Title: A Refuge from the Storm: The Priesthood, the Family, the Church
Author: Boyd K. Packer
Publisher: Deseret Book Company
Year Published: 2014
Number of Pages: 224
Binding: Hardcover and Deseret Bookshelf eBook
Reviewed by Trevor Holyoak
Boyd K. Packer is, of course, the president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. As a general authority in the church for over 50 years, he has given many talks on the priesthood, the family, and the Church. This book is a collection of 24 of them. Many of the talks are from General Conference, but there are also some from other meetings, such as Worldwide Leadership Training, firesides, BYU Women’s Conference, and a seminar for new mission presidents. While most of the talks are available online, there are a few that are not readily available outside this book.
I was initially a little disappointed to find that this was a collection of talks and not something newly written (other than perhaps the introduction) like many other books by general authorities. But as I began to look through it, I realized that the talks (even those given decades ago) apply more to the situation the world is in today than they did when they were given. They were prophetic.
The book begins by explaining its purpose: “The gospel of Jesus Christ enables individuals to become exalted by being part of eternal families. The gospel contains the purpose, the doctrine, and the plan. The priesthood is the power and the authority. The Church has the means and the organization. The exalted, eternal family is the end of the gospel plan. In this book, we will discuss those three interconnected elements of the gospel: the priesthood, the family, and the Church” (pages ix-x). The remainder of the book is divided into three parts along those elements, with the repeating underlying message that “The ultimate end of all activity in the Church is that a man and his wife and their children might be happy at home, protected by the principles and laws of the gospel, sealed safely in the covenants of the everlasting priesthood” (page 25).
I will give an example from each section, and let the book speak for itself. In 1992, he gave some instruction that is particularly relevant today regarding the priesthood: “There are some things about the priesthood that every elder should know if he is to understand how the Church is governed to have things right before the Lord. There are principles and precepts and rules which are often overlooked and seldom taught. Some of these principles are found in the scriptures, others in the handbooks. Some of them are not found in either. They are found in the Church. You might call them traditions, but they are more than that. They are revelations which came when the Brethren of the past assembled themselves, agreed upon His word, and offered their prayers of faith. The Lord then showed them what to do. They received by revelation…These are things we do to have things right before the Lord” (pages 3-4).
He said this about The Proclamation on the Family in a Worldwide Leadership Training Broadcast in 2008: “A proclamation in the Church is a significant, major announcement. Very few of them have been issued from the beginning of the Church. They are significant; they are revelatory…It is scripturelike in its power. When you wonder why we are the way we are and why we do the things we do and why we will not do some of the things that we will not do, you can find the authority for that in this proclamation on the family. There are times when we are accused of being intolerant because we won’t accept and do the things that are supposed to be the norm in society. Well, the things we won’t do, we won’t do. And the things we won’t do, we can’t do, because the standard we follow is given of Him. As we examine this proclamation more closely, see if you don’t see in it the issues that are foremost in society, in politics, in government, in religion now that are causing the most concern and difficulty. You’ll find answers there – and they are the answers of the Church” (page 87).
In General Conference, October, 2006, he explained part of the role of the Church: “The principles of the gospel life we follow are based on doctrine, and the standards accord with the principles. We are bound to the standards by covenant, as administered through the ordinances of the gospel by those who have received priesthood and the keys of authority. Those faithful Brethren were not free, and we are not free, to alter the standards or to ignore them. We must live by them…If we are doing the best we can, we should not become discouraged. When we fall short, as we do, or stumble, which we might, there is always the remedy of repentance and forgiveness…Some suppose that our high standards will repel growth. It is just the opposite. High standards are a magnet. We are all children of God, drawn to the truth and to good…Those who come out of the world into the Church, keep the commandments, honor the priesthood, and enter into activity have found the refuge” (pages 150-153).
As I read this book, my testimony of Boyd K. Packer as a prophet, seer, and revelator has grown, as has my conviction that this is God’s church, and my understanding of the things I need to improve on as a priesthood holder, husband, and father. I highly recommend it to anyone that seeks a better understanding of their place within God’s plan and wishes to find their “refuge from the storm.”