By Study and Also By Faith

An LDS (Mormon) blog representing a search for knowledge, understanding, and wisdom.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

The Intellect and the Gospel

In the April 1993 Ensign is an article titled "The Inexhaustible Gospel" by Elder Neal A. Maxwell of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Elder Maxwell was always a favorite of mine--he was humble and intelligent and had a wonderful sense of humor. He offered marvelous insights into the gospel and was always enthused about learning and sharing what he learned.

In the article I linked to above, Elder Maxwell discusses the different kinds of knowledge and intelligence, where they come from, and why they are important. He refers to numerous scriptures to illustrate his points. The first two paragraphs are:

The title of my address, “The Inexhaustible Gospel,” is intended to convey the vastness and preciousness of that enormous body of knowledge we call the gospel, and—if I am at all successful—some of my ever-growing excitement over it.

Before using terms like truth, knowledge, intelligence, education, and wisdom, I stress at the outset that the scriptural insights concerning these terms or definitions of them give us, as Latter-day Saints, an added understanding of these concepts. These differ from those of the world—markedly, in some respects. Each is “added upon” by the relevant revelations.
He also says:

Therefore, gaining knowledge and becoming more Christlike “are two aspects of a single process.” (C. Terry Warner, in Encyclopedia of Mormonism, 4:1490.) This process is part of being “valiant” in our testimony of Jesus. Thus, while we are saved no faster than we gain a certain type of knowledge, it is also the case that we will gain knowledge no faster than we are saved! (See Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 217.) So in our different understanding of knowledge and truth, behaving and knowing are inseparably linked.

Thus defined, the gospel is inexhaustible because there is not only so much to know but also so much to become. The vital truths are not merely accumulated in the mind but are expressed in life as well.
One of the most intriguing things about the gospel is the way we gradually understand more and more and go deeper and deeper into all the meanings available in the scriptures. We learn what we are ready to learn at any given point in our lives, but there is always more to be learned.

I also like what Elder Maxwell says about how "behaving and knowing are inseparably linked". We learn the gospel as much by actually obeying the commandments as we do by reading them in the scriptures--perhaps more so.

I hope you will read his article. It's an interesting reminder of many gospel ideas and can give a sense of perspective to our learning and living.

One thing I want to mention here is that while I love to share gospel ideas, I am far from perfect. I hope I don't come across as someone who is "preaching down to the little people". What I am trying to do is share thoughts and ideas and links to articles that I find meaningful and helpful for myself and that I hope others will gain something from, as well. I am always interested in hearing other's thoughts and ideas about these topics--it helps me a lot and I am sure it helps all those who come here to read. We can all edify one another.

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Blogger T. F. Stern said...

I’ve been reading Thomas Cottle’s book, The Papyri of Abraham, to learn more about the information that is wrapped up in the three facsimiles found within the Book of Abraham. The more I read the more it explains the common thread of information given to God’s prophets and also the corrupted information that was originally handed down from ancient times. My desire to understand this information makes the ordinances we have today so much more meaningful. I see the work that had been done by those who are far more scholarly, those who are able to read the ancient texts and translate them into their proper context and meanings, I see this as a great service to those who benefit from their efforts.

6:55 PM  
Blogger Mary A said...

Hi, T.F.! Yes, we don't all have the scholarly talent or the time to gather the kind of information you are talking about from Thomas Cottle's book, so it really is a blessing to us all for those who can pull it together to do so, then the rest of us can learn, too. It sounds like an interesting book--I'm not familiar with it, but I can add it to my list of books to investigate! Thanks.

2:11 PM  
Blogger chronicler said...

I like this train of thought because many members believe that they must learn "how to create..." before they die because "if I'm going to have to do that in the hereafter, I really have fallen short if I don't learn it now". Learning, as Elder Maxwell states, is a process of becoming like the Savior, a ladder so to speak that enlightens our minds and our spirits. No amount of book learning will excuse us from our lack of spirituality.

7:17 AM  
Anonymous Barb said...

I had the words "Live the Gospel" come to me very recently and though of the testimony reflected in those who live the Gospel. As this post states, you learn through obedience. We also need to seek out learning in Gospel topics and learn those as well. That kind of scares me as it makes me think that I might miss something there. I am not very good at reading Isaiah, for instance. They say that you are supposed to learn by being in tune with God, but what if nothing is really revealed to you at this time. I do feel that I am learning though as I often hear the very topics in General Conference that I have thought about as of late only put much more eloquently. I guess the key is that there is so much to learn that none of can learn it all at once and I don't think all things are linear in what we learn.

9:54 AM  
Blogger Mary A said...

chronicler, I have gone through spells of thinking that I have to learn a lot of secular stuff before I die, and while that isn't bad in and of itself, the spiritual learning is by far the more important. If we can learn to be like Jesus Christ, then we will have accomplished the important thing. I think that we will learn what we need to about "how to create" in the next life if we don't learn it all here (and, really, who can learn it all anyway) and that if we have not been able to learn a lot of science and math and whatever because we were learning spiritual things and how to be like Christ, then we will please God and He will teach us the other things that we didn't get to because we were focused on the spiritual aspects. I think, too, that we can't learn everything about even the spiritual things in this mortal life--there is just so much! We just have to make sure we are headed in the right direction and placing emphasis on the important things. I appreciate your comments--good points!

Barb, I know what you mean about being afraid we'll miss something, but, as I said to chronicler, there is too much to learn it all in this life, anyway. If we can focus on becoming Christlike, we will be doing the right thing. If we don't understand Isaiah very well right now and don't feel like the spirit is teaching us anything about what he wrote right now, well, we will learn it later. If we are, as you said, "living the gospel" and gaining what we can in the way of counsel from conference talks and church lessons and so forth, and are putting those things into practice, we will be doing the best we can. Other things will fall into place later. I sometimes get to thinking that I have to learn it all right away, but if I will be patient, I think I will do better. If I will be more obedient, I will become more like Christ and gradually learn more. I tend to be impatient, so if I can learn to be patient, it should help me a great deal! I agree with what you said about our learning not being linear. We can't work on just one thing at a time, but rather need to work in a number of areas at once so that we are getting a good foundation laid and putting up a good building on top of that. Thanks for your comments--you and I seem to think alike on a lot of things!

12:04 PM  

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