To try to indicate the need that exists in the world, and in our own lives, for proper religious information, I would like to tell you of an experience. . . I happened to be in a large eastern city on a business assignment and, inasmuch as I was in the city over Sunday and was not convenient to my own church, I went to hear one of the great Protestant ministers of the world. After the meeting was over, I was shown through their great church edifice, and I bought a book written by the minister, which I read very carefully on the train coming home.
Three weeks later I was again in this city and again went to hear this man speak. After the service was over a large group of people lined up to shake hands with the speaker. After all of the others had gone, I introduced myself and told him how much I had enjoyed his sermons and his book, but there were some things that I could not understand and I would appreciate it if he would discuss some of them with me. He had used some phrases in reference to God such as “immerse yourself in God,” or “send your roots down into God,” or “fill your mind with God,” and I asked him if he would explain to me his conception of God.
He was very frank to say, “I do not know what God is, and I do not know of anyone who does know. If someone could find out what God is, that would be the greatest news that had ever come into the world.”
I said to him, “Would you give me your idea of what is meant by the statement in Genesis (1:27) which says that ‘God created man in his own image’?”
He said, “There is one thing of which I am reasonably certain, and that is that God is not an anthropomorphic God; that is, he is the God in whose image man was created.”
This great man, who is one of the most popular religious leaders in the world, does not understand God, and yet Jesus said, “. . . this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” (John 17:3.)
In addition to this, this man who has taken upon himself to minister in the name of Christ does not understand preexistence or the resurrection. He does not know the difference between the Aaronic and the Melchizedek priesthoods, nor does he understand the organization of the Church, or the use of temples, or salvation for the dead. He does not understand the necessity for divine authority and a great many other simple doctrines of Jesus that are plainly mentioned and discussed in the scriptures. Yet this man is the spiritual director of thousands of people.
I was greatly impressed by the earnestness of his declaration that to know God would be the greatest information that could ever come into the world.
Conference Report, October 1954, pp. 28-29.