Monday, April 9, 2007

Testimony Through Revelation

I thoroughly enjoyed yesterday's priesthood lesson on testimony. A few of the quotes from President Kimball hit me like a ton of bricks!

There are people who pride themselves on their keen minds, who think they can delve into mysteries, but they can never define or explain or understand the spiritual things through their logic or through their mental processes. The spiritual things can be understood only through the Spirit. It must come through the heart and that is where the testimony is lodged. -Spencer W. Kimball, H. Stephen Stoker and Joseph C. Muren, comps., Testimony (1980), 167–68)

This quote hit me the hardest. Too many times in the Church I feel like our communication is too heavily intellectual. Many times our conversations are filled with musings of the mind, and not enough exploration of the Spirit. One is not the antithesis of the other, but without a healthy balance of both conversations about the things of the Spirit are robbed of their effectiveness and sincerity.

This is the one area that LDS blogging has left me hungry for- more spiritual, testimony-building dialogue. I know some would write this off as overly positive, insincere fluff, but I believe with a healthy balance of intellect and Spirit the internet could be used to fulfill two missions of the Church - proclaim the Gospel and perfect the Saints.

Testimony meetings are some of the best meetings in the [Church] in the whole month, if you have the spirit. If you are bored at a testimony meeting, there is something the matter with you, and not the other people. You can get up and bear your testimony and you think it is the best meeting in the month; but if you sit there and count the grammatical errors and laugh at the man who can’t speak very well, you’ll be bored. …-Spencer W. Kimball New Era, Aug. 1981, 6–7.

We are probably all guilty of rolling our eyes, or getting bored when someone bares a testimony. I am sure that the leadership of the Church would agree that many members bear testimonies that are too long, and in some cases not testimonies at all. But our responsibility is to be in tune with the Spirit and take away from every testimony what the Lord desires us to. As tough as it may be to swallow, I believe if we find ourselves bored or frustrated during testimony meeting the fault is ours.

Maybe a testimony that is goes on and on, with the member complaining about their life and situation is really a invitation for help. Maybe a testimony that becomes a travelogue from an elderly couple in the ward is really a invitation for someone to listen. Or maybe a testimony in which the member says a few flighty, gospel-unsound comments is really a invitation for more attention and better instruction.

Some of our good people get so terrified at triteness that they try to steer around and away from their testimonies by getting out on the fringes. Don’t you ever worry about triteness in testimony. 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. It never gets old, never gets old! Tell the Lord frequently how much you love him. -Spencer W. Kimball, H. StephenStokerand Joseph C. Muren, comps., Testimony (1980), 167–68)

There has been a lot of discussion regarding the use of the words "I know" when bearing testimony among members of the Church. This phrase has been examined, ridiculed and criticized by many. I have been guilty of this, at times believing that we should try to elaborate and be more specific as to what we believe. But while I read the above paragraph the Spirit whispered to me that saying "I know" when meant sincerely, can be the best phrase to use.

I believe that someone can gain absolute knowledge by means of the Holy Ghost. They may continue to struggle with their intellect and logic, but we can receive a witness and know gospel truths.

If you haven't already, I would suggest that you read this chapter and apply its truths to your life.


4 comments:

Aaron said...

AMEN.
In the priests' quorum yesterday, I purposefully left time at the end of the lesson for the boys and leaders to share their testimonies of Christ. It renews my faith and fills me up to hear testimonies of others.

With regards to internet conversation, I also look for a nice balance of intelectual ponderings coupled with testimony.

I like your first quotation from President Kimball. Some people fail to recognize that revelation through the Holy Spirit is the surest way to know anything. Some might believe that this a weak way of knowing, because it is "unprovable." Revelation is the only true source of knowledge, however.

Intelectual conversation are fun, but they are hollow without the spirit. There is a way to explore doctrine with the spirit, and there are countless to explore it without the spirit. . .

Drew said...

Aaron,

That first quotation hit me the hardest. We can learn much through our own reasoning and intellect. But I do believe there are gospel truths that can only be obtained through revelation.

Too many times I have spent my strength arguing for reasons why the Church is true in logical and intellectual terms. But it is only through the Spirit that one can gain an actual testimony. Logic and intellect can lead us to a spiritual witness, but ultimately its the Spirit that bears truth.

As a members of the Church, and to just be Christian, we have to accept that the things we know to be true from the Spirit may seem illogical or intellectually wrong to others.

The notion that Christ died for our sins and was resurrected three days later is illogical to many.

I don't wish to imply you don't know these things. Just using you as a sounding board :)

Aaron said...

Drew,

Well put.

And no need to place conditions on your statement. I enjoy your insights.

Jeremy said...

Amen!