The scene is the courtroom. A witness takes the stand and, under oath, recites their story. The court process allows the witness to speak specifically to events that they personally viewed or participated in. There is a quick objection launched when the discussion strays into areas that do not represent fact but may represent personal opinion or second hand conversation. The testimony of the person on the stand is constrained only to those aspects of the examination that are personally experienced by the witness. There is no room for supposition or nuance or the words of others. As such, a testimony is considered valid only for those things that were experienced. No extension is to be allowed.
If our personal testimony were to be called upon in a court of law, what would we be able to say? How much of our ‘testimony’ of things spiritual is based on only the facts, not on opinion or the words of others?
As parents, we take pride in our children’s participation in the Sunday testimony meeting ritual. These children and youth line up and speak of knowledge of the truth of the church, or of the knowledge of the prophet, and other socially correct statements. Would these be accepted in a court of law? I think not. Are they potentially damaging when the child is old enough to see through the pageantry of testimony meeting? Does it represent a mockery when one speaks of knowledge of elements of our religion when there is no basis for that so-called knowledge?
I equate this misdirected practice to the somewhat insidious misrepresentation of the social characters touted around Christmas and Easter. How many children log the information regarding the validity of a person called Santa Claus when the truth is known and later, perhaps unconsciously, question the truth of other ‘characters’ spoken of by their parents and others.
Would a testimony of the Book of Mormon automatically define validity of the current church?
It has been preached from the pulpit and used by missionaries for decades – the idea that sets our faith up as a row of dominoes. If we gain a testimony of the Book of Mormon, it automatically means the church is true. Since the church is true, then President Monson is a prophet, etc.
I don’t think it is supposed to work that way. We should strive to gain a testimony of every aspect of our religion that is important to us. From my personal experience, a testimony of the Book of Mormon is just that, a testimony that God inspired Joseph Smith to re-introduce the fulness of the gospel in written form. I do not draw any extension from that confirmation to the circumstances we find ourselves in today. In fact, if the Book of Mormon is the inspired word of God, then we should be asking some strong questions about the church. Does ‘all is well’ ring a bell?
Each step we take on our spiritual journey should be done with purpose and commitment. Confirmation of the precepts and practices of the religion the restoration has become should be sought by each of the adherents. As Paul stated in 1 Thessalonians, chapter 5, verse 6:
“Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.”
I do not wish to build my testimony on an ice berg, where I can only see 10% of what is going on. There is much more below the surface that must be discovered. I continue to ‘prove all things.’ I strive to subject each aspect of my spiritual path to analysis and cross-examination. I must build my testimony brick by brick as they have been formed in the furnace of the personal revelation I desire to receive from God. Not all these ‘bricks” make it into the structure of my faith but those that do have withstood the challenge.
What think ye?