We often say in LDS Church meetings when bearing testimonies, “I know that this Church is true.” However, since what we actually know (by the spirit) and what we mean (by this declaration) may differ, I offer my own interpretation by way of testimony.
Here is what I know to be true about the LDS Church.
I know that Jesus Christ is the head of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints—that He is the architect of its structure, designer of its decrees and author of its gospel. I testify that He is the living, active and involved executive, not distant or disinterested, although he does allow his servants (prophets and apostles, priests and priestesses) to exercise agency and judgment in their global and local jurisdictions and callings.
I know that the origins of the original Church of Jesus Christ, as documented in the New Testament, and the origins of the restored Church of Jesus Christ, as documented in the Pearl of Great Price and Doctrine and Covenants, are accurately conveyed. I testify that for 24 years, 1820 to 1844, Joseph Smith, Jr. (age 14 to 39) served as the prophet of the restoration and received many celestial visitations and revelations.
I know that the “golden plates” of the Book of Mormon were discovered, handled, translated and later published (first in English in 1829) by Joseph Smith, Jr. under the direction of the angel Moroni, the last of the Nephite prophets who, along with his father Mormon, served as editors of the many historical records entrusted to them. I testify that this book was accurately translated and accounts for over 1,000 years of history of the early “native Americans.”
I know that the Priesthood authority of God was restored to modern prophets by ancient prophets, namely Peter James and John and John the Baptist, and that special keys pertaining to the gathering of Israel and family history and temple work for the salvation of people, both living and the dead, who accept the gospel of Jesus Christ. I testify that the Priesthoods and Priesthood keys were restored by the very ancient prophets who were the designated custodians of them.
I know that the Church has been led, since the martyrdom of Joseph Smith Jr. and his brother Hyrum in 1844, by both revelation and reasoned counsel of designated prophets and apostles and other general and local authorities. I testify that the men of the Priesthood are called to their various offices by inspiration and revelation.
What I Do Not Mean by ‘True’
I do not mean that Church members, individual “leaders” or group of leaders are infallible. I believe the notion of any mortal human being “infallible” to be pernicious; in fact, I don’t believe Christ was infallible, in the sense that he was incapable of being wrong, making mistakes and committing sin. To believe in such “infallibility” would diminish his life and ministry. He was not only subject to temptation, but subject to temptation of the highest order; and yes, he was capable of succumbing and sinning. This understanding makes his perfect life, example and expression all the more spectacular.
I believe in the truth that all mortal men and women—individually and collectively, in groups, teams, marriages and organizations—are fallible, meaning they have their faults, foibles, and failures. They are not only capable of making mistakes—they do make mistakes. However, the fallibility of LDS Church members does not negate the truth of the restored gospel and Church. Hence, while in the ministry and administration of the Church, mistakes are made, gospel principles (not necessarily programs) remain true, inviolate.
I do not mean by “true” that the LDS Church has a corner on all truth or that it is the only Church that teaches truth. While it is the “only true Church” in its origin in the meridian of times and its restoration in these “latter days,” it is so only because Jesus Christ was and is personally involved in its founding, serving as cornerstone, and in its functioning, serving as headmaster. Truth can be found in all churches, and in many other places, even strange, exotic places.
As a life-long seeker of truth (and member of the LDS Church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or “Mormons”), I am grateful for the rich bounty of truth to be found in this Church, and in myriad other people, places and things.
I testify that all truth can be circumscribed into one great whole, because its origin is in the goodness of God, author of light and truth. I also testify that we (yes, you and I) can, by availing ourselves to God’s plan of salvation and submitting ourselves to His proving and purifying process, become reliable sources of truth, even saviors and gods to those who dwell in relative darkness, both here and hereafter. Amazingly, we can even reach the point where we share in celestial dominions, powers, glories, priesthoods, and kingdoms, as heirs to the estate of the Father of all the children of Adam and Eve on this earth and on other spheres of existence.