Come tell your own story. Don’t let other people or the church tell it for you. They have a narrative about you and why you left. By far, the narrative they tell is not the truth.
This is the story that is told currently, by an apostle of the church about those who choose to leave. He and his wife ridicule those who struggle and leave because of the many damaging church history issues that exist. They suggest that those who have doubts because of church history are insisting to play “church history whack-a-mole”!
We should be concerned that there are so many issues with the church’s history and doctrine that one can play whack-a-mole! This is the problem, it’s a red flag that we even have issues we must place on the mormon shelf. The narrative the church has taught is not true, and they know it. The solution to them is to study these in crisis of faith, slowly change the narrative, and blame the members for struggling with the inaccuracies and lies. Let’s not blame members for struggling with all the issues but address the issues and help them reconcile the faithfully. Oh, wait? That’s not possible? Resort to plan B where we ridicule the doubters as lazy learners and perpetual doubters.
Sister Ruth L. Renlund: One’s desire for faith must result in action. In many ways, we express our faith with our feet.
This principle is stated in the Book of Mormon promise that my husband followed as an 11-year-old. “And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.”
When you start with the question, “Could these things not be true?” it leads to a beginning of faith that if nurtured grows. “Could these things not be true?” is a question that presumes that it is true. For instance, if I say, “Aren’t we going to drive from Honolulu to the north shore?” it presumes that we are going to drive. The question urged by Moroni that we ask concerning the Book of Mormon is one motivated by faith and therefore leads to more faith.
If we instead start with the question, “Could these things not be false?” it leads to doubt. And doubt never leads to faith.
Elder Dale G. Renlund: On one occasion while attending a stake conference, a stake president asked me to visit with a man whom I will call Stephen. Stephen had been a faithful member of the Church. He had served a mission and had married in the temple. He had served faithfully for many years but began to have doubts about the Church. As I visited with Stephen, he said that he had concerns with the fact that Joseph Smith related four versions of the First Vision. He thought that this might mean that Joseph Smith made up his experience.
I put Stephen in contact with a man who had researched these four versions decades earlier. Stephen visited with the researcher. The next time I spoke with Stephen I said, “So, how do you feel about the First Vision?”
He said, “Well, I feel okay about that because my questions have been answered. That no longer bothers me. But now I’m really concerned about the polygamy that was practiced in Nauvoo and after the Manifesto in 1890. That is really troubling me.”
I asked Stephen to visit with someone who had researched these topics in reliable primary sources. After that discussion, I contacted Stephen and asked how he was doing.
He said, “Well, that doesn’t bother me anymore. I understand what happened, and my concerns have been resolved. But now I really am concerned that the priesthood was withheld for a time from those of African descent.”
Sister Ruth L. Renlund: Sadly, Stephen had chosen to be a perpetual doubter. For him, doubting pleased him more than knowing and he was digging up in doubt what he had planted in faith. As time went on, as one concern was resolved, another one was found. No matter how much anyone tried to respond and answer these questions, he found another topic on which he was anxious. He focused on the dents in the boat instead of on the capability of the boat to lead him to the blessings of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. What Stephen was doing is a form of “Church history whack-a-mole.” You know, the children’s game where a mole pops up from a board and as soon as you hit it, another mole pops up in another place.
While further intellectual information may temporarily resolve an intellectual concern, further information is not the complete solution because, as Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” Faith in Jesus Christ and a witness borne of the Spirit are also needed.
Many who have had questions, who have had doubt enter their minds, and have had difficulty finding their spiritual footing have nonetheless stayed faithful and have remained on the covenant path. Often, as they have prayed, they have received the answer Elder Neil L. Andersen received decades ago when he wondered whether he was adequately prepared to enter the mission field. As he prayed, the feeling came: “You don’t know everything, but you know enough!” At times—in fact often—the Lord’s answer will be, “You know enough to stay on the covenant path and keep My commandments.”
When Nephi was asked if he knew what the condescension of God was, he said, “I know that [God] loveth his children; nevertheless, I do not know the meaning of all things.”13 He knew enough. In this life, we will never know the meaning of all things, but we know enough. Our destinies depend on exercising embryonic faith that will grow as we act in faith.
Elder Dale G. Renlund: Doubt is not and will never be the precursor of faith any more than light depends on darkness for its creation. Peter was not told, as he was slipping into the water after having tried to walk on it, “Oh Peter, if only you had more doubt.” No, he was told, “O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?”
In the Lectures on Faith, the differences between faith and doubt are explained: “Where doubt and uncertainty are … faith is not, nor can it be. For doubt and faith do not exist in the same person at the same time; … persons whose minds are under doubts and fears cannot have unshaken confidence; and where unshaken confidence is not, there faith is weak; and where faith is weak the persons will not be able to contend against all the opposition, tribulations, and afflictions which they will have to encounter in order to be heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ Jesus; and they will grow weary in their minds, and the adversary will have power over them and destroy them.”
This is what happened to Stephen. He let doubt and uncertainty occupy his mind. As time went on, he did not have the strength to confront the challenges that one faces as a member of the Church. He grew weary in his mind, and his faith disappeared.
Sister Ruth L. Renlund: To have questions about the Church and its doctrines is normal and the root of gospel learning. Joseph Smith understood that when he read, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.”
But the passage continues, “But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering.”
In other words, ask God, not doubting that He can give you an answer. The passage continues, “For he that wavereth [or doubts] is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord. A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.”
To receive the kind of answer that Joseph Smith sought, to receive the kind of answer we crave, we need to approach God with a believing heart and a mind desiring that the things of God will become known to us.
Sister Ruth L. Renlund: Would you seek financial advice from someone who is broke and in debt?
Elder Dale G. Renlund: Would you ask for medical advice from a charlatan snake oil salesman?
Sister Ruth L. Renlund: Who would you take advice from on how to improve your forehand in tennis—a weekend hack or Roger Federer?
Elder Dale G. Renlund: So why would you entrust your eternal welfare to those who are spiritually bankrupt because they have ripped up in doubt what they once planted in faith21 or who, as Jeremiah said, “have forsaken [Christ] the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water?” These individuals have walked away from that fountain of living waters and want you to trust in something that doesn’t hold water.
Sister Ruth L. Renlund: Brothers and sisters, you can know that there is a Living Christ. The blogosphere cannot replace scripture study and reading the words of living prophets and apostles. Foster your faith by going to trustworthy sources to find answers to your questions.“Doubt Not, but Be Believing”
Elder Dale G Renlund, Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and his wife Sister Ruth L Renlund
Worldwide Devotional for Young Adults • January 13, 2019 • Brigham Young University–Hawaii
These are some examples of issues with which one could play church history whack-a-mole… Another term for “putting it on your shelf”.
These are issues that thousands if not millions of members struggle with! You are not alone in feeling the traumatic shock, grief, and betrayal when you learn more about the issues. Messages like this demonize critical thinkers and those who are truth seekers.
Please, find a way to tell your own story so we can dispel the myths that are created and perpetuated by church leaders. This site is one such way to share your story. Start today: