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