Sunday, April 22, 2007

Testimony: The Highest Form of Knowing

Today in LDS Suday School (Elder's Quorem) we talked about Elder Uchtdorf (Member of the Quorem of the 12 Apostles) talk entitled, "The Power of Testimony" given during October 2006 LDS General Conference.

Our class discussed that a testimony is knowledge or witness gained in a different way than the usual ways we gain knowledge or know things. The knowledge and witness that comprises a testimony is not based solely on man's intellect, reasoning, or logic alone. Although, the substance of a testimony is rightly considered to be composed of the most pure intelligence, reason, and logic possible. The substance of a testimony is instead derived by inspiration, revelation, or direct communication by God through the medium of the Holy Spirit. Therefore it both makes sense to the mind and the heart together, and therefore is the highest form of knowing (Matt. 16: 17)(Num. 11: 29).

A testimony is comprised of 5 basic components but can include any other knowledge that is spiritually obtained. However, these first 5 pillars of a spiritual witness are what God considers essential. They include:

1. The existence, reality, and nature of God the Eternal Father and the relationship of man to God as literal spiritual offspring.

2. Jesus Christ is the literal "only begotten" Son of God and who atoned for our sins and resurrected, recieved eternal life, and now stands on the right hand of our Heavenly Father thereby becoming the only way to return to God and inherit salvation, exaltation, and eternal life.

3. That God reveals his will and plan for his spirit children through chosen men known as prophets like Abraham, Moses, and Isaiah and that he continues to call prophets in these, the Last Days, beginning with Joseph Smith. Joseph Smith saw God the Father and Jesus Christ in vision and was called to "restore" (not protest or reform) the only true Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

4. The Book of Mormon is the word of God and like the Bible, it is a testament that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God.

5. That President Gordon B. Hinkley is God's chosen prophet, seer, and revelator today and speaks the mind and will of God unto us.

Like Peter in the New Testament, I posess a testimony revealed to me by God through his Holy Spirit. My testimony developed through desiring to know the truth, years of study and prayer, and willingness to accept and live accordingly. And this spiritual witness has not just been spiritually confirmed and validated once, but is continually and continuously reaffirmed. Elder Uchtdorf explains in his talk how anyone can recieve their own spiritual witness of these same essential truths. The steps include 1. Desire (Alma 32: 27). 2. Search, Ponder, Pray (Ask Duh!) (Matt. 7:7) 3. Obey, Do, Follow (John 7: 17).

Some evangelicals will on one hand criticize LDS for following our "feellings." But then, on the other hand, they turn around and say they "feel" they have been called and "inspired" by God into their ministry. This is clearly an example of double speak. I have heard many evangelicals go on to argue that their belief in the Bible is purely "logically" based. They then go on to tell me about their several degree, PhDs in divinity school, and about all the archeological evidence to support the Bible. I just am left to think, "You cannot be serious!" I don't know how it is possible to consider the parting of the Red Sea, stopping the Earth in its rotation, surviving being thrown into a furnace or den of lions, surviving being swallowed by a whale, changing water to wine, or coming back form the dead as logical. There are absolutely no scientific evidence that these events actually occured of could occur. And belief based on archeological evidence? "Come on!" This argument couldnt be more flawed. If archeological evidence made a book scripture, then anything historically based could be considered scripture.

In their defence, these evangelicals criticize the LDS concept of "following your feelings" and deny the power of inspiration that comes by the Holy Ghost because they equate it with the Pentecostal idea of the Holy Spirit. This ofcourse creates a false dichotomy. Just because another faith has a flawed concept of the Holy Spirit doesn't mean that ours is wrong too. The LDS concept of inspiration and personal revelation by the Holy Ghost is nothing like the Pentecostal concept. LDS recognize that the most important spiritual skill one can master while in this life is to learn to decern ones own natural emotions, adrenaline excitement, lustful passions from the quiet, patient, warm, happy and peaceful feelings of the Holy Ghost (Gal. 5: 22).

Almost every living person has experienced the influence of the Spirit at one time or another as they have sought the will of God when making an important career, family or personal decision. The Bible is clear that The Holy Ghost testifies of Christ, it will teach us all things, and lead us into all truth. The Holy Ghost is the still small voice Elijah felt on the mountain top, it is the "burning bosom" of the 2 disciples on the road to Emmaus, and it is what caused those on the day of Pentecost to feel "pricked in their hearts" and declare, "Men and brethern, what shall we do?"

The Book of Mormon answers that most important question with regard to gaining a testimony. At the end of the book is a promise by the prophet-writer, Moroni, who exhorts, "And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost. And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things" (Moro. 10:4-5).

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The Mormon God is a polygamist. Just ask your church leaders!