Conversations about the religious and spiritual life on the other side of fundamentalism
175: A 16-Year-Old’s Questions to a Sunday School Teacher:  Abel Nelson

175: A 16-Year-Old’s Questions to a Sunday School Teacher: Abel Nelson

Credit: Question | Question. | Kevin Dooley @Flickr

Recently 16-Year-Old Abel Nelson of Casstleton, North Dakota was asked by his teacher to submit a list of questions that he and her other students might have about the church, its history and its doctrine.  Abel took this opportunity to send her a list of queries regarding the Word of Wisdom, Polygamy, the nature of the God-Head and much more.



  1. Matt Ireland

    Wonderful interview Gina and cudos to Abel for putting himself out there.

    My mind was drawn back to John Dehlins interview with Jeremy Runnells about his questions of the church’s educational system. This is CES letter “lite”.

    The fact that the church has not adequately addressed Jeremy’s concerns means that more and more Abels will be asking questions, and asking questions, and asking questions – with no real answers provided. And as you say Gina, no real discussion entered into.

    I think some of his questions are easily answered but most not – and some maybe not at all. Irrespective we need not fear the fact that we may not know – or like – the answer. Giving up meat was a nice discussion point on this.

    He old head in the sand response is the most damaging response possible. And that’s certainly been my experience raising questions.

  2. Ashley

    I have been struggling. While I believe mostly in the church, I have been struggling with a way to make my beliefs and the hard truths coexist in my mind. I am almost 34-years-old and a life-long member. While listening to this podcast, I was in tears. This young 16-year-old has put my thoughts into words. I have been so worried about how I am going to keep my children I this church and now I know. The Lord truly sends people to this life when it is their time. Abel, you have brought me more comfort than you will ever understand. Thank you. Keep moving forward and keeping the faith, brother. My soul will rest so much better tonight when I go to sleep.

  3. Dianne Lofgreen

    I think one of the problems we Mormons have is that we tend to analyze every aspect of the Church; the Lord said that we need to work out our own salvation and our salvation depends on belief and faith in God the Father and in His Son, Jesus Christ, baptism into His Church, obey His commandments, continue in the faith, and endure to the end; If we do this, God will increase our faith, He will increase our knowledge, and answer our questions if, and only if we pursue it with faith and a humble heart; remember what He told Oliver Cowdery when he tried to translate the Book of Mormon: you must search it out in your mind, then ask God if it’s true; you will know in your heart and mind if what you seek is true or not; but, again, I must emphasize, He will reveal the truth to you IF, AND ONLY IF YOU ASK IN FAITH AND HUMILITY. I have learned many things in my research of Gospel truths, and I find that when I start feeling pride, my mind goes blank; so, Abel, you are right in searching out the truth, but you must remember to ask the Lord with faith that He’ll reveal the truths to you, and have a humble heart. Also remember, that the older you get the more you will learn and understand. And also remember that the Lord will reveal His truths in His own time, not ours.

  4. Timmy Tim

    Abel is surprisingly mature and well-spoken for a 16-year-old. Impressive.

    However, these questions are not original, creative, or unique to Abel. He clearly didn’t develop these questions in a vacuum. It sounded more like a regurgitation of a mini “CES Letter”.

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