When the missionary Elders "bore their testimony" and said they knew their religion was true, it puzzled me at first. I wasn't sure what that meant. They approached the subject of religion and their knowledge of their belief system with a sort of confidence I hadn't seen before. When they said Joseph Smith had seen and spoken with God the Father and Jesus Christ, it was almost too much to take in at first.
The religion they offered did not come quickly or easily to me. It was very hard for me to accept. But their sincerity affected mine, and ultimately I did "ask God" and got an answer from Him. It was so subtle, and so small an answer that at first I wondered if it was an answer from God at all. I trusted in it, acted on it, and the light grew.
From small means to greater and greater light, I have been converted to the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ. And now, after the many testimonies which have been given of Him, this is my own testimony, last of all, which I give of Him: That He lives; for I have seen Him. He has ministered to me. I adopt the words of others and confirm they, too, have seen Him:
I can say, like Nephi: "And now I, Nephi, write more of the words of Isaiah, for my soul delighteth in his words. For I will liken his words unto my people, and I will send them forth unto all my children, for he verily saw my Redeemer, even as I have seen him. And my brother, Jacob, also has seen him as I have seen him; wherefore, I will send their words forth unto my children to prove unto them that my words are true. Wherefore, by the words of three, God hath said, I will establish my word. Nevertheless, God sendeth more witnesses, and he proveth all his words." (2 Ne. 11: 2-3.)
I can say, like Moroni: "And then shall ye know that I have seen Jesus, and that he hath talked with me face to face, and that he told me in plain humility, even as a man telleth another in mine own language, concerning these things; And only a few have I written, because of my weakness in writing. And now, I would commend you to seek this Jesus of whom the prophets and apostles have written, that the grace of God the Father, and also the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost, which beareth record of them, may be and abide in you forever. Amen." (Ether 12: 39-41.)
I can say, like Alma: "And now, behold, I say unto you, and I would that ye should remember, that God is merciful unto all who believe on his name; therefore he desireth, in the first place, that ye should believe, yea, even on his word. And now, he imparteth his word by angels unto men, yea, not only men but women also. Now this is not all; little children do have words given unto them many times, which confound the wise and the learned." (Alma 32: 22-23.)
I am a faithful Mormon, who, like the missionaries who first told me of Joseph Smith and God's answer to his prayer, also affirms that God does still answer prayer. He is accessible and willing to make Himself known to anyone who follows the path to get that knowledge. "Verily, thus saith the Lord: It shall come to pass that every soul who forsaketh his sins and cometh unto me, and calleth on my name, and obeyeth my voice, and keepeth my commandments, shall see my face and know that I am..." (D&C 93: 1.)
If there is a problem with Mormonism today, it is that it doesn't believe and practice the original faith restored through Joseph Smith. Leaders have inadvertently put themselves between the members and God. They don't belong there. I have written eight books (at great personal cost) showing respect to the church, gratitude for all it has done and is doing to preserve the faith restored through Joseph, but also reminding all who read that it is ultimately about connecting with Jesus Christ. You will be damned if you are a successful Mormon with a good relationship with the brethren, but neglect your relationship with Christ.
Those in the Strengthening the Membership Committee are in the gall of bitterness when they suggest my writings are threatening to them. To promote faith in Christ threatens their fifedom? To testify of Christ somehow dimishes the men who claim to represent Him? The idea is so patently off kilter that it reveals a dark motive to place respect for men above faith in Christ. I make no apologies for my testimony of Christ. Nor for my healthy skepticism of men. We are given free agency and we are required to use it. We must have the choice. Everyone has to choose. No matter how good the man is, men are all prone to mistakes, to vanity and pride, and to self-interests above the interests of others.
I am and will always remain a Mormon. I have more than faith in the religion, I have knowledge from Christ about my standing before Him. Therefore, I state with confidence what I believe, knowing that the Lord has made things known to me which He has kept hidden from others simply because they will not ask Him and let Him inform them also. My confidence in the religion is not the same as my confidence in the church, and this misbehavior by the Strengthening the Members Committee only reduces confidence in these mere men.
Despite the fact that the church has changed dramatically in the four decades since I joined, I have not changed all that much. Because of the increasing changes and the pace at which those changes are now taking place, I began to look into church history. What I concluded is shared in Passing The Heavenly Gift. It is my effort to help all those fellow believers who are disoriented by the increasingly rapid changes made by the church. If it isn't "true" then disprove it. However, if it is, then why persecute me for telling the truth?
The truth will prevail. No matter who fights against it, it will prevail. I will stand with truth, and against all who oppose it; either high or low, inside or outside the church. The truth matters. Men and institutions do not.
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