Tuesday, September 14, 2021

President Harold B. Lee on knowing and loving the scriptures

President Harold B. Lee (1899-1973) was called to the Quorum of Twelve Apostles in 1941. He served as a counselor in the First Presidency from 1970-1972, then as Church president from July 1972 until his passing less than 18 months later in December 1973.
"I say that we need to teach our people to find their answers in the scriptures. If only each of us would be wise enough to say that we aren't able to answer any question unless we can find a doctrinal answer in the scriptures! And if we hear someone teaching something that is contrary to what is in the scriptures, each of us may know whether the things spoken are false—it is as simple as that. But the unfortunate thing is that so many of us are not reading the scriptures. We do not know what is in them, and therefore we speculate about the things that we ought to have found in the scriptures themselves. I think that therein is one of our biggest dangers of today.
"When I meet with our missionaries and they ask questions about things pertaining to the temple, I say to them, as I close the discussion, 'I don't dare answer any of your questions unless I can find an answer in the standard works or in the authentic declarations of presidents of the Church.'
"The Lord has given us in the standard works the means by which we should measure truth and untruth. May we all heed his word: 'Thou shalt take the things which thou hast received, which have been given unto thee in my scriptures for a law, to be my law to govern my church' (D&C 42:59)."
- Harold B. Lee, "Find the Answers in the Scriptures", Ensign, December 1972, pp. 2-3
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President Lee was widely known for his love for, and deep understanding of, the scriptures. For example, as alluded to in this excerpt, he would meet in the Salt Lake Temple with missionaries as they prepared to depart into the field and allow them to ask him any question they desired, and he would always provide an answer from the scriptures.

He encourages all of us to do what he himself did—learn to find answers in the scriptures. They should be our primary and final source of doctrinal understanding!

A benefit of thorough and in-depth understanding is that we recognize doctrine that isn't sound; it enables us to "measure truth and untruth."

But President Lee worries that too many of us are not taking advantage of that resource.  And though his remarks were offered almost 50 years ago, I suspect the advice is more needed than ever.

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2021)
May 12, 2015

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