February, 10, 2017

We are His students

By Morgan Fox

Brigham Young Academy — now the Provo Library

I, the Lord, am well pleased that there should be a school in Zion.

D&C 97:3

There are thousands of schools and universities around the world that offer top-notch education and fantastic training- schools that seek to intellectually enlarge their students and set them out in the best job markets. From its foundation, Brigham Young University has striven to do that and so much more. BYU (then Brigham Young Academy) was established in 1875 as part of Brigham Young’s vision for LDS students to learn in a spiritually uplifting environment that would tax their talents, expand their minds, and teach them to be united with the powers of heaven. At the school’s opening, Principal Karl G. Maeser said that successful students would need “two kinds of preparation:…familiarity with the lessons….and the possession of the Holy Spirit, obtained by prayer.”[1] From its very beginnings, BYU and its students were given the charge to extend education beyond the constraints of textbook, classroom, or life- fulfilling LDS theology and emerging as “a school in Zion”. The scriptures tell us that “the people of Zion” were actually the Lord’s people; any such school would therefore be “the Lord’s school”.

The Lord’s hand can be seen in the history of BYU; many principals and church authorities received various revelations and visitations to help them fulfill Brigham Young’s vision and the scriptural charge of establishing a school in Zion. One such visitation was recounted to Brigham Young’s daughter by president of the church, John Taylor. Her father had come to him in a dream and told President Taylor “many things of great importance…among others that the school being taught by Brother Maeser (Brigham Young Academy) was accepted in the heavens and was part of the great plan of life and salvation…and that Christ himself was directing, and had care over this school.”[2]

Although that revelation came in the 1880s, Christ is still directing this school today. We see that in the inspiring devotional messages we receive each Tuesday, in the supplementation of tuition with sacred tithing funds, and we can see that personally as we strive to make Christ the center of our studies. BYU is the Lord’s school and, in every sense, we are His students. He will guide us, tutor us, and help us to ‘seek learning, even by study, and also by faith.’[3]

[1] “Salt Lake Stake Academy”, Desert News, November 24, 1886, 711.

[2] Karl G. Maeser, “Final Address” The Normal (BYA student publication, Provo, Utah) 1, no. 6 (June 1945): 259-60

[3] D&C 88:118