“I Love to Say My Testimony”

There’s a little girl in my ward who gets up almost every fast Sunday to speak, and this is what she starts with.  Most small children say something like this, but it’s almost always, “I like to bear my testimony,” where the dropped “would” after the “I”  also makes it cute, but this one is special: I wish I loved saying my testimony more!

“And a little child shall lead them.”  Isaiah 11:6

 

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Bear Testimony In Prayer

Seeking answers and offering gratitude are great things to do in prayer.  However, as often as people of faith focus on bearing testimony, witnessing, or sharing their faith with others, we may not think to offer gratitude for this to God. 

For a singular spiritual experience, try this: bear your testimony in prayer.  Tell God what things you know to be true by the power of the Spirit, and thank Him for those things and for the gift of knowing those things.  I expect that our loving Father, the source of all these blessings, appreciates hearing us say these things directly. 

 

 

Why Atheists Should Respect the Idea of “One True Church”

I read something recently where someone railed against the idea of any church claiming to be “true,” because it could only lead to pride and persecution.  I’m sure such has been the case at times, where some person or group has let their claims to truth give them license to alienate or oppress those on the outside of their vision, and this is awfully unfortunate.  But that’s hardly evidence that such always leads to violence, or that the claim is always untrue.  Actually, this is one religious claim that the most stridently secular among us should genuinely respect. 

A few years ago, I posted a message on a bulletin board for atheists that, if they were so inclined, they could consider the Book of Mormon as something they’d been missing but should be interested in–a physical artifact whose very nature could substantiate the existence of God.  That started a decent dialogue, but when some readers got the point that I was implying that religious claims were even capable of being literally, empirically accurate, they reacted with mockery.  That claim sounded like a fresh bit of arrogance, I suppose, but, once again, they should have seized upon it.

First of all, every religion’s depiction of reality can’t be accurate, because so many of them are contradictory.  So either none of them are, or one of them is.  Some combination of aspects of various faiths could conceivably be true, but unless multiple religions are exactly the same, only one could be purely, fully true.  The fact that any church makes such a claim–and there are few today which do–shouldn’t be an invitation to ridicule, but a recognition that even in religion, reason rules. 

If the popular conception of religion is that it’s merely a cultural tradition, or a product of wishful thinking, etc., I’d think that those who don’t find it valid (and who hold those critical assumptions about the origin of belief) would welcome a claim that not only is such not so, but that the seemingly supernatural claims of religion can be investigated, tested, and either authenticated or disproved. 

Finally! an atheist might shout.  A chance to definitively debunk this nonsense.  Which is exactly the opportunity the Book of Mormon offers the would-be skeptic.  At the same time, it provides the hard-headed devotee of reason an approach to religion that is as far from mystical as possible: a long, dense, sober text that begs to be scrutinized, studied, compared, researched, and analyzed until a verdict can be reached.  The text itself explains a method of experimenting on its truth claims that will yield consistent, reproducible results. 

The intellectually honest atheist should respect the exclusive truth claims of the LDS church because they are logically consistent, and because this is one religion that is ready to put up or shut up.

My New Mormon.org Profile!

I finished writing my profile for Mormon.org in December, but it took forever for it to get reviewed, I guess.  After a couple of weeks, I emailed the Church and asked about it, and a couple of weeks later, they replied that the review process was lengthy, and they were backlogged.  At any rate, they must have gotten around to it, because it’s online now.  To see it, click the “I’m a Mormon” button in the middle of the right sidebar.  I’ll be adding to it in the future, but I really like what’s there so far.  Hopefully it does some good for someone.

Loyalty Despite Perceived Conflict: Avoiding Cognitive Dissonance

Utah newspapers have been reporting that the LDS Church is subtly campaigning for a “more compassionate” stance towards illegal immigrants (for example, http://deseretnews.com/article/1,5143,695253342,00.html).  Now, this could present a problem for me as I am strongly opposed to illegal immigration.  My understanding of the legal, social, and economic issues involved convinces me that it is a harmful trend. 

If I perceive that the Church is doing something that contradicts my own opinions, I could suffer cognitive dissonance: the mental stress caused by diametrically opposed ideas coexisting in a mind.  What should I do?  Easy.  If there’s a conflict between the Church and my political principles, the Church wins.  I’m wrong and I need to change.

Why are my researched and reasoned views of this issue automatically moot?  Go back to the basics of belief: the Church is true.  The Father and the Son appeared to Joseph Smith, and that means the Church is directed by living prophets today.  And if those prophets say to embrace illegals, then I’ll drive down to the border and pick up a few myself.

The word of the Church is the word of the Lord: “whether by mine own voice or the voice of my servants, it is the same” (D&C 1:38). 

Besides, I admit I’ve privately wondered how some good liberal Church members must deal with having some of their political positions refuted by doctrine.  If it’s time for this conservative to eat crow in order to keep his priorities straight, so be it.

Rejecting a Church that we know to be true, because of any personal issue: that’s the real cognitive dissonance.