What happens when the tenants of our faith are challenged?
“I tell you these things because of your prayers; wherefore, treasure up wisdom in your bosoms, lest the wickedness of men reveal these things unto you by their wickedness, in a manner which shall speak in your ears with a voice louder than that which shall shake the earth; but if ye are prepared ye shall not fear. ” (Doctrine and Covenants 38:30)
This scripture seems to describe the experience one has when exposed to antagonistic material about one’s faith. If we have no stores of knowledge and wisdom, the effect on us can seem to shake our world. “But, if we are prepared [with knowledge and wisdom] we shall not fear.”
Generally, we are not accustomed to “thinking” about our religion, we just want to be told what to believe and feel good about it. We are right, everyone else is wrong. As long as we are not challenged, we don’t have to deal with holes in our knowledge, disagreements over doctrinal interpretation, scriptural contradictions, and many other troubling topics in our Christian faith.
While I don’t advocate searching out troubling and antagonistic subjects, it is inevitable that we and those we know will encounter them. If we have a shallow, simplistic knowledge of our faith, we may not have the tools to put the challenges in proper perspective and may not be able to help those close to us.
The Doctrine and Covenants is replete with injunctions to learn ALL we can. Christianity has a rich tradition of skilled and thorough thinkers. We have much to learn from Christian theologians, scholars, and other religious thinkers that will enlighten our minds and expand our understanding of the gospel of Jesus Christ and other faith traditions. The breadth and depth of LDS scholarly subjects is rich and wonderful. There is much to discover.
Speaking to LDS seminary and institute teachers, Elder Russel M. Ballard said:
“Gone are the days when a student asked an honest question and a teacher responded, ‘Don’t worry about it!’ Gone are the days when a student raised a sincere concern and a teacher bore his or her testimony as a response intended to avoid the issue. Gone are the days when students were protected from people who attacked the Church. (emphasis added)
“Fortunately, the Lord has provided this timely and timeless counsel to teachers: ‘And as all have not faith, seek ye diligently and teach one another words of wisdom; yea, seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom; seek learning, even by study and also by faith’ (D&C 88:118).
“This is especially applicable today because not all of our students have the faith necessary to face the challenges ahead and because many of them are already exposed through the Internet to corrosive forces of an increasingly secular world that is hostile to faith, family, and gospel standards. The internet is expanding its reach across the world into almost every home and into the hands and minds of our students.
“You can help students by teaching them what it means to combine study and faith as they learn. Teach them by modeling this skill and approach in class. ” (Elder Russel M. Ballard, By Study and by Faith:p11-p8 )
May we all develop this skill of combining study and faith.
Now, get off my lawn.