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Congratulations and Gratitude

Brothers and Sisters, aloha! Elder and Sister Dyches, President and Sister Kauwe, everyone listening, I join you in congratulating these remarkable graduates on their achievement.

Graduates, I join you in thanking your family and friends as well as the university personnel who’ve worked tirelessly on your behalf. And thank you to the many tithe payers and generous donors who’ve also made today possible.

And, graduates, may I be your voice in thanking President Kauwe, his family, and your faculty at this great university! They’ve spent their lives studying so that they could be here and help you learn how to find answers.


Since arriving as a nervous freshman, you’ve read thousands of pages of textbooks and taken hundreds of pages of notes to help you learn and remember answers. You’ve searched the internet, hypothesized and postulated, and may have even skipped to beach to go the library to help you discover answers.

Answers on quizzes, mid-terms, and finals. Answers to those multiple-choice-questions when you were certain your professor forgot to include the correct answer. One word we could use to describe our university experience is, answers.

And outside of college, your life is already surrounded by voices who are whispering, and some who are even shouting, what they consider to be answers.

Imagine this. You walk into your final exam. You’ve worked all semester. You’ve studied and attended class. You were late a few times because you didn’t leave your dorm until 7:55 for that 8 AM class. But you tried. You’ve studied with your friends, studied by yourself, and had a few Ono shave ices which always makes studying go a little easier. The day of the final arrives. You log onto Zoom or walk into the testing center, and there’s your professor, waiting for you and he or she announces, “Here are the answers you will need for today’s exam.” Can you imagine ignoring those answers?

So, here…is…my…question, if your professors gave you the answers, would you use them? Can you imagine disregarding the answers of the Professor who knows, in favor of whatever answers someone else whispered to you the day before the test, however appealing they seem?

A Better Algorithm: More Intelligent Than They All

That’s my question today, and your answer matters.

As you step away from this university, you will find purveyors of answers which many consider fashionable, reasonable, and even indisputable.

The causes and associated reasoning they repeat and promote requires pondering, prayer, and a thorough knowledge of Heavenly Father’s plan[1] to perceive that what they claim is so new and revolutionary, has actually been dangerously peddled for centuries, and has long been foreseen and addressed by those we sustain as seers.

In contrast, there are few-precious few-who can be relied on to always provide the answers we can trust. Our Heavenly Father is a God of truth and cannot lie[2] and He loves you perfectly. Just consider what that means! You and I can trust Him and His only begotten Son, with absolute certainty. We can also trust the answers we receive from Him through His anointed mouthpieces.

His knowledge has not come because He has a better algorithm for anticipating world events or some highly sophisticated AI program which allows Him in an Amazon-like way to prepopulate your day in anticipation of your preferences.

In language perhaps your physics professor can explain, we know that all things, “past, present, and future [are] continually before the Lord.”[3] We know there is an order in creation, including that: “These two facts do exist, [when] there are two spirits, one being more intelligent than the other; there shall be another more intelligent than they” and “the Lord thy God, [is] more intelligent than they all.”[4]

I testify to you that the Savior knows all the answers. You and I can trust Him perfectly.

So again, I return to my question about answers.

If tomorrow we have the choice, and we will, to choose between the Omniscient One and His foreordained and anointed apostles or the sophisticated sounding and popularly appealing answers which enamor the multitudes,[5] where will we side?

Will Ye Also Go Away?

If you follow President Kauwe on social media, you’ve seen that notwithstanding his grueling schedule, he’s out most mornings learning to surf. That’s a 6:00 am class I might get up for!

Will you come with me for a concluding moment to another classroom? It too was outside, and like Laie, was on a hill that was very near the shoreline.

There weren’t dozens but thousands[6] who showed up for class. “To comprehend [His teaching] rightly required an effort not only of the understanding, but also of the will.”[7]

Some said His teaching was confusing.[8]

Some said that His class was just too hard, demanded too much homework, and so they went looking for an easier class to take.[9]

For some the light simply hurt their eyes and so they fashioned a class with answers that were easier on their ears.[10]

Other professors of the day had extensive academic training and with their sophisticated and flattering language could make upside down seem right-side up.[11]

And some brashly asserted that He was wrong, and they were right, hoping to be the social influencers of the day.[12]

Sadly, even some of His smartest students began to drop His class and they “went back and walked no more with him”[13]

At that point, Jesus asked a searing question – which I can hear Him asking us as well, “Will ye also go away?”[14]

We each know people we love who are confused by the alluring voice of social media, t-shirt-philosophy, or pleasing declarations which are pressed often enough they are eventually believed.[15]

Peter’s answer and resolve is breathtaking.

“Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.”[16]

I testify to you that He knows the answers and speaks to His prophets and apostles who then speak to us for Him. I testify that we can follow Him without reservation. And on those days when we, or those around us, make wrong choices, I testify to you that His name is Jehovah Rapha,[17] the Lord who heals, repairs, and thoroughly makes us whole. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

[1] “Latter-day Saints ‘think differently,’…-our starting points or major premises-are different from many of our friends and associates…we start with different assumptions…. As a result, we reach different conclusions…. Where do we look for the premises with which we begin our reasoning on the truth or acceptability of various proposals? We anchor ourselves to the word of God, contained in the scriptures and in the teachings modern prophets. Unless we are anchored to these truths as our major premises and assumptions, we cannot be sure that our conclusions are true…. When we begin by measuring modern practices and proposals against what we know of God’s plan and the premises given in the word of God and the teachings of His living prophets, we must anticipate that our conclusions will differ from persons who do not think that way. But we are firm in this because we know that this puts us on safe ground eternally…. [Others] reason backward from their desired conclusion and assume that the fundamentals of God’s eternal law must adhere to their concepts.” (President Dallin H. Oaks, As He Thinketh in His Heart, Evening with a General Authority, February 2013)

[2] See Ether 3:12; see also Deuteronomy 32:4; Psalms 31:3-5

[3] Doctrine and Covenants 130:7

[4] Abraham 3:19; See also:

“Our Father, the great God, is the author of the sciences, he is the great mechanic, he is the systematizer of all things, he plans and devises all things, and every particle of knowledge which man has in his possession is the gift of God” (Brigham Young, Discourses of Brigham Young, 2–3; See also, Doctrines of the Gospel Student Manual, Divine Truth)

“In intelligence and performance, [Jesus Christ] far surpasses the individual and the composite capacities and achievements of all who have lived, live now, and will yet live! (See Abr. 3:19.)” (Neal A. Maxwell, “O, Divine Redeemer,” Ensign, Nov. 1981, 8)

“Being subject to law, and having their agency, all the spirits of men, while yet in the Eternal Presence, developed aptitudes, talents, capacities, and abilities of every sort, kinds, and degree. During the long expanse of life which then was, an infinite variety of talents and abilities came into being. As the ages rolled, no two spirits remained alike. Mozart became a musician; Einstein centered his interest in mathematics; Michelangelo turned his attention to painting. Cain was a liar, a schemer, a rebel who maintained a close affinity to Lucifer. Abraham and Moses and all of the prophets sought and obtained the talent for spirituality. Mary and Eve were two of the greatest of all the spirit daughters of the Father. The whole house of Israel, known and segregated out from their fellows, was inclined toward spiritual things. And so it went through all the hosts of heaven, each individual developing such talents and abilities as his soul desired. The Lord endowed us all with agency; he gave us laws that would enable us to advance and progress and become like him; and he counseled and exhorted us to pursue the course leading to glory and exaltation. He himself was the embodiment and personification of all good things. Every desirable characteristic and trait dwelt in him in its eternal fulness. All of his obedient children started to become like him in one way or another. There was as great a variety and degree of talent and ability among us there as there is among us here. Some excelled in one way, others in another. The firstborn excelled all of us in all things.” (Bruce R. McConkie, The Mortal Messiah, 4 vols. [1979–81], 1:23)

“Jesus Christ is the most intelligent being ever to grace this planet. Indeed, He is not only more intelligent than all other humans combined—He is perfect in knowledge. As we ponder intelligence, a summational strength and attribute of Jesus, it is vital that we understand that intelligence includes more than raw IQ; it includes judgment—and not only in the judicial sense. He who has intelligence, or the light of truth, will forsake completely "that evil one." To forsake the evil one, as Jesus did, is an act of high intelligence and superlative wisdom.” (Neal A. Maxwell, Even As I Am, pp 28-29)

[5] See 1 Nephi 11:34-35

[6] John 6:10

[7] Farrar, Frederic W., The Life of Christ, Chapter XXX, The Discourse at Capernaum

[8] See John 6:60

[9] See Matthew 19:16-22

[10] See 2 Timothy 4:3-4

[11] See Isaiah 5:20-21

[12] See John 7:15, 20, 27, 35-36, 41-42, 47-49, 52; 8:4-6, 13, 19, 48, 52-53, 57

[13] John 6:66

[14] John 6:67

[15] Alma 30:53

[16] John 6:68-69

[17] Exodus 15:26; Strong’s H3068: יְהֹוָה Yᵉhôvâh, yeh-ho-vaw'; from H1961; (the) self-Existent or Eternal; Jeho-vah, Jewish national name of God:—Jehovah, the Lord, H7495: רָפָא râphâʼ, raw-faw'; or רָפָה râphâh; a primitive root; properly, to mend (by stitching), i.e. (figuratively) to cure:—cure, (cause to) heal, physician, repair, × thoroughly, make whole; “Meaning and Derivation: Jehovah is translated as "The Existing One" or "Lord." The chief meaning of Jehovah is derived from the Hebrew word Havah meaning "to be" or "to exist." It also suggests "to become" or specifically "to become known" - this denotes a God who reveals Himself unceasingly. Rapha (râpâ') means "to restore", "to heal" or "to make healthful" in Hebrew. When the two words are combined - Jehovah Rapha - it can be translated as "Jehovah Who Heals." (cf. Jer 30:17; Jer 3:22; Isa 30:26; Isa 61:1; Psa 103:3). Jehovah is the Great Physician who heals the physical and emotional needs of His people.” (