Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland on doubt, belief, and knowledge

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland (born December 3, 1940) served as Church Commissioner of Education from 1976-1980, as the president of BYU from 1980-1989, as a Seventy from 1989-1994, and as a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles since 1994.
"When problems come and questions arise, do not start your quest for faith by saying how much you do not have, leading as it were with your 'unbelief.' That is like trying to stuff a turkey through the beak! Let me be clear on this point: I am not asking you to pretend to faith you do not have. I am asking you to be true to the faith you do have. Sometimes we act as if an honest declaration of doubt is a higher manifestation of moral courage than is an honest declaration of faith. It is not! So let us all remember the clear message of this scriptural account (Mark 9:14-27): Be as candid about your questions as you need to be; life is full of them on one subject or another. But if you and your family want to be healed, don’t let those questions stand in the way of faith working its miracle....
"A 14-year-old boy recently said to me a little hesitantly, 'Brother Holland, I can’t say yet that I know the Church is true, but I believe it is.' I hugged that boy until his eyes bulged out. I told him with all the fervor of my soul that belief is a precious word, an even more precious act, and he need never apologize for 'only believing.' I told him that Christ Himself said, 'Be not afraid, only believe' (Mark 5:36), a phrase which, by the way, carried young Gordon B. Hinckley into the mission field (see Gordon B. Hinckley, in Conference Report, Oct. 1969, 114). I told this boy that belief was always the first step toward conviction and that the definitive articles of our collective faith forcefully reiterate the phrase 'We believe' (see Articles of Faith 1:1–13). And I told him how very proud I was of him for the honesty of his quest."
- Jeffrey R. Holland, "Lord, I Believe," General Conference April 2013
Click here to read or listen to the full talk

This beautiful and important talk by Elder Holland addressed some of the most vital concerns of our time, when so many are struggling to understand their faith and belief in the gospel, the Church, even the Savior. Elder Holland shared and analyzed the Biblical story of the man who came to the Savior with a son who was struggling with an overwhelming affliction since his birth, begging for help. Jesus responded by asking about the man's belief, and received the profound and deeply honest response, "Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief" (Mark 9:24). Elder Holland shared wonderful insights about the interplay of doubt, belief, faith, and knowledge.

I was touched to review Elder Holland's personal story of the young boy who came to him expressing the modern equivalent of the Biblical father's situation: belief that falls short of knowledge. Elder Holland's tender and precious response to that boy should give all of us hope as we work towards the same goals of stronger belief, greater faith, and confirmed knowledge!

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2018)

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