The Crucible of Doubt by Terryl & Fiona Givens – Book Notes

I share these notes with permission of the author.

Disclaimer: These are my notes and do not represent a balanced summary of the author’s work. I’ve selected portions of the text which were relevant to me and placed them here in my own words, in an abbreviated fashion. Though this article introduces some main ideas from the text, it is bias toward what I felt were ideas of particular importance. This should not be considered a scholarly work, but rather an informal sharing of discovered ideas. I alone am responsible for the contents of this article.

-there is nothing so painful as suspense said Joseph Smith.

-we want a roadmap but find we have only a compass

-Levi Savage had the choice between security and wisdom, or loyalty. He chose loyalty and suffered much. He told them that since they had chosen to go, he would go with them, and if need be, die with them.

-Faith is more of a cross than a big electric blanket.

-Elder Holland said we today unfortunately just want Gods who don’t ask much of us.

-Brigham Young: The gospel causes things to come up in us that would otherwise have gone unnoticed, it brings up the lurking traits that would have otherwise remained there.

-Adam and Eve only know what paradise is when they lose it.

-Childhood is most valued and loved by those who have left it behind.

-Voltaire: to believe in God is impossible, but to not believe is absurd.

-To whom else shall we go? Christ’s doctrines are troubling and difficult, but it’s reality.

-Do we abandon our shutters because we can’t see the entire mountain? That’s what abandoning faith is like when we don’t have all the answers. We know more than we think even though we know less than we would like.

-not all the prophets say is doctrine. D&C says what they say when moved upon by the Holy Ghost is Gods word. So, the work of being in tune with the HG is our job to figure it out. That is hard. We make false cheat sheets like infallibility of prophets to make us not have to work out answers on hard topics. This is like a golden calf that is a god which doesn’t ask much of us.

-some church leaders were asked if they’re always sure the man they pick for stake president is the Lord’s man. They said no, but once we’ve selected him, he becomes the Lord’s man. God truly gives us power and authority: what we do he sustains, even though we aren’t always in tune with the spirit and aren’t always making the right choices. Like Pharaoh taking off his ring and putting it on the finger of Joseph in Egypt, telling that people would obey him as though obeying pharaoh.

-Elder Oaks: I teach general principles. Weather an exception applies to you, you must work that out between you and the Lord.

-philosophy is what you must do until you figure out the right questions to ask

-the fall of Adam wasn’t a black and white, right and wrong, fine line choice, and it wasn’t the great sin which made life forever terrible. The tree was put there to make opposition, not to create shade. Christ said he came to bring not peace but a sword. Many who heard him went away saying this is an hard saying who can hear it, even disciples went away. A few remained saying ‘where else would we go for the words of eternal life?’ We have to be willing to have conflict and trials and opposition.  In Eden and elsewhere, he gave them a puzzle it was like a Rubik’s Cube he said figure this out and that’s how it is life is filled with trouble hardness difficulty perplexing puzzling situations good better and best and we have to figure it out and that’s the school of the gods that is the school of the Gods and we are gods and so if you’re intimidated to talk to someone about the gospel because it might hurt their feelings and they Departed when Jesus was teaching

– Sunday worship centers on the atonement of Jesus Christ and the sacrament and the teaching mediocre or overbearing talks or so forth can be the presenters equivalent of the Widow’s Mite and it can be a blessing to them is giving what they have their capacity have given so we should not judge are Sunday’s based on what we’re getting out of it of what people are giving us worship is about giving like when the three wise men came to see Jesus They Came To Worship Him they brought him expensive gifts it was about giving themselves so coming to church and putting up with each other when we blunder sometimes which is like bearing each other’s burdens; church is essentially reenacting on our small scale the sacrifice of Christ it’s us showing our willingness to be like him in every way. A church community is also like a family that we don’t just run away from but that we go through problems with and resolve things with since we live by each other. (*This is another reason I don’t want to move a lot, I want my children to learn to deal with this place instead of running from place to place to avoid the inevitable conflict that rises when living in close association with others for an extended period)

– Joseph Smith taught that only those who persist in rejecting truth will remain in hell. All the rest will be lifted out of hell. This is one of the most liberal views on salvation ever taught.

-Joseph Smith said that the restoration of the church was that it was coming forth “out of the wilderness”. In the book of revelation, it says the dragon chased the woman into the wilderness where it hid for a time. This was like the apostacy. The Catholic church held onto the doctrine that the living and the dead have lots to do with each other. The doctrine of purgatory is like our doctrine of the spirit world. The church came out of the wilderness. It didn’t disappear entirely, God still blessed people and revealed things to people, just the ordinances and priesthood authority were gone. Yes, we have more than them, and what we have is essential, and all will eventually hear it. But what they have is still important. God didn’t take a nap for 1600 years, he was always reaching out to those who would listen. Like Elijah hiding in the cave. Like wandering Mormon.

-D&C  49:8 8 “Wherefore, I will that all men shall repent, for all are under sin, except those which I have reserved unto myself, holy men that ye know not of.” These holy men may well have been the reformers and good people of the dark ages, who didn’t enjoy formal church organization authority and doctrine, but who tried to uphold the teachings of the scriptures in public and in private.

-JST Rev. 12:4-5, 7:

“4 And there appeared another sign in heaven; and behold, a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads. And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman which was delivered, ready to devour her child after it was born.

5 And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she had a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore years.

7 And the dragon prevailed not against Michael, neither the child, nor the woman which was the church of God, who had been delivered of her pains, and brought forth the kingdom of our God and his Christ.”

This suggests that the church wasn’t entirely extinguished, that though the authority and ordinances needed for salvation were gone, good people who loved the scriptures were still blessed. Consider the inspiring poetry, art, and music God spoke to them through, which still speaks to us. Its unwise to tell others that the restored church has a monopoly on truth.

-The church is a portal for the saved, not a reservoir of the righteous.

– love in our world is suffering love. some do not suffer much because they do not love much.

-one philosopher points out that a key issue with many Christian churches today is their inefficiency, the lack of ability to organize themselves to effectively take care of each other and the poor. This is a mighty strength of the restored church.

-President David O Mckay had memorized 1000 poems.  President Spencer Kimball read lots of classic literature. We must explore everything we can. The school of the prophets was instructed to study many topics.

One prophet cited in the text, I believe it was Kimball, said that the great authors were like miniature prophets.

-Bishop Wooley when offended by Brigham Young, and Young asked Wooley if he was going to apostatize, answered – this is as much my church as it is your church, why would i leave my own church? (Wooley did well in taking ownership)

-Satan wants us to be overcome by the sorrow of evil. same pre-mortally: he sacred people away by showing scenes of inevitable war, mass infanticide, innocent suffering, etc., so they forget about the end results of the plan of salvation

-one taught another to pray by going in private, and yelling at God for an hour about injustice in and suffering of the world, and wept bitterly, which turned into sobs, which turned into quiet prayer

-mourn with those that mourn is being open to the suffering of everyone. to be in agony over humanity’s agony. to be open to the wounds of the world.

-none can see the face of god and live can mean none can bear to see his sorrow.

-Brigham Young said to live as a saint but not enjoy the spirit of it is one of the hardest trials mankind can endure. it means many do good yet suffer.

-To remember is one of the highest forms of worship.


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