clbent04

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

Recommended Posts

This is a frustrating topic for me. If the Spirit testifies the truthfulness of something to me then I know it’s true and I will continue to testify that it is. I was listening to a podcast and they were talking about the culture of certainty in the Church and how we really don’t know that the Church is true. So I can’t be certain that I know but they can be certain I don’t know. This makes no sense to me at all. I believe that satan wants us to doubt those experiences and pass them off as something we have made up. I think that Satan knows how powerful a testimony is and wants us to not share them. This quote is from another podcast “The threat of justice doesn’t change people. If God threatens judgment, people still aren’t going to repent. What chapter 11 tells us is when the two witnesses stand up, when you actually get up and witness to what you believe, that’s what changes people. That’s what averts God’s judgment. And rather than 9/10 of the population being destroyed, which is what was going to happen, only 1/10 of the population is destroyed.“

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The OP seemed to be more about testifying of the Church's truity, but since the topic of the "I know" phrase is getting focus I'll gladly step on my soapbox.

Most people who raise criticism with the "I know" testimony affirmation overestimate how much they (the critic) actually know. I would dare say that the average saint has more and greater evidence that God speaks to prophets, that the priesthood is God's power, that God answers prayers, and yes, even that the Church is true, than they do that Earth is spherical, that is goes around the sun, that the city Chicago exists, or even of the Civil War. 

Elder Oaks shared some relevant remarks on this topic (see section II in particular):

Quote

What do we mean when we testify and say that we know the gospel is true? Contrast that kind of knowledge with “I know it is cold outside” or “I know I love my wife.” These are three different kinds of knowledge, each learned in a different way. Knowledge of outside temperature can be verified by scientific proof. Knowledge that we love our spouse is personal and subjective. While not capable of scientific proof, it is still important. The idea that all important knowledge is based on scientific evidence is simply untrue.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If I were a member called upon to testify to the church's veracity I would say, "This church is true." Sure, that would be my opinion. No, I would not be able to prove it. However, as my 10th grade Honors English drilled into us, when you speak or write an opinion those who read/hear it know who the author is. Using, "I believe," "I think," or even "I know," is giving permission for the reader/listener to dismiss the viewpoint. Implied is, "It's only my idea--you don't have to agree." If it's worth saying, it's worth saying with conviction, no?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 minutes ago, prisonchaplain said:

If I were a member called upon to testify to the church's veracity I would say, "This church is true." Sure, that would be my opinion. No, I would not be able to prove it. However, as my 10th grade Honors English drilled into us, when you speak or write an opinion those who read/hear it know who the author is. Using, "I believe," "I think," or even "I know," is giving permission for the reader/listener to dismiss the viewpoint. Implied is, "It's only my idea--you don't have to agree." If it's worth saying, it's worth saying with conviction, no?

EXACTLY.  "I know the Church is true" is MY OWN testimony.  You don't have to agree and you can dismiss it.  "This Church is true" is beyond testimony and a statement of authority.  I don't testify with authority to the general public.  I testify with authority to my children as they are who I have authority over.

Edited by anatess2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, mordorbund said:

The OP seemed to be more about testifying of the Church's truity, but since the topic of the "I know" phrase is getting focus I'll gladly step on my soapbox.

Most people who raise criticism with the "I know" testimony affirmation overestimate how much they (the critic) actually know. I would dare say that the average saint has more and greater evidence that God speaks to prophets, that the priesthood is God's power, that God answers prayers, and yes, even that the Church is true, than they do that Earth is spherical, that is goes around the sun, that the city Chicago exists, or even of the Civil War. 

Elder Oaks shared some relevant remarks on this topic (see section II in particular):

I know the sun rises in the morning. Only it doesn't.

So-called scientific knowledge is not knowledge in an eternal sense at all. It's a model, nothing more. I would argue that the Saints' testimony of the Church and gospel is truer knowledge than any supposedly scientific statement about the temperature outside.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest Mores

The threshold of "compulsion" is where there is some use of "force".  What sort of force is used in Testimony meetings?  In today's Sacrament meetings we have time for maybe 7 or 8 people max to speak max.  I don't see anyone glaring at anyone to get up and talk.

In all other gatherings, we often see similar ratios of people attending to people speaking.  I fail to see how this can amount to any kind of force.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 11/15/2019 at 11:38 AM, 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"?

Why would the cause of saying one thing is true be any different than saying the other thing is true? If a person is compelled by social mores to say "I know the church is true", what is to say that saying, "I know that Jesus Christ lives", is not also compelled by social mores?

Further, I have to question what one means when they say, "I know the church is true". To me, it includes, "I know Jesus Christ lives" as well as, "I know that Joseph Smith was a prophet" and "I know that this is Christ's church". But I don't know if it means the same thing to everyone who says it. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Here are some quotes from Church sources that appear to be appropriate for this thread:

"When the President of the Church bears his testimony, he says, “I know that Joseph Smith was called of God, a divine representative. I know that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God.” You see, the same thing every one of you says. That is a testimony.…You have a testimony! It needs building and lifting and enlarging, of course; and that is what you are doing. Every time you bear your testimony it becomes strengthened." (Source)

"A testimony can be identified by the use of powerful verbs such as know, testify, believe, certify, declare, affirm, bear witness, bear record." (Source)

"Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said, “ worry that too many of our members’ testimonies linger on ‘I am thankful’ and ‘I love,’ and too few are able to say with humble but sincere clarity, ‘I know."" (Source)

"Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught: "A testimony is what we know to be true in our minds and in our hearts by the witness of the Holy Ghost (see D&C 8:2). As we profess truth rather than admonish, exhort, or simply share interesting experiences, we invite the Holy Ghost to confirm the verity of our words." (Source)

"A testimony of the gospel is a personal witness borne to our souls by the Holy Ghost that certain facts of eternal significance are true and that we know them to be true." (Source)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 11/15/2019 at 12:38 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"?

Pretty sure I wouldn't choose to say *compelled* by the Church. I suspect most cultures have a pretty strong influence particularly when one is surrounded by people saying the same thing and one wants to be part of it all. When young people are just stepping into the water, as it were, many adults certainly encourage them in what to say; but that's only natural and I'm sure is intended to build confidence. As for you and me, I don't think someone else can tell us whether our motivation is a mere desire to conform or to be liked, but I'm sure you already know that. Likewise, It's a little risky (for you and for me) to suggest to others that their expressions of conviction aren't what they ought to be. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So yesterday was the first time in my entire LDS life (of almost 20 years) that we had a few minutes of uncomfortable silence when there was a gap between the last testimony bearer and the first person to get up and break the gap... It happened around 15 minutes before the end of the hour and so for the next 12 minutes or so, it became just one person after another saying, "I know..." and sitting back down.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Many years ago I had an odd conversation with two elders at my door. One of them said to me: "You do know, don't you, that we are a restoration of the original Church of Jesus Christ?"

I thought to myself: "Stupid question! Do you think that if I did know that I wouldn't be a member myself?"

But I said: "Well, I know it's what you believe you are."

He replied, with a triumphant air: "We don't just believe it! We know it!"

That was certainly a conversation-stopper.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
15 minutes ago, Jamie123 said:

Many years ago I had an odd conversation with two elders at my door. One of them said to me: "You do know, don't you, that we are a restoration of the original Church of Jesus Christ?"

I thought to myself: "Stupid question! Do you think that if I did know that I wouldn't be a member myself?"

But I said: "Well, I know it's what you believe you are."

He replied, with a triumphant air: "We don't just believe it! We know it!"

That was certainly a conversation-stopper.

Indeed. Many Latter-day Saints attribute an almost magical power to bearing one's testimony. And I can vouch for the fact that, at times, an honest testimony can be accompanied by an undeniable spiritual witness to a sincere seeker.

But the main reason a testimony is a stopper is not always (or even usually) because the accompanying witness of the Spirit is so strong that you can't deny it. Rather, it's because a testimony is a take-it-or-leave-it statement by its very nature. Someone says, "I know thus-and-such to be true." What can you say? "No, you don't know that"? There is no head-on way to disagree with a personal testimonial. That doesn't mean you must therefore believe it, though. Realistically, all you can say in response is either "I believe you" or "I don't believe you". Or possibly "I don't know whether or not I believe you", which is functionally equivalent to saying "I don't believe you".

So, yes, testimonies can indeed be conversation-stoppers. I do not believe that is normally their purpose, though.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
17 hours ago, Vort said:

Indeed. Many Latter-day Saints attribute an almost magical power to bearing one's testimony. And I can vouch for the fact that, at times, an honest testimony can be accompanied by an undeniable spiritual witness to a sincere seeker.

That certainly wasn't the experience I had with this young man. I was mostly just irritated by his assumption that the status of the LDS Church was "a truth universally acknowledged" (like the fact that water boils at 100C) rather than simply a doctrine professed by the Church itself. What did he think - that Jews, Catholics, Muslims and Sikhs all "know" (assuming they'd been told) that the LDS Church is "One True Church" and are sticking to their own beliefs out of sheer perversity?

Having said that though, I'm mindful of the fact that convictions can be contagious: if another person radiates certainty about something then it's easy to start feeling that certainty yourself. Particularly if it's something you want to be true. And (lets face it) who would not want LDSism to be true? (OK it would mean a few minor inconveniences like giving up beer and coffee, but what's that compared to knowing for certainty the purpose of life, that God really is a loving father to all mankind, that there is no fiery hell waiting for most of humanity beyond the grave...etc...etc?)

This is how Hitler rose to power - not that Mormonism is in most respects comparable to Nazism but you can see the parallel: the Germans wanted to believe that this charismatic man would lead them out of the mess their country was in and give them someone to blame for their woes - someone who could easily be punished! I was in much that position myself when I first encountered Mormonism. At that time I mostly equated Christianity with predestination (which I felt made life pretty meaningless) and for most of us unavoidable hell fire. If Christianity was true, then it seemed the entire universe was set up by an egotistical sadist for the benefit of a bunch of "I'm all right Jack" types.

In contrast to that, Mormonism seemed like the Holy Grail. It sliced through all my problems like a scythe through grass. I remember thinking that if in my darkest moments someone had asked me to design how I thought the universe ought to be, I would have come up with something very like the LDS worldview. And ironically that's what put me on my guard. Maybe I overcompensated. 

Edited by Jamie123

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
50 minutes ago, Jamie123 said:

sicking to their own beliefs

:)

50 minutes ago, Jamie123 said:

I remember thinking that if in my darkest moments someone had asked me to design how I thought the universe ought to be, I would have come up with something very like the LDS worldview. And ironically that's what put me on my guard. Maybe I overcompensated.

Brother, it's never too late to repent. The best people do it every day.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Looking back on my youth in my late teens and early on my mission, I always felt slightly confused by the fact that I was absolutely confident that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is the True Church of Christ.  My confusion came by the fact that I felt so confident about it that even during the time when I questioned the reality of God, Christ, and His Atonement, unusually, it never came to my mind to truly question the veracity of the Church.  Because of a specific experience on my mission, I came to understand why this was the case at the same time that I was alerted more deeply to the realization this had actually been happening.

Around the middle of my mission, I received a blessing from my Mission President in which he told me that one of my gifts of the Spirit is "to know that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is true".  This experience was an eye opener as all of a sudden these experiences from my past made sense to me.

Different people will have different experiences in the Church.  However, while some may feel compelled to say "I know" when they actually do not, for many of us, we do know, and we ought to state as much.  For me, I know the Church is true by the power of the Holy Ghost, and I am happy to state it!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest Mores

I Know the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is inspired by God.  

I Know it is the only church ordained of God as HIS church on the earth today.

I Know this as clearly as I know I love my wife and children.

Share this post


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

:)

Brother, it's never too late to repent. The best people do it every day.

Hah - rather an unfortunate typo! Thanks for pointing it out!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Mores said:

I Know the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is inspired by God.  

I Know it is the only church ordained of God as HIS church on the earth today.

I Know this as clearly as I know I love my wife and children.

 

Do you write that because you are overly compelled by Church culture and human tendency?

 

On 11/15/2019 at 2:38 PM, clbent04 said:

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

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest Mores
Just now, mordorbund said:

Do you write that because you are overly compelled by Church culture and human tendency?

Yes, there is actually an agent of the Church standing beside me as I type compelling me to use the word "know" rather than "believe" or other weaker word.  This is known as "the stick".

OTOH, "the carrot" is that I get $1000 for everyone who likes that post.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, person0 said:

Different people will have different experiences in the Church.  However, while some may feel compelled to say "I know" when they actually do not, for many of us, we do know, and we ought to state as much.  For me, I know the Church is true by the power of the Holy Ghost, and I am happy to state it!

Dido.

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