I’d like to expound a little on some thoughts that were expressed in an email exchange with a friend of mine this morning (Thanks, Chris!).
Attend any LDS sacrament meeting on the first Sunday of the month and I can almost guarantee that you will hear the phrase, “I know the church is true”. I’m pretty sure that this is an expression derived from Doctrine and Covenants Section 1 verse 30:
And also those to whom these commandments were given, might have power to lay the foundation of this church, and to bring it forth out of obscurity and out of darkness, the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth, with which I, the Lord, am well pleased, speaking unto the church collectively and not individually—
I’m not doubting that some believe, have strong convictions or even “know” that “the church is true”, but what does that mean? Does simply knowing something change you? If so, how does knowledge change you?
Consider the common knowledge that exercise is important, yet how many people are overweight?
How does ‘knowing that the church is true’ change your life? What do you do with that knowledge? Do you repent? Do you expel anger and hatred from your life? Do you allow the love of Christ to fill and change you? Have you found redemption in Jesus Christ? Has he come to you? Do you know him?
I think the statement that members express in their testimonies on Fast Sunday,
“I know the church is true…” has become something that is said by rote. It’s kind of like a stamp they place on their testimony list. It validates it. It is, I feel sometimes it becomes just a form of self adulation, a showing of how firm in the faith they are, by stating they know the church is true, whether they really know anything about it or not. See, aren’t I good person for knowing, sort of thing.
A prideful statement, instead of a declaration of personal knowledge and conviction. Maybe I’m way off on this. I don’t doubt the sincerity of people’s convictions, but I do doubt
this statement that seems to have just become a testimony “form.” Kind of like a prayer that is said by rote without any thought, perhaps, a giving of lip service while hearts are far from the Creator. Something one says because they feel strongly about some aspect of the church, but nothing of real substance.
I think many don’t even think about what they are saying. It’s just something you say when you say a testimony, I know the church is true. Like prayers, ” Thank you for this day, bless mommy and daddy, bless the cat, bless the dog,”
I don’t think you can say you know something, unless– like you have stated here– that you must have studied the church, , observed something, had a witness, implemented something into your life that convinced you of the truth that the church is what it says it is.
Would it be better to say, “I know the church is true because…” This statement would then become a witness of a principle or something that you saw at work, or even a list of things that you have witnessed as pointing to the truth of the church.
Why is it that people say they know the church is true? This use to bother me a lot. It’s like they are giving a defense because someone has challenged them in saying it’s not true. Who are they trying to convince?
Why do they say this to fellow members, if they have nothing to back up why they believe it’s true?
Personally, I feel it would be more valid a statement if one were to say,
“I know the gospel of Christ is true because I have lived its principles and have seen the results of righteous living as taught by Jesus Christ.
I believe the church is the instrument to disseminate the truths of the gospel and was set up by Jesus Christ to do that.” After all, it’s not the church organization that we are to place our testimonies on, but on Jesus Christ.
And the church is true to what? Is the church as an organization without any blemish or
backsliding? Does the church ever equivocate on principles or issues that it should not? Has the church ever placed great emphasis on appearances before the world? Why is the organization true? What is true? “True,” to me,
means remaining always faithful.
“Church,” anciently, meant “ekklesia”, members of the body of Christ.
“Church” was/is the members. As long as the members remain faithful to the gospel of Christ, it is true.
The church is true insofar as its members consistently follows the truths of Jesus Christ and do not equivocate.
The organization which members equate with being the church, can be true in one area and not remain true in others. It is not infallible. Policies are not the gospel. Policies are governing principles of the organization.
The gospel itself remains and is always true. But corporate organizations are run by mortals who have their own failings and who can backslide, and thus become untrue in some area or other and have an influence on that organization. But a church set up as a corporation is only a legal entity.
It is the members themselves who are the church. It is they who, if they are faithful in living the commandments and following Christ, who are true.
The organization is just the vehicle.
Good points; I share the same views about “the Church”. On the one hand, the true Church are the converted members who know and are known of Christ and on the other hand, it is in the eyes of the world a corporation that does its best to teach, preach and share the gospel by applying doctrines and principles via policies and such.
I don’t want to sound “elitist” in condemning people’s expressions of faith though. I think that when people express that they “know the church is true”, they are just trying to say, “Hey, I’m a believer in all this” as a general expression of conviction.
As a child and teenager, I used the same language because it was the only way I knew how to communicate what I felt.
As time went on and I gained pure knowledge about certain truths, I grew out of rote phrases and expressions. I do think that there is a real danger on how flippantly we throw the word “know” around.
I try to teach my children the difference between believing something and knowing something so that they can correctly express themselves if they so choose.
The 10 commandments warn of “bearing false witness”. Isn’t that what one does when they say they know something is true when in reality it is only something they believe is true?
I think language is more important than we realize and that there can be great danger in unintentionally “training” people into the comfort of thinking that they “know” the truth of something. It could have the effect of them not seeking for real light and revelation because they trust in a fabricated conviction instead of real experience with the divine.
It’s something that I think deserves our attention.