20 Now, my son, I do not say that their resurrection cometh at the resurrection of Christ; but behold, I give it as my opinion, that the souls and the bodies are reunited, of the righteous, at the resurrection of Christ, and his ascension into heaven.
21 But whether it be at his resurrection or after, I do not say; but this much I say, that there is a space between death and the resurrection of the body, and a state of the soul in happiness or in misery until the time which is appointed of God that the dead shall come forth, and be reunited, both soul and body, and be brought to stand before God, and be judged according to their works.
In this chapter and in the next two chapters, Alma explains three doctrines which are troubling his son Corianton. He warns Corianton not to use these doubts as an excuse for neglecting his responsibilities and breaking God’s commandments (Alma 42:29-30). As if to illustrate this point, Alma makes it abundantly clear in chapter 40 that he doesn’t know everything. Even as he teaches about the resurrection, he simultaneously teaches Corianton and us by his example some important principles about spiritual knowledge:
- There are some things that only God knows (verses 2 and 4).
- When we want to understand something better, we should “inquire diligently of God” (verses 2 and 9).
- Some details simply aren’t important, and it doesn’t make sense to spend a lot of time trying to understand them (verses 5 and 8).
- Sometimes, whether a statement is true or false depends upon how you define your terms (verses 15-18).
- It’s important to acknowledge what you don’t know (verses 19, 21).
- If you want to express an opinion, you ought to label it as such so that it doesn’t distract from the things you know for sure (verse 20).
- We should testify with conviction of the things that we know (verses 11-14, 23-26).
Today at work, I was careful to acknowledge the boundaries of my knowledge and to evaluate my activities based on fact rather than opinion. I spent my time more wisely as a result, and focused on high priority activities instead of pursuing projects of questionable value. I appreciate the example of Alma, who wasn’t afraid to acknowledge that he didn’t know everything, and who was nevertheless bold in declaring the truths he did know.