Questioning Is Part of Gaining Maturity and Wisdom

  By R. Scott Lloyd, Church News staff writer

  • 14 August 2013

Michael R. Ash talks about how to counter "shaken faith syndrome" during his presentation at the FAIR conference August 1.  Photo by R. Scott Lloyd.

Article Highlights

  • “Shaken faith syndrome” is a term originated by Brother Ash; it applies to Church members whose faith has been disrupted by anti-LDS material.
  • Brother Ash observed that many feel it is wrong to question or doubt, or they may fear being looked down upon if they express their concerns. He added that questioning can lead to maturity and wisdom.
  • A stumbling block Brother Ash warns against is the natural inclination to rely on the quick and easy answers; he said that the issues are not simple and are frequently complex, and issues need to be understood in context of time, circumstance, or culture.

“It’s important that we understand that questioning the things we do, believe, or accept is normal and part of the process that leads from youth to maturity, as well as from maturity to wisdom.” —Michael R. Ash

PROVO, UTAH

While it is not feasible to try to argue someone back into the Church, “we can help inoculate members against LDS-critical arguments through better education, and, for those whose testimonies are faltering, we can set the record straight on false anti-LDS claims or offer logical alternative views which fit into the framework of belief,” Michael R. Ash said in his FAIR conference address August 1. 

Brother Ash originated the term “shaken faith syndrome” in 2008 to apply to Church members whose faith has been disrupted or damaged when they have encountered material that is negatively critical of the Church and its teachings. A book he authored by that title is entering its second edition.

“Some members who are unfamiliar with FAIR, LDS apologetics, or LDS scholarly studies may become confused and concerned by contra-LDS information and may not know where to turn for help,” Brother Ash observed. They may feel it is wrong to question or doubt or may fear being looked down upon if they express their concerns, he added.

“It’s important that we understand that questioning the things we do, believe, or accept is normal and part of the process that leads from youth to maturity, as well as from maturity to wisdom,” he said.

Latter-day Saints, like all people, may be prone to creating their own stumbling blocks by automatically and uncritically accepting rumors, traditions, or personal opinions, Brother Ash observed, adding that they may confuse these with Church doctrines.

“Critics may unconsciously or consciously take advantage of the natural inclination that most people, most of the time, will rely on the quick and easy answers,” he said. “The problem is that, more often than not, the issues are not simple. They are frequently complex, especially when we have to compare or understand the issues in context of time, circumstance, or culture. A lot more ink is required to respond to an accusation than to make an accusation.”