Repetition of Testimony


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So I was listening to Testimony meeting this week, and it struck me (as it has often) how strange it is to hear everyone over and over again say "I know the church is true", "I know the church is true", "I know Joseph Smith was a prophet", etc.

I've been a member for over 10 years now and it still strikes me as "cultish" (I don't care for the word, but it's the one that most resonantes).  I grew up outside the church (as some may know, Pentecostal), and I never heard this type of repetition.  Am I thinking about this practice wrong, or perhaps is it just a cultural thing that we do, and not something to get too hung up on.  

IDK, I just have always found it odd TBH.

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2 hours ago, CommanderSouth said:

So I was listening to Testimony meeting this week, and it struck me (as it has often) how strange it is to hear everyone over and over again say "I know the church is true", "I know the church is true", "I know Joseph Smith was a prophet", etc.

I've been a member for over 10 years now and it still strikes me as "cultish" (I don't care for the word, but it's the one that most resonantes).  I grew up outside the church (as some may know, Pentecostal), and I never heard this type of repetition.  Am I thinking about this practice wrong, or perhaps is it just a cultural thing that we do, and not something to get too hung up on.  

IDK, I just have always found it odd TBH.

I try not to be too judgmental of people who are expressing what’s in their heart the best way they know how.

But, yes; there’s a difference between testimony and catechism; and I think sometimes as a people we aren’t very careful about observing that difference.  

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I think what happens is people hear things that strike a chord with them or things that are oft repeated. The "I know this church is true" line is not a catechism sort of thing by any means, but culturally we've clung to it. As most testimonies aren't prepared speeches, like so many other quirks of speech, some lines are easy to fall back on.

I don't think there's anything wrong with the line, but such discussions may help us to try to branch out. 

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11 hours ago, CommanderSouth said:

So I was listening to Testimony meeting this week, and it struck me (as it has often) how strange it is to hear everyone over and over again say "I know the church is true", "I know the church is true", "I know Joseph Smith was a prophet", etc.

I've been a member for over 10 years now and it still strikes me as "cultish" (I don't care for the word, but it's the one that most resonantes).  I grew up outside the church (as some may know, Pentecostal), and I never heard this type of repetition.  Am I thinking about this practice wrong, or perhaps is it just a cultural thing that we do, and not something to get too hung up on.  

IDK, I just have always found it odd TBH.

From one convert to another (and a fellow Floridian) I hear you. It is a little strange to hear that. However in the end, I don’t let it bother me. Their testimony is their affair, not mine. 

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18 hours ago, CommanderSouth said:

So I was listening to Testimony meeting this week, and it struck me (as it has often) how strange it is to hear everyone over and over again say "I know the church is true", "I know the church is true", "I know Joseph Smith was a prophet", etc.

I've been a member for over 10 years now and it still strikes me as "cultish" (I don't care for the word, but it's the one that most resonantes).  I grew up outside the church (as some may know, Pentecostal), and I never heard this type of repetition.  Am I thinking about this practice wrong, or perhaps is it just a cultural thing that we do, and not something to get too hung up on.  

IDK, I just have always found it odd TBH.

That was one of the things I talked about often when investigating.  I always thought it sounded like they were trying to convince themselves.   I've developed the opinion that it is just cultural.  At one point it probably meant something or was commonplace in society in general.   Now I believe it's treated the same as Saints folding arms when praying instead of clasping hands, wearing white shirts, etc.    Kids hear others say it and repeat it.  It becomes reflex.

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I wish more people testified like that in my ward.  Too many people expressing gratitude without actual testimony.  The benefit of a sincere testimony is that it can strengthen and uplift others, in addition to inviting the Spirit to reaffirm your own faith.  If I testify to you that I know the Church is true by the power of the Holy Ghost, and I experience the presence of the Holy Ghost while sharing, then I have incrementally strengthened that witness.

As one might suspect, it works nearly identically to repeating and/or affirming a lie until one believes it.  The subtle yet massive difference is in the confirming witness of the Spirit of God.  Satan is the great counterfeiter; because he cannot create anything, he takes things that are good and true and degrades them to an evil purpose, such as repeating a lie.

I do know the Church and Restored Gospel are true. I know it by the power of the Spirit of God, which has borne witness to me at various times, and in various settings and circumstances, and I am happy to repeat it.

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I have a very specific definition for the word “know” and I choose not to use that word because I find a lot of value in acknowledging my faith and where my knowledge falls short. Mark 9:23-24 is one of my favorite scriptures.

That being said, everyone who says “I know X…” is likely internally defining what that means.

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11 hours ago, Fether said:

I have a very specific definition for the word “know” and I choose not to use that word because I find a lot of value in acknowledging my faith and where my knowledge falls short. Mark 9:23-24 is one of my favorite scriptures.

That being said, everyone who says “I know X…” is likely internally defining what that means.

I don't blame you for this.  I had a very similar philosophy at your age.   But as I got to really understand the nature of "knowledge" and "faith", I began realizing that having such rigid ideals was quite limiting.  This mentality was actually stifling both my spiritual and intellectual growth.

The realization I came to was that "I believe" and "I know" are not the separated conditions that we tend to think they are.  It could EASILY be said that we NEVER "know" anything (Enter: The Matrix).  If so, why bother ever having such a word?

Instead, I see that they are simply two sides of the same coin.  If you believe, you also know.  I don't see it (as many do) as a graduation from one stage to another.  I see them as different aspects of the same concept.  And within that concept (a coin) we can increase the value of the denomination.  (I use the term "denomination" purposefully).

The point most tend to miss is that we never know "EVERYTHING".  So, if we come across some factoid that tends to threaten our belief system, we begin to doubt everything.  That isn't even how we approach scientific knowledge.  Why would be do that with deeply held religious convictions?

In the scientific method, we see the Michelson--Morley experiment shook the scientific world.  But we still taught the same Newtonian physics in schools, Research continued merrily along without any change.  But a branch of scientific research went aside to explain it.  Then came the birth of relativistic physics.  It didn't really change what we knew before.  It just added to it.

The Lord teaches us line-by-line and precept-upon-precept.  He works that way from dispensation to dispensation.  He works that way from generation to generation.  He works that way from individual to individual.

Just because there is something we don't "know" doesn't mean that we need to throw out what we DO "know".

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Is what is "strange" hearing the words "I know" and then what they know? I'm personally not fond of the statement, "I know the Church is true," because what does that actually mean. In comparison to "I know Joseph Smith was a prophet," is pretty specific and easily defined.

The only time this causes any form of puzzlement is when a child says "I know" -- especially if they are parroting mom or dads words given to them in their ear. I'm grateful for the leaders of the Church requesting members to teach children testimony at home if they are not able to speak for themselves.

At the same time, "I know" that the lord speaks to little children with his voice. If that term of speech bothers someone, then they need to check within themselves.

In the beginning, when I started sharing my testimony I didn't like using the words "I know", but in time I recognized the main purpose of the Holy Ghost and that is to testify of truth that we might "know". The scriptures are clear and plain, "that you may know by the power of the Holy Ghost..."

When Jesus asked the apostles who he was and we come to Peter's response the Lord responded, "Blessed art thou...for flesh and blood" hath not revealed this to you, but the Father which is in Heaven. The Lord praised/blessed Peter for his witness. At this point, Peter could have and did testify that he "knew" who Christ was -- does that bother in any way your Pentecostal upbringing? Honest question.

At the same time, I can understand -- from the outside -- why some would say it could appear cultish due to our modern philosophy and other teachings that we are unable "to know" anything.

Here are some talks that I like on this topic:
1. https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/general-conference/2013/04/these-things-i-know?lang=eng

2. https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/new-era/2013/02/strengthen-your-testimony/you-can-say-i-know?lang=eng

3. https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/ensign/2014/11/priesthood-session/i-know-these-things-of-myself?lang=eng

Edited by Anddenex
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3 hours ago, Carborendum said:

I don't blame you for this.  I had a very similar philosophy at your age.   But as I got to really understand the nature of "knowledge" and "faith", I began realizing that having such rigid ideals was quite limiting.  This mentality was actually stifling both my spiritual and intellectual growth.

The realization I came to was that "I believe" and "I know" are not the separated conditions that we tend to think they are.  It could EASILY be said that we NEVER "know" anything (Enter: The Matrix).  If so, why bother ever having such a word?

Instead, I see that they are simply two sides of the same coin.  If you believe, you also know.  I don't see it (as many do) as a graduation from one stage to another.  I see them as different aspects of the same concept.  And within that concept (a coin) we can increase the value of the denomination.  (I use the term "denomination" purposefully).

The point most tend to miss is that we never know "EVERYTHING".  So, if we come across some factoid that tends to threaten our belief system, we begin to doubt everything.  That isn't even how we approach scientific knowledge.  Why would be do that with deeply held religious convictions?

In the scientific method, we see the Michelson--Morley experiment shook the scientific world.  But we still taught the same Newtonian physics in schools, Research continued merrily along without any change.  But a branch of scientific research went aside to explain it.  Then came the birth of relativistic physics.  It didn't really change what we knew before.  It just added to it.

The Lord teaches us line-by-line and precept-upon-precept.  He works that way from dispensation to dispensation.  He works that way from generation to generation.  He works that way from individual to individual.

Just because there is something we don't "know" doesn't mean that we need to throw out what we DO "know".

I’m familiar with the different meanings behind what it means to “know”. We have had similar conversations on this in the past that have gone quite in depth.

I also do not see knowledge as a graduation from faith. I see them as separate. Knowledge is something that we can test and record scientifically. Faith comes from choosing to believe something that is not seen. Knowledge is thrust upon us. Faith is chosen. Knowledge is a matter of fact that we cannot manipulate. Faith comes from character.

For the purpose of bearing my testimony, I say “I know following the word of wisdom brings joy” and “I know we receive answers to our prayers”. I also make statements like “this is God’s church upon the earth” and “The Book of Mormon is the word of God.” I feel, however, that if I were to say “ I know the church is true”, the word “know” doesn’t seem to fit the message I am wanting to convey.

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21 minutes ago, Anddenex said:

we are unable "to know" anything.

This topic of what it means to “know” is incredibly frustrating. If you debate it enough, it always ends up with “do we really know anything?”. At which point the philosophical thinking loses all practical merit and is nothing more than making castles in the mud.

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15 minutes ago, Fether said:

This topic of what it means to “know” is incredibly frustrating. If you debate it enough, it always ends up with “do we really know anything?”. At which point the philosophical thinking loses all practical merit and is nothing more than making castles in the mud.

It’s a fair question though @Fether, especially at first. Two people can “just know” something and come to diametrically opposed conclusions. So when coming from a converts POV, saying you “just know” something based on nothing but feelings-it can be very confusing. Especially when you’ve been taught your entire life to trust reason over feelings. 

Edited by LDSGator
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43 minutes ago, LDSGator said:

It’s a fair question though @Fether, especially at first. Two people can “just know” something and come to diametrically opposed conclusions. So when coming from a converts POV, saying you “just know” something based on nothing but feelings-it can be very confusing. Especially when you’ve been taught your entire life to trust reason over feelings. 

I think it is a great question to consider! It can lead to some great introspection and becoming more deliberate with what you believe. It’s when people start debating over whether someone “knows” something or not that the conversation becomes tiresome

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2 hours ago, Fether said:

I think it is a great question to consider! It can lead to some great introspection and becoming more deliberate with what you believe. It’s when people start debating over whether someone “knows” something or not that the conversation becomes tiresome

Understand.
 

I have seen many members of our church post things on Facebook like “Facts don’t care about your feelings, snowflake”, seemingly dismissing feelings….then base their testimony on….feelings. Which, upon first glance, can seem strange to converts. 

Now, having said that, I do think that the a priori “feelings” of the spirit are different than other emotions. However, I accept that for non members that doesn't mean much because in the end it’s so subjective. I feel the spirit in places like an empty football stadium/empty TKD studio. Others may not “get it”. 

Edited by LDSGator
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On 1/4/2022 at 2:46 PM, CommanderSouth said:

I've been a member for over 10 years now and it still strikes me as "cultish" (I don't care for the word, but it's the one that most resonantes).  I grew up outside the church (as some may know, Pentecostal), and I never heard this type of repetition.  Am I thinking about this practice wrong, or perhaps is it just a cultural thing that we do, and not something to get too hung up on.  

IDK, I just have always found it odd TBH.

In a world full of lies and deception, truth is worth repeating, over and over again, at every opportunity.

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On 1/6/2022 at 4:59 AM, LDSGator said:

So when coming from a converts POV, saying you “just know” something based on nothing but feelings-it can be very confusing. Especially when you’ve been taught your entire life to trust reason over feelings. 

In my opinion, relying only on reason as the only source of knowledge is a dangerous position to take. (I really feel like saying that its also a very narrow minded view to take, but I don't think I could ever say that about @LDSGator ) I think it is one of Satan's major triumphs to have successfully led people to believe that the only reliable source of knowledge comes from empirical study and the scientific method. I know that there is more than one way of knowing and I think that it is a personal choice as to which way we give preference and priority to.

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2 hours ago, askandanswer said:

In my opinion, relying only on reason as the only source of knowledge is a dangerous position to take. (I really feel like saying that its also a very narrow minded view to take, but I don't think I could ever say that about @LDSGator ) I think it is one of Satan's major triumphs to have successfully led people to believe that the only reliable source of knowledge comes from empirical study and the scientific method. I know that there is more than one way of knowing and I think that it is a personal choice as to which way we give preference and priority to.

No worries bro. Like you I do not think reason and experience are the only ways to acquire knowledge. However, and it’s a big however, I think it’s the primary way to acquire knowledge. 

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On 1/8/2022 at 12:02 PM, LDSGator said:

No worries bro. Like you I do not think reason and experience are the only ways to acquire knowledge. However, and it’s a big however, I think it’s the primary way to acquire knowledge. 

It may be that there are different types of knowledge, like there are different types of ore, and we use whatever is the most appropriate tool for whatever kind or knowledge, or ore, we are looking for. If a person wants secular knowledge then perhaps secular tools would be the most appropriate kind, although there would still be a role for spiritual tools in the form of inspiration. If a person wants spiritual knowledge, such as a testimony and a conviction of the truthfulness of the gospel, then I expect that spiritual tools would be the most approriate tools to use, although there would still be a role for secular tools in the form of study. 

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9 hours ago, askandanswer said:

It may be that there are different types of knowledge, like there are different types of ore, and we use whatever is the most appropriate tool for whatever kind or knowledge, or ore, we are looking for. If a person wants secular knowledge then perhaps secular tools would be the most appropriate kind, although there would still be a role for spiritual tools in the form of inspiration. If a person wants spiritual knowledge, such as a testimony and a conviction of the truthfulness of the gospel, then I expect that spiritual tools would be the most approriate tools to use, although there would still be a role for secular tools in the form of study. 

All great points. 

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