Faith is the first principle of the gospel of Jesus Christ. So what happens when a person has doubts?
Questioning is not the problem, according to authors Terryl and Fiona Givens. “After all,” they write, “the Restoration unfolded because a young man asked questions.” The difficulty arises when questions are based on flawed assumptions or incorrect perceptions, which can “point us in the wrong direction, misdirect our attention, or constrain the answers we are capable of hearing.”
This insightful book offers a careful, intelligent look at doubt—at some of its common sources, the challenges it presents, and the opportunities it may open up in a person’s quest for faith. Whether you struggle with your own doubts or mostly want to understand loved ones who question, you will appreciate this candid discussion. You’ll come away feeling more certain than ever of the Lord’s love for all of His children.
I found this book to be unnerving.
Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints typically are like worker ants, too busy fulfilling their lay ministry callings to think much about questions of faith. For most, they’ve had a spiritual experience that confirmed to them that the church is true, and they’re perfectly happy in their service. It’s enough.
Then there are those who do struggle with their faith. They see a bigger picture and discover uncertainty all around them. They question, and too often, their questions are ignored or brushed off.
The Crucible of Doubt explores the source of common questions and crises of faith. Don’t expect, however, a mere dismissal or easy answer to those doubts. This book shows how little of belief is absolute and how vulnerable and imperfect all men are, including our church leaders. It is not a book that reassures, but rather it is a book that challenges.
It reminds us that there is a need for both kinds of saints in the body of Christ. There is room for those with wavering faith, who choose to believe in spite of doubt. They are necessary to wake up those busy worker ants to a deeper testimony and a greater understanding of faith.
The Crucible of Doubt is an excellent book for those who approach faith from an intellectual point of view. It is not a quick, easy read, nor should it be. It is as intellectually challenging as it is spiritually.
About the Authors:
TERYL GIVENS holds the James A. Bostwick chair of English and is Professor of Literature and Religion at the University of Richmond and the author of several books. His writing has been praised by the New York Times as “provocative reading” and includes, most recently, When Souls Had Wings, a history of the idea of premortal life in Western thought; a biography (with Matthew Grow) of Parley Pratt: The Apostle Paul of Mormonism (winner of the 2012 Best Book Award from the Mormon History Association); and Wrestling the Angel: The Foundations of Mormon Thought.
FIONA GIVENS is a retired modern language teacher with undergraduate degrees in French and German and a graduate degree in European History. She is now an independent scholar who has published in several journals and reviews in Mormon studies, including Journal of Mormon History, Exponent II,and LDS Living. Along with Terryl, she is the author of The God Who Weeps: How Mormonism Makes Sense of Life. Terryl and Fiona are the grandparents of five—fonts of delight; and the parents of six—sources of intellectual challenge and inspiration.