How does one deal with doubt in a gospel setting?
Answer by President Dallin H. Oaks, First Counselor in the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
President Oaks spoke to a group of young married and single church members in Chicago in February of 2019. He acknowledged that some Latter-Saint couples face conflicts over important values and priorities. Matters of Church history and doctrinal issues have led some spouses to inactivity. Some spouses wonder how to best go about researching and responding to such issues. “I suggest that research is not the answer,” President Oaks said. The Church does offer answers to many familiar questions through its Gospel Topics Essays found at lds.org. “But the best answer to any question that threatens faith is to work to increase faith in the Lord Jesus Christ,” he said. “Conversion to the Lord precedes conversion to the Church. And conversion to the Lord comes through prayer and study and service, furthered by loving patience on the part of spouse and other concerned family members. When you are asked a difficult question, such as a puzzler about Church history, be honest and, if necessary, say you don’t know. But then be sure to say what you do know: ‘I know that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God’.”
Answer by Robert L. Millett, professor emeritus of religion at Brigham Young University
As long as we are able to think, we will probably have questions, whether about climate change or about the restored gospel. But what about doubts? To doubt is to waver or fluctuate, to fear, to be apprehensive of, to distrust. Doubt is clearly a more serious form of questioning, a potentially more harmful one. In recent years, it has become quite popular for people to celebrate doubt, encourage it, even suggest that we must pass through doubt before we can come to faith. This point of view is foreign to the teachings of the prophets. In scripture, doubt is something to be dealt with, to resolve, to overcome, even avoid (see Matthew 14:31; 21:21; Luke 12:29; Alma 57:26; Helaman 5:49; Mormon 9:21; D&C 6:36; 58:29). If I have doubts about some Church historical or doctrinal matter, what should I do? First, the Latter-day Saints have been charged to “search diligently, pray always, and be believing” (D&C 90:24). – to do our homework, to take the matter to our Heavenly Father in prayer and to view our problem through the eyes of faith rather than the eyes of doubt. The “Gospel Topics” essays at lds.org might be especially helpful. Second, never hesitate to consult faithful member of the Church who have expertise in doctrine or history. Ask them your questions. Never assume that because you don’t understand, no one does. Finally, let memory be your friend: reflect on those moments that mattered , on meaningful spiritual experiences that have, through the years, grounded and shaped you If the restored gospel was true then,, it is true today. Hold on, exercise “patience and faith” (D&C 21:5), and in time the voice of the spirit will reaffirm “This is the way, walk ye in it” (Isaiah 30:21)
Answer by Jon Schmidt, musician, composer, and member of The Piano Guys
My wife and I have experienced so many miracles, and when you go through trials that makes you doubt, or when you encounter things that really challenge you and bring doubts to the surface, its been really important for us to focus on the evidences and the miracles in our family and the answered prayers. In times when you feel like your prayers aren’t being answered or heard, it’s really good to remember times when you felt like they were. I’ve had several experiences that are just undeniable, where I knew the Lord reached out to me. Whenever you have a miracle, or whenever you feel like you received a special answer to a prayer, it is important to write it down and record it.
Answer by Julie Heaps, Church News staff writer
The Apostle Paul said, “…but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before…” (Philippians 3:13). I, too, do not comprehend all things, but when doubt looms, I lean upon my anchors – those simple moments when the Spirit has borne witness of a truth or of God’s all-encompassing love. These moments steady me. And sometimes the “only thing I do” is to just keep leaning forward.
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