A few students in my early morning seminary class have been actively denying sound doctrine the instructor teaches and often will cause the remainder of the session to be damage control of what they have said. It has caused heated debate of our faith and how true it is. I am sound in my testimony, but it wrecks what is supposed to be a class for those who want to learn more of Christ’s true doctrine. What should I, and others in my situation do to get the most from seminary?
I’m sure it is frustrating to arise early to attend Seminary in the hopes of being edified, and then to have the sort of experience you have described. You may find some comfort though in remembering that you are not alone. The scriptures are full of stories of prophets trying to share the word of God with less than receptive audiences. Abinadi is one of the first that comes to my mind or Joseph Smith. Even some of Joseph’s closest friends one day sat at his feet to learn from him and the next turned on him and caused some of his greatest trials.
How then do we respond to such situations in our lives? Elder Robert D. Hales addressed a similar topic in his Oct. 2008 General Conference talk, Christian Courage: The Price of Discipleship. He said, “To respond in a Christlike way cannot be scripted or based on a formula. The Savior responded differently in every situation. When He was confronted by wicked King Herod, He remained silent. When He stood before Pilate, He bore a simple and powerful testimony of His divinity and purpose. Facing the moneychangers who were defiling the temple, He exercised His divine responsibility to preserve and protect that which was sacred. Lifted up upon a cross, He uttered the incomparable Christian response: “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).
Although the conversations may seem like a huge distraction from the purpose of the class, I think these words by Elder Hale could apply: “Experience shows that seasons of negative publicity about the Church can help accomplish the Lord’s purposes. In 1983 the First Presidency wrote to Church leaders, “Opposition may be in itself an opportunity. Among the continuing challenges faced by our missionaries is a lack of interest in religious matters and in our message. These criticisms create … interest in the Church. … This provides an opportunity [for members] to present the truth to those whose attention is thus directed toward us.”
My counsel to you, Benjamin, is to pray. Pray to have the Spirit to know what response the Lord desires from you. Pray for your teacher that he/she may also be guided by the Spirit and not be discouraged, and yes, pray for your fellow classmates, especially the disruptive ones, they may be the ones that need your prayer most of all.
Stand in Christian Courage and know that you are not alone. Many great leaders have walked this path before you.