“In Part, but Not All”

In 1831, the Lord instructed Leman Copley, a recent convert, to return to his former congregation and share with them the truths he had learned in his new faith. The Lord described his former colleagues as being partly, but not fully, receptive:

They desire to know the truth in part, but not all, for they are not right before me and must needs repent.

Doctrine and Covenants 49:2

This reminds me of Amulek’s self-assessment after his conversion to the gospel. Looking back, he recognized that he had intentionally maintained blind spots:

I did harden my heart, for I was called many times and I would not hear; therefore I knew concerning these things, yet I would not know.

Alma 10:6

I wrote yesterday that our receptiveness to the light we have already received qualifies us to receive more light. The inverse is also true: we can hinder our progress by stubbornly refusing to accept facts which are right in front of us.

Some form of the phrase “harden my heart” appears 64 times in the Book of Mormon. Clearly this is a pervasive problem. In the past, I have often thought of it as binary: your heart is either hardened or it isn’t. But I wonder if the Lord’s words to Brother Copley aren’t far more common: we often “desire to know the truth in part, but not all.”

It is easy to recognize this error in others. How often are our friends unwilling to accept a fact which we know they will eventually acknowledge? But it’s harder to see it in ourselves, except perhaps, like Amulek, in retrospect.

The answer, of course, is the one the Lord gave to Brother Copley: repentance. Gaining spiritual knowledge will always be a gradual process, but we can avoid slowing it down by being intentionally willing to change.

Today, I will seek to know the truth—all of it that I am capable of comprehending. I will adopt a repentant attitude: willing to change my mind and eliminate blind spots, willing to admit when I’ve been wrong and embrace new knowledge.

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