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Peggy Fletcher Stack claims that "today's crisis of faith among Information Age believers somehow seems new... (and) vast... Their numbers appear staggering."
Stack uses the useful columnists' words: "seems" and "appears." She offers no solid evidence that I can find other than anecdotal. Are we really in an era of doubt, or does the advent of the internet simply mean that those who doubt have more situations to discuss that doubt, making it feel more prevalent? I'm sure that Stack spends plenty of time in the non-representative "bloggernacle."
When I was actively involved in both "chapel Mormonism*" (the day to day life of meetings, activities, home teaching etc) and "bloggernacle Mormonism" (groups like bycommonconsent, this forum, Mormon stories etc) it was like two different churches. The "chapel mormons" had generally never heard of John Dehlin, CESLetter, puremormonism etc. They enjoyed their church experience, got on with life and while certainly having personal challenges, weaknesses and, yes of course, doubts, they didn't get drawn into the navel gazing and angst of the bloggernacle.
So are we really in a new era of doubt? If we are, will Mormonism (or the faith of Mormons) become stronger in this new era of doubt?
*I don't use the term in a derogatory way, I was just looking for a term to describe the day-to-day Mormon experience.
By Bernard Gui
The apostle Thomas has been associated with doubt because he refused to believe the account of the resurrection given to him by the other disciples as they gathered in a room after they had visited the empty tomb unless he could see the resurrecfed Lord for himself. Sometimes people who struggle with their faith are called a "Doubting Thomas."
But when the women who first had the experience with the angel at the empty tomb reported this to Peter, he and the others did not believe fhem, but ran to the tomb to see for themselves. After seeing the evidence at the tomb they still did not accept what had happened, Even when the risen Lord appeared ro them in the room they were afraid and had to be given reassurance and the offer to touch his body and eat with them to affirm the reality of the resurrection.
Did Thomas get a bum rap to be forever associated with doubt when he did what all the other witnesses had done? Did Jesus have a different idea in mind when he commented on the greater blessing for thise who believe but do not see?
By Mystery Meat
For the past few years of my life (basically since I returned from my mission) I have felt cut off from the Lord. Many times I have felt like the prophet Joseph Smith felt when he asked the Lord why he had been forsaken. For the most part I feel as though I lived a good, Mormon life. I never stopped going to Church. I prayed on a regular basis (multiple times a day). I went to all my meetings (from the Sunday block to the Saturday evening Stake Conference sessions). I spent some time as an ordinance worker at a temple in Utah. I was doing a lot of the right things. I was never perfect. But I was trying. Yet, I felt as though my righteous desires and prayers were going unfulfilled and unheard. The times I did feel the influence of the Holy Ghost were few and far between.
A few years ago, when I first encountered some of the honest truth about Church history (not to mention a whole lot of the disinformation, distortion and conclusion jumping that seems to come with it), I was in the perfect situation to question what I *thought* I knew.
And I did.
After a few weeks of wondering what I really knew, I came to the conclusion that I was going to believe, because I wanted to believe. I lived in this state of testimony for a matter of months before upgrading to a level of faith where I believed because it made me happy and I truly believed it was true. That is essentially where I have been for the past few years.
That all changed a few weeks ago. I had a prompting one evening that I ignored at first. But I couldn't shake it. I followed the prompting and the fruit of that choice has been undeniable. Whereas the the Spirit seemed absent for years (about a third of my life's worth), now I can't seem to escape its influence in my life. The word outpouring comes to mind. I won't go into specifics. Suffice it say some things can't be explained by improbable coincidence or chance. I feel confident in exchanging the word believe with the word know when it comes to my testimony.
The interesting thing is, nothing I was personally doing changed. I didn't all of sudden start making better choices. I wasn't more perfect than before (in fact, probably the EXACT opposite; my strength was actually waning). I believe, and the Spirit seems to accord (thank you, BRM), that the Lord purposefully withdrew himself from me. I believe it was my trial. It was a trial with a designated time period; not one I could shorten by learning some thing or developing some trait. The only way to end the trial was to hold on for the ride and wait for it to stop. It feels as though it was designed to try my faith and confidence in the Lord.
I share this because I know I am not the only one who has felt this way. Based on my interactions with many on this board, I think it is safe to say that more than a few of you, after having done many of the right things, have been left to ask "What am I doing wrong? Why are the heavens closed to me? ARE YOU EVEN LISTENING? ARE YOU EVEN THERE?"
In my experience the Lord does try our faith in very real ways. There are trials of our own making. Trials of living in a mortal, fallen world. Trials caused by the adversary of our souls. But I firmly believe that there are trials of testimony caused by the Lord, God Himself. And if my life is any indication they come at the most inopportune times and conflict with the most righteous and good desires of our hearts; desires placed their by the Lord! Yet, if we can no more than desire to believe, living our lives with faith and hope, never casting out our faith or eliminating any chance for it to take root by doubt and impatience, it is my testimony that the Lord WILL (in my case has) compensate us in ways we can't comprehend.
I just read this article on Wheat and Tares addressing the issue of whether or not Doubters are welcome in the church.
What do you think? Are doubters really welcome at church or are they merely tolerated when necessary?
I found a comic I was looking for earlier today when someone was using the old line "I was only being honest" to justify some pointed comments. That line, when used to justify a lack of civility has always bothered me. I'm not feigning innocence. Goodness knows I've shared my quota of snarkyness...
I share it here without further comment.