In January 22, 2019, Elder Lawrence E. Corbridge of the Quorum of the Seventy gave an incredible devotional at Brigham Young University. He touched on how to find truth and the truth he found after completing a rather unusual task:
As part of an assignment I had as a General Authority a few years ago, I needed to read through a great deal of material antagonistic to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Prophet Joseph Smith, the Book of Mormon, and the events of the Restoration. There may not be anything out there of that nature I haven’t read.
For the next 27 minutes, Elder Corbridge explains what he learned from the experience. Watch the video below, or continue reading for a summary of his devotional:
Primary and secondary questions
Elder Corbridge’s goal in this speech is to answer the question: How do we close the gap between our beliefs and the truth? One of the ways he suggests accomplishing this is to focus on primary questions instead of secondary questions.
Not all questions are equal and not all truths are equal. The primary questions are the most important. Everything else is subordinate. There are only a few primary questions. I will mention four of them.
1. Is there a God who is our Father?
2. Is Jesus Christ the Son of God, the Savior of the world?
3. Was Joseph Smith a prophet?
4. Is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints the kingdom of God on the earth?
By contrast, the secondary questions are unending. They include questions about Church history, polygamy, people of African descent and the priesthood, women and the priesthood, how the Book of Mormon was translated, the Pearl of Great Price, DNA and the Book of Mormon, gay marriage, the different accounts of the First Vision, and on and on.
If you answer the primary questions, the secondary questions get answered too, or they pale in significance and you can deal with things you understand and things you don’t and things you agree with and things you don’t without jumping ship altogether.
How to find answers to those primary questions
Elder Corbridge mentions four ways to find truthful answers to those primary questions. They are (not necessarily in order of importance):
- The Scientific Method
- The Analytical Method
- The Academic Method
- The Divine Method
Elder Corbridge favors the latter method because it “incorporates the elements of the other methodologies but ultimately trumps everything else by tapping into the powers of heaven.”
Process of elimination
Some people may try to discover answers to the primary questions by answering the secondary questions. “They mistakenly try to learn the truth by process of elimination, by attempting to eliminate every doubt. That is always a bad idea. It will never work,” Elder Corbridge says.
Each time you track down an answer to any one antagonistic claim and look up, there is another one staring you in the face. I am not saying you should put your head in the sand, but I am saying you can spend a lifetime desperately tracking down the answer to every claim leveled against the Church and never come to a knowledge of the most important truths.
His statement echoes a verse from 2 Timothy 3, which describes those people who are “Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.”
Elder Corbridge closed with a powerful testimony,
There is a God in heaven who is our Eternal Father … Jesus Christ is the Son of God, the Redeemer of the world … Joseph Smith was a prophet of God … The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the kingdom of God on the earth. I know this by my experience—all of it. I know this by the evidence, and the evidence is overwhelming. I know it by study, and, most surely, I know it by the Spirit and power of the Holy Ghost.