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In November 2018, I asked this poll question on Twitter, which garnered 1,169 responses: “For those of you who hold a temple recommend, please indicate your testimony of the Church: 1) know it’s true OR 2) believe it’s true OR 3) hope it’s true OR 4) not sure if it’s true.” The results were as follows:
Not sure: 11%
A few days later, I asked this second poll question: “If you are an active Latter-day Saint and in a faith crisis, is to your hope to 1) find a way to stay OR 2) find a way to leave?”
Eighty-eight percent of the 335 respondents indicated they wanted to find a way to stay within the Church. After meeting with hundreds of individuals sharing their faith crises with me, this result did not surprise me. I repeated both Twitter polls in July 2021, with similar results.
While these are hardly scientific studies, these eye-opening results are worth pondering. It is interesting to note that less than half of the temple recommend holders who responded are confident enough in their testimony to use the word know, yet it is the most common word we hear in our fast and testimony meetings. Even though temple recommend holders are often considered to be our strongest members, over half responded with “believe,” “hope,” or are “not sure.”
We can take comfort in the scriptural teaching that to some it is given to “know” and to some it is given to “believe” (D&C 46:13–14). Both “knowing” and “believing” are listed in those verses, along with other gifts of the Spirit. The Savior explained, “All have not every gift given unto them; for there are many gifts, and to every man is given a gift by the Spirit of God” (D&C 46:11). We should honor that scriptural doctrine of different spiritual gifts (some believing and others knowing) and be fine with that.
I believe it strengthens our church to have people with different spiritual gifts. The Savior further explained the reason for bestowing different gifts: “To some is given one, and to some is given another, that all may be profited thereby” (D&C 46:12).
Saying “I know the Church is true” should not be a requirement imposed by others, ourselves, or our culture to be a fully participating member of our congregations, the body of Christ. Elder Uchtdorf taught, “I know of no sign on the doors of our meeting- houses that says, ‘Your testimony must be this tall to enter’.” All different types of testimonies should be welcomed and valued in our congregations.
No honest testimony should ever feel like a second-class testimony. I believe that the person behind each testimony is a daughter or son of our Heavenly Parents, doing the best they can to live their covenants and come unto Christ. All testimony types need to be heard and valued.
If you have an “I know the Church is true” testimony, please continue to share it. We need to hear your testimony! If you have a “hope” or even “I want to believe” testimony, please share that as well. If someone sits in our congregations and all they hear is “I know the Church is true” with every testimony, they may think, “I don’t belong here because I don’t have that type of testimony. What am I doing here? Is there anyone else like me?” Hearing all testimony types helps everyone feel that they belong as we create Zion.
The following was taken from the book, Listen, Learn, and Love: Improving Latter-day Saint Culture by Richard Ostler, currently on sale at Cedarfort.com.