This post is an application of a principle I wrote about in a comment not too long ago:
Every commandment of God requires that there be a choice, otherwise God becomes a tyrant. So, for all commandments, man must have agency to choose, in order to comply. If there is no agency, there is no requirement to comply.
It is a commandment of God to not doubt the things of God
The Lord commanded Oliver Cowdery to doubt not.
Look unto me in every thought; doubt not, fear not. (Doctrine and Covenants 6:36)
The voice of the Lord, the angels, or Nephi and Lehi commanded the 300 Lamanites to doubt not. (It’s not clear who did the bidding.)
And there were about three hundred souls who saw and heard these things; and they were bidden to go forth and marvel not, neither should they doubt. (Helaman 5:49)
The Spirit commanded Peter to doubt nothing.
Arise therefore, and get thee down, and go with them, doubting nothing: for I have sent them. (Acts 10:20)
The Lord commanded Joseph Smith, Oliver Cowdery and Sidney Rigdon to preach without doubting.
And in this place let them lift up their voice and declare my word with loud voices, without wrath or doubting, lifting up holy hands upon them. For I am able to make you holy, and your sins are forgiven you. (Doctrine and Covenants 60:7)
The Lord commanded Oliver Cowdery to doubt not.
Therefore, doubt not, for it is the gift of God; and you shall hold it in your hands, and do marvelous works; and no power shall be able to take it away out of your hands, for it is the work of God. (Doctrine and Covenants 8:8)
These commandments are applicable to all men
What I say unto one I say unto all (Doctrine and Covenants 93:49)
what I say unto one, I say unto all men (Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:46)
what I say unto one I say unto all (Doctrine and Covenants 82:5)
what I say unto one I say unto all (Doctrine and Covenants 61:36)
what I say unto one I say unto all (Doctrine and Covenants 61:18)
What I say unto one I say unto all. (Doctrine and Covenants 92:1)
Of course, people can just hem and haw on this principle and still say that the above scriptures do not prove that “doubt not” is a general commandment of God. For such people, I’ll include the following:
Moroni commands the unbelievers of the latter-days to doubt not.
O then despise not, and wonder not, but hearken unto the words of the Lord, and ask the Father in the name of Jesus for what things soever ye shall stand in need. Doubt not, but be believing, and begin as in times of old, and come unto the Lord with all your heart, and work out your own salvation with fear and trembling before him. (Mormon 9:27)
Like all commandments, the commandment to “doubt not” must, of necessity, be agency-based
The Anti-Nephi-Lehi mothers of the 2000 stripling warriors promised them that they would be delivered by God if they did not doubt.
Now they never had fought, yet they did not fear death; and they did think more upon the liberty of their fathers than they did upon their lives; yea, they had been taught by their mothers, that if they did not doubt, God would deliver them. (Alma 56:47)
And now, their preservation was astonishing to our whole army, yea, that they should be spared while there was a thousand of our brethren who were slain. And we do justly ascribe it to the miraculous power of God, because of their exceeding faith in that which they had been taught to believe—that there was a just God, and whosoever did not doubt, that they should be preserved by his marvelous power. (Alma 57:26)
The promised deliverance did not come for the lucky individuals who happened to have discovered that they had no doubt, whereas the unlucky ones who discovered that they had doubt perished, but was based on an agency choice. Those who chose not to doubt were delivered, while those who chose to doubt perished.
Every commandment has a way provided for its fulfillment
Young Nephi said to his father,
I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them. (1 Nephi 3:7)
If “doubt not” is a commandment of God—and what I wrote above shows that it is, indeed—then God must have prepared a way for everyone to comply with it, leaving none with the excuse that they weren’t able to comply. That prepared way is simple agency, for we are to believe and doubt not regardless of the evidences or lack thereof. In other words, the whole thing is to be taken on faith. Nevertheless, God always provides evidences in the form of witnesses.
A man-made philosophy: agency-less doubt
Scripturally, there is no such thing as agency-less doubt. The world, though, defines doubt exactly as agency-less. The world claims that they have no choice in what they believe to be true or false, no choice in what they do or do not doubt. This makes complying with the commandments to believe and not doubt impossible for all people. If they believe and do not doubt, they can comply, but since they do not believe it is possible to simply choose to believe and choose to not doubt—seeing such as going contrary to one’s very nature and thus unhealthy—if they do not believe and have doubts, they do not feel that they should be expected to comply with the commandment and believe anyway.
It is the worldly principle of “this is just the way I am and I can do nothing about it to change. People must accept me just as I am, doubts and all.” And, “it is unjust to ask me to not doubt when I do have doubts, or to believe when I do not have belief.” The world, then, does not believe in conforming to this commandment, but feels commandments of God should conform to them. Thus we get churches attempting to adapt to congregations filled with doubt, by imagining ways to keep them in church, despite and with their doubts, or trying to present evidence that may eliminate their doubts, or even more extreme, confirming the world’s definition and acknowledging the rightness and normalcy and healthiness of having and expressing doubt, celebrating doubt as a religious principle.
By adopting the world’s perspective, the doubting man who persists in his religion or church despite his doubts is held up as superior to the man who does not doubt. Doubt is seen as healthy behavior, even when it comes to the things of God, thus the doubtless religious man has something wrong with him or is labeled as ignorant (for if he had all the facts, he surely would be as doubtful as the others.)
All these things go contrary to the revealed laws of God, which teach that doubting the things and gospel of God is a transgression.
What we are to say to a doubter
Taking the word of God as our standard and pattern, when faced with a doubter, we ought to just teach the commandment of God: “Doubt not, but be believing, and begin as in times of old, and come unto the Lord with all your heart, and work out your own salvation with fear and trembling before him.”
Doubt is, and must be taught as, a sin. It must be repented of.
What if we ourselves doubt? How do we remove it?
By saying to ourselves, “Doubt not, but be believing, and begin as in times of old, and come unto the Lord with all your heart, and work out your own salvation with fear and trembling before him.”
And then we are to repent of our doubt, and cast it aside.