Friday, June 15, 2018

Elder David A. Bednar on education and intelligence

Elder David A. Bednar (born June 15, 1952) was serving as the president of BYU–Idaho when he was called and sustained as a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles in October 2004.
"The revelations teach us that 'the glory of God is intelligence' (D&C 93:36). We typically may think the word intelligence in this scripture denotes innate cognitive ability or a particular gift for academic work. In this verse, however, one of the meanings of intelligence is the application of knowledge for righteous purposes. As President David O. McKay taught:
"'True education—the education [or learning] for which the Church stands—is the application of knowledge to the development of a noble and Godlike character.' ('True Education,' Improvement Era 60, no. 3 (March 1957): 141)
"We are blessed in mortality with endless opportunities to apply what we learn and know for righteousness—or to increase in intelligence. And learning from experience is one of the primary vehicles provided in the Father’s plan of happiness to accomplish this eternally important outcome. Consequently, we should not equate intelligence exclusively with formal education, academic degrees, or professional success. Some of the most educated people I have ever known had little or no intelligence. And some of the most intelligent people I have ever known had little or no formal education.
"The Prophet Joseph Smith is a prime example of an uneducated person who learned from experience and was filled with the light and truth of intelligence. (See D&C 93:36.)"
- David A. Bednar, "Walk in the Meekness of My Spirit," BYU University Conference, Aug. 28, 2017
Click here to read or listen to the full talk

The definition of intelligence as "the application of knowledge for righteous purposes" is not what we normally associate with it; that might be what we more commonly call wisdom. But Elder Bednar gives a good explanation of the scriptural application of the term and how it relates to our learning and education. And the importance of "learning from experience" through our mortality is critical.

Intelligence and education can take many forms in our lives, and we should be careful in how we assume they relate and are manifest in others. There are some remarkably intelligent people who have very little education!

In any case, they key is that we should strive to grow in both intelligence and education, and we will find the Spirit can enhance our efforts in both directions.

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2018)

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