Analysis of David A. Bednar: `Be Still, and Know That I Am God`

Bednar Conference April 2024

The first talk of the second Saturday session of General Conference was given by Elder Bednar. In this talk Elder Bednar says something that is very revealing and perfectly illustrates the thoughts and beliefs of the church’s top leadership.


In fairness, I do want to consider the footnotes as I have done with the other talks. Of the talks that I have looked at so far, his talk is pretty exceptional in the use of the amount and variety of footnotes. Overall, he uses 21 references with all of them, except one, being scriptural references. The single talk reference is a reference to President Nelson, which honestly seems kind of mandatory so far. There was an additional talk footnote, but it also included 3 Bible references so I just included it in the Bible section. President Nelson though is very likely to not live much longer, and it will be so interesting to see the sudden shift from President Nelson references to President Oaks references.

Of all the references though, we see 5 D&C references, 10 Book of Mormon, 4 Bible, and 1 explanatory note reference. This is what I would expect and am glad to see it in conference talks. There is no reason we need to endlessly use talks from others as the basis for our understanding. For the note though, I want to look at the note a bit later. I do think it is very interesting that he uses the note to explain his logic instead of including the text in the talk directly. This is because the logic in the note actually directly contradicts his explanation just 2 paragraphs later.

Be Still

In the first section of Elder Bednar’s talk, he speaks about being still and witnessing the power of God. He references D&C 101, which I think is interesting, however I believe Psalms 46 would have been a more fitting choice. In Psalms 46, God describes how he will be with his people, he will fight their battles, and he will show forth his power to all the nations of the earth.

D&C 101, which Elder Bednar quotes, is actually a great example of taking things out of context. In D&C 101, God is actually upset at the early church because they wouldn’t obey him and then they would complain about what was happening. God also says that he is going to destroy his wicked servants and their false tower at the time of deliverance. Elder Bednar though, in speaking about the early persecution of the church says:

In these challenging circumstances, the Lord revealed the following instruction to the Prophet Joseph Smith in Kirtland, Ohio:

“Therefore, let your hearts be comforted concerning Zion; for all flesh is in mine hands; be still and know that I am God.”

Elder Bednar

This of course is true, however God specifically says that the persecution and failure of Zion was the member’s fault. Right before the quoted verse, God mentions:

Behold, I say unto you, there were jarrings, and contentions, and envyings, and strifes, and lustful and covetous desires among them; therefore by these things they polluted their inheritances. They were slow to hearken unto the voice of the Lord their God; therefore, the Lord their God is slow to hearken unto their prayers, to answer them in the day of their trouble. In the day of their peace they esteemed lightly my counsel; but, in the day of their trouble, of necessity they feel after me.

D&C 101:6-8

This doesn’t sound good to me. Later in D&C 101, God gives the members a parable concerning the redemption of Zion and promises that all his words will be fulfilled. He will have a Zion people at some time. It is interesting because in this parable God specially says at the time of redemption then he will have wicked watchmen, or leaders, guiding his people. He will destroy them and their false tower. It is also very interesting because 2 years before D&C 101, God gave the members a promise, in D&C 64, that Kirtland would only be a safe place for them for five years. D&C 101 was received almost in the middle of the five-year period.

We do have an uncanonized letter from Joseph that instructed the members to be ready for the redemption of Zion on September 11th, 1836. This would be five years, to the day, when Kirtland was no longer a stronghold for the members. Of course, as we know September 11th, 1836, came and went without the redemption of Zion. The church had officially abandoned Zion and God had cast the church back into the wilderness.

This is further evident in the events described in D&C 110 which was received just a few months before the deadline for the redemption of Zion. After the dedication of the Kirtland temple, Joseph was visited by Moses and Elijah, which was certainly miraculous, however the church was essentially downgraded back to the gospel of Abraham. This is a preparatory gospel, not the fullness of the gospel they previously had. This is not a good thing for the church.

I do agree with Elder Bednar that we should be still and witness the power of God. However, we also shouldn’t take scriptures out of context and ignore what the scriptures are actually saying. God will have a Zion people. However, we will never become that Zion people until we are able to live the laws of Zion and understand the mistakes of the early church.

Christ is the Rock

The next section of Elder Bednar’s talk is essentially the heart of what he is discussing. He starts off by quoting the scripture Helaman 5:12, which says that we should build “upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ”. Elder Bednar then mentions:

The symbolism of Christ as the “rock” upon whom we should build the foundation of our lives is most instructive. Please note in this verse that the Savior is not the foundation. Rather, we are admonished to build our personal spiritual foundation upon Him.

Elder Bednar

I do understand what Elder Bednar is saying, however I believe this is an example of intellectualism for the sake of intellectualism and actually complicates things instead of simplifying them. In the footnote for this paragraph of his talk, Elder Bednar clarifies his idea by referencing Ephesians 2:19 and equates the “household of God”, in that verse, with the LDS church and then mentions that Christ is the bedrock, and the LDS church should be our foundation.

This seems to me to be a bit of word salad and is actually kind of confusing. Why would we not want to build our foundations on Christ? If our foundation is built on anything else, then isn’t it on something that is not sure and is sandy instead? If our foundation is Christ though, then don’t have we nothing to fear? The way Elder Bednar describes things then it is entirely possible to build a sandy foundation on top of a sure foundation. Why would we want that?

This is actually the problem many people are having today. They build their foundations on the LDS church or its leaders and then when the spiritual winds blow, everything they thought was solid crumbles to the ground. If we instead have Christ as our foundation, then we have built upon a rock that is eternally secure. There is nothing that can disturb us except changing our foundation.

Elder Bednar then describes how the foundations of buildings can be anchored to bedrock and this anchoring process is what connects us to Christ. This may just be a semantic distinction, however I do think it has enormous implications. Essentially, he is saying that we shouldn’t have Christ as our foundation, we should just be anchored to Christ through the LDS church. Elder Bednar mentions:

In a similar way, the foundation of our lives must be connected to the rock of Christ if we are to remain firm and steadfast. The sacred covenants and ordinances of the Savior’s restored gospel can be compared to the anchor pins and steel rods used to connect a building to bedrock. Every time we faithfully receive, review, remember, and renew sacred covenants, our spiritual anchors are secured ever more firmly and steadfastly to the “rock” of Jesus Christ.

Elder Bednar

The important thing to note is that this concept is wrong and also completely disagrees with the scriptures. As mentioned, if our foundation is unsure then it doesn’t matter if below that there is a more sure foundation. Our building will be unstable regardless of anything else. It would be like getting excited because you are building a cardboard skyscraper on continental bedrock. It just doesn’t make any sense. For instance, 1 Corinthians 3 states:

But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.

1 Corinthians 3:10-11

In addition, Ephesians 2, which Elder Bednar references describes Jesus as the “chief cornerstone”. In building projects, the cornerstone was the most important aspect of the building because it would dictate every other stone that was part of the building. If the cornerstone was even slightly off, in any direction, then every other stone would be off as well. I have personally seen this in construction projects. Mistakes compound over time and get worse with the size of the building.

This is very significant because if Christ is not the cornerstone and foundation of everything that we do then we could be completely off and not even realize it. For instance, we might have a foundation, built on a foundation, and then realize that somewhere along the process that an error was introduced which caused us to be completely off kilter. If we instead removed the unnecessary foundation and instead had Christ as our cornerstone, then we would eliminate all the unnecessary aspects and instead have a sure foundation. We would be guaranteed to be in full alignment with God since we are built on him directly.

Holy Places

The last section of Elder Bednar’s talk is essentially just an extension of the previous section. He describes various good things we can do to align ourselves with the LDS church, which in his mind, is the foundation we should build on. He does this by discussing our sabbath worship, the buildings we can worship in, and temple attendance. I agree that doing good things should be our goal. However, do they have to be directly connected to the LDS church for them to be good for us?

What really stood out to me was one phrase that he used. He mentioned:

A central feature of our Sabbath worship is to “go to the house of prayer and offer up [our] sacraments upon [the Lord’s] holy day.” The “house[s] of prayer” in which we gather on the Sabbath are meetinghouses and other approved facilities—holy places of reverence, worship, and learning.

Elder Bednar

The phrase that really stood out to me was “approved facilities”. This is saying that we can only fully worship God correctly in specific places, by doing specific things, in specific ways. The proper way to do these things is whatever way the LDS leaders says it is at the time. The interesting thing is that Elder Bedner supports this idea by referencing D&C 59 which uses the “house of prayer” phrase.

D&C 59 was received on August 7th, 1831, which means the church was only organized for about a year and a half. At that time there was no temple or “approved facilities”. There were people’s homes, barns, and properties. They would meet wherever there was space. The first sacrament meeting of the church was even in Peter Whitmer’s home. Therefore the “approved facilities” concept is completely opposite of what God meant at the time.

This is very evident in Matthew 18 which states:

For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.

Matthew 18:20

In this verse, Christ says nothing about “approved facilities”. He simply says that anyone, anywhere, that gathers together in his name then he will be there with them. This is very real. We don’t need to gather together in LDS churches or temples to worship Christ. We just need to gather together in Christ’s name. God is everywhere, not just in LDS churches.


This talk is another example of how the LDS church is placing itself as the foundation for our spiritual lives when all we need is the simple doctrine of Christ. I do agree that there are several positive aspects of the LDS church, and I am not discounting those things at all. However, it is very troubling when leaders use word salad and interesting logic to describe how Christ shouldn’t be our spiritual foundation, instead it should be the LDS church and its leaders. This can only end badly. We have been promised that anything not built on God will fall and great will be the fall thereof. I actually learned this in primary.

This is summed up perfectly in 2 John 1, which states:

Anyone who runs on ahead and does not remain in the doctrine of Christ, does not have God; but the one who continues to remain in the doctrine of Christ, he has both the Father and the Son.

2 John 1:9
Author: Patrick