Analysis of Sister J. Anette Dennis: `Put Ye On the Lord Jesus Christ`

J Anette Dennis

During the Saturday morning session of General Conference, Sister J. Anette Dennis gave a talk that I think would be beneficial to look at a little bit closer. In Mormonism, this talk is pretty standard, however it does rely on a few pieces of evidence that I think stretch things a little bit too far.


The very first thing I noticed was if you look at the footnotes then it is immediately apparent that things are a bit lopsided here. She uses a total of 46 sources which I think is excellent. However, if we look at the sources themselves then we can see a heavy dose of prophet worship. Of the non-scriptural references, there are a total of 18 general authority references with 14 of those being President Nelson. This gives a total reference percentage of 78% to President Nelson. This certainly seems very high to me. Is he the only one that said important things?

Of the sources from the Book of Mormon or Doctrine and Covenants only, there were 3 sources. This means that the sources are only 7% percent “Mormon” if you will. This is not a problem certainly, however this is a very uniquely Mormon subject so you would expect the scriptural references to also support these claims. In cases like this though, you often see one person quote another with no scriptural basis.

Covenant Love

The talk begins with Sister Dennis discussing how Christ taught in parables and how there often was a deeper meaning to the words of Christ. I completely agree and I think it is very profound once you realize the seemingly endless levels of Christ’s teachings. I am currently studying the Sermon on the Mount with the help of the Bible Project’s work. I am in awe of Christ’s wisdom, and I feel like I could study his teachings for my entire life and just scratch the surface.

After this mention of parables, Sister Dennis then transitions into a discussion about a covenant relationship with God and how covenants allow God to change us. There is certainly some truth to the idea that once we allow God to change us then he will do so. However, there seems to be no support for the idea that we need to enter into an increasing number of covenants in order to access God more fully.

It is very interesting to me that the original Articles of Faith, which Joseph wrote, didn’t say anything about additional covenants or ordinances. It was very clear what the ordinances of the gospel were. The wording was changed in 1902 by the same committee that removed the Lectures on Faith. They must of felt that Joseph had gotten things wrong, and they needed to fix it. The original wording is:

We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.

We believe that these ordinances are: first, Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; second, Repentance; third, Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; fourth, Laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost.

Articles of Faith

After 1902, the wording of article #4 was changed to include the phrase, “the first principles and ordinances of the Gospel”. Therefore, the original wording indicated the entire scope of the ordinances and the 1902 wording indicated the scope was open ended. If there were additional ordinances that were needed, then why didn’t Joseph update the language himself? The pre 1902 language seems to also agree with the simple Doctrine of Christ in the Book of Mormon which makes sense to me. Christ never once referenced any ordinances beyond his simple doctrine.

The last thing she mentions, in this section of her talk, is the Hebrew word Hesed. This word is one of those words that is impossible to fully translate into English because it has such a large meaning. She uses it though in reference to a covenantal relationship with God. I can understand what she is saying however it doesn’t make a lot of sense.

The word Hesed itself means many things, but can be summarized into a love that goes beyond duty or obligation. It can generally be thought of as extending to someone or something in need. Therefore we could describe Hesed as the love God has for us, which is completely unwarranted. In Mormonism terms we could also describe Hesed as being charity or the pure love of Christ. I don’t see how we can have Hesed to God when we are the ones in such a deficit.

A perfect example of the usage of Hesed is Isaiah 54:

For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but my hesed (unfailing love) shall not depart from thee, neither shall my covenant of peace be removed

Isaiah 54:10

Hesed is the unfailing love of God that he extends out to his children even though we don’t deserve it. It is not based on a ladder of covenants. In fact, Isaiah 54 is a perfect example of how God makes a covenant with us, and we simply choose to uphold our part of the covenant. The covenant is God’s covenant between God and his people.


In the next section of Sister Dennis’ talk she describes how the ordinances are symbolic of Christ. She starts by describing baptism and the sacrament and how they reference the sacrifice of Christ. She then completely omits the other ordinances of Mormonism. This is very significant because I think if the scriptures supported her ideas, then she would have readily referenced it.

From her talk is it very hard to see how the additional ordinances such as Washing and Anointing, the Endowment, and being Sealed in marriage point to Christ. It is also hard to see why we need those additional ordinances when we promise to serve Christ during baptism. During the additional ordinances do we double promise to serve Christ?

I would also reference back to the original wording of the Articles of Faith. The phrase “these ordinances” was clear that there were no more ordinances. Therefore prior to 1902, in Mormonism, the ordinances of the Gospel were simply: Faith, Repentance, Baptism, and receiving the Holy Ghost. Today we have multiple ordinances beyond this point with the possibility of receiving additional ordinances in the future. I frankly wouldn’t be surprised if we even received more ordinances beyond what we have now. This would be very exciting for most members and would be a sign to them that their current beliefs are completely correct.

Temple Garment

The last main focus of Sister Dennis’ talk is concerning the temple garment. In the Genesis account we have a description of how Adam and Eve discovered their current situation and attempted to hide their shame with clothing made out of fig leaves. I am not sure if this is figurative or not, however I would imagine it would be fairly obvious if God appeared and saw them decked out in fig leaves. There is kind of a big difference between naked and fig leaves.

Upon discovering their situation though, God mercifully made for them clothing out of the skins of animals. I am not sure if animals died prior to this point, but leather is certainly significantly more durable than fig leaves. I do agree that these clothes are completely representative of Christ and his sacrifice for us. However, it is also important to realize these were clothes made by God and were not underwear.

While I don’t see a problem with wearing something the has symbolic meaning. I do have a hard time equating underwear, with a few random marks, to leather clothing created by God. Just because Adam and Eve had clothing made by God, then anything we declare as symbolic of that is of God as well? Again, people can wear whatever they want if it has meaning to them. However, if it is somehow uniquely special then I would like to see something other than circular quotes.

It is also very beneficial to consider that the garments we wear today are massively different from the garments we have from the Nauvoo period of the church. The garment used to be a full body covering that extended to the ankle and wrist. However, over time the garment saw one modification after another until today the garments are almost identical to modern clothing, but simply have certain marks sewn into them.

This corresponds with the modernization of the temple ordinances as well. Things have become more streamlined and more sensible to a modern audience. If God did give the original LDS temple garment, then I am not sure why we would change it. Since we did obviously change it, then I am also not sure why we would still consider it God’s temple garment. I am sure God would be okay with Adam and Eve changing the clothing, that him gave them, however if they trimmed the clothing to match the modern fashion then I don’t think God would look kindly on that.

Sister Dennis then finishes her talk by describing the handbook rules for when you can go to the temple. This is a perfect example of how legalistic things are now. These rules are completely arbitrary and really make no sense. Does this mean that, in the eyes of Mormonism, God doesn’t want me to progress towards him more if I am in high school still or have been a member less than a year? This is so strange that it doesn’t even make sense. I can only imagine a team of lawyers sitting around and figuring these things out.


I agree that we need to put Christ on ourselves and become fully devoted to his cause. We can certainly do that by entering the covenant of Baptism which Christ described in his pure and simple doctrine. However, I see no evidence that anything beyond that is required. In fact, it seems that these further ordinances were not even codified in Mormonism until almost 60 years after Joseph’s death.

I suspect that an 1830’s or 1840’s Mormon would be horrified to see a Mormon from 2024. I don’t think they would even be able to recognize us as the same church that they sacrificed so much for. Our “further light and truth” seems to be taking us away from the pure and simple gospel that they knew.

Author: Patrick