Friday, February 27, 2015

Why I Believe: Evidence Twenty-six: Delbert L. Stapley, Nephi, and Joseph Smith: The Temple in the Sermon on the Mount

101 Reasons Why I Believe Joseph Smith was a Prophet

Evidence Twenty-six: Delbert L. Stapley, Nephi, and Joseph Smith: 
The Temple in the Sermon on the Mount©

I want to acquaint you with a principle which I have not heard or read stated quite the way Elder Delbert L. Stapley did in a 1955 conference address. He followed it up in 1964 with a companion statement. The two together embody a principle fundamental to the Restoration. It speaks indirectly about the role of Joseph Smith, and with the examples which Elder Stapley provides, constitutes another reason why I believe Joseph was a prophet.

In 1955 Elder Stapley analyzed a portion of the Savior’s Sermon on the Mount wherein he taught his people to “Enter in at the strait gate.... Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” (Mt. 7:13-14) Brother Stapley’s thoughtfulness is evident from the interesting inferences he draws from this passage as highlighted by my emphasis in his comment: “To enter the straight gate implies obedience to gospel requirements, and the narrow way that leads to life connotes additional requirements, rites, and ordinances for all who desire salvation and exaltation.”(1) It was his objective to explain the difference between the “gate” spoken of in this scripture and the “narrow way” once one passes through the gate. In order to do this he drew upon the teachings of Nephi, Joseph Smith and Brigham Young. The explanation he gave for doing so brings forth the simple principle which caught my eye.
Like so many teachings of our Lord, the interpretation, explanation, and procedures were left for his chosen prophets by inspiration and revelation, when the time was ready, to unfold to man’s knowledge. It is true of this scripture.(2)
Because I have reproduced this entire address in an earlier post, I will only mention that from those three authors Elder Stapley taught that the “gate” represented baptism and the “narrow way” represented the higher ordinances of the gospel, particularly the temple ordinances. It is a masterful discourse.  If you have not read it, I recommend you do so.  

My point here is that which I have mentioned before, warning that I would mention it again. It is that Joseph Smith brought to this poor world answers to numerous religious and spiritual questions. Those answers may be found in the scriptures he translated, the revelations he received from God, and his personal teachings. He was the man with the answers–answers to hundreds of religious and doctrinal questions big and small that mankind have generated through time, especially about the meaning of things found in the Bible. This is particularly true where the teachings of Christ, which I assume all would agree did not deal with small things, were not fully explained by him, or by other authors of the Bible. In his conference address, Elder Stapley provides us with a wonderful and very important example.

In the October 1964 general conference Elder Stapley returned to the Sermon on the Mount for analysis of another statement. This time it was Mt.5:13 where Jesus said to his disciples, “Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.” Elder Stapley asks, “For what purpose does Christ refer to his disciples as the “salt of the earth”?  He continues with an observation about the importance of this teaching: “This scripture is not an idle nor insignificant statement, but to the contrary is profound and most meaningful.”(3) He could have deduced that from the fact that the passage comes from Jesus, but demonstrating its profundity and meaningfulness is another matter. He explained that he “searched the scriptures for a more complete understanding of Christ classifying his disciples as the “salt of the earth....”  
Guess where he found the answers? There were a few clues and helpful comments in Mark 9:50, Luke 14:35, Col. 4:6, and 3 Ne. 12:30, but those passages only “furnish but a glimpse of the meaning of this significant and profound statement of our Lord, but not a fulness of understanding.” He went on to give the attention-stopping restatement of the principle which I mentioned above.
The fulness of that knowledge was reserved for the Dispensation of the Fulness of Times, or the era in which we live.(4)
He found significant help in D&C 101:39-40. In true Apostolic form he said, “Now let us carefully analyze the important elements of this revelation and briefly outline the course man must follow to achieve the spiritual strength and personal influence which prepare him to become “the savor of men.” (5) Verse 39 says:
When men are called unto mine everlasting gospel, and covenant with an everlasting covenant, they are accounted as the salt of the earth and the savor of men. (Emphasis added.)
Elder Stapley’s extended comments about the emphasized portion of this passage were very enlightening. He began, “As we gain knowledge of the revelations, we learn that the gospel contains many covenants vital to the eternal welfare of man. This statement, therefore, has a plural connotation which I will explain.” (6) After quoting 2 Ne. 31:18-22 he explained:
Therefore, my beloved brethren and sisters and friends, after baptism and confirmation into the kingdom of God, according to Nephi, we must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ and endure to the end to gain eternal life. For by these first steps of repentance, baptism, and the receiving of the Holy Ghost, all requirements are not completed to obtain a fulness of glory in the eternal mansions of our Heavenly Father. Baptism alone does not fully prepare a person for eternal glory as many people are wont to believe. 
There are other important covenants of an everlasting nature included in the fulness of the gospel of Christ which vitally concern man’s future well-being and happiness. These covenants are eternal in nature. However, they are to be received and accepted in mortal life by all mankind possessing such knowledge and desiring eternal glory. It is also necessary for them to meet all the conditions and requirements and to fulfil every obligation appertaining to each gospel covenant to find joy and happiness both here and hereafter.(7)
The additional covenants required for salvation and exaltation, he explained, included receiving the Melchizedek Priesthood by covenant for men and the temple endowment and sealing ordinances. Then he explained how these ordinances and covenants qualify one to be the salt of the earth and savor of men.
We must keep in mind, however, as I have mentioned before, that in connection with all covenants there are conditions, requirements, and obligations which bind us to a course of righteous living and doing.  It is in the meeting and fulfilling of these conditions, requirements, and obligations which build Christlike character in an individual and make possible a savoring effect for good and righteousness in the lives of people.  When this sanctified state and spiritual motivation are achieved, we are then accounted, as Jesus said, “...the salt of the earth and the savor of men”; (D&C 101:39.)(8)
Elder Stapley also found additional commentary on the “salt of the earth” metaphor in D&C 103:4-5, 7-10 which gives additional context for understanding the Savior’s meaning and intent, especially as it pertains to this Dispensation.

Here an Apostle of the Lord has exquisitely shown how subsequent revelations have illuminated the meaning of two important portions of the Sermon on the Mount. Joseph Smith and the scripture he produced are at the core of the explanations brother Stapley gives. These two examples strengthen my faith that Joseph was a prophet, a man with the answers. And I say....

Thank God for Joseph Smith.

Let’s think together again, soon.


1. Delbert L. Stapley, general conference address in, Conference Report (April 1955), p. 66, emphasis added.

2. Ibid, emphasis added.

3. Delbert L. Stapley, “Salt of the Earth,” Improvement Era (December 1964), p. 1069.

4. Ibid, emphasis added.

5. Ibid, p. 1070.

6. Ibid.

7. Ibid.

8.  Ibid, p. 1071

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Why I Believe: Evidence Twenty-five: Joseph Smith, the Book of Job, and the Temple Endowment

101 Reasons Why I Believe Joseph Smith was a Prophet

Evidence Twenty-five: 

Joseph Smith, the Book of Job, and the Temple Endowment©

I just finished reading a clear-eyed view of the book of Job, clearly and insightfully written. I am referring to Mack Sterling’s, “Job: An LDS Reading,” found in a recent publication of presentations given at a conference about the temple held in Provo, Utah in 2012.(1) Sterling sees the story of Job as a temple-text. He proposes that “the book of Job is a literary analogue of the temple endowment ritual.” (p. 99). For me the essay was enlightening and compelling.  

In its most simple outline the story of Job parallels that of the endowment in that Job starts out in the prologue to the story very much like Adam and Eve are in the Garden of Eden, in the presence of God experiencing great blessings, but with limited comprehension. Job experiences something of a personal fall from this paradisaical state into a dark and bitter world where he loses nearly everything and is beset by three “friends” who serve as opposition to his quest to return and meet God. His journey through the dreary wilderness is lonely, but he has “four great revelatory insights” that propel him forward in the quest, despite his own misunderstandings and doubts. He prepares to meet God by binding himself “in covenant fidelity” to God and withstanding a final onslaught by Elihu, who Sterling views as an emissary/symbol of Satan. Finally, Job penetrates the veil and enters into the presence of God and a transformed life.  

Sterling’s discussion of the details of the story and the pattern he finds and defines is clear, even masterful in my estimation. His view is comprehensive, covering the entire book with a unified theme and purpose which is the same as that taught in the endowment, as this conclusion conveys: “In my view,” Sterling writes, “the parallels and connections between Job and the endowment are powerful and sustained.” (p. 133)

In addition to this fundamental insight, I very much like the following which is compatible with the theme of this thread of “Why I Believe”:
I am unaware of any evidence that Joseph Smith used the book of Job in developing the temple endowment. I conclude that both result from revelation from the same divine mind. For me, finding such a close analogue of the endowment in the canon of scripture confirms the divine inspiration behind the endowment. I suggest that the book of Job can complement and amplify our understanding –and vice versa. In some aspects, the book of Job is a mirror image of the endowment, giving a fuller description of the darkness and bitterness of the world. (2)
One more interesting bit of evidence of the divine inspiration of Joseph Smith to add to the mix.

Thank God for Joseph Smith!

Let’s think together again, soon.


1.  Sterling, Mack C.  “Job: An LDS Reading.”  In Temple Insights: Proceedings of the Interpreter Matthew B. Brown Memorial Conference “The Temple on Mount Zion” 22 September 2012, edited by William J. Hamblin and David Rolph Seely, 99-143.  Temple on Mount Zion Series 2.  Orem and Salt Lake City, UT: The Interpreter Foundation / Eborn Books, 2014.

2.  Ibid, p. 135, emphasis added.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

A Mormon View of Marriage and Family©

[Introduction: Today’s Living Philosophies is a reproduction of a brief article on some aspects of the Mormon concept of marriage by Apostle John A. Widtsoe. I am reproducing it here for a couple of reasons. First, I believe that many of the modern generation, say from age 12 up to 45, are largely not familiar with Elder Widtsoe and his marvelous writings. Also, I wanted to bring this specific article to the attention of readers because of some of Elder Widtsoe’s ideas about our doctrines. In the six categories which he very briefly treats, he raises some very important concepts to consider. Here are several from my point of view.
1. From the Mormon point of view that there are many spirit children of God in the pre-mortal existence awaiting their opportunity for a mortal experience, we should give serious thought to them, not just to we who are presently living or those who have passed on. “These waiting spirits must also be a concern to humanity.” And the reason we should concern ourselves is because we have a duty to bring them into mortality through the process of procreation. This is one of the “high purposes of life.” 
2. The first command given to Adam and Eve was to multiply and replenish the earth. By extension, “It becomes a necessary duty for all wedded persons to bring children into the world and to rear them in obedience to the Great Plan.” The doctrine to not have children or limit family size “is erroneous and contrary to the spirit of the Great Plan.” When married people have children it is “evidence” they have accepted the doctrines of the brotherhood of man and of unselfishness. Promiscuity  is one of the “terrible ... iniquities” because “it leads, assuredly, to the decay of the race.” This is a proposition that the present generation, including many Mormons, have not given serious consideration in the face of the “sex is for recreation” philosophy dominant today. 
3. If procreation can be eternal, and it can, then “one of the chief duties of men and women will be to beget spiritual children.” This doctrine is heavily debated among LDS intellectuals, but it has been part of our doctrinal heritage for a long time and is therefore worthy of prayerful consideration. Elder Widtsoe also links marriage with the doctrine of deification, or becoming gods when he writes:“It is a reward of intelligent development, that we may become to other spiritual beings, what our God has been to us.” 
4. Finally, in some very insightful remarks about the “sealing power” he teaches that this “is the supreme power committed to man’s keeping.” It would be an interesting exercise for readers to write a paragraph or two as to why you believe this is the case. Elder Widtsoe also teaches that the sealing keys are held by the President of the Church, but he can delegate this power to others such as other general authorities and sealers in the temples.  However this special power is different from the Priesthood in that it “may be withdrawn at any moment,” where as the Priesthood which men hold “can be withdrawn from a man only when he is found in sin.” Finally he gives us this eloquent statement: “...only through the sealing power may the eternal relationship of the sexes, the eternal increase of life, and the consequent joy, be obtained.”
 I hope readers will enjoy this brief statement and more importantly, study it and learn the doctrines it teaches. They will go a long way to helping this generation fit the doctrine of “eternal marriage” into the plan of the salvation.  As always, your questions or comments about any Living Philosophies column are welcome.]


John A. Widtsoe

We are not the last spirits to enter upon the earth career. Countless numbers of unborn spirits are waiting for the privilege of receiving earthly bodies and of tasting the sorrows and joys of earth. Therefore, the living, who understand the Great Plan, must not confine their attention to themselves and to those who have gone before. The waiting spirits must also be a concern of humanity.  

Eternity of Sex. It has already been said that sex is an eternal principle. The equivalent of sex, dimly understood by man, has always existed and will continue forever. Since sex, then, represents an eternal condition, the begetting of children is coincidentally an eternal necessity. We were begotten into the spirit world by God the Father, and have been born into the world which we now possess.

The Waiting Spirits. According to the Great Plan, all who, in the Great Council, accepted the Christ and the Plan, will in time appear on earth clothed with mortal bodies. All these spirits must be born as children into the world. A high purpose of life on earth must be, therefore, to continue the race by begetting children and properly caring for them until they reach maturity. The waiting spirits are hoping patiently for their turn to reach the earth-a glorious step in their progressive advancement, which they have earned by their righteous lives. 

The First Command. This doctrine makes clear the meaning of the first command to Adam and Eve, to multiply and replenish the earth. It is not only for the joy and satisfaction of humanity that the possibility of begetting offspring prevails on earth, but as much for the fulfilment of the eternal Great Plan. It becomes a necessary duty for all wedded persons to bring children into the world and to rear them in obedience to the Great Plan. This is a holy and necessary mission of man. Fatherhood and motherhood become glorified in the light of their vital place in the eternal plan of salvation.

The doctrine that wedded man and woman should not beget children, or should limit the number of children born to them, is erroneous and contrary to the spirit of the Great Plan. Let the waiting spirits come! Let children be born into the earth! Let fatherhood and motherhood be the most honored of all the professions on earth! Let society provide such material means as may be necessary! Marriage resulting in parenthood is an evidence of the acceptance of the reality of the brotherhood of man, of the unselfishness of man. However, only in the marriage relation should children be begotten. Looseness of life between man and woman is the most terrible of human iniquities, for it leads, assuredly, to the decay of the race. With the sanction of the Priesthood, men and women should contract to live together as husband and wife. 

The Family. The unit of society is the family. The family circle is intimate; in it the keenest human loves prevail.As the family develops so will society as a whole develop.With children comes complete family life. Without children, family life is incomplete. Children are necessary to fulfill the possibilities of the Church. The true Church always encourages large families, the intensifying of family life, and the dignifying of all duties pertaining to marriage. 

Celestial Marriage. If sex is eternal, it follows of necessity that the marriage covenant may also be eternal. It is not a far step to the doctrine that after the work on earth has been completed and exaltation in the next estate has been attained, one of the chief duties of men and women will be to beget spiritual children. These spirits, in turn, in the process of time, will come down upon an "earth," there to obtain an acquaintance with gross matter, and through the possession of earthly bodies to control more fully, and forever, the manifold forces surrounding them. It is a reward of intelligent development, that we may become to other spiritual beings, what our God has been to us.

Among those who understand the Gospel, marriage may be, and indeed should be, for time and eternity. Marriage that lasts only during earth life is a sad one, for the love established between man and woman, as they live together and rear their family, should not die, but live, and grow richer with the eternal years. Marriage for time and eternity establishes a unique relation between husband and wife. Their children belong to them eternally; the family, continued from this earth into the next world, becomes a unit in eternal life; and all family relations are shaped in anticipation of an undying relationship.  

The Sealing Power. The power to seal men and women to one another for time and eternity, and to seal children to their parents for the eternal ages, is the supreme power committed to man's keeping. The President of the Church alone on the earth holds the keys of these sealing ordinances. True, he may delegate his power to workers in the several temples, so that celestial marriages and sealings may be performed, but such delegated authority may be withdrawn at any moment. In that respect, such committed authority differs wholly from the power of the Priesthood, which can be withdrawn from a man only when he is found in sin. It is proper that only one man should hold this power, for it is of infinite effect, and should be guarded with the most jealous care, and kept from the prejudices and jealousies of frail men.

The power which can bind for time and eternity may also loose that which has been bound, should it be found necessary. Under human conditions, mistakes may be made. If such mistakes are not rectified on earth, they will, no doubt, under the supervision of an intelligent Being, be rectified in the hereafter. However, only through the sealing power may the eternal relationship of the sexes, the eternal increase of life, and the consequent eternal joy, be obtained.  

John A. Widtsoe, A Rational Theology, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1966), pp. 155-58.

Let’s think together again, soon.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Character in Individuals and its Importance to Society©

[Here is another great quotation from Samuel Smiles, a favorite author of mine.  It is about the importance of character in the individual and how that person of character influences their society. Your reactions are welcome in the comment section.] 

"The crown and glory of life is Character. It is the noblest possession of a man, constituting a rank in itself, and an estate in the general goodwill; dignifying every station, and exalting every position in society. It exercises a greater power than wealth, and secures all the honor without the jealousies of fame. It caries with it an influence which always tells; for it is the result of proved honor, rectitude, and consistency–qualities which, perhaps more than any other, command the general confidence and respect of mankind.
Character is human nature in its best form. It is moral order embodied in the individual. Men of character are not only the conscience of society, but in every well-governed State they are  its best motive power; for it is moral qualities in the main which rule the world. Even in war, Napoleon said, the moral is to the physical as ten to one. The strength, the industry, and the civilization of nations–all depend upon individual character; and the very foundations of civil security rest upon it. Laws and institutions are but its outgrowth.  In the just balance of nature, individual, nations, and races, will obtain just so much as they deserve, and no more.  And as effect finds its cause, so surely does quality of character amongst a people produce its befitting results."(1)

Lets think together again, soon.


1.  Samuel Smiles, Happy Homes and the Hearts that Make Them.  (Chicago: U. S. Publishing House, 1889), pp. 600-601.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Why I Believe: Evidence Twenty-four: Joseph Smith and Knowledge

101 Reasons Why I Believe Joseph Smith was a Prophet

Evidence Twenty-four: 
Joseph Smith and Knowledge© 

Joseph Smith made at least fifteen important statements about knowledge and its place in the theology of Mormonism. His successors and many others have added volumes on this subject over that past 180 years, but no one has offered more profound thoughts, exceeded his insights, or plumbed the depths of his statements on this vital topic. These fifteen statements, when studied and pondered, are their own best witnesses to the intricacy and depth of the mind of Joseph Smith and bear witness of his inspiration and divine calling. It is particularly vital to notice how frequently the Prophet speaks of the role which spiritual knowledge plays in the salvation of man.

I have added some emphasis at places which I think are particularly important. I have written each title with the intent of capturing what I believe is the salient point of each. There are, of course, other important concepts in many of these quotations.


We consider that God has created man with a mind capable of instruction, and a faculty which may be enlarged in proportion to the heed and diligence given to the light communicated from heaven to the intellect; and that the nearer man approaches perfection, the clearer are his views, and the greater his enjoyments, till he has overcome the evils of his life and lost every desire for sin; and like the ancients, arrives at that point of faith where he is wrapped in the power and glory of his Maker and is caught up to dwell with Him. But we consider that this is a station to which no man ever arrived in a moment: he must have been instructed in the government and laws of that kingdom by proper degrees, until his mind is capable in some measure of comprehending the propriety, justice, equality, and consistency of the same. is necessary for men to receive an understanding concerning the laws of the heavenly kingdom, before they are permitted to enter it; we mean the celestial glory.

Joseph Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, edited by Joseph Fielding Smith, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1967), p. 51.


A man is saved no faster than he gets knowledge, for if he does not get knowledge, he will be brought into captivity by some evil power in the other world, as evil spirits will have more knowledge, and consequently more power than many men who are on the earth.  Hence it needs revelation to assist us, and give us knowledge of the things of God.

Joseph Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, edited by Joseph Fielding Smith, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1967), p. 217.
Howard W. Hunter: “...he had reference not to the temporal knowledge flowing from research, but to the eternal knowledge coming by revelation.  ‘Hence it needs revelation to assist us,’ he continued, and gives us knowledge of the things of God.’”(1)


If we get puffed by thinking that we have much knowledge, we are apt to get a contentious spirit, and correct knowledge is necessary to cast out that spirit. The evil of being puffed up with correct (though useless) knowledge is not so great as the evil of contention. Knowledge does away with darkness, suspense and doubt; for these cannot exist where knowledge is.

Joseph Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, edited by Joseph Fielding Smith, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1967), pp. 287-288.


In knowledge there is power. God has more power than all other beings, because he has greater knowledge; and hence he knows how to subject all other beings to Him. He has power over all.

Joseph Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, edited by Joseph Fielding Smith, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1967), p. 288.


It is not wisdom that we should have all knowledge at once presented before us; but that we should have a little at a time; then we can comprehend it. ... Add to your faith knowledge, etc.  The principle of knowledge is the principle of salvation. This principle can be comprehended by the faithful and diligent; and every one that does not obtain knowledge sufficient to be saved will be condemned. The principle of salvation is given us through the knowledge of Jesus Christ.

Joseph Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, edited by Joseph Fielding Smith, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1967), p. 297.


Then, having this promise sealed unto them, it was an anchor to the soul, sure and steadfast. Though the thunders might roll and lightnings flash, and earthquakes bellow, and war gather thick around, yet this hope and knowledge would support the soul in every hour of trial, trouble and tribulation. Then knowledge through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is the grand key that unlocks the glories and mysteries of the kingdom of heaven.

Joseph Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, edited by Joseph Fielding Smith, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1967), p. 298.


Another point, after having all these qualifications, he lays this injunction upon the people ‘to make your calling and election sure.’ ... What is the secret–the starting point” ‘According as His divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness.’ How did he obtain all things? Through the knowledge of Him who hath called him. There could not anything be given, pertaining to life and godliness, without knowledge.

Joseph Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, edited by Joseph Fielding Smith, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1967), p. 305.


There are a great many wise men and women too in our midst who are too wise to be taught; therefore they must die in their ignorance, and in the resurrection they will find their mistake. Many seal up the door of heaven by saying, So far God may reveal and I will believe.

Joseph Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, edited by Joseph Fielding Smith, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1967), p. 309.


A man of God should be endowed with wisdom, knowledge, and understanding, in order to teach and lead the people of God.

Joseph Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, edited by Joseph Fielding Smith, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1967), p. 311.


When God offers a blessing or knowledge to a man, and he refuses to receive it, he will be damned.

Joseph Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, edited by Joseph Fielding Smith, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1967), p. 322.


But there has been a great difficulty in getting anything into the heads of this generation. It has been like splitting hemlock knots with a corn-dodger for a wedge, and a pumpkin for a beetle. Even the Saints are slow to understand.  
I have tried for a number of years to get the minds of the Saints prepared to receive the things of God; but we frequently see some of them, after suffering all they have for the work of God, will fly to pieces like glass as soon as anything comes that is contrary to their traditions: they cannot stand the fire at all.

Joseph Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, edited by Joseph Fielding Smith, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1967), p. 331.


Here, then, is eternal life–to know the only wise and true God; and you have got to learn how to be Gods yourselves, and to be kings and priests to God, the same as all Gods have done before you, namely, by going from one small degree to another, and from a small capacity to a great one; from grace to grace, from exaltation to exaltation, until you attain to the resurrection of the dead, and are able to dwell in everlasting burnings, and to sit in glory....

Joseph Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, edited by Joseph Fielding Smith, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1967), pp. 346-347.


God himself, finding he was in the midst of spirits and glory, because he was more intelligent, saw proper to institute laws whereby the rest could have a privilege to advance like himself. The relationship we have with God places us in a situation to advance in knowledge. He has power to institute laws to instruct the weaker intelligences, that they may be exalted with himself, so that they might have one glory upon another, and all that knowledge, power, glory, and intelligence, which is requisite in order to save them in the world of spirits.

Joseph Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, edited by Joseph Fielding Smith, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1967), p. 354.


Knowledge saves a man; and in the world of spirits no man can be exalted but by knowledge. So long as a man will not give heed to the commandments, he must abide without salvation. If a man has knowledge, he can be saved; although, if he has been guilty of great sins, he will be punished for them. But when he consents to obey the Gospel, whether here or in the world of spirits, he is saved.

Joseph Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, edited by Joseph Fielding Smith, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1967), p. 357.


Search the Scriptures, for they testify of things that these apostates would gravely pronounce blasphemy. Paul, if Joseph Smith is a blasphemer, you are. ... Hath he beheld the eternal world, and is he authorized to say that there is only one God? He makes himself a fool if he thinks or says so, and there is an end of his career or progress in knowledge.  He cannot obtain all knowledge, for he has sealed up the gate to it.

Joseph Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, edited by Joseph Fielding Smith, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1967), p. 371.

Thank God for Joseph Smith.

Lets think together again, soon.


1. Howard W. Hunter, The Teachings of Howard W. Hunter, ed. Clyde J. Williams, (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1997), p. 181.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Books of an "Inflammatory Effect"

Books of an "Inflammatory Effect"

[Today’s “Living Philosophies” column comes from the writings of one of my favorite authors–Samuel Smiles.  Here he gives several examples of how people were inspired toward their own work in life by reading a biography or autobiography of someone–a book which had an "Inflammatory Effect" upon them. This is a good reason for those who are uncertain about what they want to do in life to read widely, especially in biography and autobiography.  For the rest of us such books are often a source of inspiration or new resolution.  Is there a book that has had an "Inflammatory Effect" in your life? If so, share your story with us.]

Sometimes a book containing a noble examplar [sic] of life, taken up at random, merely with the object of reading it as a pastime, has been known to call forth energies whose existence had not before been suspected. Loyola, when a soldier serving at the siege of Pampeluna, and laid up by a dangerous wound in his leg, asked for a book to divert his thoughts: the “Lives of the Saints” was brought to him, and its perusal so inflamed his mind, that he determined thenceforth to devote himself to the founding of a religious order. Luther, in like manner, was inspired to undertake the great labors of his life by a perusal of the “Life and Writings of John Huss.” Dr. Wolff was stimulated to enter upon his missionary career by reading the “Life of Francis Xavier:” and the book fired his youthful bosom with a passion the most sincere and ardent to devote himself to the enterprise of his life. William Carey also got the first idea of entering upon his sublime labors as a missionary from a perusal of the voyages of Captain Cook.
Of Condorcet’s “Eloge of Haller,” Horner said: “I never rise from the account of such men without a sort of thrilling palpitation about me, which I know not whether I should call admiration, ambition or despair.” And speaking of the “Discourses” of Sir Joshua Reynolds, he said: “Next to the writings of Bacon, there is no book which has more powerfully impelled me to self-culture. He is one of the first men of genius who has condescended to inform the world of the steps by which greatness is attained. The confidence with which he asserts the omnipotence of human labor has the effect of familiarizing his reader with the idea that genius is an acquisition rather than a gift; whilst with all there is blended so naturally and eloquently the most elevated and passionate admiration of excellence, that upon the whole there is no book of a more inflammatory effect.”  It is remarkable that Reynolds himself attributed his first passionate impulse towards the study of art, to reading Richardson’s account of a great painter; and Haydon was in like manner afterwards inflamed to follow the same pursuit by reading of the career of Reynolds. Thus the brave and inspiring life of one man lights a flame in the minds of others of like faculties and impulse; and where there is equally vigorous effort, like distinction and success will almost surely follow. Thus the chain of example is carried down through time in an endless succession of links–admiration exciting imitation, and perpetuating the true aristocracy of genius.

Samuel Smiles, Happy Homes and the Hearts that Make Them.  (Chicago: U. S. Publishing House, 1889), pp. 596-598, bold emphasis added.

Let’s think together again, soon.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Ten Great Quotations On Education, Part 1

Part 1

This issue of “Living Philosophies” contains ten inspiring and thought provoking quotations about education and learning. I am interested in your reactions to them, either individually or collectively. Please let me hear from you. If you have others worth sharing, please send them along too.


No one can say what or when it will be, or that it will have happened with any clarity by graduation day (it often doesn’t); yet the true college is based on the faith that there is an incendiary capacity in every teacher and an inflammability in ever student.

Andrew Delbanco, “Education is Not a Matter of Coercion or Persuasion, but Invitation,” commencement address at Marlboro College, 18 May 2014.  In Vital Speeches of the Day, 80, No. 8 (August 2014), p. 259.


This experience of a whole race beginning to go to school for the first time, presents one of the most interesting studies that has ever occurred in connection with the development of any race. Few people who were not right in the midst of the scenes can form any exact idea of the intense desire which the people of my race showed for an education. As I have stated, it was a whole race trying to go to school.  Few were too young, and none too old, to make the attempt to learn. As fast as any kind of teachers could be secured, not only were day-schools filled, but night-schools as well. The great ambition of the older people was to try to learn to read the Bible before they died. With this end in view, men and women who were fifty or seventy-five years old would often be found in the night-school. Sunday-schools were formed soon after freedom, but the principle book studied in the Sunday-school was the spelling-book. Day-school, night-school, Sunday-school, were always crowded, and often many had to be turned away for want of room.

Booker T. Washington, Up From Slavery, (New York: Bantam Pathfinder Editions, 1963), pp. 20-21.


When I was in school we were graded on memorization and on whether we had gotten the feel of a poem. At Vanderbilt in the freshman English course, I had to memorize at least 500 lines a term.  Today, young people aren't obliged to do that. When I taught at Yale I would often ask students in a seminar which of them could quote a poem all the way through. Only once did I ever get a person who could do so. Modern youngsters never have a chance to learn anything about poetry. It's the practicality of a world in which education no longer teaches you how to live, just how to learn to make a living. A whole side of the self is gone.

Robert Penn Warren, Reader's Digest, (January 1988), p. 177.


Almighty God, the Giver of wisdom, without whose help resolutions are vain, without whose blessings study is ineffectual, enable me, if it be Thy will, to attain such knowledge as may qualify me to direct the doubtful and instruct the ignorant: to prevent wrong and terminate contentions; and grant that I may use that knowledge which I shall attain to Thy glory and my own salvation; for Jesus Christ's sake. Amen.

Samuel Johnson, cited in, F. Burton Howard, "Keeper of the Flame," address of 22 October 1993, in Clark Memorandum, (Fall 1994), p. 26.


The entire object of true education is to make people not merely do the right thing, but enjoy the right things; not merely industrious, but to love industry; not merely learned, but to love knowledge; not merely pure, but to love purity; not merely just, but to hunger and thirst after justice.

John Ruskin, in B. C. Forbes, The Forbes Scrapbook of Thoughts on the Business of Life, (New York: Forbes, Inc., 1976), p. 143.


At the age of ten Livingstone was sent to work in a cotton-factory near Glasgow as a " piecer." With part of his first week's wages he bought a Latin grammar, and began to learn that language, pursuing the study for years at a night-school. He would sit up conning his lessons till twelve or later, when not sent to bed by his mother, for he had to be up and at work in the factory every morning by six. In this way he plodded through Virgil and Horace, also reading extensively all books, excepting novels, that came in his way, but more especially scientific works and books of travels. He occupied his spare hours, which were but few, in the pursuit of botany, scouring the neighborhood to collect plants. He even carried on his reading amidst the roar of the factory machinery, so placing the book upon the spinning-jenny which he worked that he could catch sentence after sentence as he passed it. In this way the persevering youth acquired much useful knowledge; and as he grew older, the desire possessed him of becoming a missionary to the heathen. With this object he set himself to obtain a medical education, in order the better to be qualified for the work. He accordingly economized his earnings, and saved as much money as enabled him to support himself while attending the Medical and Greek classes, as well as the Divinity Lectures, at Glasgow, for several winters, working as a cotton-spinner during the remainder of each year. He thus supported himself, during his college career, entirely by his own earnings as a factory workman, never having received a farthing of help from any source- "Looking back now," he honestly says, "at that life of toil, I can not but feel thankful that it formed such a material part of my early education; and, were it possible, I should like to begin life over again in the same lowly style, and to pass through the same hardy training."

Samuel Smiles, Happy Homes and the Hearts that Make Them, (Chicago: U. S. Publishing House, 1898), pp. 286-287.


Education does not develop your character, until it merges with integrity and wisdom.... The future of our nation will be affected by our education, our wealth, and our technology, but our survival as a free society will be determined by our wisdom, our integrity, and our character.

Sam Nun, in Jan Price, Graduation Moments: Wisdom and Inspiration from the Best Commencement Speakers Ever,  (Tulsa, OK: Honor Books, 2004), p. 49.


Will you sit down with me?  Perhaps you are a college graduate, and are ready, then to begin your education [by reading the 100 best books for an education]. Perhaps you have never had a chance to go to college, and have never considered what else our children learn there except the latest morals. They might learn many fine things if they came to it old enough, but our youngsters take so long to grow up in these complex days that they are too immature, when they enter college, to absorb or understand the treasures offered them there so lavishly. If you have studied with life rather than with courses, it may be as well; the rough tutelage of reality has ripened you into some readiness to know great men. Here at this spacious table you will prepare yourself for membership in the International of the Mind; you will be friends with Plato and Leonardo, with Bacon and Montaigne; and when you have passed through that goodly company you will be fit for the fellowship of the fines leaders of your time and place.

Will Durant, The Greatest Minds and Ideas of All Time, (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2002), p. 65.


Leaders must seize this opportunity to guarantee a free, quality primary and secondary education for every child.
Some will say this is impractical, or too expensive, or too hard. Or even impossible. But it is time the world thinks bigger.

Malala Yousafzai,  “We Ask the World to Unite and Make Education a Top Priority,” address in Oslo, Norway as 17-year-old co-winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, 10 December 2014, in Vital Speeches of the Day, 81, no. 2 (February 2015): 38.


"It is an axiom in political science that unless a people are educated and enlightened, it is idle to expect the continuance of civil liberty or the capacity of self-government," stated the Texas Declaration of Independence. That axiom still holds, and the well-springs of education and enlightenment are still in pages of print. 

“The Reason for Reading,” Royal Bank Letter, 67, no. 3 (May/June 1986), p. 3.

Let's think together again, soon.