Mormon Media Observer: A Mormon's letter to a doubter

Published: Monday, Oct. 29 2012 3:00 p.m. MDT

But what if you still wrestle? What if, for now, the heavens seem silent? There's much to learn in the word doubt itself.

I'm intrigued that scripture says to doubt not. That may seem an invitation to blind following, to not test. Surely, that's not what I would believe. But what does doubt mean then? Is it merely a question? Is it only a lack of light?

Doubt, to me, is an act — an act of indecision and wavering, as I read the old Oxford Dictionary. Doubt, like faith, is a choice. Sure, there are times of questions and pondering and wondering. But deciding to waver, to hesitate, to stay still — those lead away from the gospel experiment.

I could go on. I might mention the silliness of basing testimony on interpretations and memories of historical facts. I might drift into how perspective is everything in evaluating claims about Joseph Smith and Brigham Young. I might criticize those who take quotes out of context. I might question any seeker's historical and cultural assumptions about what constitutes salient literary and historical facts.

But, somehow, these all pale next to the simple words, filled with paradox and challenge to every person facing the quest of religion: Doubt not.

Those words, somehow, becomes the sum of what it means to be a Latter-day Saint and a believer. That's the simple but complex advice I would give you too, if the sharp corners of the Internet ever wound you. Act. Decide. Prove. Try. Pray. The Mormon experiment still works.

Lane Williams teaches journalism and communications at BYU-Idaho. He is a former journalist whose scholarly interests include Mormon portrayals in the media, media and religion and religion and politics.

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