Is it OK to Question the Admonition to Question Everything?
When is okay to doubt the doubters?
In the past decade, a large number of lessons in church that encourage individuals to follow the prophet have been swiftly accompanied by the caveat but it’s OK to question.
That is not to say questioning is bad… it’s not. Certainly, the practice of questioning, of challenging assumptions, has an important place. Questioning methods has led to better and faster production in industry. Questioning ideas has led to a better understanding of science and technology. Even in the context of the church, the First Vision came in answer to a question.
Questioning also provides protection. If a person claiming to have a terrific investment opportunity asks for some money, it would be wise to ask questions before draining your life savings. If a politician seeking your vote makes promises, it would be wise to inquire whether they are able (let alone likely) to fulfill these promises.
For some people, questioning is so important that they admonish people to question everything!
On the surface, this may seem like a reasonable idea. After all, what ideas are people not allowed to question? Simply suggesting a subject that is off-limits to an inquiry is likely to stir curiosity, which is very convenient for opponents of modern prophets who encourage faith in Christ and obedience to the commandments of God.
But is it OK to question the admonition to question everything?
Perhaps there are some things that do not require intense skepticism at every single point… For example…
- What if expired sushi from the gas station doesn’t make me sick?
- How do I know that heroin would be addictive to me?
- Is murder actually wrong if I can get away with it?
- What if, in spite of past experience, McDonald’s serves edible food today?
- Perhaps a faith that has encouraged me to improve my behavior, give service to others, extend forgiveness, and bring me closer to God, and have happiness for all of my life is secretly trying to control me or ruin me…
Life in modern society depends on a degree of trust. We trust the restaurants we patronize will bring us good food. We trust as we drive on the highways, the majority of people will try to follow basic traffic signals. We trust the new movie we’ve been excited about will entertain us.
No one can truly live huddled in a corner, fearing everything is likely to be a lie, and though there can be bad experiences with food, cars, and cinemas, even a questionable instance should not drive us away from driving to dinner and a movie ever again.
It is good to be cautious when someone wants us to disregard the accumulation of our spiritual experiences on account of an instance that might seem confusing. We need not rush to doubt and skepticism. While it is OK to question, it is OK to question the admonition to question everything.
President Uchtdorf put it best: “Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters—my dear friends—please, first doubt your doubts before you doubt your faith.”
“Come Join With Us” -President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, October 2013
Brett Jensen manages The Ward Preacher. You can follow him on Twitter @wardpreacher.