This blog post will be directed mainly at an audience of LDS readers but I will try to incorporate a broader audience as well. I will try to succintly approach this topic of truth and revelation in the simplest way possible. This topic has been one that I have thought about off and on for the past 5-6 years and it is one that touches upon one of my greatest and deepest concerns. My main purpose in writing this is to express some thoughts I have and to hopefully get you to review your testimony and hopefully have a positive experience.
Book of Mormon Challenge
At the end of the book of mormon there is a challenge and a promise made by the Prophet Moroni. This challenge and promise is issued to every member and investigator of the church. Typically members and investigators read the Book of Mormon or at least read pamphlets the missionaries provide before taking the challenge. The challenge and promise leads members and investigators to testimony gaining experiences by which they may glean further faith and testimony throughout the rest of their lives. The challenge and promise is provided below
3 Behold, I would exhort you that when ye shall read these things, [the Bookf of Mormon] if it be wisdom in God that ye should read them, that ye would remember how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men, from the creation of Adam even down until the time that ye shall receive these things, and ponder it in your hearts.
4 And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.
When we do ask about the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon there are three qualifiers in order for the truth to be made manifest unto us. These are:
1. Ask with a sincere heart
2. Ask with real intent
3. Ask having faith in Christ
If one of these elements is missing while asking God, do you think He will give you an answer? The answer is probably no. Many people have personally taken this challenge and received an answer. Many have also taken this challenge and recieved a negative answer (the Book of Mormon is not true). What accounts for these differences in results? It’s probably due to a difference in asking, specifically in regards to the three qualifiers.
Asking with a sincere heart
To me asking with a sincere heart means that you truly want to know whether the Book of Mormon is true. It is not enough to have a passing whim of desire to know the veracity of the book or not. It has to be somethign that you are truly and deeply concerned about to the degree where true sincerity is present. Do you really want to know or not?
Having Faith in Christ
I don’t know whether a testimony of the divinity of Christ is quite necessary but I beleive that believing that you can and will recieve an answer through divine means is necessary. Faith is action and taking the action of asking God with every expectation of recieving an answer seems to me to satisfy this qualifier. If you don’t beleive that you even can receive an answer, then God possibly will not give you an answer.
This part of the scripture is the part that sticks out to me the most. What does it mean to have real intent? To me it means that you have the intent to follow God in whatever answer he gives you. Yes, I do mean whatever answer He gives you. It means being willing to act upon the revelation given. If one is not willing to accept the Book of Mormon due to whatever reason while asking God if it is true, would God really give that person an answer? I would say no. Contrastly, if one is not willing to denounce the Book of Mormon if given the answer that is was false, would God give that person an answer? Again I would say no.
These three qualifiers, I beleive, aren’t stictly held to questions about the Book of Mormon but I feel they hold true to questions about the Church in general, the divinity of Christ, Joseph Smith, and etc. A member of the church needs to gain a testimony of a lot of different facets of the LDS church.
Lover of Truth
One of my favorite quotes of all time and one that inspired the title of my blog says that, “The man who has a certain religious belief and fears to discuss it, lest it may be proved wrong, is not loyal to his belief; but has but a coward’s faithfulnessto his prejudices. If he were a lover of truth, he would be willing at any moment to surrender to his belief for a higher, better, and truer faith.”
So the question is, are you as a member of the LDS church or as a believer in any faith really a lover of truth that you would be willing at any moment to surrender your belief for a higher, better, and truer faith? Many have taken the challenge presented by Moroni and asked God if the Book of Mormon is true and whether the Church is true. They have garnished a testimony from those experiences and believe that they are true. However, many have recieved opposite responses. Do both of these groups fully meet the qualifiers in order to receive an answer? Speaking hypothetically, if the Book of Mormon, the church, and everything else about the gospel were not to be true, would you really want to know? Are you sincere about knowing that? If it were not true, would you be willing to lay down your faith and search for a higher truth?
My brother in an email to me on my mission said it very eloquently.
“Members and missionaries place so much emphasis on trying to get others to reexamine their own faith and consider ours. To actually contemplate whether the faith or non-faith that they follow is actually right. Have we done that ourselves. When obtaining a testimony, was the consideration that the church could not be true even a possibility. I believe for many, the social and family pressures don't allow this consideration. And yet many others can't change the religion of their family and culture for the same family and social reasons. Studies show that the majority of people stay in the religion that they were raised in. Well, were you lucky enough to be born into the right religion?”
So in conclusion do you truly want to know whether your belief system is true and are you willing to follow or discontinue following that? Is there anything that would prevent you from truly asking God with a sincere heart, real intent, and faith about the veracity of your religion and belief system? All of these questions are very hard to truly ask ourselves and to honestly answer but I feel they are good questions to ask and can lead us in positive directions, whichever direction that is.