Apostle Counsels

CES Letter Core Question

Does sharing a testimony help a person gain a testimony?

Apostle Counsels

The following are counsels from members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles on how to gain a testimony:

It is not unusual to have a missionary say, ‘How can I bear testimony until I get one? 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?’ Oh, if I could teach you this one principle: a testimony is to be found in the bearing of it!

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.

It may come as you bear your own testimony of the Prophet...Consider recording the testimony of Joseph Smith in your own voice, listening to it regularly...Listening to the Prophet’s testimony in your own voice will help bring the witness you seek.

In other words, repeat things over and over until you convince yourself that it’s true. Just keep telling yourself, “I know it’s true...I know it’s true...I know it’s true” until you actually believe it and you have a testimony that the Church is true and Joseph Smith was a prophet.

How is this honest? How is this ethical? What kind of advice are these apostles giving when they’re telling you that if you don’t have a testimony, bear one anyway? How is this not lying? There is a difference between saying you know something and saying you believe something.

What about members and investigators who are on the other side listening to your “testimony”? How are they supposed to know whether you actually do have a testimony of Mormonism or if you’re just following Packer’s, Oaks’, and Andersen’s counsel and you’re lying your way into one?


CES Letter, Page 78

Teaching and bearing witness of the truth allows the Holy Ghost to provide its own independent witness.

These leaders are simply paraphrasing a revelation given to Joseph Smith:

"But a commandment I give unto you, that ye shall declare whatsoever thing ye declare in my name, in solemnity of heart, in the spirit of meekness, in all things. And I give unto you this promise, that inasmuch as ye do this the Holy Ghost shall be shed forth in bearing record unto all things whatsoever ye shall say. (D&C 100:7-8.)

Nephi recorded: “When a man speaketh by the power of the Holy Ghost the power of the Holy Ghost carrieth it unto the hearts of the children of men. But behold, there are many that harden their hearts against the Holy Spirit, that it hath no place in them; wherefore, they cast many things away which are written and esteem them as things of naught" (2 Nephi 33:1-2).

Joseph Smith taught this principle many times:

 “I pray that the Lord may enable you to treasure these things in your mind, for I know that His Spirit will bear testimony to all who seek diligently after knowledge from Him” (TPJS 29).

“Faith comes by hearing the word of god, through the testimony of the servants of God; that testimony is always attended by the Spirit of prophecy and revelation” (TPJS 148).

“No man can be a minister of Jesus Christ except he has the testimony of Jesus; and this is the spirit of prophecy. Whenever salvation has been administered, it has been by testimony” (TPJS 160).

When Jesus Christ appeared to two disciples on the road to Emmaus, they did not recognized Him, but as He spoke, they later related:  “Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?” (Luke 24:32).

People may feel the influence of the Holy Ghost and not understand it.  At one time a group of Lamanites “were baptized with fire and with the Holy Ghost, and they knew it not” (3 Ne. 9:20).


Additional Resources:

Lesson 45: Strengthening Testimonies by Bearing Them, Aaronic Priesthood Manual 3, (1995), 182–84

FAIR Questions 2: Recognizing the Voice of the Spirit 0:10:55

Bear Testimony Frequently

Best of Fair 11: “Believest thou…?”: Faith, Cognitive Dissonance, and the Psychology of Religious Experience, Dr. Wendy Ulrich, 0:53:25

pt 1, Spiritual Experiences As The Basis For Belief And Commitment

pt 2,Spiritual Experiences As The Basis For Belief And Commitment

pt 3,Spiritual Experiences As The Basis For Belief And Commitment

pt 4, Spiritual Experiences As The Basis For Belief And Commitment

pt 5, Spiritual Experiences As The Basis For Belief And Commitment

pt 6, Spiritual Experiences As The Basis For Belief And Commitment

How to Receive Revelation

Spiritual Experiences as the Basis for Belief and Commitment by Blake Ostler

The Spirit of Revelation — Elder David A. Bednar

“Thou Knowest That I Believe”: Invoking The Spirit of the Lord as Council Witness in 1 Nephi 11 by David E. Bokovoy,

The Spirit of Prophecy and the Spirit of Psychiatry: Restoration or Dissociation? -  by Richard N. Williams                                                                                                            

The Power of Personal Experiences   

Seeing the Light: Parallels in Mormon Conversion and De-conversion Stories (2012 FAIR Conference) by Rosemary Avance

Spiritual Experiences as the Basis for Belief and Commitment (2007 FAIR Conference) by Blake T. Ostler