In learning about faith, that it must be rooted in things that are true, I feel at a loss for how to know the truth of Christ and the atonement so that I can have faith in Him. I read your answer on knowing the Church is true, but I really feel that I will never have real faith in Christ until I can KNOW He is real.
At a Loss
Dear At a Loss,
Let me tell you about a comedian I really like named Louis C.K. Maybe you’ve heard of him. One particular Louis C.K. comedy routine mocks a conversation he recently had with a young man on a plane. It goes something like this:
“I’m not religious. I don’t know if there is a God, and that’s all I can say: I don’t know. Some people think they know that there isn’t, and I think that’s a weird thing you can know.
‘Yeah there’s no God.’
‘Wait, how do you know?’
‘Well cuz I didn’t see him.’
‘There’s a vast universe, and you can see for about 100 yards when there’s not a building in the way. How can you possibly know? Did you look everywhere? Did you look in the downstairs bathroom? Where have you looked so far?’
‘I mean, I just haven’t seen him yet.’
‘Well I haven’t see 12 Years A Slave yet. Doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.’”
All jokes aside (literally), I understand this is an issue a lot of people struggle with. So, let’s talk about knowledge vs. belief for a second. In John 5, we learn that “Saints are born of God through belief in Christ,” and that “Belief in Christ is required in order to gain eternal life.” In Mark 9, Christ tells the father of a lame child, “If thou canst believe, all things are possible.” And in Luke 9, Christ he says, “Believe only, and [ye] shall be made whole.” I could go on, but I simply want to illustrate that there has never been an instance in the scriptures where simple belief hasn’t been good enough. In fact, it’s always been more enough, because often Christ just asks us to have a desire to believe. And, this may be frustrating to hear, but I’ll be honest, you’re probably never going to know.
You wanna know something, else? I think that knowledge, in some ways, is the enemy of belief. If you think “knowing” is the standard, mere “belief” will never be good enough. Alma 32:18 reads, “If a man knoweth a thing, he hath no cause to believe, for he knoweth it.” Christ wants us to have faith in Him. To Him, faith is more important than knowledge. I think that’s the reason why He hasn’t given us the assurances we seek, because if He did, it would be literally impossible to have faith. I believe the day you accept the fact you may never know Christ’s atonement is real? That’s the day you might be able to start believing it is. And, funny enough, that’s really what He wants. It’s actually all he’s ever asked for.
P.S. One of our staffers wrote a cool article about belief, faith, and knowledge that you might appreciate. You can read it here.