Saturday, April 23, 2011
The (proper) Foundation for a Testimony of Christ
Easter Sunday is fast approaching, and I have been trying to commemorate the week's events by reading all 4 accounts of the Savior's last week of his mortal ministry in the New Testament. It is amazing to me just how much transpired in one short week, especially considering we have no account whatsoever of one of the seven days (Wednesday), which is something very interesting in and of itself. That, however, is another topic for another time.
As I have been reading, I have asked myself, how do I know? How do I know Jesus walked on earth, then died and was resurrected? How do I know He can save me from my sins? How do I know He appeared next to our Father in Heaven in a grove of trees to Joseph Smith in 1820? How do I know the book Joseph produced, the Book of Mormon, is a true book?
I began to make a list in my notebook of elements of my testimony that have foundational potential. Some, I discovered to be akin to building a house on a sandy foundation, but others, I found to be rock solid. First, let's talk about some Sandy Foundational Elements that should only be considered supplemental to a true foundation:
- Testimonies of others (family members, trusted associates, members of the community that display Christlike love, service, and charity)
- Love of social aspects of church activities (the desire to be social with ward members for the sake of being social, evidenced by lack of reverence at church, etc.)
- Testimony of miracles witnessed due to the exercising of Priesthood Power
*This third one seems to be a bit deceptive. For example, you are very likely to hear this from someone: "I know this is God's church because my brother was sick, so we had a fast for him, and he miraculously recovered." Did the priesthood work in this case? Yes. Was it a miracle? Of course. Is it a testimony to the divine power of the priesthood? Absolutely. However, what if he doesn't recover? What if his recovery is not in accordance with God's Will, and you witness his passing? If this is your foundation, what then? A sure foundation must allow you to have faith in God's Plan for you, even if prayers seem to go unanswered, and miracles pass you by. Thus, this cannot be foundational.
So what, then, is foundational? What should I base my testimony upon, my testimony of KNOWING?
- Moroni 10 is a good place to start. Receiving a personal witness thru prayer of the divine authenticity of the Book of Mormon is a vital, irreplaceable first step in building a strong foundation.
- Testimony of the First Vision and Joseph's divine mission on this earth, as well as a personal witness that Thomas Monson is the Lord's Prophet today
- Feeling cleansed via the Repentence Process
- Feeling the pure love and meditative Spirit that is EXCLUSIVELY felt in the Temple
- Feeling the love of God when you feel most alone
There are more I could list, methinks. However, I would like to point out that they all have one thing in common: they rely on personal, prayerful feeling. It's not logic. It's not brain surgery. It's not metaphysics. It seems that this epistemological question of knowledge can only be attained through personal, heartfelt prayer (and effort).
So, this brings me back to my original question: how do I know? How do I know that the Savior was resurrected on the third day and that I can live with my family, sealed for time and all eternity? I know this because of what I have FELT. Such a surefire witness cannot be bullied, bludgeoned, or betrayed. It cannot be undermined by word games, logic traps, or endless "what if" or "why" questions. I cannot deny a personal witness I have felt due to the power of the Holy Spirit.
And there you have it.