An article recently appeared in the New York Times regarding Mormons doubting their faith. One of the hallmarks of any legitimate religious faith is a space for doubt, and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is no exception. If there were no doubt, there would be no faith, for “faith is not to have a perfect knowledge of things” (Alma 32:21). Terryl Givens discussed the issue of doubt in his recent essay, “Letter to a Doubter,” in Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture.
I know I am grateful for a propensity to doubt because it gives me the capacity to freely believe … The call to faith is a summons to engage the heart, to attune it to resonate in sympathy with principles and values and ideals that we devoutly hope are true and which we have reasonable but not certain grounds for believing to be true. There must be grounds for doubt as well as belief in order to render the choice more truly a choice, and therefore more deliberate and laden with more personal vulnerability and investment. An overwhelming preponderance of evidence on either side would make our choice as meaningless as would a loaded gun pointed at our heads. The option to believe must appear on one’s personal horizon like the fruit of paradise, perched precariously between sets of demands held in dynamic tension. Fortunately, in this world, one is always provided with sufficient materials out of which to fashion a life of credible conviction or dismissive denial. We are acted upon, in other words, by appeals to our personal values, our yearnings, our fears, our appetites, and our egos. What we choose to embrace, to be responsive to, is the purest reflection of who we are and what we love. That is why faith, the choice to believe, is, in the final analysis, an action that is positively laden with moral significance. ((Terryl Givens, “Letter to a Doubter,” Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture 4:2013, 144-145))
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland echoed these sentiments in his address at the most recent April General Conference, adding that
When those moments come and issues surface, the resolution of which is not immediately forthcoming, hold fast to what you already know and stand strong until additional knowledge comes. ((Jeffrey R. Holland, “Lord, I Believe,” April 2013 General Conference. Emphasis in original.))
Latter-day Saints are taught to continually seek additional knowledge “by study and also by faith” (D&C 88:118). We encourage all to examine thoroughly and prayerfully the wealth of resources increasingly available about Church history and doctrine. Such examination is not merely compatible with faith but, in fact, is mandated by it. The many who find faith in the midst of doubt are encouraged in these words: “The glory of God is intelligence, or, in other words, light and truth” (D&C 93:36).
Below are links to resources about the issues raised in the New York Times article.
Book of Abraham and Egyptian Papyri
Joseph Smith’s Polygamy
Book of Mormon DNA
Book of Mormon Steel Swords
History of the Church and Censorship