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.