Thank you for taking some time and visiting my LDS faith blog. My name is Tom Wheeler, and I'm an active believing Latter-day Saint (Mormon). These articles are written to help either members of the church who might be struggling with doubts, or non-members who are curious to learn more about the LDS church. I hope you find what I've written to be beneficial and helpful in building your faith.
You'll probably notice that I tackle a number of controversial subjects. Often times I write about things I've wondered about myself, and have spent a fair amount of time thinking through and reading about. We don't often address very controversial subjects at church, because it's just not the right setting for delving deeply into history, or speculating about various gospel theories. I'm not interested in delving into especially deep doctrines, about which we have very little revealed knowledge, but I am interested in helping those who may have heard something uncomfortable or difficult -- to work through their concerns, and learn more.
A blog can be useful for such things. I feel I can do a pretty good job at explaining and teaching things, and I'm not too worried about treading into dangerous water – "truth will cut its own way"1 as Joseph Smith once said.
The reason I named this site "Faith is By Choice", reflects some ideas that have been taught in several recent General Conference addresses including these:
- Faith is not By Chance, but by Choice - Elder Neil L. Anderson, Oct. 2015
- Be Not Afraid, Only Believe - Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Oct 2015
- Choose to Believe - Elder L. Whitney Clayton, April 2015
- Make the Exercise of Faith Your First Priority - Elder Richard G. Scott, Oct 2014
- Faith – the Choice is Yours - Elder Richard C. Edgley, Oct 2010
I've heard people make comments like "I guess I don't have enough faith" or "I just can't believe". But I think we often misunderstand what faith is. Faith isn't something you are born with, and it's not really something you have or don't have. Faith is simply a decision you make, based on what you have learned.
Many people at church have various levels of faith and doubt. The word faith itself infers that there is also doubt. Faith and certain knowledge are not the same thing. We talk about "exercising faith" but no one talks about "exercising knowledge" – that wouldn't make sense. But faith is something that we have to work on, so that it increases. Hence we speak of "strengthening our testimony". We make decisions to believe, or to try to believe – that is faith. If I have faith, I am choosing to believe - and then acting on my choice.
I have found in my own studies that there is often evidence in favor of belief on the one hand, and seemingly evidence against belief on other hand.. and I am left to choose whether to believe or not. When I choose to believe, and push away my doubts, the influence of the Holy Spirit comes into my life and confirms my faith. I hope, and invite others to experience the same wonderful blessing!
In terms of my church background, I've served in many callings including ward mission leader, a counselor in a bishopric, and also an early-morning seminary teacher. I'm currently serving as our Stake Executive Secretary. I'm in my 40's, married and have 5 wonderful kids. I'm also a website developer (wheelercreek.com), and an oil painter -- you can see my artwork on art.wheelercreek.com).
1. History of the Church, 5:498–99; Teachings of Joseph Smith p. 29