The Big Questions Project

Elder B.H. Roberts, an LDS General Authority and official Church Historian, issued a provocative challenge to church members:

I believe ‘Mormonism’ affords opportunity…for thoughtful disciples who will not be content with merely repeating some of its truths, but will develop its truths …The Prophet planted the germ-truths of the great dispensation of the fullness of times…The disciples of Mormonism, growing discontented with the necessarily primitive methods which have hitherto prevailed in sustaining the doctrine, will yet take profounder and broader views of the great doctrines committed to the church; and, departing from mere repetition, will cast them in new formulas…until they help to give to the truths received a more forceful expression, and carry it beyond the earlier and cruder stages of its development. (The Improvement Era, 1906)

Perhaps it’s time, as Terryl Givens has suggested, to foster “a new vocabulary for a dispensation in which all things are made new.”

Elder Roberts’ challenge has become the driving inspiration for Faith Matters Foundation.  We have adopted it as our mission. We want to create a forum in which big questions relating to faith can be posed and explored in expansive ways.

We believe that facing this challenge will require 1) asking really good questions and 2) inviting the best thinkers, writers, leaders and spiritual guides to help us explore them. That’s what we are doing in this Big Questions Project. We have assembled an incredible list of contributors who have helped us compile a list of really good questions — mostly questions people have posed to them over the years.

Some of these questions involve difficult issues that we are grappling with as a church–generational and gender issues, issues of history, scripture, doctrine or policy. These are important questions to honestly and openly explore.

But many of the questions on our list are centered around the expansive ideas of the restored gospel, with an eye toward how the restored Church of Jesus Christ might thrive in this new century. We believe the restored gospel is brimming with powerful and transformative ideas and practices that have been revealed to bless God’s children.

We have challenged our contributors not to “answer” the big questions that have been posed, but to explore them in generative ways. In some cases what will emerge from this exploration may simply be better, richer questions.

Ultimately the gospel of Jesus Christ is more about being than thinking,  more about becoming than beliefs. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t aspire to the clearest and best thinking, since that is essential to spiritual growth–not sterile, academic thinking, but thinking that can ultimately open our minds and hearts to  transformation and true discipleship.

So we’re giving space to great thinking here, and inviting the clearest and best thinkers we know into that space. We will try not to invite contributors, however bright and articulate, whose primary interest is in persuading us that their view is the right view. We seek a genuine and open exploration of Big Questions.

The Big Questions
Big Question #1

Does our faith have a unique story to tell about creation, human origins and humanity’s relationship with the earth?

Explore this question now

Big Question #2

In the past, church leaders have made some significant mistakes. How much should I rely on pronouncements and teachings of our leaders today?

Explore this question now

Big Question #3

Is there something really unique or revolutionary about our understanding of Christ’s atonement?

Explore this question now

Big Question #4

I’m going through a period of serious doubt. Does doubt ever lead to greater faith, or is this likely my new normal?

Explore this question now

Big Question #5

Why do people leave the church and how should we engage with friends or family members who leave?

Explore this question now

Big Question #7

I’m really put off by patriarchy. Isn’t it a big problem for a modern church?

Explore this question now

Big Question #6

What about our LGBT brothers and sisters?

Explore this question now

Big Question #8

I feel like I need to incorporate mindfulness in my life. Can our faith embrace and teach practices like meditation or contemplative prayer?

Explore this question now

Big Question #9

Is there conflict between Latter-day Saint theology and evolution?

Explore this question now

Big Question #10

Are there big problems with the Book of Abraham?

Explore this question now

Coming Soon

Do we really believe the Bible is the word of God "as far as it is translated correctly?" Can our church provide a new way to read the Bible that will make it more relevant to modern readers?

Coming Soon

I’m coming to understand that prophetic functions like "revelation" and "translation" may not be quite what I had assumed. Are there richer ways to understand them?

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Joseph Smith seemed to understand "the Restoration" as something much broader than the way I typically hear it described in church. Are we missing something?

Coming Soon

In what way is the LDS church the "true church?"

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What is behind the rise in anxiety and depression among our youth? Does our use of media and technology have something to do with it? What should we be doing to address it?

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Are we really prepared to lead a struggle for social justice, as Elder Holland and other leaders have urged?

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How can I make sense of our history of denying priesthood and temple blessings to our black brothers and sisters?

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How do we reconcile Book of Mormon "problems" with the claim that it is the "most correct" scriptural text?

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Sometimes the way we talk about "the gathering of Israel" makes it sound like our job is to find some spiritually elite tribe of people. What is "the gathering"and what unique role does our church have to play in it?

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Our history with plural marriage is really hard to accept. Shouldn’t we just renounce it in past, present and future and move on?

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Our scriptures seem to portray a God who is sometimes full of mercy, understanding and forgiveness and at other times vengeful and ready to pronounce final judgement on us. Why is that? What if I can’t believe in a God like that?

Coming Soon

Technology is shaping a whole new reality for us. Does our faith have anything important to say about our relationship with technology?

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Is the world ready for the Mormon teaching about the divine feminine (Mother in Heaven)? What is our message to the world about gender?

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Should I be dating someone who has a "porn problem?" Don’t most guys have one? What constitutes an addiction?

Coming Soon

Prophetic functions like Revelation and Translation may not be quite what I had assumed. Are there richer ways to understand them?

Coming Soon

Are we an optimistic faith, or do we teach that humanity is heading for inevitable disaster?

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Are baptism and temple ordinances actually necessary for someone to return to live with God? That idea seems strange to me. Why such a focus on ordinances and covenants?

Coming Soon

What will missionary work look like in the 21st century? It seems like our current methods are not very effective.

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Are young people drifting away from the faith? If so, why?

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Do DNA studies present a problem for the Book of Mormon?

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What do we know about where the events of the Book of Mormon took place?

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What about the various First Vision accounts of Joseph Smith?

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I wonder how the world might be different if more people shared our understanding of our premortal existence.

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Is there some cultural and theological baggage that our religion must shed to thrive in the 21st century? Maybe even language we use that doesn’t work anymore.

Coming Soon

I have come to see things somewhat differently than the majority of my fellow ward members. It sometimes makes me feel like a bit of an outsider. Is there a way to recover the sense of belonging that I once felt?

Coming Soon

How should we view today’s revolution in scientific discovery? How does it relate to our faith and should we let it shape our worldview?

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