Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Using our heads?

A few quotes relevant to the “culture of yes”?1

Joseph Smith
We deem it a just principle, and it is one the force of which we believe ought to be duly considered by every individual, that all men are created equal, and that all have the privilege of thinking for themselves upon all matters relative to conscience. Consequently, then, we are not disposed, had we the power, to deprive any one of exercising that free independence of mind which heaven has so graciously bestowed upon the human family as one of its choicest gifts; (Joseph Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, selected and arranged by Joseph Fielding Smith [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1976], 49.)

Joseph Smith
President Joseph Smith read the 14th chapter of Ezekiel—said the Lord had declared by the Prophet, that the people should each one stand for himself, and depend on no man or men in that state of corruption of the [house of Israel]— that righteous persons could only deliver their own souls—applied it to the present state of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints—said if the people departed from the Lord, they must fall—that they were depending on the Prophet, hence were darkened in their minds, in consequence of neglecting the duties devolving upon themselves, envious towards the innocent, while they afflict the virtuous with their shafts of envy. (Ibid, 237.)

Brigham Young
Shall we deny the existence of that which we do not understand? If we do, we would want to keep an iron bedstead to measure every person according to our own measurements and dimensions; and if persons were too long we would cut them off, and if too short draw them out. But we should discard this principle, and our motto should be, we will let every one believe as he pleases and follow out the convictions of his own mind, for all are free to choose or refuse; they are free to serve God or to deny him. We have the Scriptures of divine truth, and we are free to believe or deny them. But we shall be brought to judgment before God for all these things, and shall have to give an account to him who has the right to call us to an account for the deeds done in the body. 14:131. (Brigham Young, Discourses of Brigham Young, selected and arranged by John A. Widtsoe [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1954], 67.)

Brigham Young
Some may say, Brethren, you who lead the Church, we have all confidence in you, we are not in the least afraid but what everything will go right under your superintendence; all the business matters will be transacted right; and if brother Brigham is satisfied with it, I am. I do not wish any Latter-day Saint in this world, nor in heaven, to be satisfied with anything I do, unless the Spirit of the Lord Jesus Christ, the spirit of revelation, makes them satisfied. I wish them to know for themselves and understand for themselves, for this would strengthen the faith that is within them. Suppose that the people were heedless, that they manifested no concern with regard to the things of the kingdom of God, but threw the whole burden upon the leaders of the people, saying, If the brethren who take charge of matters are satisfied, we are, this is not pleasing in the sight of the Lord. ¶ Every man and woman in this kingdom ought to be satisfied with what we do, but they never should be satisfied without asking the Father, in the name of Jesus Christ, whether what we do is right. (Brigham Young, October 6, 1855, Journal of Discourses, 3:45)

George Q. Cannon
Do not brethren, put your trust in man though he be a bishop, an apostle, or a president. If you do, they will fail you at some time or place; they will do wrong or seem to, and your support is gone; but if we lean on God, He never will fail us. When men and women depend on God alone, and trust in Him alone, their faith will not be shaken if the highest in the Church should step aside. Perhaps it is His own design that faults and weaknesses should appear in high places in order that His Saints may learn to trust in Him, and not in any man or men. (George Q. Cannon, Millennial Star, 53:674)

Samuel Richards
"We have heard men who hold the priesthood remark, that they would do anything that they were told to do by those who preside over them, if they knew it was wrong: but such obedience is worse than folly to us; it is slavery in the extreme; and the man who would thus willingly degrade himself, should not claim rank among intelligent beings, until he turns from his folly. A man of God...would despise the idea. Others in the extreme exercise of their almighty authority have taught that such obedience was necessary, and that no matter what the saints were told to do by their presidents, they should do it without asking any questions. When Elders of Israel will so far indulge in these extreme notions of obedience as to teach them to the people, it is generally because they have it in their minds to do wrong themselves." (Apostle Samuel Richards on Nov. 13, 1852, recorded in the Millennial Star, 14:393-395)

George Teasdale
I understand that all men and women are their own agents; and I do not know a worse degree of slavery than to be afraid to think for yourself and speak what you believe. (Apostle George Teasdale, Conference Report, April 1901, Second Day—Morning Session 34-35.)

J. Golden Kimball
Latter-day Saints, you must think for yourselves. No man or woman can remain in this Church on borrowed light. (Elder J. Golden Kimball, Conference Report, April 1904, Overflow Meeting 97.)

David O. McKay
Ours is the responsibility … to proclaim the truth that each individual is a child of God and important in his sight; that he is entitled to freedom of thought, freedom of speech, freedom of assembly; that he has the right to worship God according to the dictates of his conscience. In this positive declaration, we imply that organizations or churches which deprive the individual of these inherent rights are not in harmony with God's will nor with his revealed word. (124th Annual Conference, April 4, 1954, p. 26)

Hugh B. Brown
We are grateful in the Church and in this great university that the freedom, dignity and integrity of the individual is basic in Church doctrine as well as in democracy. Here we are free to think and express our opinions. Fear will not stifle thought, as is the case in some areas which have not yet emerged from the dark ages. God himself refuses to trammel man's free agency even though its exercise sometimes teaches painful lessons. Both creative science and revealed religion find their fullest and truest expression in the climate of freedom. ¶ I hope that you will develop the questing spirit. Be unafraid of new ideas for they are the stepping stones of progress. You will of course respect the opinions of others but be unafraid to dissent - if you are informed. ¶ Now I have mentioned freedom to express your thoughts, but I caution you that your thoughts and expressions must meet competition in the market place of thought, and in that competition truth will emerge triumphant. Only error needs to fear freedom of expression. Seek truth in all fields, and in that search you will need at least three virtues; courage, zest, and modesty. The ancients put that thought in the form of a prayer. They said, 'From the cowardice that shrinks from new truth, from the laziness that is content with half truth, from the arrogance that thinks it has all truth - O God of truth deliver us'. (Speech at BYU, March 29, 1958); also Hugh B. Brown, Continuing the Quest [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1961], 200-201)

Hugh B. Brown
We should be in the forefront of learning in all fields, for revelation does not come only through the prophet of God nor only directly from heaven in visions or dreams. Revelation may come in the laboratory, out of the test tube, out of the thinking mind and the inquiring soul, out of search and research and prayer and inspiration. (Edward Kimball, Abundant Life: The Memoirs of Hugh B. Brown, p. 139, a quote from his “ Testimony”)

Hugh B. Brown
Faith is the ground of all religion, but there is no special virtue in blind faith. Only faith that is grounded in a courageous search for truth is worthy of the student. We should reject every temptation to irrationality, overcome every inclination to disregard or distort the facts, avoid the extremes of fanaticism, and above all else, demand the truth. Here is the firm foundation for our religion—a religion that describes the glory of God as intelligence and proclaims that man is saved no faster than he gains knowledge. ¶ Just as the truths of science must be tested and verified by reason and factual investigation, so the moral and spiritual truths which the world is seeking from its prophets must be proved and validated in the experience of men. In his search for truth, every man must be true to himself. He must answer to his own reason and to his own moral conscience. Anything less than this would betray his dignity as a human being and a child of God. True dignity is never won by place, and it is never lost when honors are withdrawn. (Elder Hugh B. Brown, Conference Report, April 1970, Second Day—Morning Meeting 77.)

1. Reference