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Friday, January 7, 2011

Unrighteous Zeal: Part 6 Forbear and Not Overdo or Underdo

(This is a series on unrighteous zeal. I'll use quotes from the scriptures, Hugh Nibley's classic essay, "Zeal Without Knowledge" and President Cecil O. Samuelson's recent address, "Appropriate Zeal." There will be six parts.)

True knowledge never shuts the door on more knowledge, but zeal often does. One thinks of the dictum, "We are not seeking for truth at the BYU, we have the truth!" So did Adam and Abraham have the truth, far greater and more truth than what we have, and yet the particular genius of each was that he was constantly "seeking for greater light and knowledge" (cf. Abraham 1:2). [Nibley] 
With all my formal schooling you would think I would be comfortable in my knowledge. But almost every course I took was simply an introductory course to some vast field of knowledge. I don't feel smarter. I feel stupider. And even if I do have a lot of learning, do I know what Heavenly Father truly wants me to know?
May God help us all in the days of our probation to seek the knowledge he wants us to seek. [Nibley]
How many useless tidbits of knowledge does my brain hold? Why did I learn some of this stuff? I wonder. But, some of the things I've learned that I thought were stupid at the time have turned out to be useful. How am I supposed to know the difference all the time?

Heavenly Father tells us what to learn. Perhaps it is time we listen?

Those of us in the Church tend to be preoccupied with mysteries rather than known truths. I find President Samuelson's insight on Alma particularly instructive:
I like the response of the prophet Alma when asked a question by his son. Note that Alma didn’t say, “I don’t have an opinion.” Rather, this was his response: “Now these mysteries are not yet fully made known unto me; therefore I shall forbear” (Alma 37:11). We all should forbear more often and more thoughtfully. [Samuelson]

Unrighteous zeal will always be lingering out there and we will always be susceptible to it. Let's put all this guidance to work:
. . . [W]e must be careful that we do not overdo or underdo any of the important things that demand and deserve our attention. [Samuelson] 
Unrighteous Zeal: Part 1 Explanation 
Unrighteous Zeal: Part 2 The Need for Zeal 
Unrighteous Zeal: Part 3 Unrighteous Zeal in the Church 
Unrighteous Zeal: Part 4 Unrighteous Zeal Outside the Church -- Sports and Politics 
Unrighteous Zeal: Part 5 Satan is Its Author 
Unrighteous Zeal: Part 6 Forbear and Not Overdo or Underdo

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