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Faith, Not Doubt
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Faith, Not Doubt

At times Latter-day Saints whose faith is moving in a liberal direction describe themselves negatively—that is, in terms of what they are not. They may identify, for instance, as "doubters," "skeptics," or "heterodox." These labels tell us that a person is not an orthodox believer, but they do not tell us what the person does believe.

By contrast, this website describes liberal Mormonism in positive terms. The scriptures urge us to "declare the things which [we] have heard, and verily believe, and know to be true" (D&C 80:4). In the face of dogmatism, it may be important to affirm the value of doubt and questioning. But spirituality requires more than doubt as its foundation. It requires faith, in the sense of conviction. At any given moment, a person will believe some things, not believe some things, and be undecided about some things. Being clear about what we believe is as important as deciding what not to believe or learning to live with uncertainties.

Liberal Mormons may no longer believe many of the things that conservative Mormons believe. Still, liberals trust—even know—that certain things are true: certain historical realities, certain bedrock values, certain hopes for the future. Liberal religion has been accused, with some justice, of lacking conviction. To inspire conviction, a liberal Mormon faith must be presented as faith, not merely as doubt. We must be prepared to testify to what we believe, whatever that may be, not merely to what we no longer believe.

Related Topics:
Faith and Testimony    

Brigham Young: This is my firm conviction, and my conclusion according to the light that is in me.

Journal of Discourses 11:263-64

David O. Mckay: We shall stand true to ourselves, true to the divine within us, true to that truth which we have received.

Conference Report, April 1969, 151

Hugh Nibley: You must believe in something and everybody does.

Teachings of the Book of Mormon—Semester 1 (Provo: FARMS, 1993), 178

D. Jeff Burton: Everyone is a believer to some degree; our uncertainties vary in strength. Latter-day Saints who are uncertain about particular tenets of their religion should not be hasty in applying negative labels to themselves. Such negative self-labeling undermines self-esteem.

. . . [V]arying strengths of belief in different facets of the gospel are not uncommon, and . . . questions are not the same as unbelief; indeed, it is highly unlikely that any two people will share exactly the same convictions on all issues. Help the person with questions or doubts to see himself as an integral part of a diverse Church rather than as an outsider.

"Helping Those with Religious Questions and Doubts," Counseling: A Guide to Helping Others
(Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1983-1985), 2:233-34

This website is an independent effort to discern the Spirit's voice in LDS teaching. The site is not sponsored by the LDS Church. Quotations from the teachings of any individual should not be taken to imply that the individual does or would endorse this website or other statements made here.