Finding Principles

PRINCIPLES – from a handout put together by Becky Edwards

It is worth great effort to organize the truth we gather to simple statements of principle.” 

—Richard G. Scott, Ensign, 1993

The most important [thing] you can do…is to immerse yourselves in the scriptures. Search them diligently… Master the principles.” 

—Ezra T. Benson, Ensign, Nov. 1986
From Elder Richard G. Scott:

• Principles are concentrated truth, packaged for application to a wide variety of circumstances.
• A true principle makes decisions clear even under the most confusing and compelling circumstances.

From Audrey Rindlisbacher:

Characteristics of True Principles:

• Foundational idea upon which behavior is based (it’s not an application)
• True for all people, all the time
• Creates greater freedom for the individual and society
• Enlightens the understanding, enlarges the soul, expands your mind, brings new connections and ideas
• Empowers and gives hope
• Increases desire for good—in thoughts, behavior, environment and relationships
• Generates growth, enlivens
• Increases health and wholeness
• Creates win/win situations

Audrey’s Principle Checkpoints:

• God and/or Natural Law
• Your scripture or standard of truth
• Conscience
• Common sense
• Your experience—long term
• The experience of others—long term

Ways to obtain Evidence to Create Faith in and want to Embrace a Principle:

• Spiritual experience
• Study & experience of others
• Watching the results from living the principle (exercising consistently made that group of people fit and thin)

From John Hilton III 
(From Please Pass the Scriptures: From Reading to Feasting, chapters 9-10)

• Principles can be easier to find and apply when you write them in an “If ….then” statements.
• Rewriting principles in your own words helps you find, remember, and apply them. A great place to  write principles you find is in the margin of your scriptures or other books.
• If you ask “What is the author trying to teach?” it can help you find principles.

Excerpt from a letter I (Sis. Cloward) sent to my missionary son, Kaiden, about principles:

“I’ve been watching videos online from the ten Boom institute and teaching the Vanguard youth about how to read and mark a book to get the most out of it and how to find principles in what you’re reading.  It’s really powerful!  As you’re reading something you’ll come across principles that the characters live their life by.  Sometimes they are true principles, sometimes they are false.  So like Javert in Les Mis lives his life based on the principle that “once someone is a criminal, they will always be a criminal and can’t change”.  That is a false principle.  Or from Jane Eyre, “doing the right thing by God is always the right thing to do even if society and circumstance allow doing the wrong thing”.  That is a true principle.  How do we know it’s a true principle?  It’s a natural law, it a law from God, and it’s true at all times for all people.  What was true for Jane Eyre would also be true for the ancient Egyptians as well as for for us in our day.  Make sense?  And as we look for principles in the things that we read, we grow and become better for it and have principles from which to live our own lives.  

So I’ve been marking principles in my scriptures.  Of course I don’t have to evaluate them as true or false, they are always true.  But it’s really powerful to find principles and then rewrite them so that they apply, (“liken the scriptures..”.).  And it helps to write the principles in a “If…then…” format.  “If I do something, then something else will happen.”    For example: “If I eat healthy foods, then my body will be healthy.”  That is the principle, the application is then how people choose to live that principle.  So for the food principle, some applications could be not eating meat, or not eating dairy, or not eating gluten.  The application is different for all people, but the principle is the same for all people.  Another example would be the principle “parents are responsible for the education of their children”.  Applications of that would be home school, public school, private school, charter school, trade school, etc.  Whatever they, the parents feel is the best way for their own children to be educated.  So while the applications are different for everyone, the true principle is the same.  Got it?  Clear as mud?  🙂

Here’s an example of principles in the scriptures…

In Helaman 3:27 we read: “Thus we may see that the Lord is merciful unto all who will, in the sincerity of their hearts, call upon his holy name.”  So we can rewrite the principle to be “If I call upon God’s name with sincerity of heart, the Lord will be merciful to me.”


 Helaman 3:28 “Yea, thus we see that the gate of heaven is open unto all, even to those who will believe on the name of Jesus Christ, who is the Son of God.” would be “If I believe on the name of Jesus Christ, the gate of heaven will be open to me.”

Make sense?  So I decided to try it with my Patriarchal Blessing.  Wow!  Amazing.  I made a copy and have marked it all up.  It’s amazing to see patterns and words that show up numerous times.  My patriarchal blessing is only 1 and 1/4 pages long.  So super short, but I found 12 principles in it!  

Anyways, it’s so powerful to look for principles!  This would work with anything.  Scriptures, conference talks, articles, books… anything.”

Here is a video from the ten Boom Institute on finding principle in what we read.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *