Testimony and spiritual experiences

(also see “Critical thinking”, “Making decisions”, “Prayers”, and “Scripture study”)

 

Pros of Mormonism from the perspective of the
Believer
Nonbeliever
The spirit gives us pure light and knowledge, allowing us to know for certain where we came from,what we’re supposed to be doing in this life, and where we are going after this. This testimony is the prized possession of many faithful Mormons. When all else fails, we always have our testimony. As President Benson said: “Every man eventually is backed up to the wall of faith, and there he must make his stand”. The believing Mormon often counts themselves fortunate that, no matter what the secular world throws at them, they will always have the knowledge of their testimony.
The nonbeliever probably finds little benefit in testimony in the traditional sense – i.e. having a knowledge that something is true even if it is not backed up by evidence and reason. However, many nonbelievers still see value in some sort of spirituality, in the idea that we don’t necessarily know all things with hard science and that there might be more to this world than meets the eye.
 
 
Cons of Mormonism from the perspective of the
Believer
Nonbeliever
Many faithful Mormons live in agony that they have never had the types of Spiritual experiences that they think others are having, or that they are supposed to be having. Faithful Mormons sometimes ask themselves: why don’t I have a testimony, why don’t I feel the spirit, and/or why can’t I have visions or see angels like Joseph Smith or other prophets?
Nonbelievers often have difficult times talking with believers about the church because of this issue. When believing members have testimonies, there is often a disconnect that can inhibit rational communication between the two parties. Some nonbelievers thus often feel extremely uncomfortable at church, surrounding themselves with people who have testimonies and who often can’t have rational, logical discussions about faith. The nonbeliever or doubter thus often feels like they have little place in the church and like they must constantly censor themselves. (See “Critical thinking”)
 
Furthermore, non-believing Mormons might find that the people they are surrounded with at church do not understand the painful process they have been through of losing a testimony. Losing a testimony is traumatic in a way that might not be possible for those who have never lost a testimony to understand. It is not enjoyable to be surrounded by people that cannot empathize with you.
 
Nonbelievers might also be repulsed by the methods in which the church foster’s development of testimony. Teachings such as “a testimony is found in the bearing of it”, that you should desire to believe until you do, that testimonies are usually nothing more than quiet assurances, all carry the foul odor of manipulation through confirmation bias. How can wanting to believe something be the first step in ascertaining if it’s true or not?
 
The nonbeliever might have problems supporting or associating with an organization that relies on testimony, as many evil things have been done in this world by people who had a testimony that what they were doing was right. How many suicide bombers or crimes committed by religious fanatics were done because that person had a testimony that overcame logic and reason?

 

Comments relating to your lived experience with Mormonism are welcome. Although it can be difficult to distinguish at times, please focus on how the church helps and harms rather than it being true vs untrue.

Top