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The Crucible of Doubt: Reflections On the Quest for Faith

4.48  ·  Rating details ·  1,744 ratings  ·  398 reviews
Faith is the first principle of the gospel of Jesus Christ. So what happens when a person has doubts? Questioning is not the problem, according to authors Terryl and Fiona Givens. After all, they write, the Restoration unfolded because a young man asked questions. The difficulty arises when questions are based on flawed assumptions or incorrect perceptions, which can point ...more
Hardcover, 168 pages
Published October 13th 2014 by Deseret Book Company (first published August 25th 2014)
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4.48  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,744 ratings  ·  398 reviews

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Bradley Ferguson
Nov 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I honestly wish that this book would become its own Sunday school class in my church. I wish that there were a class at BYU that was focused purely on the ideas in this book. I wish that all my friends and family would read it. There are a lot of books that I give 5 stars to which I have recommended to people. This is because I felt like they told amazing stories, were extremely well written, or moved me in some way. This book is different. I highly recommend it because I feel that it is importa ...more
Oct 02, 2014 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: See review
I first encountered Terryl Givens when he spoke at BYU. At the end of his talk he said, "But [Joseph Smith's] message also flamed forth because millions of men and women have freely chosen to believe. They assayed the opinions of doubters, and they gave a hearing to the critics. Like Brigham Young, they knew Joseph was human and subject to err, but they sampled his words and agreed they tasted like honey. They weighed the beauty of a god and of human origins and a human future unlike anything be ...more
Aug 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This review is going to get a little personal, but this book helped me so much. I have such a great respect for the Givens. I attended college at BYU-Idaho and had the opportunity to listen to Terrel speak at an English Pre-professional conference. I wish the self that I am now could go and speak to him at that conference and tell him what an impact this book had on me.

I've been dealing with what you could call a faith crisis for about two years now and got to the point where I was considering l
Jared Gillins
Aug 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: religion
This is possibly the best book on LDS belief that I've read, outside of the canon and the writings of modern apostles and prophets. It offers some very important perspectives and reminders—for believers, doubters, and everyone in between.

I had one small beef with the book, and that was from the last chapter. In the setup the Givenses give overviews of contrasting cosmologies: a godless, "scientific" cosmology; a non-LDS Christian one; and then the LDS perspective. I found the first two overviews
Oct 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I may be biased, because the Givens’ understanding of and approach to Mormonism is on almost all accounts identical to my own. It should come as no surprise, then, that I find their book almost perfect. (Even the Givens can't escape the occasional proof text, it seems.) I truly hope many a Mormon reads and embraces the points made in this work. If that happens, the beauty of Mormonism may actually spill over into Mormon culture, which (quite tragically) is all too often a cross to bear rather th ...more
Justin Traasdahl
Jan 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Loved it. What a great book for our times. I will be revisiting this book as I continue to grow my faith. I think every person should read this book, because if you're not going through a faith crisis yourself, someone near and dear to you probably is going through such a crisis.

I just loved that it was a book of truth. It didn't attack the church in any way, it just presented truths and presented things I didn't know. Church is a place of a growth and development and honesty.

Loved, loved, love
Jeff Gasser
Dec 25, 2014 rated it really liked it
An insightful little book that could bring about big change in a struggling believer. The authors have a real gift for speaking reasonably to skeptics about faith positions. The wide net of propositions the authors cast is a virtue but I would have liked to see a little more elaboration on some of their ideas. Still, some really great stuff worth revisiting.
After finishing this book the first time, I began to write my review, but found myself having to research and dig deeper. I eventually read it a again, taking notes and pondering as I went. These notes, made mainly for my personal use, are below. I go chapter by chapter, summarizing, writing explanations to myself, and repeating quotes that carried special meaning to me.

Seldom has a book resonated with me on so many points. Not only was I ready to agree with and understand so many insights, but
Lizzie Jones
Jul 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites

Absolutely, absolutely amazing. Perhaps one of the top five most impactful books I've read.

This book is full of doctrine, scripture, teaching from prophets and apostles, thoughts from philosophers and writers, some poetry, and a few really powerful personal anecdotes. The point is to teach a lesson on doubting and candidly talk about the purpose of doubt. Doubt is painful and isolating in a lot of instances, but isn't necessarily the product of a lack of faith. In fact, they go so fa
Erin Isgett
Feb 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing
My mother-in-law always gives me a thought-provoking book for my birthday each year, and this was the book I received this year. The authors echoed many of the thoughts I have had myself, and also provided new perspectives to questions I have encountered. As a convert, I had many, many questions before I joined, and while some of them have received answers, there are many still remaining. I love the reminder that as I live out my faith in action, I will be strengthened. This is a book that I wil ...more
Apr 03, 2016 rated it really liked it
This book put into words many of my thoughts and feelings in a much more literary (and sometimes too flowery) way than I ever could.
Tom Grover
Sep 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: lds, religion
Mormonism is in an undeniable state of flux and transition. This book presents a utilitarian and pragmatic approach to faith within Mormonism that I think will likely become more mainstream over time, although I have to think that if Bruce R. McConkie or Joseph F. Smith were alive to read it, they would be appalled. The book draws upon ideas from within and without Mormonism. It focuses on the efficacy of faith, rather than on literalism itself.
Matt Smedley
Aug 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I wish every Mormon would read this book. The Givens help frame the discussion of Asking Questions, Having Doubts, not being able to say "I know this church is true", etc., in a way that allows Mormons to navigate their own faith journey in a way that is authentic.
Amber Spencer
Nov 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
My favorite book of 2018. I definitely want to reread this one soon. And repeatedly.
Jun 05, 2017 added it
I think I need to read it again. These people are much smarter than I am. I need to look up all the poetry they quoted and find out what most of it meant. I underlined and underlined but think I need to read it again. Great book, interesting thoughts. Lots to ponder.
Oct 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
"We have learned to relish a commitment that is born of faith freely chosen rather than of certainty compelled by evidence" - Terryl and Fiona Givens.

In The Crucible of Doubt, the Givens's aim is to articulate appropriate and effective ways to approach one's quest for faith, particularly for those with doubts about the truth claims of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Dispelling false assumptions about Latter-day Saint theology, history, and culture is a start.

Belief is risky, the
Alisa Anglesey
Jan 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I was hesitant, at first, to read this. Why? When I found out the authors were LDS, and that the book is distributed by an LDS company, AND that it was flying off the shelves faster than it can be kept in stock; my red flags all went up. Not to be misunderstood, I am a member of the LDS faith. But I also tend to steer away from what I consider to be traditional, close-minded writings of LDS authors. I'm not a fan of LDS culture, nor the media that tends to be popular among said group. Nor am I e ...more
Kim Rasband
May 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I wanted to read this book to help me better understand friends and acquaintances who seem to be experiencing crises of faith in their lives. I enjoyed every moment of this thought-provoking book! Brother and Sister Givens have a gift for eloquence and clarity in their writing that I love. There were so many points they made that made me feel like shouting, "yes that's what I think too!" But they say it all so much better than I ever could.

I think one of my favorite takeaways from the book will
Dec 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I really really loved this book! It articulated some tricky things very nicely for me. I read the Givens' other book, The God Who Weeps: How Mormonism Makes Sense of Life, which I also really liked, but this book is so much more readable. It works a chapter at a time and doesn't require the same level of academic concentration! And the topic is so direct and timely. I think this is a great book for understanding how it's possible to have faith with a few open ended issues, how believing is a cho ...more
Sep 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Instant classic. This marvelous follow-up to their book The God Who Weeps: How Mormonism Makes Sense of Life is deeply meaningful and should be required reading for every Latter-day Saint. It is all the more important for those who consider themselves never to have harbored doubts, or who find that this is simply not a topic that resonates for them. For such whose ordeals in this life are in other arenas, understanding this particular trial better is nevertheless part of the disciple's calling t ...more
Sep 12, 2014 rated it really liked it
A much needed and important addition to Mormon literature, especially in today's climate. I loved the tie-in to Julian Norwich's experiences and the inclusiveness of the work as a whole. I left wishing, however, that the authors had addressed some of the harder questions that actually cause doubt - not necessarily in detail, but more generally how one's choice to believe in "the weeping God of Enoch" can be reconciled with the God who instituted polygamy, for example. But overall, a fabulous app ...more
Feb 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I'll be short, but I believe the Givens give voice to a segment of Latter-Day Saints that I think is important. The Crucible of Doubt provides a moving doctrinal basis for commitment to faith and God in the face of intellectual and cultural challenges. Their perspective gives me a sense of peace in my own concerns, and confidence in the process of living a life with faith, despite the personal challenges that may entail.
Jan 26, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2015
The Givenses do a good job of expressing--through their own meditations as well as through examples from literature, LDS history and religious history in general--some reasons why a doubter might want to stay LDS, and make a good case for there being room in the church for doubters. The book has the possibility of being food for thought for some who are considering leaving, but is potentially mind-broadening and useful for the staunchest members.
David Owen
Sep 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Another beautiful distillation of some very confronting and difficult topics. The Givens' speak directly to my soul and do some in such a profound way I am sometimes unable to continuing reading for minutes at a time.
Brad Hart
Sep 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Terryl and Fiona Givens are easily the top two minds in Mormonism today. This book would easily make my "Top 10 greatest books I've ever read list." I wish this book could become the official Sunday School text for next year. Every Mormon should read it. Phenomenal book!
Feb 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Fantastic. This is a book I will reread and keep near enough to reference. I'm not normally a page marker but most pages in this book have something underlined. I saw the Givens speak at Time Out For Women last year and picked up this book while there. It came along at just the right time.
Jan 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is my favorite of the Givens's books so far. I am active Mormon but have significant doubts about my faith I carry since a serious faith crisis three years ago. Although I selfishly wish there was more of a personalized approach at times, this is a great academic view of something that really resonates with me. I took 4 pages of notes. Here are some of my favorite quotes and sentiments:

“Twenty years it took for her to escape the confines of her preconceptions and realize the answers were de
Sep 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
Highly recommend. This book has been enormously helpful in finding reasons to continue in faith even when it feels impossible. I like how it asserts what is doctrine, what is policy, and what is culture. I loved the bit about how the Dark Ages weren't so dark after all and that when God does not have a prophet, He has a poet to speak for him. One need only look to the Old Testament to see this is true.

It's helped me to have the courage to own my doubts and questions while knowing that they don'
Janet Lawrence
Oct 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book changed my entire perception on what I have known to be true all my life. Other than the scriptures, this book has had a greater impact on me than anything else I've read. There's all these truths in here that take faith in Christ beyond the platitudes. The authors recognize that we sometimes have very real crises of faith and give meaningful ways to acknowledge them without losing our connection to Christ. And then use them to build on the foundation we have already laid. I wanted to ...more
Kellie Horrocks
Apr 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: audiobooks-2017
I loved this book for so many reasons. 1. It challenged the way I looked at typical gospel subjects and themes - like the reason behind suffering, doubts, etc. 2. It was short and yet so compact with information that I could probably read it many times over. 3. I listened to the audiobook, which is narrated by the author, who happens to have a British accent. I think I might also read the print version, because it'd be easier to study that way.
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Terryl L. Givens was born in upstate New York, raised in the American southwest, and did his graduate work in Intellectual History (Cornell) and Comparative Literature (Ph.D. UNC Chapel Hill, 1988), working with Greek, German, Spanish, Portuguese, and English languages and literatures. As Professor of Literature and Religion, and the James A. Bostwick Professor of English at the University of Rich ...more
“The English historian Thomas Carlyle defined a person’s religion as the set of values evident in his or her actions, regardless of what the individual would claim to believe when asked.” 10 likes
“The first time the word worship appears in the King James Version of the Old Testament, it appears with appalling import. 'Abide ye here,' Abraham tells his servant, while 'I and the lad go yonder and worship.' The terrible offering of his son's life is what the Bible's first instance of 'worship' portends. In the New Testament, the word worship first appears again in conjunction with a costly offering. It is used in reference to the wise men, who 'worshipped' the Christ child by 'open[ing] their treasure' and 'present[ing] unto him gifts.' Worship, then, is about what we are prepared to relinquish--what we give up at personal cost.” 5 likes
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