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
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
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),
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."
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.
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