Apostle Dallin H. Oaks Speaks of Truth and Tolerance, Decries Moral Relativism

Elder Dallin H. Oaks, member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, addressed a gathering in the Marriott Center on the campus of Brigham Young University, on the evening of 11 September 2011. Before his calling as an Apostle in 1984, Elder Oaks had served as a distinguished practitioner and teacher of law in Chicago and Utah. Formerly President of Brigham Young University, Elder Oaks was at the time of his call to Church leadership a member of the Utah State Supreme Court.

Speaking on the 10th anniversary of the tragedies of September 11, 2001, Elder Oaks addressed the “twin virtues” of “Truth and Tolerance,” beginning with the affirmation “We believe in absolute truth.”  Reminding hearers that Jesus told the Roman governor Pilate that He came into the world to “bear witness unto the truth” (John 18:37-38) and that He had declared, “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6), Elder Oaks stressed the importance of avoiding the pitfall of moral relativism, which is “becoming unofficial creed for many in America and other Western nations.” 

Quoting the words of former Church President Joseph F. Smith, Elder Oaks emphasized that “We believe in all truth, no matter to what subject it may refer. No sect or religious denomination in the world possesses a single principle of truth that we do not accept or that we will reject. We are willing to receive all truth, from whatever source it may come; for truth will stand, truth will endure.”

On the subject of tolerance, Elder Oaks noted ironies and gave advice: “Unfortunately, some who believe in moral relativism seem to have difficulty tolerating those who insist that there is a God who should be respected and certain moral absolutes that should be observed,” he said.

The proper notion of tolerance, he offered, is based on three principles:

Based on these notions, Elder Oaks gave counsel for how believers should “enter the public square to try to influence the making or the administration of laws motivated by their beliefs”:

In conclusion Elder Oaks assured hearers of his own witness of the mission of Jesus Christ, who “reaches out to each of us with the timeless invitation to receive His peace by learning of Him and walking in His way.”