I’ve been thinking a lot about how one determines truth. Absolute truth. Unchanging truth. Over the last few weeks I’ve read conference talks by men I believe are prophets and apostles. I’ve perused various websites written by religious academics and religious skeptics. I’ve read the scriptures. I’ve talked to people I trust: my husband, my siblings, my father, my mother, my friends. I’ve prayed. The experience has been eye opening. When I’ve taken the academic route, focusing on physical proof, or questioning how mortal men can do spiritual works, I’ve been left hallow, confused, insecure. The truth is, men are imperfect and if you focus on man’s influence on religious organizations you are sure to lack faith. However, when I have sought spiritual things spiritually I’ve been blessed with peace, confidence, and extreme joy. My testimony of prayer has grown. Trusting in the arm of the flesh, even righteous flesh, leaves a margin for error. Trusting in God secures complete truth. In my studies I’ve been reminded that when you boil things down, they become concentrated, condensed. Much of what I believe comes down to these great truths:
There is a Father in Heaven.
I am his spirit daughter.
Jesus Christ is his Son, and my Redeemer.
The greatest commandment is to love: Love God, love everyone.
There is a prophet on the earth today.
Scriptures are God’s word.
Prayer is the means to divine communication.
The Holy Ghost is real and essential.
Revelation is real and ongoing. There is still more truth to be revealed.
Writing these down I’m reminded of the Articles of Faith. What a profound document. I want to frame them in my home. If I can but hold to these, and not let the changing winds of culture and time warp my knowledge of what truth is. I will stand strong.
In contemplating how one identifies truth, I was continually reminded of Galations 5: 22-23
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.”
A few weeks ago I was reading in 1st Nephi of the Book of Mormon. There is an account of a father and son, Lehi and Nephi. Lehi sees a vision in which he sees the tree of life, which bears fruith- beautiful to behold and to eat. When he partakes he is filled and wants the same for his family. Later Nephi, wanting to know the meaning of this vision, prayers. He is told that the fruit of the tree is symbolic of the love of God. I’ve read these chapters countless times. But this time it struck me that love and testimony are one and the same. Just as one can only determine real genuine love by how one feels, one gains a testimony of truth through feelings. No amount of statistical analysis, academic review, or intellectual debate can prove love if it is not felt. Likewise, trying to prove truth in these ways is futile. I know that God lives because I have felt His love. I can say that as sure as I know that my father loves me, or that my husband loves me, I know that there is a God and that He loves me. I know the Book of Mormon and Bible are true, because no other books have blessed me with more feelings of peace, confidence, and joy. Go ahead, tell me about the imperfections of men who strive to do God’s work. Show me where you see holes in the gospel, and I will tell you that I cannot deny feelings as intense as I have felt. Yes, we are all imperfect, but God is at the head. I agree that there is yet truth to be revealed. I believe that when we show ourselves worthy and willing to receive He will happily give.