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Wonderful 'quotable' words from president nelson.


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This morning, I heard some great advice, something worth sharing, and quoting. This is simply spindled advice to all, even more for some who have come and gone here, over many years...

“Choose to believe in Jesus Christ, if you have doubts about God the Father, and his beloved Son, or the validity of the Restoration, or  the truth of Joseph Smith’s divine calling as a Prophet, choose to believe, and stay faithful. Take your questions to the Lord, and other faithful sources. Study with a desire to believe, rather than with the hope that you can find a flaw, in the fabric of a prophet’s life. Or a descrapisy in the scriptures. Stop increasing your doubts, by rehearsing them with other doubters. Allow the Lord to lead you, on you journey of discovery.”    
 
President Russell M Nelson, April 4, 2021
 

Here is hoping I quoted him correctly? 

 

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I agree that the talk was wonderful. However, somebody shared with me some comments from a private facebook group (nominally to keep individuals attached to the Church). Many were anything but complimentary of Pres. Nelson's talk. Some felt that others would simply use it to bash those who had doubts.

Edited by Nofear
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1 hour ago, Bill “Papa” Lee said:

This morning, I heard some great advice, something worth sharing, and quoting. This is simply spindled advice to all, even more for some who have come and gone here, over many years...

“Choose to believe in Jesus Christ, if you have doubts about God the Father, and his beloved Son, or the validity of the Restoration, or  the truth of Joseph Smith’s divine calling as a Prophet, choose to believe, and stay faithful. Take your questions to the Lord, and other faithful sources. Study with a desire to believe, rather than with the hope that you can find a flaw, in the fabric of a prophet’s life. Or a descrapisy in the scriptures. Stop increasing your doubts, by rehearsing them with other doubters. Allow the Lord to lead you, on you journey of discovery.”    
 
President Russell M Nelson, April 4, 2021
 

Here is hoping I quoted him correctly? 

 

I think the rehearsal part is pure genius -- I think the basically honest in heart, which I think is far more than half of those heading down this path, will reflect on this and all ow the Lord to lead them on a journey of discovery.

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35 minutes ago, Nofear said:

I agree that the talk was wonderful. However, somebody shared with me some comments from a private facebook group (nominally to keep individuals attached to the Church). Many were anything but complimentary of Pres. Nelson's talk. Some felt that others would simply use it to bash those who had doubts.

It is likely that it will be used as such. From many points of view, President Nelson's talk might seem superficial. It could be interpreted as "just ignore your doubts" or "just stop asking questions." 

In a very real sense, however, the mindset which we take into a question and the company with which we approach it can powerfully influence our ultimate conclusion. We are not truth-finding tabula rasas, and as @Kevin Christensen has pointed out at length, our conclusions are not born as the pure offspring of truth in our heads. Many factors condition us in our conclusions. Spencer Marsh once commented that the call to "explore a question further" is usually code for "let's buy more time to condition you to accept my worldview." How we choose to approach a question is a choice, one for which we are accountable. I believe it is this truth which underlies President Nelsons' comments and the many scriptural injunctions which treat belief as morally charged. We get to choose the frame for our questioning. By extension, we cannot regard our conclusions as things forced upon us. 

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I think the rehearsal part is pure genius -- I think the basically honest in heart, which I think is far more than half of those heading down this path, will reflect on this and all ow the Lord to lead them on a journey of discovery.

Indeed. Church meetings have been attacked for taking advantage of the Illusory Truth Effect. I don't think such critiques work against the Church because they would require a considerable array of auxiliary hypotheses to explain salient features of the experience of gospel living, and on a whole I thing the whole overwrought framework doesn't hold up. I'm also skeptical of invocations of the Illusory Truth Effect in situations where the proposition in question is unfalsifiable - at that point asserting the Illusory Truth Effect begs the question against the proposition most flagrantly. But if there is any validity to this critique, then communities of critics are just as guilty as churches in pre-rationally conditioning their members to accept propositions. 

Edited by OGHoosier
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13 minutes ago, Nofear said:

I agree that the talk was wonderful. However, somebody shared with me some comments from a private facebook group (nominally to keep individuals attached to the Church). Many were anything but complimentary of Pres. Nelson's talk. Some felt that others would simply use it to bash those who had doubts.

I knew, when he said that quote, that there would be many who would be upset by it.  If you are in the midst of a trial of doubts, it could sound harsh.  Especially for those who have embraced their doubts or are openly critical of the idea of embracing faith.  

Still, is there anything that he said that the Savior hasn't similarly said in the scriptures?  The Savior often told people to doubt not but be believing.  It doesn't seem like Pres. Nelson is saying anything differently.

And people are right in that some members will probably use this talk as a weapon against those who struggle.  They are wrong to do so.  I like to remind myself, when I am tempted to do something like that, that these talks are meant for us to use against ourselves--they are standards to measure our weaknesses and strengths against--they are not given so we can point out the faults of others.

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1 hour ago, CV75 said:

I think the rehearsal part is pure genius -- I think the basically honest in heart, which I think is far more than half of those heading down this path, will reflect on this and all ow the Lord to lead them on a journey of discovery.

Echo chambers can be dangerous because they reinforce beliefs all on their own, with no outside evidence or other knowledge needed for confirmation.  Rehearsing doubts with other doubters will often (almost always?) reinforce those doubts and make them stronger.

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2 hours ago, bluebell said:

Echo chambers can be dangerous because they reinforce beliefs all on their own, with no outside evidence or other knowledge needed for confirmation.

So what exactly is church / seminary / institute? And what is the process by which you only approach one side with your doubts?

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12 minutes ago, SeekingUnderstanding said:

So what exactly is church / seminary / institute? And what is the process by which you only approach one side with your doubts?

It's never good for someone's beliefs to exist only because of an echo chamber.  It doesn't matter what the subject is. 

For example, if someone's testimony of the church only exists because it is reinforced by their peers at church, seminary, or instituted, and there is never any outside evidence or personal knowledge that has confirmed it, then, as the scriptures teach, that person is not converted and their testimony will eventually fail.

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14 minutes ago, SeekingUnderstanding said:

And what is the process by which you only approach one side with your doubts?

There is probably a signup sheet somewhere where people list their doubts so one can avoid conversations with those who have the same doubts.

🙄

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2 hours ago, bluebell said:

I knew, when he said that quote, that there would be many who would be upset by it.  If you are in the midst of a trial of doubts, it could sound harsh.  Especially for those who have embraced their doubts or are openly critical of the idea of embracing faith.  

Still, is there anything that he said that the Savior hasn't similarly said in the scriptures?  The Savior often told people to doubt not but be believing.  It doesn't seem like Pres. Nelson is saying anything differently.

And people are right in that some members will probably use this talk as a weapon against those who struggle.  They are wrong to do so.  I like to remind myself, when I am tempted to do something like that, that these talks are meant for us to use against ourselves--they are standards to measure our weaknesses and strengths against--they are not given so we can point out the faults of others.

He was (as you said) repeating the words of the Savior, maybe not a direct quote of Jesus Christ words, but a direct reflection of his words. In short, preaching the word of God, in fact almost word for word, and in every way in the Spirit of the written word.

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21 minutes ago, bluebell said:

It's never good for someone's beliefs to exist only because of an echo chamber.  It doesn't matter what the subject is. 

For example, if someone's testimony of the church only exists because it is reinforced by their peers at church, seminary, or instituted, and there is never any outside evidence or personal knowledge that has confirmed it, then, as the scriptures teach, that person is not converted and their testimony will eventually fail.

People are told to get a testimony for themselves, but a HUGE part of that process is engaging with others. President Nelson said to study, but he only listed church sources. He said it’s okay to talk about your doubts but only with believers. Never anywhere in his talk did he say to exit the echo chamber of believers. Or did I miss it?

 

edited for tone (sorry)


 

Edited by SeekingUnderstanding
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24 minutes ago, bluebell said:

It's never good for someone's beliefs to exist only because of an echo chamber.  It doesn't matter what the subject is. 

For example, if someone's testimony of the church only exists because it is reinforced by their peers at church, seminary, or instituted, and there is never any outside evidence or personal knowledge that has confirmed it, then, as the scriptures teach, that person is not converted and their testimony will eventually fail.

Yep.  That just about sums it up.  Well-stated as always.

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2 hours ago, Nevo said:

I cannot simply choose to believe in

I agree with this 100 percent. We don’t get to choose what we believe. We believe or don’t. We can choose to act on faith despite that lack of belief. I wonder how you took his admonishing to simply “choose” to believe?

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3 hours ago, Nevo said:

I liked the talk. I was never a big fan of President Nelson's talks when he was a member of the Twelve. But, as president of the Church, he's consistently delivered powerful, memorable conference talks. Today's was no exception. As a doubter, I welcomed his suggestions for increasing my faith. I appreciated his emphasis once again on the need for spiritual "work" to gain personal revelation. And on the need for humility and patience, to "give place, that a seed may be planted in [our] heart," and allow the Lord to lead us. I am sure I have been falling short on that front.

I didn't feel judged by the line "stop increasing your doubts by rehearsing them with other doubters," because I mainly increase my doubts by rehearsing them with believers ;)

I'm sure some people will use the talk to "bash" doubters, since it takes for granted that doubt is bad and belief is good. It also takes the view that belief is a choice. A doubter, then, is one who does not choose to believe.

In my own case, I see my doubts as arising out of honest seeking. I cannot simply choose to believe in, say, the historicity of the Book of Mormon. That would not be an intellectually honest position for me, as I see the evidence. But I also recognize that I may be wrong. I take seriously Paul's admonition: "Quench not the Spirit. Despise not prophesyings" (1 Thessalonians 5:19-20; compare Jacob 6:8). 

 

 

I remember the part of just having faith of a mustard seed, and it helped me to not feel totally lost. Out of the few talks I was able to watch this weekend, I like his the best, which is surprising to me as well, because he hasn't always been a favorite like a some of the others. 

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5 hours ago, OGHoosier said:

Indeed. Church meetings have been attacked for taking advantage of the Illusory Truth Effect. I don't think such critiques work against the Church because they would require a considerable array of auxiliary hypotheses to explain salient features of the experience of gospel living, and on a whole I thing the whole overwrought framework doesn't hold up. I'm also skeptical of invocations of the Illusory Truth Effect in situations where the proposition in question is unfalsifiable - at that point asserting the Illusory Truth Effect begs the question against the proposition most flagrantly. But if there is any validity to this critique, then communities of critics are just as guilty as churches in pre-rationally conditioning their members to accept propositions. 

I agree this accusation works both ways.   Also, I would like to see if personality type or other factors can be taken into consideration with regard to the participants of the Illusory Truth Effect studies.  The mere repetition of a statement simply doesn't make it true in my way of thinking (although I think I've conversed with many people who seem to think if they keep saying the same thing over and over, then it has to be true).  

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1 hour ago, InCognitus said:

I agree this accusation works both ways.   Also, I would like to see if personality type or other factors can be taken into consideration with regard to the participants of the Illusory Truth Effect studies.  The mere repetition of a statement simply doesn't make it true in my way of thinking (although I think I've conversed with many people who seem to think if they keep saying the same thing over and over, then it has to be true).  

That is a good question, I suppose I don't know the extent of the studies on it. And what with the replication crisis in psychology, it may be that we aren't even dealing with anything real here. Furthermore I don't know if the effect implies that people come to actually hold these false beliefs over time, or if they simply seem more plausible. 

The biases and heuristics literature is rather fraught at the moment, and one must be judicious in the conclusions one draws from it. 

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2 hours ago, SeekingUnderstanding said:

I wonder how you took his admonishing to simply “choose” to believe?

I took it in the context of the verse he cited from Alma 32 about experimenting upon the word and exercising a particle of faith, even if it's no more than a desire to believe. The rest of the passage in Alma talks about "let[ting] this desire work in you" and "giv[ing] place, that a seed [of faith] may be planted in your heart." To give it place means that we "do not cast it out by [our] unbelief." I think this language of yielding ("let...", "give place...") is important.

A friend and someone I have long admired wrote an account on another board that illustrates what "choosing to believe" can look like in practice.

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Shortly after my world fell apart last year, I resigned my membership. It was processed rather quickly. However, as I began to try to rebuild my life, I found myself one evening about a month later imagining what it would be like to believe again. . . . 

So about a month after resigning, I found myself imagining what it would be like to believe again, visualizing myself in various Mormon scenarios: praying, being baptized, giving and receiving blessings, attending the temple, bearing testimony, and so forth. Each new scene seemed somehow not so impossible anymore. Furthermore, it was easy to imagine the great joy I would bring to so many people I love. Finally, I imagined the feeling of being forgiven, of knowing that my broken life could be made whole again. 

To be sure, I can remember actually performing all those Mormon scenarios in an earlier, more innocent era, and I'm pretty sure it will feel different this time. I don't know if I can recover the uncomplicated faith of my youth. I rather imagine that doubt will continue to be a co‐traveler with faith on the road ahead. But it would be dishonest of me to pretend that I am anything short of desperate for absolution. You can attribute my turn toward faith to ideological duress if you wish. But reconciliation happens within community, and I feel obligated to play by the rules of that community.

Now you have a sense for the forces at work on me when I stopped considering a return to faith unimaginable. That night I prayed for the first time in years. I poured out my heart and pleaded for forgiveness for me and healing for those I have hurt. It would make a better story if I could report that a flood of divine comfort penetrated my soul and confirmed the correctness of my new stance. It wasn't like that, but I felt euphoria at the possibility of forgiveness, and I felt genuine hope for the first time in a month. The next day I couldn't claim to be a believer, but neither could I claim to be a non‐believer. I was definitely pointed in the direction of belief, though, and I was determined to take on the habits of belief to see how far I could go in that direction.

I have studied mainly in the Book of Mormon and the New Testament. I have continued to pray. I have attended Sunday lessons that I avoided in the past. I have met with my bishop several times. And I have felt the seed growing inside me. I am not yet ready to be rebaptized. I have work to do, but this is the direction I am headed now.

 

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19 hours ago, Bill “Papa” Lee said:

This morning, I heard some great advice, something worth sharing, and quoting. This is simply spindled advice to all, even more for some who have come and gone here, over many years...

“Choose to believe in Jesus Christ, if you have doubts about God the Father, and his beloved Son, or the validity of the Restoration, or  the truth of Joseph Smith’s divine calling as a Prophet, choose to believe, and stay faithful. Take your questions to the Lord, and other faithful sources. Study with a desire to believe, rather than with the hope that you can find a flaw, in the fabric of a prophet’s life. Or a descrapisy in the scriptures. Stop increasing your doubts, by rehearsing them with other doubters. Allow the Lord to lead you, on you journey of discovery.”    
 
President Russell M Nelson, April 4, 2021
 

Here is hoping I quoted him correctly? 

 

Not a fan of this quote.  To much like only read stuff we tell you to read. Don't talk to those evil apostates, etc.  Don't critically think. Seems to me the church leadership is worried about slow growth and the ever increasing numbers of disaffected members.

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8 hours ago, Nevo said:

I took it in the context of the verse he cited from Alma 32 about experimenting upon the word and exercising a particle of faith, even if it's no more than a desire to believe. The rest of the passage in Alma talks about "let[ting] this desire work in you" and "giv[ing] place, that a seed [of faith] may be planted in your heart." To give it place means that we "do not cast it out by [our] unbelief." I think this language of yielding ("let...", "give place...") is important.

A friend and someone I have long admired wrote an account on another board that illustrates what "choosing to believe" can look like in practice.

 

I love how they said they were "pointed in the direction of belief".  That's a great quote, especially because, even if we can't choose to believe (which I'm not sure I agree with or not yet), I think we can always choose whether we are pointed toward belief or pointed away from it.

Edited by bluebell
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My real honest question in an attempt to understand 'doubters' (I put the word in quotes because I think we are all doubters to some extent)...  What would a church look like to you (as a doubter) if you could tailor how they talk about doubt?  Is the only way to mollify a doubter for the church to tell them that coming to a conclusion of unbelief is absolutely fine? What IF the church IS true (even with flaws)?  Would then the church and the prophets not be doing their job/calling if they didn't at least promote faith and obedience?  Should Jesus have omitted the "go and sin no more" line when being kind to the adulterous woman - should he in-effect have said to her "hey, you just do you"?  

Honest thoughts are awesome?  I personally would love to be better at both being understanding and accepting of my loved ones who have left the faith, while still feeling like I am being true to my testimony (and in the case of my children, my stewardship to teach them).

 

 

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14 minutes ago, Maestrophil said:

What would a church look like to you (as a doubter) if you could tailor how they talk about doubt?

We could start by not labeling questions as "doubts".

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Th part of the talk that stood out to me was the comparison of life’s challenges to mountains.   And how we can move those mountains.  

This is something President Nelson keeps emphasizing: The need for us all all to acquire our own spiritual strength.  It’s an empowering message has been running through all his talks since he became President of the Church.

I also really liked the line about having faith to plead for a loved one’s life and the faith to accept an undesirable answer.  With so much talk of miracles, I think it is important too see the miracle of being able to reach that final step in the grieving process and move forward.

And I really hope there were enough conference talks on kindness and compassion to dissuade people from using this talk as a weapon.

Edited by Rivers
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12 minutes ago, Maestrophil said:

My real honest question in an attempt to understand 'doubters' (I put the word in quotes because I think we are all doubters to some extent)...  What would a church look like to you (as a doubter) if you could tailor how they talk about doubt?  Is the only way to mollify a doubter for the church to tell them that coming to a conclusion of unbelief is absolutely fine? What IF the church IS true (even with flaws)?  Would then the church and the prophets not be doing their job/calling if they didn't at least promote faith and obedience?  Should Jesus have omitted the "go and sin no more" line when being kind to the adulterous woman - should he in-effect have said to her "hey, you just do you"?  

Honest thoughts are awesome?  I personally would love to be better at both being understanding and accepting of my loved ones who have left the faith, while still feeling like I am being true to my testimony (and in the case of my children, my stewardship to teach them).

Since you asked, a "true" Church should embrace not only the truth, but also the best intellectual tools that best separate truth from error.

To understand what I'm getting at here, science tells us not only is the human mind not very rational, it is irrational in predictable ways. Perhaps the most important way the brain is predictably irrational is its powerful tendency to engage in confirmation bias. From an article in Psychology Today,

"Confirmation bias occurs from the direct influence of desire on beliefs. When people would like a certain idea or concept to be true, they end up believing it to be true. They are motivated by wishful thinking. This error leads the individual to stop gathering information when the evidence gathered so far confirms the views or prejudices one would like to be true. Once we have formed a view, we embrace information that confirms that view while ignoring, or rejecting, information that casts doubt on it. Confirmation bias suggests that we don’t perceive circumstances objectively. We pick out those bits of data that make us feel good because they confirm our prejudices."

I encourage you to read the article in its entirety here: What Is Confirmation Bias? | Psychology Today

Once you understand confirmation bias, President Nelson's remarks, as quoted above, seem designed to create belief on a foundation of confirmation bias: have a desire to believe. Choose to believe. Try to believe. Think about the evidence that supports belief. Don't think about evidence contradicts belief.

If your goal is to believe, then doing that is great. But if your objective is to find out what is actually true, a different approach is in order.

 

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