Michael Goodman is a member of the faculty in the Church History and Doctrine Department at BYU where he teaches various classes including Marriage and Family and Mission Prep. He describes his experience teaching at BYU as a “sheer delight.” Brother Goodman joined the Church at 18 and served a mission a year later in Bangkok Thailand. He served again in Thailand as a mission president 13 year later (at 33-years-old) where he served as presiding authority for the majority of the country. After his time has mission president Michael served as bishop of a BYU singles ward.

Brother Goodman has spoken at BYU Women’s Conference and at a BYU Devotional on the topic of seeking help during times of doubt. His counsel includes many gems and some of the key take-aways are:  help those who doubt to find answers through proper preparation (reading essays on LDS.org, etc.), recognize the extreme fear being experienced by the doubter as their entire belief system is crumbling.

Questions and Points Addressed:

  • How can we include those who doubt or have questions? First, create an environment of love and safety. We are all experiencing the gospel at our own pace and in our own way so steer toward a common ground and work from there.
  • How do we build a safe environment? Ask those who may threaten safety to help you create it. Make sure everyone knows that you do not fear questions.
  • What are the dangers of doubt? We tend to go to extremes and villainize or lionize doubt–both are hurtful. Doubt can be either beneficial or harmful. If the object of the doubt is false, doubt can be helpful. If the object of the doubt is true then doubt is typically more harmful. Either way, doubt is part of the belief spectrum and needs to be understood (doubt → hope → belief). Doubt does have consequences.
  • Does a change in policy mean that the policy was wrong? Change does not equate to error. Just because something has changed does not mean that it was wrong before and is now right. If you want to know something is a doctrine, check for these three things and the likelihood the thing is doctrine is higher:
    1. Is it eternal (unchanged from dispensation to dispensation)?
    2. Is it being taught by a united First Presidency and Quorum of Twelve Apostles?
    3. Is it have to do with our salvation?

Great Quotes and Notes:

  • “People don’t grow if they don’t have hope…which is the gospel of Jesus Christ.”
  • “People want to help.”
  • “You can’t solve a problem you aren’t aware of.”
  • An admonition to believe is not an attempt to make those who doubt to feel guilty.
  • “Belief and doubt are living attitudes, and involve conduct on our part. Our only way, for example, of doubting, or refusing to believe, that a certain thing is, is continuing to act as if it were not.” -William James
  • “One of the surest ways of creating doubt in current prophets is to judge past prophets as having been in error.”
  • We follow living prophets because God is infallible and He is using the imperfect prophet to accomplish His work.
  • Heavenly Father wants us to use our agency. He wants us to learn truth and He is THE source of all truth and we need to involve Him in finding that truth.

Links:

BYU Speeches: Become a Seeker: The Way, the Truth, and the Life

BYU Devotional: “The Truth Shall Make You Free”

BYU: Bio – Michael Goodman

Daily Universe: BYU religion teacher’s conversion, missions and life shaped by optimism

LDS.org Essays

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