No Doubt to Know

girlthomasTrying to find a way with Scriptural understanding to reconcile the honest search for Truth and the spiritual destructiveness of unbelief, I found that doubt is not a positive attribute. As described by prophets and the Lord Jesus Christ, doubt is the enemy of faith. Unbelief is slightly worse because of a more concrete condition of the mind and heart, but they are both related to each other. Doubt doesn’t lead to faith. It destroys it by leading to questioning everything; even miracles that we participate in by the Grace of God.

The one instance when doubt brought greater understanding was Acts 10:17 after Peter received his vision of the unclean animals. Religiously speaking, it was a weak doubt because he had complete confidence the vision was real. He simply wondered, “what this vision which he had seen should mean,” and pondered for an answer. His faith in the vision was rewarded with a missionary opportunity to baptise a gentile. He then realized in Acts 10:28 that, “it is an unlawful thing for a man that is a Jew to keep company, or come unto one of another nation; but God hath shewed me that I should not call any man common or unclean.” The use of the word “doubt” in this instance might be the wrong choice of words, when “wondered” might be more appropriate.

Despite modern definitions and meanings, to doubt is not the same as questioning. It is natural and even required by Scripture that we should question. No one can discover truth without inquiring with mind and spirit where it can be found. How we are to question is important to properly growing in faith. There is a form of action involved that goes beyond the intellectual curiosity. It reads in 1 Thes. 5:21 that believers should, “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.” As always, Jesus Christ explained how this is to be done while teaching at the Temple. His teachings became a source of astonishment to the people attending because he had no formal intellectual training. They asked him how he could know so much without the proper school education and he responded in John 7:16-17 that, “My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me,” and “If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.” He is teaching that the way to discern spiritual things is to follow what God has already taught. This idea is emphasized in verse 19 when he asks, “Did not Moses give you the law, and yet none of you keepeth the law? Why go ye about to kill me?” Those who do not follow the basic teachings of God cannot comprehend deeper truths and will be stuck with their questions. Continue reading

The Prayer of a Doubting Missionary

Doubting MissionaryI have talked much about my youthful experience, encountering disturbing possibilities about Joseph Smith and polygamy. I have since continued my journey and have found explanations for that history (see my Faithful Joseph series).

But in 1984, I was a missionary in training who wasn’t entirely sure about the Church. However I knew God existed and knew He had told me to remain a Mormon. Though I retained a portion of doubt (a portion of doubt that would remain for decades), this is how I conducted myself. For what it’s worth, this is the only prayer I have ever written down.

il 10 aprile 1984 martedi.

What a marvelous day! It started off slowly, and there were short ups and downs, but classe w/ Sorella Moss was incredible and then ambassadorship – on having a more Christ-like attitude. It was wonderful: No Greater Love, a slide show to “As I have Love You,” and a film about a handicapped man. Then:

To Change:

1) Obedience
a) Repent
2) Sacrifice

[lead to] Consecration.

Scan_20150227 (2)_cropped

Then choir and an absolutely incredible devotionale delivered by Elder Hartman Rector, Jr. We laughed so hard, and I know I was totally psyched to go to Italy after the two hours(!) were over. Then there was classe di pronuncia w/ Presidente Magistro. “Lasciatemi cantare…. I jazzed to that one and then there was “I vecchi.”
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When the temple helps, part 3: 20 years of temple work

This is the third post in an on-going series about how the temple helps and blesses the lives of Latter-day Saints. Millennial Star contributor, Daniel O’s first two installments are here:

When the temple helps
When the temple helps, part 2

We invite readers of The Millennial Star to submit their experiences of how the temple has helped and blessed their lives. Please see the “Submit A Guest Post” tab on the top for more information.

This installment is by Millennial Star regular, Joyce Anderson.

Mesa temple front side viewThis week I celebrated 20 years as an endowed member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In 1995, I entered the temple to receive my endowment as preparation for a full time mission to Bulgaria. I had no idea really of what to expect, other that I would be making sacred and important covenants with my Father in Heaven, and that I was making a very important, and big step in my progress as a Latter-day Saint. I had looked forward to going to the temple for myself for many years, but I had really desired it from the time I was about 19 years old.

Late on a February afternoon, I entered the Mesa Temple with my mom to receive my own endowment. I remember wearing a pink floral dress and that I had chapped lips from being so nervous. The Matron of the temple came out to the recorder’s office and took me back to the women’s area to begin my temple instruction. The Matron introduced me to Sister Crandell, who was going to be with me that day. Years later, Sister Crandell was speaking at a Stake Conference for young single adults. After the meeting I went up to her to introduce myself. She, of course, did not remember me, but I remembered her. I thanked her for taking me that day and helping me as I went thru the temple for the first time. As we spoke there was pure joy in her face. She told me she was to glad I had come up and talked to her, because her time as a temple worker had been her favorite calling in the Church. It was a special moment, provided to both of us because of the temple. Continue reading

On Doubt

imageRecently at the adult session of Stake Conference, we had a delightful interchange about how councils can bless our families and our congregations. There were two microphones being carried through the congregation so that any who wanted to comment could be heard.

On individual who commented raised the matter of those who have had doubts, who have decided they could not remain in the faith. I think the individual’s comment was tending towards suggesting that we should make it safe to doubt in the Church.

The response was instructive. It is fine to have questions, the visiting authority (Elder Perkins) said, but it is not acceptable to doubt. Doubt, he contended, ends hope of moving forward, while questions, even if unresolved for an extended period of time, permit the individual with questions to move forward in faith.

The Definition of Doubt Continue reading

Seeking Smooth Things

This is a guest post by Reid Litchfield.

nahum1

The Pesher Nahum scroll of the Dead Sea Scrolls (4Q169) makes cryptic references to a group called ‘The Seekers of Smooth Things’. The theories about who these people were have some fascinating implications for the Church today.

I enjoy biblical history and have recently been studying the transitional period between the Maccabean Revolt and its resulting Hasmonean Dynasty and the Roman takeover of Judea. Over the course of this study, I encountered a quizzical group known as The Seekers of Smooth Things. The story of this obscure sect of Judaism, and their relevance to us today, begs to be told. But first, some background [1.When possible, I have tried to use numismatics to provide faces to the names in this post.] . . .

The Transition from Persian to Greek Rule

Following the death of Alexander the Great [2.Alexander III of Macedon. This coin minted by Lysimachos is thought to have one of the most accurate likenesses of Alexander the Great

Alexander III of Macedon. This coin, minted by Lysimachos, is thought to be one of the most accurate likenesses of Alexander the Great. There was a tendency for the successors of Alexander the Great to portray themselves as looking like Alexander in an attempt to legitimize their rule. As a result, stylistically many of the obverse images on the coins of the Ptolemies and Seleucids are similar to the this coin in style and appearance.], his vast kingdom was divided up among his generals, with Ptolemy [3.PtolemyPtolemy I Soter (305 – 282 BC)] taking Egypt and Seleucus [4.Seleucus I NicatorSeleucus 1 Nicator (306-281 BC)] taking Syria. Judea found itself in the middle of territorial battles between these two quarreling Greek armies. Ultimately Judah was conquered by the Seleucids, but the Jews continued to be unapologetically Jewish in their customs and religion. This proved to be very problematic for their new Greek masters.
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