Elder Holland on Faith, Doubt, and Testimony

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Last weekend was the 183rd Annual General Conference, and as always it was a wonderful experience. I consider General Conference a minor Mormon holy weekend, coming twice a year at the same time. It is a time for families to sit together and “pitch their tents round about the temple“, as it were, to listen to the prophets of God. Nowadays we sit on couches and watch it on cable and satellite TV, which I rather enjoy.

For many who are interested in apologetics there were many good talks to draw from, but one of them far and away stood out from the rest. It comes as no surprise that it was delivered by Elder Holland. There are so many quotable lines from his talk, but below are a selection of them. Please take the time to read the talk in its entirety (it isn’t very long) and also watch the video of his delivery (at the end of this post), which adds a whole other dimension to his words.

In moments of fear or doubt or troubling times, hold the ground you have already won, even if that ground is limited….When those moments come and issues surface, the resolution of which is not immediately forthcoming, hold fast to what you already know and stand strong until additional knowledge comes.

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!

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!

…please don’t hyperventilate if from time to time issues arise that need to be examined, understood, and resolved. They do and they will. In this Church, what we know will always trump what we do not know. And remember, in this world, everyone is to walk by faith.

Except in the case of His only perfect Begotten Son, imperfect people are all God has ever had to work with. That must be terribly frustrating to Him, but He deals with it. So should we.

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,”…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.” And I told him how very proud I was of him for the honesty of his quest.

What was once a tiny seed of belief for me has grown into the tree of life, so if your faith is a little tested in this or any season, I invite you to lean on mine.

Hope on. Journey on. Honestly acknowledge your questions and your concerns, but first and forever fan the flame of your faith, because all things are possible to them that believe.

The invitation to us to lean on his testimony in moments of doubt was an especially powerful line to me. It is, for me, the epitome of the role of an apostle.

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