Posted by: Jay | July 9, 2007

A call for advise.

I have decided to go talk to my Bishop about the difficulties I’m having with my testimony of the LDS faith. I’m not sure how this will turn out, but I need to do it anyway. I am the 2nd counselor in the Elders Quorum for my ward and have been largely ineffective because of my weakened testimony. This week I finally decided that it is not fair to the EQ to have someone in a leadership calling wrestling with his testimony. That is what made me call and make an appointment with the Bishop yesterday.

This is a little scary for several reasons. I don’t know if the Bishop will try to answer my concerns or just tell me to pray and fast. I don’t even know if he has struggled with the same issues or not and therefore I worry that I may be introducing doubt into his mind. Of course there is always the possibility he will remove me from my calling (I’m not opposed to that). I have considered just asking to be released from my calling instead of going into the fact that my testimony has taken a severe blow, but I know that will come up anyway. Finally, my son turned 7 this month and I would like to baptize him when he turns 8 next year, but I’m not sure the Bishop will let me do that if he knows exactly how I feel.

I have not rejected Mormonism. My testimony has just changed. Some of the things I used to consider doctrine have now become only rumors to me. My view of what a prophet is has changed dramatically from what I used to think. I question things that are spoken by local leaders and even current and past prophets. On some issues I am critical of what has been said or done.

I hold on to Mormonism because I do believe I received answer to prayer that it is true. I also have had other confirming experiences during my lifetime. Some say that this should be enough, but somehow it is not. Most of the problems I’m having with the LDS Church are problems of logic, not spirit. Although admittedly, my attempt to understand the illogical has affected the spiritual aspect of my faith. It is much harder for me to feel the spirit when I am constantly evaluating what my leaders have said and are saying. However, I don’t feel like I have a choice.

It appears that past prophets have given declarations that have been taken by LDS members in general as doctrine from God. Later it is revealed that it was in fact not doctrine, but one man’s opinion. Such ambiguity has lead me to believe I have the duty to evaluate statements on my own and then choose to accept or reject them base on my judgment and comparison to scripture. I feel inadequate to do this and I think this is where my frustrations come from.

So this Sunday I will enter into the office of the Bishop and explain my concerns to him. I do not do this lightly or without much thought. As I prepare myself for this meeting I would like to ask for advise from others that may be going through the same thing or have already experienced this. I am also open to advise from those that are not member of the LDS faith. Next week I will write a post about my meeting with the Bishop for those interested in the outcome.

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Responses

  1. I know exactly how you are feeling. I follow the NOM advice of going slow to give people time to digest what you are going through. One thing that I have learned on the New order Mormon board is that once you have said something, you can never “un-say” it. The bishop might never look at you the same or might think twice in the future if you wanted to participate in a baptism or attend a temple marriage (which I have no problem doing myself).

    What I strongly suggest is to not go into detail about what is troubling you. As far as how your bishop will react, every bishop is different. I have not spoken to my bishop about it because I know he will give me the old tried and tested “read the scriptures and prey”. For me, that doesn’t answer my question.

    I could just see how the conversation would go down between my bishop and me:

    me:”my problem is that the papyri for which Joseph Smith translated the Book of Abraham is found and it turns out it is just a common Egyptian funeral text. Looking at his explanations compared with Egyptologists, it is apparent that Joseph Smith had absolutely no idea how to translate Egyptian”

    My Bishop: “Hmmm…I see…I don’t know much about Egyptian hieroglyphics or papyri but one thing I do know is that the church is true and the Book of Mormon is true because I prayed about it and therefore the Book of Abraham must be true also. I can’t explain how it got here, but it is here and if you read it and pray about it, your doubts will just fizzle away”.

    It is almost ridiculous.

    I am questioning how accurate the holy ghost is in determining truth. People have felt the confirmation of the spirit for so many points of doctrine and claims made by the church that have now been changed. For example, my parents adopted a Native American back in the 80’s when there was a big push. They said they really felt the confirmation of the spirit that he was a Lamanite and a literal descendant of the Book of Mormon. It turns out he is not one of those “small groups of people from the Book of Mormon that had no impact on the overall culture”, but he was of Asian origin.

    I talked to a Mormon Fundamentalist, who said he really prayed and got confirmation from the Holy Ghost that Hebert Jerald Smith is the true prophet on earth. How can that be? People have the same exact conviction and testimony that Gordon B. Hinckley is the true prophet. They can’t both be right. The same holy Ghost has led each person to believe in the Book of Mormon, in Joseph Smith, in the restoration of the gospel, but the holy Ghost confirms both Hinckley and Jerald Smith to different people as the only true prophet on the face of the earth.

    I have come to the conclusion that people believe in something because they either want to believe in it or have a need to believe in it.

    People want to believe that there is more to life than what you see.

    People need to believe in something when they feel social pressure.

    However, there does come a point in which you feel like you are being dishonest with yourself and those around you by continuing on.

    I wish you the best and I hope that it goes well. My suggestion is to just say that you are struggling with your testimony and you need some time away from callings while you are pondering things out.

  2. Looking forward to your return and report. I’ve got no advice for you. All I can offer are my prayers.

  3. Zelph,
    Thanks for the advise. I was considering a conversation about specifics, but I came to the same conclusion that you have. However, I don’t know if the Bishop will push for reasons or if he will just accept that I’m struggling right now and leave it at that.

    I have really overcome most of the things that were causing me to doubt the Church. It is just the last few things that keep me doubting (i.e. BOA, BOM and DNA to mention a couple). I know there are explanations for these things, but they are not sufficient to satify me. Most of the explanations rely on too many assumptions for me to feel comfortable with them. So I wait for something better.

    I believe that the Holy Ghost does guide us. Moroni said this and so did Christ so I don’t have any reason to doubt that. With that said, it is troubling how people can claim that the Holy Ghost revealed truth to them about opposing views. Your explanation is certainly a valid way of thinking about it. It is something I have also thought about. For now I choose to be responsible for my own revelations and not impose them on others or critisize them for what they say was an confirmation by the Holy Ghost. I leave it in God’s hands. I know what I feel, but I don’t know what someone else has experienced.

    Anyway thanks again for the wise advise. Hopefully a simple “struggling with my testimony” statement will be enough for the Bishop.

    Dando,
    Thanks for your prayers, I need them!

  4. Not knowing exactly how to pray in this situation, I’ve decided to pray that the experience will draw you closer to Christ. Hope that’s okay. I’m willing to take suggestions on what to pray.

  5. I’m new to wordpress, but I stumpled across your blog.
    I’m glad things went well with your bishop.

    Go here for some great insights of the Holy Ghost. (Zelph this may help you too .)

    http://hofheins.wordpress.com/

    Religion is hard. But with it, also comes great hope.

  6. octoberteddy,
    Welcome to wordpress and to my blog! Thanks for leaving a comment. Are you an active LDS member?


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