Anniversary Posting: Testimony

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Anniversary Posting: Testimony

Post by Willhewonder » 11 Jun 2017, 16:12

After a year on Staylds, what is my take on my testimony? First some background. As I approached missionary age, I became more and more concerned about truthfully bearing my testimony. How could I tell investigators I knew the Church was true if I couldn't say so truthfully? I was very concerned at this time about personal integrity and authenticity. I did not want to lie to people on my mission. And so I began to take my understanding of the promise in Moroni 10:4 very seriously. I was at BYU, it was in the spring of my freshman year, and I was looking at entering the mission field the next fall. I was reading in the Book of Mormon, the story of the reunion of the sons of Mosiah and Alma the Younger as the sons of Mosiah were returning from their mission to the lamanites, somewhere between Alma 17:1-4 and Alma 27:16-19. I received a very strong impression that the things I was reading were true, and that the message of the Book of Mormon was true. Not long after this experience, I was in a fast and testimony meeting in my student ward when I became very strongly impressed that I should stand up and bear witness that the Spirit of the Holy Ghost was present, that I knew it and that I had a testimony of the Book of Mormon. I stood up and blurted out my feelings in a pretty incoherent announcement, right from my chair. Embarrassing afterwards - yes, but it was a fait accompli. Nobody came down on me and my integrity was preserved as I went into the mission home a few months later.

I have leaned on that experience a few times since, when I testified to investigators and others about the truth of the gospel. In addition, I have been impressed at other times of the veracity of different principles of the Gospel. Between impressions of truth on specific subjects and logical extension constructions, I have been able to maintain a pretty mainstream profile of Mormonism through my life, externally and internally. Internally that is, until being assailed by the concerns that have brought me here.

So where am I now? It is obvious to me that many of my logical testimony constructions are breaking down under the pressure of life itself and the new knowledge that is available from so many sources. What needs to be scrapped? What needs to be tweaked? What new constructions are needed and what are possible? How does the infirmity of the constructions affect the memory or health of the core spiritual experiences underlying my testimony? I have read many of your testimonies and comments, and I accept the existence of confirmation bias. In fact, I deliberately corrupted a major spiritual confirmation into an answer to prayer that I wanted and employed confirmation bias to deceive myself about it for almost two decades in a very basic part of my life. How's that for personal integrity? How can you now believe anything I say? I only know one way. That is the same way I know from experiences of what I do know. That is what I call the testimony of the Holy Ghost, and I can count off on one hand the major instances in my life where I had it.

Not so long ago, my son recommended "The Varieties of Religious Experience" by William James to me. I found the book fascinating. Among other things, James argued that God employed our natural personal methods of recognizing truth to testify of truth to us. He said that when God speaks to us, it is through our own individual methods for accepting truth. Further, he demonstrated many instances where people of different faiths receive confirmations - through their natural methods - of the truth of their beliefs. These are non-members. So are their "testimonies" false? I don't think so. However, I think they are every bit as capable of twisting such experiences to suit their desires as I was/am. Additionally, I think we often conflate issues we are seeking answers to and think we have a testimony of more than we really do.

So what's a body to do when the answer to our prayers for confirmation is so easily explained? I think the Holy Ghost comes to you in a ways that seem familiar to you, but when it really is critical to your well being - in an eternal sense - you know through the Holy Ghost. You just know that it is true, and you know it to your core. And I think it only happens when you really have to know. At other times, it's OK to do as you believe best, and you will be judged on what you believe and even on what you want to believe. After all, it's who you really are, and that's OK. The Prime Directive,"Choice" is in effect, most of us want good things and God wants those good things for us as well.

The above is among other things, part of my testimony of the Book of Mormon. What else do I know? The following things:
1. The most important person in my life is DW, meeting her and being able to marry her was the answer to earnest personal prayer.
2. It is OK if her testimony is nuanced and not TBM, even though I had a bad experience with my first wife, who was also not TBM.
3. God knows me and loves me.
4. I am no more important than anyone else, and God loves everybody else as much as me - and that's a lot.
5. The best way to pay God back for His blessings is to help His other children.
6. The Book of Mormon expounds many of the truths of the Gospel and talks about the effects of living it or not on the community and individuals.
7. The Gospel is true - as a general whole.

What do I accept?
1. Joseph Smith was a prophet, warts and all.
2. Through Joseph Smith and others, restored many lost Christian truths and the exalting ordinances.
3. The Church is true inasmuch as it it the authorized organization to perform exalting ordinances. However, it is not perfect or complete. Sometimes it runs over individuals and families. A lot of people that are excommunicated or were never baptized are not so far from the community of the Saints and as many as desire it will eventually be reunited in the Kingdom of God, but maybe not in this life.
4. The leader of the Church, presently Thomas S. Monson, is a prophet and sometimes speaks for God. So do the Apostles, the area authorities, stake presidents, bishops and relief society presidents, quorum leaders, home teachers and visiting teachers, fathers and mothers, children, Sunday school teachers.
5. Parts of the Canon may be historical and parts may not, but our belief in History itself is pretty naive. Should be history and not History.
And so that's it for starters.

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Re: Anniversary Posting: Testimony

Post by DarkJedi » 11 Jun 2017, 17:36

Thanks for sharing. You have far more beliefs and acceptances than I do. That's a big part of the site that I like - you can believe and accept as you do, I can believe and accept as I do and we can have relevant and civil discussions.
In the absence of knowledge or faith there is always hope.

Once there was a gentile...who came before Hillel. He said "Convert me on the condition that you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot." Hillel converted him, saying: That which is despicable to you, do not do to your fellow, this is the whole Torah, and the rest is commentary, go and learn it."

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Re: Anniversary Posting: Testimony

Post by Roy » 11 Jun 2017, 17:54

I appreciate your sharing as well. I too have grown so much since first finding this site. I was in a free-fall and when the falling stopped I needed to rebuild. I have noticed that the free-fall stops for different people at different places. My "bedrock" was only bedrock because the circumstances of my faith crisis did not make it crumble. Thank you so very much for sharing your journey with us throughout this year.
"It is not so much the pain and suffering of life which crushes the individual as it is its meaninglessness and hopelessness." C. A. Elwood

“It is not the function of religion to answer all the questions about God’s moral government of the universe, but to give one courage, through faith, to go on in the face of questions he never finds the answer to in his present status.” TPC: Harold B. Lee 223

"I struggle now with establishing my faith that God may always be there, but may not always need to intervene" Heber13

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Re: Anniversary Posting: Testimony

Post by Heber13 » 14 Jun 2017, 11:50

Happy Anniversary!!

Anniversaries, like other traditions we have in life, help us stop and reflect on things and be grateful for what we see as we reflect.

It's great to see all the beliefs you have to build on going forward. Well done. Thanks for sharing. I learn a lot from your posts.
Willhewonder wrote:
11 Jun 2017, 16:12
1. The most important person in my life is DW, meeting her and being able to marry her was the answer to earnest personal prayer.
I also think this is really cool you put this first and foremost on your list. :thumbup:
Luke: "Why didn't you tell me? You told me Vader betrayed and murdered my father."
Obi-Wan: "Your father... was seduced by the dark side of the Force. He ceased to be Anakin Skywalker and became Darth Vader. When that happened, the good man who was your father was destroyed. So what I told you was true... from a certain point of view."
Luke: "A certain point of view?"
Obi-Wan: "Luke, you're going to find that many of the truths we cling to...depend greatly on our point of view."

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