Besides President Monson’s talks from 178th Annual General Conference weekend, Elder Dallin H. Oaks who is a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, is the one that has stuck with me the most.
One of the first things he said that has been ringing in my head ever since was what he said on bearing testimony, which was actually quoted from Spencer W. Kimball:
The minute we begin preaching to others, our testimony has ended.
That took me a few moments of pondering, but it makes absolute sense! Preaching is not bearing our testimonies.
During a testimony, what do we mean when we testify and say that we know the gospel is true? When we say “I know this church is true,” what does that mean?
Elder Oaks compares it by two examples:
- Scientific- “I know it is cold outside.”
- Personal and Subjective – “I know I love my wife.”
Scientific knowledge is based on actual facts. We know it is cold because we can measure the temperature and our bodies react the freezing cold. We can prove this to others easily.
Personal and Subjective knowledge is something that others must trust you on. Knowing you love your wife is only something you could really know. While not capable of scientific proof, it is still important. You can’t say that all important knowledge is based on scientific evidence.
Scientific methods will not yield spiritual truths. To gain knowledge – you must desire it, then you ask for it.
- If thou shalt ask, thou shalt receive revelation upon revelation, knowledge upon knowledge, that thou mayest know the mysteries and peaceable things—that which bringeth joy, that which bringeth life eternal (D&C 42:61)
- Behold, I have fasted and prayed many days that I might know these things of myself. And now I do know of myself that they are true; for the Lord God hath made them manifest unto me by his Holy Spirit (Alma 5:46)
- Testimonies are gained bearing them rather than on your knees asking for it.
- We need to partake of the Sacrament every week to qualify to have his spirit to always be with us. That spirit gives us testimonies.
- Children should hear us bear our testimonies frequently. Let them define themselves by bearing their own testimonies and building.
- When we have a testimony of the restored gospel we also have a duty to share it. We have a duty to clarify doctrine for others, rather than let others misrepresent. We should speak in mildness and meekness, never be overbearing, shrill or reviling. We should speak the truth in love.
- Anyone can disagree with our personal testimony but no one can refute it.
Obedience and Knowledge
- Members who have a testimony and act upon it under direction of church leaders are accused of blind obedience. Our obedience is not blind but comes from the knowledge we gain through our testimonies.
- When it comes to learning and knowing the truth of the gospel, our personal testimonies, we all have a personal witness of the Jesus Christ and God through the power of the Holy Ghost.
- We can be united in following our leaders and independent for knowing for ourselves.
Two Channels to God
- Through our Leaders and Prophets. This channel has to deal with doctrine, ordinances and commandments. This results in obedience.
- Personal Testimony. The existence of God, our relationship to him and the truth of the restored gospel.
- These two channels are mutually reinforcing.
- Knowledge encourages obedience and obedience enhances knowledge,
- Obedience is not blind when done in knowledge.
- Choice to follow teachings is not blind obedience.
I began writing this post write after this session but never got around to finishing it until now. Since then, the actual transcript of Elder Oaks’ talk can now be found on lds.org by clicking here.