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I’m new to these forums so I’m not sure if this topic has been covered before. Let me just start by saying that I was happy to find a venue where faithful LDS can ask sincere questions regarding our faith. In my search for answers I have come across other sites and it soon became clear that I was reading anti-Mormon material. I could feel the spirit leave me, and that’s how you know. I’m a life-long member who had a faith crisis when I was a teenager that carried over into my mid-twenties. At 15 years old, I became obsessed with “disproving” events in the scriptures based on my own limited knowledge and understanding of how the world works. I began to challenge some of the more significant events in the old testament. I was convinced there was no way that we all were descendents of two people (because gross, incest). I was convinced there was no way that Moses literally split the Red Sea and marched across it because after 5 minutes of research, I saw there was a land bridge connecting Egypt with the middle east during that time. I was convinced there was no way to fill a ship with 1 pair of every animal, bird, insect, reptile etc and that became the basis for all life as we know it. I figured if these events were made up, or embellished, that it stood to reason other things in the Bible could be made up also. Why, even God could be made up. I continued down this path of destroying what little faith I had and then I set my sights on the Book of Mormon. What’s the easiest way to disprove the Book of Mormon? Attack the “source”, Joseph Smith. However, I had read enough of the Book of Mormon that I could not deny the spirit that I felt when I read it. I had visited the sacred grove, knelt in prayer, and received a witness that Joseph Smith was a Prophet of God. How could a young man with hardly any education, completely fabricate such a Book? I was stumped. As Jeffrey R Holland recently put it, (I’m paraphrasing b/c I can’t find the quote) “The Book of Mormon will stand as a roadblock for those who try to disprove the church”. And in my case, that was true. I could “disprove” everything except The Book of Mormon. I chalked it up to Joseph Smith being “divinely inspired” and told myself that IF there was a God, that the Church was true. I held on to that little seed of a testimony as I continued to make poor decisions. After 8 years, I was the prodigal son who returned to the church after wasting my blessings on riotous living. I saw what the world had to offer and I found it to be lacking of any real substance. I had been sufficiently humbled to the point of repentance. That was when this stiff-necked person turned to Christ and His church in a very real way. Soon after I returned, I met my future wife who is more amazing and beautiful than any of your wives (sorry fellas, I got the best one). As I was preparing to enter the temple to become sealed and receive my endowments, my wife and I attended a temple prep class. This class was preparing us for the covenants we were about to receive and the teacher told us that we would learn more about Adam and Eve. I confessed that I had always kind of viewed them symbolically to which he corrected me and said that they are literal, and that I’ll know that for myself after receiving my endowments. Well… I received my endowments, and I’ve probably done endowments for 25+ people at this point, and I still think that Adam & Eve are mostly symbolic and I’m ok with that. It really doesn’t bother me if they are just symbolic. When I die, and I find out that they were literally the mother and father of all living who instantly sprouted out of the ground, I’ll say “okay, cool”. When I die, and I find out they were symbolic of the first two spirits to enter the physical bodies that were formed over millions of years of evolution, and that the Old Testament might have gotten a few dates wrong because of ya know, no written history and what not I’ll say “Okay, cool”. How does one account for Science while also having faith in Heavenly Father and Christ? I draw great comfort from this quote by Joseph Smith “The fundamental principles of our religion are the testimony of the Apostles and Prophets, concerning Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended into heaven; and all other things which pertain to our religion are only appendages to it” I’m okay with viewing some things symbolically (especially in the Old Testament). Just look at how Christ and his Prophets & Apostles taught, through symbolism and parables. Look at how our Prophets and Apostles teach today, through symbolism and parables. When Dieter F. Uchtdorf talks about flying, he’s teaching using parables! Some might criticize my views, and tell me that I am wandering from the straight and narrow. That may be true. However, I believe viewing some of the appendages of the Gospel symbolically actually strengthens my Faith in the Savior. I love that Heavenly Father knows us so well, that he has provided us ways to understand difficult concepts in a simple way. After all, we are but bumbling toddlers compared to Him. Symbolism also helps me because I do not have to hold the appendages of our Religion to the scrutinizing flame of science. Q: Did Noah really build an Ark? A: Who cares, let’s focus on what is important. Q: Why are there structures built by humans 5,000 years before Adam and Eve? A: Who cares, let’s focus on what is important. Q: Was the Earth literally created in 7 days, or even 7,000 years? A: Who cares, let’s focus on what is important. I can see how viewing things symbolically can be dangerous, but I believe It can be more dangerous to have a very literal and dogmatic view of the Gospel. I was listening to a podcast recently (don’t worry, I stopped listening once I realized what it was) when a young man said one of the reasons he left the Church was because the Book of Mormon mentions horses and there is no current archeological evidence that supports horses in the Americas at that time. Really? Seriously? You’re going to bank your entire Testimony of the Savior and Heavenly Father’s plan on... _horses_? That sounds like a young man I once knew (me). What about the recent supposed discovery of Bountiful? What if you get so wrapped up in that, and it turns out it wasn’t the place, so you leave the church because “if it didn’t happen exactly like it states in the Book of Mormon, then I’m done!” I believe that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God. I also believe that Thomas S Monson is a Prophet of God. I have felt the redemptive power of Christ’s atoning grace in a very real and literal sense. I know we have a Heavenly Father and Mother who love us dearly. I believe that our church is lead by Christ and I know that The Book of Mormon is another testament of Christ and that it was not fabricated by Joseph Smith. I leave this Testimony as a witness, in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen. So, how do you account for Science and Faith? Do you ignore Science whole-cloth whenever it contradicts the Gospel? Or do you find a compromise that let’s you go on, moving forward in faith? Also, am I going to the Telestial Kingdom because I think Heavenly Father and Christ probably have some pretty stellar spaceships? (that’s another post for another day)
Do you all remember Stephen E. Robertson? In 1992, he wrote the book Believing Christ and wrote an article in the Ensign on the same topic asking the question “Do we Believe in Christ without believing Christ?” When I first heard it I rolled my eyes, “Ok. Another person came up with a cute play on words, and now people are running with it as if it renews their spirits somehow.” Yes, I’m a cynic... Recently, I’ve had cause to reflect on this question. My pointed questions are: Do we really believe the Lord runs this Church and not man? Do we really believe that the Atonement can bless us in this life, not just the next? Do we really believe continuing revelation occurs on a regular basis in the Church? Do we really believe the Church is founded on revelation and not on avoidance of liability? Do we really believe the power of the Priesthood is active in our blessings? Do we really believe that we have the Hosts of Heaven at our backs? I personally have had many faith promoting events in my life that would tell me YES to all these. But many active saints in my life seem to be resistant to the notion. I’ve been healed by blessings. I’ve received ministering of angels. I’ve heard an actual Voice speak to me. One Ex-Mormon friend who now attends another Christian Church was visibly, physically, shaken by it and had to remark, “Well, that’s just freaky!” The list goes on… While many have believed my testimony, I’m concerned about so many who utterly refuse to believe. It’s not my job to convince them, nor do I try. Yet, it is disturbing to know how many say they “believe in” but they don’t really “believe”. It seems that many are willing to believe in things if they can also be attributed to chance or other mundane explanations. But if it is inexplicable (truly miraculous) they don’t know how to process it. FAITH PROMOTING STORY As ward mission leader years ago, I met with the stake mission president. He told me his conversion story. Just before he was to be baptized, he had a business assignment that allowed him to meet with Pres. McKay. They started talking about some gospel questions for a few minutes. You don’t pass up a chance like that! In that private conversation he asked Pr. McKay, “Tell me. Have you ever personally, physically spoken with the Lord as one man speaks with another?” Pres. McKay gave a little chuckle, “Of course.” Then pointing to the very room they were sitting in and the conversation they were having with chairs pushing the two of them close together he said, “We have had many interviews since I was called to this office.” So, am I alone in experiencing the miracles that are as clear and plain as day? I believe that as Latter-Day Saints we need to be close to the Powers of Heaven. I believe that as Latter-Day Saints we need to be a people who believe that miracles can be familiar to us. Am I alone in this?