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Gospel Doctrine Lesson 23: How We Taught This Topic in the Past

By: Ardis E. Parshall - June 14, 2009

Lesson 23: “Seek Learning, Even by Study and Also by Faith”

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1933: Gospel Messages

Lesson 4: How We Get Spiritual Knowledge

That young man of whom mention was made three lessons ago as having had an inferiority-complex on the subject of religion, had in reality a far deeper reason for his action than that which he gave to his bishop. He may not have been able to state it in so many words, but it was there none the less.

That reason may be stated thus: The method of religion and the method of science in particular and of life in general are so different from each other that one sometimes finds difficulty in reconciling them. Especially is this so, we are often told, in the case of one who has devoted any considerable part of his life exclusively to the study of science and of life.

This statement will bear examination.

First, what is the method of life and of science? In life generally, if we are told something, we may easily ascertain whether it is true or not. Or we may have acquired knowledge by actual contact with things. We learn to swim, for instance, by actually swimming; we learn watch-making by actually working with watches; we learn of people by coming in contact with them in the various relations of life.

As for scientific methods of learning, it is much the same. We read a statement in a text-book or are told something by the teacher in a classroom. We may do one of two things in the situation. We may, first, accept what we have read or what we have been told on the authority of the person who said it. Or, if it is a demonstrable idea, we may go to the laboratory and test it out for ourselves. If we do this latter thing, we have changed our belief into knowledge.

Such is the method of life and of science. And now what is the method of religion?

Often this method is not stated correctly by those who take the view that the method of science and of religion are incompatible. Religion, it is said, is based solely on authority. Moses, Isaiah, John the Baptist, Paul, Joseph Smith, tell us something, and we are expected to believe their words without verification, without debate or discussion. This method, we are further told, is all the more pronounced in the case of the ancients, because they lived ages before the scientific method of ascertaining truth was discovered and used.

Such a statement of the case of religion, is somewhat biased. At least, it is not the statement of the whole case; nor is it true in the case of the scientific method.

The truth is that the method of religion and the method of science and life are identical. This may surprise those who hold to the opposite view, but it is so nevertheless, as a consideration of the facts will show.

To begin with, religion is partly a matter of authority. A statement, let us say, is made by one of the prophets, either ancient or modern. If we choose to do so, we may accept the word of the prophet in the situation, and let it go at that. But so is science as well as life a matter of authority to some extent, as we have already seen. That is, we may accept as true any particular statement, and go no further. As a matter of fact, as every one knows, most of what the average man accepts, both in science and in life generally, especially in science, he accepts, not because he has verified it, but solely on the authority of some one else. So that, in this respect, the method of religion is identical with the method of science and life.

But then, secondly, almost any statement of the prophets may be verified in religion, just as any statement elsewhere in life may be verified. Jesus made this clear when he said, ‘if any man will do His will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.”

In a word he said: If you want the proofs you can get them.

The situation can be illustrated by a circumstance from the life of the Prophet Joseph Smith. The Prophet said to newel K. Whitney one day, “Brother Newel, it is the Lord’s will that you shall be bishop in Kirtland.” This was in 1831, when Bishop partridge had removed to Independence, Missouri. Elder Whitney answered, “Brother Joseph, I can’t see a bishop in me; but if you say it is the will of the Lord that I should be a bishop, I am ready to be one.” The Prophet replied, “You do not need to take my word for it; go and ask Father yourself.” Elder Whitney declares that he did “ask Father,” and that he received a satisfactory answer. Then he went to President Smith and told him he was now ready to be set apart as bishop of Kirtland, because he had received a testimony for himself.

In this way it is possible, in religion as in science and life, to verify statements of truth, to convert belief and faith into knowledge.

Another instance may be taken from the life of Enos, one of the minor prophets of the Nephites. Enos, who lived about four hundred years before Christ, was the son of Jacob and the grandson of Lehi. One day, as he tells us, he went into the forest to hunt wild beasts. There the words of his father on “the joy of the saints” came to his mind. For a whole day and part of the following night he prayed fervently that he might get a knowledge for himself. He was not satisfied with the information that his father had imparted to him; he wanted to know for himself. Thereupon, he tells us, the Lord gave him a revelation of the truths concerning which his father had told him.

This way – the way Newel K. Whitney and Enos followed – is open to any one, whoever he may be or wherever he may live. God is no respecter of persons.

There must, of necessity, be leaders – in religion as in science; and it is only natural that people should look to these leaders for guidance, on account of their superior opportunities, attainments, or their advantageous positions. Nevertheless, it is possible – at least, in religion – for every one to know whether the leader is directing things according to the will of God or not.

Questions

1. What was the reason given by the young man spoken of in Lesson 1 for wanting to leave the Church?

2. What is given in the present lesson as being back of that reason?

3. State the method of life generally and of science in particular in acquiring knowledge.

4. To what extent is this method based on authority and to what extent on experience?

5. State the true method of religion.

6. To what extent is this method based on authority and to what extent on experience?

7. Is there, in reality, any incompatibility between the scientific method and the religious method of getting knowledge?

8. How did Newel K. Whitney know?

9. How can we “know” respecting the divinity of Mormonism?

1935: Melchizedek Priesthood Quorum Bulletin

Lesson 11: Mental Efficiency

The Importance of Man

Need of Mental Efficiency

Mental Efficiency, a gospel Requirement

Education Among the Latter-day Saints

Educational Results

Conclusion

Problems

The Importance of Man.

It was said in the last lesson that the gospel is for the good of man. That means indeed that all things are so arranged as to provide happiness for man. This conception is fundamental in Gospel teaching and is most useful in interpreting the many phases of the plan of salvation.

The gospel is also for every man. There is no distinction among men in God’s love. The divine desire is to lead every man into the joy of which Father Lehi spoke. In fact, this equality in privilege among the members of the human race is among the unchanging, necessary fundamental principles that establish man’s relationship to the Lord.

This is as much as to say that for every individual man the plan of salvation was made, the earth created, the stars set in their courses, and the sun and the moon made to shine. It places each man in the center of the universe, as a focus of God’s love. Every individual human being then becomes of supreme importance.

Thus may be understood the solemn words of the Lord to Joseph Smith in June, 1829, before the Church was organized.

“Remember the worth of souls is great in the sight of God.

“For, behold, the Lord your Redeemer suffered death in the flesh; wherefore he suffered the pain of all men, that all men might repent and come unto him.

“And he hath risen again from the dead, that he might bring all men unto him, on conditions of repentance.

“And how great is his joy in the soul that repenteth!

“Wherefore, you are called to cry repentance unto this people.

“And if it be that you should labor all your days in crying repentance unto this people, and bring, save it be one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my Father!

“And now, if your joy will be great with one soul that you have brought unto me into the kingdom of my Father, how great will be your joy if you should bring many souls unto me!

“Behold you have my gospel before you, and my rock, and my salvation.” (D. and C. 18:10-17.)

Need of Mental Efficiency

It was said in the last lesson, also, that happiness is conditioned upon the health of every faculty of man. That “men might have joy” requires, therefore, that men must be of good health mentally as well as physically. All have seen pitiable cases of strong and vigorous bodies inhabited by diseased, deformed minds or which have only childlike powers. Even though such persons appear to possess contentment they do not know true happiness. Contentment too often accepts things as they are, right or wrong; happiness ever forges onward into better ways. Contentment is passive; happiness is active.

The need of mental efficiency to yield happiness has become more evident in these days of science. The progress of man has been made by the mind rather than by physical power. It has been shown that humanity differ greatly in mental power, but that the humblest intellect may be trained and developed into increased efficiency.

Even more, it is now very generally held that the normal mind, at least, frets and becomes unhappy, if it is not given the opportunity of development by some rational type of education. Thereby hangs the whole story of universal education now adopted by the leading countries of the world. Not only is a mentally efficient citizenship more useful directly to the community but it is also happier. Among ignorance and intellectual starvation the evils of the mind thrive and flourish to the injury of mankind.

It is now conceded that the process of education must never cease. From infancy to death, men must learn and develop their minds. It has been shown in recent times that the capacity to learn remains with men to the end, especially if it is fostered by continual practice. The race looks forward to greater happiness and efficiency among mature people by the development of methods and opportunities of adult education.

Mental Efficiency a Gospel Requirement

The importance of mental training is recognize in the Gospel plan. The Savior declared that “Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” that saying sets forth the importance of knowledge, and of correct knowledge. The thought that men must be mentally active and alert appears and reappears everywhere in the scripture and sacred history.

This high ideal is set forth in the revelations to Joseph Smith in the words, “The Glory of God is Intelligence.”

In the course of the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ through Joseph Smith frequent directions relative to mental activity were given.

“Teach ye diligently and my grace shall attend you, that you may be instructed more perfectly in theory, in principle, in doctrine, in the law of the gospel, in all things that pertain unto the kingdom of God, that are expedient for you to understand.

“Of things both in heaven and in the earth, and under the earth; things which have been, things which are, things which must shortly come to pass; things which are at home, things which are abroad; the wars and the perplexities of the nations, an the judgments which are on the land; and a knowledge also of countries and of kingdoms – * * *

“And as all have not faith, seek ye diligently and teach one another words of wisdom, yea, seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom; seek learning, even by study and also by faith.” (Doc. and Cov. 88:78, 79, 118.)

“And verily I say unto you, that it is my will that you should hasten to translate my scriptures, and to obtain a knowledge of history, and of countries, and of kingdoms, of laws of God and man, and all this for the salvation of Zion. Amen.” (Doc. and Cov. 93:53.)

“And set in order the churches, and study and learn, and become acquainted with all good books, and with languages, tongues, and people.” (Doc. and Cov. 90:15.)

“It is impossible for a man to be saved in ignorance.” (Doc. and Cov. 131:6.).

A more comprehensive outline of education can hardly be imagined.

The Prophet Joseph Smith lived up to the educational requirements placed upon him. He showed a thorough appreciation of schools and scholastic attainments. He acquired a reasonable facility, despite his troubled life, in several departments of knowledge, among them history, law, Hebrew, Greek and German. At the same time, schools were organized for the older men that they might improve their time and make up for the lack of opportunities in their younger days.

Education Among the Latter-day Saints

The goal of progressive life is to attain to a likeness of God. Since “The Glory of God is Intelligence,” man must forever strive for more and more intelligence. Education has ever been a foremost concern of the Church since its organization.

Committees began to select and write school books for special use in the Church Schools as early as 1831. In 1835, those demanding education were in excess of the provisions made. At Nauvoo, Illinois, a great university was planned. Even when on the march, the people made some provision for the education of young and old.

Upon the arrival of the church in the Salt Lake Valley, in 1847, schools were established at once. In 1849 when Salt Lake city was incorporated, provision was made for the establishment of common schools. A year later the territorial legislature founded the University of Deseret, now the University of Utah, the pioneer University west of the Missouri River.

They pioneered in the field of elementary, high school and collegiate education, and relinquished one after the other as the state undertook public education. The Church now maintains a church university, the Brigham Young University, and a series of seminaries of high school grade and institutes of college grade to provide the religious training that the public schools may not do under the law.

The Church has a noble educational record. The schools under the control of Latter-day Saints comport with the highest educational standards.

1935: The Application of Religion to Life (Adult Sunday School lessons)

Lesson 1: Preparing Our Minds

Thinking is the talking of the soul with itself. – Plato.

spiritual force is stronger than material; thoughts rule the world. – Emerson.

Thinking, not growth, makes manhood. Accustom yourself, therefore, to thinking. Set yourself to understand whatever you see or read. To join thinking with reading is one of the first maxims, and one of the easiest operations. – Isaac Taylor.

The drama of human life interests us as does no other subject. Since man first drew the “breath of life,” he has been truing to interpret to himself the “Riddle of existence.” Because of the possibility of man’s continuous growth and perfectibility, there will be no end to his efforts to understand the meaning of his existence here. And, just as there has been great progress in knowledge in the past, so will there continue to be in the future. We never come to the point where we know it all. God leads his children, good Teacher that He is, only as fast as their own abilities will allow them to travel. He could reveal to us infinitely more about the universe than we now know; but we should likely not be able to comprehend it, because of not having properly prepared our minds.

The preparation of our minds for any study is highly important. A student entering high school for the first time does not enter the senior class. He enrolls for “introductory” courses in order that he might have a foundation laid for the more advanced subject matter to come later. So in the childhood of the race, it was impossible for our progenitors to comprehend the universe as we know it today; and because of the fact of eternal progress we shall learn things in the Great tomorrow which it is impossible for us to grasp today.

How do we get knowledge? The psychologist will say that we derive facts largely through the impressions conveyed to the brain by the physical senses of touch, sight, sound, taste, smell, and the rest. The meaning which he gives to the facts will depend very largely upon his experience, or the previous body of knowledge which he possesses. An eclipse of the sun or the moon has meant all manner of things to different people, depending upon their understanding – or lack of it – of the causes which produce an eclipse. To the people in November, 1833, the Leonid meteoric shower meant the “judgment of the Lord,” and a sure sign of the “second coming.” to those of November, 1933, it meant a friendly visit of a floating aggregation of celestial particles which the earth passes through at regular periods of time.

Knowledge is gained through self effort, and only in that way. Prayers for knowledge and wisdom are answered only if the individual pays the price in doing all he can for himself. A survey of the revelations of Joseph Smith indicates that the revelations came most rapidly during the Kirtland period. This was the critical time for him and for the Church. There were numerous unanswered questions as to policies, organization and doctrine of the new church. And the revelations themselves imply that the young man who was seeking divine aid was attacking those problems with intellectual and spiritual energy to the limit of his powers. In a certain sense, every honest searcher after truth has had the experience of finding in a flash as it were, an answer to a perplexing problem over which he has thought hard and long. Every scientific worker can testify to this experience, as well as can the myriads of humanity, who have never seen the inside of a scientific laboratory.

The field of human knowledge of the physical universe undergoes change. What we look upon as knowledge today, may be shown to be false at some future time. To thousands of contemporaries of Columbus, the world was flat. While it might be argued that they didn’t know that it was flat, the fact remains that they behaved as if the world were flat. With respect to much so-called human knowledge today, we can say that we merely behave as if it were true. It may be different tomorrow. We may find that our so-called knowledge has been supplanted by more reliable stuff.

The point that is important is that since we find ourselves in a world of such rapid change, we must put ourselves in the position described by Emerson as a “Candidate for truth.” (A book has been published recently exploding many of our commonly accepted notions. See: A.E. Wiggam, Sorry But you’re Wrong About It.) And as a matter of fact, the doctrine of the perfectibility of the individual (“As man is, God once was; as God is, man may become,”) makes it mandatory upon the individual that he keep his mind open to achieve or receive new truth.

All knowledge is revealed knowledge. (All who believe in God as the source of wisdom cannot regard part of our knowledge as “human” and some other part of it “divine.” It is all “divine,” and it is all “human at the same time.”) Men have to think their own thoughts; and through patient and often painful effort discover God’s will, and the truths of the universe. God will not do our thinking for us, any more than he will rob us of our free agency in other respects.

The world lies out before every young man and woman as a great museum from which each will learn as much or as little as he wills to learn. Life is a great playground, a great workshop, a great adventure in discovery, one of the acts in the drama of salvation.

Application

This lesson has had as its purpose the preparation of our minds for continuous learning. There are said to be those who will not learn, but surely they cannot be real Latter-day Saints. It is hard for some of us to face the reality which truth often forces upon us. Someone has defined a scientific thinker as “one who can accept the facts, though they slay him.” Not all scientists are scientific in this sense of the term. The appreciation of our relative physical insignificance in the great universe, as well as the realization that we know relatively so little about it, should make us all very humble. We are still as little children reach out for a fuller knowledge of the world.

Discussion Questions

1.Show how our prejudices interfere with our gaining new knowledge.

2. How can we know when we have facts?

3. Discuss the difference between belief and knowledge.

1936: Gospel Messages

Lesson 37: Mormon Educational Philosophy

“In a revelation to Abraham the Lord made known the existence of spirits appointed to take bodies upon the earth. These spirits were designated as ‘the intelligences that were organized before the world was’; and elsewhere in the same record spirits are called intelligences. (See Pearl of Great Price, pp. 65, 66.)

“This usage of the term has gained a place in modern English, as lexicographers agree. The Standard dictionary gives us the following as one of the specific definitions of intelligence: ‘An intelligent being, especially a spirit not embodied; as the intelligences of the unseen world; the Supreme Intelligence.’

“The word is current as connoting (1) the mental capacity to know and understand; (2) knowledge itself, or the thing that is known and understood; and (3) the person who knows and understands. Besides these there are other minor usages.

“In the revelation above cited the Lord impressed upon His ancient prophet and seer the fact that some of the spirits were more intelligent than others; and then proclaimed His own Divine supremacy by the declaration: ‘I am the Lord thy God, I am more intelligent than they all. … I rule in the heavens above, and in the earth beneath, in all wisdom and prudence, over all the intelligences thine eyes have seen from the beginning. I came down in the beginning in the midst of all the intelligences thou hast seen.’

“In such wise did god make known anciently the power by virtue of which he is supreme over all the intelligences that exist – the fact that he is more intelligent than any and all others. In the heavens as upon the earth the aphorism holds good that Knowledge is Power, providing that by “knowledge” we mean application, and not merely mental possession, of truth. In a revelation through Joseph Smith the prophet given in 1833, the character of Divine authority and power is thus sublimely summarized: ‘the glory of God is Intelligence.’ (Doctrine and Covenants 93:36.)

“The context of the passage shows that the intelligence therein referred to as an attribute of Deity is spiritual light and truth; and that man may attain to a measure of this exalting light and truth is thus made certain: ‘He that keepeth His commandments receiveth truth and light, until he is glorified in truth and knoweth all things. … Intelligence, or the light of truth, was not created or made, neither indeed can be. All truth is independent in that sphere in which God has placed it, to act for itself, as all intelligence also.’

“The antithesis of light and truth is darkness and falsehood; the former is summarized as righteousness, the latter as evil. Reverting to the figure of mortality as a school for embodied spirits, we must admit that every pupil who ignores or rejects the truth as presented to him through the revealed word and his own experience is culpably responsible for his ignorance.

“Not all knowledge is of equal worth. The knowledge that constitutes the wisdom of the heavens is all embraced in the gospel as taught by Jesus Christ; and wilful ignorance of this, the highest type of knowledge, will relegate its victim to the inferior order of intelligences. Another latter-day scripture may be cited as an inspired generalization embodying an eternal truth relating to our subject: ‘it is impossible for a man to be saved in ignorance.’ (Doctrine and Covenants 131:6.)

“Can it be otherwise? If a man be ignorant of the terms on which salvation is pre4dicated he is unable to comply therewith, and consequently fails to attain what otherwise might have been his eternal gain. The ignorance that thus condemns is responsible ignorance, involving wilful and sinful neglect. Lack of the saving knowledge that one has had no opportunity to acquire is but a temporary deficiency; for Eternal Justice provides means of education beyond the grave. Every one of us will be judged according to the measure of light and truth we have had opportunity to acquire. Even the untutored heathen who has lived up to his highest conceptions of right shall find means of progression. part of the blessing to follow the second advent of Christ is thus stated: ‘And then shall the heathen nations be redeemed, and they that knew no law shall have part in the first resurrection; and it shall be tolerable for them.’ (45:54.)

“The intelligence that saves comprises knowing and doing what is required by the Gospel of Christ; and such intelligence will endure beyond death. ‘Whatever principle of intelligence we attain unto in this life, it will rise with us in the resurrection. And if a person gains more knowledge and intelligence in this life through his diligence and obedience than another, he will have so much the advantage in the world to come.’ (130:18, 19.)

“Intelligence as to Godly things, which are summarized in the gospel of Jesus Christ, leads to an ever increasing understanding and comprehension of God Himself, and this is knowledge supreme; for as the praying Christ affirmed: ‘This is life eternal, that the might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.’ (John 17:3.) (“The Vitality of Mormonism,” by Talmage. Chapter 78.)

1943: Advanced Senior Department, Sunday School

Lesson 6: Mormonism and Education

Problem: How Much and What Type of Education Does My Church Sponsor?

The Advanced Teachings of Joseph Smith.

At a time when religious leaders were extremely skeptical of education, regarded as normal schooling, Joseph Smith taught:

“Whatever principle of intelligence we attain unto in this life through diligence and obedience than another, he will have so much the advantage in the world to come.” – Doctrine and Covenants 130:18, 19.

“It is impossible for man to be saved in ignorance.” – doctrine and Covenants 131:6.

Accepting the above statements as the mind and will of God the Latter-day Saints have always stood for education. As a result of an earlier revelation, Joseph Smith organized the School of the Prophets in Kirtland, Ohio. The Charter for Nauvoo contained provisions for a university. The University of Deseret at Great Salt Lake City was established in 1852. At the time of the Federal Survey of education in Utah in 1926, Utah had more of its youth enrolled proportionately in both secondary schools and institutions of higher learning than any state in the Union.

The above quotations leave no neutral ground for the Latter-day Saints on the question of education. Eternal progression is predicated upon education!

Distinction Between Education and Schooling.

Obviously, Joseph Smith had more than schooling in mind (see Doctrine and covenants 88, especially 74-80 and 127-141). As President Franklin S. Harris, Brigham Young University puts it: “This does not necessarily mean that the college graduate will be more blessed than those who have lesser formal education, because many types of knowledge can be gained well through experience and individual study. The requisite is that there shall be earnest and diligent search for all types of wisdom which the individual can use and this, in view of efficiency, leads naturally to the formal educational institutions which are in reality the best place in which to learn. …

“From the very beginning of the Church … it has been clearly seen that true education is not merely stuffing the mind with facts of any sort, but knowledge of facts which will help to guide and direct life so that it will best fulfill its mission here on earth.” (Apply this principle to the life of Anthony W. ivins).

A Broad View of Education.

President Harris continues: “The Latter-day Saints are told that it is not only a privilege but a duty for them to learn the fundamental laws of the universe, and to use this formation for the benefit and happiness of man. In this way they may advance and carry on the divine plan of eternal progress. Of course, the members are advised to study the scriptures diligently, but these are not considered the only source of wisdom, they are divine sources of certain types of information which are of great value, but they do not tell us everything about the universe, including the earth and its inhabitants. Many new facts are continually being intrusted to us by the fountain of All wisdom, and each new truth which is within our comprehension should be known and its application to the divine plan discovered and utilized.

“thus it is that the latter-day Saints have no fear that the discoveries of science and philosophy will destroy their faith. When they learn of another source of truth, be it from another church, a new science, a new business practice, or a strange art, they should welcome it with outstretched arms as another inspiration from the Father, for the upbuilding of His Kingdom. This does not, of course, mean that they should, without critical examination, accept every theory as established truth. Each member is cautioned to seek after wisdom, to humble himself, and call upon the Lord his god, that his eyes may be opened that he may see, and his ears opened that he may hear; for My Spirit is sent forth into the world to enlighten the humble and the contrite. (doctrine and covenants 136: 32, 33.) With such a spirit prevailing in the search of truth, there is less likelihood of the individual being led astray than if this prayerful attitude is absent.” – Radio Address, December 6, 1931.

In this connection, it is interesting to examine two of the Articles of Faith:

“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. (9th).

“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 praiseworthy, we seek after these things.” (13th).

The Church – An Educational Institution.

in the broader sense, the entire Church is an educational institution – the Priesthood and the auxiliaries – the Sunday school, M.I.A., the Primary, the Relief Society, the seminaries and the institutes, the Church schools. As President Harris has said, “The themes of study cover very wide fields. … While the religious background is always kept in mind in these courses, an attempt is made to suit them to the particular needs of the group. … In the young people’s Mutual Improvement Association leisure time activities, recreation, and other subjects that are interesting to young people are given consideration. Mature people in Sunday School classes, in the Relief society and in the Priesthood quorums take up such topics of everyday interest as come up in the lives of members. … Spiritual themes go side by side with discussions of the control of some bacterial disease, the method of keeping the milk supply pure, or the local deficiencies in law enforcement. … The schools of the Church have never overemphasized theology at the expense of other subjects. The attitude of the Church is that all knowledge is useful and that the fact about maintaining a healthy body is just as sacred as is a fact about the conditions in heaven.”

The Church school system is not a proselyting undertaking but an attempt to make up the deficiency of the public school curriculum. Under a democratic government, it is sometimes difficult to bring religion into the public school, even though most educators are agreed that religion is a desirable subject for study. In this respect the situation in the United States is more or less unique. Although all civilized countries have dual school systems, parochial and public, practically all have some form of religious education in the public schools. For example in Canada the schools use the Lord’s Prayer and Biblical readings, although the teaching is non-sectarian and there is a “conscience clause” freeing students from these exercises which occupy the first few minutes each morning. In the United States, on the other hand, only twenty-eight states permit school time to be used for religious instruction in week-day religious classes operated under Church auspices. The L.D.S. Church seminaries and institutes are engaged in this type of service.

The Effect of Higher Education on Religious Attitudes.

In times past many parents have worried about the effect of college attendance upon the church performances of their youth. Fortunately, we now have evidence which should put their minds at rest. In 1934, E. Ray Gardner completed a master’s thesis at the Brigham Young University to determine how graduates of that school compared with their parents in church duties and activities. It was found that 90 per cent of the 342 who reported neither smoked nor chewed tobacco, while only 75 per cent of their fathers neither smoked nor chewed 9and none of the mothers); that 74 per cent use neither tea nor coffee, against 65 per cent of the parents; that 90 per cent of them were married in the temple, compared with 87 per cent of their parents; that 75 per cent pay full tithing against 60 per cent of their parents; and that an equal number of children and parents have been on missions although the median age for the graduates investigated (classes 1922 to 1932k inclusive) was 30 and many of them had only been out of school one year. The 342 were a representative sampling of the graduates. Of these 95 have already received advanced degrees.

The L.D.S. Institutes operated at universities in Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, Arizona, and California should bring similar improvements in the conduct of their graduates.

Questions.

1. Who is an “educated person” in the truest sense?

2. Where can one secure such an education?

3. Should the Latter-day Saint study science? Philosophy;/ Psychology? Fiction? etc.

4. Do you believe that the Church should maintain wee-day religious instruction? why or why not?

5. Make a list of desirable outcomes you may expect to realize from attendance at an L.D.S. Seminary or Institute.

1956: An Introduction to the Gospel, by Lowell L. Bennion

Lesson 35: The Cultivation of the Mind

Religion is associated with a number of things, with faith, humility, love, ritual, fellowship, beauty, and mystery. Seldom in our day is it associated in the minds of people with knowledge. For them, religion means hope, faith, love, and grace. it appeals to feeling, to the affective side of human nature.

For Latter-day Saints, knowledge, as well as feeling, plays a large role in the religious life. religion, to us, means faith, love, and fellowship; but it also means a search for truth, knowledge, and wisdom. We bring to religion our hearts and also our minds. We wish the light of reason to guide us, as well as the torch of faith.

This point of view may come as a surprise to our friends, who associate “Mormonism” with its unusual beginning in heavenly manifestations to its first prophet, Joseph Smith. To them, our religion may appear to rest wholly on faith, if not on simple credulity. On closer acquaintance with our religion, howv4er, the reader will discover what an important role the desire and search for knowledge played in the founding of the Latter0day Saint.

Mormonism, so-called, began in a boy’s mind, in his desire to know, in his need to have a simple question answered. Living in new York state, in 1820, at a time when a number of Christian denominations in his community were bidding for his interest and membership, he became confused. hearing varied interpretations of the Bible, he realized that contradictory positions on the same subject could not be true. In this frame of mind, and earnestly desiring to know which Church he should join, he one day read from the Book of James, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering: for he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.” (James 1:5-7.)

His desire to know was coupled with an unwavering faith. With mind and feeling intent and unified in a search for truth, the young man, Joseph Smith, resolved to act upon the advice of James. On the morning of a beautiful spring day, he entered a grove of trees not far from his home. There, in the solitude provided by nature, he opened his mind and heart to his Father in heaven.

God answered his prayer by appearing to him with Jesus Christ, his Son. They spoke to the boy and the boy spoke to them. he asked a question; he wanted to know which church he was to join. This was a simple, a needed, and a perfectly reasonable question to ask. Joseph simply wished to know where the truth lay in the midst of conflicting opinion regarding religion. he had the faith tot urn to God, the ultimate source of truth, to find the answer. his inquiry was answered. This great vision was the beginning of the restoration of the pristine Gospel and Church of Jesus Christ in their true and original character.

The Latter-day Saint movement continued to develop as it had begun. The Prophet Joseph continued his search for truth. The “lack of wisdom” raised questions; his questions became prayers, and his prayers were answered through revelation from Deity. Many of the revelations themselves encourage and admonish us to learn, to search out the truth of things. In the establishment of the Church and in the restoration of the gospel, there was little conflict between faith and knowledge. Each played an essential part. Lack of wisdom encouraged faith; faith led to knowledge; and new knowledge awakened th ene4ed of more faith.

ADMONITIONS TO LEARN

Latter-day Saints, from the beginning of their history until this day, have been inspired by the Prophet Joseph Smith’s thirst for knowledge. And many of us can think of no more inspiring symbol of the spirit of our faith than the picture of Joseph kneeling in the grove on a beautiful spring morning looking heavenward, praying for knowledge. Not only did he receive answers to his questions, but admonition to continue to seek for more knowledge, both through study and faith. the Book of Mormon warns against arrogance based on supposed learning, but praises learning that is coupled with humility before God:

… O the vainness, and the frailties, and the foolishness of men! when they are learned they think they are wise, and they hearken not unto the counsel of God, for they set it aside, supposing they know of themselves, wherefore, their wisdom is foolishness and it profiteth them not. And they shall perish. But to be learned is good if they hearken unto the counsels of God. (II Nephi 9:28, 29.)

When the Church was in its infancy, its leaders were told by revelation to establish a school of the prophets where they could prepare themselves through faith and study to do the work of the ministry.

And I give unto you a commandment that you shall teach one another the doctrine of the kingdom. Teach ye diligently and my grace shall attend you, that you may be instructed more perfectly in theory, in principle, in doctrine, in the law of the gospel, in all things that pertain unto the kingdom of God, that are expedient for you to understand; Of things both in heaven and in the earth, and under the earth; things which have been, things which are, things which must shortly come to pass; things which are at home, things which are abroad; the wars and the perplexities of the nations, and the judgments which are on the land; and a knowledge also of countries and of kingdoms – That ye may be prepared in all things when I shall send you again to magnify the calling whereunto I have called you, and the mission with which I have commissioned you. (Doctrine and Covenants 88:77-80.)

And as all have not faith, seek ye diligently and teach one another words of wisdom; yea, seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom; seek learning, even by study and also by faith. Organize yourselves; prepare every needful thing; and establish a house, even a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of glory, a house of order, a house of God. (Doctrine and Covenants 88:118-119.)

In the remainder of this revelation, there is a balanced emphasis placed on things of the mind and things of the heart. Great religion was to consist of learning and of faith, of wisdom and of love.

“THE GLORY OF GOD IS INTELLIGENCE”

In another revelation to the prophet, Joseph Smith, we read, “The glory of God is intelligence, or, in other words, light and truth.” (Doctrine and covenants 93:36.). God is known for his attributes of justice and mercy, impartiality and love, as Revelator and Creator, as Lord and Father: All of these are true and appropriate appellations, but we also like and are inspired by the oft-quoted phrase – “the glory of God is intelligence.”

This statement places a special value on knowledge, intelligence, and wisdom in he religious life. Man, a child of God, created in his image, ought also to know the glory of intelligence, for it is also man’s glory.

WHY KNOWLEDGE IS IMPORTANT

We live in a world and a universe of law and order. There are the laws of nature. as we learn of them, through everyday experience and through science, and conform our lives to them, we are able to fulfill many of our desires and purposes. Knowledge is a prerequisite to freedom. As we learn the cause of disease, we gain the power to overcome it.

There are also laws which govern human relations. Human nature has certain needs. When these needs are understood and fulfilled, there is a wholesome growth in the personality of the individual and harmonious and fruitful relations between people. One of these needs is a feeling of being wanted to loved. When we understand this and learn to love, life is immeasurably enriched.

The principles which Jesus taught, and which other prophets have taught, such as sincerity, humility, justice, mercy, repentance, forgiveness, and love, are principles of life as essential to the growth of personality as soil, sunshine, and water are to the growth of a seed.

The religious life consists of more than belief, more than faith. belief must become alive in faith, and faith must lead to knowledge, a knowledge of the very laws of character-development. the Christian religion is more than faith; it is also knowledge. We are not Christians unless we know what love is and realize its meaning in a measure in our lives. The importance of knowledge is given pointed emphasis [in] revelations to Joseph smith.

For what doth it profit a man if a gift is bestowed upon him, and he receive not the gift? Behold, the rejoices not in that which is given unto hm, neither rejoices in him who is the giver of the gift. And again, verily I say unto you, that which is governed by law is also preserved by law and perfected and sanctified by the same. That which breaketh a law, and abideth not by law, but seeketh to become a law unto itself, and willeth to abide in sin, and altogether abideth in sin, cannot be sanctified by law, neither by mercy, justice, nor judgment. therefore, they must remain filthy still. All kingdoms have a law given; And there are many kingdoms; for there is no space in which there is no kingdom; and there is no kingdom in which there is no space, either a greater or a lesser kingdom. And unto every kingdom is given a law; and unto every law there are certain bounds also and conditions. All beings who abide not in those conditions are not justified. for intelligence cleaveth unto intelligence; wisdom receiveth wisdom; truth embraceth truth; virtue loveth virtue; light cleaveth unto light, mercy hath compassion on mercy and claimeth her own; justice continueth its course and claimeth its own; judgment goeth before the face of him who sitteth upon the throne and governeth and executeth all things. (Doctrine and Covenants 88:33-40.)

And there is a law, irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of this world, upon which all blessings are predicated – and when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated. (Doctrine and Covenants 130:20, 21.)

If we wish to enjoy health, we must learn the laws of health and lend obedience to them. if we wish to return safely from a journey on the highway, we must obey the laws of safe driving, and also keep an ‘eagle eye” on those who don’t observe these laws. If we wish to achieve a happy family life, we must learn and practice the principles of fine inter-personal relations on which family life is based. If we wish to gain the celestial kingdom of God, we must learn to live by celestial principles taught in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the greatest of which is love.

THE DOOR IS OPEN

Joseph Smith never closed the door to knowledge, or truth, or to anything “praiseworthy or of good report.” Religion, as it was given to him, was to be an everflowing stream, with God as its source, from which man could drink again and again.

The fixed and final creeds of the Christendom of Joseph’s day, he was told, were an abomination in the sight of God. how could the doings of God be known fully and finally by man? Had not Isaiah said for the Lord long ago:

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord, For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:8, 9.)

As Latter-day Saints, we have many fundamental beliefs, but we have no final, fixed, complete, and codified creed. We realize that there is much we don’t know in religion as in every walk of life. We believe in eternal progression and in continuous revelation.

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. 99th Article of Faith)

In 1843, in the city of Nauvoo, Illinois, Joseph Smith was asked by an attorney named Butterfield, about the difference between his faith and that of other Christians. The Prophet might have singled out a number of individual differences, but instead he stated this general and vital difference:

The most prominent difference is this: Sectarians all are circumscribed by a peculiar creed, which deprives them of the privilege of believing anything not contained therein. The latter-day Saints, on the contrary, have no creed, but stand ready to believe all true principles that exist, as they are made manifest from time to time. (Quoted from John Henry Evans, “Joseph Smith, An American Prophet,? Macmillan Co. p. 172.)

About the same time he set forth a brief statement of Thirteen Articles of Faith. They were not intended as a complete creed. And the last of these illustrates the vital spirit of seeking more truth in “Mormonism,” not only from God directly, but from all sources which have it. how appropriate that this last Article of Faith, written towards the close of his youthful mission, should carry the same spirit as the story of his first search for truth. In the beginning Joseph Smith tuned to God because he was aware of his “lack of wisdom.” Twenty-three years later, and after having received many revelations from God, still he could say,

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 praiseworthy, we seek after these things. (13th Article of Faith)

RESULTS

Several important results have followed in the culture of the Latter-day Saints because of this rational basis of our faith. They can only be suggested here.

1. Our people have believed in and sought after education. In 1833, when the Saints were a few hundred in number, struggling to establish themselves in Kirtland, Ohio, a school of the prophets was established by revelation. Therein unlettered leaders studied German, Hebrew and other subjects under trained and paid non-Mormon scholars. The first temple built by Latter-day Saints was at Kirtland and it was planned as a house of learning as well as a house of worship. (See D. & C. 88).

In 1840, soon after the Saints established themselves at nauvoo, Illinois, they provided for a university. And, no sooner had they secured their bare necessities with a few crops in the Salt Lake Valley, than they established, in 1850, the University of Deseret. Enterprising Latter-day Saint pioneers brought books West and founded private schools. (Little support was given to public schools among the Latter-day Saints in the West in the first decades of their history.) Between 1875 and 1911, twenty-two academies were established, dotting the landscape of Western United States from Old Mexico to Canada. All of these except three have, in time, given way to public high schools and universities. (Brigham Young University, ricks College, and Juarez Academy.)

2. Our people have pioneered in the field of religious education in conjunction with public education. Beginning in 1912, seminaries have been established adjacent to public high schools. Latter-day Saint students, with the permission of parents, go on released time one period a day and study the Bible and their own Church history and doctrine. today there are approximately 161 seminaries with an enrollment of 34,488 students.

On the college level the same purpose is served by institutes of religion. College students study their religion, attend Church services, receive counsel, and find a wholesome social life in Church-established institutes adjacent to more than a score of colleges and universities, which are attended by a considerable number of Latter-day Saints.

In recent years the educational program at Brigham Young University in Provo has been enlarged. Other colleges are being established throughout Latter-day Saint centers. One is now under construction in Hawaii.

3. Latter-day Saints have been inspired by the principles and educational philosophy of the Church to gain an education. Utah has been known for decades for the high percentage of its youth in high school and college. Latter-day Saints have more than their proportionate share of educators and men of science and letters in the United States. These facts are not written in the spirit of boasting, but out of gratitude to a faith which inspires people to cultivate the mind as well as the heart.

CONCLUSION

Our emphasis on knowledge and our pursuit of learning, both in secular and religious fields, have been great blessings to latter-day Saints. They have kept religion intimately related to all wholesome aspects of life. As stated in the beginning of this chapter, our religion is not limited to certain areas of life, such as faith and love or the hereafter. We want our religion to penetrate every phase of life: health, economic well-being, human relations, marriage, family life, the arts. to do this effectively, religion must include the use of the mind, the search for and application of knowledge from all sources.

The rational emphasis in our religion sometimes also creates difficulties. Every Latter-day Saint tries to understand his religion. Great numbers also teach one another. Since all of us are not equally inspired on all occasions, and since people are individual in their capacity and background, there are bound to be some differences of interpretation, particularly when we get away from the simple fundamentals of our faith. There were differences of emphasis even among the apostles of old. Each had his own style, special interest and emphasis, as is evident when one reads, for example, the words of peter and Paul, James and John. yet these men all had faith in Christ, in his divine mission, in the first principles of his Gospel. In the latter-day Saint church, where we are all studying the gospel and teaching it, we need to be tolerant of one another, humble and careful in our interpretations, heedful of the scriptures and the word of the living prophets of God.

We need to remember, too, that religion is not the only approach to truth or to an understanding of life. Life is exceedingly complex, intricate, and far beyond man’s ability to comprehend. We need to look at it from all sides: through the eyes of the scientist, the artist, the poet, the philosopher, simple folk of common sense, and the prophet. No one of these can give us a full view of life. life would be much poorer indeed were it not for the labors of each of them: of Pasteur and Newton, Beethoven and Leonardo da Vinci, Shakespeare and Goethe, Socrates and Plato, mother and father, Amos and Jesus.

Religion gives us the most important truths of life, our knowledge of God, of Christ, and of the meaning, destiny, and worth of human life and how it should be spent. Science, art, philosophy, and the wisdom of everyday life can provide us with many tools and much motivation with which to realize our religious faith in a fruitful way.

There will always be some conflict and some measure of disagreement among the various intellectual disciplines of life. That is as natural as the differences which arise everywhere in life. It is our faith that if we are humble and will keep the door of religion open to more revelation from God, and also to the truths and beauties he has inspired through the scientist and the artist, the truth and value of the gospel of Jesus Christ will be increasingly established among men. As Latter-day Saints we wish to walk with humility and to “seek learning even by study and also by faith.”

1960: Parent and Youth by Dr. Asahel D. Woodruff

Lesson 22: Latter-day Saint Concepts of Education

The Nature and Meaning of Education

The glory of God is intelligence, or, in other words, light and truth. Light and truth forsake that evil one. Every spirit of man was innocent in the beginning; and God having redeemed man from the fall, men became again, in their infant state, innocent before God. And that wicked one cometh and taketh away light and truth, through disobedience, from the children of men, and because of the tradition of their fathers. But I have commanded you to bring up your children in light and truth. (D.C. 93:36-40.)

This passage establishes for us the basic characteristic of education. It is the constant reception of light and truth, and the development of willingness to be obedient thereto. Some of the leaders of thought in our time have given beautiful and sound expression to a noble concept of education. Huxley has said:

Education is the instruction of the intellect in the laws of nature; under which name I include, not merely things and their forces, but men and their ways; and the fashioning of the affections and the will into an earnest and living desire to move in harmony with laws.

John Ruskin has taken a similar position, but in somewhat more specific reference to the manner in which education carries over into behavior.

Education does not mean teaching people what they do not know. It means teaching them to behave as they do not behave. It is not teaching the youth the shapes of letters and the tricks of numbers and then leaving them to turn their arithmetic to roguery, and their literature to lust. It means, on the contrary, training them into the perfect exercise and kindly continence of their bodies and souls. It is a painful, continual, and difficult work, to be done by kindness, by watching, by warning, by precept, and by praise, but above all – by example.

Because of the inspirational nature of these paragraphs, another is quoted from an unknown author who is moved by the necessity of having Godliness at the center of education.

True education is awakening a love for truth; giving a just sense of duty; opening the eyes of the soul to the great purpose and end of life. It is not so much giving words, as thoughts; or more maxims, as living principles. It is not teaching to be honest because ‘honesty is the best policy’; but because it is right. It is teaching the individual to love the good, for the sake of the good; to be virtuous in action because one is so in heart; to love and serve God supremely not from fear, but from delight in His perfect character.

The foregoing excerpts from modern revelation, and from the thoughts of intelligent and spiritual men direct us to the fundamental fact that true education obtains its nature and purpose from the same source as does the existence of man, namely, the plan of salvation through which the greatest of all intelligences, our Father in Heaven, seeks to bring men into a fulness of joy. We have therefore tied education to the timeless struggle for advancement, of which a short span is concerned with life on this earth, and a much shorter span with formal schooling as such. It is therefore apparent that any consideration of formal schooling in the years of youth, must receive its fundamental form and direction from the eternal scope of man’s upward struggle toward Celestial glory.

In support of this position, note the significance of the revelation given to Abraham.

If there be two spirits, and one shall be more intelligent than the other, yet these two spirits, notwithstanding one is more intelligent than the other, have no beginning; they existed before, they shall have no end, they shall exist after, for they are gnolaum, or eternal. And the Lord said unto me: these two facts do exist, that there are two spirits, one being more intelligent than the other; there shall be another more intelligent than they; I am the Lord thy God, I am more intelligent than they all. (Abraham 3:18-19.)

How could it be that there were these differences in intelligence long before mortality, except for the fact that spirits had been learning and progressing, and some of them much more effectively than others. We should be thankful for this fact, because it was through the advancement of the Father long ago, that the possibility of our advancement in turn was brought about. Hence education in its true and complete sense has been going on from the beginning, in the sense in which the revelation to Abraham speaks of the beginning.

Modern revelation makes it clear that it is to continue throughout mortal life. In this passage, for example, there is no limit equivalent to that of the years involved in public school and higher education.

And if a person gains more knowledge and intelligence in this life through his diligence and obedience than another, he will have so much the advantage in the world to come. (D.C. 130:19.)

On the contrary, it implies that there is no such thing as enough, no time at which it is appropriate to stop. The more we can obtain the better off we will be. Furthermore, education is not just a pleasant activity in the form of an extra dividend or attraction. It is the absolute necessity through which we acquire the capacity to save ourselves from all sorts of hindrances and obstacles that would otherwise prevent us from maintaining eternal development.

It is impossible for a man to be saved in ignorance.(D.C. 131:6.)

The continuous nature of the process is further indicated by additional scripture, which points out the role played by maturation and assimilation, the process which enables us to profit by experience and step progressively higher as we mature.

Behold, ye are little children and ye cannot bear all things now; ye must grow in grace and in the knowledge of the truth. (D.C. 50:41.)

Nor is education to end with mortal death. True, some types of advancement cannot be acquired beyond mortality unless the requisite steps were taken here, but aside from this sort of progress, education will continue hereafter. Note, for example, the limitless expansion indicated for those who keep their second estate.

And they who keep their first estate shall be added upon; and they who keep not their first estate shall not have glory in the same kingdom with those who keep their first estate; and they who keep their second estate shall have glory added upon their heads for ever and ever. (Abraham 3:26.)

This does not sound as if there will be an end to improvement. Nor can we imagine an end to development when we read the revelation to Moses on the works of the Lord.

And God spake unto Moses, saying: Behold, I am the Lord God Almighty, and Endless is my name; for I am without beginning of days or end of years; and is not this endless/ And, behold, thou art my son; wherefore look, and I will show thee the workmanship of mine hands; but not all, for my works are without end, and also my words, for they never cease. (Moses 1:3-4.)

The manner in which this sort of endless work will affect Jehovah, and therefore may possibly be expected to affect others who rise to this challenge, is indicated in a sermon of the Prophet Joseph Smith.

But they shall be heirs of God and joint heirs with Jesus Christ. What is it? To inherit the same power, the same glory, and the same exaltation, until you arrive at the station of a God and ascend the throne of eternal power, the same as those who have gone before. What did Jesus do? Why, I do the things I saw my Father do when worlds come rolling into existence. My Father worked out his kingdom with fear and trembling, and I must do the same; and when I get my kingdom I shall present it to my Father, so that he may obtain kingdom upon kingdom. It will exalt him in glory. He will then take a higher exaltation and I will take his place, and thereby become exalted myself. So that Jesus treads in the track of his Father, and inherits what God did before; and God is thus glorified and exalted in the salvation and exaltation of all his children. (Joseph Fielding Smith, Teachings of The Prophet Joseph Smith, pages 247-8.)

It takes only a little imagination to recognize that this sort of eternal increase cannot go on unless those who make up the kingdoms are themselves growing and developing throughout etern8ty.

2. The Content of Education

With this never-ending concept of education, making it a process which is apparently co-extensive with life itself, we must inquire into its true substance or origin. What are we supposed to be accomplishing in education? What is its relationship to our activities in the home, at church, in school? Is it related to the things we do to make a living, or for our entertainment? There is instruction on this matter in the word of the Lord. Education is not a process apart from life. It is merely the enlargement of the soul by truth and understanding, as we work out our eternal exaltation. In the Doctrine and Covenants, we have the testimony of John concerning Jesus and his great glory. A number of important facts are contained in this revelation. Note particularly in this connection the following verses:

Ye were also in the beginning with the Father: that which is Spirit even the Spirit of truth; And truth is knowledge of things as they are, and as they were, and as they are to come; And whatsoever is more or less than this is the spirit of that wicked one who was a lie from the beginning. The spirit of truth is of God. I am the Spirit of truth, and John bore record of me, saying: He received a fulness of truth, yea, even of all truth; And no man receiveth a fulness unless he keepeth his commandments. He that keepeth his commandments receiveth truth and light, until he is glorified in truth and knoweth all things. Man was also in the beginning with God. Intelligence, or the light of truth, was not created or made, neither indeed can be. All truth is independent in that sphere in which God has placed it, to act for itself, as all intelligence also; otherwise there is no existence. Behold, here is the agency of man, and here is the condemnation of man; because that which was from the beginning is plainly manifest unto them, and they receive not the light. And every man whose spirit receiveth not the light is under condemnation. For man is spirit. The elements are eternal, and spirit and element inseparably connected, receive a fullness of joy; And when separated, man cannot receive a fulness of joy. (D.C. 93:23-34.)

First it becomes clear that we were in the beginning with the Father; truth is independent in that sphere in which God has placed it; then it is shown that any deviation from strict adherence to truth is wickedness, and that Jesus is the source of comprehensive truth for all of us. Man himself is then identified with truth since he is part of that which has existed from the beginning. Man has free agency, from which stems either his condemnation or his exaltation, depending on whether he will receive the light which is manifest unto him through the Lord. A fulness of joy depends on such faithful adherence to truth that one is able to emerge from the several stages of eternal development, a soul whose spirit and element are inseparable. How would it be possible to identify education more closely with life itself?

The injunction of the Savior to his disciples on the Mount, verifies this position.

But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. (Matt. 6:33.)

In other words, if we set our sights on the making of a full eternal life, we have taken a position which brings everything else into perfect relationship, including even the daily necessities.

Before leaving these thoughts, more should be said about the fact that all truth stems form the Lord. It does not matter how it is finally presented to us, whether as the results of research in a laboratory, or of scholarly study in a library, or of profound philosophical meditation; whether it is given to us through text books, in a school room, in the walks of daily life, by our parents, or within the program of the Church, all truth emanates from the Lord. This is easily apparent when it is remembered that all things concerning which we can ever come to have knowledge, are his creations. Since he made them, his knowledge of them is the first knowledge of them. His dissemination of that knowledge is the first teaching of it. He has said this to us in revelation.

And I now give unto you a commandment to beware concerning yourselves, to give diligent heed to the words of eternal life. For you shall live by every word that proceedeth forth from the mouth of God. For the word of the Lord is truth, and whatsoever is truth is light, and whatsoever is light is Spirit, even the Spirit of Jesus Christ. And the Spirit giveth light to every man that cometh into the world; and the Spirit enlighteneth every man that cometh into the world; and the Spirit enlighteneth every man through the world, that hearkeneth to the voice of the Spirit. (D.C. 84:43-46.)

The last statement in this revelation, however, needs more emphasis than it is sometimes give. All attempts at scholarship are not equally valid. Those who attempt to inform themselves and then transmit their understandings to others, may warp and change that which originally came from the Lord. It is our obligation to transmit truth faithfully, but we cannot do so if we refuse to harmonize our thoughts with the Spirit of Truth. Many great scholars have done so, and have given us uplifting teachings, but sometimes men go off by themselves, so to speak, forgetting the need for preserving the whole universal unity of truth, and they propose ideas which are out of harmony with the Spirit of Truth. There is a vital message in scripture on this, as shown in the following passages.

Enter ye in at the strait gate: for how wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat; Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. (Matt. 7;13-14)

In this injunction, which some have felt to be a sort of euphonious platitude, there is a very stubborn truth. One soon discovers it in research. There are countless ways of trying to produce a given phenomenon, some of which work to a certain extent, and some of which do not work at all, but in every precisely defined set of experimental conditions there is just one process which works fully, and most effectively. When the experimenter fails to follow that process, he fails to get the expected result. Strait is the gate, and narrow is the way along which a precisely defined result can be obtained. In the more loosely controlled or loosely understood conditions incident to personal feelings, and personal development, the truth of this fact is sometimes missed, but it is nevertheless true there also.

Here is another way of saying the same thing.

Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. (Matt. 7:15-20)

Each process brings its own peculiar result, good or evil, depending on the process. Each teacher also produces a result peculiar to the extent to which he is a “false prophet” or a “good tree.” If he transmits to us and to our children a faithful version of the truth which comes from the Creator, he is a good teacher, otherwise he is a bad one. A person need not belong to the true Church to be a good teacher, for it has already been shown from section 84 of the Doctrine and Covenants that the Spirit of Truth works on all men who come into the world, if they will permit it to do so. The one thing that is required is the avoidance of a foolishness which grows out of losing touch with the complete truth as the Lord comprehends it. This is well said by Jacob.

O that cunning plan of the evil one! O the vainness, and the frailties, and the foolishness of men! When they are learned they think they are wise, and they hearken not unto the counsel of God, for they set it aside, supposing they know of themselves, wherefore, their wisdom is foolishness and it profiteth them not. And they shall perish. But to be learned is good if they hearken unto the counsels of God. (2 Nephi 9:28-29)

There is another significant concept of education in the testimony of John referred to earlier. A further quotation will help present it.

And I, John, bear record that I beheld his glory, as the glory of the Only Begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth, even the Spirit of truth, which came and dwelt in the flesh, and welt among us. And I, John, saw that he received not of the fulness at the first but received grace for grace; And he received not of the fulness at first, but continued from grace to grace, until he received a fulness; And thus he was called the Son of God, because he received not of the fulness at the first. And I, John, bear record, and lo, the heavens were opened, and the Holy Ghost descended upon him in the form of a dove, and sat upon him, and there came a voice out of heaven saying: this is my beloved Son. And I, John, bear record that he received a fulness of the glory of the Father: And he received all power, both in heaven and on earth, and the glory of the Father was with him, for he dwelt in him. And it shall come to pass, that if you are faithful you shall receive the fulness of the record of John. I give unto you these sayings that you may understand and know how to worship, and know what you worship, that you may come unto the Father in my name, and in due time receive of his fulness. For if you keep my commandments you shall receive of his fulness, and be glorified in me as I am in the Father; therefore, I say unto you, you shall receive grace for grace. (D.C. 93:11-20.)

It is of particular interest to note his statement that Jesus was called the Son of God “because he received not of the fulness at the first.” Then he concludes the message with the suggestion that the same process of proceeding step by step is open to others, provided they know how to worship, and what they worship, and make their education and their lives agree with the truths which come to us from the Spirit of Truth. Education is therefore, a continuous process of going from one achievement to another, enlarging our lives, and moving steadily toward the fulness of the Father.

We have given almost no attention thus far to the formalized aspects of education. Nevertheless we must teach each other in an organized way, as well as in our informal contacts and daily labors. The Lord instructed Joseph Smith to institute regular educational activities.

And as all have not faith, seek ye diligently and teach one another words of wisdom; yea, seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom; seek learning, even by study and also by faith. (D.C. 88:118)

The curriculum of study was to be broad. Nothing of any consequence can be omitted if we follow the instructions given in this passage.

And I give unto you a commandment that you shall teach one another the doctrine of my kingdom. Teach ye diligently and my grace shall attend you, that you may be instructed more perfectly in theory, in principle, in doctrine, in the law of the Gospel, in all things that pertain unto the kingdom of God, that are expedient for you to understand; Of things both in heaven and in the earth, and under the earth; things which have been, things which are, things which must shortly come to pass; things which are at home, things which are abroad; the wars and the perplexities of the nations, and the judgments which are on the land; and a knowledge also of countries and of kingdoms – That ye may be prepared in all things when I shall send you again to magnify the calling whereunto I have called you, and the mission with which I have commissioned you. (D.C. 88:77-80)

It appears from the closing lines that this is the sort of training envisioned for those who are to be sent out to teach the gospel to others. However that may be, the injunction is repeated in a later revelation.

And set in order the churches, and study and learn, and become acquainted with all good books, and with languages, tongues, and people. (D.C. 90:15)

Two of the Presidents of the Church have emphasized the fundamental role of all truth, by admonishing the Saints to be receptive to it at all times and in all places.

”Mormonism,” so-called embraces every principle pertaining to life and salvation, for time and eternity. No matter who has it. If the infidel has got truth it belongs to “Mormonism.” The truth and sound doctrine, possessed by the sectarian world, and they have a great deal, all belongs to this Church. As for their morality, many of them are, morally, just as good as we are. All that is good, lovely, and praiseworthy belongs to this Church and Kingdom. “Mormonism” includes all truth. There is no truth but what belongs to the Gospel. It is life, eternal life; it is bliss; it is the fairness of all things in the gods and in the eternities of the gods. (Brigham Young’s Discourses, p. 4)

We believe in righteousness. We believe in all truth, no matter to what subject it may refer. No sect or religious denomination in the world possesses a single principle of truth that we do not accept or that we will reject. We are willing to receive all truth, from whatever source it may come; for truth will stand, truth will endure. No man’s faith, no man’s religion, no religious organization in all the world, can ever rise above the truth. The truth must be at the foundation of religion, or it is in vain and it will fail of its purpose. I say that the truth is at the foundation, at the bottom and top of, and it entirely permeates this great work of the Lord that was established through the instrumentality of Joseph Smith, The Prophet. (J.F. Smith, Gospel Doctrine, p. 1)

A discussion of education would not be complete without recognizing that repentance is essentially a principle of education. Referring back to the statements at the beginning of the chapter, it may be noted that the authors were all conscious of the need for an awakening of a love for truth, a desire to live in the best possible way, and a positive attitude of teachability. These are qualities that induce genuine repentance. There can be no repentance, as there can be no education, for one who will not see. Jacob emphasized this fact.

Wo unto the blind that will not see; for they shall perish also. (2 Nephi 9:32)

The opposite condition is expressed I the beatitude, “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.” (Matt. 5:6) All of these statements fit together and belong to each other, when education is conceived as the whole process of coming into harmony with truth in the effort to attain eternal exaltation. This point of view also gives us the basis for testing education, to determine if it is good. The ultimate test of an educated man is his behavior, not the things he can recite to others.

Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you; depart from me, ye that work iniquity. (Matt. 7:21-23)

We must not only pretend to have a knowledge of truth, or to be working in harmony with it, but we must really have it and be identified with the Spirit of Truth if our lives are to be fruitful in the long run. We can bluff and assume roles which are not truly ours, but there must be a real agreement between our actions and the contents and loyalties of our hearts. The Apostle John denounced those who give only verbal adherence to the truth.

He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. (I John 2:4)

In time, of course, such people are always exposed by circumstances, but sometimes before circumstances crush them they succeed in misleading others, just as Satan did with the third part of the hosts of heaven. Full and true education gives us the power to endure trial, to stand up under strain, and to conquer the forces around us. One of the Savior’s parables puts it well.

Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and floods came: and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not; for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it. (Matt. 7:24-27.)

It has been pointed out by others, that those who build solidly are not promised that they will be spared trials and storms. The storms will come, but they will be able to come through them safely, while the misinformed who have built their lives on false premises will collapse under the test.

Latter-day Saint parents should have a lively and personal interest in the schools attended by their children. The Church does not interfere in the work of the public schools, but the Church teaches us the fundamental principles of true education. Parents should stand firmly for the kind of public education which harmonizes with these principles. We should insist that the teachers employed in the schools be the kind of people who transmit faithfully the truth as it comes from the Spirit of Truth, and not the kind of foolishness which is isolated from universal validity. We should insist that school activities other than classroom instruction are of such a nature as to promote social and recreational education in harmony with the principles of the gospel. Participation in the parent-Teacher Association, the election of school board members, and conferences with school teachers and officers are means by which the will of parents can be made known and effective in the schools. This is a roper and legitimate type of influence to exert, and is part of the responsibility of parents under the charge given to us by the Lord to teach our children the truth.

1967-68: “A Light Unto the World”: Melchizedek Priesthood Course of Study

Lesson 12: Seek Knowledge by Faith

Lesson Goal

To learn how to gain gospel knowledge through faith, thus furthering our progression toward eternal life.

Introduction

In preceding lessons we have been reminded of the urgent necessity to study the gospel, to become gospel scholars, to organize our time and our methods of research so as to gain the most from our study of the Standard Works and from other good texts.

Now we pose these questions:

Is study alone enough? Can we comprehend the doctrines of the gospel, the things of the Spirit, by the intellect alone, or is something more needed?

When views and opinions on gospel subjects differ, how can we resolve the matter? How fully can we rely on the scriptural interpretations and explanations of others?

Will God reveal gospel knowledge to every worthy holder of the priesthood? If so, how does one go about getting such a revelation?

In the final analysis, is it study or faith which fathers knowledge of the gospel? Or, do they work together so that the student cannot gain gospel knowledge without both study and faith? What is the balance between them? Is faith alone enough?

KNOWLEDGE COMES BY STUDY AND FAITH

Faith in Christ is essential to salvation. Without this faith no man can gain an inheritance in the kingdom of God. Since all members of the Church do not have that degree of faith which will lead them to salvation, the Lord gave the following command: “Teach one another the doctrine of the kingdom … and as all have not faith, seek ye diligently and teach one another words of wisdom; yea, seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom; seek learning, even by study and also by faith.” (Doctrine and Covenants 88:77, 118.)

Let us have the meaning and import of this decree clearly before us. First, it is addressed to those who do not have faith, and also to those who need more faith, (and are not all of us in one or the other of these categories?) they are commanded:

1. to seek gospel knowledge diligently;

2. to seek words of wisdom out of the best books;

3. to seek learning by study;

4. to seek learning by faith; and

5. to teach one another words of wisdom and the doctrines of the kingdom.

Thus priesthood bearers in God’s Church are to learn the doctrines of salvation and to discuss them with each other. They are to teach one another; to give expression to their views; to learn from each other; to come to a unity of belief and understanding. Divergent views are of course often expressed in the church simply because all its members have not yet come to a full and perfect understanding of all things. This fact shows the need for further study and for having a standard or rule by which all teachings can be judged.

The Bible, Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price – collectively called the Standard works of the church – are the measuring standard by which all teachings and doctrines are judged. President Joseph Fielding Smith sets forth this principle in these words: “It makes no difference what is written or what anyone has said, if what has been said is in conflict with what the Lord has revealed, we can set it aside. My words, and the teachings of any other member of the Church, high or low, if they do not square with the revelations, we need not accept them. Let us have this matter clear. We have accepted the four standard works as the measuring yardsticks, or balances, by which we measure every man’s doctrine.

“You cannot accept the books written by the authorities of the church as standards in doctrine, only in so far as they accord with the revealed word in the standard works.

“Every man who writes is responsible, not the church, for what he writes. If [a person] writes something which is out of harmony with the revelations, then every member of the Church is duty bound to reject it. If he writes that which is in perfect harmony with the revealed word of the Lord, then it should be accepted.” [Smith, Joseph Fielding, Doctrines of Salvation, vol. 3, pp. 203-204. Salt Lake City, Utah: Bookcraft, 1956.]

“FAITH COMETH BY HEARING”

Paul said: “Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.’ (Romans 10:17.)

Joseph Smith taught: “Faith comes by hearing the word of God, through the testimony of the servants of God; that testimony is always attended by the spirit of prophecy and revelation.” [Smith, Joseph Fielding, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret News Press, 1938; p. 148.]

Thus if one is to gain faith, or have his faith increased, which is the same thing in principle, he must hear the gospel taught by a legal administrator as he speaks by the power of the spirit. This is why the Lord first promises his ministers that “The spirit shall be given unto you by the prayer of faith,” and then restricts their right to preach the gospel by saying, “and if ye receive not the Spirit ye shall not teach.” (Doctrine and Covenants 42:14.)

We thus learn that if gospel study and teaching are to have converting and faith-building power, they must have more than an intellectual origin. Millions of people in the world study gospel principles from a purely intellectual standpoint and never receive a conviction in their hearts as to the truth of the doctrines. Without the power of the spirit – which Spirit is received by the prayer of faith – men cannot know for themselves of the truth of spiritual things. In other words, intellectual study alone does not suffice, and converting benefit results from gospel study only when faith is also involved.

For instance, many people have read and studied the Book of Mormon without learning that it is a true volume of scripture. Their consideration of this ancient Nephite record has been made from an intellectual and academic standpoint only. But those who have studied the book with an open mind and have asked the Father in the name of Christ in faith if it is true, have received a testimony of its divinity by the power of the Holy Ghost. That is, they have learned a great truth by faith; knowledge has come to them by a spiritual process, knowledge which is denied people who study things from an intellectual standpoint only.

KNOWLEDGE COMES ONLY BY REVELATION

Gospel knowledge comes by revelation. There is no possible way for man to receive knowledge of spiritual things unless God gives him that knowledge. The nature and kind of being that God is, and the eternal laws by obedience to which man can progress and become like him, can only be known if God opens the heavens and sends that knowledge down to man by revelation.

All faithful members of the Church know that except for the revelations given to Joseph Smith and others a pure and perfect knowledge of the plan of salvation would not be had by men on earth in this day. But in addition to the fact that God reveals the plan of salvation to chosen prophets, who in turn teach these truths to other men, all men are entitled to receive personal revelation and know for themselves of the truth and meaning of the doctrines of salvation. The Lord, for instance, revealed the Book of Mormon to Joseph Smith, but each individual member of the church is expected to study that book, ask God if it is true, and receive the fulfillment of the promise that he shall know of its divinity by the power of the Holy Ghost.

Further, before any person can comprehend the full and true meaning of any passage of scripture, the Lord must reveal such to him by the power of the Holy Ghost. For instance, after the baptism of Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery, the Lord, in a miraculous manner, poured out his Spirit upon these first two latter-day witnesses of his name. “We were filled with the Holy Ghost, and rejoiced in the God of our salvation. Our minds being now enlightened, we began to have the scriptures laid open to our understandings, and the true meaning and intention of their more mysterious passages revealed unto us in a manner which we never could attain to previously, nor ever before had thought of.” (Pearl of Great Price, Joseph Smith 2:73-74.)

Thus it is that all members of the Church have such glorious promises as these:

For thus saith the Lord – I, the Lord, am merciful and gracious unto those who fear me, and delight to honor those who serve me in righteousness and in truth unto the end. Great shall be their reward and eternal shall be their glory. And to them will I reveal all mysteries, yea, all the hidden mysteries of my kingdom from days of old, and for ages to come, will I make known unto them the good pleasure of my will concerning all things pertaining to my kingdom. Yea, even the wonders of eternity shall they know, and things to come will I show them, even the things of many generations. And their wisdom shall be great, and their understanding reach to heaven; and before them the wisdom of the wise shall perish, and the understanding of the prudent shall come to naught. For by my Spirit will I enlighten them, and by my power will I make known unto them the secrets of my will – yea, even those things which eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor yet entered into the heart of man. (Doctrine and Covenants 76:5-10.)

God shall give unto you knowledge by his Holy Spirit, yea, by the unspeakable gift of the Holy Ghost, that has not been revealed since the world was until now. (Doctrine and Covenants 121:26.)

“ASK AND YE SHALL RECEIVE”

Prayer is the means provided for us in seeking learning by faith. This is taught in many places in the revealed word. In the revelation entitled, “The Law of the church,” the Lord said:

If thou shalt ask, thou shalt receive revelation upon revelation, knowledge upon knowledge, that thou mayest know the mysteries and peaceable things – that which bringeth joy, that which bringeth life eternal. (Doctrine and Covenants 42:61.)

There is probably not a better illustration of how “faith” and “study” combine to give gospel knowledge to people than the experience of Oliver Cowdery in attempting to translate from the Gold Plates. Desiring to translate, Brother Cowdery entreated the Prophet to inquire of the Lord and see if such permission could be granted. The Prophet did so, and the Lord replied:

Oliver Cowdery, verily, verily, I say unto you, that assuredly as the Lord liveth, who is your God and your Redeemer, even so surely shall you receive a knowledge of whatsoever things you shall ask in faith, with an honest heart, believing that you shall receive a knowledge concerning the engravings of old records, which are ancient, which contain those parts of my scripture of which has been spoken by the manifestation of my Spirit. Yea, behold, I will tell you in your mind and in your heart, by the Holy Ghost, which shall come upon you and which shall dwell in your heart. Now, behold, this is the spirit of revelation. (Doctrine and Covenants 8:1-3.)

To this authorization, however, the Lord added this caution:

Remember that without faith you can do nothing; therefore ask in faith. Trifle not with these things; do not ask for that which you ought not. Ask that you may know the mysteries of God, and that you may translate and receive knowledge from all those ancient records which have been hid up, that are sacred; and according to your faith shall it be done unto you. (Doctrine and Covenants 8:10-11.)

Oliver then tired to translate and failed. To explain the reason for this failure the Lord then gave the following revelation:

Behold, you have not understood; you have supposed that I would give it unto you, when you took no thought save it was to ask me. But, behold, I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall feel that it is right. But if it be not right you shall have no such feelings, but you shall have a stupor of thought that shall cause you to forget the thing which is wrong; therefore, you cannot write that which is sacred save it be given you from me. (Doctrine and Covenants 9:7-9.)

Thus the principle is established. Man must do all he can for himself; then the Lord, by the power of his Spirit, will speak, adding a certifying seal of approval. As this pattern applies to gospel study it means that man must do all he can to learn the doctrines of salvation. He must study and analyze; he must compare one scriptural passage with another; he must evaluate, outline, memorize, and ponder the gospel principles in his heart. But to crown it all he must pray in faith and ask God for knowledge about what he is studying. If his study and analysis and conclusions are correct, the Spirit will so certify. If not, there will be uncertainty and darkness, “a stupor of thought.”:

And then – frequently – being in tune with the Spirit, added views on the subject will be given, new truths that had not been supposed or considered by the student.

HOW TO GAIN GOSPEL KNOWLEDGE

Lehi received revelations from the Lord and taught his family the truths which God had shown him. Laman and Lemuel – rebellious and lacking in spirituality, as they were – contended and argued about their father’s teachings. Nephi – obedient and spiritual as he was – sought the Lord and received from him the same knowledge that had come to his father. “After, I Nephi, had been carried away in the spirit and seen all these things,” he says, “I beheld my brethren, and they were disputing one with another concerning the things which my father had spoken unto them. For he truly spake many great things unto them, which were hard to be understood, save a man should inquire of the Lord; and they being hard in their hearts, therefore they did not look unto the Lord as they ought.”

Then Nephi said:

I spake unto my brethren, desiring to know of them the cause of their disputations. And they said: Behold, we cannot understand the words which our father hath spoken. … And I said unto them: have ye inquired of the Lord? And they said unto me: We have not; for the Lord maketh no such thing known unto us. Behold, I said unto them: How is it that ye do not keep the commandments of the Lord? How is it that ye will perish, because of the hardness of your hearts? Do ye not remember the things which the Lord hath said? – If ye will not harden your hearts, and ask me in faith, believing that ye shall receive, with diligence in keeping my commandments, surely these things shall be made known unto you. (1 Nephi 15:1-3, 6-11.)

Nephi had searched the scriptures; he had studied the Brass Plates; he had weighed, evaluated, and analyzed; he had pondered in his heart their deep and hidden meanings. Then he had sought the Lord in mighty prayer, in faith believing that an answer would be forthcoming, and lo, because God is no respecter of persons, he revealed to Nephi what he had revealed to Lehi.

In principle the same thing happened in the lives of the sons of Mosiah. Of them the inquired account says:

… They were men of a sound understanding and they had searched the scriptures diligently, that they might know the word of God. But this is not all; they had given themselves to much prayer, and fasting; therefore they had the spirit of prophecy, and the spirit of revelation, and when they taught, they taught with power and authority of God. (Alma 17:2-3.)

HOW TO GAIN REVELATION

Joseph Smith said:

Reading the experience of others, or the revelation given to them, can never give us a comprehensive view of our condition and true relation to God. Knowledge of these things can only be obtained by experience through the ordinances of God set forth for that purpose. Could you gaze into heaven five minutes, you would know more than you would by reading all that ever was written on the subject. [Smith, Joseph Fielding, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret News Press, 1938; p. 324.]

Speaking at a Brigham Young University devotional service on October 11, 1966, on “How to Get Personal Revelation,” Elder Bruce R. McConkie gave the following counsel: “We need religious experience, we need to become personally involved with God – our concern is not to read what somebody has said about religion. … It is totally immaterial what somebody has to say about the Church in a critical vein, who is writing to evaluate from an intellectual standpoint a doctrine or a practice or a so-called program of the Church – it is just totally inconsequential as far as the church is concerned and as its spiritually-inclined people are concerned. Religion is not a matter of the intellect.

“I repeat, that the better the intellect, the more we are able to evaluate spiritual principles and it is a marvelous thing to be learned and educated and have insight and mental capacity, because we can use these talents and abilities in the spiritual realm. But what counts in the field of religion is to become a personal participant in it. Instead of reading all that has been written and evaluating all that the scholars of all the world have said about heaven and hell, we need to do what the Prophet said: gaze five minutes into heaven. As a consequence, we would know more than all that has ever been evaluated and written and analyzed on the subject.

“Religion is a matter of getting the Holy Ghost into the life of an individual. We study, of course, and we need to evaluate. And by virtue of our study we come up with some foundations that get us into the frame of mind so that we can seek the things of the Spirit. But in the end the result is getting our souls touched by th Spirit of God.

“Would you like a formula to tell you how to get a personal revelation? It might be written in many ways. My formula is simply this:

“1. Search the scriptures.

“2. Keep the commandments.

“3. Ask in faith.

“Any person who will do this will get his heart so in tune with the Infinite that there will come into his being, from the ‘still small voice,’ the eternal realities of religion. And as he progresses and advances and comes nearer to God, there will be a day when he will entertain angels, when he will see visions, and the final end is to view the face of God.

“Religion is a thing of the spirit. Use all your intellectuality to help you, but in the final analysis, you have to get in tune with the Lord.

“The first great revelation that a person needs to get is to know of the divinity of the work. We call that a testimony. When a person gets a testimony, he has thereby learned how to get in tune with the Spirit and get revelation. So, repeating the connection – getting in tune anew – he can get knowledge to direct him in his personal affairs. Then ultimately enjoying and progressing in this gift, he can get all the revelations of eternity that the Prophet or all the prophets have had in all the ages.”

Implementation

An affirmative, personal program for gaining gospel scholarship should include the following:

1. Study regularly, systematically, diligently. Search the scriptures. Give precedence to the Standard Works, but seek wisdom out of all good books.

2. Live so as to qualify for the prompting of the spirit; in other words, keep the commandments.

3. Then ask God in faith for understanding, for wisdom, for learning, for testimony, for faith, for knowledge, for revelation, for all proper things.



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