Have you ever studied theology? Whenever I thought of theology I thought of a attending Catholic seminary and learning how to teach about God at the pulpit. (This idea may have come from a movie I watched or when I attended Catholic mass with my friends. ) In the Lectures on Faith, a book written by Joseph Smith and other leaders in the church about faith, states, “Faith is truly the first principle in the science of theology.” This statement brought up many questions for me, as I hope it does for you. Faith, we learn from a young age, is the first principle (see the fourth Article of Faith). Faith is “future oriented dependence” on God. Faith is what framed the worlds, the power that organized the planets and created every visible creation. So, then, what is the “Science of Theology?”
I went to “my professors,” CES classes and lectures, for the answer.
Science is an area of knowledge that is the object of study, covering general truth or operations of general laws especially as obtained or tested through the scientific method. Theology is “the study of religious faith experiences and practices; understanding the study of God and God’s relationship to the world.” The Science of Theology is “an exact science” (it must be exact or it is not Godly). The Scientific Method is the rules and methods for the pursuit of knowledge involving the finding and stating of problems. The collection of facts through observation and experiment. And the making and testing ideas that need to be proven right or wrong. (taken from David Christensen’s lessons from the Lectures on Faith and Parley P. Pratt’s book, “The Science of Theology”)
Faith is used throughout the scientific method. Let’s take a look at how Alma used it. First, you plant a seed with faith that it will grow. As it grows and you have faith, it will continue to grow and produce fruit (results) holding to the vision of what the fruit will be like, taste, what you’ll make with it, etc. This is the time (during the waiting) that spiritual gifts are given developed and where faith is increased. Faith is used in each step of the process until the result is received.
You can try this with everything you are learning.
Say you want to learn about crystals and how they grow. Open your scriptures up to Alma 32:26 and insert what you are questioning or testing in the following manner
Now, we will compare [what you are testing] unto a seed (principle). Now, if ye give place, that a [what you are testing] may be planted in your heart, behold, if [what you are testing] be a true seed, or a good seed (correct principle), if ye do not cast it out by your unbelief, that ye will resist the Spirit of the Lord, behold, it will begin to swell within your breasts; and when you feel these swelling motions, ye will begin to say within yourselves—It must needs be that this is a good seed (correct principle), or that the [what you are testing] is good, for it beginneth to enlarge my soul; yea, it beginneth to enlighten my understanding, yea, it beginneth to be delicious to me. (continue…on your own)
Watch how at each step of learning you are growing the understanding of how the principle of growth is applied to crystals. You are using the scientific method, proving the principle you have chosen is true or false, works or does not.
Why study Theology? Because, Theology, Christ’s relationship with the world, is throughout ALL learning, every subject. Theology is the first science we should study.
Try replacing “what you are testing” with “an attribute of Christ.”
What will you do differently because of this study?
How did Jesus learn? We are learning how he taught with the Sunday School class, “Teaching the Savior’s Way.” While attending that class I had the thought, “How did Jesus learn?” The first thing that came to mind was that he “continued from grace to grace until he received a fullness.” (D&C 93:13) What does “grace to grace” mean? Are there other ways Jesus learns?
Here are a few ways:
He “continued from grace to grace, until he received a fullness.” (D&C 93:13)
Jesus Christ learned “obedience by the things which he suffered” (Hebrews 5:8)
Jesus learned a little at a time: “It is not wisdom that we should have all knowledge at once presented before us; but that we should have a little at a time; then we can comprehend it” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith, 268). And I, John, saw that [Jesus] received not of the fullness at the first, but received grace for grace (D&C 93:12)
He sought “learning even by study and also by faith” (D&C 109:7)
Jesus learned and grew in grace and in the knowledge of God (2 Peter 3:18)
He was proven to see if he would all everything commanded him (Abraham 3:25)
He experienced and worked through the struggle, sorrow, and joys which improved his learning ability. (Moses 4:22-23)
Jesus was taught by both his earthly and heavenly father! (he was homeschooled and learned several languages)
He endured through hardships: He “endure it well” (D&C 121:8) and “all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good.” (D&C 122:7)
- He was motivated to learn because of his love for Father
How do you learn? Is it the same way Jesus learned? Are you helping your children learn in this manner?
What comes to mind when you hear “Lighten Up?” I’m not using this term in the sense that someone is placing too much emphasis on a trivial matter or has their priorities out of whack. I’m using it in reference to:
Jesus is the LIGHT of the World. Look up to Christ and bask in his sonlight.
Homeschooling our children is a big deal. It deserves heartfelt attention. If we try to do it in our own strength, we may become “too tense.” We need to give our efforts “a rest.” If we feel called to teach our children, and we are, then we need to “Lighten Up!” that calling with the idea that it’s not a chore, but a blessing, a gift Christ is giving us.
Satan wants to steal, cheat and lie. Don’t listen to him. He doesn’t want our children to learn God’s Glory. If he can worm his way in with doubts, comparisons, and reminders of past mistakes, this can cloud our attitude. Don’t let him.
Over the next few weeks in this blog, on our video podcasts, and in a live class, I will be teaching ways to “Lighten Up!” and give our efforts “a rest” and allow God to be the teacher for both you and your children. I hope you will join me.
It is fun to see a child understand a new concept, but it is more rewarding to see them make connections to heaven and increase their spiritual education. Joseph Smith said, “There is no knowledge, no learning that can compensate the individual for the loss of his belief in heaven and in the saving principles of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. An education that leads a man from these central truths cannot compensate him for the great loss of spiritual things.” (Doctrines of Salvation, 1:321-322.)
Keeping this in mind I taught my children with a visual aid of a tree.
Parley P. Pratt in his book, Key to the Science of Theology, said, “All that is useful, great and good, all that is calculated to sustain, comfort, instruct, edify, purify, refine or exalt intelligences, originated by this science [of Theology] and this science alone, all other sciences being but branches growing out of this root.”
I drew a tree with a large trunk and eight branches. I taught them that all learning “grows out” of Theology, the study and belief in God. We then labeled the trunk Theology and each of the branches a different subject of learning. I then asked them what they thought the roots could represent. After much discussion we came to the conclusion that the roots represented correct principles of the gospel, the word and laws of God.
Over the next fifteen years this concept has grown tremendously in our home. We even commissioned an artist, my mom, to paint us a friendly tree with eight branches that hangs in our living room.
Over the next several months we are dedicating our live video podcasts to sharing with you what we have learned from this experience in hopes that it will assist you in your homes.
This is a Tale of Two Mothers – Hannah of the Old Testament and Mary of the New Testament.
Hannah and Mary both lived in times of uncertainty and transition. Hannah lived in Israel during the time of Judges. After 350 years the Israelites were looking at other nations and noticing they had Kings at their head and started demanding a King to be their governor.
Mary, a young woman from Nazareth lived a thousand years after Hannah. After the Jews were carried away captive into Babylon a few returned to Israel to rebuild their nation only to see it taken over by the Selecids. A revolt by the Maccabees resulted in a free Jewish nation for a time. But, now the Romans and their appointed king, Herod, ruled over the Jews.
Hannah was the wife of Elka’nah who also was the husband to Penin’nah. She had bore him many children, but Hannah was barren. In Israel having many children was a blessing. Hannah pleaded with God at the temple, “Give me a son and I will give him back to you for all the days of his life.” Eli, the priest, told her that her prayer would be answered. Sure enough, Hannah name the boy Samuel, meaning, “I have asked him of the Lord. As promised when Samuel is weaned, she gives him to Eli to raise. At that time she offered up a song of thanksgiving.
My heart exults in the Lord; my strength is exalted in the Lord. My mouth derides my enemies, because I rejoice in thy salvation.
There is none holy like the Lord, there is none besides thee; there is no rock like our God.
Talk no more so very proudly, let not arrogance come from your mouth; for the Lord is a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed.
The bows of the mighty are broken, but the feeble gird on strength.
Those who were full have hired themselves out for bread, but those who were hungry have ceased to hunger. The barren has borne seven, but she who has many children is forlorn.
The Lord kills and brings to life; he brings down to Sheol and raises up.
The Lord makes poor and makes rich; he brings low, he also exalts.
He raises up the poor from the dust; he lifts the needy from the ash heap, to make them sit with princes and inherit a seat of honor. For the pillars of the earth are the Lord’s, and on them he has set the world.
He will guard the feet of his faithful ones; but the wicked shall be cut off in darkness; for not by might shall a man prevail.
The adversaries of the Lord shall be broken to pieces; against them he will thunder in heaven. The Lord will judge the ends of the earth; he will give strength to his king, and exalt the power of his anointed.
Mary received a visit from the angel, Gabriel who told her she was to be the mother of the Messiah. Soon afterwards she traveled to visit her cousin, Elizabeth, who is also pregnant. Elizabeth greets her warmly. Mary responds with a song of thanksgiving.
My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has regarded the low estate of his handmaiden.
For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed; for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name.
And his mercy is on those who fear him from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with his arm, he has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts,
He has put down the mighty from their thrones, and exalted those of low degree; he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent empty away.
He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his posterity forever.
Many of the characters and event in the New Testament have types in the Old Testament. Hannah is a type of Mary. The parallels and imagery of the two prayers or songs are blatant. They both reference the poor and down-trodden, the mercy of God, etc. Mary must have studied the scriptures and read Hannah’s song many times. She may have memorized it and applied the words until they became her words, her feelings. What a reunion it must have been in heaven when the two met again. They may have compared stories of how they both handed over their first born sons to God to raise and their thoughts and fears and blessings and testimonies.
Who do you relate to in the scriptures? Who is your mentor and hero?
For me I have liked Eliza R. Snow and love to hear her stories and read her poetry (hymns). I admire her work and feel a connection to her. I look forward to meeting her one day.
“What? They have never heard the story of the birth of Jesus?” my son asked as we are read “The Greatest Christmas Pageant Ever” as a family. In the story the Hurdman children, a poor, fatherless family wanted to join the Christmas Pageant and wanted to be the main characters. At the first rehearsal they asked many, many questions about the story. Finally the director read the story to them from the Bible to help them see the whole picture. They still had more questions. My sweet son was very concerned why they had never heard the story before. “Did they just forget it, mom?” I answered him with a question, “Have you ever forgotten the Christmas story?” “No” “Can you remember something you’ve never learned?” …Silence. I love when pondering happens. We spent the rest of the time doing a word study on Remember.
Teake went to the 1828 Dictionary, “to have in the mind an idea which had been in the mind before and which recurs to the mind without effort.” We learned that anciently recollect used to mean “using effort to recall an idea.” Today we interchange these meanings. We took time to think of things that took little to effort in remembering and things that took a lot of effort of recollect. It was a fun activity.
In pondering more I remembered (pun intended :)) the “Remember Cycle” We promise to “remember Him” in the sacrament covenant and we are promised to “always have the spirit” and the Holy Ghost “brings all things to our remembrance.”
The word remember is found in the Book of Mormon 157 times and the word recollect is only once. Since the language of the Book of Mormon was translated at the time the 1828 dictionary was written I believe the word remember is more about this first meaning of “recurs to the mind without effort.” When Helaman (Helaman 5) spoke to his sons about remembering their names and that the good works of their name sakes would come to mind without effort.
What comes to your mind without effort?
We haven’t finished the book, but we are sure that the Herdman’s will remember without effort the birth of Jesus for the rest of their lives.