One for All: John Woodland "Jack" Welch on Edward Lawrence Kimball

Jack Welch was one of my Dad's colleagues at Brigham Young University's J. Reuben Clark Law School. Jack combined his work as a law professor with very interesting apologetics of Mormonism's historical claims--especially Mormonism's claims about ancient history. Indeed, Jack Welch's Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies brought about one of the most notable cases of the views of Mormon officialdom being changed by intellectual inquiry: a shift from and emphasis on the Book of Mormon as an ancient history of the Americas as a whole to an acceptance of the idea that the action in the Book of Mormon might be primarily confined to ancient Mesoamerica.

My Dad always greatly respected Jack. Recognizing that, my siblings and I chose Jack to talk about my Dad's professional activities at the memorial service on December 3, 2016. Jack was good enough to give me permission to post a revised version of his tribute to my Dad. (Also see my own tribute and those of my brothers Chris and Joseph and of my sisters Paula, Mary and Sarah.) 

From more than one discussion with my Dad, I know that an important part of my Dad's belief that the Book of Mormon is what it claims to be was based on Jack's work on Chiasmus in the Book of Mormon, which you can find here. Jack's work on "The Legal Cases in the Book of Mormon" is also very interesting.

Here is Jack's tribute to my Dad:  

I am humbled to add my sincere words of love and commendation at this service for Ed. I am so glad I knew Edward L. Kimball, a valued colleague and a happy friend. 

All of us old-timers at the Law School remember Ed with great respect and appreciation as a voice of profound wisdom in dealing with hard rules and difficult cases, as a powerful minute-taker in faculty meetings, as a joyous singer at law school Christmas parties, and a meticulous legal scholar, a very effective teacher, and a pioneer on the new Multi-State Bar Examination Committee of the National Conference of Bar Examiners. In 1973, Ed was the first faculty member to commit to Rex Lee to join the newly emerging J. Reuben Clark Law School. Gordon Smith, now Dean of the BYU Law School, who came to BYU from the same University of Wisconsin Law School where Ed had taught for ten years, remembers how Ed’s great legacy was still felt there 30 years after Ed had left for Provo.

I, like so many other people, always found much to admire in Ed. I wish I had written a monthly letter to each of my ward missionaries, as Ed did as a bishop. One of his students described Ed well: “Professor Kimball is a scholarly man and an extremely good man . . . motivated by a desire to serve others through the Church and the law.” Who else would have—or could have—served for over a decade on the Utah Board of Pardons at Point of the Mountain?  

As the editor of BYU Studies, where Ed had served for five years on the editorial board, I worked closely with him on three of his major publications. He was always sensitive, well informed, careful, precise, and punctual. Ed will be best known for the well-documented 2-volume biography of his father and also the one volume on Camilla, his mother. But let me mention another important but overlooked contribution, namely his lengthy article on confession (published in BYU Studies, vol. 36, no. 2), an essential step for all of us in repentance. I recommend this article to everyone in the Church. Typical of Ed’s work, it is scripturally grounded and enriched by comparing LDS confessional teachings with the confessional practices of those of other faiths. It is seasoned by Ed's own growth as one who heard confessions and took those sincere opportunities to aid, encourage, and restore the lost confidence of the penitent. For Ed, scholarship was never just academic. Indeed, his article on confession grew out of his legal interest in the laws of evidence relating to the priest-penitent privilege, especially as that privilege of non-disclosure might relate to confessions made to a bishop or cleric in cases involving child abuse.

While Ed always laid a rigorous foundation for his wise and truth-loving statements, he also sensitively sought to make his academic wisdom useful in strengthening the lives of his family, friends and fellow saints. This desire came naturally for Ed. For him, the reconciliation of faith and intellect traveled across the bridge of usefulness. Ed never allowed faith to diminish his rigor. Rather, his faith drove him to be sure that that knowledge was thoroughly developed and flawlessly well-grounded, as rigorously reliable as possible.

Now I wish to say something to the children here and also to the young in heart. You probably know the thirteen Articles of Faith of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints:

  1. We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.
  2. We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam's transgression.
  3. We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.
  4. We believe that the first principles and ordinances of the Gospel 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.
  5. We believe that a man must be called of God, by "prophecy, and by the laying on of hands" by those who are in authority, to preach the Gospel and administer in the ordinances thereof.
  6. We believe in the same organization that existed in the Primitive Church, namely, apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, evangelists,  and so forth.
  7. We believe in the gift of tongues, prophecy, revelation, visions, healing, interpretation of tongues, and so forth.
  8. We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly; we also believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God.
  9. We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.
  10. We believe in the literal gathering of Israel and in the restoration of the Ten Tribes; that Zion (the New Jerusalem) will be built upon this, the American continent; that Christ will reign personally upon the earth; and, that the earth will be renewed and receive its paradisiacal glory.
  11. We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.
  12. We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.
  13. We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men; indeed, we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul—"We believe all things, we hope all things," we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praise worthy praiseworthy, we seek after these things.

But did you know that the word “all” appears eight times in the Articles of Faith? Let’s look at these and see how they describe Ed’s faith, as well as your own.

1. Ed believed that “through the Atonement of Jesus Christ all mankind may be saved by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel” (Articles of Faith 3). And thus Ed embraced all mankind, from every nation, tongue and people. He empathized with anyone who felt awkward or inadequate in any way. He served very effectively at the Law School on the Faculty-Student Diversity committee. 

2. Next, “We believe all that God has revealed” (A of F 9), and Ed did too. His testimony about the Book of Mormon is printed at the end of today’s program. The Book of Mormon itself stood for him as a persuasive artifact. He and I talked often about the evidences of the miraculously short time in which Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon and how it contains such elegant chiastic literary patterns. The power this book spoke to his soul led him to believe the Book of Mormon as something God has revealed.

3. Ed also believed “all that God does now reveal” (A of F 9), through continuing revelation. His monumental chapters and article on his father’s 1978 priesthood revelation (BYU Studies, vol. 47, no. 2) takes readers into the struggle and joy of real revelation. Ed believed that revelation happens, that it needs to be sought diligently, that it does not always come easily, and thus should never be taken lightly. 

4. Ed claimed “the privilege of worshiping God according to the dictates of his own conscience and allowed all men the same” (A of F 11). Ed was passionate about freedom of religion, free agency, consequences, and accountability, knowing that God will be just and merciful to all. 

5. He believed, as we believe, “in being honest and in doing good to all men” (A of F 13). Ed mastered the art of doing acts of kindness to each life he touched.

The 6th and 7th “alls” state: “We believe all things. We hope all things” (A of F 13). With his open, inquisitive mind, Ed believed all things. Filled with the love of Christ, one can hope that all things are possible with God. As Ed often said, the words in Ether 12:6, “dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith,” gave him the brightness of hope that he and we would someday hear and see the unimaginable things which God has prepared for all who love him (1 Cor. 2:9). It was that belief and hope that allowed Ed to keep putting one foot ahead of the other.

And finally, number 8, Ed successfully endured many things, and because of that he hoped “to endure all things” (A of F 13). He sought after everything that was of good report or praiseworthy. He wanted all: all the truth, and nothing but the truth, and he endured faithfully to the end.

So, as you repeat these and all the Articles of Faith, I hope they will always remind all of you of your father, your grandfather, and your friend Ed.

And now to you seven family members who have spoken today, thank you. Your words stand as seven seals on Ed’s book of life. And because Ed and Bee were sealed by virtue of the holy priesthood in the Temple, you are all sealed to them and with each other. What a blessing. I hope you all appreciate all that it means to be born in the covenant.  

I have the privilege of sealing children to parents. As I was performing sealings a month ago, I was moved to tell the following to one of the couples there, who was expecting to welcome a baby into their family soon: Be sure to teach that child what it means to be born in the covenant, to come into this life with a pure gift of self-worth and purpose, given by heavenly parents at the instant of mortal birth. It entitles you to possess and receive as equal heirs with all the children every blessing afforded by God’s everlasting covenant.

Because you are gratefully and forever the posterity of Ed and Bee Kimball, please know, and I testify, that this generously given privilege is eternally yours, through God’s unfailing plan and the effulgent grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. All this I witness in his holy name, and in the memory and honor of Ed Kimball, amen.