—Joseph Smith, HC, 3:295–96
A friend asked me a question about intellectual honesty in gospel study. I thought it was a good question and an important one. Here's how I replied:
In my opinion, the following are vital ingredients to being intellectually honest with the gospel:
1. No pre-conceived agenda when searching for truth. The search for truth is not the search for evidence to support the viewpoint already held. You must not have a hard heart.
And therefore, he that will harden his heart, the same receiveth the lesser portion of the word; and he that will not harden his heart, to him is given the greater portion of the word, until it is given unto him to know the mysteries of God until he know them in full.
And they that will harden their hearts, to them is given the lesser portion of the word until they know nothing concerning his mysteries; and then they are taken captive by the devil, and led by his will down to destruction. Now this is what is meant by the chains of hell. (Alma 12:10-11)2. A fair reading of scripture, taking it to mean what it says it does. If my view and the scriptural view collide, my view must change.
Search these commandments, for they are true and faithful, and the prophecies and promises which are in them shall all be fulfilled. (D&C 1:37)3. Recognition that history is usually written to support the view of the author, and that some historical sources are very much compromised. Primary, contemporary sources are usually more reliable, regardless of what later authors claim. (Faulty historical sources and phony quotes in church manuals are what motivated me to start blogging.)
4. Recognition that my understanding is infantile. If I don’t understand or agree with something, it doesn’t mean I’m right, or that God doesn’t understand it. This really is kindergarten. Humility is mandatory.
Believe in God; believe that he is, and that he created all things, both in heaven and in earth; believe that he has all wisdom, and all power, both in heaven and in earth; believe that man doth not comprehend all the things which the Lord can comprehend. (Mosiah 4:9)5. The search for truth is a lifetime pursuit. There is always more to learn.
The great thing for us to know is to comprehend what God did institute before the foundation of the world. Who knows it? It is the constitutional disposition of mankind to set up stakes and set bounds to the works and ways of the Almighty. … That which hath been hid from before the foundation of the world is revealed to babes and sucklings in the last days . (Joseph Smith, HC, 5:529–30)
And if your eye be single to my glory, your whole bodies shall be filled with light, and there shall be no darkness in you; and that body which is filled with light comprehendeth all things.
The glory of God is intelligence, or, in other words, light and truth.
And truth is knowledge of things as they are, and as they were, and as they are to come.—D&C 93:24