Things to know

Regularly read by 50,000+ readers in over 140 countries around the world, "Dear Bro Jo" is published several times a month.

This is column is just one guy's opinion, and while he does his best to keep what he thinks, says and writes in-line with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, "Dear Bro Jo" is not an LDS Church website. (And Sister Jo thinks you should know that he's sometimes wrong, and often way too opinionated for his own good.)

Nothing here is meant to take the place of talking with parents, leaders, or Church authorities. Please, if you need serious help, talk to a trusted adult, leader, and / or professional counselor.

Please like our Facebook page, and check it often for Discussions, Notes, Events and just General Good Stuff!

Everything here is copyrighted. If you're going to quote any part of anything here, please get Bro Jo's written permission. You can reach him at dearbrojo@gmail.com.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Doubts and Questions

Hi Bro Jo!

Long time no talk!

Life is going really well for me. Still waiting for the mission petition. I can't submit it till a year from my divorce. Until then, I've been thinking about my testimony and finding areas that could use improvement.

And I know you're the go-to guy for advice (who is not family and won't be biased). Even though I talk to you as if you were an uncle or something! You rock.

Anyway, I have been thinking about good VS bad. I've really been able to see it in the point of view that good is GOOD, and bad is BAD no matter the source. Mormon charity isn't any more holy than Catholic charity, or even Atheist charity. It's all equal in God's eyes. It reminds me of the quote by Abraham Lincoln, "When I do good, I feel good. When I do bad, I feel bad. That's my religion."

I've grown up believing that Mormons are the best, and we are all better and more "knowledgeable" than the rest of the world. But I've come to realize through the amazing non-members I've met, we sure as hell aren't! (haha...) And there's just as many screwed up Mormons as there are people, anywhere you go. On the other hand, there are just as many (maybe even more) wonderful Mormons with great educations and work ethics.

It's not like I'm doing anything contrary to "gospel principles". I've just found myself questioning the things "I’ve never doubted" in life. And how many phony people get up and say "I know the gospel and Joseph Smith and God are true, with every fiber of my being!" Well, no. You don't. Because any scientist will argue that faith cannot be measured empirically. To "know" the Church is true is a contradiction.

We will never know in this life unless God himself came down and said otherwise. We can believe the Church is true. But on my train of thought, it follows with "of course you'd say that, that's the pathway to apostasy Grace. Don't think that way." I always feel guilty for thinking and questioning that way.

Any thoughts or advice?

- Hopeful Future Missionary Sister


Dear Sister,

Nice to hear from you again.

Charity is good, and you're absolutely right that one act of charity, given in love, is not "better" than another.

But not all good things are necessarily equal. I invite you to read Elder Oak's talk "Good, Better, Best" from October 2007's General Conference (http://lds.org/general-conference/2007/10/good-better-best?lang=eng).

The problem with many "scientists", (or more accurately perhaps, people that call themselves such), is that they rely on "inductive reasoning" as opposed to "deductive reasoning". This "loophole in logic" allows them to declare that things that are just theories (i.e.: the evolution of one species into another, particularly as accidental biology and not part of a greater plan, despite the lack of "empirical evidence" to be fact, and yet in the same mind declare that an individual's knowledge of the things they believe to be true as impossible to know. For my part, as a reasonably intelligent human being, I think both arguments are garbage.

Because of Faith I'm able to "know" the truth of things Spiritual without having had to physically witness them. If people want to doubt me, that's their right and prerogative. I suspect it makes them feel better on some level, that they take comfort in declaring the testimony of others as invalid because they themselves are struggling with certain spiritual concepts. Lack of faith on their part should not and does not make my faith any less real.

To paraphrase scripture, believing is knowing what's true without having seen. It's like the movie "The Santa Clause". Remember? The step-dad is trying to convince Charlie that what he knows to be true (Santa) - isn't, and Charlie ask him "have you ever seen a million dollars?"

Neil answers "no", and Charlie replies "just because you haven't seen something doesn't mean that it doesn't exist".

I did not, to my knowledge, witness the Atonement, Crucifixion and Resurrection of Christ, and yet I know those events to be real and true. I may not understand how it all works, and I may wonder about it from time to time (as you may have, which by the way, is very normal), but nothing anyone can ever say or do will make those events less real. Even if I chose to not believe it, that would not change their reality.

Are some of the people who bear Testimony of the Restoration, or the Prophet, or the Gospel, or Christ, being insincere?

Probably.

Is everyone?

No way.

And even if someone is being insincere in their Discipleship or Testimony, does that mean that what they're saying isn't true?

Not at all.

And even an insincere Testimony can lift the Spirit of those that hear it. What one person may scoff at may be the thing that someone else needs to hear to feel better.

My advice?

Stop seeking for Truth among the doubters and unbelievers; realize that it's okay (and NORMAL) to doubt and to question; but realize that ultimately all Truth comes from He who is the Way, the Truth and the Light. I'm not saying to drop your friends or associations, but you don't go to a dry well to get a drink, you know?

Don't feel guilty for thinking and questioning, but if you want answers, go to The Source.

Primary is right, Sister: Pray, Read your Scriptures, and Go to Church.

Two last thoughts:

1. There are many times recorded in the scriptures where a visitation from God or Christ or an Angel still isn't enough to convince people of the truth or change their behavior. Cane, after all, was on one-on-one personal speaking terms with God; that didn't change what he chose to do.

2. Don't get hung up on the semantics. Is it really important that we debate the meaning of the word "know"? Isn't our time better spent studying truth than dissecting language?


Thanks for the thought provoking email!

Wishing you well,

- "Uncle" Bro Jo


[Readers,

I thought you may find it interesting to know that this sister did indeed go on a mission.  Cheers,

Bro Jo]

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Bro Jo, it made me happy to read that this sister went on a mission after being a divorcee, because I was wondering about a male friend of mine who got married young instead of going on a mission and is now divorced. I've been trying to figure out who to ask if he can still go...institute teacher, bishop, who?... but I guess I can ask you. Does it depend on the situation? I think a mission could help re-make his life a better way. (and he'd be great at it)

Dave Johnston said...

@ Anon -

This letter writer is the only person I know personally that has gone on a mission after a divorce. I don't know if there are different guidelines for men and women, either.

The person to ask would be the Bishop or a member of the Stake Presidency.

However, friend, you're not the one that should be doing the asking; he is.

- Bro Jo

Christopher Cunningham said...

The premise of this letter writer is a little bit off. She implies that her testimony is struggling because she's questioning the things she's never doubted before, like the fact that Mormons are better than everyone else and that the only way to have a testimony is if you can say you know something is true. But in reality her testimony is becoming stronger because she is separating the false things she believed, like the superiority of Mormons, from the truth like the reality of Christ's atonement. Doubt isn't only a natural part of a testimony, it's an important one, because without it we will never be able to sift out these false assumptions.

J-Dawg Fluffy said...

"The problem with many "scientists", (or more accurately perhaps, people that call themselves such), is that they rely on "inductive reasoning" as opposed to "deductive reasoning". This "loophole in logic" allows them to declare that things that are just theories (i.e.: the evolution of one species into another, particularly as accidental biology and not part of a greater plan, despite the lack of "empirical evidence" to be fact, and yet in the same mind declare that an individual's knowledge of the things they believe to be true as impossible to know. For my part, as a reasonably intelligent human being, I think both arguments are garbage."


It's statement like these that annoy people in the science community and lead to the anonymity between religion and science. You obviously don't understand what a scientific theory is, or how the scientific method works. And apparently you think all scientists just believe what they want to believe and haven't contributed anything.

Dave Johnston said...

@ J-Dawg

I originally wasn’t going to post your comment in hopes of saving you the embarrassment, but then I figured “hey, he’s a big guy, he can take it”.

Plus I figure that I’ve waited long enough that if you wanted to retract it you’d have emailed me.

So, there you go. It’s posted.

And here's my response:

Some people, including scientists (and you, apparently) do get annoyed by the facts; the only way I can help that I suppose, would be to be quiet. But then, I figure, if they’re that thin skinned, they probably shouldn’t be reading opinion columns like mine.

I’m sure you meant “animosity”, not “anonymity”, but I’ll chalk that up to you being a victim of auto-complete.

Not only could I teach you about scientific theory and the workings of scientific method, but it seems you could also stand a lesson in the difference between and meaning of “inductive reasoning”, “deductive reasoning” and, most importantly, the difference between “all” and “many”.

If you understood all of that you might not have jumped to the incorrect conclusion you make at the end of your comments.

Thanks for keeping me on my toes!

Still like ya.

Cheers,

- Bro Jo