Speculation as Evidence of Faithfulness

President Harold B. Lee gave some marvelous advice for modern pioneers: “Walk to the edge of the light, and perhaps a few steps into the darkness, and you will find that the light will appear and move ahead of you” (as quoted by Boyd K. Packer, in Lucile C. Tate, Boyd K. Packer: A Watchman on the Tower [1995], 138).  

Many people seem to like this imagery. This is usually applied to obedience or Christ-like behavior. Can it not also be applied to our religious beliefs and doctrines as well?

The Book of Mormon uses the word faith the majority of the time to refer to religious beliefs. This is at the very least a significant part of what faith means. I therefore believe it is possible that those who enjoy speculating about our doctrines are often showing evidence of faith instead of a lack of it.

There may be many motives for both personal and public doctrinal speculation. Some that come to mind are:

To show off.  This is not faith, it is vanity. A way of claiming superior intellect or spiritual experience. An opportunity to set up a debate and declare yourself the winner.

To deliberately cause confusion.  In a way, going to the edge of the light can be a desire to find darkness, and stir it up. One might enjoy the thought of causing those who did not doubt before, to doubt now. I suppose this can be a version of showing off as well.

To seek more light. This is what I am hoping for. Some may enjoy the light that has been received so much that they desire more of it. They want the wonderful light to touch even more areas. In a way speculating can be a form of meditation and pondering upon the words of God and the implications of those words. This can be an act of faithfulness I believe. Believing that what we have is real, and true, and being willing to take in even more. This might even be a requirement to gain personal revelation on such things.

I have tried my hand at doctrinal speculation a few times. My efforts in this area are minor and slight compared to many others. I try to do this in a responsible way. I try to start with scriptural support, and support from modern prophets and apostles. Being consistent with common teachings of the church is important to me as well. I hope people who read my attempts can see that I am trying to find more light for myself and maybe others as well.

I enjoy reading some of the speculations from others as well. I feel that many of those who do this in a reasonable way are giving evidence of their faithfulness and love regarding the revelations and doctrines which we already have and are optimistically searching for more. I enjoy hearing about what they find.

So are you with me so far?  Can speculation be evidence of faithfulness?


8 Responses to “Speculation as Evidence of Faithfulness”

  1. 1 Matt W. February 1, 2007 at 4:00 am

    I think one of the big reasons for doctrinal speculation is to relieve boredom, entertain the mind, and pass time. Kind of like Blogging.

  2. 2 Matt W. February 1, 2007 at 4:01 am

    Not saying this is why we all speculate, but I think it plays into it pretty well…

  3. 4 Stephanie February 2, 2007 at 11:58 pm

    I think that doctrinal speculation especially for me is part of the wiring of my brain… the way that it works… and I am not a “put it up on a shelf” kind of person. So I like answers to come and I want answers right away… which doesn’t always go the way that the Lord works. Often I am searching doctrinal issues for answers to my deep questions…trying to increase my faith and my spirituality, but trying to figure out everything all at once! Often my husband has to remind me that I don’t have to figure it all out at once…

  4. 5 Eric Nielson February 3, 2007 at 4:15 pm

    Thanks for your comment Stephanie! Personally I think you are probably on the right track. But a little patience in our search can be good also.

  5. 6 Stephanie February 4, 2007 at 6:41 am

    Oh yes, absolutely right! Patience is not my strong suit… maybe that’s why I keep getting trials that deal with that? :} Thankfully the Lord is much more patient with me than I am with myself.

  6. 7 Kullervo February 14, 2007 at 5:28 am

    Doctrinal speculation is almost necessary. After the Restoration, Joseph Smith and the church’s early leaders did their best to “reveal” answers to the pressing theological questions of their time.

    But the answers really lead to more unanswered questions, and simplest answers to the new questions always seem weird, or contradictory. Once you’ve noticed that, you have to either lve with some serious cognitive dissonance, or you have ot speculate in order to reconcile some bizzarre stuff.

  7. 8 Eric Nielson February 14, 2007 at 1:35 pm

    That is an interesting thought. In many ways some of the answers we have do lead to deeper questions. Difficult for a thoughtful indivdual to ignore.

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