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“I Know The Church Is True” – What Exactly Do You Mean?


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When you say it's gonna happen "now"

Well when exactly do you mean?

See I've already waited too long

And all my hope is gone

--The Smiths, 1985

Thoughtful article in last month’s Sunstone by Boyd J. Peterson—“Arriving Where I Started.” Along the way of sharing his story, Peterson analyzes the mantra he & every faithful LDS have often repeated—“I know the Church is true.” (As I child, I too used to say those words.) For flexible, NOMish sorts of LDS, Peterson’s story is probably an uplifting outcome. For anyone else, I’m not so sure.

Thinking about the recent forum thread on LDS prophet/president Spencer W. Kimball and his book, The Miracle of Forgiveness—The LDS Church has changed in the decades since its publication. On that thread, Kimball’s teachings get a real beat-down—by believing LDS! One even expressed thanks no one saw fit to give Elizabeth Smart a copy on return from her imprisonment and abuse. And fascinating for me personally, because Kimball’s teachings are immediately familiar—that was the church I grew up in (and Kimball’s influence carried on with LDS bishops long after he did). But if that thread is any indication, Kimball’s sentiments are rapidly on their way out the door and the contemporary LDS Church is moving in new directions. No longer the same church I left. So what is it then?

Interested to hear if LDS still commonly say the words, “I know the Church is true” (It’s been 8+ years since I’ve sat through an LDS Fast & Testimony meeting). And if so, what exactly do they mean by it? Thomas Monson’s theology? The Salt Lake City-based church organization? The absence of a maximally powerful God (and the substitution of lesser deities)? The canon of scripture? The current leadership? Some combination? Something else entirely?

For Peterson, he says what he means by those words is that he’s “committing” himself to “the Church” in a way analogous to the vow he made to his bride on their wedding day. It’s a little ambiguous (welcome to Sunstone), we’re not clear what he even means by “Church.”

Hoping others here might take the trouble to explain it better.

--Erik

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Interested to hear if LDS still commonly say the words, “I know the Church is true” (It’s been 8+ years since I’ve sat through an LDS Fast & Testimony meeting). And if so, what exactly do they mean by it?

In the fast and testimonies I've been to I hear it ALL the time, and I'm in liberal Los Angeles. I'm not saying it's 100% but it is in the majority of the testimonies I hear. And it's said with even more frequency in testimonies from the primary and youth kids that go up. it's still very much a part of the speak. Often times it is just said quickly at the end ".... I know this church is true. I say these thing in the name..."

I couldn't tell you what they mean by it. And I don't say it so i'm no help there, but it's definitely still there.

For Peterson, he says what he means by those words is that he’s “committing” himself to “the Church” in a way analogous to the vow he made to his bride on their wedding day. It’s a little ambiguous (welcome to Sunstone), we’re not clear what he even means by “Church.”

Is there a link to this article anywhere? I'd be interested to read it.

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What is truth?

Do you really want to get into the alleged "truth" of the bible?

Talking donkeys and people coming back from the dead?

Someone dying to take away your sins??

Do you really want to go there mr. sola?

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What is truth?

Do you really want to get into the alleged "truth" of the bible?

Talking donkeys and people coming back from the dead?

Someone dying to take away your sins??

Do you really want to go there mr. sola?

Please no, let's not go there. We've been through that can of worms before.

He can speak for himself but instead of a larger "what is truth" discussion, i think he's curious what people here mean when they say "I know the church is true"

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When you say it's gonna happen "now"

Well when exactly do you mean?

See I've already waited too long

And all my hope is gone

--The Smiths, 1985

Thoughtful article in last month’s Sunstone by Boyd J. Peterson—“Arriving Where I Started.” Along the way of sharing his story, Peterson analyzes the mantra he & every faithful LDS have often repeated—“I know the Church is true.” (As I child, I too used to say those words.) For flexible, NOMish sorts of LDS, Peterson’s story is probably an uplifting outcome. For anyone else, I’m not so sure.

Thinking about the recent forum thread on LDS prophet/president Spencer W. Kimball and his book, The Miracle of Forgiveness—The LDS Church has changed in the decades since its publication. On that thread, Kimball’s teachings get a real beat-down—by believing LDS! One even expressed thanks no one saw fit to give Elizabeth Smart a copy on return from her imprisonment and abuse. And fascinating for me personally, because Kimball’s teachings are immediately familiar—that was the church I grew up in (and Kimball’s influence carried on with LDS bishops long after he did). But if that thread is any indication, Kimball’s sentiments are rapidly on their way out the door and the contemporary LDS Church is moving in new directions. No longer the same church I left. So what is it then?

Interested to hear if LDS still commonly say the words, “I know the Church is true” (It’s been 8+ years since I’ve sat through an LDS Fast & Testimony meeting). And if so, what exactly do they mean by it? Thomas Monson’s theology? The Salt Lake City-based church organization? The absence of a maximally powerful God (and the substitution of lesser deities)? The canon of scripture? The current leadership? Some combination? Something else entirely?

For Peterson, he says what he means by those words is that he’s “committing” himself to “the Church” in a way analogous to the vow he made to his bride on their wedding day. It’s a little ambiguous (welcome to Sunstone), we’re not clear what he even means by “Church.”

Hoping others here might take the trouble to explain it better.

--Erik

In answer to your question, I do know the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ is true and that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the only true and living Church. The Book of Mormon explains why some know the truth of these things while others do not know anything of the sort. Alma the younger says:

"And therefore, he that will harden his heart, the same receiveth the lesser portion of the word; and he that will not harden his heart, to him is given the greater portion of the word, until it is given unto him to know the mysteries of God until he know them in full.

And they that will harden their hearts, to them is given the lesser portion of the word until they know nothing concerning his mysteries. (Alma 12)

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In answer to your question, I do know the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ is true and that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the only true and living Church. The Book of Mormon explains why some know the truth of these things while others do not know anything of the sort. Alma the younger says:

"And therefore, he that will harden his heart, the same receiveth the lesser portion of the word; and he that will not harden his heart, to him is given the greater portion of the word, until it is given unto him to know the mysteries of God until he know them in full.

And they that will harden their hearts, to them is given the lesser portion of the word until they know nothing concerning his mysteries. (Alma 12)

Basically the rich get richer and poor get poorer... times infinity.

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In the fast and testimonies I've been to I hear it ALL the time, and I'm in liberal Los Angeles. I'm not saying it's 100% but it is in the majority of the testimonies I hear. And it's said with even more frequency in testimonies from the primary and youth kids that go up. it's still very much a part of the speak. Often times it is just said quickly at the end ".... I know this church is true. I say these thing in the name..."

I couldn't tell you what they mean by it. And I don't say it so i'm no help there, but it's definitely still there.

Beginning to suspect you're not the only one unclear on what these words actually mean/are supposed to mean to LDS...

;0)

Is there a link to this article anywhere? I'd be interested to read it.

I get a physical copy of Sunstone via snail mail, not aware if it's available for free online. Worth the modest price of a subscription to support those guys, IMO

Thanks Brian 2.0,

--Erik

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In answer to your question, I do know the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ is true and that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the only true and living Church. The Book of Mormon explains why some know the truth of these things while others do not know anything of the sort. Alma the younger says:

"And therefore, he that will harden his heart, the same receiveth the lesser portion of the word; and he that will not harden his heart, to him is given the greater portion of the word, until it is given unto him to know the mysteries of God until he know them in full.

And they that will harden their hearts, to them is given the lesser portion of the word until they know nothing concerning his mysteries. (Alma 12)

So when you say, "the Church is true"--what you mean is that the "restored gospel" is true. Okay, let's follow that a bit. By restored gospel, do you mean the teachings of Joseph Smith? Or Spencer W. Kimball's teachings in The Miracle of Forgiveness (which have been rather vigorously repudiated by faithful LDS on this very board)? Or perhaps you mean the theology of Thomas S. Monson (whatever that might happen to be). What is "restored gospel" to you?

And would you concede any possibility the words of The Book of Mormon concerning those who have hardened their hearts and "know nothing" might actually be applicable to you? If not, why not?

Appreciate your reply, teddyaware

--Erik

Edited by Five Solas
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Don't know about anyone else but when I say that the Church is true it comes from the personal belief that as a whole, the membership has been true to the living revelations of God. That does not mean perfect, or without mistake, but true to the revealed word.

Church membership has slipped up in the past. Some of those slip ups occurred over years, until the revelations of God were revealed and/or heeded. Ultimately though, they were listened to and the general church membership was true to them.

Personally I think it is important that a/the Church is "living" (vitalized by prophetic revelations) first and then "true," i.e. true to the living waters.

Part of the problem that Christ (and other prophets/apostles) faced was a people that was true to dead/obsolete revelations.

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Here's my take:

I've moved away from the phrase "I know the Church is true." For me, this became more of a rote phrase rather than a concise summary of my testimony. Instead, I have tended to express my testimony as something along the lines of "I believe the Church is what it claims to be."

I say "believe" instead of "know" because, well, I feel more comfortable designating my position as one of progressive learning rather than a completed journey which culminates in "knowledge." Frankly, I don't think most Latter-day Saints are referring to a completed journey, either.

I say that I believe that the Church "is what it claims to be" because each time I say it I am prompting myself to ask of myself "Well, what does the Church claim to be?" And as I think through the answer, the information I find becomes thrilling. An organization established by God. Headed by Jesus Christ. The sole receptacle of the priesthood on earth. Administered by the Lord's anointed.

It's not perfect, but only because we humans keep mucking things up. But the Church is what it claims to be. The Lord is guiding it. The Spirit infuses it. The message it has for us is one of hope, of happiness, of assurance, of clarity. God has grand things in store for us, and He has sent us a lamp to guide the way. The lamp is not so bright as to fully illuminate the entire path and all its adventures, but it's enough to give us the light we need to get to the destination.

Yes, I believe the Church is what it claims to be.

Thanks,

-Smac

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Please no, let's not go there. We've been through that can of worms before.

He can speak for himself but instead of a larger "what is truth" discussion, i think he's curious what people here mean when they say "I know the church is true"

You can't say anything is true unless you know what that phrase means to the person who says it.

What it means in the church is inexorably tied to what it means to everyone. It is a phrase in English- the church is "true" the same way the bible and the five solas are true.

You can't have one without the other.

Edited by mfbukowski
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So when you say, "the Church is true"--what you mean is that the "restored gospel" is true. Okay, let's follow that a bit. By restored gospel, do you mean the teachings of Joseph Smith? Or Spencer W. Kimball's teachings in The Miracle of Forgiveness (which have been rather vigorously repudiated by faithful LDS on this very board)? Or perhaps you mean the theology of Thomas S. Monson (whatever that might happen to be). What is "restored gospel" to you?

And would you concede any possibility the words of The Book of Mormon concerning those who have hardened their hearts and "know nothing" might actually be applicable to you? If not, why not?

Appreciate your reply, teddyaware

--Erik

Alma 32. That says it all.

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I don't say it much myself. Not intentionally, it's generally not something I think about while bearing testimony. Plenty others do say it.

When I was younger I didn't say it because I didn't have the strongest faith about that. I knew various contingencies were true....I believed the BoM, I knew prayer worked, I believed in apostles and prophets, etc. But there was plenty I didn't get or didn't have a strong certainty for that were kinda major for that phrase to apply: Mainly JS and the priesthood. I felt JS was overemphasized and I at best had limited application, knowledge, of influence from the priesthood. They were something that simply had to be to get to things I truly had a firmer faith in.

On my mission was the first time I felt I could say it and mean it. It's a culmination of various things, of getting a glimpse of how the church works, what's its purpose is, various miracles and moments of faith developed in others, and a stronger understanding of line of authority/priesthood. It's basically stating that I know the foundation of this faith is a sure and steadfast one, built in these last days as God's church on the earth. That this is unique and specific to our faith in order to bring His works necessary for the unification of all to the earth. It would be acknowledging my own wonder at being apart of that.

Which is probably why I don't get to actually saying the phrase, I get wrapped up in describing why it is true to me. When I have stated it, though, it's simplifying what I've come to know through my experiences.

With luv,

BD

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In answer to your question, I do know the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ is true and that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the only true and living Church. The Book of Mormon explains why some know the truth of these things while others do not know anything of the sort. Alma the younger says:

"And therefore, he that will harden his heart, the same receiveth the lesser portion of the word; and he that will not harden his heart, to him is given the greater portion of the word, until it is given unto him to know the mysteries of God until he know them in full.

And they that will harden their hearts, to them is given the lesser portion of the word until they know nothing concerning his mysteries. (Alma 12)

I think teddyaware has summarised adequately what most people mean when they say it.

Which is one of the reasons I no longer say it.

Edited by canard78
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You can't say anything is true unless you know what that phrase means to the person who says it.

What it means in the church is inexorably tied to what it means to everyone. It is a phrase in English- the church is "true" the same way the bible and the five solas are true.

You can't have one without the other.

You are right (I was going to say "this is true..."), you can't have one without the other.

But most people don't really spend much time thinking "what is truth." They believe that a spiritual experience is enough to provide evidence that everything they find in the COJCOLDS is true. "The church is perfect but the people aren't" is a phrase I still hear (regrettably). What they actually mean is "the church has everything I need and meets my needs." As such the church is perfect for them.

And you're right, the way that they really know it's true is not because of a one-off spiritual witness, but because living the principles of the church works for them (as Alma 32 states), otherwise they'd stop living it even after the spiritual witness. If the spiritual witness lead them to a life that was consistently miserable and unfulfilling then they would soon stop, despite the spiritual witness. Some members then presume that the church really is "the only true and living church" for all people. When in fact all they know is it's the best true and living church for them.

If the LDS church were the best way for all in this life then perhaps God would have delivered it in a different way. As it is, the vast majority of God's children live and die with no concept or knowledge of it. As such I am lead to conclude that while it might be the best true and living church for me, it is not for all.

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And so you joined the board? Interesting choice. Is it one of the sacrifices required of you. ;)

Welcome back. I hope you keep us appraised of your progress from time to time in Social Hall.

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Thank you very much & I will. I will be attending church for the 2nd time this week & am looking forward to it. Unfortunately due to my job I will not be able to every week, I work nights & most weekends, which will make it harder but I know with the Lords help it will work out.

I did suggest to the Elders that if Heavenly Father could arrange for me to win the lottery it would free up alot of Sundays...he thought we should try something more realistic. :lol:

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Here's my take:

I've moved away from the phrase "I know the Church is true." For me, this became more of a rote phrase rather than a concise summary of my testimony. Instead, I have tended to express my testimony as something along the lines of "I believe the Church is what it claims to be."

I say "believe" instead of "know" because, well, I feel more comfortable designating my position as one of progressive learning rather than a completed journey which culminates in "knowledge." Frankly, I don't think most Latter-day Saints are referring to a completed journey, either.

For what it's worth, I respect this. Instead of re-defining the mantra to mean anything you want so you can keep repeating it (Peterson's approach), do away with it altogether & say what you really mean.

Hopefully you'll start a healthy trend, smac97

--Erik

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I know that it is true by divine revelation, as I have told my story here.

The meaning of "true" unfolds itself through my life experiences and my understanding of things. My understanding of tithing is very different from when I joined the church, so "true" has developed thru the years. It is a journey.

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Very simply when I say the church it's true it's because I received a very strong testimony of it at a time when I was looking for a church to join. The first time I walked into a LDS building I had the very strong and comforting feeling that this is what I had been looking for and that was before I knew anything about what the church taught. And then as I heard the teachings about Pre-existence, degrees of glory and the Godhead, I knew without a doubt this was the truth. It took me awhile to say the same about Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon, though it made perfect sense that God spoke to a people on this continent. Ironic, that it took longer to get a testimony of Joseph Smith as a prophet when I believed without question the things he taught. But then I didn't know about Priesthood and polygamy until after I was a member. By then it was too late because I knew the church was true. And of course as I've studied more of Joseph Smith's life and teachings I have gained a firm testimony that he is who he said he was. I have a firm testimony of Pres. Hinckley and Pres. Monson as prophets because of something I witnessed.

I think each of us comes by what he/she knows in different ways. I think we "know" different things at different times. And I think what BD said is very true "When I have stated it, though, it's simplifying what I've come to know through my experiences."

As far as little children saying "I know" it's simply because their faith and trust in their parents and perhaps even in God is so untainted that they have no doubts. Doubts don't come until later and that is when they must develop their testimonies own more than just faith but must study and pray and live to get the experience that will confirm the truth.

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What is truth?

Do you really want to get into the alleged "truth" of the bible?

Talking donkeys and people coming back from the dead?

Someone dying to take away your sins??

Do you really want to go there mr. sola?

As I have 7 minutes left on the treadmill & the kids are still in bed, sure, why not? "What is truth?" In his book, The Antichrist, Nietzsche argued Pontius Pilate's question was the undoing of the whole New Testament. (Peterson's a Nietzsche fan.)

Overlooked that the question was answered before it was even asked.

What are words for, eh, mfbukowski?

--Erik

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Here's my take:

I've moved away from the phrase "I know the Church is true." For me, this became more of a rote phrase rather than a concise summary of my testimony. Instead, I have tended to express my testimony as something along the lines of "I believe the Church is what it claims to be."

I say "believe" instead of "know" because, well, I feel more comfortable designating my position as one of progressive learning rather than a completed journey which culminates in "knowledge." Frankly, I don't think most Latter-day Saints are referring to a completed journey, either.

I say that I believe that the Church "is what it claims to be" because each time I say it I am prompting myself to ask of myself "Well, what does the Church claim to be?" And as I think through the answer, the information I find becomes thrilling. An organization established by God. Headed by Jesus Christ. The sole receptacle of the priesthood on earth. Administered by the Lord's anointed.

It's not perfect, but only because we humans keep mucking things up. But the Church is what it claims to be. The Lord is guiding it. The Spirit infuses it. The message it has for us is one of hope, of happiness, of assurance, of clarity. God has grand things in store for us, and He has sent us a lamp to guide the way. The lamp is not so bright as to fully illuminate the entire path and all its adventures, but it's enough to give us the light we need to get to the destination.

Yes, I believe the Church is what it claims to be.

Thanks,

-Smac

Interesting since I believe the church is not what it claims to be...

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There is so much here it's hard to know where to start, and my time is limited, so I will be extremely brief.

You are right (I was going to say "this is true..."), you can't have one without the other.

But most people don't really spend much time thinking "what is truth." They believe that a spiritual experience is enough to provide evidence that everything they find in the COJCOLDS is true.

And I would think they would be right to think so. Spiritual experience is not about "what actually happened" because that is largely an illusion anyway- all history is "his-story" and everyone's perception of what "actually happened" is different. Ever notice how crime witnesses stories differ? That is because we all see things differently- and which is "real" is always up for grabs.

But the central "claims" - that Joseph was a prophet, that the BOM is real and that a man named Jesus actually rose from the dead and is the redeemer of our sins is all taken on faith and testimony. The only evidence possible is religious experience and testimony. Period.

"The church is perfect but the people aren't" is a phrase I still hear (regrettably). What they actually mean is "the church has everything I need and meets my needs." As such the church is perfect for them.

And you're right, the way that they really know it's true is not because of a one-off spiritual witness, but because living the principles of the church works for them (as Alma 32 states), otherwise they'd stop living it even after the spiritual witness. If the spiritual witness lead them to a life that was consistently miserable and unfulfilling then they would soon stop, despite the spiritual witness. Some members then presume that the church really is "the only true and living church" for all people. When in fact all they know is it's the best true and living church for them.

I pretty much agree with most of this.

But for me, the worship of family structure is what this world needs- all the world, and all the people in it. It is the foundation of society and is essential to the survival of humanity. Is that important? I cannot think of anything more important than the survival of humanity- can you?

Essentially that is what I see the church is about- the truth that families are the core of what humanity needs and happy families are better than fragmented broken and confused families.

Whatever promotes that is "true and living" in my book and we are the only church which promotes that as much as we do- believing that indeed God is part of a family structure and we are his children and that we can grow up to be like him.

Indeed I feel that if every person on earth believed that, this would become a phenomenal world in which to live. I don't see how that is even disputable.

If the LDS church were the best way for all in this life then perhaps God would have delivered it in a different way. As it is, the vast majority of God's children live and die with no concept or knowledge of it. As such I am lead to conclude that while it might be the best true and living church for me, it is not for all.

Taking account of what I just said, I would totally disagree with that.

I think that which leads away from family values will eventually destroy humanity.

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I gained my testimony of the church whilst a teenager, prayed about the BoM and got my answer, received my testimony. As I grew up I had issues with the church & eventually left, but at no time could I have enmity with the church. Too many times on my mission did I run into less-active members who were angry at the church because they had failed to live church principles, or because one person had offended them, or in someway wanted the church to change to fit their lives. I promised myself this wouldn't happen to me, we weren't a match - it was no-ones fault. I pushed my testimony down inside me & convinced myself that those "good feelings" meant nothing. A few weeks ago I ran into the missionaries in town & told them they were welcome to come over. We discussed many thing which culminated in me basically saying "I'm on the verge of hating God, if He continues down the path He's on I will never forgive Him...it will be over between us, He would have gone too far!!" One of the Elders looked at me with tears rolling down his cheek & said " I cannot begin to imagine what you have gone through or how I would react if I had, but I KNOW Heavenly Father loves you, I know Joseph Smith was called to restore the gospel..." He just bore his simple sweet testimony and I cannot describe the fire that burned within my chest, it was so intense I almost couldn't bear it. It burned away all my hardness and left me raw. It left me so that I could no longer deny what I knew, that the church is true & I needed to make my way back home. It's going to require great change & sacrifice on my part, but I cannot deny what the Spirit has testified to me so strongly. This is what it means to me to know that the church is true.

Wow.

That says it all.

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