What Is Faith? (To Those Who Doubt, Part 2 of 6)

By Michael T.

What is “Living Faith”?  Now, one might argue that there is only “living faith,” in that faith (as the “principle of action,” in the words of Joseph Smith, the Mormon prophet) is either active or it doesn’t really exist.

My goal is to bring comfort and hope to those among us who might be afflicted by uncertainty as to

  •  whether or not God lives, loves us, and takes an interest in our existence; and
  • • the truthfulness of the Restoration through the Prophet Joseph Smith and the Church in our day.

Why is this important for you?

Some of you may wonder, “Why is this a topic of relevance or importance to me or others?”

The answer, from my perspective as a believer, is: For some, this period of your life is (or may have been for a while now) a time of spiritual struggle and doubt.  It is a time when the realities of the world and one’s own personal and spiritual experience collide and cause some individuals to consider…

  • Who am I?
  • What do I believe?
  • Why do I believe it?
  • How do I know what I know?
  • How do I reconcile the claims and demands of my faith with the world in which I live and to…
    • The diverse or contrary beliefs of others
    • A scientific world view
    • Seemingly contradicting evidence or experiences

A living faith

I come back to where I began: to speak of what I call a “Living Faith” or belief.

Now, I believe that the gospel provides for the possibility that faithful saints can come to know beyond doubt that God exists (See Mosiah 5:15; Doctrine and Covenants 93:1.)  And I believe that there are special witnesses—prophet and apostles—called to have and share that knowledge with the faithful.

But for now—and for most of us—I believe that we are challenged to be faithful in the face of doubt and uncertainty; to diligently seek knowledge and truth; to ask that we may receive, knock that it may be opened unto us.

If you have or have had doubts, then more’s the opportunity for you to have—and live by—faith.  As expressed in the words of Augustine, one of the early Christian Fathers, “Doubt is but another element of faith.”

Similarly, in the words of the Medieval French philosopher, Pierre Abelard, “The beginning of wisdom is found in doubting; by doubting we come to the question, and by seeking we may come upon the truth.”

In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we highly value the “outcome” of knowledge, belief, and testimony.  But we should not deny, or be afraid of, the real processes of doubt, uncertainty, and faith that is required to arrive at those places.

And while it might also be easy to simply accept what others say and believe, we should each be actively engaged in questioning what we believe, asking how we can come to greater knowledge and testimony, and appreciating the value of doubt and uncertainty in compelling us to greater faith and seeking.

Part of the “To Those Who Doubt” series. Read the series’ other posts here:

Part 1: Do Believers Doubt?

Part 3: How can I Know What is True?

Part 4: What Causes Doubt and How Can I Overcome It?

Part 5: How do Believers Remain Faithful While Having Doubts?

Part 6: Does God Help Those Who Doubt?

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