Are All the Answers in the Scriptures?

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While listening to a talk in church this morning something a speaker said reminded me of something I had been taught in my youth. This is something I was taught in church or seminary that is not true. The speaker today did not teach this but something she said reminded me of this false teaching. What is this great falsehood? All answers to our questions are found in the scriptures. Sometimes this was softened with a “most answers” instead of “all answers” but while the sentiment is good, there is a lurking untruth at the core of this teaching. Occasionally I had teachers who got it right though – they said that the answers might not be in the scriptures, the scriptures will tell us how to find the answers. That is the truth, not that the answers are all in the scriptures.

We have living prophets and the gift of the Holy Ghost precisely because all the answers are not in the scriptures. Joseph Smith read the Bible but had a question that could not be answered by the scriptures – “which of all the churches was right?” What he did find in the scriptures is how he could get an answer – ask God in prayer. The scriptures guided Joseph to his answer but God provided the answer. That is how it should be in our own lives – we seek knowledge from the scriptures but guidance best comes from the living prophets and the Holy Ghost.

Knowing that the scriptures do not, in fact, have all the answer does not diminish the importance of them; to the contrary, it raises their importance as a source of direction but the scriptures are given greater power by the prophets and by the Spirit. The scriptures were never meant to be a closed canon of the summation of God’s teachings for us. Personal revelation and ongoing revelation is vital in our lives.
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2 thoughts on “Are All the Answers in the Scriptures?

  1. Todd

    Some people may misinterpret the following statement by President Boyd K. Packer to mean that all of the answers are in the scriptures:

    “You are to teach the scriptures. . . . If your students are acquainted with the revelations, there is no question—personal or social or political or occupational—that need go unanswered. Therein is contained the fulness of the everlasting gospel. Therein we find principles of truth that will resolve every confusion and every problem and every dilemma that will face the human family or any individual in it” (Teach the Scriptures [address to religious educators, 14 Oct. 1977], 5).

    Of course, if you read it carefully, he doesn’t say that all the answers are there. What he says is that the scriptures contain the principles that will help us to resolve our questions and dilemmas.

  2. Jared

    Thanks for sharing the quote and your insight. I think what happens is we church members listen to or read what a prophet or apostle says but sometimes we hear something that the prophet or apostle did not really say or write. The scriptures tell us how to find answers – namely, by search for answers, praying, and listening to the revelations of the Holy Ghost.

    Of course, I also had some seminary teachers who shared a few “quotes” by apostles (“So and so said this…”) that they never said so it’s easy to see how we can misconstrue what church leaders say.

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