Today’s church members live in a time the prophets of the Lord have foretold. A day of apostasy, anemic testimonies, and broken covenants. The internet is filled with faith destroying words and images. In order for the faithful to survive they will need to be committed to following the Lord’s “to do list” if they are to acquire a genuine testimony, a testimony that comes from the Holy Ghost as promised in the Book of Mormon. Living on borrowed light, in other words, a testimony that isn’t really our own. Something like renting a house as compared to owning one.
The following account illustrates what I mean.
“A little over six months into my [calling as a Bishop], I visited one evening with one of the brethren in my ward who suffered from what turned out, unfortunately, to be a fairly common problem. He was a good man, very active and serving in a leadership position. A returned missionary, he had been married in the temple to an outstanding woman. They had some great kids, and to every appearance they had it ‘all together’ spiritually speaking. Yet he was obviously troubled as he sat down across from me, and it didn’t take long to discover why.
‘I don’t think I believe in the Church anymore’, he said abruptly, ‘and I guess maybe I ought to be released.'” I Need Thee Every Hour, Blaine M. Yorgason, p. 83-85.
This brother had the courage to confront his feelings and tell his Bishop how he really felt. I wonder how many, seemly active, men and women in the church today harbor the same unspoken concern? In my opinion, there are many. This concerns me and is the main reason I came to the bloggernacle and started this blog.
The story continues: Bishop Yorgason listened as this brother told his story and soon realized the source of the problem.
“He unveiled a series of sad events and circumstances, mostly economic though also martial, that had occurred, he said bitterly, ‘even though I always paid a full tithing!’
At length I began to ask him questions pertaining to such things as his personal and family prayer habits, his temple attendance, his feelings about family home evening, and so forth. Neither did it take me long to recognize that he was one of that significant number of individuals (for a good portion of my adult life, myself included) who have relatively firm testimonies of the truthfulness of the Church and the gospel, who serve willingly and have enjoyed the blessings of the temple, but who are not yet committed enough to focus on keeping all the commandments or giving their lives wholly to the Lord. When I pointed this out to him, however, and suggested that the source of his difficulties might be not only spiritual but related directly to his own behavior, he was not only upset but deeply hurt. ‘How can you say that?’ he demanded. ‘I have always been active in the Church, and so has my family!’ ‘Yes, you have,’ I responded, ‘if active means merely attending meetings, doing your home teaching, and serving in your calling.’
‘What else could it mean?’
Well according to what you have told me tonight, your personal prayers are dictated by your schedule, you never pray with your wife before you go to bed or when you arise, you never study the scriptures except during Church classes, you use your temple recommend two or three times a year but find the experience boring and tedious, and you stopped holding family home evening at least two years ago because they always turned into family brawls. Now correct me if I am wrong, but I believe each of these things has been commanded, daily or at least regularly, by the Lord…
‘So, you’re saying I’m not really active?’
He was stunned by my question, and his belligerence had completely evaporated…He smiled a little sadly. ‘I guess the truth does hurt, doesn’t it.’ I Need Thee Every Hour, Blaine M. Yorgason, p. 83-85.
This experience illustrates how anyone of us can get caught up in spiritual slothfulness, “because of the easiness of the way” that Alma warned his son about (Alma 37:46).
In order to have the companionship of the Spirit, the Lord’s given his followers a “to do list”. When we fail to follow the relatively easy to do list, we leave ourselves open to the wiles of the devil and the natural man. We then can become prey to a host of spiritual viruses that assault our Spiritual immune system and weaken us to the point where we find ourselves, though “active”, one day saying, “I don’t think I believe in the Church anymore.”
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It is always someone else’s fault.
If we are only saved “after all we can do”, one can always point to something left off the list of things that should have been done. “See, you weren’t perfect in keeping the commandments, so, naturally, your predicament is your own fault.”
Reaching the conclusion that maybe it’s all really a fraud is not an acceptable conclusion. People are desperate to find some way to reconcile what they see with their own eyes and what they, deep down, really want to believe.
“Reality is what we take to be true,” physicist David Bohm observed in a 1977 lecture. “What we take to be true is what we believe… What we believe determines what we take to be true.” That’s why nothing is more reality-warping than the shock of having come to believe something untrue — an experience so disorienting yet so universal that it doesn’t spare even the most intelligent and self-aware of us, for it springs from the most elemental tendencies of human psychology. “The confidence people have in their beliefs is not a measure of the quality of evidence,” Nobel-winning psychologist Daniel Kahneman asserted in examining how our minds mislead us, “but of the coherence of the story that the mind has managed to construct.”
Yes, I think you make a good point. There is no doubt in my mind that we choose what we want to believe in when we live exclusively in the rational realm.
Fortunately, there is another realm. I discovered the Spiritual realm many years ago an have embraced it for 50 years now. The Spiritual realm is not controlled by fallen man. In the Spiritual realm Heavenly Father reigns. He works with men in the rational realm and reveals to them His ways. If they follow Him they are given Spiritual gifts that transcend the rational and puts them in possession of Spiritual knowledge and experiences like those we learn about in the Book of Mormon.
I am a witness of these gifts and know they are as real as the sun that rises each morning.
I relate some of my experiences to help others who are seeking to follow the plan of salvation. If you’re interested click here
Here are some of my related thoughts: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/faithpromotingrumor/2015/02/doubting-our-doubters/
Happy to have a conversation about your posts, but like to make sure that I’m not going to be moderated.
Happy to have a conversation. I’m not entirely sure about your concern with moderation.
Please let me know what your concerned about. I’ve never moderated anyone.
In your view, is doubt always the product of sin?
No, I don’t believe doubt is always the product of sin.
Perhaps you can say a bit more about this post. If someone says, “I Don’t Think I Believe in the Church Anymore,” it seems like you’re saying that the best recourse is to see if they’re doing everything on the “to do list.” This could mean a number of things. For one, it could mean that if we find ourselves doubting we ought to be sure that we’re trying as hard as we can to believe. If we’re doing all of these things, then doubt cannot be attributed to our failure to keep the commandments. Alternatively, it could mean that doubt is our fault. If we doubt, it’s a product of our poor choices, and we are entirely responsible for our situation. Or, perhaps you mean something else altogether?
After reading your comment, the first thought that came to mind is “currency”. Everyone is familiar with using currency of some sort as a means of exchange. In many ways the concept of currency can be used in our discussion.
I consider the currency of heaven to be the manifestations of the Spirit. The scriptures, God’s word, teach that there is a means of exchange between mankind and God, “draw near unto me and I will draw near unto you”.
Mormon missionaries from the beginning have told investigators that if they will read the Book of Mormon and pray sincerely they will receive a testimony, “light and truth”. This approach has been the foundation for the growth of the church. I have a clear memory of the testimony I was given when I read and prayed about the Book of Mormon in 1966.
We also learn from the scriptures that there is a means of exchange between the adversary and mankind, “the fiery darts of the adversary”. We’re taught that the adversary “taketh away light and truth”.
When these two basic concepts are considered in the light of other scriptures we begin to see that “where much is given, much is required; and he who sins against the greater light shall receive the greater condemnation”.
Sins of omission, not doing something we should, have consequences (parable of the 10 virgins).
In the story I related in this post, the man dwindling in unbelief, was negligent in not maintaining and strengthening his faith by following the simple “to do list”. The easiness of the way became a stumbling block for this brother.
Anemic testimonies have symptoms that create Spiritual pain and if we’re not observant then we can be injured or even die Spiritually. In other words, we can end up of Spiritually strapped or even go bankrupt Spiritually.