The annual Sidney B. Sperry Symposium was virtually broadcasted by the BYU Religious Education Department Oct. 23 and 24. Speaker videos were posted for free viewing online.
The theme of the 2020 Sperry Symposium was “How and What You Worship.” Each speaker delivered an address relating to the words “Christology” and “praxis,” found in the recorded revelations of Joseph Smith.
Many of the 17 speakers are religion professors at BYU, BYU Idaho or BYU Hawaii. Others are historians or teachers. One speaker, Samuel M. Brown, is a professor of medicine and medical humanities at the University of Utah.
Brown spoke on the light of Jesus Christ in the revelations of Joseph Smith. He explained the physics of light and what divine light is. In Doctrine and Covenants section 93, light is explained in the sense that everyone must invite it into themselves.
“There’s a light that is power that keeps the world alive and that makes everything possible and that light can come inside an individual. We can become a candle capable of carrying that flame and when that happens we can understand perfectly,” Brown said.
Jennifer Lane spoke from BYU Hawaii on choosing Christ. She said that while some believe in Christ and are obedient to Him, it must be understood that obedience alone cannot save. Only Christ can save mankind because of His own perfection and obedience. This led into her point of choosing Christ.
“As we choose the path of faith in Jesus Christ, repentance, and making and keeping covenants, our unity with God will also become a unity of purpose and will,” Lane said.
She further mentioned that the hope of members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints lies within the unity between Christ and Heavenly Father. Because of their unity, the path has been prepared for everyone to choose to be perfected through Christ.
Relating to Christ, Carter Charles, a BYU professor in the department of Church history and doctrine, delivered his talk “‘Thou Art an Elect Lady’: How Christ Includes and Empowers Women in Doctrine and Covenants 25” from his office.
Charles spoke on the roles of Emma Smith being a wife, an elect lady and a teacher. He argues that Christ makes Emma an example, like Eve, to show that all women have the opportunity to be empowered through their religious roles in the Church.
Emma held many callings within the Church during a period of time when women were not usually included in such capacities. He said there is a disconnect between the revelation and its implementation. “I can say happily that Church leaders are actively seeking to bridge or end that hiatus,” Charles said.