The Hidden Conference Talk

President Hinckley’s Reads Presindent Benson’s Talk

Ezra Taft Benson’s
Hidden Conference Talk

Beware of Pride stands as one of the most profoundly simple yet spiritually significant prophetic messages of the Restoration. But it also contains a second, hidden message for those with eyes to see, and ears to hear.

Probably very few people of the current generation have ever heard of Ezra Taft Benson’s April 1989 conference address, Beware of Pride, or even know that it exists. After all, that was 26 years ago. By now, the content of that life-changing talk has been probably been correlated out of every course of study in the church.

Log’s post last week, Cry Mightily, reminded me of Beware of Pride, so I went back and read it again.

Like the day in 9th grade when I heard that President Kennedy had been shot, or the day I saw the twin towers collapse into their own footprint, I can still remember exactly where I was and what I was doing in the moments when I heard President Benson give that talk. It felt like something on both sides of the veil had just changed.

There were others like me back then who called out for canonization – we wanted Beware of Pride added to the official body of LDS scripture, feeling it to be as spiritually pivotal to this people as King Benjamin’s message was to the people of his day.

Very few, if any, conference addresses before or since Beware of Pride have quietly cited to so many Book of Mormon prophet writers. Any diligent truth seeker who takes the time to pull up and print out Beware of Pride, adding the complete words of the cited scriptures into the full body of the text, will see emerge the actual conference talk President Benson wanted to present to his people, but which has remained hidden in plain sight for such a time as this.

Back in 1991 my friend Lorin did the original scripture breakout on Beware of Pride, incorporated it into the text of the talk, printed out copies and gave them to people in his circle of influence. Every one of us had easy access to the Book of Mormon, and any of us could have done the same thing he did. But it was Lorin who did the work and gave the gift. Unbeknownst to him, that simple labor of love changed the trajectory of my life. I just realized that I never thanked him, so I do it here. I haven’t seen him for 24 years and don’t know where he is, but I hope he finds this and hears my gratitude.

Last week, when I read Log’s post, I saw it again. Everybody has easy access to the Book of Mormon. Anybody could do what Log did and break out the scriptures into a simple synopsis about crying mightily, and post it on a blog. But the fact is that nobody did it, except Log. He did the work and offered up his labor of love, hoping that somehow, somebody would get the point.

The genius of any brilliant synopsis like Benson’s Beware of Pride, or Log’s Cry Mightily is that you can’t just put it together using a word search and cut and paste function. The scriptures don’t work like that: you have to know your stuff.

It takes years of wholehearted reading, retaining, internalizing and experimenting, and then many tears and many prayers to organize and present the words of the prophets in such a way that the Holy Ghost will then confirm the point of the newly created whole as 100% truth.

And then in Log’s case, it also takes a nearly invisible ego to resist the urge to interpret their words, just get out of the way, and let the prophets speak for themselves.

Log’s post called me out and reminded me to go back and read Beware of Pride again. Unfortunately, I discovered that it still has my name written all over it. I know, the scriptures aren’t supposed to be of any private interpretation, but it sure looks like Beware of Pride was written to me.

That’s the hard thing about Beware of Pride: anybody who thinks it applies to everybody else (but not to themselves) will not set foot in Zion.

The message in Beware of Pride pierces my heart and convicts me of the sin of pride every time I read it.

So here I am back on my knees again, yielding my agency and personal agenda to Christ again, crying mightily again, working out my salvation and progression with fear and trembling, again.

This is all just to say thank you dear brother Log, for your labor of love.

Point taken.

23 thoughts on “The Hidden Conference Talk”

  1. I share your fondness for ‘Beware of Pride’, Lynne. I turn to it every time I teach a lesson about pride. However, the back story of Ezra Taft Benson’s most profound theological address is an great example of God moving in mysterious ways. ‘Beware’, it turns out, was ghost-written by President Benson’s daughter-in-law, May Benson, who borrowed liberally from C.S. Lewis’ book, ‘Mere Christianity’ without the courtesy of an attribution. Likewise, Sister Benson was never credited with writing the talk. I still love the talk and C.S. Lewis, the honorary Mormon apostle.,1009703,1009882

    1. Can I just add here that C S Lewis was brought to Christianity by my favorite non-LDS Prophet, JRR Tolkein? So in truth we should be attributing this all to him, no?

    2. As grandpa used to say, “if you want your genealogy done, then run for public office and your enemies will do it for you.” Kind of the same thing here I guess, if you want the real back story on anything controversial then post it to Tim’s blog and somebody will do the detail. I had no idea about the May Benson thing, I’ve learned a lot in the comments, and sincerely appreciate the info.

      I laughed to think of the irony: a homeschooling mom quoting a “priesthoodless” generic Christian man penned one of the most spiritually significant prophetic messages of the Restoration… and then when I thought about that, I cried. What does that say about those at the helm?

  2. A fantastic tool that incorporate Benson’s prophetic talks is a book called He Did Deliver Me From Bondage by Colleen Harrison. It is a Book of Mormon based tool that helps people draw closer to Jesus Christ. The original text was used by the church for its addiction recovery program, but it has since been correlated and no longer resembles the powerful Christ based text that is He Did Deliver Me From Bondage.

    This man credits that book for his miraculous weight loss.

  3. I agree the Beware of Pride message is absolutely pivotal and life changing. I still remember when it was given, and it was very meaningful to me then. I hope it will continue to inform my repentance.

    I think it is even better presented and explained in its original form in C.S. Lewis’s masterpiece, Mere Christianity. The fact that the original message was written by a non-Mormon believer in Christ is a great lesson in itself. LDS people universally call these the words of a prophet, yet they were written by a man some would would wrongly claim didn’t even have access to the Holy Ghost.

    Another lesson to ponder is that we all give President Benson credit for a talk that he didn’t write, read, or likely understand (if his grandson is to be believed.) This talk was apparently written by May Benson (ETB’s daughter in law) who “borrowed” liberally from CS Lewis without attribution. The talk was then read by President Hinckley from the pulpit in conference. Yet we universally give President Benson credit for this talk. Something to think about.

    I mean no disrespect to President Benson, by the way. And regardless of how the message reached us, it is one we all ought to heed.

    I have not yet inserted the references in their fulness as you suggest. Thank you so much for the suggestion.

  4. Lynne,

    Thank you for this. I really appreciate it and love the principles taught in the talk given.

    To care what God thinks instead of men, and to seek to know what God thinks in every particular instead of inserting what we believe and judging truth and error based on our own understanding and limited perspective is one that requires meekness, and will surely cause the world to see us as fools.

    Thanks again Lynne

  5. It’s really pretty offensive the way some people have decided that the restored Church of Jesus Christ has been doing something deceitful in correlating what is taught in the worldwide Church and that the Church is hiding certain things that only special people can uncover.

    As for Pres. Benson’s teachings about pride, there is a far-ranging discussion of them in the Church manual about his teachings:

    Hidden? Hardly. Try googling

      1. I removed my name from the rolls of the church I loved over 15 years ago. I did not leave because I lacked a testimony of Joseph Smith and the Restoration, but because I did have a rock-solid testimony and the differences were irreconcilable. I have been studying solo all these years and have been focusing on the Book of Mormon instead of the oft repeated conference talks of the current LDS leadership. Although I support all my children and grandchildren in the LDS milestones of their lives such as baptisms, missions and temple marriages, I have not focused on the church for quite some time, therefore I am not generally aware of all the controversies or conundrums. So yes, it could be said that my awareness of things church is “individual”, and I don’t use the church published manuals or books from Deseret Book, so I’m out of that particular loop.

    1. Steve,

      I believe you have misinterpreted Lynne – I see no criticism of the Church in her words. She is not accusing the Church of deceit nor of purposefully hiding anything, as I read her.

    2. I apologize for the semi-snarky “has probably been” instead of a softer “may have been.” I don’t know firsthand the extent of Beware of Pride use in the Church courses of study but that comment about correlation did elicit some good information I didn’t know about. Thank you for that. Sincerely.

  6. Lynne,
    In Institute class the last 2 semesters we have studied President Benson’s talk on pride many times. It is an epic talk and was truly inspired and through a humble prophet. You are right, many of today’s young adults and the last couple generations do not know of the powerful messages taught over the pulpit during conference. I personally have seen a big change in the people of the church both good and bad over the last 40 years. Technology and prosperity have had a strong influence as well as the growth rate of the church. Pride though is very consistent through the generations, it’s face can change, but it is still there, ever present.

    1. It heartens me to know that people are still studying Beware of Pride, especially in Institute. I didn’t know that. Thank you so much!

  7. Lynne,

    Thank you so much for your thoughts. I don’t think it really matters who gave the talk, who wrote the talk, or where the talk came from. There is absolute truth there. We could ALL use this reminder and re-evaluate where we all are when it comes to pride. There are so many amazing quotes in there. I love this one,

    “Pride is a sin that can readily be seen in others but is rarely admitted in ourselves.”

    Thank you again.

    1. More than just pointing to Beware of Pride in this post I had hoped to point towards Log’s post “Cry Mightily”, which affected me deeply, and which I feel to be a critical piece in last days preparations. Unless this post does that, all the stuff about Beware of Pride is interesting, but irrelevant: argument and analysis is different than actually acting, and asking “Lord, is it I?”. That said imaharris, good point. Thank you for the brilliant synopsis.

  8. On a different topic, but related since it is Ezra Taft Benson. I recently researched his references to D&C 84 (which put the church under condemnation) and found that in his first GC as the presiding prophet, he made reference to it in three separate talks (if you count the Friday Priesthood Leadership Meeting). I’ll paste what I have from my notes:

    Ezra Taft Benson “The Power of the Word” (April 4, 1986, Priesthood Leadership Meeting)
    “And if we ignore what the Lord has given us, we may lose the very power and blessings which we seek. In a solemn warning to the early Saints, the Lord said this of the Book of Mormon: “Your minds in times past have been darkened because of unbelief, and because you have treated lightly the things you have received—D&C 84:55-57]”

    Ezra Taft Benson “Cleansing the Inner Vessel” (April 5, 1986, GC: Saturday Morning)
    “Unless we read the Book of Mormon and give heed to its teachings, the Lord has stated in section 84 of the Doctrine and Covenants that the whole Church is under condemnation: “And this condemnation resteth upon the children of Zion, even all.” (D&C 84:56.) The Lord continues: “And they shall remain under this condemnation until they repent and remember the new covenant, even the Book of Mormon and the former commandments which I have given them, not only to say, but to do according to that which I have written.” (D&C 84:57.)
    ¶ Now we not only need to say more about the Book of Mormon, but we need to do more with it. Why? The Lord answers: “That they may bring forth fruit meet for their Father’s kingdom; otherwise there remaineth a scourge and judgment to be poured out upon the children of Zion.” (D&C 84:58.) We have felt that scourge and judgment!”

    Ezra Taft Benson “A Sacred Responsibility” (April 6, 1986, GC: Sunday Afternoon)
    “Now, in our day, the Lord has revealed the need to reemphasize the Book of Mormon to get the Church and all the children of Zion out from under condemnation—the scourge and judgment. (See D&C 84:54–58.) This message must be carried to the members of the Church throughout the world.”
    “I bless you with increased understanding of the Book of Mormon. I promise you that from this moment forward, if we will daily sup from its pages and abide by its precepts, God will pour out upon each child of Zion and the Church a blessing hitherto unknown—and we will plead to the Lord that He will begin to lift the condemnation—the scourge and judgment. Of this I bear solemn witness.”

    Since the parts I highlighted won’t paste over to the comments, here are some of the things I emphasized in my notes:
    4/4 we may lose the very power and blessings which we seek
    4/5 the whole Church *is* under condemnation … We have felt that scourge and judgment!
    4/6 the Lord has revealed the need to reemphasize the Book of Mormon to get the Church and all the children of Zion out from under condemnation … we will plead to the Lord that He will begin to lift the condemnation—the scourge and judgment

    After Benson, has any institutional prophet declared repentance with such intensity?

  9. “Probably very few people of the current generation have ever heard of Ezra Taft Benson’s April 1989 conference address, Beware of Pride, or even know that it exists.”

    Are you serious? I would think that is the most well-known older conference talk! Especially for people who are active on the internet. I think anyone who has been involved in a heated discussion with other LDS people on the internet will have had others recommend they read the talk more than once 😉

    (I now see your post above where you explain your involvement.)

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