I recently read a quote that was so powerful to me that it keeps coming back to mind. So I’ll share it below my own remarks in light of the powerful witness so many others have expressed and which I personally have experienced. I was born into the church. Some people think anyone with my background is just brainwashed. But such is not the case. It is vital for each person to go through the process of gaining their own testimony.
During my early twenties, at one point, I dated a young man who was a student at a local university. One quarter he signed up for a class, apparently designed to destroy students belief in God. This fellow and I had numerous arguments dealing with the things he was being exposed to. As he’d state the ideas I felt repulsed by the things he said, as I felt strongly that his teachers arguments were very, very flawed – but I was not clever or knowledgeable enough to discount the various opinions. Though I’d read some scriptures here and there in the Book Mormon I hadn’t read it all the way through. Somehow during this time I decided I simply had to read it and test it out for myself. So I started in and found myself in tears over and over as I read. Long before I arrived at the verses in Moroni 10:3-5, I had no doubt that this book is of God and a gift to His children. When the Spirit of the Lord speaks that strongly to ones heart the debate is over. Heavenly Father chose Joseph Smith to do His work because he knew the heart and soul of the man. There are so many witnesses I’ve read of in numerous settings that show Joseph cared deeply about his fellow men – a man of faith, a diligent and trustworthy soul.
The Greatness of the Prophet Joseph Smith ~ by Dr. John A. Widsoe (1872-1952)
“Since I struggled as a boy to find the Church and the message of Joseph Smith, I have been overwhelmed by the greatness of the Prophet. He towers above all men by his great teachings. Of course he was a man with the frailties of the flesh, but he also lived that God spoke to men through him. Indeed, he is the biggest man in the history of the world since the Savior lived among men nearly two thousand years ago. He was a magnificent type of man. The Prophet stands unique among the religious leaders of the world, for in practically all of his work in the restoration he had witnesses. Mohammed, Buddha, Confucius, as examples, each established his work without witnesses, but not Joseph Smith. There were witnesses to the Gold Plates and the Book of Mormon, in the visitation of heavenly personages, and in the receiving of many of the revelations. His work was inaugurated not by himself alone, but by and with witnesses. His teachings clear up so many misconceptions, that any man who honestly investigates the Prophet and his work, must come to a conviction that he was indeed a Prophet.”
~ Church Section, Deseret News, January 30, 1952.
I already knew the church to be true when I was prompted to ask God if the Book of Mormon was true. The experience I felt that day is not to be denied. Whenever I have had any doubts in the last 57 years I recall that day I knelt in prayer and put Moroni 10:4 to the test. If the Book of Mormon is true, and I know it to be, then Joseph smith was indeed called to be a prophet. I marvel at the kindness of our Heavenly Father and His Son to make truth available to those who are seeking as I was. YES, the Book of Mormon is what it is purported to be. That is my testimony and I do not stand alone! Praise be to our God!
I have, at various times, been told by friends of reasons they've left the church. These reasons have had varying degrees of effect on me. Sometimes they are genuine and even convincing, and show sincerity on the part of the teller. It's easy to be conerend about things for which we have no explanation when it seems important. But when I ask these people to expalin the BoM, it all falls apart. It still amazes me that people can be so eager to strain at the gnats of history or policy or human weakness in leaders, and so quick to swallow the camel of the explanations they can provide for the BoM.
There is so much I don't know and can't explain, but I know what I know. Parhaps one day God will see fit to give me the answers to my other questions, but for now I believe He expects me to be faithful to the answers I already have. It's not easy, but I don't think it's meant to be.
I say this as a person who was, at one time, very disillusioned witht he church and myself and everything else, and was on the verge of leaving. But that book sat on my shelf defying me to deny it's truthfulness. It is tangible, it is real, and it must be explained.
Cheryl Johnson: thank you for your testimony! I really felt the Spirit when I read your lines!
Several of my friends are leaving the Church or already left because of some faults they found in church history. I am no scholar and do not know enough to explain more to them. That article really put into words what I was pondering. It was definitely an answer to my prayer! Thank you!!!!
The only thing I heard about the Mormons when I was a young adult was that they had a wonderful choir. It wasn't until 27 years later I heard about the Book of Mormon in a round-about way. A young couple with children were acquainted with my husband through his military service, and invited us over for a movie and refreshments. When we got there with our young daughter, there were two young men dressed in white shirts, black ties and black pants with name tags with the same first name: "Elder." We were told that the movie was "Man's Search for Happiness" and to be polite, we stayed, but our lives were changed forever. They told us about the wonderful Book of Mormon and asked us to go home and read just a few verses they had marked. We started out skeptical, but after reading those passages (my husband on his break at work, and I, after putting our daughter to bed) and as I read, I felt the Spirit so strong that tears were pouring down my eyes and I knew I had to know more. The next morning when my husband got home, we both rushed to tell the other something, and he let me go first. I told him about feeling the Spirit that the book was true and wanted to know more. He replied that the same thing had happened to him, at exactly the same time. A little over 2 months later, we were baptized, Shortly after that, we were transferred to South Carolina and were awaiting sealing in the Temple when we realized we didn't have the money to go to Salt Lake, but that the Washington D.C. temple was opening soon. We waited that extra few weeks, and were among the first to be sealed there. Believe me, we continue to study and there is no other answer but that the Book of Mormon is truly heaven sent by an angel from God to a young boy whose mission it would be to bring the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to life. It's a shame that this world is so wicked that too many people are passing up the chance of a lifetime because they have no faith that God can do anything He wishes to help His people.
It appears that so much of the anti-Mormon folks concentrate their attacks on the early days of the church and Joseph Smith and/or the supposed infalibility of modern-day prophets/revelation.
Amazing that it's easier for sceptics to believe two compatible genders of human beings morphed from an amaeba, but can't comprehend that an angel could deliver scripture to a farm boy. Who's really jumping the shark?
I, too, "can't not believe" in a book whose only purpose is to do good--- to testify of Christ and to bring souls to Him. The Book of Mormon exists. That is indisputable. How it came to be, and arguing about how it came to be, is not nearly as important as that it DID come to be, and that reading it, and pondering it, changes my life, and changes me into someone who is trying to draw closer to God--- which in turn gives me great joy, and helps me to try and be the kind of person who makes life happier for others.
I am reminded of the time I first logged onto the internet (1995). Just for 'fun' I typed 'Mormon' into the search engine and was amazed at the amount of anti- stuff that instantly appeared. Read some of it. One writer said, in effect, that Joseph was a highly intelligent shyster that came up with this religious con and convinced others to join in.
Another said he was an ignorant country bumpkin, that lucked onto a good ruse and some how,managed to make it stick - sort of like Forrest Gump.
At that point, for me it was as Brother Peterson so eloquently delivered, that the anti-Mormon crowd themselves can't agree on a story that holds water, so they just make it up and soldier on.
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