A Collector of Truth

Jan 30, 2015
2 min read

“…lay hold upon every good thing, and condemn it not…” – Moroni 7:19

Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:21

The scriptures encourage us to seek after that which is good and there are ways explained that illustrate how we can do that.

Like many kids, I enjoyed collecting things such as baseball cards, coins, rocks, fossils, etc. Over the years my interests changed; I no longer collect any of the things that I valued so highly as a child.

What I have enjoyed collecting over the course of my adult life is truth.

The scriptural admonitions that encourage me to lay “hold” on good things drive me to dig and discover the good in everything I explore. If you think about it, truth and good are not hard to find, but they can be difficult to define. Attempting to “lay hold” or collect truth, we convert it into language, policies, doctrines, art, poetry, architecture, symbols, archetypes, motifs, etc.

Thus, every human expression of truth is only an approximation of the truth itself. Distortions accompany the influence of the finite mind and unfortunate misinterpretations, whether or not they are intentional, lead to evil, darkness, tyranny, sorrow, confusion and contention. Hugh Nibley wrote:

“History is all hindsight; it is a sizing up, a way of looking at things. It is not what happened or how things really were, but an evaluation. . . . The modern college teaches us, if nothing else, to accept history on authority. Yet at the end of his life the great [historian] Eduard Meyer . . . marveled that he had always been most wrong where he thought he was most right, and vice versa” (Temple and Cosmos, 440)

As a collector of truth, I have come to realize the limitations of human expression. No poem, sketch, painting or high-definition video is a substitute for beholding a sunset in all its glory with the human eye. Likewise, no words or physical senses can fully capture what the spirit of man can witness through “spiritual” means. (2 Cor. 2)

The experiences and testimonies of others, their expressions of how they perceive reality, no matter who they are or what philosophy they profess, are all valuable to me because they extend the field of exploration. They allow me to apply the principles of Alma 32 and plant a garden of faith where I hope to harvest and taste truths with whatever senses offer the purest experience.

I am thankful that I don’t have to believe anything that isn’t true and that I am free to choose between good and evil. I can embrace all, and every item of truth without limitation while rejecting every error. We think of Mormonism as a religion, a specific corpus of beliefs, while in reality it is a way of looking at things, it is a philosophy that seeks to gather up every item of truth wherever it may be found, whether in religion, science or revelation, whether in human experience or in the vastness of creation.

In other words, a “true Mormon” is a collector.

“We should gather all the good and true principles in the world and treasure them up, or we shall not come out true Mormons.” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 316)

COLLECT, verb transitive 1. To gather, as separate persons or things, into one body or place.

“…for the fulness of times, in the which I will gather together in one all things, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth;”  (Doctrine and Covenants 27:13)



  1. Richard J. Nobbe III

    I’m in the middle of a great book right now, “Reflections of a Scientist” by Henry Eyring. It’s fantastic and he makes a lot of the same points. In fact, he specifically says that he (was) a “truth collector.”

  2. I’m at work right now, (well, actually I’m on oneClimbs ;) ), but when I get home I’ll post some related material.

  3. Chris Clayton

    When you first posted this, was there more in the post? I reread it and it seems as if there were some other quotes that are not here anymore.

    • You’re right, somehow an earlier draft was published. The quotes added an additional layer of complexity to the post and took it in a direction that I felt would work better in a seperate post. So I quickly removed them and placed them in another draft I had already started that included more quotes along the same lines.

      You’ll see them again, but in a context that better suits them. Sorry for the sloppiness on my part.

      • Chris Clayton

        Thanks, if you don’t mind, what was the article/book that had the Kevin Christensen quote? I would like to read the whole thing.

        • I’ll give you the quotes, they aren’t top-secret or anything and I’ll still post them in context of an idea that I’ll provide my own commentary on, here’s the first one:

          “If I wanted to know, to be prepared, I had to take personal responsibility. In retrospect, my program involved three elements. Keep my eyes open. Give things time. And re-examine my own assumptions now and then. The alternative is to not pay attention. Insist on final answers now. And never re-examine my own assumptions. Either choice on these three points has consequences in life.”

          The source is this article here: http://www.mormoninterpreter.com/eye-of-the-beholder-law-of-the-harvest-observations-on-the-inevitable-consequences-of-the-different-investigative-approaches-of-jeremy-runnells-and-jeff-lindsay/

          The second quote was from Hugh B. Brown:

          “One of the most important things in the world is freedom of the mind; from this all other freedoms spring. Such freedom is necessarily dangerous, for one cannot think right without running the risk of thinking wrong, but generally more thinking is the antidote for the evils that spring from wrong thinking. More thinking is required, and we call upon you students to exercise your God-given right to think through every proposition that is submitted to you and to be unafraid to express your opinions, with proper respect for those to whom you talk and proper acknowledgment of your own shortcomings.

          We live in an age when freedom of the mind is suppressed over much of the world. We must preserve this freedom in the Church and in America and resist all efforts of earnest men to suppress it, for when it is suppressed, we might lose the liberties vouchsafed in the Constitution of the United States.

          Preserve, then, the freedom of your mind in education and in religion, and be unafraid to express your thoughts and to insist upon your right to examine every proposition. We are not so much concerned with whether your thoughts are orthodox or heterodox as we are that you shall have thoughts. One may memorize much without learning anything. In this age of speed, there seems to be little time for meditation.” – Hugh B. Brown (First Counselor to Church President David O. McKay), An Eternal Quest – Freedom of the Mind, May 13, 1969

          We live in a time where there are many complex things going on and I believe it is part of a prophesied test. Many simple give up because they cannot reconcile things and I don’t believe this is wise at all. Much of it has to do with our paradigms and preconceived notions that we assumed, were taught or were formulated as part of our cultural memory.

          We are impatient and demanding, seeking to bend heaven to our will. We demand answers but are not asking the right questions. The ensuing frustration causes many to feel that there should be no struggle in truth. Everything should be plain and clear, flawless and pristine.

          I see this age as a great opportunity to cleanse our paradigms and see things clearer than ever before. We may have to let go of faulty assumptions, we may have to rebuilt paradigms from scratch and that is not comfortable for many. I was fortunate to have done this years ago as a teenager when I felt that I had nothing to lose, but if you are middle-aged this is much more of a challenge. I’ve heard several people express feelings of being deceived or misled. I think those feelings are valid, but I don’t think the conclusions have been thought through enough. Not enough meditation, not enough introspection, not enough digging and waiting upon God. I like how Terryl and Fiona givens call it a “crucible.” We like sweetness more than struggle and we wrongly assume that the “righteous” should not struggle.

          There are so many layers to this issue that I could go on for hours. I’m kind of weird in that I actually enjoy this kind of challenge and thought process, it blesses my life with humility, curiosity and discovery.

  4. Richard J. Nobbe III

    I seem to have been mistaken. I read so much all the time. I thought I recently read something that spoke to this subject. I went through the book five times last night and couldn’t find the quote I was looking for. I found some great stuff! – but not what I had originally wanted to share. Perhaps I was just recalling information I originally read here at oneClimbs.

    • I hate it when that happens. I think sometimes the Spirit teaches it to you slightly differently than what you read and that’s what it was that you remembered; doesn’t make it any less true. Perhaps what the Spirit revealed to you is even more true and perfect to your understanding and situation. That’s why I practice recording all impressions from the Spirit. My notebook is right here about a foot away from me in my backpack.

      • Richard J. Nobbe III

        Yeah, I need to do a better job of having a “travel journal” with me. Thanks for those thoughts.

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