Posted by: Jay | June 13, 2007

How to talk to a doubter

In my search for truth in my LDS faith I have come up against some pretty stout opposition from those that are believing LDS and non-LDS that don’t believe. It seems that I am caught in the middle of the two extremes. I had a discussion with my wife a while ago about how to talk to someone that doubts their faith. I think it can be applied to other religions as well.

It appears that the first inclination a “true believer” and “Anti-Mormon” have is to jump on the doubter and correct them, sometimes rather harshly. I can say from personal experience this approach will fail every time. In fact, it will have the opposite affect on the doubter. They will feel further alienated from the messenger and eventually their comments become background noise. What they are truly searching for are the facts that generate the doubt in the first place. They want to decide for themselves how to interpret history and doctrine. If you come across as interpreting it for them they may reject your conclusions. How should the doubter be approached? Is there just one way? Can a doubter be brought back to the faith with a renewed testimony?

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Responses

  1. Certainly the LDS faith has some very great claims that are tough for people to swallow. I totally understand their disbelief.

    The shock and awe approach by listing everything that is wrong with the LDS faith/history/doctrine seems to me a bit rehearsed- that much organized information has come from some “anti” book/pamphlet/movie. And most, if not all, has been answered by scholars. The problem with this is that it only makes the individual look like they have not been properly informed or have not done the research. At least they have not portrayed both sides of the view.

    I have read many of the answers to these claims and have been satisfied by the outcome. In fact, my faith in the LDS gospel view has only been made stronger.

    I am more satisfied on here when there is an actual discussion of why someone (specifically evangelical christians) believe what they believe and why. I can relate better to that person and understand better why they consider the LDS doctrine “heretical”.

    For what it’s worth.

  2. Hey Jay,

    I’d love a letter grade from you on how I have responded to you in this regard. You can post it here or email me. It’s an area I would like to continue improving on.

    Providing love and truth to someone at the same time can often be a difficult thing for us to do. Not because the two are opposed to one another but because we don’t always value them equally. Often what some believers hold up as love is conditional on another person’s belief.

    In my own faith context, I have encountered people with doubts and have had some of my own. I think one easy mistake people make is that they become threatened by someone else’s doubts. I am certain that God is never threatened by doubt. Likewise, we need to be confident enough to give people space and grace to explore and “work out” their own salvation. If it’s capital T true, it can withstand questioning. Those who discourage questioning are often the same who know the answers are not satisfying.

    If you have questioned and remain, you know the answers ARE satisfying and are worth the journey to discover them. Show me someone who has never questioned a thing in their faith and I’ll show you someone with a pretty shallow mindset.

    I think we also need to recognize that the Bible doesn’t say that doubt is the opposite of faith. Sight is the opposite of faith. Doubt and faith CAN walk alongside one another. It’s okay to say “I don’t get it, but I’ll still follow You.” Why would believers be told to “seek after God” if God wasn’t acknowledging to some degree that He is hidden from us.

  3. Austin,
    Thanks for your comment. I have had similar feelings as I read and ponder the controversial aspects of Mormonism. Though I still have some things I’m working on.

    The discussion I long for is one where both sides can present their best arguments and then step back to let me decide. I find it hard to respect those that wish to force feed their doctrine while snuffing mine out. I have much more respect for those that disagree with me but are willing to understand my beliefs also. I can appreciate their point of view much better when this happens, which is what I think they want anyway.

  4. Dando,
    Since you asked me to grade you, I’d say you deserve an A. I have not always agreed with your point of view, but I have always admired your respect for others and the civility of your conversations here and on your blog. Even when you were talked to rather harshly you remained calm and engaged your critic. I admire that. Keep it up!

  5. wow, I’m flattered. I would have been happy with a B. Thanks for that encouragement.

  6. Very interesting question. In my quest to search for truth, I have found that it is best to listen to both sides and make up your mind. Each side is going to be over-impassioned and only present the facts that support their own arguments. However, you have to remember that is to be expected.

  7. I totally agree! You can not trust the opinions of others. They can be guiding but should never determine how you understand the issue.

  8. Hello, everything is going perfectly here and ofcourse
    every one is sharing facts, that’s actually fine, keep up writing.


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