@Hutterite—re: "If your questions lead you to give up your
religion, however, that's OK. You need to seek your truth, and be true to
yourself. And you needn't ever give up faith just because you moved
outside one or another religion. They're not the same thing."----------------Seeking one's own truth and being true to
oneself, what does that accomplish? Isn't that what amoeba do? Finding your own truth vs seeking Eternal Truth, they're not the same
I enjoyed the position this article took on a very difficult subject. We
frequently look for something or someone to blame when life disappoints and we
forget a simple truth that we are imperfect and as long as the Lord allows us to
take part in His work, we will turn out imperfect work, it's our nature,
and it's His nature to allow us to make mistakes, learn and grow.We sometimes build things or people up and hold grand ideas in our minds.
E.g., we all see Moses like the magnificent prophet portrayed by Charlton Heston
in "The Ten Commandments" when in reality he was quite different. In
Exodus Ch 3 & 4 you read where the Lord calls him to be a prophet and do
great things yet 4 or 5 times he made weak excuses why he couldn't do it,
yet the Lord didn't quit on Moses and gave him opportunity to grow, learn
and progress. Throughout history people have always found fault with
God's chosen, many times it's by those that are closest to them.
That's why the Savior said, "A prophet is not without honour, but in
his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house." (Mark 6:4)
If 'level 3' is the level Elder Hafen wants the body of the church to
arrive at, what type of testimony does that include? Does it allow for
differences in opinion about church policies and history? For example, if
someone values their membership in the church and derives a net good from it,
can they be open about their disapproval of the doctrine of polygamy and still
be considered members in good standing? Can they believe that it was a mistake
from well-intentioned church leaders, and not an eternal doctrine? Can they
believe that the Book of Mormon is not historical? Can they be honest about the
racist doctrines and policies of the church before 1978? Are these types of
people welcomed as 'open-minded believers'? Because there is certainly
a growing percentage of active members who know that it isn't all
'clear-cut and tidy', yet want to remain active. Will they
be welcome in today's church?
@soutahnative "They, Even to the extent believe that God must be dead
or at least think to limit the power of God to the extent that he can not speak
to us anymore."Technically, isn't that what the LDS church
believes was more or less the case between about 700AD (or whenever the BoM
ends) and just before Joseph Smith?
@Major Bidaman"The only long term hope for the church is for it to
become like the Lutheran church"I tend to prefer churches that
are more like the Lutheran church but those are the ones losing members the
fastest. Why? Well perhaps when you don't stress the "one true
church" thing anymore and have a pretty open way of viewing things... then
it's not so important to be there and it's probably easier to drift
into inactivity.@joe5"There may be a specific congregation
in Alabama that does things as you describe but it is not representative of all
Lutherans."There are various branches of Lutherans after a few
splits in the church over the centuries. Perhaps the one you're familiar
with is more of an evangelical variety whereas other ones march in pride parades
as allies. The more liberal branches of Lutheranism tend to match the comments
notion that they aren't particularly invested in "one true faith"
narratives even while they are still a devout people.
I could find some excuse to justify leaving the Church because I'm tired of
living up to a higher standard than the rest of the world, but I could never
truly think, intellectually and scientifically, that it isn't everything it
claims to be. There are too many questions in life, from physics to philosophy,
that speak to it.Testimonies are founded on faith. We are
far-and-away not sophisticated or intellectual enough as mortal human beings to
devise an argument that can actually make someone who otherwise has a strong
testimony stop and think "Hmm, this doesn't make sense." I promise
that there is an answer, you just don't have it yet. If you did,
life's capacity to be a trial is threatened.
"He blamed the church, but another presenter, Richard Williams, said people
who make such claims often have an incomplete or simplified image of the
church."This is absurd, and why people become
disenfranchised.If you deny that the church has presented an
inaccurate historical narrative and punished those who reveal the truth, I
suggest you talk to Richard Bushman D. Michael Quin.This attitude is
Honesty should require that we acknowledge that good Mormons of high character
can and do, seriously and thoughtfully rather than lightly or lazily, discern
good reasons for going way beyond doubt to completely giving up the faith --
quietly and with complete justification -- without kicking or screaming.The issue is not that some members can find an apologetic to satisfy
their belief and their staying. The issue is -- disregarding entirely the
notion of cartoons and bubbles -- that there are good, solid reasons to reject
and leave the faith.Attempts to deny, or to intellectually or
spiritually shame, bully, diminish, disparage or intimidate a person into not
leaving -- or impugn their character or the depth of their study and grasp of
the evidence -- seems mostly like a desperate denial (or admission) that there
is a problem.
May I humbly suggest that the necessary goal of any spiritual quest is
reconciliation with God and that by that standard each of us should evaluate our
quest, rather than by how many, or few, are ready to validate our quest.If one's spiritual quest leads the searcher to be reconciled with
God, that quest needs no validation from anyone else.If the quest
doesn't lead to that reconciliation, it's fallen short, regardless of
how many others validate it.I'd also humbly suggest that God
asks that we love each other, seekers and non-seekers alike. Ours is to love,
not to validate or condemn.Love you all.
@UtahBlueDevil - Lehi Ut & Durham, NC,One's perception, may
be one's felt reality. But it is not necessarily the truth. The true
reality may be very different from what one feels. That is one of the reasons
there are so many different believe systems in the world; and why one is
encourage to learn to reason and question. If ten million believe a fallacy a
reality, it is still a fallacy.
@Dave.... you stated " Well, I may be 6'3", and you may be
4'10". But those are more like personal facts. If you are claiming that
either what you perceive or believe is a personal truth, then its more a matter
of those things being personal perceptions"Let me give you an
example. Here in America, you could say the a 6'3" person is tall,
and a 4'10" person is extremely short. But in the Netherlands,
6"3" is nearly average, and in Peru 4'10" really isn't
that short at all.One's own life experiences and the context of
their lives shapes what people believe to be "truth". Driving 80 mph on
the freeway in Utah is considered "fast". Driving 80 mph on the
Autobahn in Germany is considered ordinary. Both are true. Ones faith and
beliefs are deeply personal. How much faith it takes to go to your local ward
around the corner in Utah is completely different that the amount of faith
required to ride a bus for two hours to get to a small branch in the Ukraine
takes another level of faith.
Were I still a Mormon in a crisis of faith, the first place I'd begin --
not lightly or lazily -- would be a hard, serious study of the Bible, to see
why, and on what evidence, one would conclude that it's reliable history
and the word of a god.I would study why and on what evidence that
anybody in the first place would believe in "God the Eternal Father and in
His son Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost."And whether Yahweh
Elohim really expected or demanded a perfect human blood sacrifice as a sin
atonement for Gentiles.I would study Judaism, including with the
rabbis, to explore what now, finally, seems plain and obvious -- that Judaism
has been right all along about Jesus and Paul and the NT and Christianity. With deep, hard, serious study -- and without ever getting to uniquely
Mormon issues and problems -- one can wholly justify leaving the Mormon faith...
with no doubts. Turning then to Mormonism -- again with hard and
serious study -- one can justifiably conclude that neither Joseph Smith nor
Mormonism change, or even touch, those negative conclusions about issues
foundational to both Christianity & Mormonism.
RE: boyd Ricks .The clearest sensation that a human being has when he
experiences the holy is an overpowering and overwhelming sense of creature ness.
Is 6:5 Woe is me! ..for I am a man of unclean lips(sinner). A higher devotion
for Jesus and a thirst for the Bible. I was blind but now I see!"(John
9:25) .,Amazing Grace “The Holy Spirit Bears witness of Jesus
and that Jesus sends the Holy Spirit (John 15:26). The Jesus of the Bible will
send the Holy Spirit. If you don't have the right Jesus they can't
have the true Holy Spirit, and your testimony is invalid. E.g John 1:1,14 God
becomes man not man becomes God. That is, when we are in the presence of God, we
are humbled and become most aware of ourselves as creatures. This is the
opposite of Satan's original temptation, "You shall be as gods."It is true that many of the Christian churches worship a different
Jesus Christ than is worshipped by the Mormons or The Church of Jesus Christ of
Latter-day Saints" (LDS Seventy Bernard P. Brockbank, Ensign, May 1977, p.26
A personal observation. I have never seen an active engaged member of the LDS
church leave without a "kicking and screaming" loss of faith. Whether
that loss of faith led to atheism or just a non belief in Mormonism. This has been said here eloquently but just as a matter of record, it's
insulting and disingenuous to state that a thorough and complete soul searching
only leads to one conclusion. To believe that shows you don't know what a
complete soul searching is.
I was excited to see the article title because I was hopeful I’d find some
useful advice. My initial impression upon reading the article was
disappointment. There seems to be a trend to characterize honest
doubt as a moral failing. At the Face to Face event with Elder and Sister
Bednar he defined doubt as “to mistrust, to be suspicious, to be cynical
and to disbelieve.” Doubt can also be defined less negatively as
uncertainty. I fear church culture and some leaders will continue
demonizing doubt. Will use of the word be ostracized at church like the words
pride and proud were after Pres. Benson delivered his address “Beware of
Pride” in 1989? I worry that the brethren feel that release of
the gospel topic essays has sufficiently addressed peoples concerns regarding
controversial topics. There is more work to be done to help doubtful members
that are having a hard time letting go of resentment and anger towards things
that don’t make sense.
"Thucydides" comment puts it well. The "doubt your doubts"
platitude should be laid to rest. Another platitude that should be laid to rest
is "they can leave the church, but they can't leave it alone." If
you think the Church is true, you should defend it. It you think it is one of
the biggest deceptions in history, you should say so, and not just ignore it.
@eastcoastdoug "In the end, we choose what we want to believe. "I have read this statement several times and disagree completely. I can
no longer believe or have faith in Santa Claus no matter how much I choose to
believe because of what I have learned. I also can no longer have faith in
religion because of what I have learned. Even if I tried.
More people claiming there are 'personal truths'. Well, I may be
6'3", and you may be 4'10". But those are more like personal
facts. If you are claiming that either what you perceive or believe is a
personal truth, then its more a matter of those things being personal
perceptions, beliefs, feelings, preferences, etc.Btw, @ Ranch, I
hold the scriptures are mostly truth (there is only error in them if the writing
of them was in error; or if we misunderstand or misinterpret what they
originally meant). Hence, my appeal to scripture is not circular reasoning. You
may not accept it is as truth. But truth doesn't care what our opinion of
it is—much like an avalanche or volcano.Of course, there are
important truths, and trivial ones. The important ones are those that affect us
the most in areas that are important to us, or to others. Salvation is, I hold,
an important truth. And salvation has everything to do with how God judges us.
He is, I believe, a perfectly just and merciful arbitor of our standing before
him. I would rather be judged of God, than by my fellow man. But, we are
informed, we (still) will also be judged of our fellow beings.
As has been posted here several times in a few different ways, I want to add
mineThe way the Church has set itself up: We are the correct Church
because we have the Authority. The correct Doctrine follows. So to doubt
anything in that chain is to doubt them all. One cannot approve of the doctrine
and disapprove the leadership (the source of the doctrine) and one cannot
approve the leadership and disapprove of the doctrine (their product).The items in its history happened or didn't. Either the First Vision
happened or did not, either angels appeared a restored Priesthood keys or they
did not. If they did it's very easy to conclude the leadership and
doctrine are correct. If they did not, there is no case to be made in favor of
the Church.So if anything, the Church should have an absolute
pristine account of their history (including the things it may not be proud of)
because much of the items can be verified without needing any faith. So if I
cannot trust their account on these items, how can I trust them in issues that
require complete faith?
I think having "doubt" regarding doctrine/faith and lacking confidence
in a church's leadership can be entirely different things that frequently
get conflated. They can be related for sure; members who are
disappointed by current leadership can start to doubt whether the doctrine is
true, but the fact that 50 (or so) distinct sects believe in and follow the
teachings of the Book of Mormon proves that issues with the leadership of a
particular sect and faith itself can be distinct. People in the church
frequently preach the false narrative that disagreeing with leadership leads to
lack of faith (or to flip it, that true faith requires totally sustaining
leadership), but this is simply not true.LDS leadership (in my
opinion) have dragged their feet in being transparent regarding doctrine and
finances and have dragged their feet on social issues like racial equality and
womens' rights, so I take that into account when deciding whether to follow
their counsel or give them money, but I still believe in Jesus and most of the
"Level three is the goal, he said, a space where people live not only with
eyes wide open but hearts wide open."Even though I think the
classification of people in the article is absurd (people are just too
complicated), I nevertheless agree with this statement. A dear aunt and uncle
come to mind. They were intellectually sharp, to the very ends of their lives.
They were eager seekers of information. They also stayed close to the Church as
a matter of faith, and that devotion in part made them great. I'm not
saying their experience is universal, but it does illustrate the point the
presenters were trying to make.
The classifcation of people into only three groups is absurd on its face.
I found this article to be insulting of Elder Hans Mattson, the General
Authority alluded to in the article. Why did this story not link to the New
York Times story where he explained things in his words? This is an in-group
message to discourage further questioning.It's also ridiculous
to say people are leaving a cartoon version of the Church when the Church,
through its marketing department and general authorities, wrote, directed,
filmed, edited, and marketed this cartoon.I know the Church is
trying to change the black and white mentality, but it has to acknowledge that
it created the monster it is trying to slay. In the process, many people,
myself included, will probably leave the church, kicking and screaming, because
we just couldn't make it work, despite all our efforts.
I've always taught that you don't leave because you don't
understand, you keep asking questions until you're asked to leave. My
questions did get me excommunicated in January of this year, but because I kept
seeking truth I am able to find truth and still have a strong relationship with
the Lord. I fear that those throwing their hands in the air and walking away
might lose more than a church, they may lose God and/or themselves. The great
difference between Mormon denominations, and our Protestant and Catholic
counterparts, to me, is that we dare to know the "unknowable" God. If we
stop asking questions we may as well give up on Mormonism, and I've yet to
find an unanswerable question in Mormonism. So to give up on this religion,
regardless of denomination, would be like giving up on God if one is looking for
answers in Christianity.
Much of organized religion is politics, and much of what the different churches
hold as truth are relative to the church outdated man designed doctrines and
mandates that induce followers into experiencing what they are taught to
believe, group and self suggestion is very powerful and can seem very real. But
it is not necessarily true. But, it is customary requirement to believe it to
belong to the group. IE, most of the educated world knows that there never was
a great Hebrew nation in the Americas less than two thousand years ago, but it
is promoted as a true believe, and one learns to believe. Today's churches
need to focus more on facts, realities, honesty and truth or risk losing future
generations of better educated and more aware members.
Just because you see that the LDS Church's claims turn out to be false and
you decide to either leave or no longer be active doesn't mean you
don't have good character.Quite the contrary, following the
truth and embracing, however hard and contradictory it may be to your previously
held beliefs is the ultimate height of good character.
''Mormons who experience doubts should fight for their faith rather
than surrender it lightly or lazily'' Really?...really. Deeply
believing mormons will never understand those who have left the LDS religion.
Never. As one who has left, it was absolutely not done ''lightly or
lazily.'' It was done with heartache and much prayer and pondering.
When you realize that all you've been taught is not truth, it's pure
betrayal. Something not taken lightly at all.''Assume
that most of your cultural understandings are wrong or at least
distorted.''Don't assume. Better yet just trust yourself if
you come to the realization that all the cultural understandings are wrong and
that you will be okay when you walk away. Bottom line is people are going
to believe what they want to believe. Accept and respect each others beliefs and
Another good resource, Search Google for "LDS Living and Why You Should
Talk to Your Children About Controversial Church Topics"
Cougarstrong,I believe Calicougar is correct. None of us are
perfect here. Zero. We obtain the kingdom as "just men made perfect
through Jesus the mediator of the new covenant". We do our level best. All
of us will require the atonement to do the rest. If you have a chance, look up
a talk in the last GC by Elder J. Devn Cornish titled "Am I Good Enough?
Will I Make It?". Good stuff.
So, when someone grows up in the church, is relatively in-the-dark about what
goes on in the outside world, is presented only with LDS-approved content during
their entire childhood and adolescence, attends three hours of Church lessons
each Sunday, attends four years of seminary training, attends Stake activities
like overnight Youth Conferences, studies in the MTC for 9 weeks, serves a
two-year mission in which he continues his training and study every morning and
can't even pick up a newspaper or a magazine to read - that person's
cultural understandings are wrong or distorted? Seriously!? His entire
life's religious training from his cradle to his RM homecoming has been
directed almost exclusively by the Church and its leaders, and yet it is still
his cultural understanding that is distorted? Really? The Church didn't do
anything to create this cartoon, it is all HIS cultural understanding that is
distorted or wrong?
Cougarstrong,The church absolutely has a place for you. If anyone in
the church has ever given you this impression, either directly or indirectly,
they were very wrong. I agree with you that it is difficult to live
the covenants, commitments and commandments all the time, in fact it is
impossible in this life to do so. I think it is healthy for us to admit as such
because, in doing so, we can recognize why we need Jesus Christ and His
atonement in our lives. His atonement bridges the gap between our imperfections
and His perfection. This is why He is our Savior. I don't see
this life as about reaching the "top". I see it as continuing a journey
that we began in what we refer to as a pre-mortal existence. It is a journey of
growth and development that involves peaks and valleys. I see these peaks and
valleys as necessary components in this process. I don't like to use the
terms "success" and "failure" in this context. Each can lead to
a false impression of self and of God. If one feels like he or she can't do
everything that they believe God asks of them at a given time in their lives,
they can still do what they can, and that is enough.
BTBT... There are numerous flaws in that text. Is it the best ANCIENT writings
we have? Yes it is, but have you ever discovered for yourself the origin of the
KJ Bible for example? Dozens of exchanges of interpretation; Parts left out;
Parts added; Writings kep[t by famlies - scraps etc; Conscripted
"interpreted" passages and their meanings by King James - just to
settle arguments. This is precisely why the BOM came into being; As a
companion to the Bible to restore some of the plain and simple text. Passages
such in Psalms describing the body of a young girl; Also talk of where "he
spilled it onto the ground" have no place in the holy bible, yet there they
are and people will say that every word is from God. People that attempt to
limit the power of God will say that God cannot/will not talk to people are
bordering on blasphemy. "For no man taketh this honor unto himself";
"Surely the Lord God will do nothing save he reveals it unto his servants
the Prophets" (sic). This is what Joseph Smith suffered and died for. No
man has ever been more persecuted, even unto death, save the Savior himself, for
telling the truth.
I believe that there is objective truth in the world, and we are able to know
that truth. I also believe that God, in his grace, has left abundant evidence
to lead us to the truth that He, objectively exists (Romans 1). The one true
church would be the one that teaches objective truth. The Holy Bible is the one
religious text that shines in the face of the most intense scrutiny.The history of the LDS church is disturbing, but more important are its truth
claims. Are the truth claims of the LDS church coherent, and do they correspond
with reality? The LDS church teaches a different god than the Bible
(Deuteronomy 13). The LDS church teaches a different Jesus than the Bible (John
3:18). The LDS church proclaims a different plan of salvation, or gospel, than
the Bible (Galatians 1:8-9).Go ahead and have doubts. I have
doubts. But let your doubts lead to an investigation that seeks objective
truth. Ask yourself why you believe what you believe. Do your beliefs
correspond to reality? Are they coherent? Is there any evidence to support
your beliefs? Religious experiences and good feelings are a poor substitute for
any of these things (Jeremiah 17:9). God bless.
@COUGARSTRONGI have but one post left; and so many people I wish I
could respond to. I pick yours because it echos my own feelings and yet only a
barest echo.When I read: "The more I learn and understand what
it takes to reach the top, the more clear it is to me that I wont make it,"
I cry and cry.I to have often wondered if Godhood is right for me;
am I selling myself short if I don't live up to all the commandments and
covenants of the temple. For me a temple marriage is impossible at least in
this life.But, I firmly believe; because all the doctrine of the
Mormon church points to this eternal truth, that God will give to each according
to his measure. That means, what it takes to "make it" or to "reach
the top" is not the same for everyone in this life. God does not judge us
by the works of others but by our own in measure to our own individual
abilities.To put it quite bluntly; even if you do not live up to
every commandment or covenant; you can still make it to the top. Perhaps even
if you become excommunicated from the LDS church. Perhaps, like everyone else,
you just need Christ's Atonement.
Certain aspects of this article I loved. Especially to "have a kind word
for those with faithful questions." I have been one of those who did not
practice this. However this article also seems to condemn those of very high
"character" who have stayed up late at night "kicking and
screaming" with the decision before them. In their minds they come to the
conclusion the church is not what it claims to be. Not because of a lack of
faith, but because of tangible evidence. Most have demonstrated more faith than
me and many active members by trying to make it work. But their good conscious
takes them away. I praise these folks for making an informed hard decision,
even though it is different than mine. As a missionary, if I found an
individual who doubted their faith and joined ours after long deliberation, we
would have praised them. In short good, honest, great, righteous people leave
the church for reasonable reasons. I hope we don't believe in a God who
will condemn these people for eternity for following their heart and mind. For
me Believing in that condemning God would be the "true" tragedy in this
Here's why so many members are struggling:The fundamental
concept of the LDS church that members are taught from the very beginning is
that the LDS church is the "only true church" on the planet. This is
based on the very specific claim that through Joseph Smith, God restored the
priesthood authority and saving ordinances that to this day are only available
to members of the LDS church. If ANY of these bold claims of total
authority were embellished or were in any way not directly revealed by God, the
LDS church is not what it claims to be. When members contemplate this
possibility it can cause major spiritual trauma because Mormonism doesn't
make sense if it's only "partially" true.
Isn't it rich? In an article admonishing against intellectual laziness,
the very premise, "doubters are intellectually and spiritually lazy,
otherwise they wouldn't be doubters" is wholly unexamined and
unsupported with evidence.I encourage all Level 3 Mormons to look at
the actual stories of people who left the faith and decide in your heads and
your hearts if we doubters are deficient morally, intellectually or spiritually.
Barbara Morgan Gardner said, "What I have been able to understand is why
people stay," she said. She boiled it down to character. She is
saying if you don't stay in the Mormon church then you have poor character.
This is a reason many don't ever want to go back to the Mormon church.
What an unkind thing to say. Let's turn it around. She
isn't Lutheran because of her character. She isn't Buddhist because
of her character. What an ugly, ridiculing, mean thing to say.The
article just gets it wrong. People leave religion because they are looking for
truth and consistency. Leaving doesn't take faith and is not a sign of
Millet wrote, "Just as for me it takes too much faith to be an
atheist..."It takes no faith to be an atheist. Being an atheist
simply means not believing in something without evidence. Does Mr. Millet
believe in Islam or Hinduism or Buddhism or the tooth fairy? Would not
believing in the tooth fairy take too much faith? I think his reasoning is
NeifyT: "Finally which religion or none is a personal truth; not an eternal
one..."As you stated yourself: "What I call "eternal
truths" are ones that are true regardless of one's belief in
them."I guess I'm confused how you can say with utter
assurance that your choice of religion is a personal truth instead of an eternal
truth as you've defined it. Hypothesize with me for a minute that God
actually does care what religion you belong to. Then that would make it an
eternal truth, wouldn't it? Belonging to the RIGHT religion would be true
regardless what anybody thinks.If God cares, then wouldn't he
try to convey that information to those who are interested in finding the truth
rather than make it up on their own? How might he do that? Through scriptures,
prophets, prayer, spiritual manifestations, etc? And wouldn't those speak
to whether it is an eternal truth rather than a random commenter on a DesNews
message board?Since you seem so adamant, I feel that I should ask by
what authority you make such a claim that our choice of religion is a personal
choice rather than an eternal one. Why should I take your word for it?
For me, an active LDS, I can appreciate the situation of many who grew up in the
70s and 80s and then falling away as they learned 'alternative'
histories of the church. During that period teaching was very standardized and
one size fits all. But, the alternates histories my friends have learned late
are different than mine because I learned them early. I learned the
gospel in three forums: @ church on Sunday, @ home taught by educated parents,
and by my own efforts in study (including seminary and individual reading). All
of these environments were of equal importance, but all three were needed for
balance. @ church I got the broad overview which by nature is the least deep or
personalized. @ home I had mentors that could teach and explain on a personal
level with experimentation. On my own I could dive deep at my pace and follow my
own interests. The balance was key. For many without this balance, especially
if they had only the Sunday teaching, I can see how they had surprises later.
Interesting how some of the great religious teachers and their followers feel
that the Bible is the ONLY word of God. Many will never accept the Joseph
Smith story as too ridiculous to accept, but will believe without a doubt that
an old man stretched forth his hand and parted the red sea - and even more, or
that the lowly son of a carpenter was born the king and savior of this world -
two facts that I also believe. They, Even to the extent believe that God must
be dead or at least think to limit the power of God to the extent that he can
not speak to us anymore.
Would this article also apply to a Catholic or an Anglican or a Lutheran who is
having a faith crisis? Should they also cling to their faith in their church
without surrendering? Is that what a Mormon missionary would encourage them to
do? Would Elder Doe say, "Doubt your doubts about the Pope before you doubt
your faith in the Pope?" See...these kinds of articles always
start with the assumption that the church is true and at the end of a faith
crisis, you'll have figured that out. But you can't find truth if
you've already decided what truth is going to be. And these articles also
start with the assumption that God and the Church are basically the same, and
losing faith in the church is the equivalent of losing faith in God. If tomorrow the General Authorities announced that the church was not
"true," I suspect the vast majority of Mormons would no longer have a
relationship with Jesus Christ, because all their lives they've been subtly
convinced that faith in Jesus is only and always expressed through faith in the
Church. This is the very definition of an idol.
A possible continuation to my two previous posts; and yet speaking to the
article more directly."Those who stayed active in the church
exhibited patience, faith and trust in Jesus Christ, hope, knowledge and wisdom,
obedience, diligence and persistence, humility, repentance and forgiveness,
charity and virtue."I have always wondered just where I would
fit in with such studies. As a Mormon with (in their vernacular) a very strong
testimony and yet who is very inactive; I don't really fit the mold at
all. I consider myself very patient; I have faith and trust in Jesus
Christ; yet I always feel without hope. I study to increase my knowledge and
practice that to increase wisdom. I am not very obedient when it comes to
Mormon expectations and covenants; but I am diligent and persistent in one major
area of my life; and that is based on personal revelation to me that my
life's focus should be on what the Bible terms as "charity" or as I
term in today's vernacular "empathic love for all."Might it not be my personal truth that activity in the Mormon church is not
what I need; but a testimony of its doctrines is?
What the author does not seem to recognize, or acknowledge, are that the social
costs of leaving the LDS church are so high, that one does not simply abandon
the faith on a whim. To leave the church, for most, is to leave
your place of belonging. Your tribe, your spiritual home. To leave the church
is to face parents who are devastated, wracked by the pain that they might have
failed you, or perhaps will accuse you of being too weak to withstand the
temptations of Satan. It is to face attitudes from both friends and strangers
that your apostasy is chalked up to character faults and intellectual and
spiritual laziness. These are huge costs, these social costs. Many people
with doubts and outright unbelief stay in the church, closeted, in order not to
pay them. These people have chosen to forego their own spiritual truth to hold
onto their community, to maintain marital harmony, to spare their spouses the
shame, to avoid becoming seen as "less-than" in their LDS community. I
am sorry to say this article does nothing to decrease that from happening.
I want to continue my comment; hoping it gets posted.If Mormonism is
true (as it claims); then any Mormon should realize that God is true, and God
has said he is no respecter of persons. I won't dig into deep Mormon
doctrine here; but in essence the purpose of this life is to learn to become
like God in certain ways. Everyone's path to those eternal truths that God
knows and practices; is different.It may very well be God's
will for one person to be a Mormon; and yet for another person to be a Buddhist.
It all depends on what the spirit needs to learn to become more like God; and
how to overcome the mortal flesh before becoming immortal. Hence, personal
truth is very much important to find in order to come to eternal truth. We will
never fully resolve both in this life; but we should not despair; we learn and
grow according to what God has given to us in life which is very much an
individual experience.Now, if one claims Mormonism's eternal
perspective is not true; well then there is many other arguments one could make.
But, beware of black and white thinking on either side of the isle...
Every human being has a responsibility to to point out every single falsehood
they experience in life to everyone. That is right up there with the Golden
Rule. Everyone is entitled to truth, no matter where the falsehoods are, or when
they were originally circulated, or how inconvenient or unpleasant it may be.
That is crucial to the survival and betterment of humanity, Also,
some ethical guidelines, like the one I have just sited, are not from within any
Yet again I come to an article that means a lot to me personally, and within the
constraints of this forum can never begin to speak my heart. But, I do want to
comment on the black and white thinking referred to in the article; and the
instances I see of two commentators using the same in reverse of each other.
And further if I can manage in my shortened posts; why I believe both are
actually true at the same time.Hutterite states "You need to
seek your truth, and be true to yourself. "and Diligent Dave
counters "Either something is true, or it isn't..."I
believe both statements are true, and while seemingly contradictory are really
only a sign of black and white thinking or cartoon bubbles.What I
call "eternal truths" are ones that are true regardless of one's
belief in them. For ease lets call Gravity one such and God another. But, then there are "personal truths" which very much depends on
one's perspective. Does the sun rise and set? Or does earth rotate on its
axis? Both are true depending on your perspective.Finally which
religion or none is a personal truth; not an eternal one...
Major B: If that's what church is to you then you should join the local
Lutheran church in Birmingham and stick with them. If you ever get serious about
your eternal outcome, that would be the time to rejoin the LDS church.By the way, I have some very good, devout Lutheran friends and they practice
their faith much more seriously than the congregation you just described. There
may be a specific congregation in Alabama that does things as you describe but
it is not representative of all Lutherans.I hope you were not
dissing on Lutherans just to be funny because they deserve better.
The crisis in faith is usually caused by academic, historical, and scientific
information in the first place. To fight that with more research, which is based
on intellectual integrity, will only increase doubts even more. In reality, the
only way to combat doubts is through faith-based means. As a wise man once said,
"A man cannot be reasoned out of something he was not reasoned into."
The only long term hope for the church is for it to become like the Lutheran
church ... serve Donuts and Coffee after services, make church 1 hour long, and
drop the "one true church" mantra. Even an atheist RM (as myself) would
entertain coming back.
I have had business dealings with the church and was just treated poorly. I
have heard from many people about their business dealings with the church which
dont conform to christlike practices. "Its all business with them" is
what I have heard. However, I have looked upon this as my "Zions Camp"
test of faith of have valued the experience. I love my choice to stay and
remain faithful. What keeps my spiritual feet on the ground are what Christ
taught were to simple things to keep faith in our lives, 1. Love Him 2. Love
others. I used to get confused by "lists" of what to do each day.
So very very simple really. Merry Christmas.
Many people leave the faith and become better for it. I know I did.Things
make so much more sense when you don't have to believe the same things
bronze aged humans believe. I no longer have to believe the god of the Old
Testament had the ethics I had to follow. I am a lot more kind hearted now. I
believe in the Greater Good. You can have faith in doing good things
without a religion.
Joe5,Thanks for your very thoughtful comment above. I couldn't
agree more with you on all counts."Faith" is an interesting
word, one that is highly subjective at times. I have been a member of the LDS
church for nearly forty years now. Prior to joining, I was an evangelical
Christian in today's vernacular. I have always placed my "faith" in
Jesus Christ. I know we like to refer to the LDS church as the "true"
church, and I understand the reasons for doing so. After all, Jesus Christ
states this in D&C 1:30. I have learned from personal study over the years
that the term "complete" can also apply, which I believe is the message
of the five elements you mention. I don't place my "faith" in the
LDS church. In and of itself, the LDS church can't "save" me in the
truest sense of the word, only Jesus Christ can do that. However, the elements
of the LDS church that you mention are critical, and even essential, components
to my salvation. They can lead me to Him, and to becoming like Him in every
sense of the word.
I believe the LDS church can be true and I can still be okay not following it.
As a lifelong member, it has become increasingly difficult to live the
covenants, commitments and commandments. I think it is healthy to concede that
many of us are not cut out for, or are capable of Godhood. Me included. This
realization has made it easy to distance myself from Mormonism without creating
resentment or enmity for an organization that wants to help me be better. I
simply don't want to be like God, or be better than I am. I don't know
that the church has a place for people like me? The more I learn and understand
what it takes to reach the top, the more clear it is to me that I wont make it.
Mostly because I don't have the capacity but also because I don't want
to. One thing my mission, my temple marriage and life has taught me is that some
people succeed and some people fail. The path is simply too hard for some of us.
We don't want to become sinful heathens, we simply can't do all that
God and His church ask of us.
Truth is, you need faith.
"The Church is True" is a statement that seems to have absolutely no
meaning and it feels like everyone is supposed to know what it means.
@Impartial7How old do you consider old? I am 30 years old, and the idea
that questioning church history or decisions is wrong was something that was
very much part of the church I grew up in.
If the Church cannot be honest about its history(an item that can be verified
without requiring faith), how am I to trust it anything else that requires
To me, a church is comprised of five primary elements. How we respond to each of
them affects our decision to join or not join, to stay or leave:1)
Doctrines (eg: the nature of God or the Plan of Salvation)2) Principles
(eg: obedience or sacrifice)3) Ordinances (which implies real authority to
perform those ordinances)4) Laws/Commandments (eg: chastity or the Word of
Wisdom)5) Practices (eg: Family Home Evening or the Welfare Program)I believe what Paul told the Ephesians: "One Lord, one faith, one
baptism." I don't accept that all churches offer the same eternal
outcome. So choosing the RIGHT church is important, not just choosing one that
happens to suit your lifestyle and biases.I believe there is a
"true" church which means I have to find it and stick with it even if it
becomes uncomfortable to me. I can't let offense, unanswered questions, or
my own wisdom drag me away from it.Finally, I believe my faith
permeates every aspect of my life and I don't need to check my religion at
the door whether talking with family & friends or in the public forum.
It's as much a part of me as any other characteristic is of someone else.
The problem is really simple. Imagine a piece of land. God comes, plants a
beautiful tree and calls this his garden. Then appoints men to care for it.
These men often are good caretakers (they call it religion), but sometimes
install garden gnomes, occasionally even leave empty, rusty barrels and old
cars. Then, other men rightly question "what is this trash doing in
God's garden?"Organized religions are very reluctant to
recognize and address this problem. There are elements in any religion that
obviously have nothing to do with God's intent, but everything with
personal beliefs and preferences of the human caretakers. Instead of admitting
"this or that really doesn't make any sense", the caretakers still
order us to worship these figurative garden gnomes. But, because this creates a
conflict between the official doctrine and elementary common sense, the
caretakers in fact undermine the whole concept.Just my Catholic 3
cents. The Catholic faith, having had a longer history, also had plenty of time
for a great many of such blunders.
The foremost historian of LDS church history, Richard Bushman says "The
dominant narrative is not true; it can’t be sustained". That should be
an indicator to leadership that ridiculing people for questioning church history
is not a productive, long-term strategy.
"Why is it virtuous for someone to "doubt their doubts"?"....This makes perfect sense. Unless you are challenging what you think
and believe, you are not growing and "perfecting" your knowledge. We
are sent here to think, to grow, and to learn. When you stop challenging your
own assumptions, you have stopped learning and growing.One of the
greatest cultural challenges the church has is this underlying pressure to
conform. If your child doesn't go on a mission at the exact prescribed
age, there is a feeling of shame by some. If your child doesn't get
married in the temple, it is a sign of failure by the parents. If your family
doesn't look, act and dress like the carbon copy of every other family in
the pews that Sunday, something must be wrong.We were not sent here
to be carbon copies of each other. One does not need to be a Republican to be
a good member. And yet there is a huge level of cultural pressure to
"conform".This is why a lot of our youths fail to keep the
faith, because they feel if they are not perfect in their belief, they are
unworthy. It's a culture issue.... not a faith issue.
Non-Mormon Christians with doubts should give up faith (and convert to
Mormonism) without 'intellectual and spiritual kicking and screaming'
"At level 3, we're neither optimists nor pessimists, we're
open-minded believers who know that history and life are not always clear-cut
and tidy, but our desire is to keep learning and growing. We want to improve the
status quo, not just criticize it."Well fine. I've
relatives who do this very thing. But big problems arise when the theology
comes up against the controversies of the world. For example, in my college
days I was very put off by the remarks of Elder Benson. I thought them to be
shrill and extreme. As an otherwise loyal member of the Church I had to just
sit and take it. Eventually I just couldn't take it and became inactive
for 15 years.We are entering another period of extreme conflict.
Seniors like myself may well lose both social security and medicare thanks to
the election of Donald Trump. The Church to its credit has defended immigrants.
Will the Church do the same for seniors? Loyalty goes both ways.
Why is it virtuous for someone to "doubt their doubts"? How does this
make any sense in any other aspect of life?If you had doubts about
an investment strategy given by your financial advisor, should you doubt those
doubts?If you doubt your child is telling the truth when he says his
homework is done, should you doubt those doubts?If you doubt the
safety of swimming in shark infested waters, should you doubt those doubts?If you doubt the existence of Zeus, should you doubt those doubts?If you doubt the existence of leprechauns, should you doubt those
doubts?If I doubt that by doubting my doubt I will overcome my
doubts, should I doubt that doubt? Arghhhh...Why do we devalue
skepticism? I just don't get it. It seems incredibly reckless for church
leaders to have adopted this mantra of "doubt your doubts".
The problem, as pointed out above, is that the LDS doctrine for the most part
emphasizes level 1 faith. I know that as a missionary I recruited people to the
faith with the hope/expectation that they would eventually commit to the law of
consecration. It's a big ask to require such a level of
commitment when consent is less than fully informed. I understand this now.I trusted what I was taught and that what I taught investigators was an
accurate distillation of truth. Vetted with care and openness. I know I taught
but one account of the first vision, and nothing about the BOM's
translation ever touched on a rock in a hat. Polygamy was about taking care of
widows and racism...well God knows best. These were not cultural barnacles.I deferred faithfully for decades and contributed countless hours and
tens of thousands of $. So, now to have doubts (come to different conclusions
despite my investment in the faith) means I lack character? To give voice to any
of this experience is merely criticism without hope for something better?
Either the church is true or it isn't. Many people assume that it is an
impossible thing to test and that it is all just a matter of faith. There are
many truth claims that the church makes that are testable. Either
Joseph Smith could translate Egyptian or he couldn't. Check out what
Egyptologists (including Mormon Egyptologists) say about Joseph's
translation of the Egyptian papyri and what became The Book of Abraham.Either horses, steel, wheat, barley and other things mentioned in the Book of
Mormon existed in America or they didn't. Find out what archaeologists and
anthropologists have to say about whether these things mentioned in the BoM
actually existed in BoM times.There are many other testable claims.
If the church is true, then the evidence should point in that direction. The
evidence is already there waiting for you. Find the claims, test them, research
them. J Rueben Clark once said "If the church is true, it
cannot be harmed by investigation. If it is not true, it should be harmed"
I agree that we should all strive valiantly to secure our faith.Even
though I no longer believe in many of the truth claims of mormonism I still have
profound spiritual experiences that I cannot explain in any ways other than
divine. But that doesn't mean that my lost faith in mormonism
any way diminishes the faith I have fought for to keep.Faith for
faith's sake alone is not the true test of this life.
In my own experience Dr. Williams' statement that "Most people who
decide to leave the church really end up leaving a cartoon of the church" is
partially accurate. But what I have also found is that their understanding of
and involvement in the gospel has lacked depth. This is not to say they were
not active members.
@Diligent Dave;Welcome back, haven't seen you for a long time.
Your argument using your scripture to support your truth is a
circular argument. Just because you have a scripture isn't proof it is
truth.@Yorkshire;Your experiences may have been (or may
not have been) divine, but they in no way indicate that your church (or any
other church) is "the true church". That is where most of the problems
arise between believers and nones; it's the "my way or the highway"
approach of religions.
Brigham Young taught that we should avoid blind obedience to the church and its
leaders. This quote came just 5 years after the Mountain Meadow Massacre where
leaders led members to do horrific things:"What a pity it would
be if we were lead by one man to utter destruction! Are you afraid of this? I am
more afraid that this people have so much confidence in their leaders that they
will not inquire for themselves of God whether they are lead by him.I am fearful they settle down in a state of blind self-security, trusting
their eternal destiny in the hands of their leaders with a reckless confidence
that in itself would thwart the purpose of God in their salvation, and weaken
that influence they could give to their leaders did they know for themselves by
the revelations of Jesus that they are led in the right way.Let
every man and woman know, by the whispering of the Spirit of God to themselves
whether their leaders are walking in the path the lord dictates or not. This has
been my exhortation continually..."
Many older mormons were raised that questioning church history was wrong. What
happens when questioning history leads to truths that were denied by church
leaders? Many good mormons are still in shock from learning the church essays
about Joseph Smith's wives & the rock in the hat. Where does this leave
For me, it came down to just one thing:The experiences that I had to
do with me alone with only God ( and nobody and nothing else) were what pulled,
and still pull, me through.I had had profound 'miracles'
and profound experiences in my life that could have happened in no other way
than Divine Intervention.And those trumped by far anything naysayers
and critics and the internet could come up with. That is my wish for
others--to have experiences that so deeply effected their hearts, minds, and
lives that when the trials and offers to doubt comes, they can just move on,
knowing what they have experienced for themselves far outweighs and is superior
to anything else.
In the end, we choose what we want to believe. Faith is just that, we have to
choose what we accept. To me, being constantly engaged in serving others is a
huge anchor of what matters.There are many reasons why people might
feel challenged in their faith. I think the key to staying faithful is to be
'in the world, but not of the world'. We need to do all we can to
learn about and understand other points of view, while seeking out the things
that fit A of F 13. Learn all we can about other people, cultures, ways of
thinking and living, which are positive and helpful and inform our own. Be
anchored and open at the same time.I find many of us are like
'cruise ship tourists', we go through life's experiences viewing
others from a safe distance, without really walking alongside them and seeing
the world through their eyes. Endless reading of the internet, which
is today so full of rubbish and misinformation, is a huge waste of time. If you
are becoming too extreme in your beliefs - religious, political or social, you
are in danger of a crash and are also harming others around you. Get outside
yourself and serve others.
"...but Mormons who experience doubts should fight for their faith rather
than surrender it lightly or lazily..."--- Lightly? Even more
offensive, lazily? What a way to insult your fellow members who have questioned
and come to a not-lightly-made, and certainly not-lazily-made decision to leave.
"Level three is the goal, he said, a space where people live not only with
eyes wide open but hearts wide open."Is this really the goal?
Do faith leaders work assiduously with people whose faith remains at Level One,
or are they actually content to let things lie? In fact, aren't these
believers praised for their unquestioning acceptance?No, I think the
notion of a Level Three exists only because it's necessary.
It is not unreasonable to conclude that the LDS church and Joseph Smith is
exactly what it claims to be. No one should fault those in this category.Conversely, it is also reasonable to question and doubt these same
things to the point where you can not believe. So be it. Move on. And others
(family perhaps?) should accept it also. Do you really want people in church
who don't believe?It is religion people. There lots out there.
Pick one that suits you. Or pick none. And allow others to do the same.
Don't be absolutely sure that yours is "the one" It just makes you
a pain to others. And it make some do really crazy stuff. Live and let live.
I too had a "cartoon" view of the church. I believed Elder Holland when
he stated in general conference that either the book of Mormon was true or
Joseph Smith was a fraud. I believed a simplistic cartoon where it was the only
true and living church and was led by revelation. I didn't realise that
history was ambiguous either. I thought the past was a matter of fact and that
only liars would re-write it to make themselves look good. The ONLY way to know
TRUE history is by warm fuzzy feelings.
I found Elder Hafen's talk "On Dealing With Uncertainty" months ago
in the midst of my own long period of questioning and reassessing what I had
been taught at church. He presented these same stages of faith there, and I
could see how I had progressed through each of them in my life (and am still
progressing). It's an insightful framework, and closely tracks other faith
development frameworks like James Fowler's "Stages of Faith" or
Thomas McConkie's "Mormon Stages" book.So it's
frustrating to see this article, while including a warning against black and
white thinking, still engaging in so much of it. Continued church activity is
assumed to be the only acceptable outcome of someone's searching. Local
subcultures are blamed for the "cartoon church", without acknowledging
church leaders' role in scrubbing difficult facts from the curriculum.
Questions are tolerated but "doubt" is belittled. Those who eventually
leave are described as lacking character. We should be more honest and
charitable than this.
I agree wholeheartedly that people should not give up their faith lightly or
lazily. I don't know too many of these type of people/mormons.I majority of mormons who no longer believe many of the church's truth
claims studied 100s if not 1,000s of hours to understand and examine their faith
and test it both upon prayer as well as substance.The tone of the
article feels very dismissive of the majority of mormons I know who take their
faith very seriously and are unwilling to accept a faith built upon
falsehoods.I really hope that the author of the article has the
ability to open their eyes, ears and hearts to start to understand what is
really going on with regards to many peoples faith journeys and not just create
a caricature of what they think these faith journeys are.You
can't help someone if you are unwilling to understand where they are coming
from. And this article appears to not understand where many, many mormons are
@Hutterite—re: "If your questions lead you to give up
your religion, however, that's OK. You need to seek your truth, and be true
to yourself. And you needn't ever give up faith just because you
moved outside one or another religion. They're not the same thing."If one gives up a false religion—this statement might be true.
But, I believe the scriptures, like the one below, which seems to counter your
"You need to seek Your truth...", as if there is a different truth for
each person (which I do not believe is so).Truth is independent of
our opinion. Either something is true, or it isn't. Some may think
something is true, or isn't, but their opinion, ultimately, has no bearing
on whether something is true or not.About "being true to
yourself", yes, as long as that does not mean you are blind to absolute
truths. If I think I am gay, for example, and if there is no such thing, really,
(in God's eyes at least), then being true to a falsehood has the same
effect of a negative number on zero. It is still zero."...scripture is (not) of any private interpretation.—2
It is interesting how folks react to different things in different contexts.Those who most quickly encourage people to leave their churches or even
abandon their belief in God, are themselves, tenacious in clinging to and
fighting for the things they believe. For example, how much evidence
counter to the notion of man induced global warming would it take for some to
give up their belief (faith?) in the claim that human activity is a major
contributor to destructive climate changes? Certainly one or two little bits of
evidence that might run counter to the theory would not be enough to sway these
people from their beliefs in anthropogenic global warming.Similarly,
such persons are not easily persuaded that porn or marijuana use or sex except
between a married man and his wife are likely to cause any harm to most
individuals.Those who encourage others to abandon belief in church
or God over any and every small doubt or niggling piece of contrary evidence
tend to hold a much different standard for their own beliefs.Of
course, they claim they believe in "science". But they are very
selective about which science they choose to believe.
Fighting for "faith" and seeking the truth are two different things.
I'll take truth.
If your questions lead you to give up your religion, however, that's OK.
You need to seek your truth, and be true to yourself. And you needn't
ever give up faith just because you moved outside one or another religion.
They're not the same thing.