Experiment Upon the Word, Part 5

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Education, as stated previously, is a major focus within the Church. We have been counseled to gain as much education as possible. It has always been a major focus within my family. It was expected that we would work hard in school, well at least do well in school. Both of my parents graduated from college. My father has a master’s degree and a JD. All of my siblings (there are 7 of us children) graduated high school, attended BYU, and graduated from BYU. Some of us have advanced degrees as do some of my brothers-in-law (I have a lot of sisters). I’m currently working towards a PhD. However, education does not stop there. Further, light and knowledge and truth do not come with degrees; in other words, you do not have to have any college degrees to learn. In fact, sometimes degrees get in the way of learning, at least learning what is really important.

As I wrote before, the most important education to receive – the most important knowledge to learn – is spiritual. “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). Worldly wisdom and learning are good only if they build upon and do not detract from faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Another reason for the strong focus on education within the LDS Church are the following verses in the Doctrine and Covenants: “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” (D&C; 130:18-19). Just as knowledge we gained in the previous life as spirit children of Heavenly Father continued to some degree with us in this life (i.e., what we have in this life is in part due to what we did in the premortal existence), so will our knowledge and faith gained and grown in this life rise with us in the next. I think it is important focus on the word rise in verse 18. Our intelligence will rise in the resurrection. It will grow and develop. Intelligence is not a static state – it is something that can grow and be nourished unto the perfect day.

The prophet Brigham Young taught much about education and learning. I’ll include a few key quotes. “Inasmuch as the Lord Almighty has designed us to know all that is in the earth, both the good and the evil, and to learn not only what is in heaven, but what is in hell, you need not expect ever to get through learning. Though I mean to learn all that is in heaven, earth, and hell. Do I need to commit iniquity to do it? No. If I were to go into the bowels of hell to find out what is there, that does not make it necessary that I should commit one evil, or blaspheme in any way the name of my Maker” (Discourses of Brigham Young {DBY}, p.249).

“Every accomplishment, every polished grace, every useful attainment in mathematics, music, and in all science and art belongs to the Saints [i.e., we accept all good and all truth]” (DBY, p.253). “Our religion will not clash with or contradict the facts of science in any particular” (DBY, p.258).

“There is no ingenious mind that has ever invented anything beneficial to the human family but what he obtained it from the one Source, whether he knows or believes it or not. There is only one Source whence men obtain wisdom, and that is God, the Fountain of all wisdom; and though men may claim to make their discoveries by their own wisdom, by meditation and reflection, they are indebted to our Father in Heaven for all” (DBY, p.260).

Faith accepts all true science. Further, it is through our faith experiments that we not only nourish the tree of life but also the tree of knowledge. We accept all truth. As we experiment upon the word, the power of the word is revealed. This power is sharper than a two-edged sword; the power of the word is the power of eternal life. This powerful word is Truth. As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints we love truth. As Pres. George Q. Cannon said, “It is the truth and the truth only that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints accepts, no matter where it is found” (as cited by Robert Millet, Selected Writings of Robert L. Millet, p.13).

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