“Believest Thou That There Is a Great Spirit?”

Church Educational System

While serving as a member of the Seventy, Elder Loren C. Dunn (1930–2001) spoke on the importance of showing respect for others’ beliefs and building on common ground: “Today we live in times of conflict, dissent, differences of opinion, charges, countercharges, disagreements. There is a need for us, perhaps more than ever before, to reach within ourselves and allow the quality of mutual respect, mingled with charity and forgiveness, to influence our actions with one another; to be able to disagree without becoming disagreeable; to lower our voices and build on common ground with the realization that once the storm has passed, we will still have to live with one another” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1991, 109; or Ensign, May 1991, 82).

The first question Ammon asked when he began to teach King Lamoni was, “Believest thou that there is a God?” (Alma 18:24). When Ammon learned that Lamoni believed in a Great Spirit, he testified, “This is God” (Alma 18:28). Technically, God is not a “great spirit.” But Ammon looked beyond that and focused instead on their common belief in a Supreme Being and taught from that point. Ammon took Lamoni’s fundamental belief in a Creator and added eternal truths that would “light up his mind” (Alma 19:6).

President Gordon B. Hinckley explained how we also should build on the good that others already possess: “We say in a spirit of love, bring with you all that you have of good and truth which you have received from whatever source, and come and let us see if we may add to it. This invitation I extend to men and women everywhere” (in Conference Report, Oct. 2002, 87; or Ensign, Nov. 2002, 81).

Book of Mormon Student Manual (2009 Edition)