Saturday, February 15, 2014
There is something different about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), something that isn't found in other religions. This church strongly emphasizes the importance secular education - learning fine arts, math, science, language skills, etc. Why is it that a religion would speak so strongly on a worldly topic? We can find the answer in the scriptures.
The Holy Bible
The best way to learn anything wholesome is to look to the example of the Savior during his earthly life. Luke tells us that "Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man." The first of the four things Luke focused on was an increase in wisdom. In the Jewish culture, he naturally would have learned much about the Old Testament and the prophecies of the many prophets, but he also learned other useful subjects. For example, Joseph, husband of his mother Mary, was a carpenter, and so we can be sure he learned the skills of a carpenter.
Peter, in his second epistle, tells us to "add to [our] faith virtue and to virtue knowledge" (2 Peter 1:5). He is teaching us that it is important to learn the things of the spirit, to increase our faith in God, but it is just as important to add knowledge of other things to that faith.
In addition to the Holy Bible, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has three additional books of inspired scripture. One of which is the Book of Mormon.
It is a common theme in the Book of Mormon for a father to teach his son many things, religious and non-religious. The very first verse of the book reads: "I was taught somewhat in all the learning of my father" (1 Nephi 1:1), and later this same man, Nephi, tells us what he learned from his father. He learned not only prayer and scripture and fasting, but he also learned how to read and write Hebrew and Egyptian. He was taught how to plant and harvest crops. He was even later taught how to build a boat.
Enos, another prophet, tells us that his father taught "his language, and also the nurter and admonition of the Lord" - one being secular and the other religious.
Doctrine and Covenants
The Lord instructs us in the book of Doctrine and Covenants to "be instructed ... of things both in heaven and in the earth, and under the earth; things which have been, things which are, things which must shortly come to pass; things which are at home, things which are abroad; the wars and perplexities of the nations, and the judgments which are on the land; and a knowledge also of countries and of kingdoms." He additionally tells us the reason for this learning: "That ye may be prepared in all things." (D&C 88:77-79)
Joseph Smith also taught the reason for this pushing learning of secular things as part of religion: "Whatever principle of intelligence we attain unto in this life, it will rise with us in the resurrection" (D&C 130:18).
Pearl of Great Price
In this book of scripture we have the words of Moses and Abraham. Abraham tells us that he greatly desired to be "one who possessed great knowledge ... and to possess a greater knowledge" (Abr. 1:2). Moses records that the children of Adam and Eve were "taught to read and write" (Moses 6:6), and later explains that the Lord "gave unto them their knowledge, in the day [He] created them" (Moses 7:32).
Finally we come to the knowledge that God is all-knowing in the additional words of Abraham: "And the Lord said unto me: These two facts do exist, that there are two spirits, one being more intelligent than the other; there shall be another more intelligent than they; I am the Lord thy God, I am more intelligent than they all" (Abr. 3:19). That is to say, even in the life after death we will continue seeking knowledge. One man will have more knowledge than another, having spent more time learning than the last, until we reach God, who has all knowledge and all wisdom.
A Living Apostle's Words
Elder Russell M. Nelson, apostle in the LDS Church, tells us, "In the Church, obtaining an education and getting knowledge are a religious responsibility. We educate our minds so that one day we can render service of worth to somebody else." (Russell M. Nelson, "Focus on Values.")
In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, knowledge of all subjects are important. Many of the things we learn will be useful in this life for ourselves, and many others will be of use to those around us, but all wholesome things we learn will be a blessing to us.
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*Photos by Melvin Lans