04) SCRIPTURE: Is it possible to have good education without the scriptures and other revelations from the Lord, as the basis of the curriculum?

Prophetic Statements

Joseph Smith

For a moment reflect: what could have been the purpose of our Father in giving to us a law? Was it that it might be obeyed, or disobeyed? And think further, too, not only of the propriety, but of the importance of attending to His laws in every particular. 1

Could you gaze into heaven five minutes you would know more than you would by reading all that ever was written on the subject.  2

Brigham Young

The Old and New Testaments, the Book of Mormon and the Book of Doctrine and Covenants, shall be the standard text books, and shall be read and their doctrines inculcated in the [Brigham Young] Academy, and further no book shall be used therein that misrepresents, or speaks lightly of, the Divine mission of our Savior, or of the prophet Joseph Smith, or in any manner advances ideas antagonistic to the principles of the Gospel. 3

John Taylor

We heard some remarks made this morning upon education—about words and language, and so forth. In relation to the education of the world generally, a great amount of it is of very little value, consisting more of words than ideas; and whilst men are verbose in their speaking or writing, you have to hunt for ideas or truth like hunting for a grain of wheat among piles of chaff or rubbish. It is true that a great amount of it is really valuable, and it is for us to select the good from the bad. 4

Joseph Fielding Smith

I will give you a key for your guidance. Any doctrine, whether is comes in the name of religion, science, philosophy, or whatever it may be, that is in conflict with the revelations of the Lord that have been accept by the Church as coming from the Lord, will fail. [3]

Harold B. Lee

We [must] measure every teaching to be found int he world of book learning by the teachings of revealed truth, as contained in the gospel of Jesus Christ. If we find in a school text claims that contradict the word of the Lord as pertaining to the creation of the world, the origin of man, or the determination of what is right or wrong in the conduct of human souls, we may be certain that such teachings are but the theories of men. [4]

Ezra Taft Benson

Now, we have not been using the Book of Mormon as we should. Our homes are not as strong unless we are using it to bring our children to Christ. Our families may be corrupt by worldly trends and teachings unless we know how to use the book to expose and combat the falsehoods in socialism, organic evolution, rationalism, humanism, and so forth. [5] The most vital knowledge you can learn is the saving truths of the gospel-the truths that will make the difference in your eternal welfare. The most vital words that you can read are those of the Presidents of the Church-particularly the living prophet-and those of the Apostles and prophets. God encourages learning in many areas, and vocational skills will have increasing importance. There is much reading material that is available which is either time-wasting or corrupting. The best yardstick to use in discerning the worth of true knowledge and learning is to go first and foremost to the words of the Lord’s prophets. [6] We should become informed about communism, about socialism, and about Americanism. What better way can one become informed than by first studying the inspired words of the prophets and using that as a foundation against which to test all other material? This is in keeping with the Prophet Joseph Smith’s motto, “When the Lord commands, do it” [7]. [8] While the gospel includes the more crucial saving truths contained within theology, it also embraces truth in other branches of learning. The Lord encouraged the early missionaries to be instructed more perfectly in “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 the perplexities of the nations, and the judgments which are on the land; and a knowledge also of countries and of kingdoms” [9]. [10] Every Latter-day Saint should make the study of the Book of Mormon a lifetime pursuit. Otherwise he is placing his soul in jeopardy and neglecting that which could give spiritual and intellectual unity to his whole life. [11] Students, study the writings of the prophets. Fortunately, a consistent position has been taken over the years by the prophets of the Church on vital issues facing this nation. Pray for inspiration and knowledge. Counsel with your parents. Let Sunday be the day to fill up your spiritual batteries for the week by reading good Church books, particularly the Book of Mormon. Take time to meditate. Don’t let the philosophies and falsehoods of men throw you. Hold on to the iron rod. Learn to sift. Learn to discern error through the promptings of the Spirit and your study of the truth. [12] With the abundance of books available, it is the mark of a truly educated man to know what not to read. “Of making many books there is no end” [13]. In your reading you would do well to follow the counsel of John Wesley’s mother: Avoid “whatever weakens your reason, impairs the tenderness of your conscience, obscures your sense of God, takes off your relish for spiritual things, [and] increases the authority of the body over the mind.” The fact that a book or publication is popular does not necessarily make it of value. The fact that an author wrote one good work does not necessarily mean that all his books are worthy of your reading. Do not make your mind a dumping ground for other people’s garbage. It is harder to purge the mind of rotten reading than to purge the body of rotten food, and it is more damaging to the soul. [14] To protect this base we must protect the soul of America — we must return to a love and respect for the basic spiritual concepts upon which this nation has been established. We must study the Constitution and the writings of the founding fathers. Yes, we must protect the Lord’s base of operations by moving away from unsound economic policies which encourage creeping socialism and its companion, insidious, atheistic communism. If we are to protect this important base we must as a nation live within our means, balance our budgets, and pay our debts. We must establish sound monetary policies and take needed steps to compete in world markets. If we are to protect this American base, we must realize that all things, including information disseminated by our schools, churches, and government, should be judged according to the words of the prophets, especially the living prophet. This procedure coupled with the understanding which will come through the Spirit of the Lord, if we are living in compliance with the scriptures, is the only sure foundation and basis of judgment. Any other course of action leaves us muddled, despondent, wandering in shades of gray, easy targets for Satan. We must not fail in these pressing and important matters. We must not fall short of the great mission the Lord has proffered and outlined for America and for his divinely restored Church. [15] President Joseph F. Smith said that one of the things that plagued the Church within was false educational ideas-and I am sure you will be introduced to some of these ideas somewhere along your path. Using the scriptures and the prophets and the Spirit as a guide, we can eliminate many of the deceptions and false philosophies and cure-alls of men, and discern between the wheat and the chaff. [16] Today the world is full of alluring and attractive ideas that can lead even the best of our members into error and deception. Students at universities are sometimes so filled with the doctrines of the world they begin to question the doctrines of the gospel. How do you as a priesthood leader help fortify your membership against such deceptive teachings? The Savior gave the answer in His great discourse on the Mount of Olives when He promised, “And whoso treasureth up my word, shall not be deceived” [17]. [18]

Thomas S. Monson

May our homes be a library of learning. An essential part of our learning library will be good books. Reading is one of the true pleasures of life. In our age of mass culture, when so much that we encounter is abridged, adapted, adulterated, shredded, and boiled down, it is mind-easing and mind-inspiring to sit down privately with a congenial book. James A. Michener, prominent author, suggests: “A nation becomes what its young people read in their youth. Its ideals are fashioned then, its goals strongly determined.” The Lord counseled, “Seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom; seek learning, even by study and also by faith” [19]. Of course, the standard works offer the ultimate library of learning of which I speak. Let us read from them often, both privately and with our families, that we may be enlightened and edified and draw closer to the Lord. [20]

Opposing Statements


D&C 88:118 “Seek ye diligently and teach one another words of wisdom; yea, seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom.

Supporting Statements

Erastus Snow

The greatest of all the gifts of God is the gift of eternal life; and eternal life is only attainable by a true knowledge of God, through obedience to his laws and commandments. Therefore, study the Scriptures; acquaint yourselves with the Book of Mormon. Read them in your Sunday Schools; read them at your firesides; let them always be found upon your tables, and never permit your families to be without them; and if you are poor sell your coat and buy them; for you are far better without a coat than without the word of God to teach your children. Let our Bishops, and Elders and Teachers attend to it; and enquire whether you are surrounded by those milk-and-water Saints who love fine dress more than the love of God, and who love to furnish their children with musical instruments and toys, and who neglect to furnish them the words of life; if you are, labor with them and teach them in all sincerity the duties of a Latter-day Saint, a Saint of the living God; and God will bless you in your labors, and you will have more joy in doing this than anything else you could do. 5

George Q. Cannon

No system of education can be perfect which does not teach the principle of righteousness and faith in God.

D. Todd Christofferson

God uses scripture to unmask erroneous thinking, false traditions, and sin with its devastating effects. He is a tender parent who would spare us needless suffering and grief and at the same time help us realize our divine potential. The scriptures, for example, discredit an ancient philosophy that has come back into vogue in our day—the philosophy of Korihor that there are no absolute moral standards, that “every man prosper[s] according to his genius, and that every man conquer[s] according to his strength; and whatsoever a man [does is] no crime” and “that when a man [is] dead, that [is] the end thereof” [21] [22]

Dallin H. Oaks

Unfortunately, other educators deny the existence of God or deem God irrelevant to the human condition. Persons who accept this view deny the existence of moral absolutes. They maintain that right and wrong are relative concepts, and morality is merely a matter of personal choice or expediency. [23]

Noah Webster

It is an object of vast magnitude that systems of education should be adopted and pursued which may not only diffuse a knowledge of the sciences but may implant in the minds of the American youth the principles of virtue and of liberty and inspire them with just and liberal ideas of government and with an inviolable attachment to their own country. [24]

Neil J. Flinders

The scriptures contain our Heavenly Father’s instructions to his earthly children–including information about education. Isn’t it common sense to seek out and honor counsel from our heavenly parents? . . . Educators who ignore this principle do so at the peril of both themselves and their pupils. The scriptures are a reservoir of principles from which parents and teachers can draw correct educational counsel. . . . An educator who would master any library should master the Standard Works. [25]

Harvard, 1636

Let every student be plainly instructed and earnestly pressed to consider well the main end of his life and studies is to know God and Jesus Christ which is eternal life (John 17:3) and therefore to lay Christ in the bottom as the only foundation of all sound knowledge and learning. And seeing the Lord only giveth wisdom, let every one seriously set himself by prayer in secret to seek it of Him (Proverbs 2, 3). Every one shall so exercise himself in reading the Scriptures twice a day that he shall be ready to give such an account of his proficiency therein. 6

Yale, 1787

All the scholars are required to live a religious and blameless life according to the rules of God’s Word, diligently reading the Holy Scriptures, that fountain of Divine light and truth, and constantly attending all the duties of religion. 7

  1. Joseph Smith
  2. Brigham Young, Cited by J. Reuben Clark Jr. in Messages of the First Presidency, vol. 6, pp. 228-239. (Salt Lake City, UT: Bookcraft, 1975), p. 237
  3. Joseph Fielding Smith
  4. Harold B. Lee, Standy Ye In Holy Places, p. 73
  5. Ezra Taft Benson
  6. Ezra Taft Benson, Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, p. 302-303; “In His Steps,” in 1979 Devotional Speeches of the Year [Provo, Utah: BYU, 1980], p. 62
  7. History of the Church, 2:170
  8. Ezra Taft Benson, Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, p. 305; God, Family, Country, p. 354
  9. D&C 88:79
  10. Ezra Taft Benson, Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, p. 305; “In His Steps,” Church Educational System Devotional, Anaheim, California, 8 February 1987
  11. Ezra Taft Benson, Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, p. 304; “The Book of Mormon Is the Word of God,” Regional Representatives Seminar, Provo, Utah, 4 April 1986
  12. Ezra Taft Benson, Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, p. 304; God, Family, Country, p. 239
  13. Ecclesiastes 12:12
  14. Ezra Taft Benson, Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, p. 304-305; “In His Steps,” Church Educational System Devotional, Anaheim, California, 8 February 1987
  15. Ezra Taft Benson, Conference Report, April 1962, p.105-106
  16. Ezra Taft Benson, Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, p. 303; Title of Liberty, p. 81
  17. Joseph Smith-Matthew 1:37
  18. Ezra Taft Benson, Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, p. 302; “The Power of the Word,” Priesthood Leadership Meeting, Salt Lake City, Utah, 4 April 1986
  19. Template:SCRIPTURESD&C 88:118
  20. Thomas S. Monson, A Sanctuary From The World, February 9, 2008, Worldwide Leadership Training Meeting: Building Up a Righteous Posterity
  21. Alma 30:17–18
  22. Elder D. Todd Christofferson, April 2010 LDS General Conference
  23. Dallin H. Oaks, Ensign, October 1992, pg. 60
  24. Noah Webster, On Education of Youth in America, 1790
  25. Neil J. Flinders, Teach the Children, p. 2
  1. Excerpts from an Epistle of the Elders of the Church in Kirtland to Their Brethren Abroad“, Section Two 1834-37, p. 56
  2. Joseph Smith, funeral services of James Adam, October 9, 1843
  3. Brigham Young, Cited by J. Reuben Clark Jr. in Messages of the First Presidency, vol. 6, pp. 228-239. (Salt Lake City, UT: Bookcraft, 1975), p. 237
  4. Prophet John Taylor, Journal of Discourses, v. 5, p. 266, September 20, 1857
  5. Erastus Snow, JOD 23:294-302
  6. Harvard 1636, Student Guidelines
  7. Yale 1787, Student Guidelines
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