Teachers' Council

Teach Nothing But Repentance

Why am I asking questions in the first place?

The most important question may be the one teachers ask themselves before they get to class.

Don’t ask questions that have obvious answers.

Do ask questions that have more than one answer.

Don’t ask questions that are too personal.

Questions that invite class members into a heartfelt conversation that fosters spiritual learning include questions like “As you read this verse, what stands out to you?” or “What experiences have taught you to trust the Lord’s promises?” or almost any question that begins with “What do you think … ?”

So perhaps part of the trick to asking good discussion questions is to think to ourselves, “How would I ask this if we weren’t in a classroom—if we were just sitting at home talking about the gospel as a group of friends? How would I invite them to share their insights and feelings?” Teaching isn’t exactly like a casual chat among friends, but they have one thing in common: they should be motivated by sincere interest and genuine love.

"Getting at the Truth: Responding to Difficult Questions about LDS Beliefs" by Robert L. Millet - "We can teach the gospel with plainness and simplicity, focus on fundamentals, and emphasize what matters most. We do not tell all we know, nor do we teach on the edge of our knowledge. The Prophet Joseph Smith explained that “it is not always wise to relate all the truth. Even Jesus, the Son of God, had to refrain from doing so, and had to restrain His feelings many times for the safety of Himself and His followers, and had to conceal the righteous purposes of His heart in relation to many things pertaining to His Father’s kingdom.”8

What If He Lied?

As you seek spiritual knowledge, search for principles. Carefully separate them from the detail used to explain them. Principles are concentrated truth, packaged for application to a wide variety of circumstances. A true principle makes decisions clear even under the most confusing and compelling circumstances. It is worth great effort to organize the truth we gather to simple statements of principle. I have tried to do that with gaining spiritual knowledge.

True doctrine, understood, changes attitudes and behavior. The study of the doctrines of the gospel will improve behavior quicker than a study of behavior will improve behavior...BKP

Leonard Arrington’s response:

I have never felt any conflict between maintaining my faith and writing historical truth. If one sticks to historical truth that shouldn’t damage his faith in any way. The Lord doesn’t require us to believe anything that’s untrue. My long interest in Mormon history (I’ve been working in it for 33 years) has only served to build my testimony of the gospel and I find the same thing happening to other Latter-day Saint historians as well.

Davis Bitton-My own answer went like this:

What’s potentially damaging or challenging to faith de- pends entirely, I think, on one’s expectations, and not nec- essarily history. Any kind of experience can be shattering to faith...

History is similar. One moves into the land of history, so to speak, and finds shattering incongruities which can be devastating to faith. But the problem is with the expectation, not with the history. One of the jobs of the historians and of educators in the Church, who teach people growing up in the Church and people coming into the Church, is to try to see to it that expectations are realistic. The Lord does not expect us to believe lies. We believe in being honest and true, as well as chaste and benevolent. My experience, like that of Leon- ard, has not been one of having my faith destroyed. I think my faith has changed and deepened and become richer and more consistent with the complexities of human experience. . . . Perhaps the only answer to a question about faith and his- tory is to say that we are examples of people who know a fair amount about Mormon history and still have strong testimo- nies of the gospel.1

Davis Button:

Of what do you have a testimony?

A number of years ago, I was asked to speak to a combined priest- hood group in the Federal Heights Ward. At the conclusion of my re- marks, someone asked the following question: “What effect has your extensive study of church history had on your testimony?” I wasn’t really prepared for the question. The first words out of my mouth were, “I never had a testimony of church history. My testimony is in the gospel of Jesus Christ.”

Do commandments ever conflict? Could there ever be a perceived conflict between commandments and principles...? Examples?

That which is wrong under one circumstance, may be, and often is, right under another. God said, 'Thou shalt not kill'; at another time He said, 'Thou shalt utterly destroy.' This is the principle on which the government of heaven is conducted—by revelation adapted to the circumstances in which the children of the kingdom are placed. Whatever God requires is right, no matter what it is, although we may not see the reason thereof till long after the events transpire.

Joseph Smith Jr.

Elder Holland: It has just been an absolutely inspiring experience to watch--a genuine ecclesiastical thrill. For six days (from the death of President Ezra Taft Benson on Monday, May 30, to the ordination and setting apart of President Howard W. Hunter on Sunday, June 4) we have witnessed again a modern apostolic interregnum. You saw some of it at public events like Elder Sterling W. Sill's funeral and, more visibly and dramatically, at President Benson's funeral, but we were able to see it at first hand, including in our General Authority temple meetings that week.

I testify of this remarkable, divine process, of the men who have been called to lead, including President Boyd K. Packer, Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and of the divinity behind the revelations which guide us through such times. Can you imagine what would happen in such circumstances at AT&T or General Motors? The infighting would be absolutely lethal, the corporate bloodletting incalculable, the confusion suffocating, all the while watching the organization spiral downward, out of control, probably toward destruction.

But in the Church? Not a whimper. Not a whisper. Not a sixty-fourth of a second without keys and authority and prophetic leadership. And all of this given by revelation to a boy . . . a boy leading a church, then, of only a few hundred members. Yet we still guide nine million and growing--will guide ninety million--by those same revelations that were given to virtually a child more than one hundred and sixty years later.

1974, President N. Eldon Tanner (1898–1982) of the First Presidency described the transition of authority and the procedure in which a new President of the Church is sustained by the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and the First Presidency is reorganized by recounting events that preceded and followed the death of President Harold B. Lee:

“It is significant to note just what took place at the time of the passing of President Harold B. Lee. President Romney had been called to the hospital and as they talked, President Lee, realizing that he might be incapacitated for some time, said to President Romney: ‘President Tanner is away, and I want you to take over and carry on the affairs of the Church.’ President Kimball, who came in later, offered his services to President Romney. However, immediately upon the announcement of President Lee’s passing, President Romney turned to President Kimball and said: ‘You, as the president of the Quorum of the Twelve, are now in charge. I am at your disposal and prepared to do anything I can to help.’

“This was entirely in keeping with the order of the Church and is a great example of how the Church is never left without a presidency and how smoothly it passes from one to another. Immediately President Kimball, as president of the Twelve, became the presiding authority of the Church.


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