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The word "intellectual" has negative connotations for many Latter-day Saints. Yet developing our intellectual capacities is an essential aspect of eternal progression (D&C 130:18-19). Growing in intelligence, we come more fully to share God's glory (D&C 93:36). God promises to enlighten our minds through the Spirit, to reason with us the way people reason with one another, and to speak to our understanding (D&C 6:15; 50:11-12; 2 Ne. 31:3). It follows from these promises that gospel truths should make good sense intellectually.

At the same time, we know that God's ways are not our ways and that human understanding is limited. There is something to be said, therefore, for accepting on faith or intuition truths that surpass our reason. The Spirit speaks to the heart, not only to the mind (D&C 8:2). On the other hand, the practically universal tendency toward unrighteous dominion should make us wary about being asked to limit intellectual inquiry in the name of obedience or faith. It is our privilege and obligation to study things out in our own minds—to seek learning by study as well as by faith (D&C 9:7-8; 88:118). The scriptures exhort us to worship and serve God with all our mind (2 Ne. 25:29; D&C 4:2). Rising to that challenge requires a mind that is, as Joseph Smith once said, untrammelled.

Joseph Smith: I did not like the old man being called up for erring in doctrine. . . . I want the liberty of thinking and believing as I please. It feels so good not to be trammelled.
History of the Church 5:340

John A. Widtsoe: Man must learn to know the universe precisely as it is, or he cannot successfully find his place in it. A man should therefore use his reasoning faculty in all matters involving truth, and especially as concerning his religion. He must learn to distinguish between truth and error.

A Rational Theology (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1937), 7-8

David O. McKay: Let us seek to live intellectually.

Gospel Ideals (Salt Lake City: Improvement Era, 1953), 147

Hugh B. Brown: We should be in the forefront of learning in all fields, for revelation does not come only through the prophet of God nor only directly from heaven in visions or dreams. Revelation may come in the laboratory, out of the test tube, out of the thinking mind and the inquiring soul, out of search and research and prayer and inspiration.

One of the most important things in the world is freedom of the mind; from this all other freedoms spring. Such freedom is necessarily dangerous, for one cannot think right without running the risk of thinking wrong, but generally more thinking is the antidote for the evils that spring from wrong thinking. More thinking is required, and we should all exercise our God-given right to think and be unafraid to express our opinions, with proper respect for those to whom we talk and proper acknowledgment of our own shortcomings.

We must preserve freedom of the mind in the church and resist all efforts to suppress it. The church is not so much concerned with whether the thoughts of its members are orthodox or heterodox as it is that they shall have thoughts.

"Final Testimony," An Abundant Life: The Memoirs of Hugh B. Brown
(Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1999)

Lowell L. Bennion: We must not forget the lesson learned from ancient Israel: that God is not capricious but instead is a rational, law-abiding being whose ways we can come to know and trust. From the prophets, we have learned to love the Lord with our minds as well as with our hearts.

The Unknown Testament (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1988), 64

This website is an independent effort to discern the Spirit's voice in LDS teaching. The site is not sponsored by the LDS Church. Quotations from the teachings of any individual should not be taken to imply that the individual does or would endorse this website or other statements made here.