William James

William James
We must get by on what truth we have today, and be willing to call it error tomorrow.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

On The Steps To Obtain A Testimony

The comment was made:

"Elder Charles Didier gave a General Conference talk in October 1991 entitled "Testimony." Elder Didier describes the following keys for obtaining a testimony:


Key number 1 is to know for yourself. Do not be dependent on someone else.

Key number 2 is to know by the power of the Holy Ghost. Do not look at reason, logic, or the philosophies of men and theories of the world.

Key number 3 is to know by searching the scriptures and the revelations given and published in our day by the prophets—the First Presidency and the Twelve. Do not listen to apostate, unauthorized voices or speculation.

Key number 4 is to know by asking your Heavenly Father in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ. Do not turn to public discussions and forums.

The purpose of having and using certain keys is always very simple: to open the right door with a particular key. The purpose of these spiritual keys is to open spiritual doors, one by one, to come to a plain testimony as described by the prophets. When children first start to read, they look at the letters and ask what they are. After a time they can recognize the letters by their names and put them together to form a word. And then a miracle happens. They can read a word, then a sentence, then a book. The steps of gaining a testimony follow the same pattern. We want to know; we begin with what we know; and when we know, we further enrich our knowledge by sharing and practicing what we know.

He also describes how one loses a testimony:


Unfortunately, there are those who gain testimonies and then deny them and lose them. How does this happen? If you follow the steps to obtain a testimony, you do exactly the opposite to deny it or lose it.

Certainly reason, logic, listening to unauthorized voices, etc., by themselves, will not supply one with a testimony. However, he seems to be saying that they should not play any role at all in obtaining a testimony.

On the flip side, he seems to be saying that one loses a testimony by doing these things - turning to reason and logic and listening to apostate, unauthorized voices, speculation, etc.

Do you agree with Elder Didier?"

To which I responded:

It feels like it would be difficult for me to disagree more. Elder Didier is in effect asking us to close our eyes to those things which might prevent us from obtaining a conviction of certain doctrines. It's sort of like asking people to gain a testimony that they can fly and not pay any attention to the science that says gravity will prevent it. If someone tells me I can fly, I will naturally demand an explanation as to how that can be before I jump off a building. I think Elder Didier is confusing the true principle, that spirituality and faith have a role to play in our quest for truth, with the false principle that having faith must necessarily exclude reason.

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