Article of the Week

BYU Campus
October 16, 2017
Article of the Week
Some Thoughts on the Gospel and the Behavioral Sciences
Author Neal A. Maxwell

This daily feature is the introduction to a full article by Neal A. Maxwell that was published in issue 16:4. To read the full text of this article, follow the link below.

I suggest that the LDS behavioral scientists become more of a link and bridge between revealed truth and the world of scholarship. The LDS scholar has his citizenship in the kingdom, but carries his passport into the professional world—not the other way around.

Of such bridge building, these caveats need to be issued at the outset:

  1. Some such bridges can be built—but not easily. We sometimes know more spiritually than we can tell, simultaneously, in scholarly terms. Sometimes we see the tip of a certain iceberg of insights. Other times we do not even see the tip, but we know it is there.
  2. Some such bridges cannot be built for a while. There is much that God will yet reveal to us. Since divine disclosure comes so often by degrees, some of the great insights in the behavioral sciences that might bear on "how-to" skills and approaches may not be divulged for a while.
  3. Some footbridges have already been built which can be widened into thoroughfares. More work can be done in converging scholarship and scriptural truths.
  4. While we may not now know fully how to construct all these bridges of which I have been speaking, we know now that some bridges simply cannot be built, however much some secular scholars struggle to do so. For instance, we may not yet know the best form of therapy in every case, but we can know that certain forms of therapy are clearly inappropriate for us as Latter-day Saints.

Having said those things by way of caution, my basic assumption is that much more bridge-building can be done than has been done—without compromising the concepts contained in the revelations of God and without being so eager that our scholarship becomes sloppy, for academic advocacy soon strips itself of the sense of science. The two responses to be avoided when discussing the challenges of such bridge-building are, first, disinterest in even trying; and second, assuming a posture in which LDS behavioral scientists are, at every point, indistinguishable from those whose approach is purely secular. When we start building the proper and needed bridges, God will help us—individually and collectively. It will not surprise me in the least if some of the insights and methodologies of able, orthodox, LDS behavioral scientists will exert an increasing gravitational pull on some of our thoughtful nonmember colleagues in the years ahead. Perhaps there will even be the academic equivalent of what Isaiah foresaw, and thoughtful souls will say in various ways, "Come ye, let us go up" to the Lord's house of learning to be taught and shown his ways (see Isa. 2:3). If we are not ashamed of Jesus Christ and his teachings, he will not be ashamed of us.