Testimony: Process, Path, Belonging?

I have been asked to teach EQ in my ward tomorrow as a pinch hitter. I’ve been asked to teach from Elder Godoy’s talk on the Process of Testimony. The talk primarily argues that testimonies can be valid even if they are not associated with a single, marvelous spiritual experience.
I am interested in what topics interest people in this broad set of themes.
Some possible questions include
1) what is the difference between process and path as a metaphor for testimony?
2) to what extent does testimony reflect a declaration of identity and community? to what extent does testimony reflect an exercise of will?
3) to what extent is testimony an assertion of our commitment and to what extent does it reflect the church’s commitment to us?
4) what does it mean for us to have “testimony” in place of the experience of regenerating grace familiar from sectors of evangelicalism? what does it mean to separate “testimony” from salvation (they are crucially merged for many evangelicals)?
5) how contagious are testimonies? how contagious should they be?

What are some of the other avenues to discussion of this topic that people find productive and inspirational?

Comments

  1. These are excellent questions that should lead to a great discussion. A few others that come to my mind include:

    * to what extent does “testimony” mean or reflect an “event” or “experience” (e.g., “burning of bossom”, or “feeling of peace”)? or

    * to what extent does “testimony” mean or reflect a conclusion reached in the mind or heart on some basis (e.g., based on such experiences or events)? or

    * to what extent is “testimony” tied to particular “truth claims” as distinct from “commitment” to an organization, or person (including God) or path? or

    * does the frequent statement that a “testimony is found in the bearing of it” mean that we should “fake it till we make it” or something else?

    * what does it mean to “lose” a testimony? is that “contagious”? or

    * what did President Lee mean when he said that testimonies are “fragile” and as hard to hold on to “as a moonbeam”?

    * in what ways is “testimony” in the LDS sense and setting similar to or different from “testimony” in the legal sense and setting?

  2. I’d love to hear a discussion of what “testimony” means to each person and how each person believes they “gained” their own testimony. I did that once with a HPG lesson on Elder Wirthlin’s GC talk, “Life’s Lessons Learned” (just went around the room and asked each HP what lesson they had learned about God and/or the Gospel) – and it was one of the most memorable lessons I’ve ever experienced.

  3. I’m reminded of a story from a man in my ward, who converted to the Church in his 20s. He commented that while investigating the Church, he would come home from work and sit down with his Book of Mormon and a beer. He said that he never gained a testimony until after he gave up the beer.

    Another family member, a convert as well, said that she believed, but never “knew” until the moment that she came up from the water after her baptism.

    Testimonies are fragile things, in my opinion, and they are nourished by behavior, even if we don’t have a testimony of said behavior yet (beautifully recursive…).

  4. epidemiology of testimony, eh smb? Perhaps a focus could be on whether testimonies are more contagious than general enthusiasm, and why.

  5. Kevin Barney says:

    I’ve actually been thinking some about this, because I have to speak in church tomorrow on “Man’s Search for Divine Truth,” which was the title of a conference talk back in 2005. The talk didn’t really have anything useful, so I had to approach it my own way. I’m going to describe my own “Moroni’s promise” moment from my mission, which remains the foundation of my testimony to this day.

    Prior to that time I had a testimony, but I call it a testimony of assumption, in that I simply assumed the church was what it claims to be, because I was born and raised in the church and never knew anything different.

  6. Another question might be what is the difference between faith and a testimony? Are they different or the one and the same? If they are different, why? What are the differences, etc.

  7. Mephibosheth says:

    I thought Blake Ostler’s “Spiritual Experiences as a Basis of Belief and Committment” had some very good insights on this topic, especially his discussion of Alma 32 on how our testimonies grow.

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