Institute
Asking Questions with Faith in Jesus Christ


“Lesson 3: Asking Questions with Faith in Jesus Christ,” Answering My Gospel Questions Teacher Material (2022)

“Asking Questions with Faith in Jesus Christ,” Answering My Gospel Questions Teacher Material

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Pondering After Scripture Reading

Lesson 3

Asking Questions with Faith in Jesus Christ

Students have many questions. Some questions are straightforward, some deal with sensitive topics, and others introduce ambiguity and complexity. Some students may feel anxious asking their questions or may be uncertain how to articulate them. In this lesson students will discuss the importance of asking questions, consider how to address ambiguity, and practice framing questions from a perspective of faith in Jesus Christ.

Suggestions for Teaching

Improving Our Teaching and Learning

Focus on the Savior. Whatever doctrinal, social, or historical questions your students desire to discuss in this course, encourage them to ponder how the topics they select relate to the Savior and His gospel. Help them to frame their discussion from a perspective of faith in Jesus Christ. Chad H Webb, administrator for Seminaries and Institutes of Religion, said, “I have come to understand and believe that the single most important way in which we can help increase faith in the rising generation is to more fully place Jesus Christ at the center of our teaching and learning by helping our students come to know Him, to learn from Him, and to consciously strive to become like Him” (“We Talk of Christ, We Rejoice in Christ” [address given at the Seminaries and Institutes of Religion annual training broadcast, June 12, 2018], ChurchofJesusChrist.org).

Developing learning and discussion skills with microtrainings

Explain to students that during this course they will have the opportunity to participate in microtrainings to help them improve their ability to learn about and discuss topics related to the doctrine, teachings, policies, and history of the Church. Select a skill from the microtrainings, and complete the training with your students.

Asking questions with faith

Tell students that today you will explore the role questions play in gospel learning. Display the following statements, and have students consider how they would respond to each one using one of the following responses: (1) strongly disagree, (2) disagree, (3) neither agree nor disagree, (4) agree, or (5) strongly agree. Let students know that these statements will be the basis for group discussions that will follow this activity.

  1. It is inappropriate to ask questions regarding the doctrine, teachings, policies, and history of the Church.

  2. There are always simple and straightforward answers to questions about the doctrine, teachings, policies, and history of the Church.

  3. Belief or unbelief in God will not affect how we approach questions about the meaning of morality and the purpose of life.

Have students form small groups based on which statement they most want to discuss. (Ensure all statements are discussed.) Give each group the relevant handout. Invite them to have a discussion based on the material and questions in the handout.

Statement 1: It is inappropriate to ask questions regarding the doctrine, teachings, policies, and history of the Church.

Answering My Gospel Questions—Lesson 3

As a group, discuss the accuracy of statement 1. Read Joseph Smith—History 1:10–13, and discuss how asking questions changed Joseph Smith’s life. Then read the following statements by Church leaders:

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Dieter F. Uchtdorf

Inquiry is the birthplace of testimony. Some might feel embarrassed or unworthy because they have searching questions regarding the gospel, but they needn’t feel that way. Asking questions isn’t a sign of weakness; it’s a precursor of growth.

God commands us to seek answers to our questions and asks only that we seek “with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ” [Moroni 10:4]. When we do so, the truth of all things can be manifested to us “by the power of the Holy Ghost” [Moroni 10:5].

Fear not; ask questions. Be curious, but doubt not! Always hold fast to faith and to the light you have already received. (“President Dieter F. Uchtdorf: The Reflection in the Water,” Church News, Nov. 1, 2009, thechurchnews.com)

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Russell M. Nelson

Take your questions to the Lord and to other faithful sources. Study with the desire to believe rather than with the hope that you can find a flaw in the fabric of a prophet’s life or a discrepancy in the scriptures. Stop increasing your doubts by rehearsing them with other doubters. Allow the Lord to lead you on your journey of spiritual discovery. (Russell M. Nelson, “Christ Is Risen; Faith in Him Will Move Mountains,” Liahona, May 2021, 103)

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Corbridge, Lawrence E.

There are primary questions and there are secondary questions. Answer the primary questions first. Not all questions are equal and not all truths are equal. The primary questions are the most important. Everything else is subordinate. There are only a few primary questions. I will mention four of them.

  1. Is there a God who is our Father?

  2. Is Jesus Christ the Son of God, the Savior of the world?

  3. Was Joseph Smith a prophet?

  4. Is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints the kingdom of God on the earth?

By contrast, the secondary questions are unending. …

If you answer the primary questions, the secondary questions get answered too, or they pale in significance and you can deal with things you understand and things you don’t and things you agree with and things you don’t without jumping ship altogether. (Lawrence E. Corbridge, “Stand Forever” [Brigham Young University devotional, Jan. 22, 2019], speeches.byu.edu)

Discuss the following questions:

  • How does the Lord feel about us asking questions? What can we receive from the Lord when we ask Him our questions? (As part of this discussion, you could watch “2.3.1 Asking, Seeking, and Knocking” [1:14], with Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.)

  • What is the difference between a question asked with faith and one asked with doubt? (To go deeper, you could read Alma 22:4–12 as an example of questions asked with faith and Alma 11:21–22, 26–35 as an example of questions asked with doubt.)

  • Why might it be important to identify the difference between primary and secondary questions? What can happen if we neglect primary questions and focus solely on secondary questions?

  • In what ways has taking your questions to the Lord and to other faithful individuals and faith-promoting sources fostered learning and growth in your life?

Based on what you have learned during this discussion, record a revised version of statement 1. Be prepared to share your revised statement and what you learned with your class.

Statement 1: It is inappropriate to ask questions regarding the doctrine, teachings, policies, and history of the Church.

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Answering My Gospel Questions Teacher Manual

Statement 2: There are always simple and straightforward answers to questions about the doctrine, teachings, policies, and history of the Church.

Answering My Gospel Questions—Lesson 3

As a group, discuss the accuracy of statement 2. Read 1 Nephi 11:14–17, and discuss the significance of Nephi’s answer to the Spirit’s question. Then read the following statements:

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Hafen, Bruce C. Biography

The fundamental teachings of the restored gospel are potent, clear, and unambiguous. However, even the scriptures contain some ambiguity. Consider, for example, the story of Nephi, who was directed to slay Laban to obtain a critically important spiritual record. That situation is charged with uncertainty. …

So life is full of ambiguity and learning to manage the gap between the ideal and the real is one purpose of the mortal plan. By divine design, we all face “opposition in all things” (2 Nephi 2:11). …

… The ability to acknowledge ambiguity, an important step in our spiritual development, is not a final form of enlightenment—it is only the beginning. …

The best response to the gap between [certainty and] uncertainty is to keep growing. …

When we encounter the first surprises of complexity, we must tend the sprouting seed of faith with great care, so that when the sun burns hot, the sapling will not wither. (Bruce C. Hafen and Marie K. Hafen, Faith Is Not Blind [2018], 9–10, 13–14, 18)

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Dew, Sheri L 2001

Learning by faith is as crucial as learning by study, because there are some things we cannot learn from a book.

Elder Dallin H. Oaks underscored this truth: “[A]fter all we can publish, our members are sometimes left with basic questions that cannot be resolved by study. … Some things can be learned only by faith [see Doctrine and Covenants 88:118]. Our ultimate reliance must be on faith in the witness we have received from the Holy Ghost” [“Opposition in All Things,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2016, 117]. …

… When questions arise … they are not an indication that you don’t have a testimony or that the gospel isn’t true. They are an invitation for you to grow spiritually. …

… Questions, especially the tough ones, propel us to engage in a spiritual wrestle so that the Lord can lead us along. …

Growing spiritually and receiving answers to our questions depends upon our ability to feel, hear, and understand the whisperings of the Spirit. It is worth engaging in a spiritual wrestle to learn to receive personal revelation, because we can only know what is true when the Spirit bears witness to our hearts and minds as only the Holy Ghost can. (Sheri Dew, “Will You Engage in the Wrestle?” [Brigham Young University–Idaho devotional, May 17, 2016], byui.edu)

Discuss the following questions:

  • Why is it important to realize that there can be ambiguity, uncertainty, and complexity with some of our questions about the doctrine, teachings, policies, and history of the Church?

  • According to Elder and Sister Hafen and Sister Dew, what are some productive ways to respond to tough gospel and life questions that result in ambiguity or complexity?

  • What has most helped you remain true to your faith in Jesus Christ and His gospel when you have faced ambiguity, uncertainty, or complexity?

Based on what you have learned during this discussion, record a revised version of statement 2. Be prepared to share your revised statement and what you learned with your class.

Statement 2: There are always simple and straightforward answers to questions about the doctrine, teachings, policies, and history of the Church.

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Answering My Gospel Questions Teacher Manual

Statement 3: Belief or unbelief in God will not affect how we approach questions about the meaning of morality and the purpose of life.

Answering My Gospel Questions—Lesson 3

As a group, discuss the accuracy of statement 3. Read Alma 30:12–18, and discuss how Korihor’s beliefs impacted his view of morality and the purpose of life. Then read the following statements:

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Hafen, Bruce C. Biography

The act of believing originates in the heart of the beholder. The Savior said to those around Him, “He that hath ears to hear, let him hear” (Luke 8:8). …

All four of Lehi’s sons were born of the same goodly parents. The difference between the believers was not so much in what happened to them, but in their attitude toward what happened. The attitude originated within their own hearts, with each making his own free choice to be believing—or not. …

… [God] can’t control whether we voluntarily choose to believe Him, to receive Him, to seek after Him. He can only offer us His hand, and if we elect to take it, then He can guide us toward whatever we uniquely need for [our] own growth. (Bruce C. Hafen and Marie K. Hafen, Faith Is Not Blind [2018], 81, 88)

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Dallin H. Oaks Official Portrait 2018

A powerful and influential modern school of thought is “moral relativism,” the idea that there is no absolute right or wrong. Behind that idea is the assumption that there is no God or, if there is a God, that he has given no commandments that apply to us today. …

Latter-day Saints obviously begin with a different premise: there is a God who is the source of Eternal law, and He has given commandments that establish a right and a wrong for many choices. … We oppose moral relativism, and we must help our youth avoid being deceived and persuaded by reasoning and conclusions based on its false premises.

Where do we look for the premises with which we begin our reasoning on the truth or acceptability of various proposals? We anchor ourselves to the word of God, as contained in the scriptures and in the teachings of modern prophets. Unless we are anchored to these truths as our major premises and assumptions, we cannot be sure that our conclusions are true. (Dallin H. Oaks, “As He Thinketh in His Heart” [evening with a General Authority, Feb. 8, 2013])

(Note: A premise is a starting point or the basis for your viewpoint. An assumption is something you presume to be true but that may not be true.)

Discuss the following questions:

  • Why do our premises (starting points) make such a big difference in how we answer questions?

  • What difference does it make when we frame a question with belief in God as our underlying premise?

  • Why is it important to understand that believing in God is a matter of choice?

Based on what you have learned during this discussion, record a revised version of statement 3. Be prepared to share your revised statement and what you learned with your class.

Statement 3: Belief or unbelief in God will not affect how we approach questions about the meaning of morality and the purpose of life.

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Answering My Gospel Questions Teacher Manual

After plenty of time for group discussion, you could invite a student from each group to write their revised statement on the board. These statements may be similar to the following ideas:

  1. It is appropriate, and perhaps even necessary to our spiritual growth, to ask faith-inspired questions regarding the doctrine, teachings, policies, and history of the Church.

  2. There are not always simple and straightforward answers about the doctrine, teachings, policies, and history of the Church.

  3. Belief or unbelief in God will affect how we approach questions about the meaning of morality and the purpose of life.

Provide students time to explain their revised statements and what they learned from their discussions. As students share their insights, consider asking follow-up questions that can help them better understand what it means to ask and answer questions with faith. For example, you might ask one or both of the following questions:

  • How can this insight help us better understand what it means to ask questions with faith?

  • When has this insight helped you when you were seeking an answer to one of your own questions?

Remind students that in preparation for class they were invited to write down a question they have about the doctrine, teachings, policies, or history of the Church. Ask if any students have changed the way they view their question because of what they have learned today, and invite any who would like to share their insights.

Consider ending class with your own experience and testimony of asking questions from a perspective of faith in Jesus Christ.

For Next Time

Explain that during the next class you will be discussing the divine gift of grace. Encourage students to take some time during the week to see what they can learn about the divine gift of grace from Gospel Library.