clbent04

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

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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.“

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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.

 

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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?

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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

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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.

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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.

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22 hours ago, prisonchaplain said:

I can't be the only one who's occasionally bucked against authority. :rolleyes:

That's why it's time for you to step on the strait and narrow and join us.  :D

 

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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. 

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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)

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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. 

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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.  

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