Search This Blog

Monday, May 9, 2011

Mormon Theology no. 36 - Education

Doctrine and Covenants 88:78-80 reads:

Teach ye diligently and my grace shall attend you, that you may be instructed more perfectly in theory, in principle, in doctrine, in the law of the gospel, in all things that pertain unto the kingdom of God, that are expedient for you to understand; 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 the perplexities of the nations, and the judgments which are on the land; and a knowledge also of countries and of kingdoms—That ye may be prepared in all things when I shall send you again to magnify the calling whereunto I have called you, and the mission with which I have commissioned you.

I will illustrate the rise of the educational spirit in the LDS Church, giving histories of the many institutions growing therefrom.

Education has had a vital role within The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints since the beginning.  In Kirtland, Ohio, the Prophet Joseph Smith was commanded by the Lord to establish what became known as The School of the Prophets (a forerunner to the Missionary Training Center).  This he did, and Parley P. Pratt was one of the first instructors.

Later down the road, when the Church fled Missouri to Illinois, a city was established called Nauvoo.  President Joseph Smith loved to learn (he was learning both Hebrew and German up until his murder).  So, in 1841, the University of the City of Nauvoo was founded.

This school was ambitious, with plans to offer classes in at least five languages (German, French, Greek, Latin, and Hebrew), mathematics, literature, history, geology, and chemistry.  One of the most popular instructors there was Elder Orson Pratt (People of Paradox: A History of Mormon Culture, p. 82-84).  After President Joseph Smith's murder, however, the school was dissolved, and the Mormons moved to the Great Basin, taking with them their love of learning.

Within three years of the settlement of what is now Utah, The Church of Jesus Christ established the University of Deseret, which later became the University of Utah.  Between 1850 and the turn of the Century, the LDS Church would establish many Stake Academies, which were secondary schools run by the Church because of lack of state-funded educational endeavors in the area.  With the firm entrenchment of regular school districts, high schools, and colleges that we know today, the LDS Church eventually sold off most of their schools, some of which would become state Universities and Colleges.  These include Bannock Stake Academy (BYU-Idaho), St. Joseph Stake Academy (Eastern Arizona College), St. George Stake Academy (Dixie State College), Weber Stake Academy (Weber State University), Brigham Young College (Utah State University), University of Deseret (University of Utah), and Sanpete Stake Academy (Snow College).  The LDS Church still owns three major Universities (BYU, BYU-I, and BYU-H), and one College (LDS Business College).  It also has High Schools throughout the Pacific and Mexico.

The Church of Jesus Christ is so invested in the education of her people, that there is a separate Board of Education and Board of Trustees (which boards oversee all educational endeavors, including BYU).  This Board consists of the First Presidency, three rotating members of the Twelve Apostles, Elder Steven E. Snow of the Seventy, and Sisters Julie B. Beck and Elaine S. Dalton.

The LDS Church stresses education so much because we believe the only thing we take with us into the Spirit World is our character  and knowledge.  It is written, "Whatever principle of intelligence we attain unto in this life, it will rise with us in the resurrection.  And if a person gains more knowledge and intelligence in this life through his diligence and obedience than another, he will have so much the advantage in the world to come" (D&C 130:18-19).

These words of modern revelation agree meticulously with the words of the Bible, which read, "Get wisdom, get understanding: forget it not; neither decline from the words of my mouth. . . . Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding" (Proverbs 4:5,7).

Now, one can be educated without being wise.  I have met many an educated person, who unwisely disregard the words of modern-day revelation.  Jacob says, "Oh be wise; what can I say more" (Jacob 6:12).  That is they key - to be both wise and knowledgeable.  The best wisdom dictates that "to be learned is good if they hearken unto the counsels of God" (2 Nephi 9:29).  Knowledge, as they say, is indeed power, because the man more qualified with a degree will get a job, where one who does not have one, will not obtain.  So it is in spiritual matters; one who is knowledgeable in the scriptures will know how to be led by the Spirit of God, who will, if he is faithful and open to promptings, be led to the Kingdom of God, which is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

I know that both secular and spiritual knowledge is important, and that we must study and pray hard for the knowledge we seek to come.  I know that the Lord wants us to have knowledge (both spiritual and secular), so that we might use it, ultimately, to bring forth His purposes.  In the name of Jesus Christ, amen!

No comments: