Friday, February 18, 2011

Saying, "I know . . ."

Many people feel uncomfortable when others say, "I know . . ."

I think the confusion is strongest among those who feel that it is impossible to KNOW anything - that it is lying to say, "I know . . ." The issue to me is how we define "know" in the Gospel context - and how that relates directly how we view bearing a testimony.

Nephi said that he "knew" because of what he had "experienced". (My paraphrase) Alma said the same thing about his vision. He said, "I know this of myself." I tend to translate this as, "I know this FOR myself" - meaning nobody else has to know it, but I have had experiences that I simply can't deny. The things I learned from those experiences are things I can say that I know for myself.

I have had numerous experiences that really are impossible to explain without God being real and the Priesthood providing abnormal insight. I mean that, knowing full well the arguments of the skeptics. If I shared the details, it would be possible to reject them, but it would be impossible to say that my conclusion is not valid, logical, reasonable and possible.

When Elder Packer spoke of testimonies being strengthened by the sharing of them, I believe he was saying that we need to express those things that we believe with all our hearts - that we believe to be true "of ourselves". I also never read anything in the talk that said we need to exaggerate or couch things in specific ways. I don't read in his words the commonly expressed, "Fake it until you make it." In my opinion, that is a twisted translation of the meaning he was trying to convey - and I absolutely hate that expression.

Bearing a testimony can be as simple as saying, "I believe with all my heart" - and it is that type of statement that can bring surety through spiritual confirmation. It can be no more than the willingness to open your mouth and experience it being filled - being willing to let the Lord speak through you without anything being planned in advance, and then realizing what you said was inspired and exactly what the other person needed to hear.

I have had that experience, as well, and it is moving in a way that is hard to describe.


Joshua said...

In several discussions with Mormon missionaries, the last few sentences they always say to me each begins with "I know...". The use of "I know" is a little tricky though, isn't it?

Now let me see what you say about this: What if I use the phrase "I know" to say something like "I know the Book of Abraham is a fraud (in the sense that it isn't a handwritten document by Abraham; it isn't inspired literature either)"? (And I know it in the sense that I have done something experientially [research] to come to that conclusion.)

Am I not equally justified to use the words "I know" for truth claims on my side? Why or why not?

I firmly believe that the Lord Jesus works through His Body on the Earth. He does do things like speak a word in the right season and so on.

And this is a side note: Listen, Papa D., you are pretty hostile toward me now (maybe you think its justified) and you've even started name calling ("troll"). Exercise some grace.


Papa D said...

Joshua, first, this is a perfect example of a comment that is NOT trollish. It is focused on the point of the post and isn't just an attack of some kind. It is thoughtful and a very good question. Please understand the difference between this comment and most of those you have left on Mormanity, especially the ones I called trollish.

Honestly, I was not being "hostile" in my comment there; I was trying to help you see that there is a specific purpose in blogging that is violated whenever someone comments strictly to attack by not staying on point. There is an etiquette in public blogging that governs "considerate" discussion, and it is absent in much of online conversations - especially things like newspaper and magazine comment boards. Comments like that are the textbook definition of "trollish" in the blogging world, based on the overall attitude they portray - a hostility, to use your own description about calling you a troll. If you ponder the tone of your comments on Mormanity, I think you will admit that they tend to be hostile, attacking, condescending and not focused on the actual idea presented in the posts themselves.

**Your comment here on this post is NOT trollish at all.** I appreciate this comment greatly. I hope your understand the difference.

As for my answer to your question:

Absolutely, you have the right and are correct to use the phrase "I know . . ." in those situations. That's my main point - that "knowledge" in many cases really is subjective, especially when it is in the realm of religion. It's interesting to me to hear people say, essentially, "I know you can't know . . ."

Joshua said...

Thanks for the response.

In a recent discussion with a Mormon, they ask me whether or not I prayed about the Book of Mormon. I told them that I did and the response I got was "It's false". Am I rude to say that "I know it's false because I prayed about it" since every Mormon missionary I've talked with affirms the opposite? How would you, as a Mormon, approach such a statement? Is it possible to distinguish which "answer" is right and which one is wrong?

Thanks for taking time to respond!

NOTE: I appreciate the correction, Papa D. I apologize for my previous uncivil attitude. I was actually thinking about our interactions over there and then it hit me, "There are 'Christians' who would not consider me 'Christian' either because I don't believe in the trinity and I do believe in the salvation of all people at the end of the age." So, we've actually got something in common. :) When Jesus returns, we'll all be surprised in some form, I'm sure.

If I might add (it's a little off topic, but something / someone keeps deleting my most recent comments on Mormanity, so I can't say it there): I didn't think my quotations were too far out of line over there. The topic involved salvation and I thought that the public speech of a Mormon prophet regarding by what criteria a person can "enter heaven" was relevant. This is especially true since you mentioned that you hoped you'd see me in heaven, we'd smile and shake hands. But, if what Brigham Young taught was true, I ain't going to make it there.

Papa D said...

It's interesting how a less personal forum like only the written word gets in the way of communication so often. It's hard to get around it, but patience is a good thing. *grin*

As far as your answer about the Book of Mormon, I would say, in all sincerity, that you should follow it. If you truly believe that answer came from God, follow it. The absolute last thing I believe Mormons should do is discourage someone from following what he believes is personal revelation from God - especially given how often we get attacked for trying to do that very thing.

It's really hard for most people, regardless of religion, to accept that others' differing views and opinions might be the best thing for them - or that they might actually be "right" or "true". If you go to my main page and scroll down a few days, I linked to a post about keeping an open mind about opposing views. It was last Thursday, and I took the title from a line in the post:

"We silenced them, but what if it turns out they were right?"

I believe that is extremely important, and I also believe deeply in the idea that we really do allow ALL people everywhere to worship how, where or what they may - as one of our Articles of Faith says. Just because we don't believe everything the same way doesn't mean we can't learn from each other. It's only when we start trying to tear apart someone else's beliefs that things go wrong, imo - since those beliefs might be God's answer to them individually and might be the only thing that can "work" for them at that time or even long-term.

I'd love to have you read other things I've written here and discuss them. You have been courteous and generous here, and I really do appreciate it.

Papa D said...

Oh, and I will try to go back and re-read your comments on Mormanity. Maybe I read too much into them based on an emotional reaction I didn't recognize at the time. I try hard not to let that happen, but it still does happen sometimes.

If that is the case, I apologize for my reaction.

Joshua said...

Wow! You are a very unique Mormon, if I may say. (I mean it as a compliment.)

And, actually, the way you put it so well -- "We silenced them, but what if it turns out they were right?" -- that's the exact thing I have genuinely considered regarding the claims of Mormonism. (God knows I have.) And then I automatically consider the implications and the facts as we know them. They keep reaffirming the initial answer I received in prayer (which was "no").

Regarding beliefs: After living in a mostly Buddhist country (where folk religions are heavily practiced), I would have to say that beliefs are important and form the basis of people's actions, for better or worse. Yet, at the same time, there are many Buddhist who do more "good works" than I do. Yet, I wonder: Is their intent just selfish gain (reference teachings of Buddhism regarding karma)?

The New Testament seems to stress the intent of the heart and its importance. I strive to have a clear conscience and to do nothing for selfish gain. I fail often, but don't we all?

For what it's worth: I lived with a Mormon family for 3 months in 2009. They were extremely nice and caring and my family loves them very much (they are family). However, religion and beliefs were not something that we were allowed to talk about the entire time.

I really appreciate your comments and your correction. And, again, I apologize for coming off as rude and uncivil. It's the last thing I want to be because it brings shame to the Name of Christ Jesus. In the future, I'll keep those things in mind.

I'll keep up with your blog and your unique perspectives. And I won't post "trollish" comments. :D

May God allow each of us to know more clearly and personally Himself through His Son, Jesus. But not only know Him, but to live His true teachings and know the Truth.