Tuesday, May 13, 2008

What is a mormon testimony?
I have heard and read a lot about the concept of a 'testimony'. What is a testimony? —lin lin

The first Sunday of each month is Fast Sunday, and Mormons devote their main worship meeting to the "bearing of testimonies." It's sort of open-mic church, where anyone who wants to get up from the congregation may do so. They talk about what they're thankful, and they tell the audience the things they know. (It's always "know," not "believe.") Even little kids do it; sometimes they take half the meeting. The kids tend to give the same rote lines, something like:

"I'd like to bear my testimony that I know this church is true. I know that Joseph Smith was a prophet and that President Monson is our prophet today. I love my mom and dad and my brothers and sisters. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen."

But it's not just for kids. You'll hear the grown-ups use these same lines, interspersed with their recent experiences and often prefaced with, "I would be very ungrateful if I didn't stand before you today ..." I always get a kick out of that line, by the way, because didn't they just tell all of us we're being ungrateful? But I digress. :)

Anyway, the short answer is that testimony bearing is an integral part of LDS meetings, and it's roughly equivalent to what Christians call "witnessing." It does get a little weird, with Mormons talking about "gaining a testimony" and having a "strong testimony" or an "unshakable testimony" as though it's a tangible object. To an outsider like me, I find if I substitute the word "closed-mindedness" for "testimony" it works just as well. But to each their own I guess.

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