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When Anti-Mormon Material Shook My Faith

By Sarah Keenan

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    I tried to brush aside my concerns, but I grew anxious when they continued to linger. Could I serve a mission if I still had questions about the gospel?

    young adult woman reading scriptures

    Photo illustration by Judith Ann Beck

    A few months before I left on my mission, I stumbled upon some anti-Mormon articles. These articles presented misconstrued information about Church history and Joseph Smith that left my testimony shaken. I tried to brush aside my concerns, but I grew anxious when they continued to linger. Questions loomed in my mind. Could I serve a mission if I still had questions about the gospel? Would it be better if I stayed home? I fervently prayed to the Lord, asking Him to help me answer my questions and strengthen my faith, but the answers didn’t come immediately.

    One day, I recalled the story of Joseph Smith receiving the Aaronic Priesthood—a story that’s always fascinated me. While Joseph was translating the Book of Mormon, he noticed it mentioned baptism. Curious about the subject, he ventured into the woods with his scribe, Oliver Cowdery, and inquired of Heavenly Father about baptism. Heavenly Father answered their prayers by sending the angelic messenger John the Baptist to give them the Aaronic Priesthood so they could be baptized and have the authority to baptize others.

    This story teaches an important principle, one that is repeated often throughout the scriptures and Church history: reading and pondering the scriptures can help us on the path to further revelation and restoration. The scriptures strengthen our testimonies and teach us important gospel principles “line upon line” (2 Nephi 28:30), so we are prepared to receive them.

    I realized that to restore my faith, I needed to turn to the scriptures for answers. I started reading the Book of Mormon, looking for scriptures that could lead me to the revelation I desperately needed. And then I came across a verse in 1 Nephi in which Nephi replies to an angel’s question, saying: “I know that he [God] loveth his children; nevertheless, I do not know the meaning of all things” (1 Nephi 11:17).

    As I read this verse, I realized that I didn’t have to know “the meaning of all things”—and I wouldn’t receive all the answers in this life. But as Nephi leaned on his testimony when he faced a concept he didn’t understand, I could also rely on what I did know, and go forward with faith.

    Since that experience, I often follow what President Henry B. Eyring, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, taught, “We will find answers in the scriptures” (“A Discussion on Scripture Study,” Ensign, July 2005, 24). I always rely on this truth when I lack understanding. Just as the scriptures prepared Joseph and Oliver to receive the first ordinance in the restored Church, they continually lead me on the path to further revelation and light.