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Meridian published a portion of Elder Ballard’s Regional Conference Talk on Monday. We now publish another piece of the talk and give you a link to the entire talk he gave.
“One of our outstanding missionaries that served with us in the Canada Toronto Mission years ago came to my office in Salt Lake City. During our visit, he told me that he was losing his faith and his testimony and that he had many questions. I asked him to write down his questions and promised to find answers to them, certainly as many as I could. As he was about to leave, he had his hand on the doorknob of my office, I said, ‘Elder, how long has it been since you have studied the scriptures, specifically how long has it been since you have read from the Book of Mormon?’ He lowered his head and said he had not been doing that. I gave him an assignment to begin reading the Book of Mormon for an hour each day while I worked to prepare answers to his questions. He agreed to do so.
“Two weeks later, he came back to my office, and as he entered in and sat down he said, ‘President, I don’t need answers to those questions anymore. I did what you asked—I know the Book of Mormon is true and I know Joseph Smith is a prophet of God.’ I was very happy to hear that, but said, ‘Elder, I spent a long time answering your questions so you will have to sit down and hear the answers!’ What a joy! The Spirit and light of the gospel had returned to him. I commended him and gave him a big hug before he left.
“We have heard stories where someone asking honest questions about our history, doctrine, or practice were treated as though they were faithless. This is not the Lord’s way. As Peter said, ‘Be ready always to give an answer to every man [or woman] that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you.’ (1 Peter 3:15)
“We need to do better in responding to honest questions. Although we may not be able to answer every question about the cosmos or about our history, practices, or doctrine, we can provide many answers to those who are sincere.
“Help those with questions to realize that the Lord does not require His Saints to have advanced degrees in history and Church doctrine. Therefore, we should not expect that parents, leaders, and teachers will have all the answers to every question. Even among the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, there are those who have very different backgrounds and training that allow a sharing of a wide range of experience to our discussion and deliberations.
“When I have a question that I cannot answer, I turn to those who can help me. The Church is blessed with trained scholars and those who have devoted a lifetime of study, who have come to know our history and the scriptures. These thoughtful men and women provide context and background so we can better understand our sacred past and our current practices.
“The Church is dedicated to transparency and has donated precious resources to provide new insights and offer even more context to the story of the Restoration through the Joseph Smith Papers website and the “Gospel Topics” essays on LDS.org. It is a remarkable time to study Church history and doctrine with abundant resources and experts providing helpful background and understanding of our past.
To read the entire text of Elder M. Russell Ballard’s talk, given to the 235 Stakes of the Utah South Area on Sunday, September 13, 2015, please click here.