Countdown to Birthday of the Book of Mormon Story #3: The Most Useful Piece of Knowledge by Clayton M. Christensen

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Today’s story as I countdown to the birthday of the Book of Mormon on March 26 is called “The Most Useful Piece of Knowledge” by Clayton M. Christensen. He’s the featured speaker in the TEDxBoston talk pictured above. The full TED talk is below.

Clayton M. Christensen was a highly successful man. As a business professor at Harvard Business School, he came up with the idea of disruptive innovation. He’s been called the #1 management thinker in the world. His website is here.

What most people don’t know is that he made a commitment to God as a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University to study the Book of Mormon diligently. He promised to study it for an hour every day, despite his overwhelming study load, because he desperately wanted to know if it is true. He shared this story at a speech he gave at BYU-Idaho. Here is part of his story below:

“Some of you who have seen pictures of Oxford may know that it’s the world’s oldest university. The building that I lived in was built in 1410-beautiful to look at, horrible to live in. It just had a little heater that they had dug out of the stone wall and had inserted there. I decided that I would commit every evening from 11 to 12 o’clock to reading the Book of Mormon to find out if it was true. I wondered if I dared spend that much time, because I was in a very demanding academic program, studying applied econometrics, and I was going to try to finish the program in two years, whereas most of the people in the program finished it in three, and I just didn’t know if I could afford allocating an hour a day to this effort. But nonetheless I did, and I began at 11:00 by kneeling in prayer by the chair by that heater, and I prayed out loud. I told God how desperate I was to find out if this was a true book, and I told Him that if He would reveal to me that it was true, that I then intended to dedicate my life to building this kingdom. And I told Him if it wasn’t true that I needed to know that for certain, too, because then I would dedicate my life to finding out what was true. Then I would sit in the chair, and I read the first page of the Book of Mormon, and when I got down to the bottom of the page, I stopped, and I thought about what I had read on that page, and I asked myself, ‘Could this have been written by a Charlatan who was trying to deceive people, or was this really written by a prophet of God? And what did it mean for me in my life?’ And then I put the book down and knelt in prayer and verbally asked God again, ‘Please tell me if this is a true book.’ Then I would sit in the chair and pick up the book and turn the page and read another page, pause at the bottom, and do the same thing. I did this for an hour every night, night after night in that cold, damp room, at the Queen’s College Oxford.

“By the time I got to the chapters at the end of 2nd Nephi, one evening when I said my prayer and sat in my chair and opened the book, all of a sudden there came into that room a beautiful, warm, loving spirit that just surrounded me and permeated my soul, and enveloped me in a feeling of love that I just had not imagined I could feel. And I began to cry, and I didn’t want to stop crying because as I looked through my tears at the words in the Book of Mormon, I could see truth in those words that I never imagined I could comprehend before. And I could see the glories of eternity and I could see what God had in store for me as one of His sons. And I didn’t want to stop crying. That spirit stayed with me the whole hour, and then every evening as I prayed and sat with the Book of Mormon by the fireplace in my room, that same spirit returned and it changed my heart and my life forever.”

“I look back in the conflict that I experienced, wondering whether I could afford to spend an hour everyday apart from the study of applied econometrics to find if the Book of Mormon was true, and you know, I use applied econometrics maybe once a year, but I use my knowledge that the Book of Mormon is the word of God many times every day of my life. In all of the education that I have pursued, that is the single most useful piece of knowledge that I ever gained.”

Did you catch that? As a world-renowned economist and scholar, this man said that his knowledge that the Book of Mormon is true is “the most useful piece of knowledge” he’s ever gained. Wow! You can read the full text of the talk, called, “Decisions for Which I’m Grateful For” here and watch it over here at BYU-I’s website.

Photo Credit: BYU-I

As he said in the talk, (see a condensed version of his talk over here) “I invite you to set aside an hour every day and find out for yourself if the Book of Mormon is true, because it will change your heart.

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