Why Faith Needs Doubt

Andrew apologetics, curiosity, doubt, faith, LDS, Mormon, mormon, Mormons, obedience 42 Comments

The very existence of what is commonly called the “veil” seems to tell us at least two things about what God intended real faith to be:  First, that he wanted faith to be a choice; for if God were to give us obvious and indisputable proof of his existence and doings, we would not need to choose to believe in him any more than we choose to believe the existence of the sun.  And second, that he wanted the choice to believe in him to be a difficult choice, not an easy one.  Believing in something we can see, hear, or touch is easy.  By concealing himself and his doings, God had demonstrated he wants faith development to be a soul-searching, heart-wrenching, and mind-bending experience.

This genuine brand of Faith, a faith that must be chosen, a difficult faith, would not be possible were it not for the existence of its counterpart: Doubt.   This is certainly not a new concept, but judging from the nature of the comments one often hears in our discussions and debates, one wonders how deeply it has penetrated our hearts and minds.

Do we fully recognize that if God did not allow reasons for serious doubt to exist, that there would be nothing for faith to “leap” over?  Do we realize that when we demand and expect undoubtable proof of the authenticity of scripture, of prophets, of his very existence, that such proof would not increase our faith, but to the contrary, would destroy the very need for faith to exist?  Do we understand that if faith were to disappear, so too would faith’s companions of choice and struggle?  And do we understand that if there is no choice and no struggle, that there is no growth and no development?

What a shame it is, then, when we decide to lose or deny our faith when God or the Church fail to show us the undoubtable proof that would, if produced, kill the very need for our faith to exist.  And how tragic for us to fail to realize that the very thing we thinkers demand of God and the Church, and that we fault them for not providing, is the very thing that would cause us to not have to think for ourselves at all.

Comments

comments

Comments 42

  1. I have yet to see anyone argue the “faith needs doubt” from scriptures. When reading the scriptures what stands out is the idea that when you have doubt, that is when faith has no power. Many times the scriptures just about scream for people to doubt not and have faith.

  2. To be more specific to this post, the problem isn’t that faith needs doubt. It is that humans reject the evidence that G-d gives us and tries to place faith in other sources of evidence. The Scriptures are clear on how we can gain more faith. The problem is that we reject His parameters for gaining faith. We cling to science, technology, other mortal’s voices and authority, and making of personal excuses. I have known very few who start out in life with doubt (in themselves, G-d, people) who don’t “learn how” to doubt and question. Not always a bad thing to find out right and wrong. However, it also presents a pessimist version of life that leads to sin, death, power struggles, and broken dreams.

    I wonder if G-d would rather we think and act like Pollyanna rather than Nietzsche.

  3. Faith is needed, of course, to see the things of god, which cannot be expressed as objective truths because then we would not need faith, which is needed to see the things of god, which if we could see, well, then we would not need faith…my head is spinning.

  4. Jettboy, you are, of course, absolutely correct about what the scriptures say about doubt. However, I believe my post is consistent with their message. By telling us not to doubt, the scriptures acknowledge that reasons to doubt exist. But they encourage us to believe in spite of those reasons to doubt. Of course, if no reasons to doubt existed, the scriptures wouldn’t have to tell us to have faith because the truth would be so obvious to us all. Which is why reasons to doubt must exist in order for the concept of faith to be possible.

    To be more precise in the titling of this post, perhaps it ought to be: “Why REASONS to doubt must exist in order for the concept of faith to be possible.” I think if you re-read my post, it becomes clear that was what I was saying. But it’s a mouthful of a title for a post. 🙂

    Also, I think the law of opposites in 2 Ne. 2 would support the idea that if there were no such thing as doubt, there would be no such thing as faith.

  5. Pingback: Faith: The Cleverest of them all « Irresistible (Dis)Grace

  6. Andrew,

    I’m not sure where you’re going with this post. I think we can all agree that faith in God is essential for salvation. I also completely agree with the premise that God would be doing mankind a disservice if he provided undisputable proof of His existence. Where I think our paths diverge is your belief that God allows room for serious doubt intentionally or as part of His divine plan. I may be interrupting what you’re saying wrong so please feel free to correct me. What I perceive here is your belief that God would delibratey hide or distort the truth in-order to promote faith. To me that’s a big contradiction in terms. I personally would have a huge problem forming a trusting relationship with a god bent on deceiving me.

    As an example, I can’t conceive of a god who would go to all the trouble of hiding any hint of a civilization that existed for a thousand years in an effort to build my faith. Indeed, faith should be the result of presenting enough evidence to the mind as to persuade one to except that which is unseen as true. This evidence is more than just “good feelings” about Him and His prophets. There are many, many religions in the world all depending on that same feeling. Somewhere, logic and reason must enter into the equation to help sort out the truth. So if God is deliberately subverting the temporal things, we don’t have a fighting chance.

    If I’ve missed the mark on your post, please forgive me. There have been times in these discussions where I have felt like some are willing to let overwhelming evidence go by the wayside in favor of trusting a feeling for the truth…

  7. In anticipation of an upcoming SS lesson, I have been thinking about this idea of faith as a choice. I think we sometimes get hung up because we think faith is a feeling or a state of mind. We think that faith is a sense of certitude. In reality, however, I think faith is a choice to act based upon our (pick a word here) belief, testimony, or conviction that God lives and has a plan for us. This does not mean that we always understand everything or that we will always feel settled about everything. Like the author, I think we are meant to experience a lot of uncertainty. Maybe, though, we are talking about doubt on different levels. Perhaps we are meant to experience doubt about the “whys” and “hows” of our life. At the same time, we are to “doubt not”, and exercise faith to trust in God, despite the uncertainty.

  8. The last paragraph, especially, is profound, Andrew. Faith is so misunderstood both inside and outside the Church, as is doubt.

    I agree totally that there must needs be opposition in ALL things – so there simply must be compelling reasons to doubt. To believe and act according to that belief (exercise faith), one must reject something else – and if it is to be a legitimate choice, it can’t be so overwhelmingly obvious that it’s a no-brainer.

    There must be a compelling reason and motivation and opportunity and rationale to doubt in order to make faith a conscious choice – and to have that choice be a personal choice, there must be multiple compelling reasons to doubt, since not all doubt the same things in the same ways. Just as the Spirit witnesses in different ways to different people, temptation and doubt must whisper or shout in different ways, as well. Otherwise, not all would be tempted.

  9. I see Doug G.’S point, altho I don’t know that anyone is on the verge of claiming that God deliberately hides things to create doubt. The Bro of Jared is said to have seen the finger of the Lord because his faith was too great for him to not see it. His action and not God’s caused that. My own view is more that God is mostly absent both from proving and causing doubt. Even Jesus had to seek Him out. He’s the ultimate delegator and absentee parent. But perhaps that is what creates personal growth and a desire to know Him. Absence makes the heart grow fonder. (Conversely, if you can’t be with the One you love, love the one you’re with).

  10. I think you’re saying the doubt is the soil that faith grows in. If so, be sure to remember that the fruit is what is useful, soil is likened to dung.

  11. Doug G. (6), you certainly have understandable concerns. Like hawkgrrrl, I too draw the line between a God who allows the truth to be covered until we discover it, versus a God who willingly goes out of his way to mislead or deceive us. I believe in the former, but not in the latter.

    For example, in your statement above about God hiding any hint of a civilization existing for a thousand years, I presume you’re speaking about the BOM peoples. First off, I think the premise of that statement is off. I don’t think there’s anyone who could reasonably argue there isn’t ANY hint, or that there is absolutely NO evidence that could be cited to validate at least some BOM claims. I too don’t see God going around hiding proof of Nephite existence, but at the same time, I think assuming the BOM is true for sake of argument, he could certainly allow such proof to remain buried beneath centuries and millenia of earth until we find it. That’s certainly what he’s done with the Biblical peoples. The key differences, of course, being that far more serious scholars have researched Biblical lands for far longer, and of course, looking for lost civilizations is much easier in a barren desert than in a dense rain forest. Although I wouldn’t fall out of my chair in shock if I were to discover in the next life that the BOM was made up, I also feel like it’s not incredibly fair to expect us to have complete vindication of the BOM through archaeological research that non-Mormon scholars would still consider to be in its infancy.

    Back to the original point, I think the concept of the veil demonstrates God doesn’t want this to be easy; he wants to create a situation where we have to search and think and reason and, yes, feel our way through life. The natural elements, being what they are, do a very good job at this all on their own, and without God having to intervene and make it so in order to hide history from us.

    Moreover, I think finding even an abundance of archaeological evidence to support the BOM would not cause most of its critics to stop doubting and challenging its authenticity. As in any field, archaeology consists of making observations and then interpreting what you’ve observed, i.e., evaluating its significance or how it relates to, for example, the text of the BOM. There’s obviously enormous wiggle room in there for people to continue doubting for centuries to come even if we were to find the words Lehi, Nephi, and Jacob etched on the walls of an ancient temple in Mesoamerica. People would challenge the pronunciation of those words, whether the Mormons fraudulently created them to support the BOM, others would say that at least two of the three names was taken from the Bible and therefore may indicate Hebrews came to America but not necessarily those indicated in the BOM, others would say Nephi was a common name found amongst the ancient peoples who traveled over the Bering Strait, etc., etc., etc., etc. So the reason doubt will continue to exist even in light of archaeological “evidence” is that recognizing evidence as being evidence supporting the BOM requires a certain degree of trust (i.e., faith) in one’s interpretation of what one has observed.

  12. C. S. Lewis – “If ours is an examined faith, we should be unafraid to doubt. If doubt is
    eventually justified, we were believing what clearly was not worth believing. But if doubt is
    answered, our faith has grown stronger. It knows God more certainly and it can enjoy God
    more deeply.”

  13. To continue to address the idea of “evidence”, there is NO **compelling** evidence to support most of the Old Testament (generally prior to King David and certainly prior to Moses), and yet many millions of people choose to believe it nonetheless – and many of them believe it literally. Lack of “hard evidence” has never stopped people from believing scriptural accounts.

    When it comes to the Book of Mormon, it’s even harder to find such “hard archaeological proof” – since we really have no authoritative statement as to where the civilization actually occurred and how widespread it was in the Americas. We have all kinds of assumptions and guesses and strongly held opinions, but, in the end, that’s all they are. We are on MUCH more solid ground when dealing with the first chapters in 1 Nephi before they leave the Old World, and there is quite a bit of evidence that suggests that part of the account is much more accurate (or, at least, plausible) than would be expected if Joseph or a contemporary fabricated it. That, however, conveniently is overlooked by critics who ignore the discovered evidence to focus on the areas where evidence is lacking.

  14. Andrew, thanks for the thoughtful response. My beliefs move along the same lines of assuming that God takes of fairly hands off approach. Hawkgrrrl said much the same and I completely accept that.

    I don’t want to derail this thread by starting a BoM discussion and only made the statement as an example of what some apologists have said concerning the lack of generally accepted evidence. I grew –up in upstate NY not far from the Hill Cumorah. As a child I was told that all kinds of evidence had been found around the Hill including baskets full of arrowheads when farmers plod their fields. Imagine my disappointment when I got told the actual BoM Hill Cumorah is in Mesoamerica. As we are all victims of our environments, you can understand why I’m now somewhat skeptical of BoM evidences…

    Unlike some who have lost faith in the church’s restoration claims, I still have a strong belief in Christ. I find his teaching in the New Testament amazing and powerful. My faith in Christ is based on many things not the least of which is the generally accepted fact that He lived and the area he worked in is well understood. We can literally walk in His footsteps and study the culture and history of the time and therefore get an even better appreciation of what He taught and why it was so revolutionary for the Jews.

    I don’t know if my faith in Christ was hard to come by so I’m not sure I can go all the way with you in stating that it must of necessity be difficult to believe. It’s certainly not easy to live, but believing hasn’t been that big of a stretch for me. Maybe I just haven’t studied it enough yet. 🙂

  15. Ray,

    How very interesting that you should bring up the Old Testament. I stopped believing a lot of what’s written in the OT well before I started questioning the BoM. Not that I don’t think there’s some verifiable history in there, (at least from King David on) but much of what people in those days blamed on God I found repulsive. I’m starting to see a pattern here…

    Just for the record, you do realize that NHM and Bountiful are not considered great hits for the BoM by those outside the church. Now if someone digs up Ishmael’s grave over there, you might be on to something. Otherwise, it seems rather odd that the best evidence for the BoM is in the Old World where a group of perhaps forty people passed but nothing that substantial in the New World where 100’s of thousands lived for a over a thousand years. Sorry Ray, I just couldn’t resist!

  16. Doug, your last comment in #16 is exactly what I’m talking about. Even when people find “proof”, it doesn’t end the inquiry. Reasons to doubt the proof almost always persist. Which is why I don’t hold out much hope for archaeology ever being able to resolve all or even most doubts. If you think about it, what will the world know about you or I or even the U.S.A. in 2,000 years? It’s safe to assume only a minute fraction of our world as we know it would be preserved that long. And yet how funny it will be when 2,000 years from now people either claim to have an accurate understanding about us, or deny details of our existence simply because they won’t have uncovered hard objects attesting to those facts that could withstand the elements for 2,000 years.

    Also, just out of curiosity, how would you be able to determine it was “Ishmael’s grave” if you found it? Would it satisfy you if you found a grave outside NHM marked with Ishmael’s name? I’m guessing not, since it’s such a common name. That example demonstrates one of the most serious limitations about applying archaeology to prove or disprove the existence of a people is that you have to make certain speculations or assumptions about what you OUGHT to be able if find IF such-and-such were true. Of course, the problem is that those speculations and assumptions can be wrong, or it may be unclear what we ought to be able to expect to find. For example, I know I’m stumped when it comes to the question of what we OUGHT to be able to find to determine beyond question that we’d identified the grave of THE Ishmael from the BOM.

  17. Andrew, on a side note not relating to this post, someone used your “disaffected mormon” post in Sacrament Meeting today… It then sent me in search of seeing where you write. Well written and thanks… Also it’s been a long time since Grand Junction Colorado 🙂

  18. I would like to see a new paradigm shift away from I know to I believe, its good, and less emphasis on I know the church is true etc. For example saying I have been studying and praying and working at being more patient and following Christ’s example and it seems to be working – I believe its good, Its working, I am happier!

    I think knowing must alienate a lot of people in the church. 2/3 of the church is less active of the 13 million if they knew it was true why would they miss out on a big reward at the end of their life.

    But they can know for more of a surety that living Christ’s principles are good and make them happy.

    I think knowing and pretending to know can do more damage than good!

  19. James–It just as disingenuous for one who knows, to say he believes, as it is for one who believes, to say he knows.

    I agree that hearing everyone say “I know” can be unsettling. I always enjoy hearing a reason for saying “I know”. For example, a member of our stake explained why he knew, as he related, in some detail, a spiritual experience the Lord gave him.

  20. hi all
    on subject of doubt there is a book that is supposed to be really good “shaken faith syndrome”
    has anyone read this
    (also does anyone know where I can get a copy if i live in the uk)

  21. I would add that I understand that there is similarly some doubt about the accuracy, historicity, perhaps authenticity of some of the accounts and epistles in the New Testament.

  22. anon, I read “Shaken Faith Syndrome” and found it to be pretty good. I especially agree with him that a fundamentalist world-view is the true danger to most people in the church. You can get the book at FAIR’s bookstore.

    Andrew and Doug, it seems to me like you set this whole topic up for me to share this quote by Terryl Givens (from his PBS interviews for “The Mormons”):

    My idea going into this study of the Book of Mormon, especially the section dealing with evidence for and against its historicity, was if the Book of Mormon is true, then it has to stand up to the most rigorous assaults and critiques that skeptics and nonbelievers can make. So I made every effort to honestly, fully investigate every criticism, every objection that’s ever been made to the historicity of the Book of Mormon. One has to suspend judgment in a number of cases, because it’s hard to say when the evidence will all be in, but at the present there are still a number of unresolved anachronisms and problems and ambiguities in the text.

    But I felt satisfied that there was in every case a corresponding weight on the other side of the equation, which actually led me to, I think, some very important insights into the nature of faith and how faith works. I came to the conclusion, in large part through my study of the Book of Mormon, that for faith to operate, and for faith to have moral significance in our lives, then it has to at some level be a choice. It can’t be urged upon us by an irresistible, overwhelming body of evidence, or what merit is there in the espousing of faith? And it can’t be something that we embrace in spite of overwhelming logical rational evidence to the contrary, because I don’t believe that God expects us to hold in disregard that faculty of reason that he gave us.

    But I do believe that the materials are always there of which one can fashion a life of belief or a life of denial. I believe that faith is a revelation of what we love, what we choose to embrace, and therefore I think [it] is the purest reflection of the values that we hold dear and the kind of universe that we aspire to be a part of. And so it comes ultimately as no surprise to me that the evidence will never be conclusive on one way or the other. I think that there’s a purpose behind the balance that one attains in the universe of belief. …

  23. Kent (24), wow, thank you for that quote. Is that something Givens wrote or said off-the-cuff in an interview? I’m impressed either way, but if it’s the latter, I am truly in awe at how articulate he is.

    I’m assuming he’s referring to his book “By the Hand of Mormon.” That’s been on my reading list for a while. Sounds like I need to make reading it a priority.

  24. Thanks, Kent.

    My baseline stance has been and ever will be that I can construct a sound argument both for and against almost anything. (That’s the whole point of formal debate teams, btw – to force people to construct sound arguments for BOTH sides of an issue.) Therefore, it is up to me to weigh both the evidence AND the implications and construct whatever argument rings truest for me – whichever argument resonates with my own soul. I can’t palm that off on anyone else, and I can’t blame anyone else if I am unhappy with the result.

    I can act (construct my own personal view) or be acted upon (allow someone else’s view to be mine). If I don’t do it myself, however, I will be tossed to and fro – since I probably will encounter an even more articulate argument than my current one – then a more articulate argument than that one – then a more articulate argument than that one – ad infinitum. Until I build my own, personal faith (or, more accurately, take responsibility for my own, personal faith), I am at the mercy of others – a puppet on strings that can change hands at a moment’s notice. I literally am not my own master.

    I believe what I believe and see things the way I see things for one, simple reason: I have chosen and continue to choose to do so. I looked at the end result of all the options I could envision and chose the one that resonated the most with my own soul. I tweak the details constantly as I am exposed to others’ perspectives that enlighten my own, but the core foundation doesn’t change – since I built it carefully and consciously and intentionally. It belongs to me; it’s what I “know” for myself; it’s mine. I live spiritually where I choose to live, and I love my house.

  25. Ray and Kent,

    While I don’t necessarily disagree with the premise of your thoughts on the matter, they do raise an interesting problem for the church. Bro. Given’s comments work both ways. I believe we all have friends and or family who are active, very happy with the church they attend, and live fulfilling lives. They could and do bear much the same type testimony about their particular religion and the blessing realized by living a life based on believing as opposed to one of doubt and skepticism. They have taken a page from Stephen Covey as well and want to “act” instead of being “acted” upon. They therefore don’t want to hear something negative about their faith, (like “your creeds are all an abomination”) but rather focus on the good that comes from being part of it.

    Of course for the “one true church” this philosophy doesn’t work as members feel like they need to work with their friends and neighbors and give them the “voice of warning”. Indeed, the rejection of the one true church may damn them from ever entering the Celestial kingdom even if they later accept it in the next life. Therefore, according to everything I’ve always been taught, believing something that isn’t true isn’t going to save you. (Of course, I don’t believe any religious group has a corner on the market of truth, so being positive and recognizing the blessing of living a life based on good principles seem more in line with what God wants. But I digress…)

    I think that’s why I and many like me engage on boards like this. It’s not about being swayed by better and better arguments, (sorry Ray) that smart people can put into words. It’s because the church stands up and proudly declares they have the complete truth and all other religions don’t have the power to save. By sending out vast armies of missionaries to Christian nations, we’re leading with our chin and therefore shouldn’t get offended when some of these good people take us to task on the soft points in our armor just as we do to theirs.

    Now before everyone jumps up and down about how all religions believe they’re the correct one and all others are somehow lacking. You should realize that most Christian religions believe that even though they have the truth figured out, they still believe that all believing Christians will be saved in the end. We get attacked by them because they don’t believe we’re Christian, not because our principles differ from theirs, but because we don’t believe in the Christ they believe in. Most protestant religions will even accept the baptism of another faith and allow ministers who graduated from say a Methodist college, preach in a Lutheran church. Even the Catholic faith, who are just as bent on being the one true faith, don’t worry so much about Christian nations. They focus their missionary efforts on the“heathen” areas of the world.

  26. Pingback: points of interest, vol 2, #3 « Mind, Soul, and Body

  27. The Givens quote is great. Thanks for including that, Kent. If I am remebering correctly (I don’t have the book with me), Givens did address this very issue in “By the Hand of Mormon,” and included the Blaise Pascal quote: “In faith there is enough light for those who want to believe and enough shadows to blind those who don’t.” Another way of stating that faith is a choice, not a belief or a feeling.

  28. #28 – “It’s because the church stands up and proudly declares they have the complete truth and all other religions don’t have the power to save.”

    The only thing I can say, Doug, is that this is a gross simplification of our actual doctrine. There is plenty of room for differing conclusions about the two claims in this quote – and I would argue that neither is correct as worded. Of course, I also would argue that too many members believe them as worded, so you have a point. 🙂

    “By sending out vast armies of missionaries to Christian nations, we’re leading with our chin and therefore shouldn’t get offended when some of these good people take us to task on the soft points in our armor just as we do to theirs.”

    Amen.

    #29 – Great quote. I’ll be saving and using it in the future.

  29. Doug G says, “Now before everyone jumps up and down about how all religions believe they’re the correct one and all others are somehow lacking. You should realize that most Christian religions believe that even though they have the truth figured out, they still believe that all believing Christians will be saved in the end. We get attacked by them because they don’t believe we’re Christian, not because our principles differ from theirs, but because we don’t believe in the Christ they believe in.”

    Doug, this seems unfair to me. You are confusing “religion” (a set of beliefs) and “denomination.”

    Your own analysis shows the flaw in this thinking. You said other Christians reject Mormons because they think we aren’t Christian. But the reality is that they think we aren’t Christian because we have different beliefs then them. Thus you are rather unfairly inflating their position compared to the Mormon one. The real truth is that they exclude all that believe differently then them (and send to hell forever no less), Mormons believe all (almost) are saved in the end. But somehow this fact was missed in your analysis all together.

  30. Bruce,

    “Your own analysis shows the flaw in this thinking.”

    I respectfully disagree with your opinion. The rest of Christendom rejects us because we don’t believe in the Trinity, a doctrine they all have in common. As this creed sets forth the nature of the Godhead, I think they’re justified in saying we don’t worship the same God.

    As for the multiple levels of heaven, you’re assuming that our particular version of the next life has more merit then theirs. I don’t believe either of us actually knows what judgment day is going to involve. To be fair, they would be highly offended at your insistence that their assignment to the Telestial Kingdom means they were saved somehow. 🙂

    I still think my point is valid; the church is very dogmatic with its beliefs about priesthood, ordinances and the gift of the Holy Ghost. If you’re going to say that God only blesses .01% of the world’s population with these precious endowments, then we shouldn’t get offended when others take us to task.

  31. If you’re going to say that God only blesses .01% of the world’s population with these precious endowments, then we shouldn’t get offended when others take us to task.

    But that’s not what we teach. That’s MUCH closer to what they teach.

  32. “ But that’s not what we teach. That’s MUCH closer to what they teach.”

    Ray, I think you attend a different Mormon church then I do… 🙂

  33. Yeah, Doug, we must. Mine teaches vicarious work for ALL the dead – universally available to ALL who accept Jesus and the Gospel regardless of when and where they lived and what religion they practiced in this life. Most Protestants don’t teach that. They teach a MUCH more restrictive view of salvation – denying it to me, for example, even though I accept and believe in Jesus as my Lord and Savior.

    I guess Mormonism really is more restrictive than other Christian religions. I guess I’m just too blind to see past the obvious answers and see the more complicated answer you obviously see. I’d like an explanation. Please, since I can’t see it.

  34. “I respectfully disagree with your opinion. The rest of Christendom rejects us because we don’t believe in the Trinity, a doctrine they all have in common. As this creed sets forth the nature of the Godhead, I think they’re justified in saying we don’t worship the same God.”

    You are right that many Christians reject us for rejecting the Trinity doctrine as an expalnation of the Bible’s teachings. In other words, you just confirmed exactly what I just said. You are agreeing with me: that they call us non-Christian because we believe differently than them and they believe the only people who are saved are those that believe certain core doctrines exactly the same as them and are thus part of their “religion”.

    About them accepting each other’s baptisms, you could say “that’s more pluralistic that they accept each other’s baptisms” or you could say “they aren’t pluralistic at all because they only accept baptisms of people that believe the same as them and are thus really(by their own admission) the same religion as them” For that matter, you could just as easily say “Why are these denominations that all believe essentially the same religion to any outside onlooker so persnickity that they have to form mulitiple denominations?” Or we could admit that a baptism to a Mormon has little in common to a baptism for a non-Mormon. They are a single word that have completely different meanings. Thus we could also say “Other Christians accept or demonstrate their mutual beliefs via a group of acts that all use water and all called baptism. Mormons, who do not share their beliefs, do not accept theirs and vice versa.”

    Pick your narrative. They all fit the facts, though not in equal measures. Though which we pick does say much about ourselves.

    “As for the multiple levels of heaven, you’re assuming that our particular version of the next life has more merit then theirs.”

    If by “theirs” you allow me to compare to Evangelicals, Yes, I most certainly believe that. Actually, I would have thought you did too. I find it hard to believe you don’t. Can you really with a straight face, Doug, tell me that you see predesinted hell forever and ever despite never having even heard the name Jesus (let’s say for a devote 14 year old Muslim) for the sake of showing God’s justice is equivalent or equal to the Mormon view of God and the afterlife? I categorically state that the Mormon view of God and the afterlife is superior in this rather common case. Please explain to me in what sense you feel these two views are of equal merrit? I’m scratching my head on this one because it just seems obvious that these aren’t of equal merrit.

    “To be fair, they would be highly offended at your insistence that their assignment to the Telestial Kingdom means they were saved somehow.”

    1. Since we are contextually talking about good people, they aren’t going to the Telestial Kingdom. The Telestial Kingdom’s purpose is to save people from hell. And YES a person in hell that gets to be saved in the Telestial Kingdom WILL NOT be offended at calling it salvation, I think.
    2. The Terrestial kingdom IS the traditional heaven they seek with all their hearts. They will not lack a thing.
    3. Most of them won’t go there after all. Most will go to the Celestial Kingdom, once they finally accept the existence of deification, which is so repugnant to them now. Those that never get over it won’t be forced to accept it. Thus the need for the Terrestrial Kingdom.

    I have personally been told by several Evangelicals (including Craig Blomberg in his book) that he does not find his consignment to the Terrestrial Kingdom to be offensive.

  35. Bruce,

    Let me help you out here. First, I don’t personally believe either the LDS faith or any other religion understands how God will judge us in the next life. As I’ve stated many times before, I believe all religions are man-made and that God just tolerates them. That includes many of their respective teachings and doctrines. As some else once said about you on this board, “you truly have a dizzying intellect”. That may be your greatest strength and your biggest weakness. I’m beginning to think that you and Ray are on some kind of mission here. This board started out as a place for middle-way thinking people to discuss problematic issues with doctrine and history. It would now appear that anyone with an opinion different then the “current LDS view” is attacked as I and many others have been. On several other discussion boards, mormon matters is considered a pro LDS blog. Gentlemen, just say the word and I’ll find another place to try and help those who don’t see the church the way you do understand that they’re not alone. I guess it’s true; there is in reality no room for a NOM in the church.

    Ray, with your tone, I don’t think it’s at all productive to continue the discourse. You are no more interested in learning what I think about these issues and why I believe your assumptions are wrong then my bishop is. So, in the interest of civility, I’ll leave you to your delusions and bow out. Thanks for the ride, its been informative anyway…

  36. Doug, you are right. There is no room for discourse between the two of us.

    I apologize, sincerely, to everyone else. I am not certain about a lot of things, but I am certain that I can’t keep trying to engage this type of discourse with Doug. It’s just too frustrating, and nobody benefits from it. Truly, I am sorry.

  37. Pingback: Every exmember a missionary at Mormon Matters

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