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In 2011, John W. Welch presented a BYU Devotional entitled “Thy Mind, O Man, Must Stretch.” Welch explains,
The title of my presentation, “Thy Mind, O Man, Must Stretch,” comes from the poignant letter dictated by Joseph Smith from the dungeon of Liberty Jail (that so-called temple-prison that was more often prison than temple). The Prophet revealed these words almost five months into his miserable and legally unjustifiable detention there. After counseling the Church to avoid pride and trifling conversations, the Prophet burst beyond the walls of his surroundings with these expansive words:
The things of God are of deep import, and time and experience and careful and ponderous and solemn thoughts can only find them out. Thy mind, O Man [and we may add O Woman as well], if thou wilt lead a soul unto salvation, must stretch as high as the utmost Heavens, and search into and contemplate the lowest considerations of the darkest abyss, and expand upon the broad considerations of eternal expanse; he must commune with God. How much more dignified and noble are the thoughts of God, than the vain imaginations of the human heart, none but fools will trifle with the souls of men.1
Welch outlines some of his own journey in Latter-day Saint scholarship, and shares lessons on how to expand the mind as well as the spirit.
In 2003, John W. Welch gave a BYU Devotional entitled, “And with all thy mind.” Welch says:
What does it mean to you to love God with all your mind? We feel what it means to love Him with our heart, but what does it mean to love Him with our mind? I have asked many people this question. I get many different answers. What would your answer be?
At the outset, let me turn to a passage in Mark 12, which I find terribly important. A highly educated scribe (their equivalent of a college graduate) who had overhead Jesus reasoning with some Sadducees, asked the Savior, “Which commandment is the first of all?”
Jesus answered: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength.”
How many lessons can we draw from this inspiring exchange between the Savior and this educated individual? Let us not pass lightly over this stunning scripture; divine declarations often come without much elaboration yet are laden with profound implications. I would speak today of seven dimensions of loving God with our all our mind, drawn from words in this account.
- 1. Dean C. Jessee and John W. Welch, “Revelations in Context: Joseph Smith’s Letter from Liberty Jail, March 20, 1839,” BYU Studies 39, no. 3 (2000): 137, spelling and punctuation standardized.