“How Many Is One?”

Professor of Religion and Director of the Institute of Mormon Studies

November 12, 1963

Introduction by Dr. B. West Belnap

Dr. Daniel H. Ludlow is well known to our faculty and many members of the student body. Three years ago, because of his excellent teaching, he was greatly honored by the students in being selected as the Professor of the Year at Brigham Young University.

In 1955 Professor Ludlow received a doctor of education degree from Columbia University and has nearly completed all requirements for a second doctor’s degree from Indiana University. Last winter he took his written and oral examinations, passing with the highest score in his major ever given to a student at Indiana.

He has taught at both Utah State University and Brigham Young University, having joined our faculty in 1956.

As an undergraduate, he was a student at Utah State University, where he served for two years as student body president. While attending graduate school he held a Danforth Fellowship, and he is now a consultant for the Danforth Foundation.

Last year, while on sabbatical leave, Professor Ludlow, besides spending some time at Indiana University, resided and did research in the country of Israel.

He has always been active in the Church. Among the positions he has held are member of a bishopric, stake superintendent of Sunday Schools, high councilman, and member of the BYU stake presidency. He is currently working in the area of publications for the All-Church Coordinating Council.

His present position at BYU is professor of religion and director of the Institute of Mormon Studies.

Dr. Ludlow is married. He and his lovely wife, Luene, have eight children—one son followed by seven daughters.

Those of us who work closely with him affirm our love, our respect, and our admiration. It is our opportunity to hear from Brother Daniel H. Ludlow.

Dr. Daniel H. Ludlow

Inasmuch as Brother Belnap has revealed that I was both a student and a faculty member at what President Wilkinson refers to as one of our sister institutions to the north, perhaps I should acknowledge to him and to you this morning that I am doubly grateful for the principle of repentance in the gospel. Up until this moment I have never regretted my decision to come to Brigham Young University.

I suspect that some of you may be here this morning because you thought you were going to hear President Nathan Eldon Tanner. I know how deeply disappointed you must be. I want to assure you that none of you is more disappointed than I am.

I realize this is an honor and a privilege for me to occupy this position, my brothers and sisters, but I also feel the tremendous weight of this responsibility. Therefore I ask an interest in your faith and prayers that I might be able to say something this morning that will help us to understand better the gospel of Jesus Christ and to apply the principles of this gospel in our lives.

I have had many worthwhile experiences since coming to BYU, and I should like to introduce my remarks this morning by telling you of one of these.

A few years ago it was the privilege of many of us on the faculty to represent the Unified Church School System throughout the stakes of the Church at quarterly conferences and to explain what we were doing in the seminaries and institutes and at BYU. We would accompany the General Authorities to these quarterly conferences. What golden hours they were, to spend hour upon hour with the Brethren in their automobiles, talking about the gospel and the challenges and problems of the Church.

On one occasion I went with President A. Theodore Tuttle, of the First Council of the Seventy, up to a stake in Idaho. He told me something about this stake on the way. He said, “I don’t expect to see too much activity here. This stake is one of the poorer stakes of the Church, so far as attendance is concerned. It is a farming community, and the young people are moving out. Primarily the members are older people. The stake is getting smaller all the time; in fact, we have considered combining it with another stake.”

Therefore I was not too surprised when it came time for us to meet with the stake presidency that only one member of the stake presidency was there. However, we began our meeting, and in time all four of them were there.

Then, in the evening, when it came time to have our stake priesthood meeting, there were only seven people present—including Brother Tuttle, myself, and four members of the stake presidency. The stake president turned to Brother Tuttle and said, “What shall we do?”

Brother Tuttle said, “We will go ahead.”

So we did, and we had the opening song and the prayer. By this time there were eleven people there. The stake clerk got up to call the roll. He called the roll—four of the stake presidency, two on the high council. Then he called for the presidency of a priesthood quorum to stand. One man stood up. He said, “I am the only one here.”

Brother Tuttle got up from his seat, went over and stood next to the stake clerk who was calling the roll, and looked over at the man. He said, “Brother, how many is one?”

The man said, “Pardon me. What did you say?”

“How many is one?”

The man stood there, slightly flustered, and did not reply. The seconds turned into about a half-minute or so. I felt a little bit embarrassed. I was about to raise my hand and volunteer the answer, because, although I had not had very much math, I knew enough that one is one.

But before I could get my hand up, someone far wiser than I in the audience raised his hand. Brother Tuttle acknowledged him, and the man stood up and said, “It depends. Sometimes one is a multitude.”

Brother Tuttle said, “Thank you,” and sat down.

I have thought of that experience many times. I am not sure I know exactly what Brother Tuttle was trying to teach, but he taught me something. Since that time, whenever I pick up a biography or an autobiography of a great man or woman, whenever I read the scriptures and study the lives of the prophets and the life of the Savior, I am reminded of the statement of that good brother: “Sometimes one is a multitude.”

When I read the scriptures now, I often see things I had never seen before. I believe I understand the statements of the Savior a little better when He likened righteous people to the leaven that will leaven the whole lump. Now I believe I understand why He referred to the righteous as the “salt of the earth” and why He said, “Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid” (Matthew 5:14).

How many is one if that One is Jesus Christ? He is a multitude. How many is one if that one is an Abraham? or a Paul? or an Alma the Younger? or a Joseph Smith? or a Brigham Young? or a David O. McKay?

And a woman also can be a multitude. How many is one if that one is a Mary Fielding Smith? Let me tell you just a little bit about this woman. Mary Fielding Smith became the second wife of Hyrum Smith after his first wife died and left him a widower with five little children. Within seven years, when Hyrum was killed with the Prophet, she herself was left a widow with a small family of her own, including the earlier family of Hyrum’s, which had become her own. A few years later, when the Saints fled from Nauvoo, Mary Fielding Smith was faced with the same problem as was her sister-in-law, Emma Hale Smith, the widow of the Prophet. What should they do? Should they stay in their relatively fine homes in Nauvoo and let the main body of the Church leave them? Or should they leave their homes and endure the hardships of the long trek westward?

Emma Smith decided to stay; Mary Fielding Smith decided to leave with the Saints. The trip was not easy, and the young widow and her family endured many hardships, but these hardships helped to forge some strong men and women. After they were finally settled in the Great Basin, the hardships did not stop. It was a difficult thing for eleven-year-old Joseph F. Smith to divide the family’s meager potato crop into two piles and then follow the directions of his widow mother to take the pile of the better potatoes to the bishop as tithing—but he did. At fifteen this young man was sent on a mission; in his early twenties he was ordained an apostle; and later he became president of the Council of the Twelve Apostles. Finally, he became the sixth president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in this dispensation.

Because of the decision of Mary Fielding Smith to remain faithful to the gospel and to leave Nauvoo and to endure the hardships of the trip west, I understand there are now over 400 descendants of Hyrum Smith in the Church, including the present president of the Council of the Twelve Apostles, Joseph Fielding Smith. Mary Fielding Smith’s decision—as do many of our decisions—affected not only herself but also her family, her friends, and generations yet unborn. How many is one if that one is a Mary Fielding Smith?

And how many is one if that one is you? As I stand here on the platform and look at this audience—those of you who are members of the faculty and you student leaders and you students—I see some present who have already become a multitude in power and influence with others.

I have tried to reason why it is that one person can stand out so that he can become more than one. Although once again I am not sure I have found the sole answer to this, I do have a few ideas I should like to share with you. I think the major thing is that these people have surrounded themselves with strong companions. I am not talking about companions of flesh and bone, although they may have surrounded themselves with these also. I am talking about the fortification they give to themselves—these companions they build in. I should like to share with you some possible companions that might help you become a multitude. I am only going to list four because of the time. Obviously I think these four are important or I would not dwell on them. Elijah had these four, and he bested the 450 priests of Baal. Moses had these four, and he was mightier than the pharaoh of Egypt and all of his armies. You and I can have these four if we would strive to do so.


The first companion I would like to recommend to you is the companion of wisdom. I am using the term wisdom here in the sense that it is used in the scriptures. Remember that when Alma gave a patriarchal blessing to his son Helaman, he said, “O, remember, my son, and learn wisdom in thy youth; yea, learn in thy youth to keep the commandments of God” (Alma 37:35).

I am using the term wisdom in the sense that the Lord used it in the Doctrine and Covenants when He said: “Seek not for riches but for wisdom, and behold, the mysteries of God shall be unfolded unto you” (D&C 6:7).

In the New Testament the Savior said there are two great commandments:

Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.

This is the first and great commandment.

And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. [Matthew 22:37–39]

Then later He said, “If thou lovest me thou shalt serve me and keep all my commandments” (D&C 42:29).

What I mean by wisdom, then, is that you learn what the commandments of God are and then learn to live them.

I guess in order to understand what the commandments of God are, you are going to have to read the scriptures. Perhaps this is one reason why the scriptures have been given to us. I am sure, my brothers and sisters, we do not appreciate what we have in the four standard works of this Church. The Pearl of Great Price is a small book, but it is a mighty searchlight into some dark corners concerning our pre-earthly existence, concerning the Garden of Eden story, and concerning the personality of the Godhead. The Doctrine and Covenants is a revelation given to us in our day to guide us in our actions. The Old Testament tells us of the covenants of ancient Israel and of our ancestors. The New Testament contains the life and mission of Jesus Christ. The Book of Mormon is given to us today to guide us.

Many of us fail to get the most out of the Book of Mormon because we read it as though it were only a history book. The Book of Mormon is a history book, but it is much more than that. Except for about seven pages, this book was written primarily by four men, and all four of those men saw our day and put things in that record that would help us become a multitude in our day.

I don’t care how many times you have read the Book of Mormon—whether you are an investigator or a new convert or whether you are a patriarch or a stake president—if you want a thrill sometime, read the Book of Mormon with this question in mind: “Why did the writer put this particular thing in this record? Nephi, Jacob, Mormon, and Moroni had voluminous records at their disposal. Why did they choose this particular thing?” Then do another thing. Go to the daily newspaper and list the problems we face today—individual problems, community problems, state problems, national problems, church problems. After you have listed them, go to the Book of Mormon and see whether or not the Book of Mormon gives guiding principles concerning these modern problems concerning war, organized crime, sin, pride within and without the Church, etc. Remember these words of Moroni: “Behold, I speak unto you as if ye were present, and yet ye are not. But behold, Jesus Christ hath shown you unto me, and I know your doing” (Mormon 8:35).

If you want to increase in wisdom, search the scriptures, learn the commandments, and then keep them.


The second companion I would recommend to you is the companion of honesty. I could use several other terms for this quality. I thought of saying integrity or dependability or reliability or being trustworthy. I guess I decided on honesty because of the motto in the Church “Be Honest with Yourself,” because that is primarily what I want to talk about. If you are honest with yourself, you will be honest with others:

To thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.

[William Shakespeare, Hamlet, act 1, scene 3, lines 78–80]

I do not know anything the Savior was more vehement against than the hypocrite. Be honest with yourself.

I thought I would like to choose something from the life of the Savior that would help me illustrate this principle, and so in preparation of this talk I went back and read all of the material in the New Testament that deals with the life of the Savior. Once again I was surprised and amazed to find how little we have so far as actual words on the life of Christ. We know a little bit about the birth of the Savior. We know a little about the trip of the holy family into Egypt. Luke told us one verse about His boyhood, from the age of His birth up until the age of twelve: “And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him” (Luke 2:40).

We know something about Him when He was twelve years of age. Then there is virtually nothing about the period of Christ’s life when He was between twelve and thirty—eighteen years of the greatest life that has ever been lived on this earth. As far as I can find in the New Testament, there is exactly one verse pertaining to these eighteen years of Christ’s life. That statement is tucked away in the very last verse of the second chapter of Luke and consists of only fourteen words. Yet, now, because of the experience with Brother Tuttle, when I read those fourteen words, it seems to me Luke is telling us some of the companions the Savior acquired that helped Him become a multitude among men. This is what Luke said: “And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man” (Luke 2:52).

Fourteen words, covering eighteen years of preparation, and yet I think perhaps Luke has said enough. “And Jesus increased in wisdom”—we have talked about that—“and stature.” When I first read the word stature I thought, “Well, it means that He got bigger and He weighed more.” Then I started to look at the word. I found the word stature comes from the same root as the word statute, which means a law, a principle. I found it had the same root as the word statue, which is a representation of a person. Then all of a sudden I realized what Luke was talking about. Jesus increased in stature because He was honest with Himself. I say to you today, “Go, and do thou likewise.” Acquire the companionship of honesty.


The third companion I would like to recommend to you today is the companion of testimony. I know you can have a testimony of a lot of things, because testimony is knowledge.

When I saw some of you here on registration day, I saw that some of you had more of a testimony of registration day than others. I remember the one girl I saw in tears at about three o’clock in the afternoon. I think her real problem was that she could not find her way out of the Smith Fieldhouse. But, you know, sometimes on registration day we not only have difficulty finding our way out but we do not even know why we are there. And in life it is sometimes like this. In the sea of life things can be pretty rough, unless you have an anchor, a rudder, a map, a compass, and a sail—and a testimony of Jesus Christ can give you these things. It tells you where you came from, why you are here, and where you are going. It gives you purpose in life.

Brother Belnap mentioned my association with one of the national educational foundations. Let me share with you very briefly an experience I had with the director of this foundation some twelve years ago, when he first interviewed me for a national scholarship. He was concerned that I insisted upon paying tithing on the scholarship they were going to give me, which was worth something like $8,000 to $10,000. He did not feel the foundation should be giving money to the Church. Finally I explained to him that if he thought I should not pay tithing out of the amount the foundation gave to me, that was all right with me, but I would earn the money on the side because I would pay tithing on that amount.

Then, after talking about some of the principles of the gospel for a few minutes, he turned to me and said, “Dan, why are you a Latter-day Saint?”

I have always been thankful I had a testimony at that time and could tell him exactly why I was a member of the Church—because I knew it was the true Church of Jesus Christ upon the earth.

Some years later, when I became better acquainted with this man, I asked him one day, “Why are you a Baptist?”

He stopped and thought and then said, “Well, you know, no one has ever asked me that question before. I guess if I am honest with you, the only reason I am a Baptist is that my parents were Baptists.”

If you are a Latter-day Saint only because your parents are Latter-day Saints, I think it is a good reason, but I do not think it is a sufficient reason.

It reminds me a little bit of the story of the Democrat and the Republican. (I guess we can tell this on the Democrats, inasmuch as they are now in power.)

The Democrat asked his Republican friend, “Why are you a Republican?”

He replied, “I am a Republican because my father was a Republican.”

The Democrat said, “That’s no reason. If you want to be a Republican because you like President Eisenhower, because you think Senator Goldwater is a wonderful senator, or because you believe in the principles of the Republican Party, all right, but simply to be a Republican because your father is a Republican is no reason at all. Why, what if your father had been an idiot?”

The man said, “In that case, I guess I would have been a Democrat.”

Your parents cannot give you a testimony—and you do not automatically acquire a testimony just because your parents are members of the Church. A testimony of the gospel is a blessing. Blessings are predicated upon law. You receive the blessing of a testimony only if you keep the laws upon which a testimony is based. These laws include an earnest desire or hope for a testimony, studying the scriptures, learning and living the commandments of God, and sincere prayer.

My prayer for you and for all of us would be that one of the companions we would gain in life would be the companionship of a testimony of Jesus Christ.

Holy Ghost

Finally, we come to the last of the four companions—the others, you remember, were wisdom, honesty, and a testimony of Jesus Christ. This last one is by far the most important, because if you have this one, you have all of the others. It is the sealing companion. Of course I have reference to the Holy Ghost.

I would recommend the companionship of the Holy Ghost to you for several reasons: First of all, it is necessary for membership in the kingdom of God. The Savior said, “Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God” (John 3:5).

Second, the Holy Ghost will give you personal revelation in your own life to guide and direct you in the things you have to do. Moroni told us, “By the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things” (Moroni 10:5).

Next, the Holy Ghost bears witness of the Father and the Son. In fact, in the book of 1 Corinthians we are told no man can say that Jesus is the Christ, save by the power of the Holy Ghost (see 1 Corinthians 12:3).

And, finally, I would recommend the companionship of the Holy Ghost to you because you need to be sanctified, to be made pure or spotless, in order to get back into the presence of our Heavenly Father. The shortest definition of the gospel in all scripture is the one given by the resurrected Jesus Christ in the Book of Mormon, where He explained this role of the Holy Ghost:

Now this is the commandment: Repent, all ye ends of the earth, and come unto me and be baptized in my name, that ye may be sanctified by the reception of the Holy Ghost, that ye may stand spotless before me at the last day.

Verily, verily, I say unto you, this is my gospel. [3 Nephi 27:20–21]

I would like to say a lot more about the value of the companionship of the Holy Ghost, but I do not have time. However, let me add this statement by Joseph Smith. You remember at one time Joseph Smith was interviewed by President Martin Van Buren of the United States. President Van Buren asked Joseph Smith what it was about our church that made it different from all of the other Christian churches on the face of the earth. Joseph Smith answered that we have the Holy Ghost (see HC 4:42). If Joseph Smith had had two weeks to talk to President Van Buren, he could not have said more about our church if President Van Buren had understood what Joseph Smith was saying. Of course I am sure he did not. But if we have the Holy Ghost, then we have the right to give the gift of the Holy Ghost. And if we have this, then we have the true priesthood of God. And if we have this, then we are the true Church of Christ upon the earth.

My plea with you would be to put your life in order. Repent of all your sins, because the Holy Ghost is a holy being, as His title indicates, and He cannot dwell with an unclean or unworthy person. The Lord said, “Let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly; then . . . the Holy Ghost shall be thy constant companion” (D&C 121:45–46). Be like the king of the Lamanites, who said, when he was converted, “I will give away all my sins to know thee” (Alma 22:18). That is exactly what we have to do if we are going to have the companionship of the Holy Ghost—give away all our sins.

I would hope by now, my brothers and sisters, that you know how I feel in relationship to the Church and the gospel. But so there is no question on this, I would like to close with my testimony. I know by the power of the Holy Ghost that God lives, that Jesus is the Christ, that Joseph Smith was the prophet raised up to head this dispensation, and that David O. McKay is a prophet today, the head of the kingdom of God on the earth. I am grateful for my membership in this Church, as I know many of you are.

My prayer today for all of us is that we will always treasure this precious jewel of Church membership, that we will not allow it to become tarnished because of disuse or disinterest, that we will not lose it in the dust and the dirt of careless and sinful living but will hold it up bright and shining to the world so that we, even though we are only one, can become a multitude representing our Heavenly Father. I ask this prayer for all of us in the name of our Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

© Brigham Young University. All rights reserved.

Daniel H. Ludlow

Daniel H. Ludlow was a BYU professor of religion and the director of the Institute of Mormon Studies when this devotional address was given on 12 November 1963.