From its inception over a century ago, the goal of Brigham Young University has been to offer "a new kind of education" for Zion, one based on precepts "revealed by the Lord," as Karl G. Maeser once remarked. Today, BYU is widely recognized for its deep commitments to inspired religious values and rigorous intellectual learning.
An environment that nurtures both spiritual and academic experience does not emerge accidentally. This effort to educate Zion has been guided and shaped by wise leaders who have spoken about learning not only with the mind, but also with the spirit. This volume gathers several of those key speeches delivered at BYU by Church and university authorities.
The most famous foundational instruction was given by Brigham Young to Karl G. Maeser not to teach even the multiplication tables without the Holy Ghost. This counsel has offered guidance to BYU educators in many ways. For example, the Holy Ghost softens hearts so that teaching can occur in an atmosphere of human kindness and the love of Christ, with deep respect for the divine potential in all human beings, along with frequent affirmations of the truth and goodness of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. The Holy Ghost also guides teachers in discerning between truth and error, in choosing between good and evil, and in deciding what they should teach or when and how they should say things. Moreover, revelations provide axioms from which reason can derive useful and insightful implications. Teaching with the Holy Ghost thus involves identifying those propositions, examining them coherently, and determining their potential or inevitable consequences. Overriding all of these intellectual activities is the witness of the Holy Ghost that all religious and scholarly truths are to be woven together into an integrated whole. Ultimately, BYU and Church leaders desire the Holy Ghost to be felt in education in order to engender ethical behavior and moral service that will improve conditions in society as a whole and will bring praise to God and eternal life to all his children.
For Latter-day Saints, the gospel of Jesus Christ offers the means to infuse secular institutions with the Spirit of the Lord and thus to shape and use worldly experience to achieve righteous purposes.
To these ends, the priorities established by the Church for higher education in Zion come through loud and clear in these speeches. First and foremost is the goal of providing an education for eternity. Second is the spirit of faith and confidence to pursue excellence and attract the best and most moral minds of our age, both as scholars and as students. Third, steady tendencies toward secularization, trendy extremes, academic vogues, and religious dogmatism are to be avoided. Fourth, membership in the BYU community assumes a sacred trust. These and many other fundamental characteristics of education in Zion are consistently taught and reinforced in these selected speeches.
We hope this collection will keep these basic principles accessible to new and old members of this house of learning and will help to instill those values in the lives of all who might pass this way. Several of these speeches are published here for the first time. These talks have been gathered from among many in BYU Studies, BYU Special Collections and Manuscripts, Brigham Young Magazine, the annual University Conference addresses, BYU Speeches of the Year, and other similar sources at BYU. We are grateful to Jennifer Hurlbut, Doris Dant, Nancy Lund, and others on the BYU Studies staff who have labored to bring this publication to light. Except for minor formatting, editing, and occasional ellipses, these speeches are reproduced here in the form in which they were originally delivered.
John W. Welch
Don E. Norton