The education of all of us

I’ve been marveling at the irrelevance of higher education to the process of receiving light and truth.

PhD’s are generally so schooled in their discipline that they view the Gospel in the light of their educational training.  A scholar studies economics and then everything looks to him like it can be explained in economic terms.  Or a scholar studies philosophy and then everything looks like it can be fit into a paradigm matching their school of thought.

I suspect the only book Nephi or Lehi had for their migration was the brass plates containing a version of the Old Testament.  Slim library pickings for what great things those two prophets were able to receive through their lives.  It isn’t the volume of the books we possess which helps our search into deep truths.  Indeed, our libraries may well interfere with knowing God.  It is the depth of how we live the basic principles contained in the scriptures which let the light of heaven shine into our lives.

Joseph Smith’s early education was so limited that our children have a comparable education at the conclusion of fourth grade.  But what he learned from on-high, by revelation, made him a towering pillar of light and truth.

Joseph once commented that if you could gaze into heaven for five minutes you would know more that if you read everything that had ever been written on the subject.  Now imagine the libraries that are filled with material written by the world’s scholars and theologians about heaven.  Those who have written include such luminaries as St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Augustine, Dante, Rabbi Bacharach and Buddha.  Yet five minutes of “gazing” would supplant all they had to offer.

The wonder of it all is that so few are willing to trust a prophet’s advice.  We read endlessly uninspired books written by the uninformed, and bypass the process commended to us by the scriptures.

A bad education (which is most educations) is worse than no education when it comes to the things of heaven.  When men are learned they think they are wise, and therefore have little reason to trust in God or revelation from Him to correct their misunderstanding. I think the Book of Mormon had something to say about that.  (See 2 Ne. 9: 28-29, 42.)  I consider myself a fool.  (That is the one advantage I have over those who also hold doctorates.  I know it does not provide me with any advantages, but does impose considerable disadvantages because of its corrosion to my thinking.) 

Heaven is an endless source of surprises.  There’s nothing mundane going on there.

2 thoughts on “The education of all of us

  1. Good topic.

    I, too, have thought on this subject recently. In thinking of Nephi, I’d even venture to guess, that he’d condemn our practice of seeking out knowledge and learning at the hands of uninspired authors. Some say we, today, have a great advantage because we have so many books, ideas and experiences available at our fingertips. Books from countries we’ve rarely even heard of, authors and experts with degrees to baffle the mind are more than willing to sell their knowledge for money and fame and glory. In the midst of it all, it seems somewhat hollow…rarely finding books which truly enlighten the mind.

    Yet, the scriptures are, after all, mere personal histories. Inspired at that, but I can’t help to think that the Lord would love nothing more than for us to unclog our minds, remove the stakes and boundaries and start with a clean slate with all of us…

    “It is the constitutional disposition of mankind to set up stakes and set bounds to the works and ways of the Almighty.” – Joseph

    D&C 88:118 would seem to address this subject…especially the part about faith.

    Lastly, another topic that’s been on my mind a bit lately, is the prominently LDS practice of quotes. We seem so reliant on quotes from this or that general authority, this or that apostle, this or that president. We, for various reasons, feel the need to legitimize, support and buttress our arguments with quotes from within the church hierarchy. Even if there’s scriptural support for this or that idea, it doesn’t really catch hold or mean anything to many, many members unless a “modern” leader (the higher up the ladder, the better) has said something to back it up.

    It’s as if the authority isn’t in the message, but rather the quotes the messenger shares, or the support the messenger gives to his/her argument.

  2. This verse comes to mind:
    “But to be learned is good if they hearken unto the counsels of God”.

    Another piece anecdotal information to know is the highest rate of professions that have graduated from BYU that stay active in the Church have Engineering Degrees.

    The highest amount of Excommunicants that have graduated from the Y have Degrees in Philosophy.

    I heard this from a young BYU student bearing his testimony a few months back-we all had a good chuckle, because his Major is Philosophy.

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