1. The Gospel Does Not Work For Me
Elder Wilford W. Andersen said, “For some, solutions to depression and anxieties will be found through consultation with competent professionals. But for most of us, sadness and fear begin to melt away and are replaced by happiness and peace when we put our trust in the Author of the plan of happiness and when we develop faith in the Prince of Peace.” So the Gospel isn’t powerful enough to penetrate depression. It was something I already knew from personal experience, but this was a major blow to me.
2. The Spirit Does Not Work For Me
For years, I have wondered why it’s so hard for me to feel the Spirit. Now there is an admission that the Spirit has severe limitations: “An inability to feel the Spirit, or a general feeling of apathy or numbness, is often a symptom of mental illness. You are not being punished for sin. God has not forsaken you.”
It’s positive to say it’s not my fault, but it admits that people with mental illness might not be able to feel the Spirit, which is very troubling to me. It’s very difficult for me to believe in a god who is either unable or unwilling to reach depressed people. Also, it is very disturbing to think that Satan can mimic the Spirit. How is it legit to use the Spirit as a test for truth when it can be coming from either God or Satan?
3. The Faith Test
Last year, I read “The God Who Weeps” by Terryl and Fiona Givens. They wrote about the importance of choosing faith.
This caused me to really think about why having faith is so important. Why is it the first principle of the Gospel? If there is no compelling reason to choose faith, are all non-believers really bad people? Could that really be God’s way of measuring us? It seems arbitrary to me. In my opinion, the real test should be whether someone has a desire to know the truth and acts to do good according to his or her ability.For most of us, at least, there is neither a choir of heavenly heralds proving God exists, nor a laboratory of science equipment proving He doesn’t. Rather, we find a persuasive body of evidence on both sides of life’s competing propositions. Only in the case of us mortals, there is something to tip the scale. There is something to predispose us to a life of faith or a life of disbelief. There is a heart that, in these conditions of equilibrium and balance, equally “enticed by the one or the other,” is truly free to choose belief or skepticism, faith or faithlessness.
The call to faith, in this light, is not some test of a coy god, waiting to see if we “get it right.” It is the only summons, issued under the only conditions, which can allow us fully to reveal who we are, what we most love, and what we most devoutly desire. Without constraint, without any form of mental compulsion, the act of belief becomes the freest possible projection of what resides in our hearts.
…And that is an activity endowed with incalculable moral meaning.
4. The Secret
I’ve listened to “The Secret” audiobook a few times this year. It teaches the law of attraction, which says “If you can see it in your mind, you can hold it in your hand” and “Whatever you can conceive and believe, you can achieve.”
So, what’s the best and easiest way to put people under your religion’s thumb? Perhaps the answer is to teach the people that the most important thing for their salvation is to first BELIEVE. And they must fervently believe and even act as if they already know a thing that they really don’t know. Doing that would lead to a witness of the truth – meaning it leads them to "knowing" whatever it is that they believed. The problem here is that people can convince themselves that all sorts of things are true. People from all sorts of religions bear sincere witness that God has revealed to them the truthfulness of Catholicism, Islam, LDS, FLDS, etc. These thoughts are devastating and horrifying to me.
Do people believe in a god only because they believe? Is this the great secret about god?
So, what's the point of all this? While I have lost my faith in a god, I don't want to be an atheist. I am looking for hope. Has anyone had thoughts like mine and remained faithful to God? What can I do?