“When Doubts and Questions Arise”

Hot off the press is the March 2015 Ensign.

Adam Kotter gets it right with his comments on how to healthily respond to a faith crisis:

“When Doubts and Questions Arise”

Incidentally, I just read these words from Elder John A. Widtsoe this evening.

Doubt of the right kind–––that is, honest questioning–––leads to faith. Such doubt impels men to inquiry which always opens the door to truth. The scientist in his laboratory, the explorer in distant parts, the prayerful man upon his knees–––these and all inquirers like them find truth. They learn some things that are known, others are not. They cease to doubt. . . . On the other hand, the stagnant doubter, one content with himself, unwilling to make the effort, to pay the price of discovery, inevitably reaches unbelief and miry darkness. His doubts grow like poisonous mushrooms in the dim shadows of his mental and spiritual chambers. At last, blind like the mole in his borrow, he usually substitutes ridicule for reason, and indolence for labor.

(John A. Widtsoe, “Is It Wrong to Doubt?” in Science and Your Faith in God [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1958], 241.)

While I’m at it, here are also some sage words from Joseph F. Merrill.

In these days there are so many false teachings, so much propaganda, so much shallowness and insincerity, so many appeals to self-interest by ambitious demagogues and others, that it behooves the truth-seeker to investigate all proposals and appeals that come to him in order that he may act wisely.

(Joseph F. Merrill, “The Dynamic God of Science,” in Science and Your Faith in God, 117.)

A key to successfully navigating a faith crisis is to never assume that you know enough about the topic you’re struggling with. If it’s plural marriage, the Book of Abraham, Book of Mormon historicity, or other issues in Church history, you can never study too much, but you can always study too little. In my experience, many individuals who resign their Church membership over these and other issues often do so after giving up too easily on the apologetic responses to the criticism, or not even knowing the responses in the first place! In many instances they read the critical material but don’t go any further. Or, if they are aware of the apologetic response, they often get it secondhand from critics who are, in reality, presenting little more than a straw man version of the apologetic response that distorts the real argument. (Exhibit A: the apparent inability of the denizens of the Ex-Mormon Subreddit to understand, much less accurately summarize, John A. Sorenson’s suggestion that “horse” served as a Nephite loan-shift for the indigenous American tapir. This, incidentally, has led to a bizarre obsession on the part of these ex-Mormons with the tapir that exhibits an amusing ignorance on their part.)

In short, to paraphrase Werner Heisenberg, “The first gulp from the glass of Mormon history will turn you into an ex-Mormon, but at the bottom of the glass faith in Joseph Smith’s divine calling is waiting for you.”

3 thoughts on ““When Doubts and Questions Arise”

  1. This was good. Thank you.
    It is sad when people leave the church. It is even sadder that they close their minds and don't research on their own. They get stuck on a few issues and miss the bigger picture. It almost happened to me.
    The same so called troubling issues are regurgitated over and over and over. And the doubters start parrotting one another and parrott anti Mormon rhetoric.

    I still have questions and issues with some things. What helped me was studying the Scriptures and the doctrines of the church. There is no way Joseph Smith could have known and taught some of the things he did unless he had Divine teachers and revelation.

    A little off topic, but has anyone else noticed that in some mainstream Christian churches they are starting to teach things that the LDS church has always taught and believed? I find that very, very interesting.

    • It is equally interesting that promoters of the faith refuse to search deeper and continue to parrot the same arguments in their defense. To those of us nonbelievers it appears pretty ridiculous to watch the believers and doubters beat the hell out of each other all in the name of Jesus. But, do what you need to reinforce your personal narrative. I'll just continue to serve as your evidence of the terrible world out to get you and bring about blood and horror on this earth. ;-P

  2. Ok, on another comment board I have read that apologists are always changing their tunes to fit the evidence and now on this one I see that they parrot the same arguments and refuse to search deeper and deeper. Those damn believers, apologists, etc…

    And as much as you like to believe I worry mostly about myself and my faith/or lack of it, I have never thought that non-believers serve as any type of evidence of anything…

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