“This is a gospel. This is a plan. This is happiness. This is the truth.”
These words were written and shared as part of a recent Instagram post that has gone viral among members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The author, Elder Carter Ellis, is a young missionary just beginning his service in the Chile Antofagasta Mission. His post, which addresses the popular claim that those who leave the Church “have never felt more free,” powerfully articulates an important understanding of truth and what it does for us:
“Interestingly,” Ellis writes, “I can’t think of a time in my life where I’ve felt more free than right now, serving as a missionary for this church, ironically with more rules placed upon me than I have ever had. But I think I feel free for some different reasons. Free from sin, through the atonement of Jesus Christ. Free from guilt, because the rules I have for myself help me stay clean. Free from sorrow, because I know I’m going to see Braxton, Jeremy, Nate, Wyatt, Caden & Mike again someday. Free from confusion, because of a living prophet who gives us direction on where we need to go.”
Elder Ellis has experienced the principle that Christ taught in John 8:32 – “And ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.” Later, in John 14:6, He explains, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” Freedom and a path home to our Father. Those are the blessings of truth – the blessings that our Savior offers – and blessings that each of us should desire.
Discerning truth in this world – which is saturated with countless persuasive, deceptive, and divisive voices – is a challenge that should also be a high priority for members of Christ’s restored Church. President Russell M. Nelson has urged us to “relentlessly [seek] truth,” “fill our personal spiritual storehouses with faith, truth, and testimony,” and repeatedly tried to teach us how to “[sift] through the myriad of voices and the philosophies of men that attack truth.” Another word for these influences is “priestcrafts” – which, according to Nephi, “are that men preach and set themselves up for a light unto the world, that they may get gain and praise of the world; but they seek not the welfare of Zion” (2 Nephi 26:29).
Latter-day Saints need to be particularly wary of such influences. In 2 Nephi 28:14, which is focused on the tactics of the adversary in the last days, Nephi illustrates the situation that many Saints will find themselves in: “They have all gone astray save it be a few, who are the humble followers of Christ; nevertheless, they are led, that in many instances they do err because they are taught by the precepts of men.” The footnotes of this verse reference the danger that can come specifically to these humble followers of Christ as a result of “not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God” (Matthew 22:29) and the corruption that comes from priestcrafts (D&C 33:4).
Another modern-day prophet, President Dallin H. Oaks, recently warned against priestcrafts and the attempt to find truth in the world’s voices:
“We live in a time of greatly expanded and disseminated information. But not all of this information is true. We need to be cautious as we seek truth and choose sources for that search. We should not consider secular prominence or authority as qualified sources of truth. We should be cautious about relying on information or advice offered by entertainment stars, prominent athletes, or anonymous internet sources. Expertise in one field should not be taken as expertise on truth in other subjects. We should also be cautious about the motivation of the one who provides information. That is why the scriptures warn us against priestcraft.” Rather than turning to the secular, “learned,” and usually prideful voices of the world as we seek for truth, President Oaks reminded us to “use spiritual methods appropriate for that search: prayer, the witness of the Holy Ghost, and study of the scriptures and the words of modern prophets. . . . Those who do not learn ‘by study and also by faith’ (D&C 88:118) limit their understanding of truth to what they can verify by scientific means. That puts artificial limits on their pursuit of truth.”
In the Lord’s definition, as given in the Doctrine & Covenants, “truth is knowledge of things as they are, and as they were, and as they are to come” (D&C 93:24). That seems to include a great deal of knowledge, on an infinite number of subjects, which is available to those who are humble and willing to seek it; it would be unwise to try and place the limits of man’s finite mind on the truth and light – and freedom – that God is willing to give us.
He has already made available many precious truths that provide answers to the deepest, most complex, and most common questions of mankind: Who am I? Where do I come from? Why am I here? What is the purpose of life? And what will happen to me after I die?
The answers to these questions are plainly taught in the gospel of Jesus Christ, found in His plan of salvation and The Family: A Proclamation to the World. For one who is earnestly, humbly, and diligently seeking truth, these are wonderful foundation stones. When truth is found first in eternal principles, honest secular sources (not those seeking to build themselves up) will provide secondary support. This is evident from even just a cursory glance at the impressive amounts of social science data that are providing an additional witness of the principles of the prophetic Family Proclamation.
As we continue our honest search for truth, what will be the inevitable result? It will be the same for us as it has been for Elder Ellis. President Oaks promised, “We find true and enduring joy by coming to know and acting upon the truth.” We will come to better know the Savior and allow Him to bring us closer to our Father in Heaven. We will know the truth, and the truth shall, indeed, make us free.
Author Annalee Blonquist is an intern pursuing a bachelor’s degree at Mount Liberty College with a special interest in history, law and government.
Don’t forget to check out our latest podcast on how everyone fits into “The Family: A Proclamation to the World.” The interview is with a young adult who remembers what it was like to be a 30 year-old, unmarried “menace to society” and shares what NOT to say to those in the dating phase in the latest episode of the “Raising Family” podcast.