Answering Questions Without Trying Student Faith

By Jenny Smith Jenny Smith:
Not to beat a dead horse, but here’s how Elder Packer has taught we can answer questions (even partially) while strengthening the faith in core beliefs of the students in our classrooms:

Years ago two teachers on the faculty of one of the large institutes of religion were both talented in their classroom procedures, and both enjoyed a large registration of students. One teacher, however, was always embroiled in controversy. The complaint would be oft–coming, and not without some foundation, that his teachings were destructive in faith. He took the position (and there is much to recommend it) that he was teaching alert, inquiring college students, and there must be freedom to explore and analyze all problems. Often they spent the class periods contesting issues that were very touchy and open to much speculation. After careful study, we were firmly convinced that although he was popular, his teaching did not foster faith. Indeed, it raised doubts.
The other teacher, in the same building and likewise popular with the students, seemed to consistently stabilize them. Faith was the product of his effort.

I sat through classes of both of these teachers. The second teacher was no more restrictive than the first. He was willing to discuss any question an alert, inquiring university student wanted to bring up. He would discuss the main channel of the question or readily be diverted up any side canyons. He talked just as freely about the same issues as the first teacher. The result of his teaching, however, was faith, whereas the first teacher left his students unsettled and doubting. It took some careful analysis to determine the difference between them, and it was a very simple difference.
The second teacher concluded every class period with a testimony—not always a formal, sacrament meeting–type testimony, but there was always Read More

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