Latter-day Saint Life

"What If the Church Isn't True?": After Receiving Hundreds of Anti-Mormon Pamphlets, How 2 Missionaries Renewed Their Faith


While serving as missionaries in the eastern states, my senior companion and I entered a town in New Jersey and began a systematic program of door-to-door contacting. We had not worked in the area for long before it became obvious that the local Protestant ministers had prepared their parishioners for our coming.

At almost every door we were greeted with, "Oh, you must be the Mormons. Here, we have something for you." They then handed us an anti-Mormon tract. We collected hundreds of these pamphlets and stacked them in the corner of our apartment. Curiosity eventually got the better of us, and both of us decided to peruse some of the material. There were many things we read that were disturbing, but I remember most of all an issue regarding the LDS view of the Godhead that caused me extreme uneasiness. My companion was no less disturbed than I. Day after day we went about our task of knocking on doors, being rejected and rebuffed, and expanding our collection of anti-Mormon propaganda. When I had reached the point of spiritual discomfort where I couldn't stand the tension any longer, I said to my companion at lunch, "Elder Henderson, what if the Church isn't true?" I expected him to be startled by such a question. He was not. He responded, "I've been wondering the same thing."

Now I was startled. He was my senior companion, my leader, my example. "What if the Baptist church is right?" I asked. "What if the Catholics have had priesthood authority all along?" "I don't know what to say," he replied. It was a depressing time for both of us.

I can still remember how very intense and focused my prayers were during those difficult days. I pleaded with God to give me an answer, to give me a feeling, to give me something! I lifted my voice heavenward constantly—on my knees whenever I had occasion and in my heart all through the day. For more than two weeks we struggled. I had concluded—though I had not expressed this thought to my companion—that unless some resolution to my soul-searching came soon, I would go home. I felt then that I just couldn't be a hypocrite, that I couldn't bear testimony of something I didn't know was true. (If I had only understood the principle that a testimony is strengthened through the bearing of it, I could have gone on.)

The questions I had about the Godhead were eating me alive. I was confused, ashamed, and terribly uncomfortable. One afternoon when we returned home for lunch, I sat in the easy chair in the small living room in the apartment. I propped my feet up, sat back, let out a sigh, and for some reason picked up a copy of the pamphlet "Joseph Smith Tells His Own Story." I opened the brochure and began reading. I was not five lines into the Prophet's opening statement before I was absolutely wrapped in a feeling of warmth and comfort that I had never known, almost as though someone had covered me with a type of spiritual blanket. Though I heard no words, the feelings that came to me seemed to say, "Of course this work is true. You know it is true. And now, as to your question, be patient. You'll understand soon enough." This was all I needed for the time being. It was inspiration. It was perspective.

I shared my newfound faith with Elder Henderson, he felt a similar spirit of comfort, and we went about our task with more courage in our conviction. The difficult matter had been put on a shelf. The answer to my question, by the way, did come in time. Within a year I was blessed with a companion who understood thoroughly the issue and helped me to see an aspect of the gospel that to me had previously been a mystery.

I do not hesitate to acknowledge that I have placed many things on a shelf over the past twenty years. A number of those items have come down from the shelf as information and inspiration have brought light and understanding where darkness and uncertainty had been. Some matters will probably stay on the shelf until that glorious millennial day when the God of heaven makes known those things "which have passed, and hidden things which no man knew, things of the earth, by which it was made, and the purpose and the end thereof—things most precious, things that are above, and things that are beneath, things that are in the earth, and upon the earth, and in heaven." (D&C 101:32-34.)

Robert L. Millet outlines those things that can contribute to or detract from our efforts to develop spiritual maturity. He examines the human condition and concedes that none of us can do it all. The book emphasizes that hope is found in Jesus Christ, whose atonement remedies all of our deficiencies—physical, emotional, and spiritual. It discusses dealing with difficult doctrinal questions, avoiding gospel hobbies, developing a true testimony and sharing it, and building our lives upon Jesus Christ.


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