Periodicals; Mormons; Religious thought; Philosophy and religion
Independent national quarterly established to express Mormon culture and examine the relevance of religion to secular life. It is edited by Mormons who wish to bring their faith into dialogue with human experience as a whole and to foster artistic and scholarly achievement based on their cultural heritage. The journal encourages a variety of viewpoints; although every effort is made to insure accurate scholarship and responsible judgment, the views expressed are those of the individual authors and are not necessarily those of the Mormon Church or of the editors.
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Rees, Robert A.
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16 I Dialogue our instructor talked about the creation of the earth. My notes from that day are filled with statements such as these: "God has not revealed how the world was created—all the ideas we have presented are theories, and must be accepted as such/' The idea that the first chapter of Genesis is the story of the spiritual creation, and the next is physical "is theory—some learned men in the Church are not in accord." The idea that a day in the story of creation "is a thousand years, etc., is a theory." Then, and most important, because this was really his message to the teachers that day, "Don't present theories as though they were facts. We criticize scientists who teach theories as facts. It is just as dangerous for religion teachers to do so." But what, someone asked, about all the books that are written on various subjects, often by prominent men in the Church—what if we disagree? His answer? "Where an idea is in complete accord with scripture, then accept it—but if not, then write the name of the author in the margin—it is his theory." To most of us today such things may seem commonplace, but as a guide for helping students realize that all the answers to all the problems are not in, and that even the most learned men in the Church may still disagree, it was soul satisfying indeed. A similar, though more deeply spiritual, experience came in 1967, when B. West Belnap, former Dean of the College of Religious Instruction, passed away, and Elder Harold B. Lee was the major speaker at the funeral. I remember that he had caught, and tried to portray, one of the deepest concerns of Brother Belnap, and the way he portrayed it was of special importance to me, a teacher of both history and religion at BYU. Elder Lee described one of his last visits with Brother Belnap in the hospital—when Brother Belnap knew he probably would not live. I can't remember the exact words, but the idea went something like this as he reported Brother Belnap's final message: "I have been thinking as I lay here about all the people I know, and about all the disagreements they often have over points of doctrine, and this and that. But as I contemplate my fate, I realize now more than ever that these things, in the long run, really make no difference. What matters is that we love one another—all other things are transient and passing, for it is only really getting to know and love each other for the good that is within us all that will matter in our eternal relationships." Again, what a powerful message to those of us who were often caught up in the endless, often meaningless, debates over this and that fine point of doctrine. But there were some things that President Lee knew beyond a doubt, and the experience which affected me most, and has been the most long-lasting came on an occasion when he was fervently declaring such knowledge. It was in the Spring of 1961—I remember it well because that year I was teaching an Institute of Religion class in the New Testament to a group of Southern California college students. Somehow, we found ourselves discussing for two days the question of the role of the apostle in the early Church, and were asking just what an apostle's responsibility really was. I had pointed out that after the fall of Judas, the New Testament apostles had chosen another, Matthias, to be a witness with them of the resurrection of Christ (Acts 1:22-26), and I had taught my class that one of the basic responsibilities of modern apostles was also to bear witness of the living Christ. But I had not heard such a testimony from a living apostle for quite some time—at least not that I remembered. So it was that I attended a quarterly conference in the Los Angeles Stake, and Harold B. Lee was conference visitor. On that particular morning I was in anything