Elder Dale G. Renlund of the Quorum of the Twelve spoke on observation, reason, faith and revelation in the Marriott Center on Aug. 22 at the campus devotional.
Education week participants had the opportunity to attend.
Elder Renlund discussed the interactions between observation, reason and faith. He gave examples from the New Testament of Jesus Christ’s teaching styles when He taught his disciples that He was the promised Messiah. Elder Renlund said Christ prompted these disciples to use tools of observation and reason.
“These disciples were to observe what was happening, use their reason to answer their own question, and come to the realization that Jesus was the Messiah. In this example, the Savior encouraged observation and reason to activate faith,” he said.
Elder Renlund pointed out that Christ frequently encouraged reasoning and observation through His parables.
“Insightful reasoning was required to discern the underlying meaning and application of the parable,” Elder Renlund said.
Elder Renlund also emphasized the importance of an inclination toward faith, calling it critical.
“Often those who lack faith in God choose to trust in their own limited understanding or choose skepticism and doubt. … Those disinclined towards faith in God often over-rely on reasoning and look to explain away the hand of God,” he said.
Elder Renlund explained that inclinations away from faith hinder development and inclinations toward faith promote it.
He quoted Alma 32:27, saying, “But behold, if ye will awake and arouse your faculties, even to an experiment upon my words, and exercise a particle of faith, yea, even if ye can do no more than desire to believe, let this desire work in you, even until ye believe in a manner that ye can give place for a portion of my words.”
Elder Renlund said beginning with an inclination to believe allows observation to lead to faith, and reasoning makes it possible for that faith to transform into revelation. Faith is developed by obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ, he said.
“I wish we could transmit faith the way we transmit the common cold. We could just sneeze on people and their faith would increase. But that is not how faith grows,” he said.
Elder Renlund shared ways that we gain faith in Jesus Christ, as taught by President Russell M. Nelson. These include studying about and choosing to believe in Jesus Christ, acting in faith, partaking in sacred ordinances and asking God for help.
He said that these things cause faith in Christ to grow and eventually transform into knowledge.
“This transformation occurs when we keep the commandments of God, remain faithful and continue to be willing to receive more and more. We will then come to know the mysteries of God in full and know all things,” Elder Renlund said.
He warned that if faith is not actively being built, it is actively becoming weak. According to Elder Renlund, ceasing to build faith causes one to receive less and less until all that was had is lost.
Elder Renlund shared five principles to consider when seeking personal revelation by reason and faith: (1) personal revelation requires work, including learning how the Holy Ghost communicates individually with us; (2) personal revelation is facilitated by understanding and formulating questions from multiple angles; (3) personal revelation usually requires depending on and acting on incomplete understanding; (4) personal revelation is iterative; and (5) personal revelation requires humility to corroborate and not concoct impressions.
Elder Renlund concluded his address by saying “observation, reason and faith facilitate revelation and enable the Holy Ghost to be a reliable, trustworthy and beloved companion.”
He testified of Heavenly Father’s plan, Jesus Christ’s Atonement and the Holy Ghost’s role in helping people fulfill their mortal purpose.