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Elder Jeffrey R. Holland gave a stirring address about the power of physical evidence in defending the gospel at the chiasmus conference sponsored by Book of Mormon Central and BYU studies. This conference, held on August 16, celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of the discovery of chiasmus in the Book of Mormon. Elder Holland spoke as the concluding, and culminating speaker at the Chiasmus Jubilee.
Elder Holland explained that our testimonies are fundamentally based on spiritual confirmation. However, he pointed out that
In making our case for the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, I believe God intends us to find and use the evidence He has given—reasons, if you will—which affirm the truthfulness of His work.
Elder Holland recounted several stories from the scriptures where faith was bolstered by an experience with evidence, such as with the Lamanites in the book of Helaman, the early Christians of Paul's day, and Martin Harris's witnessing of the gold plates. While our testimonies aren't dependent on evidence, Elder Holland argued that to not use evidence was to limit our faith in the latter-day arena of religious investigation and debate.
Thus armed with so much evidence of the kind we have celebrated here tonight, we ought to be more assertive than we sometimes are in defending our testimony of truth.
Jeffrey R. Holland concluded his address by encouraging the young scholars of the Church to continue the pursuit of evidence so that many more may have a complete witness of the truth in both their hearts and their minds.
To read the full, and updated, transcript of Elder Hollands talk, see the article on the Mormon Newsroom.