Several months ago a friend of mine spent a few weeks posting daily on Facebook about a part of her testimony. She called it “How I Became a Mormon”. Although she had grown up in the church she went through and outlined her conversion process. Whether we’re born with the gospel or find it later in life, we all have to go through a process of conversion, and I really enjoyed reading hers. I wanted to do something similar although I felt like my posts would end up being too wordy for Facebook to be an appropriate forum (what, me? wordy? Who’d have thought? 🙂 ) So I decided those posts were better suited as part of my blog. I want to explore and share some of the reasons that I am a Theist, a Christian and a Mormon and why I believe what I do. I feel this is a way of following Peter’s admonition to –
…Be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you…
– 1 Peter 3:15
At first I had wanted to put together all of these posts at once and have them go out over the course of a few weeks. However, I found that the pressure of writing all the posts that I wanted to in any sort of limited timeframe was way too much pressure. So I’ve decided that these will actually be monthly posts. I’ll schedule them to post on fast Sunday each month. This seems appropriate since I’m not very good at actually standing up in church and bearing my testimony during our fast and testimony meetings. (Explanation for those not of my faith: on the first Sunday of each month our congregations abstain from food for 24 hours and give money to help the less fortunate. On this Sunday in lieu of a single sermon anyone in the attendance who wants to share their testimony – or a declaration of their faith – is permitted to come up to the pulpit and speak to the whole congregation.) I may have lots to say in my blog, but (unlike Nephi) I’m much better at writing than speaking, and whenever I share my testimony in church I always come away feeling like I shared a jumbled mess instead of what was really in my heart. I should certainly work on that, but in the meantime I’m going to play to my strengths 🙂
I know a lot of people look at Mormons from the outside and think that we’re all brainwashed, or that we are just sheep that follow blindly whatever we’re told. However, in my experience, nothing could be further from the truth. We are encouraged to seek and ask and find answers for ourselves. Following the gospel takes too much time, commitment and energy to do it blindly. If you’re going to be a member of this church you better know pretty well that it is true, or else you’re wasting a ton of time and energy for nothing! In fact we are taught –
Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.
– Matthew 7:7-8
But behold, if ye will awake and arouse your faculties, even to an experiment upon my words, and exercise a particle of faith, yea, even if ye can no more than desire to believe, let this desire work in you, even until ye believe in a manner that ye can give place for a portion of my words.
– Alma 32:27
Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?
– Matthew 7:16
Far from being asked to follow blindly, we’re asked to seek, experiment, ask, and observe. It may sound strange to some people but we’re basically told to apply the scientific method to our religion (or maybe the secular world is just applying the religious method to science 😉 ). We’re told that if we will ask in faith that we can receive answers. If we try so much as an experiment on the gospel (i.e. try living just a portion of it) we’re promised to see results. Then we should observe the results, are they good or evil? If the results are good then that speaks to the truthfulness of the words.
I would like to share with you some of the results of my experiments upon the gospel. If you’ve performed the same experiment on the word, I’d love to hear your story posted on your blog/Twitter/Facebook or whatever your medium of choice may be. I want to come up with some good way to do a blog hop so that we can link these posts all together if anyone is interested, but I haven’t found a technology that I love for that just yet. For now, feel free to just post links to your own posts in the comments.
If you haven’t tried an experiment on the gospel, I would invite you to read the Book of Mormon and ask God if it is true. In the Bible we are promised –
If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. – James 1:5 (emphasis added)
The Lord has promised to give us revelation so that we can know these things for ourselves. The Book of Mormon is not a long book, or a terribly difficult read. You can read it online, or on any mobile device, or even download it as an audiobook if you (like me) are lazy and would rather listen than read 🙂 All of these are completely free to anyone who would like to read them. Or, if you’d like a physical copy the missionaries will gladly bring you by a free copy. Or if you’d like a hard copy, but aren’t so sure about having the missionaries deliver it I would be more than happy to mail you one myself, no strings attached. I can give you my personal promise that the truths and spirit and message from this book will make your life better.
I also want to be sure at the outset that I do not claim that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the only source of truth in this world. I do believe that our church leadership has direct authority from God, and contains the most complete source of truth existing on the earth today, but as our 9th article of faith states –
We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.
– Articles of Faith 1:9 (emphasis added)
There is more truth out there in many different forms. I think people who practice yoga have a unique grasp on mindfulness that we don’t necessarily explore as a church. I think that Confucianists have a different and valuable perspective on family life. I think Catholics may have a better respect for the full gravity, respect and importance of Christ’s atonement than perhaps is present in my own worship. There are lots of valuable things that we can learn from science, history, and art that apply to our religious lives as well. I believe that there are many belief sets that contain great truths. I do not believe in religion to the exclusion of scientific efforts or the possibility of finding truth in other ways. However, I do strongly believe that the doctrine taught in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is true, and important. I believe that as Joseph Smith stated –
…the Book of Mormon [and I would add by extension, the gospel associated with that book] was the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book [or set of teachings].
–Introduction to the Book of Mormon, Paragraph 6
I do believe that the gospel that is taught within the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the most correct and complete source of truth on the earth, but I don’t think that has to detract from the truth found elsewhere. It’s hard to accurately state just how vital and wonderful and true the gospel is without feeling like I’m slighting other people’s belief systems, but that is not my intention at all. Living the gospel gives me so much peace and light and direction and happiness that I want to share it with everyone so they can experience the same thing, but I don’t want to take away from truth anyone else has found in other ways, I want to help add to that truth. In our religion we are taught –
That which is of God is light; and he that receiveth light, and continueth in God, receiveth more light; and that light groweth brighter and brighter until the perfect day.
– Doctrine & Covenants 50:24
My hope is as you read these posts that it will add to the light you’ve found in your own life and help that light grow brighter. I hope you will join with me in this exploration of my faith.