Saturday, May 12, 2012

A Gospel Conversation

I consider myself an intellectual. I studied math and physics at the university level, I read more than just fiction, and I love a good debate.

My favorite topic of discussion, however, is the gospel. I believe that the gospel encompasses everything about our world, in particular, I believe that all truth comes from God, and I also believe that we will not be taught every true thing from the pulpit at Church. At Church we are taught the most important thing - we are taught about Jesus Christ and His atoning sacrifice, and we are taught about the gift of the Holy Ghost and how to use it. Everything else, to me, is second in importance. If you do not understand the significance of the plan of salvation and the atonement of Jesus Christ, then it doesn't matter how smart you are, I don't care how many PhD's you have or what your IQ is - to me, you are missing the most fundamental knowledge there is.

However, I believe that the Holy Ghost will manifest the truth of all things unto us (see Moroni 10:5). And that means that we can use the Holy Ghost to discern what is true and what is simply one person's interpretation or experience or inspiration. I am grateful for personal revelation because I believe that Heavenly Father uses revelation to touch us on an individual level.

Lately I have noticed that it is hard to have a real gospel conversation with people. I hope that I do not offend any of my readers when I describe my problem, but this is just the way I see it.

There is a a place I would call "safe gospel inquiry". This is a place where faithful members of the Church (and earnest seekers of truth) can ask hard questions in faith, and fully expect and then act upon an answer. This is the place I like to be when I discuss the Church, the gospel, and really any principle at all.

To the "left" of the "safe gospel inquiry" zone is the "doubting dissenters" zone. This is where people go to ask the "hard questions" about the gospel, but they are not really seeking light and truth, but are rather trying to change the truth, or simply trying to cause a ruckus. This is a lot of what I find going on in the online world - doubting dissenters.

To the right of the "safe gospel inquiry" zone we get the "ignorant dogmatist". This is where you get people who won't even talk about something like evolution because that is obviously anti-religious. I would also lump people who give erroneous or speculative assertions about doctrine AS actual doctrine. This is a lot of what I see mostly in older members of the Church.

Now, I don't like labels, so wouldn't actually use these terms as such, but I think they do a good job of describing why I feel out of place as an intellectual who isn't hung up on all the things that intellectuals seem to be hung up on these days, and why I also feel a little out of place as a believer who likes to ask (and find answers to) hard questions.

So I try to find the conversations that fit in the grounds of "safe gospel inquiry" and sometimes it is harder than others. I recently found a community of women who seem a lot like me, and I am very grateful for their friendship and the ability I have to associate with them and have those good gospel conversations that end up being very enlightening and really help me gain more light and knowledge.

Do you feel like you are a misunderstood intellectual believer?

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. I think I know what you are talking about and well, I think my solution has been to just not have deep gospel discussions with people. Or would that be a separate category of people? I don't think I fall into the dissenter or the dogmatist category. So is there a "just don't talk about it" category? I talk with my husband and I search out answers myself but I don't do a lot of gospel discussion with other adults. Is this because I have been in primary the past few years? Possibly. I don't know. Is it hiding my candle under a bushel sometimes? Possibly. Interesting to think about. Maybe I'm too caught up in the day to day stuff of life to feel like I have time for it. Hmm.

    2. I was, for a looong time, a "silent ponderer" - maybe that's how I would describe that. Someone who thinks about all these important things by him/herself, but doesn't really talk about it with others.

  2. I have never felt like I was a misunderstood intellectual believer. I have had people expect certain liberal philosophies to come out of my mouth because of my education level and life experience and they are surprised when I don't say what they expect me to say. I have been blessed with a believing heart and an understanding of how God works so that I know to what sources to look for truth and how to weed the philosophies from men from the doctrine of Christ, even when it comes from the mouths of local leaders. I also tend to only have meaningful gospel discussions with those in that safe zone you discuss.

    I have a dear friend who I run with whenever our schedules will allow. One of my most favorite facets of our runs are the gospel conversations. We talk about talks and lessons we are slated to give, troubles we have with families, members, leaders, stewardship questions (She's the RS pres of her ward, my DH is the bishop of ours). She's an adult convert who was raised in a home where her dad was a Presbyterian minister so we have such wonderful discussions of faith and doctrine, ministry and policy, gospel and culture.

    Everyone needs at least one friend like this, with whom to talk out our testimonies.

  3. Becca you just hit the nail on the head for me. I feel this way often, no most of the time. Especially lately with all of the political stuff going on in our country. When it comes to politics I am probably the direct opposite, almost the antithesis of most LDS people. I have had political discussions with people that lead to me sharing my own testimony with them in an effort to try to make things make a little more sense. It never seems to work but I will always continue to try. Wow this post really hit home. I feel like I have been running around like a chicken with my head cut off asking this one specific doctrinal question (nothing to do with politics something else that I can share at another time if anyone really wants to know). I have asked people in my ward, the missionaries, family members, people from Face Book, etc. No one seems to be able to give me a definitive answer. I have been referred to talks by General Authorities and Prophets, I have been referred to specific scriptures. I still haven't found an absolute answer, its kind of funny how that works isn't it? So I just continue to pray about it. Anyway, I don't know why I just shared that. I am so amazed right now at what you said that my mind is wandering. So anyway, thanks for sharing that and for opening yourself up to us.

    1. I know EXACTLY how you feel about asking that question and not being able to find a satisfactory answer - that's how I feel a lot of the "doubting dissenters" are - they have a question that they feel can't be answered, but instead of doing what YOU did (continue to pray about it) they start making crabby comments on blogs and writing horrible "dissenting" blog posts about how wrong the Church is for not being able to answer their question.

      Thank YOU for sharing. I am SO glad there are more people than me out there who feel this way!

  4. So I am curious about this community of women that you have it something online that others could access who have similar feelings?

    1. Email me at mysouldelighteth (at) gmail


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