When someone claims to “know beyond a shadow of a doubt, with every fiber of my being”, they imply that they have received all information on a given subject. What an awful condition! That’s the end of the road, nothing left to discover, no progress to be made,
Shouldn’t we rather seek the wisdom to apply the information we have gained and declare; “I understand”?
“Wisdom is the right use of knowledge. To know is not to be wise. Many men know a great deal, and are all the greater fools for it. There is no fool so great a fool as a knowing fool. But to know how to use knowledge is to have wisdom.”
We might gain some perspective by discussing the possible definitions and contextual meanings of “Knowledge” and “Knowing” but that is not my purpose here. If believing we know something halts progress, how should we think about it instead? How do we continue to move forward in our spiritual quest?
Traditionally, organized religion seems to encourage a process of accumulating answers, answers readily supplied by religion’s various authorities. But according to the logic of damnation, those kinds of leaders are just leading folks down dead-end roads. Granted, this theory depends on my understanding of mortality’s purpose which is that it provides opportunities for us to evolve into nobler spiritual beings, to progress towards Godhood. So, in the interest of continual spiritual progress, shouldn’t we expect religious leaders to help us seek understanding and guide us to ask fruitful questions?
With that in mind, I’ve searched the scriptures for questions. Specifically, questions asked by Jesus himself, the ultimate religious/ not religious leader. I used only books that contain personal accounts of his life. Since the Gospels are largely repetitive, most of the questions I found there come from Matthew. I also included the record of Christ’s visit to the Nephites in 3rd Nephi and the Doctrine and Covenants, which contains personal communication, as if from Jesus. I have also taken a little license, including only questions that might relate to our personal, spiritual journeys. Here they are.
46 For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?
47 And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so?
25 Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?
26 Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?
27 Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?
3 And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?
9 Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone?
10 Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent?
11 If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?
4 And Jesus knowing their thoughts said, Wherefore think ye evil in your hearts?
5 For whether is easier, to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and walk?
3 But he said unto them, Have ye not read what David did, when he was an hungred, and they that were with him;
4 How he entered into the house of God, and did eat the shewbread, which was not lawful for him to eat, neither for them which were with him, but only for the priests?
5 Or have ye not read in the law, how that on the sabbath days the priests in the temple profane the sabbath, and are blameless?
11 And he said unto them, What man shall there be among you, that shall have one sheep, and if it fall into a pit on the sabbath day, will he not lay hold on it, and lift it out?
12 How much then is a man better than a sheep? Wherefore it is lawful to do well on the sabbath days.
26 And if Satan cast out Satan, he is divided against himself; how shall then his kingdom stand?
27 And if I by Beelzebub cast out devils, by whom do your children cast them out?
34 O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things?
31 And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?
3 But he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition?
3…can ye not discern the signs of the times?
8… O ye of little faith, why reason ye among yourselves, because ye have brought no bread?
9 Do ye not yet understand, neither remember the five loaves of the five thousand, and how many baskets ye took up?
10 Neither the seven loaves of the four thousand, and how many baskets ye took up?
11 How is it that ye do not understand that I spake it not to you concerning bread, that ye should beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees?
13 ¶When Jesus came into the coasts of Cæsarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?
14 And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets.
15 He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am?
26 For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?
17 Then Jesus answered and said, O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you?…
12 How think ye? if a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray?
17 And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good?
32 And Jesus stood still, and called them, and said, What will ye that I shall do unto you?
25 The baptism of John, whence was it? from heaven, or of men? And they reasoned with themselves, saying, If we shall say, From heaven; he will say unto us, Why did ye not then believe him?
18 But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, Why tempt ye me, ye hypocrites?
17 Ye fools and blind: for whether is greater, the gold, or the temple that sanctifieth the gold?
19 Ye fools and blind: for whether is greater, the gift, or the altar that sanctifieth the gift?
33 Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?
10 When Jesus understood it, he said unto them, Why trouble ye the woman?…
40 And he cometh unto the disciples, and findeth them asleep, and saith unto Peter, What, could ye not watch with me one hour?
53 Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?
54 But how then shall the scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be?
38 And he said unto them, Why are ye troubled? and why do thoughts arise in your hearts?
15 ¶So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs.
16 He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep.
17 He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.
3 NE 23:
11 And Jesus said unto them: How be it that ye have not written this thing, that many saints did arise and appear unto many and did minister unto them?
3 NE 27:
2 And Jesus again showed himself unto them, for they were praying unto the Father in his name; and Jesus came and stood in the midst of them, and said unto them: What will ye that I shall give unto you?
4 And the Lord said unto them: Verily, verily, I say unto you, why is it that the people should murmur and dispute because of this thing?
1 And it came to pass when Jesus had said these words, he spake unto his disciples, one by one, saying unto them: What is it that ye desire of me, after that I am gone to the Father?
23 Did I not speak peace to your mind concerning the matter? What greater witness can you have than from God?
24 And now, behold, you have received a witness; for if I have told you things which no man knoweth have you not received a witness?
39 Behold, canst thou read this without rejoicing and lifting up thy heart for gladness?
40 Or canst thou run about longer as a blind guide?
49 And, again, I say unto you, that whoso having knowledge, have I not commanded to repent?
22 Wherefore, hear my voice and follow me, and you shall be a free people, and ye shall have no laws but my laws when I come, for I am your lawgiver, and what can stay my hand?
26 For what man among you having twelve sons, and is no respecter of them, and they serve him obediently, and he saith unto the one: Be thou clothed in robes and sit thou here; and to the other: Be thou clothed in rags and sit thou there—and looketh upon his sons and saith I am just?
13 Wherefore, I the Lord ask you this question—unto what were ye ordained?
17 Verily I say unto you, he that is ordained of me and sent forth to preach the word of truth by the Comforter, in the Spirit of truth, doth he preach it by the Spirit of truth or some other way?
19 And again, he that receiveth the word of truth, doth he receive it by the Spirit of truth or some other way?
31 Who am I, saith the Lord, that have promised and have not fulfilled?
109 Therefore, let every man stand in his own office, and labor in his own calling; and let not the head say unto the feet it hath no need of the feet; for without the feet how shall the body be able to stand?
6 For have I not the fowls of heaven, and also the fish of the sea, and the beasts of the mountains? Have I not made the earth? Do I not hold the destinies of all the armies of the nations of the earth?
7 Therefore, will I not make solitary places to bud and to blossom, and to bring forth in abundance?
34 Behold, there are many called, but few are chosen. And why are they not chosen?
8 The Son of Man hath descended below them all. Art thou greater than he?
37 And again, verily I say unto you, how shall your washings be acceptable unto me, except ye perform them in a house which you have built to my name?
9 Will I accept of an offering, saith the Lord, that is not made in my name?
10 Or will I receive at your hands that which I have not appointed?
11 And will I appoint unto you, saith the Lord, except it be by law, even as I and my Father ordained unto you, before the world was?
I’ve found this exercise to be quite inspiring. I imagine that Jesus is asking these questions of me and it has changed the way I think about some important issues like authority and faith, but more than anything, it has left me with more questions…
Thanks for sharing, Daniel. It is a very worthwhile list of questions to ask ourselves.