7 Now Aaron said unto him: Believest thou that the Son of God shall come to redeem mankind from their sins?
8 And the man said unto him: We do not believe that thou knowest any such thing. We do not believe in these foolish traditions. We do not believe that thou knowest of things to come, neither do we believe that thy fathers and also that our fathers did know concerning the things which they spake, of that which is to come.
When Aaron began to preach in the Lamanite city of Jerusalem, one man bombarded him with questions. These were not sincere and searching questions, but mocking and critical questions, such as:
- “Why do not angels appear unto us?”
- “Are not this people as good as thy people?”
- “How knowest thou the thought and intent of our hearts?”
- “How knowest thou that we have cause to repent?”
- “How knowest thou that we are not a righteous people?” (Alma 21:5-6)
It’s safe to say that this man wasn’t interested in Aaron’s answer to any of these questions. The intent of the questions was to humiliate and discredit him.
As we read in the passage above, Aaron responded with a question: “Believest thou that the Son of God shall come to redeem mankind from their sins?” I think this man’s response is telling: “We do not believe that thou knowest any such thing.” Rather than respond to the question directly, this man tried to keep the focus on Aaron. He went on to say that he didn’t believe “in these foolish traditions.” Not only did he not believe that Aaron knew these things, but he didn’t believe that their ancestors knew these things either.
That’s a lot of not knowing and a lot of not believing! I would be interested to know what this man did believe. But, alas, when Aaron tried to carry on and deliver his message, “they were angry with him, and began to mock him; and they would not hear the words which he spake” (Alma 21:10).
How easy it is to be cynical, but how unrewarding! In the words of Dieter F. Uchtdorf:
Satan, our adversary, wants us to fail. He spreads lies as part of his effort to destroy our belief. He slyly suggests that the doubter, the skeptic, the cynic is sophisticated and intelligent, while those who have faith in God and His miracles are naive, blind, or brainwashed. Satan will advocate that it is cool to doubt spiritual gifts and the teachings of true prophets.
I wish I could help everyone to understand this one simple fact: we believe in God because of things we know with our heart and mind, not because of things we do not know. Our spiritual experiences are sometimes too sacred to explain in worldly terms, but that doesn’t mean they are not real.
Heavenly Father has prepared for His children a spiritual feast, offering every kind of exquisite food imaginable—and yet, instead of enjoying these spiritual gifts, the cynics content themselves with observing from a distance, sipping from their cups of skepticism, doubt, and disrespect….
Let me be clear: there is nothing noble or impressive about being cynical. Skepticism is easy—anyone can do it. It is the faithful life that requires moral strength, dedication, and courage. Those who hold fast to faith are far more impressive than those who give in to doubt when mysterious questions or concerns arise (“Be Not Afraid, Only Believe,” General Conference, October 2015).
Today, I will choose not to be intimidated by cynics. I will remember that my belief is built on knowledge–on spiritual experiences I have had which are not visible to other people, and which they may therefore doubt. I will remember that it takes courage to believe, and I will choose to hold fast to my faith, and not to be destabilized by critics.