Sunday, January 24, 2010

My Testimony

Time for station identification. I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, generally called the Mormon Church. I believe in God The Father, in Jesus Christ, His Son, and in the Holy Ghost. If you were wondering where I stand on all this, here you go. I have to say, though, that Article 12 is a real challenge for me these days. And please note, none of the articles say we believe everybody but us Mormons is going to Hell. Here are


(History of the Church, Vol. 4, pp. 535—541)

1. We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ,
and in the Holy Ghost.

2. We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for
Adam’s transgression.

3. We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be
saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.

4. We believe that the first principles and ordinance of the Gospel are:
first, Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; second, Repentance; third,
Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; fourth, Laying
on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost.

5. We believe that a man must be called of God, by prophecy, and by
the laying on of hands by those who are in authority, to preach
the Gospel and administer the ordinances thereof.

6. We believe in the same organization that existed in the Primitive
Church, namely, apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, evangelists,
and so forth.

7. We believe in the gift of tongues, prophecy, revelation, visions,
healing, interpretation of tongues, and so forth.

8. We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated
correctly; we also believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God.

9. We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal,
and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important
things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.

10. We believe in the literal gathering of Israel and in the restoration
of the Ten Tribes; that Zion (the New Jerusalem) will be built
upon the American Continent; that Christ will reign personally upon
the earth; and, that the earth will be renewed and receive its
paradisiacal glory.

11. We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the
dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same priv-
ilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.

12. We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and
magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.

13. We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous,and
in doing good to all men; indeed, we may say that we follow the
admonition of Paul - We believe all things, we hope all things,
we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all
things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report
or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.

----Joseph Smith

It is my testimony to anyone who reads this that the Book of Mormon is precisely what it claims to be: the word of Almighty God, transcribed from original records by His Prophet, Joseph Smith. No sane person can read that book and honestly say it is the work of a barely literate 14-year farm boy. It is not of this world. It is either of Heaven or of Hell, and there is no way Hell would ever offer up such a powerful, consuming testimony of The Lord Jesus Christ, of His mission, His gospel, and His atonement.

If the Book of Mormon cannot be of Hell, nor of a charlatan, then it must be of Heaven, and that is my personal testimony. If you would like to know for yourself, I’ll get you a copy. Pray about it, then read it, but don’t read it the way I did the first time back in ’76 or ’77. I was determined to find holes and absurdities in it, and like anyone who looks at something with a prejudice, I saw what I was prepared to see. However, what I saw had no relation to what I was actually looking at!

I caution you to not be like the Pharisees, who stood eyeball-to-eyeball with the Son of God and wanted to pick nits about the clothes, or his grammar, or whatever. Read the book with an open mind, to see if it has anything to offer you. If it does not, it can’t hurt you, and you will be the better for having experienced a wonderful story.

The Savior told Peter that the testimony, or witness of the Holy Ghost was the rock upon which He’d build His church. Do not apply the wisdom of Man to the Wisdom of God; you’ll come up ‘way short. Yes, you might think you’ve found holes in the book, but you will be shortchanging yourself. Build your testimony on the rock, not on what you think you know.

There are some who will remember my atheist/Objectivist period. For about 15 years, I was a fire-breathing atheist. No one could stand against me because of the polemic skill provided by Ayn Rand, Leonard Peikoff, and other Objectivist philosophers. I talked several people away from religion, and that is something I deeply regret. I’ve found a few of them and told them I was wrong. The problem was that my life wasn’t working the way I wanted it to. Ironically, it was Rand’s principle of questioning your premises that allowed me to get outside my box and look at religion. At the time, I was associating in a business venture with several Mormons, and listened to what they had to say. Their lives were producing what I wanted – not just materially, but in all regards.

I started reading the Book of Mormon and took the standard six introductory lessons from the missionaries. I fooled around with it for two years. My wife at the time was fanatically anti-Mormon because she was once abused by a punk of a husband whose family may have been Mormon. Never mind that if the church had known what he was doing, he’d have been excommunicated – assuming he really was a member of the church.

Anyway, I wore out about a dozen missionaries, asking a million questions. Finally, one of them told me straight out that they had other people to work with, and I was going to have to fish or cut bait. Someone had given me a few copies of a church magazine called, “The Ensign.” One day, when my wife was out of town, I was sitting in the floor, reading one of them. Suddenly, without warning or preamble, I had the most overwhelming sense of being inundated – literally flooded – with warm, soft love. At the same moment, I had an impression of something in my head saying, “This is right, Wess. What you are doing is right. Go to the next step.” The feeling and the message lasted about three or four minutes, then faded, leaving me filled with a drowsy peacefulness.

Now anyone who knew me in that era will tell you that such emotional responses to what I called ghost stories were very, very far from my character. I’m capable of crying at John Wayne movies, or about episodes from history. Emotional response has always been one of my best things, but never anything like that. And never without some warning, or some external cause. Afterward, I went back and read that page again, and there was nothing there that could have elicited such a response.

The next week, I made an appointment to be baptized, and have never questioned or regretted the decision for an instant. Since becoming a member of the church, I’ve sinned pretty significantly a few times, but on other occasions, when I’d done my part, I’ve had revelations that were absolutely, unquestionably NOT things I’d ever come up with – and they were always right.

Again, I testify to all who read this that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is just exactly that: Christ’s church in this, the final dispensation of Earth’s history. I also promise you that if you do not agree with that, nor believe the things I’ve said here, you will not go to Hell. Well, you might finagle a ticket there on your own, but it won’t be because you aren’t a Mormon. Jesus is the Christ. He lives. He loves us all, and He died on the cross to atone for our sins. He will return to claim the Earth that is rightfully His.

I lay this, most humbly, at your feet, and call you my brothers and sisters, in the Name of Our Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

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