How Faith Creates Lifelong Learners

How Faith Creates Lifelong Learners

News Release

Much is said today about the need for lifelong learners — individuals who live out an ethic of continual education and intellectual development to adapt to a world of rapid and constant change. During this "age of accelerations,"[1] when forces such as technology, globalization and biodiversity loss are accelerating at once, lifelong learning is no longer simply a hobby — it’s a necessity.

           

Many are the motivations to continue learning. Today, multitudes are forced to keep their knowledge current because their temporal salvation depends on it. Others enjoy education as an after-hours or post-retirement avocation. Some may approach learning with a mixture of these motivations or something else entirely. Whatever the reason, none is more powerful than the quiet, hidden prod of one’s religion and personal faith.

Lifelong learning encompasses much more than what one learns in a classroom. As The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ second prophet, Brigham Young, said, this entire life is “a great school” of unending learning opportunities.[2] We learn in our families, our communities, our churches and everywhere in between. The late Church president Gordon B. Hinckley (1910–2008) had education’s vast breadth and bottomless depth in mind when he spoke of the urgency of continual learning. “You cannot afford to stop,” he said. “You must not rest in your development. There is so much to learn and so little time in which to learn it.”[3]

             

Many faiths preach the importance of the acquisition of knowledge and the development of intelligence. One prominent Jewish rabbi calls intelligence “God’s greatest gift to humanity.”[4]Latter-day Saint scripture says “the glory of God is intelligence”[5] and encourages Latter-day Saints to seek learning “out of the best books.”[6] And the Qur’an teaches that “true awe of God” is realized only by those “who have knowledge.”[7]

Indeed, for many people of faith, lifelong learning claims the dignified status of being one of God’s highest priorities for mankind.

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[1] Thomas L. Friedman, Thank You for Being Late: An Optimist’s Guide to Thriving in the Age of Accelerations.

[2] Brigham Young, in Journal of Discourses, 12:124.

[3] Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley, 298–99.

[4] Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, http://rabbisacks.org/necessity-asking-questions-bo-5777/

[5] Doctrine and Covenants 93:36.

[6] Doctrine and Covenants 88:118.

[7] Qur’an, 35:28, Oxford World’s Classics edition

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