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

Lesson 3

My Doubts About Faith

I have spent more time trying to figure out faith than any other aspect of this religion. That is why I find it ironic that faith is the shortest principle in the discussions.

According to the definition presented in the principle, faith in Christ means firmly believing a couple of specific things about Jesus. Personally, I find this quite troubling. The correct belief is presented, and espousing that particular belief is declared as being the first virtue, the virtue that is prerequisite to pleasing God. It is only of secondary importance how that firm belief is achieved. Some might do it through repeating affirmations, through limiting the ideas they expose themselves to, and through sheer willpower. Others might arrive at it through an honest and thorough investigation of all of the evidence, both physical and spiritual, available. However, if an honest and thorough investigation doesn’t lead to firm belief in the right things, then they should disregard the results of the investigation and believe for some other reason. As 2 Nephi 9:28 says, "O the vainness, and the frailties, and the foolishness of men! When they are learned they think they are wise, and they hearken not unto the counsel of God, for they set it aside, supposing they know of themselves, wherefore, their wisdom is foolishness and it profiteth them not. And they shall perish. But to be learned is good if they hearken unto the counsels of God."

The virtue of faith in Jesus seems so haphazard. Here is an example. A particularly credulous child is born into a Christian household. Because of his credulity, he firmly believes that Jesus is the Son of God and the Savior of the world. He has faith in Christ as defined in this principle, and is on the road of pleasing God. Another child, equally credulous, is born into a Muslim household. Again, because of his credulity he buys that belief system, hook, line and sinker. He finds himself with the wrong beliefs about Jesus, left in a position where it’s impossible to please God.

One child is pleasing God. Another isn’t. What is the difference between the two? The only difference between them is where they happened to be born—it is nothing that they themselves did. Since it was God who chose which household each was born in, it was God’s decision of which one would please him, and which one wouldn’t. I’m not saying that God took away their free agency—I’m not saying that the Muslim child couldn’t see the light and grow a firm belief in the right things. All I am saying is that both children are credulous, intellectually lazy followers (sorry for being so blunt). They are identical in that most fundamental respect. And God rewards the one and punishes the other.

Compare that to my view. The first principle of my gospel isn’t to have strong belief in the correct thing, but rather to approach belief in the right way. In my opinion, this right approach to belief entails intellectual honesty.

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