Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Principle of Bearing False Testimony of the Truth

Often I am asked how I gained my unfailing testimony of the truthfulness of the gospel.  I always give credit to my parents who from my earliest recollections would get me to say things such as "I know Joseph Smith was a prophet" and "I know the gospel is true" even though I was too young to really know these things. 
They would even have me do this in sacrament meetings in front of large congregations.  I remember clearly thinking one day when I was 7 years old that I hadn’t even read The Book of Mormon.  It felt a little odd to be repeating the words my father dictated in my ear to the congregation, but as I ate my ice cream later that day I knew I had done the right thing.  As I grew up into manhood it became second nature to me to declare that I knew things that I did not yet know in order that I might know them in due time of the Lord.
I even used this method in secondary school one time when the teacher had us research whether the earth was round or flat.  My Dad said the earth was round so when the time came for my presentation in class I declared with certainty that I knew without a shadow of doubt that the world was round.  My Dad said that while the other kids provided arguments and evidence they lacked the conviction that accompanied my presentation.  
This principle of saying you know something when you don't or "Bearing False Testimony of the Truth" as I like to call it, is generally discouraged in the world but when done in the right context and under the right circumstances it is not only appropriate but acts as an essential element in gaining a solid testimony of the gospel.   Allow me to illustrate with a recent example:
A few weeks ago at a Stake meeting I met with the 16-17 year old priests and challenged each of them to bear their testimonies of the truthfulness of the gospel at the next Fast and Testimony meeting.  Each young man raised his hand to indicate that he would fulfill this challenge.  All names were taken and I told them that I would receive an update directly from their Quorum President (the Bishop) to ensure this was done.   
16 year old Johnny Smith did not fulfill the challenge as per his commitment.  In fact it came to my attention that he had confided in a friend that he thought the gospel was probably just made up.
When I visited his ward last Sunday I made a point of meeting with Johnny before sacrament meeting.  He seemed nervous and admitted that he was struggling with his testimony and had not completed the challenge.  He said he felt that his integrity would be compromised if he were to bear testimony of something that he was unsure of or didn't believe.  This is a common misconception and one that as a Stake President I work hard to overcome.
I asked him if he would like to know without any doubt that the gospel was true.  He looked at me in surprise and asked, “Is there a way?” “Of course”, I replied, and we turned to this month’s *New Era magazine to the section entitled “If I’m not sure I have a testimony, do I still try to share it?” in the article named "What Is Pure Testimony".
In it we read a wonderful quote given a long time ago but still applicable today from President Boyd K. Packer, President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and next in line to become the prophet upon the earth.  Packer declared the following:
“It is not unusual to have a missionary say, ‘How can I bear testimony until I get one? How can I testify that God lives, that Jesus is the Christ, and that the gospel is true? If I do not have such a testimony, would that not be dishonest?’
Johnny's attention was riveted on me as he listened to Boyd K. Packer addressing the very question of integrity and honesty that was on his mind. I continued with the quote:
“Oh, if I could teach you this one principle: a testimony is to be found in the bearing of it!"
As Johnny bore his testimony in sacrament meeting that day the congregation was astonished at the conviction in his voice and no one doubted that Johnny knew that The Book of Mormon was a true historical account of the people of America, that Joseph Smith had done more for mankind than all others save Jesus only, and that President Paternoster is the anointed mouthpiece of the Lord in this area of Zion in these the latter-days.  
It is my prayer that all of our youth will learn of the miraculous spiritual effect that can be theirs as they maintain their integrity by following Johnny’s example in stating that they know gospel principles to be true even when they don’t.  These thoughts I leave with you in the sacred and holy name of our Lord and savior, even Jesus the Christ, amen.

19 comments:

Goldarn said...

To Whom It May Concern:

This blog does not represent the….

I always wanted to do that. :-)

President, you have hit upon the Truth of things as always. So what if Truth has to be found in false witness? The Truth will reveal itself and we will Know it. We know this because the Truth has set us free to have time to go on missions, clean bathrooms, and attend the temple several times a month.

Bless you, sir. Bless you.

Paul said...

How can this be justified when the 9th commandment is clear "Do not bear FALSE witness" and in Revalation 21:8 it is clear that all liars will be thrown into the lake of fire that is the second death. Is the word of God wrong or is it ok to lie?

muucavwon said...

Paul, it is justified because the person bearing testimony knows that they should know, and it is only due their own weakness or sin or lack of faith that they don't, and so to overcome that barrier the Lord requires that they loudly and publicly testify that they know what they know they should know.

I'm sure you can agree with me that it's not bearing false witness. It's bearing true witness of something you're not sure of yet, but something that you'll be sure of after you bear witness.

Samuel the Lame'innit said...

Concerned husband,
The other day, my wife said to me, after we had had particularly vigorous 'mummy-daddy-time', "you are the most caring and sensuous lover in the world. I have never felt so satisfied in all my life". She has never said anything remotely like this after these events and in fact, usually seems quite bored of the whole process. Now, first and foremost, my wife's character is without fault and she has integrity. But, after reading this post, do you think that she bore her testimony of my prowess in order to FIND a testimony of my prowess?

Anonymous said...

It sounds like a lot of brainwashing to me. Telling a child to say anything they don't know for themselves is teaching them to lie. By the the way the Book of Mormon is not a historical record. There is no evidence to show that it is.

Anonymous said...

I love that the stake Pres is into MLM, lieing must come very easy.

Anonymous Gideon said...

*** NOTE TO THE READER OF THIS BLOG ***

This is NOT a website sanctioned by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Nor is "President Paternoster" a stake president within the Church. Rather, the content of this site varies from farce to pointed criticism [which is, at times, painfully accurate].

Many, but not necessarily all, of the posts are written in mockery of those who are sincerely striving, albeit imperfectly, to follow Jesus.

Caveat utilitor.

Bishop Smegma said...

Never forget, President P.:

"A testimony is had in the blaring of it."

Anonymous said...

Sounds like Little Johnny doesn't have a real testimoney because he is a frequent masturbator and can't feel the spirit.

Dan said...

Brilliant.

John C Bennett said...

Dear President Pasternoster,
Thank you so much for posting this! That is exactly how I gained my testimony of the only true and living church on the face of the earth. When I was about to leave on my mission, my wise father showed me that Ensign article about gaining a testimony by publically declaring it. I changed from having a weak testimony to bearing a powerful, convincing, testimony immediately.

When I got back home and went to college, one of my psychology professors talked about how humans behave after they make a public statement and the dangers of self-delusion and groupthink. Apparently, Hitler and his propaganda ministers were able to use this and other methods to readily manipulate the German people. Satan is so powerful! It is so evil that he can subvert God's sacred methods of teaching us truth! I am so thankful to belong to the true church and to know that we are led by a living Prophet who actually speaks to God! We don't have to spend any time judging or worrying about things because we have a Prophet who could never lead us astray! Remember, one of the modern-day prophets said God told him he would never allow us to be led astray. We really don't need to fear! I know this is true and for this, I am eternally thankful.

Sister Larsen said...

I think the Spirit led me to your blog! There is a sister in my Relief Society who is also struggling with her testimony. In searching online for something to help her I found this blog and it is exactly what I was looking for! I have printed off your post and will share it with her on Sunday. Thank you for this inspired message! This looks like a very uplifting blog and I am sure I will be back often.

Anonymous said...

As I read what Anonymous Gideon wrote I felt a very bad feeling about Anonymous Gideon and how it appears that Anonymous Gideon is trying to stir up contention which the scriptures teach is of the devil. I am so grateful for President P. doing all he can to enlighten us all on the gospel. I'm so sorry that people like Anonymous Gideon are trying to tear down your hard work President P. May the Lord bless you in all that you do.

Anonymous said...

Before I make this comment - I just want to say I get what this blog is - a chance for all of the "new order", "disaffected", "ex-", "uncorrelated" (insert preferred designation here) Mormons to have a good laugh at the rest of "unenlightened" more traditional members of the faith. If this helps you deal with your issues, I say more power to you. There are a lot less healthier ways to do that.

That being said, I would never bribe or encourage any of my children to lie to a congregation, class, or any other group.

NeverMo Mike said...

Dear President and/or other members of the one true church:

Despite your excellent posts, it is difficult for us who have never been LDS to truly understand what a Fast & Testimony Sunday is like. The repetition, the praise for the bishopric, the little children bearing their parent's testimony.

It is said a picture is worth a thousand words. And so a moving picture must be worth a million words. And maybe a million hits.

So it would be especially helpful for us if you and/or a member would post some video on YouTube of a typical F & T. Especially for those in the States, as they contemplate voting for a Mormon president. (Does anyone have video of Mitt Romney bearing his testimony?)

I don't know if you would allow movie cameras in your sanctuary President Paternoster. I trust you wouldn't be embarrassed or anything. Perhaps if a member recorded patrons with one of those Swann camera pens, or the like, it would escape your personal revelation and be okay?

Moroniha said...

Thank you President.
I know the Church is true. I know the Church is true. I know the Church is true. I know Joseph Smith was a true prophet. I know that Joseph Smith was a prophet. I know Joseph Smith is a true prophet.

AlexisAR said...

You impart wisdom, President. If one tells a story enough times it becomes the de facto truth.

AlexisAR said...

And SOMEONE needs to use a spycam to record testimony meeting. It's not that it must be done behind a bishop's back. it just needs to APPEAR to be dine behind said bishop's back. Sacred, not secret, and The Church has NOTHING to hide.

Anonymous said...

I tried this principle with peanuts and it worked. I used to be violently allergic to peanuts, but I kept telling myself, I like peanuts, and they will not hurt me. I still have to go to the ER every time I eat them, but my throat swelling up is just coincidence. In due time I know I will find out the condition is being caused by something else.