine and the important distinctions between the teachings of some Christian traditions and the Christian doctrines and beliefs of the Latter-day Saints.
“We are not considered ‘Christian’ by some, I suppose because we are not fourth-century Christians, we are not Athanasian Christians, we are not creedal Christians of the brand that arose hundreds of years after Christ,” he said. “No, when we speak of ‘restored Christianity’ we speak of the Church as it was [before] ... great councils were called to debate and anguish over what it was they really believed.”
Additionally, Elder Holland spoke about the heightened media attention on the Church.
"I confess I did not believe I would live to see the day that taxi cabs in Times Square would be scurrying about with 'taxi toppers' saying, 'See the Book of Mormon,'" he said. "Of course our quick rejoinder has been, 'Now you have seen the show, read the book.'"
Prior to his call to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in 1994, Elder Holland served as the dean of religious education and then as the ninth president of Brigham Young University. Elder Holland earned degrees from Brigham Young University and a PhD and masters degree in American Studies from Yale University.
At the end of his remarks, Elder Holland took questions from the audience.
In previous years, other prominent members of the Church, including Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and Thomas B. Griffiths, a federal circuit judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, have participated in the Mormonism 101 series.