Faith may be the most misunderstood, or at least the most misapplied, of the principles that govern our lives. Beyond attaining and increasing it for ourselves, we face the small problem of passing it on to our kids. Too bad it cannot be handed off like an heirloom. We know that faith cannot be given, sold, or traded….but can it be measured? Timothy L. Carver thinks so, and in his book, That’s Faith!, the long-time teacher for the Church Educational System uses his seminary and institute experience to tell us how, and, more importantly, tell our kids how.
You may be hesitant, as I was, to accept the idea of quantifying something so essential, and seemingly ineffable, as faith. At first it may seem that to do so would diminish this vital principle, but for the purposes of offering youth an identifiable and understandable formula to track their spirituality, I believe Carver has done an excellent job of translating what may be a vague ideal into actionable behaviors. In his introduction Carver explains that his formula is based on a well-known quote from James E. Talmage (this is where I was won over, as this quote is one that has long helped me to understand and explain faith), wherein Talmage explains that faith and belief are not interchangeable, but that “faith implies such confidence and conviction as will impel to action.” (Carver 3) At the heart of the “faith formula” is the marriage of faith and works. Carver posits that one may measure her faith by rating how closely she is obeying the Lord’s commandments.
Each short chapter in the book covers a topic that teens deal with in their daily lives, such as honesty, modesty, music, friends, or the Word of Wisdom. A brief discussion of the topic is provided, followed by a story that illustrates the topic in action. Carver presents a series of questions at the end of each chapter for the reader to answer, rating on a scale of 1-10 how true each statement is. For example, at the end of the chapter on family are the statements, “I treat my parents with kindness and respect,” “I am a willing participant in family home evening,” and “I complete my family chores and responsibilities without complaining,” among others. Finally, there is a place for the reader to set goals within the scope of the relevant topic.
This book is lightweight (which I know many teens will appreciate!), quotes the scriptures and modern prophets heavily, and provides relevant and compelling contemporary examples of how young people may live the gospel. It is clear that the author is familiar with the concerns and needs of kids. While the idea of rating my faith might give me pause, it is true that we only develop real faith by living the gospel, obeying our Father’s commandments. It is also true that during the tempestuous and precarious teen years, anything that puts tricky principles into perspective and offers clear guidance for those whose testimonies are developing is a great asset. That’s Faith! certainly falls into this category.