I believe President Packer means it when he says his testimony was “the same as I might have in a fast and testimony meeting in my ward.” When someone in a position of Church leadership has an audience with Christ, we hear about it. Joseph Smith told us. Oliver Cowdrey told us. Sidney Rigdon told us. So did President John Taylor, President Joseph F. Smith and David B. Haight. Their calling is to bear a witness of Him. When they have an actual audience, I believe they tell us.
The calling of the Twelve is to “bear witness” of Christ. (D&C 107: 23.) Because of that calling, they must proclaim they have a “witness” even if it could be more correctly described as a testimony born of the Spirit. I accept their “witness” of Christ and believe it is authoritative. However, I do not read into their testimony what they do not put there themselves.
I accept the “witness” of the living Apostles, although it is a rare exception when one has an audience with Christ. In recent talks Elder Scott has gone to some length to testify and describe his own spiritual experiences. I trust in them. I trust him. I believe him to be an Apostle. It is not necessary for an Apostle in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to have a personal audience with Christ.
Years ago Elder Mark Peterson said he did not think it possible for a gentile to receive an audience with Christ. He thought that was confined to pure-blooded Israelites. Since he was a gentile apostle to a gentile church, he did not believe it possible for him to receive such an audience. As I understand it, that is the general view among the brethren. The charge given by Elder Oliver Cowdrey to the Twelve (telling them they must receive an audience with Christ for their ordination to be complete) was discontinued in 1911 by President Smith. It was discontinued because so few had received that audience. But that does not make these men any less apostles.
I trust President Packer. I accept his testimony. I believe it is enough to qualify him for the work, just as President McKay told him. I am impressed with his humility in explaining his testimony in General Conference. It increases my trust in him as a servant of the Lord.
A great deal of the scriptures have been written by those who have been through the process, and who are trying to give us instruction to repeat it in our own lives. “Events” which occur are in the scriptures, as well. But we will never arrive at the “events” unless we first realize there is a process and we begin to participate actively in that process.
The first chapter of Abraham, second and third verses, describes a lengthy process. It took decades to unfold. It was not merely that Abraham determined to do something and then it happened. He’s giving a recitation of the process whereby he became at last a “rightful heir” and a “prince of peace” who had “received instructions” and “held the right belonging to the fathers.”
His quest began in “the land of the Chaldeans.” His ordination would not occur until he was transplanted nearly a thousand miles to the place where Melchizedek would at last ordain and endow him. (D&C 84: 14.) Shem was the “great high priest” we know as “Melek” (king) and “Zadok” (priest) or in other words Melchizedek. (D&C 138: 41.)
The Lord lives in a timeless state. (D&C 130: 7; Alma 40: 8.) We live inside time. When the Lord shows things to prophets from His perspective, it takes a while for men to comprehend what they have been shown. It is a process. Our effort is also required.
The account in the Pearl of Great Price (written in 1838) omits any mention of this detail.
Now the adoptionist theory was contrary to this. They held the view that Christ was just another man and got adopted to become the Son of God. He was God’s Son solely as a result of that adoption and not in any other way. I reject that idea. But I accept that He needed, just as everyone else needs, to be baptized, receive the Holy Ghost, proceed through the ordinances of the Gospel, and ultimately receive His calling and election made sure. He said He needed to “fulfill all righteousness” and He did all that was required of any of us. God acknowledged Him as His Son. This is required for anyone to be saved. Christ showed the way and walked the path. So in that sense He, just as all of us, needed to be “adopted.” Him because He was mortal. Us because we are conceived in sin.