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Question on "Faith Crisis"

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9 hours ago, MrShorty said:

 

I have observed in this group before that it seems like some of the worst debates in the Church are creationism vs. evolutionism debates, and seem to recall once questioning whether creationists and evolutionists could comfortable worship together. Others have observed that some of the worst debates are BoM geography (in particular, certain Heartlanders seem really intolerant of any other geographic model). Can the orthodox and the heretic come to a place where they can worship comfortably together? Maybe as @Fether's question kind of asks, should they?

 

Quote

 

Heresy two concerns itself with the relationship between organic evolution and revealed religion and asks the question whether they can be harmonized.

There are those who believe that the theory of organic evolution runs counter to the plain and explicit principles set forth in the holy scriptures as these have been interpreted and taught by Joseph Smith and his associates. There are others who think that evolution is the system used by the Lord to form plant and animal life and to place man on earth.

May I say that all truth is in agreement, that true religion and true science bear the same witness, and that in the true and full sense, true science is part of true religion. But may I also raise some questions of a serious nature. Is there any way to harmonize the false religions of the Dark Ages with the truths of science as they have now been discovered? Is there any way to harmonize the revealed religion that has come to us with the theoretical postulates of Darwinism and the diverse speculations descending therefrom?

Should we accept the famous document of the First Presidency issued in the days of President Joseph F. Smith and entitled “The Origin of Man” as meaning exactly what it says? Is it the doctrine of the gospel that Adam stood next to Christ in power and might and intelligence before the foundations of the world were laid; that Adam was placed on this earth as an immortal being; that there was no death in the world for him or for any form of life until after the Fall; that the fall of Adam brought temporal and spiritual death into the world; that this temporal death passed upon all forms of life, upon man and animal and fish and fowl and plant life; that Christ came to ransom man and all forms of life from the effects of the temporal death brought into the world through the Fall, and in the case of man from a spiritual death also; and that this ransom includes a resurrection for man and for all forms of life? Can you harmonize these things with the evolutionary postulate that death has always existed and that the various forms of life have evolved from preceding forms over astronomically long periods of time?

Can you harmonize the theories of men with the inspired words that say:

And now, behold, if Adam had not transgressed he would not have fallen, but he would have remained in the Garden of Eden. And all things which were created must have remained in the same state in which they were after they were created; and they must have remained forever, and had no end.

And they [meaning Adam and Eve] would have had no children; wherefore they would have remained in a state of innocence, having no joy, for they knew no misery; doing no good, for they knew no sin.

But behold, all things have been done in the wisdom of him who knoweth all things.

Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy.

And the Messiah cometh in the fulness of time, that he may redeem the children of men from the fall. [2 Nephi 2:22–26]

These are questions to which all of us should find answers. Every person must choose for himself what he will believe. I recommend that all of you study and ponder and pray and seek light and knowledge in these and in all fields.

I believe that the atonement of Christ is the great and eternal foundation upon which revealed religion rests. I believe that no man can be saved unless he believes that our Lord’s atoning sacrifice brings immortality to all and eternal life to those who believe and obey, and no man can believe in the atonement unless he accepts both the divine sonship of Christ and the fall of Adam.

My reasoning causes me to conclude that if death has always prevailed in the world, then there was no fall of Adam that brought death to all forms of life; that if Adam did not fall, there is no need for an atonement; that if there was no atonement, there is no salvation, no resurrection, and no eternal life; and that if there was no atonement, there is nothing in all of the glorious promises that the Lord has given us. I believe that the Fall affects man, all forms of life, and the earth itself, and that the Atonement affects man, all forms of life, and the earth itself.

 

 

-Elder Bruce R. McConkie

 

 

 

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@Grunt I suppose it is natural for a comment that includes both the words evolution and heresy would naturally trigger a reference to Elder McConkie's "Seven Deadly Heresies" talk. I don't know how far down this rabbit hole we really want to go here, because we've been down it before and we will probably go down it again at some point. Yes, Elder McConkie tends to figure prominently on the pro-creationism/anti-evolutionism side of the debate because of statements like this. I observe that, in spite of the "certainty" of Elder McConkie's opinion, the Church on the whole has been unwilling to adopt Elder McConkie's opinion that evolutionism is a deadly heresy. Again, we can go down this rabbit hole if the group really wants to, but I don't see it helping the current discussion (but what do I know?).

The real question that I think would further the current discussion, how do the creationists in the Church feel about worshiping with (being in communion with?) those who reject Elder McConkie's opinion(s) on evolution? How should we deal with such strongly held differences of opinion? Are there (to borrow from my old Missionary Guide training materials) "more effective" (that preserve our ability to share pews together) and "less effective" (that discourage saints with differing opinions from worshiping under the same roof) ways to deal with these strongly held differences of opinion? I can only speak for myself, but these are the questions that often take center stage when I wonder if I want to stay in communion with the Latter-day Saints. Exactly how you choose to answer questions related to creationism/evolutionism for yourself are less important to me than these other questions.

Edited by MrShorty

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9 hours ago, Vort said:

Have patience with us, MrShorty. We're not there yet, either. I'll try to reciprocate. I'm at best a pale, distorted reflection of the Savior. But I'm a brother, and I try to remember to act like one. I often forget, and I'm ashamed of that. But I like to think my failures and deficiencies don't define me, and that yours don't define you.

Maybe patience is another key virtue in this discussion. We live in an era of instant everything, and sometimes it seems that patience is in short supply. Some processes, and I wonder if things like testimony and conversion are long term maybe even life-long processes (notable exceptions like Alma the Younger and St. Paul aside). The scriptural phrase "waiting on God" seems to capture some of what I feel is happening here. Maybe we all need more patience, more willingness to wait upon the Lord to resolve our differences in His time and in His way.

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20 minutes ago, MrShorty said:

@Grunt I suppose it is natural for a comment that includes both the words evolution and heresy would naturally trigger a reference to Elder McConkie's "Seven Deadly Heresies" talk. I don't know how far down this rabbit hole we really want to go here, because we've been down it before and we will probably go down it again at some point. Yes, Elder McConkie tends to figure prominently on the pro-creationism/anti-evolutionism side of the debate because of statements like this. I observe that, in spite of the "certainty" of Elder McConkie's opinion, the Church on the whole has been unwilling to adopt Elder McConkie's opinion that evolutionism is a deadly heresy. Again, we can go down this rabbit hole if the group really wants to, but I don't see it helping the current discussion (but what do I know?).

The real question that I think would further the current discussion, how do the creationists in the Church feel about worshiping with (being in communion with?) those who reject Elder McConkie's opinion(s) on evolution? How should we deal with such strongly held differences of opinion? Are there (to borrow from my old Missionary Guide training materials) "more effective" (that preserve our ability to share pews together) and "less effective" (that discourage saints with differing opinions from worshiping under the same roof) ways to deal with these strongly held differences of opinion? I can only speak for myself, but these are the questions that often take center stage when I wonder if I want to stay in communion with the Latter-day Saints. Exactly how you choose to answer questions related to creationism/evolutionism for yourself are less important to me than these other questions.

I am a fan of McConkie - I love studying all his works and have learned a great deal from him.  All considered, McConkie's views (written and otherwise) of Catholicism, Blacks and the Priesthood and evolution were never approved by the first presidency and in some instances he was specifically requested to "reword" his public opinions.

McConkie uses the term "Organic Evolution" to distinguish Darwinism from demonstrable changes in organic generation of life.  This is most apparent in the conflicts between doctrinal notions of "different" human races as the result of organic evolution or divine curses and blessings.

 

The Traveler

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11 hours ago, MrShorty said:

 I think what I sometimes take away from the "it's not our job to make you comfortable, it's your job" response is that members maybe don't care one way or another whether or not I show up to worship with them. If they don't care whether or not I'm worshiping with them, and I'm uncertain if I want to worship with them, it becomes really easy to just decide to drift away and worship by myself.

I understand that feeling... but it is not in anyway what I mean.   Everyone that tries to be a follower of Christ is expected to trying to be Christ-like in all things like compassion, mercy, patience, tolerance etc.   We also know that we all sin and fall short.  We fail and sometimes we fail hard.  If our faith is dependent on the actions others, of them not falling, it is a form of idolatry.  It is also a position of powerlessness, because we surrender our agency to another.  The only position of power, of agency, and of worship of the true and living God, is to act as best you can on the truths you know no matter what others do.

This is not to say that those who sin and fall short some how get away with it.  This is not the case.  But rather principal of forgiveness is to surrender our claims for justice, redress of wrongs, and legitimate grievances to the Lord (and depending on the nature of the sin to proper mortal authorities), and say to the Lord "Thy will be done and not mine".  This is hard to do.  In fact it is often a lesson we need to learn and relearn many times.  But this is how we can sit an a pew across from the loud mouth, opinionated person we disagree with, who (at least in our eyes) is failing hard.

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1 hour ago, MrShorty said:

@Grunt I suppose it is natural for a comment that includes both the words evolution and heresy would naturally trigger a reference to Elder McConkie's "Seven Deadly Heresies" talk. I don't know how far down this rabbit hole we really want to go here, because we've been down it before and we will probably go down it again at some point. Yes, Elder McConkie tends to figure prominently on the pro-creationism/anti-evolutionism side of the debate because of statements like this. I observe that, in spite of the "certainty" of Elder McConkie's opinion, the Church on the whole has been unwilling to adopt Elder McConkie's opinion that evolutionism is a deadly heresy. Again, we can go down this rabbit hole if the group really wants to, but I don't see it helping the current discussion (but what do I know?).

See, I think this is an issue that those who challenge faith run into and I have difficulty understanding why.   We assume because it isn't a talk given every conference that the "Church" hasn't adopted it.  Elder Bednar addressed that very point this last General Conference in his talk.  President Ezra Taft Benson very directly counseled us "The prophet and the presidency—the living prophet and the First Presidency—follow them and be blessed—reject them and suffer."   He didn't say "choose what we follow" or "wait until everyone in the Church gives talks on something before following it."

 

Quote

The real question that I think would further the current discussion, how do the creationists in the Church feel about worshiping with (being in communion with?) those who reject Elder McConkie's opinion(s) on evolution? How should we deal with such strongly held differences of opinion? Are there (to borrow from my old Missionary Guide training materials) "more effective" (that preserve our ability to share pews together) and "less effective" (that discourage saints with differing opinions from worshiping under the same roof) ways to deal with these strongly held differences of opinion? I can only speak for myself, but these are the questions that often take center stage when I wonder if I want to stay in communion with the Latter-day Saints. Exactly how you choose to answer questions related to creationism/evolutionism for yourself are less important to me than these other questions.

I'm ecstatic to have anyone worship with me.  The Lord's house is open to all.  I've shared a pew (well, row since our tiny ward still racks chairs after every Sacrament and sets them up the next week) with drunks, atheists, Buddhists, and many other people that don't believe what I believe.  I'm not sure why someone would think that I would feel differently.  

That said, you have to be equally comfortable with the knowledge that if you utter things that run counter to what the Lord has revealed to us through His Prophets and Apostles, I'm going to call that out and cite the people He has chosen to speak through.  

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This is in reply to no one in particular.

I have never had (up to this point in my life) a "faith crisis". I have been told by the spirit several times that Jesus is the Christ, and that His church was restored to the earth by His prophet Joseph Smith. Each succeeding prophet since that time has held the keys necessary to move His work forward. It doesn't matter if a policy in the church changes, or if the world as a whole moves farther away from the principles of Christianity. The spirit has conveyed truth to me in a very clear way. I have received a witness the work is true, so nothing else matters. I take what comes my way with faith, and don't worry about asking why...why would I question a loving God who knows more than I do? Why would I not trust the answers He gave me? The efficacy or truth in those answers do not lessen over time, so why should my convictions? Why would I allow the opinion of another person in regards to a topic that has no real impact on my life or how I worship sway my testimony? Who really cares? Let them think what they think. The gospel is simple, and it is the adversary who constantly pushes pointless questions into people's minds - they are pointless because their answers cannot possibly be answered in this life, and their answers would really have no meaningful impact anyway. The evidences of the restored gospel that we do have strengthen my faith, but they are not my foundation...it is the testimony of the Holy Ghost. Some may call me the prototypical sheep...just blindly following what the leaders of the church tell me to do. But, the fact remains that every single trial I have had in my life has been overcome as I put the Lord first and wait upon Him. When I follow the counsel from the living prophet, I am happy, and all things eventually work themselves out. Every part of my life is better because of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and I have seen the lives of so many who leave the church fall into disarray, emptiness, and confusion. I try to help them as best I can, but I do not let their their lives or actions influence what I know to be true. The church's message is true or it isn't; so we as a people need to stop forcing some middle ground to appear. It is hard at times to be a member of this church, but life is ultimately harder when you are not a part of it. Think back to, remember, and trust in the answers that a loving Father in Heaven has given to you...not in the philosophies of men.

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2 hours ago, estradling75 said:

If our faith is dependent on the actions others, of them not falling, it is a form of idolatry.  It is also a position of powerlessness, because we surrender our agency to another.  The only position of power, of agency, and of worship of the true and living God, is to act as best you can on the truths you know no matter what others do.

I must also not be communicating clearly, because I agree wholeheartedly with this, but it doesn't express what I see going on. Perhaps a parable/analogy/whatever this is:

Person A through various means and sources comes to some understanding and relationship with God, theology, morality, etc. Upon encountering person B, they discuss their views on religion and decide that they have much in common and, despite any differences, they want to meet periodically (weekly/monthly/whatever) to worship and discuss and learn from each other. Over time, they have many good meetings, discussing commonalities and differences, always eager for the next meeting. At some point, A expresses a new insight, which B disagrees with. Something about this new disagreement causes A to wonder if these meetings are still valuable. Suddenly, A is ambivalent about the next meeting, and expresses his concern to B. Can you see how the likelihood of the next meeting occurring depends on B's enthusiasm? Person A and Person B's faith and understanding of truth and relationship to God need not change just because they decide to no longer meet, so each is still standing on their own two spiritual feet. It's a question of whether to two individuals want to or maybe even should continue to fellowship.

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2 minutes ago, MrShorty said:

I must also not be communicating clearly, because I agree wholeheartedly with this, but it doesn't express what I see going on. Perhaps a parable/analogy/whatever this is:

Person A through various means and sources comes to some understanding and relationship with God, theology, morality, etc. Upon encountering person B, they discuss their views on religion and decide that they have much in common and, despite any differences, they want to meet periodically (weekly/monthly/whatever) to worship and discuss and learn from each other. Over time, they have many good meetings, discussing commonalities and differences, always eager for the next meeting. At some point, A expresses a new insight, which B disagrees with. Something about this new disagreement causes A to wonder if these meetings are still valuable. Suddenly, A is ambivalent about the next meeting, and expresses his concern to B. Can you see how the likelihood of the next meeting occurring depends on B's enthusiasm? Person A and Person B's faith and understanding of truth and relationship to God need not change just because they decide to no longer meet, so each is still standing on their own two spiritual feet. It's a question of whether to two individuals want to or maybe even should continue to fellowship.

I hear what you are saying... But you are excluding "What do you think God wants you to do" from your calculations.  And as long as you exclude God you will have problems in faith oriented environments.  If you believe that God wants you in fellowship with others (which the Church teaches)(aka they are valuable because God commands it if for no other reason) the answer for either A or B should be "yes continue".  However if either A or B conclude God does not care about them fellowshipping then they can break it and there is not much the other can do about it.

So if comes down to  Do you believe that God wants/commands you to go to church?  If yes, then you obey.  If your reasons for fellowshipping have nothing to do with following God's commands then you are following an idol of your own making and it will lead you elsewhere.

And if you do not know what God wants you to do... well that is what prayer and scripture study is for.

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23 hours ago, Grunt said:

See, I think this is an issue that those who challenge faith run into and I have difficulty understanding why.

It seems to me that so many faith crisis issues distill down to the issue of picking and choosing which apostolic statements to accept as truth. If you want to understand what is happening in the mind and soul of someone in faith crisis, I suggest seeking to understand how and why an otherwise good member of the Church would choose to reject  specific concepts taught by some apostles and prophets.

Edited by MrShorty

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20 hours ago, estradling75 said:

I hear what you are saying... But you are excluding "What do you think God wants you to do" from your calculations.  And as long as you exclude God you will have problems in faith oriented environments.

Part of the "crisis" in faith crisis, I think, is not being certain what God wants from me. Certainly, I am wrestling with those uncertainties and seeking clarity from God and scripture and such. Part of that uncertainty could be simply being open to idea that God no longer wants me to worship with the Church. I know we have had a couple of discussions about whether or not God would/could instruct someone to believe something different from the Church or even to reject the Church altogether.

If an investigator comes to Church and says they are having good experiences with the missionaries and likes much of what they are learning, but they are waiting for more clarity on the question of baptism, we would enthusiastically encourage them to continue the process of conversion. None of that encouragement means that we believe that we have any direct responsibility for whether or not the investigator continues the conversion process or the outcome of God's communications to them personally. Similarly, if a former member speaks to us of initiating a reconversion process, we likewise encourage them and offer support. It feels different to me when the process could be a deconversion process. It feels to me like "you are ultimately responsible for your own testimony and salvation" feels more like "you are on your own, brother. I want no part of encouraging this." That could just be me, but I think what I am wanting us to consider is if we feel the same sense of encouragement towards the process of study and prayer when we see the possibility of it leading away.

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28 minutes ago, MrShorty said:

That could just be me, but I think what I am wanting us to consider is if we feel the same sense of encouragement towards the process of study and prayer when we see the possibility of it leading away.

Of course we do.  We simply think that any 'answer' that draws you farther away from God (at least how we see it) is not really of God.  Having answers that are not of God is also something we have all experienced and need to overcome.  Sometimes we need to travel down the wrong path to understand that it is wrong.  As an individual we need to follow the path we think God has for us as best we can wherever it leads. (with personal revelation as scriptures as our foundation).  Those of us watching an individual doing this can only respond with the more general gospel answers because chances are we do not have the stewardship to get personal revelation for the individual in question.

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5 hours ago, MrShorty said:

It feels to me like "you are ultimately responsible for your own testimony and salvation" feels more like "you are on your own, brother. I want no part of encouraging this." That could just be me, but I think what I am wanting us to consider is if we feel the same sense of encouragement towards the process of study and prayer when we see the possibility of it leading away.

Faithful study and prayer won't have the possibility of it leading away.  I can't see how it would.  My encouragement to anyone whether they are an investigator, coming back to church, or having a faith crisis would be to study and pray, and please reach out to me with any questions or help they may need, and that would include you.   

My experience with people deconstructing their faith, and I've known more than a few "former" members, has been that they aren't studying the right things.

Edited to add: I'm probably a HORRIBLE person to discuss generalities with, though, because my faith is pretty black and white.  Something is either good and of God or bad, and not.  I don't play with the grey much.  There is too much good to uncover and study.  

Being so black and white often leads me to deliver definitive and blunt advice.  Even though I mean it with love and I really do care, if someone comes to me and says "I'm really struggling with what the prophet said" my response is typically "well, he's the prophet".   

14. The prophet and the presidency—the living prophet and the First Presidency—follow them and be blessed—reject them and suffer.

In fact, this is the meat of the talk I'm giving in Sacrament tomorrow, so my post tomorrow night may be "help Grunt get re-baptized after his ex-communication".

Edited by Grunt

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10 hours ago, MrShorty said:

Part of the "crisis" in faith crisis, I think, is not being certain what God wants from me. Certainly, I am wrestling with those uncertainties and seeking clarity from God and scripture and such. Part of that uncertainty could be simply being open to idea that God no longer wants me to worship with the Church. I know we have had a couple of discussions about whether or not God would/could instruct someone to believe something different from the Church or even to reject the Church altogether.

If an investigator comes to Church and says they are having good experiences with the missionaries and likes much of what they are learning, but they are waiting for more clarity on the question of baptism, we would enthusiastically encourage them to continue the process of conversion. None of that encouragement means that we believe that we have any direct responsibility for whether or not the investigator continues the conversion process or the outcome of God's communications to them personally. Similarly, if a former member speaks to us of initiating a reconversion process, we likewise encourage them and offer support. It feels different to me when the process could be a deconversion process. It feels to me like "you are ultimately responsible for your own testimony and salvation" feels more like "you are on your own, brother. I want no part of encouraging this." That could just be me, but I think what I am wanting us to consider is if we feel the same sense of encouragement towards the process of study and prayer when we see the possibility of it leading away.

I think for people like you, these types of faith crisis are so important. Some people can get away with never questioning or doubting, but you can’t and I don’t think you should pretend otherwise.

In your case, I would put every possibility on the table and test it. Throw yourself up against the wall of faith and see what happens. You can’t pray for financial blessings while not be paying tithing, and then deduce there is no god when no blessings come. You can’t test God through priesthood blessings while you are also indulging in porn, and then get upset when the blessing you gave was inaccurate to what ended up happening.

Test God with full purpose of heart and do it correctly. 

I am all for people testing the spirit and god to the best of their ability. For better or for worst (most likely better).

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Guest Scott
On 10/23/2020 at 9:12 AM, MrShorty said:

The real question that I think would further the current discussion, how do the creationists in the Church 

Side topic, but members of our church aren't really creationist.

Creationists believe that God created everything out of nothing (ex nihilo).   We believe that God organized matter, not created it and that it already existed.

See here for example:

Many Christian writers have defined the Creation as creation from nothing. But the book of Abraham clarifies that God “organized” the worlds out of unorganized matter. To those who were with him, God said, “We will go down, for there is space there, and we will take of these materials, and we will make an earth whereon these may dwell.” (Abr. 3:24.) And since all life came from the earth’s elements, all things came from existing material. This insight in no way diminishes the significance of the Lord’s creation, but rather gives us a glimpse into the nature of eternal law.

https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/ensign/1986/01/four-accounts-of-the-creation?lang=eng

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On 10/24/2020 at 10:31 AM, MrShorty said:

Part of the "crisis" in faith crisis, I think, is not being certain what God wants from me. Certainly, I am wrestling with those uncertainties and seeking clarity from God and scripture and such. Part of that uncertainty could be simply being open to idea that God no longer wants me to worship with the Church. I know we have had a couple of discussions about whether or not God would/could instruct someone to believe something different from the Church or even to reject the Church altogether.

If an investigator comes to Church and says they are having good experiences with the missionaries and likes much of what they are learning, but they are waiting for more clarity on the question of baptism, we would enthusiastically encourage them to continue the process of conversion. None of that encouragement means that we believe that we have any direct responsibility for whether or not the investigator continues the conversion process or the outcome of God's communications to them personally. Similarly, if a former member speaks to us of initiating a reconversion process, we likewise encourage them and offer support. It feels different to me when the process could be a deconversion process. It feels to me like "you are ultimately responsible for your own testimony and salvation" feels more like "you are on your own, brother. I want no part of encouraging this." That could just be me, but I think what I am wanting us to consider is if we feel the same sense of encouragement towards the process of study and prayer when we see the possibility of it leading away.

I would add a couple of thoughts.  I have conversed with several that have experienced various "Faith Crisis".  Almost always their crisis centers around either doctrine of things that do not seem to be working out with someone and "The Church".  Much like your first paragraph.   In short I believe such is and pseudo crisis.  Please allow me to explain.  I believe the real crisis deals with covenants - in particular the covenants that come with the ordinances of salvation.  I will give an example - using the Sabbath.  As many times as I have been in discussions about the Sabbath; it seems that such discussions are centered around do's and don't's of what is proper for the Sabbath.  And it seems that regardless - the discussions is about exceptions.  I see these are discussions of doctrine.  And so I will inquire about covenant rather than doctrine.  I will ask - "What is your Sabbath Covenant?"  Few have any idea what I am asking?  And so they start into doctrine, do's and don't's.  And soon the question comes - "what about exceptions?"

I was taught by my parents to be true to one's word.  If I ever make a commitment, promise or covenant - then I am obligated to fulfill the commitment.  I do not want to sound better than anyone but I think that not knowing what to do is not so much not knowing what to do as it is not wanting to do it. 

 

The Traveler

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@Traveler I probably cannot speak for others, but I don't feel like I am just looking for a way out of covenants. If changes to covenants are even included in what happens, I would probably classify them more as "changes to my covenants" or "new understandings of my covenants" and not some kind of underlying motivation for my faith crisis.

I get what y ou are saying about keeping your word, but when a nun or similar converts and joins the Church, we don't hold them to prior vows they may have made (for example, this nun who joined the Church was released from her vow of poverty: https://www.ldsliving.com/How-the-Secretary-to-3-Popes-Became-a-Mormon/s/82589 ). If covenants can change as part of a conversion experience, it seems reasonable that they may change as part of a deconversion/reconversion experience as well. It's mostly a discernment process trying to understand exactly what God expects of us.

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On 10/23/2020 at 11:49 AM, scottyg said:

Why would I not trust the answers He gave me?

I have re-read your post @scottyg, and this question keeps leaping out at me. It goes back to the question of whether or not God would give me answers that would lead away. If I trust what I think God is telling me, there are some conflicts there between what I feel God is telling me and what the Church says God is saying. It's not necessarily about the entire "is this the true Church", but smaller issues and questions.Trusting what God has said in the past about this being His Church, but also trusting what He seems to be telling me now about specific issues is difficult. Trusting God is key, but it is difficult when you get seemingly mixed messages from God.

I am reminded of something Pres. Oaks said at the Be One celebration that seems similar. He said that he prayed about the reasons being given for the priesthood and temple ban, but did not receive confirmation of the truth of any of them. He determined to be loyal (and I keep wondering exactly what he meant by that) to the brethren and the Church in spite of the conflict. In many ways, this is where I feel I am at. I don't receive confirmation of some things, and I find myself trying to understand what it might mean to be loyal through the contradictions or if I should distance myself from the Church or just what God wants me to do in the short and long term.

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I have been through several times where life was extremely turbulent. That includes the spiritual side of things and having complicated/hurt feelings when it comes to things of God and the earthly church.

I am debating how far to go into things...many things I could say. 

One big thing that is important is learning to love one another. That includes living those that are going through trublant times. Love, even when you don’t understand what they are going through. Forgive when they do something in pain or that causes pain. 

And when you’re the person in the turbalnce: live those around you.  Even those that need forgiveness because they made stupid bone-headed comments. Love them, even when they don’t understand what you’re going through and you don’t understand them either. 

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11 hours ago, MrShorty said:

I have re-read your post @scottyg, and this question keeps leaping out at me. It goes back to the question of whether or not God would give me answers that would lead away. If I trust what I think God is telling me, there are some conflicts there between what I feel God is telling me and what the Church says God is saying. It's not necessarily about the entire "is this the true Church", but smaller issues and questions.Trusting what God has said in the past about this being His Church, but also trusting what He seems to be telling me now about specific issues is difficult. Trusting God is key, but it is difficult when you get seemingly mixed messages from God.

I am reminded of something Pres. Oaks said at the Be One celebration that seems similar. He said that he prayed about the reasons being given for the priesthood and temple ban, but did not receive confirmation of the truth of any of them. He determined to be loyal (and I keep wondering exactly what he meant by that) to the brethren and the Church in spite of the conflict. In many ways, this is where I feel I am at. I don't receive confirmation of some things, and I find myself trying to understand what it might mean to be loyal through the contradictions or if I should distance myself from the Church or just what God wants me to do in the short and long term.

Whenever you go through a period where you are unsure about what you feel or that you feel conflicted the very first thing you need to do is a self inventory. Determine if there is anything in your life that could be disrupting communication from the Spirit or is there something you should be doing more to be in tune. It's easy to get out of tune without even knowing it so we must be constantly dialing in to keep those communication channels open. Second, pray for the gift of discernment concerning what you feel. If there is conflict in your mind, heart or spirit then you know something is not right, either a false influence or you are misinterpreting or something. The Lord might withhold answers from us but he never gives us conflicting answers. Whenever I have felt this way I have gone to the Lord in prayer and explained that I am not going to act on such promptings until I feel at peace in the matter. Sometimes peace comes and sometimes the "prompting" fades away. Sometimes the answer isn't immediate so just hold steady to what you do know in the meantime. 

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12 hours ago, MrShorty said:

@Traveler I probably cannot speak for others, but I don't feel like I am just looking for a way out of covenants. If changes to covenants are even included in what happens, I would probably classify them more as "changes to my covenants" or "new understandings of my covenants" and not some kind of underlying motivation for my faith crisis.

I get what y ou are saying about keeping your word, but when a nun or similar converts and joins the Church, we don't hold them to prior vows they may have made (for example, this nun who joined the Church was released from her vow of poverty: https://www.ldsliving.com/How-the-Secretary-to-3-Popes-Became-a-Mormon/s/82589 ). If covenants can change as part of a conversion experience, it seems reasonable that they may change as part of a deconversion/reconversion experience as well. It's mostly a discernment process trying to understand exactly what God expects of us.

It is interesting to me that the wording of covenants within the Church of Jesus Christ seem quite vague.  It is my understanding this is because we learn line upon line upon line and precept upon precept upon precept - here a little and there a little.  May I highlight two covenants.  First is the oath and covenant of the priesthood as outlined in D&C 84.  The wording is vague in referencing "accepting" and those that come in "his name".  The second covenant is in part contained within the first and is taking upon one's self the name of Christ.  The reason I reference these two covenants in this manner is because when we take upon us the name of Christ - that - of necessity - becomes the means whereby we know those that have (as we have) the power of the name of Christ or walk his path (follow him).    This thread has in it title "faith crisis".  When Isaiah stood before king Ahaz, he told the king in essence a crisis of faith is the disloyalty to covenants.   Jesus said it slightly differently but in essence meaning the same thing when he said, "If you continue in my word - you shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free."

 

The Traveler

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14 hours ago, MrShorty said:

I have re-read your post @scottyg, and this question keeps leaping out at me. It goes back to the question of whether or not God would give me answers that would lead away. If I trust what I think God is telling me, there are some conflicts there between what I feel God is telling me and what the Church says God is saying. It's not necessarily about the entire "is this the true Church", but smaller issues and questions.Trusting what God has said in the past about this being His Church, but also trusting what He seems to be telling me now about specific issues is difficult. Trusting God is key, but it is difficult when you get seemingly mixed messages from God.

I am reminded of something Pres. Oaks said at the Be One celebration that seems similar. He said that he prayed about the reasons being given for the priesthood and temple ban, but did not receive confirmation of the truth of any of them. He determined to be loyal (and I keep wondering exactly what he meant by that) to the brethren and the Church in spite of the conflict. In many ways, this is where I feel I am at. I don't receive confirmation of some things, and I find myself trying to understand what it might mean to be loyal through the contradictions or if I should distance myself from the Church or just what God wants me to do in the short and long term.

The best advice or counsel I can give is to wait upon the Lord. Although He didn't answer Pres. Oaks' inquiries at the time, the answer did eventually come in the form of the ban being lifted. As he also said in that talk "As part of my prayerful study, I learned that, in general, the Lord rarely gives reasons for the commandments and directions He gives to His servants." Although a reason may not be given, He never leads those who truly desire to come unto Him astray...whatever that path might be. I cannot see how intentionally leading someone away from His church would be beneficial...but I cannot speak for Him. Also, make sure that your concerns are properly placed - are they with the Gospel and the Lord's doctrine, or with church policy? There are a couple of church policies that I do not personally agree with. However, I realize that my current position and view is limited, and I may not be seeing the big picture. Over time some of them have resolved, and I now know why things are the way they are. Some are not yet resolved, but I don't worry about them and put faith in the Lord's timing. 

There have been several times in my life (most when I was a missionary) when people have told me that they honestly prayed about the gospel, and felt that it wasn't for them. At that point I no longer tried to push our message, but simply accepted what they told me, and wished them the best. You cannot argue with a true answer from the Lord. Did they really receive a true answer, were they misinterpreting what they felt or pushing their own desires, or was it just an excuse to get us to leave them alone...only they and the Lord truly know. 

If the Lord has given you answers in the past, accept them, and do not continually press Him for constant reassurance with regards to every detail. Whatever your concerns may be, I would encourage you to do all of the basic "primary" things before making any decisions: pray with real intent, feast upon the scriptures, fast regularly, and provide service to others. I am not insinuating that you do not already do these things, but as we continually place ourselves in a position that is compatible with the spirit, guidance and direction tend to become clearer. The following is from one of my favorite conference talks given during my early months as a new missionary.

"Like you, I have felt what King Benjamin meant when he said that we could become like a little child before God. I have prayed, as you have, to know what to do when choices that I faced would have eternal consequences. Over many years I have seen a recurring pattern in the times when the answers to such a prayer have come most clearly.

Once, for instance, I prayed through the night to know what I was to choose to do in the morning. I knew that no other choice could have had a greater effect on the lives of others and on my own. I knew what choice looked most comfortable to me. I knew what outcome I wanted. But I could not see the future. I could not see which choice would lead to which outcome. So the risk of being wrong seemed too great to me.

I prayed, but for hours there seemed to be no answer. Just before dawn, a feeling came over me. More than at any time since I had been a child, I felt like one. My heart and my mind seemed to grow very quiet. There was a peace in that inner stillness.

Somewhat to my surprise, I found myself praying, “Heavenly Father, it doesn’t matter what I want. I don’t care anymore what I want. I only want that Thy will be done. That is all that I want. Please tell me what to do.”

In that moment I felt as quiet inside as I had ever felt. And the message came, and I was sure who it was from. It was clear what I was to do. I received no promise of the outcome. There was only the assurance that I was a child who had been told what path led to whatever He wanted for me.

Henry B Eyring, Apr 2006 General Conference

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