clbent04

Are We Overly Compelled by Church Culture and Human Tendencies to Say I Know This Church is True?

Recommended Posts

Are we overly compelled by Church culture and human tendencies to say, "I know this Church is true"?

Could the Spirit of God telling you to profess the Church is true sometimes be confused with the desire to conform and be liked by others in a social environment?  Or do members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints happen to be the only group on the face of the Earth exempt from those kind of human tendencies?

Should we feel more compelled to testify that Jesus Christ lives rather than saying, "I know this Church is true"?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
22 minutes ago, clbent04 said:

Are we overly compelled by Church culture and human tendencies to say, "I know this Church is true"?

Could the Spirit of God telling you to profess the Church is true sometimes be confused with the desire to conform and be liked by others in a social environment?  Or do members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints happen to be the only group on the face of the Earth exempt from those kind of human tendencies?

Should we feel more compelled to testify that Jesus Christ lives rather than saying, "I know this Church is true"?

Once I start playing the “why did he say what he said?” or “what did she really mean” game, there’s no logical stopping point until sink into a sort of nihilism wherein I don’t believe anyone about anything.

Speaking generally:  sure, peer pressure to testify of the Church—or the Gospel—or Jesus—or one’s love for one’s family—is always a potential factor.  But I think I owe it to most people to at least go into an encounter taking what they say at face value.  If I want to dig a little deeper, and it’s important to me; I can always take them aside one-on-one later to ask them to clarify or provide additional perspective.

Personally, I avoid the phrase “I know the church is true”—first, because I generally avoid the phrase “I know” in testimonies (I believe far more than I know); and second, because the more I parse the phrase the less I understand what “the church is true” actually means.  (That the prophet is a bona fide prophet?  Fine, say that.  That there is safety in adhering to and living the lifestyle the Church promotes?  Fine, say that.  That the Church has a unique claim to divine favor and inspiration and authority?  Fine, say that.  But I don’t know what “the Church is true” means, anymore than I know what “the American Bar Association is true” means.)

Edited by Just_A_Guy

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
18 minutes ago, clbent04 said:

Are we overly compelled by Church culture and human tendencies to say, "I know this Church is true"?

No. If we are, that's our own character deficiency for being too weak to stand up to perceived peer pressure.

18 minutes ago, clbent04 said:

Could the Spirit of God telling you to profess the Church is true sometimes be confused with the desire to conform and be liked by others in a social environment?  Or do members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints happen to be the only group on the face of the Earth exempt from those kind of human tendencies?

I'm sure some people could perceive gas from spicy Mexican food to be the Spirit of God. Again, that's the failing of the individual, not of the spicy Mexican.

18 minutes ago, clbent04 said:

Should we feel more compelled to testify that Jesus Christ lives rather than saying, "I know this Church is true"?

No. We should feel compelled to bear witness as the Spirit dictates.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Could it be happening? Yes, I'm fairly confident that the probability of such a thing is much greater than 0. How common I don't know, nor do I have any good ideas for actually measuring how common it is. In short, I believe it happens. I believe it has happened to me. I'm not sure what to really do about if, if anything should be done about it at all.

Overly compelled? I think there is some peer pressure (or similar) say that we know the Church is true, but I'm not sure how "overly" compelling that pressure is. Speaking only for myself, I have said that I know something is true when my confidence in that thing was really not strong enough to warrant the I know part of the statement. Some of that could have been the heat of the moment (sometimes emotions are running high during the testimony meeting). Some of it could be immaturity. Peer pressure like that was much stronger when I was younger, but now I don't feel the same need to live up to expectations. If my confidence is only I believe or I hope, then that's how I express my testimony, I feel less compelled to overstate my testimony than when I was younger.

To @Just_A_Guy's point, this is certainly something I would only judge for myself -- whether I am overstating my testimony due to peer pressure. I don't want to set myself up as any kind of judge over whether someone else is overstating their testimony.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 minutes ago, Vort said:

No. If we are, that's our own character deficiency for being too weak to stand up to perceived peer pressure.

I'm sure some people could perceive gas from spicy Mexican food to be the Spirit of God. Again, that's the failing of the individual, not of the spicy Mexican.

No. We should feel compelled to bear witness as the Spirit dictates.

I mentioned this several times in my conversion thread.  As an investigator, I always thought it odd that people speaking during fast Sunday almost always included "I know this Church is true, I know the Book of Mormon is true, etc".  I never took it to be the Holy Spirit compelling them to bear that testimony with those specific words.   I eventually concluded that it was a cultural thing members said, just like folding arms during prayer.  

I never took it to be inspired, although the thought or feeling may be inspired.  It's almost like a confirmation.  My first visit to the church was on fast Sunday and I left wondering if people were trying to convince themselves.

 

Edited by Grunt

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
14 minutes ago, Grunt said:

I mentioned this several times in my conversion thread.  As an investigator, I always thought it odd that people speaking during fast Sunday almost always included "I know this Church is true, I know the Book of Mormon is true, etc".  I never took it to be the Holy Spirit compelling them to bear that testimony with those specific words.   I eventually concluded that it was a cultural thing members said, just like folding arms during prayer.  

I never took it to be inspired, although the thought or feeling may be inspired.  It's almost like a confirmation.  My first visit to the church was on fast Sunday and I left wondering if people were trying to convince themselves.

 

Perhaps I’m being overly pedantic (or snobbishly legalistic), but it seems to me that much of what we call “testimony” in the church could more accurately be described as “extemporaneous inspired catechism”.  There’s a place for that, sure; but I think we often fail those to whom we seek to minister when we offer our catechisms to people who were starving for our testimonies.

Edited by Just_A_Guy

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 minutes ago, Just_A_Guy said:

Perhaps I’m being overly pedantic (or snobbishly legalistic), but it seems to me that much of what we call “testimony” in the church could more accurately be described as “extemporaneous inspired catechism”.  There’s a place for that, sure; but I think we often fail those to whom we seek to minister when we offer our catechisms to people who were starving for our testimonies.

I don't disagree at all.  I'm often surprised by the stories people share during Fast and Testimony.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm going to break this down, into the sentiment and words themselves.

The sentiment: hopefully everyone in the chapel on Sunday truly knows that this is Christ's Church from the bottom of their hearts.  However, every person in that chapel is human, and makes mistakes.  There's probably some that do truly know from the depths of their hearts.  There's probably some that once did, and still claim it, but honestly have gotten really distracted with rest of life.  There's probably some that are deeply searching.  And there's probably some that are just coasting.  

The words: humans are creatures of habit.  It's just easier to get up there and say things in a pre-established way, rather than figuring out how to re-invent the wheel again and again.  So yeah, there is that tendency to just say "I know the Church is true" rather than re-inventing the wheel to say the same thing.  It doesn't mean that the sentiment behind it is shallow -- all sorts of people are going to get up and express those words.  Some people are indeed say it from the depth of their heart.

Now that being said, I do find many people whom do tell their stories and express that same sentiment with different words.  

Edited by Jane_Doe

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, clbent04 said:

Are we overly compelled by Church culture and human tendencies to say, "I know this Church is true"?

Could the Spirit of God telling you to profess the Church is true sometimes be confused with the desire to conform and be liked by others in a social environment?  Or do members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints happen to be the only group on the face of the Earth exempt from those kind of human tendencies?

Should we feel more compelled to testify that Jesus Christ lives rather than saying, "I know this Church is true"?

We are a big church, and I think the easy answer to this is of course some people testify just to fit in. That kind of attempted conformity is going to be present in every group religious or not. I wouldn't use the term compelled though, no one holds a gun to anyone's head and forces them to stand up and testify.

That being said, some of us really know the Church is the Church of Jesus Christ restored in it's fullness. I have a sure testimony of this through the power of the Holy Ghost and I don't need to see God or the Celestial kingdom to have this knowledge. You (generic) don't have to believe me, you could even suppose it's a piece of undigested cheese causing delusions, but I have a responsibility to share that knowledge so that you (generic) can hear it and seek your own knowledge from the Holy Ghost. Perhaps we can quibble about what we mean by knowledge, but it doesn't change what has been revealed to me or other members. 

Also, testifying of Christ's church is testifying of Jesus Christ (at least in my experience, you are testifying about his works). Some testimonies could be clearer about this, and we definitely could do with less travelogues, but I don't think there is an imbalance in testifying about Christ.

Edited by Midwest LDS

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I am a firm believer that we don't REALLY examine most of the words that come out of our mouth. And particularly when we are standing in front of 100-300 people. 

When it comes to bearing your testimony, people often mean what they mean. As you start developing your testimony, certain words may or may not find their way in and out as you seek to better define it. For me, I try not to use the words "I believe" or "I know". Believe seems to be too weak, know seems to be too strong, and saying "I have faith that..." is too wordy and almost denotes the same meaning as believe.

Instead, I prefer to make declarative statements.
 

Christ is our savior

He did die for us

This is God's church upon the earth

Pres. Nelson is God's Prophet

etc.

I found that I am more comfortable making those types of declarations than I am the typical "I believe" or "I Know"

But when other's say they "know" or "believe". Either those are accurate representations of how they feel, or they haven't thought about it enough to adjust their wording. In either case, don't tell a man to fix his tire when he is working on his engine.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 minutes ago, Fether said:

I am a firm believer that we don't REALLY examine most of the words that come out of our mouth. And particularly when we are standing in front of 100-300 people. 

When it comes to bearing your testimony, people often mean what they mean. As you start developing your testimony, certain words may or may not find their way in and out as you seek to better define it. For me, I try not to use the words "I believe" or "I know". Believe seems to be too weak, know seems to be too strong, and saying "I have faith that..." is too wordy and almost denotes the same meaning as believe.

Instead, I prefer to make declarative statements.
 

Christ is our savior

He did die for us

This is God's church upon the earth

Pres. Nelson is God's Prophet

etc.

I found that I am more comfortable making those types of declarations than I am the typical "I believe" or "I Know"

But when other's say they "know" or "believe". Either those are accurate representations of how they feel, or they haven't thought about it enough to adjust their wording. In either case, don't tell a man to fix his tire when he is working on his engine.

I agree.  Sometimes I don't know what I know.  For me, faith is choosing which side of the logical battle in my head (and heart) to follow.  There are things I can definitively say, though.  

When following faithfully, there are indications that He wants me to be where I am.

Following the Law of Chastity as I understand it is His desire.

God wants me to be a part of this Church.  

This is His restored church.

These are just a very few things that He has made obvious to me, sometimes painfully.  From that, I can infer other things.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
9 hours ago, clbent04 said:

Are we overly compelled by Church culture and human tendencies to say, "I know this Church is true"?

Could the Spirit of God telling you to profess the Church is true sometimes be confused with the desire to conform and be liked by others in a social environment?  Or do members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints happen to be the only group on the face of the Earth exempt from those kind of human tendencies?

Should we feel more compelled to testify that Jesus Christ lives rather than saying, "I know this Church is true"?

When we see some children bear testimony we can see what they have been taught, and why they use the term "I know" at times. This is the language they hear, and this is the language their parents teach them. How many have actually received witness? Well, that is between them and God.

Yes, human nature tells me the desire to conform is there also, but as others have shared it is not the fault of the Church. When I was fourteen our stake organized a youth event. At one point, on Sunday, we had fast and testimony meeting. After a few testimonies had been shared my brother turns to me and says, "Anddenex, share your testimony. The girls like young men who share their testimony." At this time, I wasn't sure if I had a testimony, and I didn't think it was right for me to stand and share a testimony so girls like me.

However, the question presents a false dichotomy. Either Church members conform, or they are exempt. There are other reasons also, one being the Comforter has declared a truth. When the Comforter declares, witnesses a truth, that is knowledge -- not superstition or mere belief. It is knowledge. Here are verses of scripture to ponder:

Moroni 10:3-5 - particularly verse five, "And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things." (emphasis mine)

1 Nephi 10: 17 - "I, Nephi, was desirous also that I might see, and hear, and know of these things, by the power of the Holy Ghost, which is the fgift of God unto gall those who diligently seek him, as well in times of hold as in the time that he should manifest himself unto the children of men." (emphasis mine)

Doctrine and Covenants 46: 13, "To some it is given by the Holy Ghost to know that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and that he was crucified for the sins of the world. (emphasis mine)

Should we feel more compelled to testify that Jesus Christ lives rather than saying, "I know this Church is true"?

If the Holy Ghost, the Comforter, has born witness of a truth, then we should have faith to use the proper wording -- I know. If you believe, then use the word believe. Do not allow the world to dictate what you (general) do or do not know. Do not allow the arm of flesh to dictate to you what you do or do not know, or what you can say with authority and power. It is the Spirit of Truth that gives authority and power.

And always remember the following verse of scripture eternal life is to know God and his son Jesus Christ.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It has been my experience that we all tend to think we "KNOW" more than we do.  I have struggled much what I think I know.  It seems to me that I am constantly adjusting what I know.  Or should I say what I think or believe I know.  Even the things that I know often require some adjustment as my understanding of such improves.    When I was in my youth a received a most profound spiritual experience whereby I came to understand that the Book of Mormon was brought to mankind through the power and revelation of G-d.  I knew that the Book of Mormon came from G-d.  But I did not understand all the things that G-d intended me to learn and know from studying the Book of Mormon.  Therefore my understanding and "Testimony" of the Book of Mormon was incomplete.  In error I though my testimony was sufficient because I had received revelation from G-d.

Is it possible that we say "I know" when giving our testimonies concerning things that really have not come to know - YES, absolutely.  At least I know I have done so and thinking I am quite smart - I have come to the conclusion that others may error as I have done.

But now I give witness to something that I do know to be true.  Just as it is true that there is only one true and living G-d; there is only one true and living Church of the one True and Living G-d.  Just as there is one unchanging true and living G-d that has given us the Law, the Ordinances and the Everlasting Covenant - there is only one true and living church that remains unchanged in the authority (priesthood) by which the Law, the Ordinances and the Everlasting Covenant remain unchanged.

 

The Traveler

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 11/15/2019 at 2:38 PM, clbent04 said:

Are we overly compelled by Church culture and human tendencies to say, "I know this Church is true"?

Could the Spirit of God telling you to profess the Church is true sometimes be confused with the desire to conform and be liked by others in a social environment?  Or do members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints happen to be the only group on the face of the Earth exempt from those kind of human tendencies?

Should we feel more compelled to testify that Jesus Christ lives rather than saying, "I know this Church is true"?

Joseph Smith taught: "“The fundamental principles of our religion are the testimony of the Apostles and Prophets, concerning Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended into heaven; and all other things which pertain to our religion are only appendages to it. But in connection with these, we believe in the gift of the Holy Ghost, the power of faith, the enjoyment of the spiritual gifts according to the will of God, the restoration of the house of Israel, and the final triumph of truth.”

These are the things of which we best testify. Because we would not have any of them without the Lord, His prophets, the Book of Mormon, the other scriptures or the Church, it would be well to testify of these things as well.

The best testimonies of course are those we have obtained personally from the Spirit, and not from other influences and pressures.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 11/15/2019 at 11:54 AM, Just_A_Guy said:

Personally, I avoid the phrase “I know the church is true” ...  second, because the more I parse the phrase the less I understand what “the church is true” actually means.  ... That the Church has a unique claim to divine favor and inspiration and authority?  Fine, say that.

As an outsider, when I hear a member say, "The church is true," I take it to mean this--that members believe their church is the restored spiritual authority, with modern revelation, etc. Some of my fellow non-members may misunderstand this because many groups that claim exclusive truth also condemn outsiders. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 11/15/2019 at 2:38 PM, clbent04 said:

Should we feel more compelled to testify that Jesus Christ lives rather than saying, "I know this Church is true"?

Maybe something more along the lines of this?

Quote

I know Jesus Christ lives and still speaks. I know He is a God of truth and cannot lie. I know his words are truth, and he has testified that this is "the only true... church".

Dangit! I still got there!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
18 minutes ago, Just_A_Guy said:

Oh?  How?

Pretty much just as it was laid out here.  He mentioned that members always say "I know the Church is true", then he went on to say what he means by that.    

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have absolutely no problem with people saying they know the church is true, even little kids. In Alma 32 Alma points out that knowing is a relative term. A person can come to know something through the workings of the Spirit and yet have it not be a perfect knowledge. So when a person testifies that they know the Church is true all they are saying, at the very least, is that this truth has been planted in their soul and has sprouted therefore they know that it is of God. But it's not a perfect knowledge. Perfect knowledge is that which is necessary for eternal life and is the fruit produced by that seed of Faith but only after much care and diligence. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't think I have ever been "compelled" to "know" the Church is "true." As a new member of 40 or so years I have grown in my knowledge of the truthfulness of the restored Gospel every year during these past four decades...the "knowledge" of that truth in the '70's was far less than that knowledge today. Personally, I find it refreshing to hear a testimony when someone says, "I believe and I want to know..." as opposed to parroted "I know that______, and ____________, and_______.

.02 worth.

Robb

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, Robb Stuart said:

Personally, I find it refreshing to hear a testimony when someone says, "I believe and I want to know..." as opposed to parroted "I know that______, and ____________, and_______.

I find it refreshing when people tell the truth. When they do that, the Spirit can bear witness. When people know the truth, however they arrived at that knowledge, they should testify that they know. If some cynics roll their eyes and cluck their tongues at such wording, they should be ignored.

(For the record, I was not talking about Robb Stuart.)

Edited by Vort

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now