The Crucible of Doubt
Reflections on the Quest for Faith
Authors: Terryl Givens and Fiona Givens
Publisher: Deseret Book, Salt Lake City, Utah (2014)
This is an extremely well-researched book explaining to those who have doubts about the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ, the validity of those doubts and what to do about them in order to gain or strengthen their testimony. As a matter of fact, the book is so well-researched that there are 15 pages of bibliography notes for 145 pages of text.
I’m going to come clean and admit that I am a self-educated person. I did not have the opportunity to go to college, and there is only one year of business college under my belt. I do, however, consider myself to be a somewhat intelligent person. The book appears to be written for a much more intelligent and educated person than I am. I admit to having difficulty understanding, especially the first two chapters.
As someone who spent 20 years away from the Church, I’ve said many times in many different venues that the great myth in the Church is that people leave because they lose their testimony, or never had one in the first place. Most leave for a variety of reasons having nothing to do with doubt. However, there are some who do have doubt, and this book is aimed at them.
It has been my personal experience that people who have doubts about the gospel end up in one of the four following scenarios: a) they rely on whatever tiny seed of faith they have coupled with the testimonies of others until they gain their own strong testimony; b) they keep actively coming because they don’t want to disappoint family and in so doing gain their own strong testimony; c) they begin listening to their non-member, ex-member, and even apostate members and eventually stop coming; or d) they do internet research and find all the half-truths and falsehoods about the Church and stop coming. I believe it is a very rare person who has doubts who would say, “Gee, I have all these doubts. Maybe I should read a book on doubt and figure out how to stop doubting.” In that regard, this book is probably aiming at a very small number of doubters. Having said that, if the authors bring even one soul unto Christ, they have not wasted their time or effort.
I found one aspect of the book interesting and unique. The authors attempt to address the fear that we will live our entire lives believing a lie, and they seem to be telling us that even if we do, it will not have wasted our time, but indeed will have been worth it in order to make us decent human beings who take a stab at making our world a better place in which to live. If I were a doubter, I think that would resonate with me.
Tudie Rose is a mother of four and grandmother of ten in Sacramento, California. You can find her on Twitter as @TudieRose. She blogs as Tudie Rose at http://potrackrose.wordpress.com. She has written articles for Familius. You will find a Tudie Rose essay in Lessons from My Parents, Michele Robbins, Familius 2013, at http://www.familius.com/lessons-from-my-parents.