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.

BYU Devotionals, the Friend Magazine, and Internet Safety

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Yesterday my 6 year old and I were watching a recent BYU Devotional address by Parris Egbert, a BYU professor. I was surprised my daughter wanted to watch the devotional (“This seems interesting; I want to watch it.”). During the talk he spoke about technology and how it can further the work of the Lord. Near the end of the address my daughter started looking bored so I asked if she understood what he was talking about.

“Not really.”

So I explained that part of what the speaker was saying was that technology is a blessing from the Lord so that His work might be better accomplished. So technology can be used for good. Then my daughter chimed up and said, “It can also be bad. There are some bad websites with bad pictures.”

“Yes, there are. Where did you learn about that?”

She then showed me the most recent Friend magazine, which had an article about what one boy did when he came across a bad website. She had just read that article earlier. I was happy that she remembered and understood what she read.

This led to a nice teaching moment where I taught her how to turn off the computer screen, or the computer if necessary, if she couldn’t close the bad website. Then I made sure that she knew what the most important thing to do was: tell Mom or Dad.

I thought that this was a great teaching experience for me, thanks to a BYU Devotional and an article in the Friend magazine. It was more powerful because she brought the issue of bad websites up as a counter to some of the positive uses of technology I was teaching her about.

I have to echo Bro. Egbert’s most important point from his BYU Devotional address – that as great as technology is, the best thing is reliance on the Spirit of the Lord. We need to live so that we are sensitive to His promptings. I’m grateful for a sweet daughter who is learning to listen to what the Spirit teaches.