Elder Dale G. Renlund and his wife focused on the topics of faith and doubt, encouraging others to not dig up in doubt what they have planted in faith, on Sunday, Jan. 13 at a worldwide broadcast held in the Cannon Activities Center.
Elder Renlund, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and Sister Ruth L. Renlund, used illustrations about a castaway who was rescued and a few personal experiences to deliver their message on faith to the young adults of the world.
Elder Renlund said, “Doubt is not and will never be the precursor of faith any more than light depends on darkness for its creation.”
Paraphrasing a statement by Elder John A. Widtsoe, Elder Renlund said, “Doubt, unless changed into inquiry from reliable, trustworthy sources, has no value or worth. The stagnant doubter, one content with himself, unwilling to make the appropriate effort, to pay the price of divine discovery, inevitably reaches unbelief and darkness. His doubts grow like poisonous mushrooms in the dim shadows of his mental and spiritual chambers. At last, blind like the mole in his burrow, he usually substitutes ridicule for reason, indolence for labor, and becomes a lazy scholar. Doubt is not wrong unless it becomes an end in and of itself. That doubt which feeds and grows upon itself, and breeds more doubt, is evil.”
Following Christ requires a choice of faith, Elder Renlund said, and not of doubt.
Sister Renlund said, “The blogosphere cannot replace scripture study and reading the words of living prophets and apostles. Foster your faith by going to trustworthy sources to find answers to your questions.”
Elder Renlund added: “You will miss spiritually important events if you choose persistent doubt, fueled by answers from faithless and unfaithful sources.”
Increasing your faith
Speaking about the affect of the broadcast on him, Paolo Poblete, a junior biology major from the Philippines, said, “I feel, as a whole, his message was all about rediscovering your faith if you’ve lost it, and how to strengthen your faith more if you still have it.”
Poblete said he thinks the message was an important one to focus on at the start of the new year to remind students and others to “strengthen our faith and get back on the path if we’ve strayed from it.”
Tying together what she learned about faith and doubt from the devotional, Elise Lesuma, a junior business management major from Utah, said, “It can be so simple. That’s just what the gospel is: Faith in Jesus Christ. This devotional was a reminder there will be many things that come throughout our life that will try to deter us from the path, but at the end of the day, we just need to focus on our relationship with Christ and continually build our faith in Him.
“It definitely is a testimony to me they are inspired by God to address these matters, and I think it’s really neat to think that it answered a lot of prayers,” Lesuma said.
Don’t let the dents dissuade you
In the middle of the Relunds' remarks to the young adults, the broadcast screen cut to an animated story, narrated by Sister Renlund, of a man stranded and floating in the ocean. In the story, the castaway’s boat had sunk, and when help arrived, his attitude shifted from gratefulness to eventual repulsion toward his rugged rescuer and his dented vessel.
Sister Renlund explained how the rescued man left the safety of the boat because he didn't like the dented boat and its scruffy captain.
Together, she and Elder Renlund remarked people can be like the castaway when they focus on little things they don’t like and become unconvinced of the covenant path’s actual capacity to get them to safety.
Poblete said he enjoyed the clarity and plainness of the Renlunds' words. “I also liked the illustrations he provided so everything was clear. I was able to accept and understand better what he was trying to say.”
“I didn’t expect the animation. At first I felt it like a Primary thing," he said, "but then again with the simplicity, I was able to understand better. It was very entertaining to watch it, and it was very direct.”
On the animation illustrating dents caused by doubts, Malia Tupola, a junior social work major from Utah, said, “I loved it. At first, I was trying to figure out, “Where is this going? Why is he jumping off the boat?” But when they explained, it’s so true. At first, it sounds cheesy, but then you realize it from a gospel perspective. This is exactly how it is though, and you think, 'Wow.'”
Lesuma seconded Tupola’s sentiment on the animation as she said, “I loved it. It was so cute.
Afterward, I asked myself, 'When have I been too prideful of something and then repented?'”
BYUH Concert Choir sang
The worldwide broadcast also featured a performance of "Be Still My Soul," by BYU-Hawaii’s Concert Choir who sang before the Renlunds spoke.
On singing in the choir for the broadcast, Noppon Maneekam, a freshman graphic design major from Thailand, said, “This devotional was very spectacular, and it was my privilege to sing in the choir. It was a privilege the worldwide devotional came to BYUH, and I’m so grateful for it.”
For Maneekam, the Renlunds’ message was a moment of personal learning for him. “Sometimes we have doubt and sometimes we don’t know the place we can go to receive the answer. But when I listened to Elder Renlund’s answer,” referring to Renlund’s advice to seek out reputable and true sources, “it was crystal clear, and it was very amazing.”
The risks of doubt
Adding his thoughts to Elder Renlund’s statement on how faith and doubt cannot exist within one person at the same time, Poblete said, “I think when there’s doubt there’s no faith because doubt as a verb itself. It's not something that’s very passive. It’s something that you do intentionally.
“You doubt intentionally. You don't doubt passively. It is an intentional act, and that act comes because you don’t have trust in the Lord. When you have trust in the Lord more, you have faith in the Lord.”
Maneekam summed up his own thoughts on the same statement as he said, “I think doubt leads to fear, and when we have fear, we are afraid to ask for something, right?”
He said Michael Belnap, the conductor of Concert Choir, "Always tells us we have to think about the lyrics and see who we are singing to. Everything turns to Jesus Christ. We sing because He lives, and we sing because we love Him, and we know that we will see Him again.”
Broadcast from the CAC
Students said they were surprised to learn a worldwide devotional was to be held at BYUH.
Lesuma said she and her friend, Tupola, were “stoked to hear [Elder and Sister Renlund] were on the island.”
“We didn’t realize [the devotional] was being broadcast from the CAC. So when we heard it was live from here, we said to each other, ‘Oh yeah we’re going.’”
Asked why she was excited to attend the devotional, Lesuma said, “It’s always a special spirit they bring. You can feel it. [The devotional was] a good start to the semester.”
For how the themes of faith and doubt hold relevance to youth around the world, Tupola said, “It’s been sort of a trend where people today are constantly trying to find something wrong with religion. Religion isn’t really trendy right now, but I like how this devotional was another reminder to not follow the crowd.”
Lesuma said, “I think it's really neat they chose this topic to speak on. I think it's something that a lot of youth and young adults in the church are struggling with, especially with the changes and different church policies.”