The Unauthorized Investigator's Guide to
The Church of JESUS CHRIST of Latter-day Saints


We know that the missionaries' goal is to baptize you.   But what is your objective?  You might have any number of objectives.  You might be trying to entertain yourself, make some friends, convert the missionaries to your way of thinking, or become a Mormon to appease your spouse.  All that is fine, I guess.  But I am going to assume that you have the more noble objective of honestly learning the truth.

On one side of the table, we have the missionaries who want to baptize you.  On the other side, we have you who wants to know the truth.  Are these objectives compatible?  They are to the extent that the LDS Church is true.  But if the church is false, then they are mutually exclusive objectives and the relationship will have to end with no deal.

Since the missionaries are trying to convert you and baptize you rather than aid you in a judicious search for the truth, you can't rely on them to provide you with all of the information you need to make a quality decision.  You need to look deeper.  Is the LDS Church for you?  Look at that question from different angles.  Gather as much evidence as possible.  Consider various explanations for the evidence.  Figure out which explanation is most likely.  Honestly make your decision, and then feel at ease knowing that you made the best decision you could have made.

That is a general process of investigating the church deeply and carefully, and then trusting your own judgment.  Some people would call that faith.  Others would call it a lack of faith.  Be that as it may, can you imagine God condemning such a person if he turned out to be wrong? 

I don't know if there is a God, but I do know this: the only God I would be interested in worshiping is one who cares more about the level of integrity in the investigator's search than about whether or not the investigator arrives at the conclusion that is true.  It's better to have integrity than to be right.

Conducting your search for truth with integrity is harder than it sounds.  There is a significant difference between building your convictions upon integrity and being sincere in your convictions.  Just about everybody in the world believes that their personal beliefs are the correct ones.  As a matter of fact, most of us are absolutely certain that our beliefs are the correct ones.  When we see certainty in others we call them obstinate.  When we see it in ourselves we call ourselves faithful.  When our faithfulness causes us to be obstinate so that we refuse to consider new evidence and potentially better paradigms, we may still be sincere in our convictions, but our convictions will no longer be based upon integrity.

How much personal integrity do you have?

That is something that only you can judge.  Look yourself in the mirror and ask yourself:

  • If your convictions were wrong, would you want to know about it?
  • Or would you prefer not to know and continue in the status quo?
  • Do you seek out books, web sites, people, and ideas that challenge your ideas?
  • Or do limit the ideas that make it to your brain by submerging yourself in thoughts that promote your pre-determined faith?
  • Do you seek out the weaknesses in your current opinion and the strengths in competing opinions?
  • Or do you dwell on the strengths of your own position and the weaknesses of your opponent's position?
  • Do you hold your current beliefs because a thorough analysis of the evidence demands that you hold them?
  • Or do you hold your current beliefs because they are the beliefs that you want to have?
  • Is your highest value to be faithful?
  • Or is your highest value to have integrity?

Up Next

If you have a question or would like to discuss these topics, I suggest that you go to a Mormon-related bulletin board (here are some recommendations). If you'd like to contact me with comments or feedback, you may send an email to