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Embracing All Truth

Embracing All Truth

The injunction to embrace truth wherever we find it is pointless unless the statement means that God intends us to learn certain truths from sources outside our own faith tradition. Joseph Smith showed an openness to receiving insight from other traditions in his willingness to look beyond conventional Christianity to Egyptian papyri or hermetic traditions like Freemasonry. The Book of Mormon teaches that God has revealed different sacred texts to different peoples and that, as peoples mingle, their traditions will "run together" (2 Ne. 29:7-12).

LDS leaders have acknowledged Gautama Buddha, Confucius, Muhammad, and the Protestant Reformers, among many others, as inspired teachers. Often we are reminded that such figures conveyed God's truth only in part. The same is true, though, of LDS prophets: the Restoration, too, is an incomplete revelation adapted to our limited understanding (D&C 1:24; A of F 9).

In addition to being open to truths from other religious traditions, we are instructed to seek the knowledge that comes into the world through the gifts of scholars, scientists, and artists (D&C 88:118; 90:15). Knowledge revealed through these sources may lead us to recognize untruths that our predecessors mistook for divine doctrine. Language, the scriptures warn, is incapable of expressing transcendent truth (3 Ne. 28:13-14; D&C 76:114-116). It follows that while we are assured all truth can be circumscribed into one great whole, our understanding will—for this lifetime—remain fragmentary and provisional. We see through a glass darkly (1 Cor. 13:12).

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Only One True Church?    

John Taylor: A man in search of truth has no peculiar system to sustain, nor peculiar dogma to defend or theory to uphold; he embraces all truth, and that truth, like the sun in the firmament, shines forth and spreads its effulgent rays over all creation, and if men will divest themselves of bias and prejudice, and prayerfully and conscientiously search after truth, they will find it wherever they turn their attention.

Journal of Discourses 16:370

B. H. Roberts: God . . . raises up prophets here and there among all the children of men, of their own tongue and nationality, speaking to them through means that they can comprehend.
. . . "Mormonism" holds, then, that all the great teachers are servants of God; among all nations and in all ages. They are inspired [individuals], appointed to instruct God's children according to the conditions in the midst of which he finds them.

Defense of the Faith and the Saints (Salt Lake City: Deseret News, 1907), 1:512

Lowell L. Bennion: Religion is not the only approach to truth or to an understanding of life. Life is exceedingly complex, intricate, and far beyond man's ability to comprehend. We need to look at it from all sides: through the eyes of the scientist, the artist, the poet, the philosopher, simple folk of common sense, and the prophet. No one of these can give us a full view of life.

An Introduction to the Gospel (Salt Lake City: Deseret Sunday School Union Board, 1955), 261

Hugh B. Brown: The honest investigator must be prepared to follow wherever the search of truth may lead. Truth is often found in the most unexpected places. He must, with fearless and open mind "insist that facts are far more important than any cherished, mistaken beliefs."

Conference Report, October 1962, 42

Hugh B. Brown: We are at home with the most advanced truths discovered by scientists and with all competent philosophic thought—with truth wherever found—because our religion enjoins in us a love of knowledge and education, encourages us to seek understanding through the broadening of our vision and the deepening of our insight.

Conference Report, April 1964, 81

Howard W. Hunter: When we encounter apparent conflict in our studies and scholarly work, it is because we see only a part of this great whole. Our understanding of the truth we seek may be partial or limited. We may hold an opinion or an idea about the world or human nature that is not entirely true. When we encounter situations of seeming conflict, we should not feel angry or discouraged, but rather we should confront the matter with great optimism and hope. For we know that this apparent conflict is only a prelude to a new understanding . . .

The Teachings of Howard W. Hunter (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1997), 183

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