Sunday, August 04, 2013

From Believing to Knowing--Via Doubts

When I was 11 years old, I was asked to bear my testimony to my "Blazer" primary class of our Latter-day Saint ward.  I remember it vividly, because at that time I said "I can't say that I know the Church is true, but I can say that I believe that it is true."

It wasn't until I needed to decide whether I wanted to go on a mission for the LDS Church that I found out for myself, in a way that was probably unique to me, which I can't describe, that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is true.

For about thirty years now, I have known this truth, but it's also important to note that I all during those years I have had occasional doubts as to specific issues about the Church. Something that has been helpful to me during that time, that I've heard said more than once by leaders of the Church is essentially this: 'don't let what you don't know get in the way of what you do know.' (Here is one example of that.)

Which means that:

  • If I know that God lives and he loves me, which I do, and
  • If I know that Jesus is the Christ, which I do, and 
  • If I know that Joseph Smith is a prophet of God, which I do, and
  • If I know that the Book of Mormon is the word of God, translated by the gift and power of God, which I do, then 
I can be confident that all of the other doubts and questions that I have about the Church can be answered to my satisfaction and will not effect the underlying reality that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is true.

I have found in my life that doubt is a really good thing.  First of all, it tells me that I am thinking about important things.  More than that, I reminds me that I am serious about finding the true and important things in life. With every doubt I've ever experienced about the Church, it has drawn me closer to God.  With almost every doubt, it has helped me learn something new.  Likewise, grappling almost every doubt about the gospel has strengthened my testimony.

Why do I say almost every doubt?  Why not all of them?  Because I am currently grappling with a new set of doubts that I haven't considered before.  And that's exciting. 

Doubts are like faith.  Doubts are like a flashlight.  We test and get answers to our doubts by walking to the edge of the light of what we know.  The doubts that Joseph Smith had propelled him into the Sacred Grove, where not only were his doubts answered, he also received more answers beyond the questions he asked.

That's why I enjoy going to the temple. I've noticed that if I prepare myself to go to the temple, if I have one or more questions that I want an answer to, and if I'm serious about understanding the answer, I will often get answers beyond the questions I asked.

Doubts are healthy. It is good to question our faith on a regular basis, because questioning becomes the vehicle by which we draw closer to God, gain greater knowledge, and strengthen our testimony of Christ's gospel restored to earth through Joseph Smith.

Something else helps me, and that is to remember that I don't need my church to be true.  What I need is to find the truth.  I just so ironically happens that on my path of searching for the truth, I found a great deal of it in the LDS Church.  Some of the greatest truths the world has ever known are taught by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

In not being overly concerned with what I don't yet know, the things that I do know allow me to also know that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is true, despite the doubts that I still have.





5 comments:

  1. thank you. .. I have struggled with certain issues surrounding the church but do have a deep faith in the core values, principles and doctrines. what you have written makes sense and what elder holland said in the last conference... to hold on to what you know and build on those simple truths.
    today's world is so topsy-turvey that sometimes it takes time to sort out fact and fiction.

    ReplyDelete
  2. thank you. .. I have struggled with certain issues surrounding the church but do have a deep faith in the core values, principles and doctrines. what you have written makes sense and what elder holland said in the last conference... to hold on to what you know and build on those simple truths.
    today's world is so topsy-turvey that sometimes it takes time to sort out fact and fiction.

    ReplyDelete
  3. thank you. .. I have struggled with certain issues surrounding the church but do have a deep faith in the core values, principles and doctrines. what you have written makes sense and what elder holland said in the last conference... to hold on to what you know and build on those simple truths.
    today's world is so topsy-turvey that sometimes it takes time to sort out fact and fiction.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Jana: Well said. And it takes a lot of patience. The other side of that coin is that a lot of critics of the Church make a lot of assumptions (and then assumptions based on assumptions) about what they know about Church history. Here's a great response to that by deceased U of Utah professor and LDS historian Davis Bitton: http://maxwellinstitute.byu.edu/publications/review/?vol=16&num=2&id=560

    ReplyDelete
  5. His article is entitled "I Don't Have a Testimony of Church History", meaning that his testimony is of the doctrine of the gospel.

    ReplyDelete

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