Questions vs. Doubts or Questions vs. Questions

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nibbler
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Questions vs. Doubts or Questions vs. Questions

Post by nibbler » 09 Mar 2015, 09:04

The article "When Doubts and Questions Arise" in the March 2015 Ensign got me thinking, it seems like we're (everyone) really struggling to draw a line in the sand.

I think people recognize the importance of asking questions but struggle to understand at what point questioning leads to falling away from the faith (from a certain perspective). People want to know at what point something white like a question transitions over to something that is black. I believe the intentions are pure, people might be looking for the best place to plant the hedge in order to prevent sheep from inadvertently wandering from the flock.

What is that "something black?" Some people might reach the conclusion that it is doubt. The article has a section dedicated to "Questions versus Doubts" and starts off with...
What, then, is the difference between a question and a doubt? Questions, when asked with a sincere desire to increase one’s understanding and faith, are to be encouraged.
Doubts can also be fueled by a sincere desire to increase understanding and faith, but now I'm getting down to people's personal definitions and semantics. The point is that I think people are really struggling to know why people are losing faith, we want to know exactly where to plant that hedge. In some ways I view questions vs. doubt as another facet to the great science vs. religion debate. We often pit them against each other but both can work together to enrich our lives.

I see this in our struggle to define apostasy as well. At what point does questioning cross the line? It's hard to tell and different people draw the line at different places... but we still want that line in the sand so we can guard against it.

I'd rather not pit anything against anything else but for the sake of argument I gave a little thought to pitting questions against questions rather than pitting questions against doubt. I don't think that it's related to the question at all, rather the spirit behind the question. For instance, the question:

Why did Joseph keep some of his polygamous relationships a secret from Emma?

(I don't want this to be a polygamy thread)

Someone might be sincerely seeking an answer to that question. They might be trying to explore their faith by seeking answers. Someone might ask that exact same question, word for word, because they feel like they've already arrived at an answer but they want to put someone in an uncomfortable spot. It can be difficult to distinguish the two, sometimes even for the person asking the question.

This might be a toss-away thread but I get the sense that leaders and members are currently struggling to establish a hard and fast point where we can say that things have "gone too far." I feel like doubt got a little maligned in the process. The real issue may be our motivations, are they inward or outward? Anyway... thanks for reading this far.
The wound is the place where the light enters you.
— Rumi

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DarkJedi
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Re: Questions vs. Doubts or Questions vs. Questions

Post by DarkJedi » 09 Mar 2015, 10:30

I think the big problem here is that the word "doubt" has been vilified and carries a negative connotation within the church. It has been suggested to me before on this site that I use the word "uncertainty" as opposed to doubt when speaking to the more believing folks. To me there is little difference in those two words, but I recognize that not everybody uses my dictionary and uncertainty could be more positive sounding than doubt to some. Under certain circumstances I openly admit I have doubts (but never what they are) in the hope that others will see that doubt is not necessarily negative. I have also said to people that they need not fear their doubts and in fact should face them - that my own doubts had made my faith stronger once I faced them (great oaks in the sandy soil). Likewise, I think a key theme in Crucible of Doubt is that doubt can strengthen and even beget faith (I do find that harder to sell to the more orthodox, even though it makes sense to me).

I agree with you that members in general and some local leaders want a clearer definition of what crosses the line, but were I in the Q15 (fat chance that would ever happen) I'd be just as vague as they are being. I think they've made it as clear as they can - questions, doubts, wondering, uncertainties, and even different opinions on subjects like gay marriage are all OK as long as you aren't trying to gain a following or speaking out against the church or its leaders, or trying to pull people away from the church. I don't necessarily fully agree, I think we should be able to fairly criticize church leadership. Nonetheless, if that's where the line is, so be it.
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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LDS_Scoutmaster
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Re: Questions vs. Doubts or Questions vs. Questions

Post by LDS_Scoutmaster » 09 Mar 2015, 12:34

I saw that article and was glad that it was on there. I started reading it and realized two things st right off the bat; 1. Timing was important, with JDs excommunication perhaps. Maybe it was put out now to help people who are struggling? 2. It didn't really do It for me. It fell short of the real problem. I applaud the author for looking at it from a faith promoting viewpoint, but those who are in the middle of a real faith crisis might not get much out of it. I can't say how he could have improved it for those that are on the tipping scale, but as it is, it appeals to the TBM who can't understand why someone would be getting ex'd. And it may be just right for them. Enough to say, well that person had their doubts and allowed their doubts to rule them, and now they're out of the church. It seemed to me to be a pacifier.
When I was a TMB, that article would have helped, simply by alaying my concerns for awhile. Now I read it and thought, it missed the point of what doubt is, and how it can actually improve faith.
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SMiLe
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Re: Questions vs. Doubts or Questions vs. Questions

Post by SMiLe » 09 Mar 2015, 14:34

In my experience, the difference between a question and a doubt, from the TBM's point of view, is that a question means that you don't have all of the answers but your are sure that the answer will toe the party line while a doubt means that you believe the answer to your question may lie outside of the standard framework.

For example:

Question - "I don't understand why God implemented polygamy, but I am sure that he had his reasons"

Doubt - "I am not sure that polygamy was ordained of God; could Joseph have been going off on his own?"

<Not to turn the thread into a polygamy thread, it was just a convenient example. This could be applied to just about any question that we can raise.>

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Re: Questions vs. Doubts or Questions vs. Questions

Post by Roy » 10 Mar 2015, 09:03

SMiLe wrote:In my experience, the difference between a question and a doubt, from the TBM's point of view, is that a question means that you don't have all of the answers but your are sure that the answer will toe the party line while a doubt means that you believe the answer to your question may lie outside of the standard framework.For example:Question - "I don't understand why God implemented polygamy, but I am sure that he had his reasons"Doubt - "I am not sure that polygamy was ordained of God; could Joseph have been going off on his own?"
I agree with this premise. The LDS tend to see life as a predetermined plan and our understanding it as a puzzle. Even when we do not understand how all the pieces fit at the moment, we have confidence that they do fit and more will be revealed at the appropriate time as to how they fit.

I have compared my own view to life as a mosaic. We may be given certain materials but how we arrange them is really up to us. IMO it is when the pieces are arranged in new and unexpected ways that the magic of life shines through at its finest.

Just different paradigms that help us (as humans) see meaning in our experiences.
"It is not so much the pain and suffering of life which crushes the individual as it is its meaninglessness and hopelessness." C. A. Elwood

“It is not the function of religion to answer all the questions about God’s moral government of the universe, but to give one courage, through faith, to go on in the face of questions he never finds the answer to in his present status.” TPC: Harold B. Lee 223

"I struggle now with establishing my faith that God may always be there, but may not always need to intervene" Heber13

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Re: Questions vs. Doubts or Questions vs. Questions

Post by Curt Sunshine » 10 Mar 2015, 10:27

I think the membership tends to see questioning as believing there is an answer and trying to figure out what that answer is - which is a positive thing by nature; I think doubting tends to be seen as not believing there is a positive answer and not trying to figure out an answer OR as not believing anything until seeing proof (denying the need for faith in all cases) - which is a negative thing by nature.

I think when most people disagree about the appropriateness of questions and/or doubts, they are disagreeing about definitions - and, since most times, they don't discuss differing definitions but just assume all parties mean the same things when they use the same words, they end up disagreeing with each other even though they often would agree with each other if they took more time to talk about the root definitions they are using.

Of course, sometimes people simply disagree with each other, but, ime, what I described above happens much more often than most people realize.
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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.

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Re: Questions vs. Doubts or Questions vs. Questions

Post by bridget_night » 15 Mar 2015, 21:18

My brother just sent me an email about the new March Ensign article and asked me what I thought. Here is what I wrote him back:

Hi.....Yes, I have read and heard of the article. It was being discussed on some of my Mormon online groups a few weeks ago. It looks like the church is having more and more members question historical issues that are problematic. These two replies to the article is how we feel about this Ensign article:
http://brucefey.blogspot.com/2015/02/a- ... tions.html
https://rogerdhansen.wordpress.com/2015 ... -doubting/

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bridget_night
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Re: Questions vs. Doubts or Questions vs. Questions

Post by bridget_night » 17 Mar 2015, 09:34

The article says: "There is no suggestion in the scriptures or the teachings of the prophets that encourages doubt. " So, I guess apostle Hugh B. Brown was wrong when he said, "He who has never doubted has never thought."

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nibbler
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Re: Questions vs. Doubts or Questions vs. Questions

Post by nibbler » 17 Mar 2015, 09:57

I can envision one scenario in which Hugh B. Brown is still correct. :angel:
The wound is the place where the light enters you.
— Rumi

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LookingHard
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Re: Questions vs. Doubts or Questions vs. Questions

Post by LookingHard » 17 Mar 2015, 10:43

bridget_night wrote:My brother just sent me an email about the new March Ensign article and asked me what I thought. Here is what I wrote him back:

Hi.....Yes, I have read and heard of the article. It was being discussed on some of my Mormon online groups a few weeks ago. It looks like the church is having more and more members question historical issues that are problematic. These two replies to the article is how we feel about this Ensign article:
http://brucefey.blogspot.com/2015/02/a- ... tions.html
https://rogerdhansen.wordpress.com/2015 ... -doubting/
It was warm to hear the following quote from the second web page of
Having said that, when I think of doubt, I think of Mother Teresa. Ten years after her death in 1997, with the publication of some of her letters, the world was surprised (and shocked) to learn that she was haunted by doubts. In one of her letters, she even admitted to doubting the existence of God. Eventually she came to grips with her doubts; but as far as we know, she died with them. Serious doubts and good works can coexist in the same person.

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