What do I say in Temple recommend interview?

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fisherman
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What do I say in Temple recommend interview?

Post by fisherman » 15 Feb 2014, 11:30

To give a little background, I'm an RM, married in the Temple and have always **LOVED** the Gospel more than life itself. My spouse and I have, since before we were married, spoke about raising our children in the Church and going on missions when we were older. I have spent most of my free time over the last 15 years or so studying the Gospel, apologetics, early Christian history, and have read and kept up on LDS and (most) Biblical scholarship. I have literally based my life on the Gospel. But, I began to have doubts several years ago that have been growing worse and don't know where I'll end up. I still love the Gospel and study it every chance I get and tell others about it, I just am not sure if I believe it anymore. I would label myself as an agnostic. I hope it is true but really doubt it. I won't go into the reasons for my new beliefs (they're not doctrinal) but am caught in an awkward position. I am still very active in the Church and hold several callings. Many people in my ward look up to me to answer difficult questions and teach lessons which I am happy to do. I want to keep living the life I am and don't want to leave the Church but do not want to be dishonest.
My Temple recommend expires soon and I will have to sit down with my Bishop. I know that this will make many think I'm nuts or that my beliefs don't make sense, but I believe I can answer all of the Temple recommend questions correctly except 2. Do I believe in God? Do I believe that Jesus is my Saviour? I don't have a problem with The Book of Mormon or Joseph Smith but the evidence is piling up against the existence of God. This is absolutely heart wrenching to me and is bringing me to tears as I write this because I REALLY want there to be a God and an atoning Saviour but the evidence is against it. I've tried to doubt my doubts, rely on past spiritual feelings but when I step back from the situation I see people having similar spiritual manifestations in other Churches and sales meetings, murderous cults, etc... How is it that I can say my spiritual feelings are legit while dismissing everyone else's that disagree with my beliefs?
I'm getting off topic. My question is, what should I do to retain my membership and hopefully my Temple recommend and still be honest with my Bishop? My wife is mostly unaware of my beliefs and knows I struggle with faith (which used to be extremely strong) on a few issues. I want to be the husband that she married but am having major doubts. When I hear a lesson in Church or someone tells me about a spiritual experience, my mind automatically goes into cynic mode because the teacher and lessons are so stretched. I have to actively keep that under control and try to act like I used to be.
Most of the time I try not to think about it because I just get worse when I do. I put it on the backburner and go through the motions. Again, I love the Church and never want to leave it but am so confused on who I am and where I belong right now.

Curt Sunshine
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Re: What do I say in Temple recommend interview?

Post by Curt Sunshine » 15 Feb 2014, 12:19

Welcome, fisherman. I'm glad to have you here, and I hope and believe this can be a good fit for you and for us.

First, my short answer:
"I believe. Help thou mine unbelief."


I believe there was an unspoken element in that response and that it might be translated better as:
"I want to believe. Help the part of me that struggles to believe."


That answer brought about a blessing, not condemnation or even criticism. We miss a wonderful lesson when we don't stop to think about and teach that simple fact.

If I were you (based on what you've written), in a temple recommend interview, I probably would answer in one of two ways:
"Yes - and I want to attend the temple to gain help to strengthen that belief."


or, simply,
"Yes." (with the last part unspoken).


I would say the first only if I knew the person conducting the interview well enough to know that they would nod and move on. If I was unsure in any way about that (since I don't believe there is any need for that person to get into a deeper discussion in the interview), I would answer as simply as possible and let the unspoken part be between me and God.

Finally, there are threads in our archives that deal with how we all answer the specific temple recommend questions. I would recommend reading them, just to get a feel for how some of us answered that question at the time. I will try to find the first one and provide a link, so you can see how the titles are worded and find the others through our Search option.
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

Curt Sunshine
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Re: What do I say in Temple recommend interview?

Post by Curt Sunshine » 15 Feb 2014, 12:55

The easiest way to find the threads about the individual temple recommend questions is to search for the term "TR Question Survey". The discussions were in the summer 2012, and it looks like there were over 500 comments on all of the threads combined. You can find the specific question about which you have concerns and read the thread about that question (or questions).

Question #2 is discussed in the following thread (with some really good discussion about question #1 that deal with the Godhead in other threads):

viewtopic.php?f=6&t=3366&hilit=TR+Question+Survey

If you'd like to add a comment, it will bump the thread into our active topics list, so everyone else who hasn't seen them can read the thread(s) and also comment.
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

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GodisLove
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Re: What do I say in Temple recommend interview?

Post by GodisLove » 15 Feb 2014, 19:08

I loved the topic threads Curtis mentions. I have read and reread them often. There is some great comments and lots of insight to ponder on.

My recommend expired this past fall and I haven't been back in to renew...long story.

Welcome and good luck!
Not one Sparrow is forgotten
E'en the raven God will feed
And the lily of the valley
From His bounty hath its need

Then shall I not trust Thee, Father
In Thy mercy have a share?
And through faith and prayer, my Mother
Merit Thy protecting care?
Shaker Hymnal 1908

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Orson
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Re: What do I say in Temple recommend interview?

Post by Orson » 15 Feb 2014, 20:29

Welcome Fisherman,

I always talk about how I define things for me, it is a key strategy for my staying LDS. I don't have to worry about my previous understanding or how other people may define God. I define God, at a minimum, as Love ...and the source of all goodness, truth, and life. I believe goodness, truth, and life exist, so according to my definition yes absolutely I believe in God. There may be more, I can't be certain, but I let my belief grow from this start and I proclaim my faith in God.

Is Jesus my savior? Again I don't feel bound by other people's definitions and understanding. Salvation to me is all of humankind learning how to love one another. If we truly follow what Jesus taught will we come to this end? I believe so, and that is why I have no reservations in declaring Jesus as our (and my) savior. I don't know if there needed to be suffering of one man to "pay" the sins of humankind. I have heard church leaders say they don't understand all the details of the atonement, so I don't worry much about what I don't understand. The way I see it following the teachings of Jesus can "save" mankind, I keep that in my pocket and move forward.

Best wishes! :thumbup:
My avatar - both physical and spiritual.

I first found faith, and thought I had all truth. I then discovered doubt, and claimed a more accurate truth. Now I’ve greeted paradox and a deeper truth than I have ever known.

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Daeruin
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Re: What do I say in Temple recommend interview?

Post by Daeruin » 15 Feb 2014, 21:01

fisherman wrote:I've tried to doubt my doubts, rely on past spiritual feelings but when I step back from the situation I see people having similar spiritual manifestations in other Churches and sales meetings, murderous cults, etc... How is it that I can say my spiritual feelings are legit while dismissing everyone else's that disagree with my beliefs?
There are also threads around here on this topic. It's something that I struggle with a lot, too, so I think we have some things in common. If you don't want to talk about these things that's OK, but I would encourage you to start a new thread about your specific worries so that we can help you there and understand better where you're coming from—if you want to.
"Not all those who wander are lost" —Tolkien

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mackay11
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What do I say in Temple recommend interview?

Post by mackay11 » 16 Feb 2014, 03:05

In case it's of any benefit, here's how I answer that question:

I start from the premise of thinking a creative force behind our existence is probably a more likely explanation than pure chance. I have considered Atheism and it doesn't work for me. I believe in a creator.

This leads me to ask myself some additional questions:

Does the loving, personal "weeping" God of Mormonism exist?
Do we have a spiritual Father and Mother who created us?
Was our elder brother, Jesus Christ, with us in the pre-mortal life?
Did he really live on earth, suffering the pain of the sins of every person who ever lived in one agonising evening?
Did he die and then come back to life after three days, thereby guaranteeing every person will live again too?

Are all these things a reality?

I have no idea. I hope so.

It's the hope that is meaningful to me. Acting on this hope makes my life better.

The creator doesn't seem to have left conclusive evidence of what they are really, actually like (or if they exist at all).

With that in mind I choose an image of the creator that works for me and that brings hope to my life. I like the description of the creator found in Mormonism. Perhaps the creator is always manifested to us in the most useful way for each of us. Perhaps we all create God in our own image. Perhaps it was designed that way. It seems that, for the majority, their personal image of God encourages then to be better people. Not always, but usually.

What of Jesus Christ? Again, I don't know for certain that he was the historical, godlike, perfect person described in the New Testament. But I hope he was. That hope is enough to apply the principles of the atonement: grace, repentance (effective change), forgiving (self and others) and hope that we are eternal beings with a path towards becoming more like God.

I can say with confidence that this belief and behaviour have an effect. I have a testimony of hoping and acting on the hope. So yes, I have a belief and even a testimony in the Mormon description of God the Father and Jesus Christ. Not because I have a conviction that it is the way things really are but because I have the experience of the "change effect" of acting on the hope.

Rather than giving this long answer, when it comes to the temple recommend question, I just say "Yes."

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DarkJedi
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Re: What do I say in Temple recommend interview?

Post by DarkJedi » 16 Feb 2014, 08:29

Welcome Fisherman. You are not alone in struggling with these questions. I am much like Orson, I have my own definition of God and I have realized everyone does. My concept of God does not exactly match that of which we normally think of the active, believing latter-day saint concept (you know, the one that helps find your car keys on Sunday morning). However, I do believe there is a God and I am more on the agnostic side about Jesus Christ as a Savior - although I do believe he lived and taught good things. It took me a long time to get where I am in those beliefs, and they are still evolving. Is there some sort of God you believe in, even if his sole role is as creator? I think people can honestly answer "yes" if that's all they believe. Remember, the TR questions are all yes and no and require no further explanation. Other will give this advice, also, but be very careful what you share with your bishop. Being vague is a good thing.
In the absence of knowledge or faith there is always hope.

Once there was a gentile...who came before Hillel. He said "Convert me on the condition that you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot." Hillel converted him, saying: That which is despicable to you, do not do to your fellow, this is the whole Torah, and the rest is commentary, go and learn it."

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DBMormon
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Re: What do I say in Temple recommend interview?

Post by DBMormon » 16 Feb 2014, 20:19

I had a member of my ward who had doubts. He was less believing then I was. I was the Bishop and I interviewed him. We both knew where the other was. I asked the questions. His responses
"I hope" XYZ is true
"I believe" in ABC
"I have faith in" such and such

Perhaps he was 25% believing and 75% unbelief but he led with faith.

Can you do that?

Also as pointed out the questions are vague and that is intentional. So there is room there

That said I never recommend dishonesty

Ann
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Re: What do I say in Temple recommend interview?

Post by Ann » 17 Feb 2014, 00:09

fisherman wrote:
I know that this will make many think I'm nuts or that my beliefs don't make sense, but I believe I can answer all of the Temple recommend questions correctly except 2. Do I believe in God? Do I believe that Jesus is my Saviour?
Hi, fisherman - I'm glad you're here, and it's interesting to me how different we all are. I wish I had your conviction on one of the other TR questions. I've decided not to decide how to answer ahead of time. When I get there, I'll see what feels right.
"Preachers err by trying to talk people into belief; better they reveal the radiance of their own discovery." - Joseph Campbell

"The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes." - Marcel Proust

"Therefore they said unto him, How were thine eyes opened? He answered and said unto them, A man that is called Jesus made clay, and anointed my eyes...." - John 9:10-11

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