Looking Beyond the Mark

Church Educational System

In the Book of Mormon, Jacob speaks of ancient Judah as having rejected the words of its prophets because individuals living then ‘despised the words of plainness’ and because they ‘sought for things that they could not understand.’ (Jacob 4:14.)

Intellectual embroidery seems to have been preferred to the whole clothing of the gospel—the frills to the fabric. In fact, one can even surmise that complexity was preferred over plainness by some because in conceptual complexity there might somehow be escape, or excuse, for noncompliance and for failure. In any event, this incredible blindness which led to the rejection of those truths spoken by prophets and which prevented the recognition of Jesus for who he was, according to Jacob, came ‘by looking beyond the mark.’

Those who look beyond plainness, beyond the prophets, beyond Christ, and beyond his simple teachings waited in vain then, as they will wait in vain now. For only the gospel of Jesus Christ teaches us of things as they really are and as they really will be. There is more realism in the revelations than in reams of secular research, for secularism is congenitally shortsighted.

Without revelation and its absolute anchors, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints would also follow the fads of the day, as some churches have done; but as Samuel Callan warned, the church that weds itself to the culture of the day will ‘be a widow within each succeeding age.’ This is but one of the marks of the ‘true and living’ Church: it is spared the fruits of fadism.

(Neal A. Maxwell, On Being a Light [address delivered at the Salt Lake Institute of Religion, 2 Jan. 1974], p. 1)

Book of Mormon Student Manual (1996 Edition)