Feeling the Flame of Faith Flickering

For many the birth of mature faith comes when the faith of their youth is challenged. With this thought in mine I would like to write to those who are feeling the flame of their faith flickering. Certainly this is a painful experience and is most difficult to bear.

I think nearly everyone experiences doubt about their faith. That is to be expected. However, with the advent of the internet there is an avalanche of material that tears down faith.

Latter Day Saints in particular are targets for those who feel it is their duty to expose Mormonism for what it is—“a big lie”.

Many of the most effective at attacking the candle of faith are faithless and former “church members”. My attitude for over forty years has been “bring it on”. If this is how they want to use their agency God isn’t going to stop them, the Lord will use them for His own purposes. I hope each and every one of them will return to their faith, but for now those who have met and defeated the enemies of faith need to tell their stories.

Following is an abbreviated account of the struggle Robert L Millett experienced while a missionary.

“As a young missionary in the eastern state in 1967, I learned something about the trauma that we often feel when we are up against the wall of faith, when we want to believe but feel our grip on the iron rod slipping. My companion and I had moved into a small town in New Jersey, only to find the local Protestant minister had anticipated our arrival and prepared their parishioners for our coming. At almost every door we approached, we were met by a smiling face and the words, ‘Oh, you must be the Mormons. This is for you.’ They would then hand us an anti-Mormon tract…Most of the propaganda didn’t trouble us at all. Some of it we actually chuckled over…one part in particular, however, did trouble us, for it dealt with our view of the Godhead. The writers repeatedly drew attention to what they called “inconsistency” in the way Latter-day Saint scripture and teaching referred to God, our heavenly Father, and his Son, Jesus Christ.

We didn’t chuckle much about this, for it dealt with a central and singularly important matter, namely, the God we worship…

For weeks we did our work, but our heart wasn’t in it. We went through the motions, but without saying much to each other, we sensed that we couldn’t do so indefinitely. I broke the ice at lunch one afternoon with a rather brutal query: ‘Elder, what if the Church isn’t true?’ There was a long, uncomfortable pause, followed by his response: ‘I don’t know.’

I followed up: ‘What if the Baptists are right?’…’What if the Catholics are right? What if they have had the authority all along?’…

I am ashamed to admit that before this time I had never prayed intently about my testimony. I was raised in the church. Mom and Dad had a testimony, and I knew that they knew…but suddenly what they knew did not seem sufficient to settle my troubled heart.

I prayed and I pleaded. I begged the Lord for light, for truth, for anything! I asked to be guided in the right direction, to be led to an answer…These vexations of the soul went on for some weeks. I had actually concluded…that if relief were not forthcoming shortly, I would pack my bags and go home…

When we came home for lunch a few days later…I reached to a nearby lamp table and picked up a copy of the pamphlet, ‘Joseph Smith Tells His Own Story’. I began reading the opening lines…I was suddenly and without warning immersed in the most comforting and soothing influence I had ever known. It seemed at the time as if I were being wrapped in a large blanket as I began to be filled with the warmth of the Holy Spirit form head to toe. The spirit of conversion encompassed me, and I came to know assuredly that what we were doing was right and true and good. I did not hear specific words, but a distant voice seemed to whisper: ‘Of course it’s true. You know that now, and you’ve known it for a long time.’

Another feeling I had was that the answers to what was troubling me were for the time being beyond my capacity to comprehend. In time the answers would come, answers that would be as satisfying to the mind as they were soothing to the heart. I was being instructed, in other words, to put this matter on the shelf, to focus my attention elsewhere for a season, and move on.” Holding Fast, Robert L Millet, pp. 107-112.

Elder Millet went on to find the answers to his questions and complete his mission. He has written numerous books on Mormonism and is the former Dean of Religious Education at BYU.

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