Thursday, November 27, 2014

The LDS Church Does Not Teach "Fake It 'til You Make It" or "Lying for the Lord"

I have heard over and over again in my life the charge that the LDS Church believes in the concept of "Fake it 'til you make it" and also that "lying for the Lord" is okay.

That is not true, and members of the Church, especially, should not perpetuate that false charge. 

I have searched long and hard, and there has never been any official statement from any leader I have ever found that uses the term "fake it 'til you make it" or encourages, in any way, "lying for the Lord" - or even implies that message. The first is a phrase that an anti-Mormon group coined to describe the idea that expressing a testimony helps build a testimony - and those two concepts are radically different from each other. Seriously, they are radically different concepts. The second actually is a phrase I have heard justified by Protestants when I lived in the Deep South - and from a man who was distributing pamphlets outside a Seminary building that included blatantly doctored "quotes" from the Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith's translation of the Bible and other Mormon scriptures.  He was called on it and said, as a justification for such obvious dishonesty, that we was lying for the Lord - that the ends (tricking people to lead them away from the LDS Church) justified the means.

Both of those charges are false with regard to the LDS Church, and, at the very least, members of the LDS Church should recognize that simple fact.


bwv549 said...

I agree that those two phrases are caricatures and do not fairly represent how LDS view themselves.

Still, deception of one form or another was countenanced at various times (if not explicitly, at least in practice):

1. In the early Church regarding polygamy (multiple affidavits in Times and Seasons signed by those who were practicing it denying that the church practiced polygamy)

2. In the cover-up of the Mountain Meadows Massacre.

3. In the decades leading up to and following the manifesto, there was endemic lying in an effort to prevent church leaders or family members from going to jail.

Now, anyone who has taken the time to read the history knows that, for the most part, the individuals involved really struggled with this deception since it did, in fact, run counter to the general practice and reverence of honesty in the church.

"The Candle of the Lord" talk by Elder Packer is a decent reference for an LDS teaching of "fake it til you make it". This was one of a few select talks included in my mission binder, so I've read it countless times: "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? ... A testimony is to be found in the bearing of it!...Can you not see that it will be supplied as you share it?"

You may disagree with the irreverent tone of the phrases, but it is not hard to understand why an outside might call these "lying for the lord" and "fake it til you make it".

Papa D said...

I understand how outsiders might read things, but there is a huge difference between bearing a testimony in faith that more will be added and lying about your beliefs - and the ellipses in the quote above are interesting and instructive. When a quote has to be patched together to make it seem to say what the whole statement didn't say, it only helps prove the point of this post.

Anonymous said...

It's not faithful to claim in a testimony that you know something is true when you actually don't. That is flat out lying. I've seen parents making their kids 'bear testimony' like such, and I've seen plenty of others rattle off similar testimony as well while the bishopric smiles serenely and does nothing about it. Nothing is added to these 'faithful' bearings of testimony except the idea that you are know in the cool kids club and all you had to do was pretend to have revelations that you didn't.

Papa D said...

I agree that nobody should intentionally claim to know what they don't believe they know, but I also have no problem with people saying they know things they believe they know. It's not my place to make that judgment - and I flat-out refuse to call someone a liar over that kind of difference of perspective.

I also don't like parents telling kids what to say, since I don't view that as a valid testimony, but I don't classify that as lying. I think it is a terrible practice, but, again, I can't term it lying.

Finally, I know of nothing from the leadership that encourages members to lie when they bear their testimonies - and, in fact, there has been direct instruction from them discouraging testimony coaching during Sacrament Meeting.

Louchlyn said...

"Another way to seek a testimony seems astonishing when compared with the methods of obtaining other knowledge. We gain or strengthen a testimony by bearing it. Someone even suggested that some testimonies are better gained on the feet bearing them than on the knees praying for them."

This quote here teaches exactly those two things. Saying you "know" something for the purpose of coming to "know" that thing means in fact you don't know it is faking it until you make it. You are faking a testimony to make one. Also saying you know something when you know you don't know it is the exact definition of bearing false witness. I was taught this as a missionary and instructed to lie about having a testimony in this way to as many people as possible every day. If that isn't lying for the Lord I don't know what is.

bwv549 said...

@Papa D: the ellipses were not intended to mislead, but merely to provide an example as succinctly as possible.

In your post you claimed to be unaware of any official message that even *implied* 'fake it til you make it'. I provided an example (Ensign, Jan 1983) that implies (at least to some degree) 'fake it til you make it'.

The entire talk may be found here:

You argued that bearing a testimony and finding that it has become strengthened is not 'fake it til you make it'. I agree.

But, I provided very specific verbiage from Packer that *goes somewhat beyond* your characterization of testimony building, IMO.

I understand that Packer's advice (in full context) may be regarded as both appealing and effective to many within the church -- however, I think it is rather easy to understand how the encouragement to testify beyond one's current knowledge may be characterized as 'fake it til you make it'.

[Best regards to you Papa D - I have read your posts for many years and enjoy them (even if I occasionally disagree a bit)]

Papa D said...

bwv549, I respect that.

Part of the reason, I am sure, that I can see that talk differently is that I had parents and leaders, including a Mission President, who saw it differently. Read as neutrally as possible, it certainly could be taken to mean what you say.