I have been in this Church long enough to see a number of friends and family members, all of whom are great people, find some reason to set their testimonies aside and seek happiness down different paths. These loved ones are not to be confused with the seeds that fell by the wayside which quickly bloomed and soon succumbed to the heat of the sun. No, if that were the case, it would not be as great a tragedy.
Rather, these were mostly people who had deep, deep roots in the gospel and who had paid the price of patience and work to cultivate a powerful testimony. Yet, something happened that forced them to reconsider what they already held to be true and to turn away for a time.
Of course, each of these stories are unique and the source of their dissatisfaction stems from an array of reasons. But a common thread I have seen in this tapestry of temporary tragedy has been the transcendence of knowledge over faith.
This cultural phenomenon of replacing the need for faith with the quest for knowledge comes, in part, from the promise Moroni gives towards then end of the Book of Mormon. He stated that by the power of the Holy Ghost we can know the truth of all things (see Moroni 10:5).
There seems to be an undercurrent within the Church that a testimony of knowledge is far superior to a testimony of faith. We see this played out at many of our Fast and Testimony meetings when most participants end their testimonies stating they know critical gospel doctrines to be true.
Rarely do we hear someone say they believe these doctrines to be true. I fear if we heard such an expression of belief rather than knowledge, we may be a bit uncomfortable and try to find a way to help strengthen the testimony of that poor believer.But I think our concern about those who hesitate to say they know is misplaced.
In D&C 46, God lists a handful of spiritual gifts He grants us mortals. Among these are the gifts of knowledge as well as the gift faith. In verse 13 God says:
To some it is given by the Holy Ghost to know that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and that he was crucified for the sins of the world.
What a great gift that is. This verse assures me that there truly are those (and perhaps many) who really know. But likewise, in verse 14 God says:
To others it is given to believe on their words, that they also might have eternal life if they continue faithful.
If this is so, why I am bringing up a concern about the culture of certitude that seems so prevalent in our Church? How can this desire to know be connected to threads of discontent I see in those who begin to doubt what they may have once believed?
I will explore this idea in later posts. As always, I invite your comments