Seek Truth and Develop Unwavering Faith

PROVO, Utah — Asking questions and finding answers can lead to stronger testimonies of the gospel of Jesus Christ, two religion teachers explained in their classrooms at BYU Education Week.

President Russell M. Nelson, in the May 15 Worldwide Religious Meeting, said, “I plead with you to take charge of your testimony of Jesus Christ. Work for it. Own. Take care of it. Cultivate it to grow.

Classes this week discussed how to build faith by seeking truth in the teachings of the prophets and scriptures and then trusting the evidence.

seek the truth

Anthony R. Sweat, professor of Church History and Doctrine at BYU, taught a multi-day course on seeking truth. He said people should strive to become self-directed learners, as President Nelson explained with his plea “to take charge of your testimony.”

Sweat began by saying, “Jesus said, ‘I am the way, the truthAnd life’ (John 14:6 italics added). He didn’t say it was the truth, or this scientific discovery or this fact or this knowledge – he said “I am the way”.

Doctrine and Covenants 93:26 says, “The spirit of truth is of God. I am the spirit of truth.

“In other words, truth is not an idea; the truth is a person,” Sweat said. “If anyone can learn a fact, then we don’t need God. But if we understand that truth is a person, and that we can know God and have a relationship with him, then we understand that truth is found by the way we live.

Sweat stated that knowledge is acquired through diligence, while intelligence is acquired through obedience.

“We gain knowledge, which is important. Knowledge is found by being diligent, by studying, by seeking and by listening. But the truth is in the way we live. It is the continuation of a relationship. You find it especially in a covenant relationship,” Sweat said.

Seeking Truth Through Latter-day Teachings

Sweat said searching and searching seem easy in the internet age. Sometimes when people say they’ve researched, “they say they googled it”.

But in researching Latter-day Saint teachings, the best sources are the scriptures and the words of the prophets, Sweat said.

Anthony R. Sweat, professor of Church History and Doctrine at BYU, shows the audience at the Marriott Center what a Google search looks like when trying to find answers to gospel questions during the Week of BYU Education in Provo, Utah on August 17, 2022.

So how can people search the scriptures and the words of the prophets thoroughly? Sweat has provided the following resources:

  • The Gospel Library (churchofjesuschrist.org/study ), which contains primary sources and links to every book of scripture, general conference talks, Come, Follow Me, Church magazines, lesson manuals, manuals, videos, and more.
  • BYU General Conference Corpus (lds-general-conference.org), which shows the extent to which certain terms, words, or topics are used by Church leaders in general conference addresses.
  • Bible Citation Index (scriptures.byu.edu) This allows one to also search the set of standard general conference-related works. It relates the scriptures to the time they were referenced or explained in general conference.
  • Joseph Smith Records (josephsmithpapers.org). This includes all of Joseph Smith’s writings and documents.
  • Center for Religious Studies (rsc.byu.edu). “The Center for Religious Studies is a great place to get peer-reviewed research,” Sweat said. It was formed under then-BYU religion dean Jeffrey R. Holland. “I cannot stress enough the value of peer-reviewed research. »
  • Gospel Topics on the gospel library app or online, and the Gospel Themes. Go directly to these instead of using Google, Sweat said.

Other locations Sweat listed for scholarship included BYU studies, Historical Studies of Latter Day Saints, Church History Library Catalog, SaintsChurch News Podcast, Podcast Y ReligionJOseph Smith Papers Podcasts and others.

Seeking Truth by Studying the Scriptures

“All Scripture is inspired by God,” says 2 Timothy 3:16. But scriptures can be constrained by human language, Sweat said, with limited expressions searching for the right words to communicate the divine.

As stated in Doctrine and Covenants 1:24“These commandments…were given to my servants in their weakness, in the manner of their language, that they might come to understand.”

Said Sweat, “The scriptures are a launching pad to revelation so you and I can figure it out ourselves.”

How can this be done? Sweat said:

  1. Read carefully. Slow down, analyze the words, ask questions. Why, where, how?
  2. Listen respectfully. Try to be in tune with the same spirit that revealed the concept.
  3. Rephrase personally. Rephrase it in your own words.
  4. Justify outside. Check cross references, check with other translations, check historical context, and research how modern prophets have used these verses.
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Members of the public listen to Anthony R. Sweat, professor of Church History and Doctrine at BYU, teach a class during Education Week at BYU at the Marriott Center on August 17, 2022.

Developing Unwavering Faith Through Evidence

Scott C. Woodward, a religious education teacher at BYU-Idaho, taught a four-day course for young people about steadfast faith.

He started by quoting Jacob 7:5“I couldn’t be shaken.” Then he brought the definition of Hebrews 11:1“Faith…is the evidence of things not seen.”

He pointed out that the word faith does not appear much in the Old Testament. But the word trust is often used instead.

“Trust is earned over time, so it’s with faith,” Woodward said. “Trust is based on evidence. If you’re trustworthy, it’s because over time you’ve given me reason to believe.

Woodward told the young people that a strong testimony has three different sides – one side is personal feelings, one side is logic and reason, and one side is personal experiences. The Holy Spirit works with all three.

He quoted Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles during a talk at BYU in August 2017 titled “The size of the evidence » when he said, “In making our case for the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, I believe God wants us to find and use the evidence He has given—reasons, if you will—that affirm the truth of his work.

Show evidence

Alma answering Korihor in the Book of Mormon is a good example of evidence, Woodward said.

Korihor asked for a sign. Alma replied, “I have everything as proof,” Woodward said, paraphrasing Alma 30.

Alma’s testimony:

  1. Testimonies of Church Members
  2. The Testimonies of the Holy Prophets
  3. The writings
  4. Everything indicates that there is a God

a) The earth and everything that covers it
b) The movement or orbit of the earth
c) The orbits of the planets that move in a regular and organized way

And Alma concluded that “all these and more testify that there is a Supreme Creator” (Alma 30:44), Woodward said, paraphrasing the scriptures.

Painting of Alma and Korihor by Walter Rane

“All Things Point to There being a God (Alma and Korihor)”, by Walter Rane

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Woodward gave the example of someone warning others of a large forest fire on the other side of a mountain. The others could see the smoke, but not the fire. But they could trust the evidence that there was a fire, even if they couldn’t see it.

“Where there’s smoke, there’s fire,” Woodward said. “Where there is creation, there is creator. Where there are witnesses, there is something that has been witnessed.

He asked the class to reflect on the evidence they have and the personal experiences they have had that strengthen their faith.

“Ask what evidence you have that God answers prayers, that He knows you, that it is worth repenting of your sins, that the commandments are worth keeping, that prophets are worth being followed and that you can trust God?” he said.

Proof is a crucial element of faith. “Our faith is not blind,” Woodward taught.

He quoted Brother Boyd K. Packer, then of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, from the April 1983 general conference titled “Agency and control.” “We are not obedient because we are blind, we are obedient because we can see.”

Both Sweat and Woodward concluded their classes with their testimonies of the restored gospel and their participation in such a great work.

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