In this life, we walk by faith. That means we live without absolute certainty
or empirical evidence for our religious beliefs. Faith is an experiment,
a gamble: hoping, not knowing, that something is true (Alma
32:17-36). Faith is not doubt. Rather, faith is trust in certain
assumptions without which life seems unthinkable—the bedrock hopes
that anchor us and guide our actions (Ether 12:6).
But because faith involves elements of uncertainty, it can coexist with
When actions taken in faith make us feel that our soul has been enlarged
or our understanding enlightened (Alma 32:28),
we call these experiences a testimony. A testimony does not provide indubitable
proof. Instead, it motivates us to keep exercising faith despite uncertainty
or the limitations of our knowledge. Testimony-building experiences may
produce a sense of conviction so strong that we are prompted to declare,
"I know." But "believing," "trusting," and
"hoping" are also gifts of the Spirit (D&C
46:13-14). They, too, are forms of testimony.
Ultimately, our spiritual well-being does not depend on feeling certain
about a particular set of doctrines. The kind of knowledge that matters
most refers to relationships: Do we know God and Christ in the sense that
we experience their presence in our lives? Do we trust them? Are we growing
into their character (John 17:3)?
| Be Still, My Soul (Hymns
B. H. Roberts: Would
absolute certainty be desirable? "Know ye not that we walk
by faith, not by sight," is Paul's statement. From which I
infer that this very uncertainty in the midst of which we walk by
faith, is the very means of our education. What mere automatons
[people] would become if they found truth machine-made, of cast-iron
stiffness, and limited, that is to say, finite, instead of being
as we now find it, infinite and elusive . . .
|A Comprehensive History
of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
(Salt Lake City: Deseret News Press, 1930), 1:165-66
Obert C. Tanner: There
is nothing to fear now, unless it be a faith that is so weak it
fears honest inquiry. Only those not certain of the Gospel's eternal
truths are afraid of questions, and doubts, and seekers of truth.
Those with a testimony of the Gospel's great and noble standards
revealed from God will never have but love and encouragement in
their hearts for others who would pioneer for new truths or struggle
to comprehend old truths.
|Christ's Ideals for
Living (Salt Lake City: Deseret Sunday School Union Board, 1955),
David O. McKay: That
is what a testimony means. To know God, and Jesus Christ, is to
have life eternal . . . But the question arises—How may I
know? . . . There is a definite answer—a clear-cut statement
for our young people seeking a testimony: If ye will do the
will [of God], ye shall know. . . . What is God's will? . .
. Jesus said the first fundamental law is to "love the Lord
thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all
thy mind, and with all they strength. . . . And the second is like
unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself."
|Man May Know for Himself
(Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1967), 13
Lowell L. Bennion:
Faith is the sphere of the possible. It is an hypothesis, suggested
by the existence of some facts, but projecting beyond these to the
realm of what might be or could be. . . . Faith is adventurous and
creative. It not only is the sphere of the possible, but is also
the power which often makes the possible come into being. . . .
The student should not feel compelled to choose between faith and
knowledge. [G]ain and use knowledge where it is available. [W]alk
by faith where knowledge is not available.
|The Best of Lowell L.
Bennion (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1988), 181-84
Neal A. Maxwell: In
this life, clearly we "walk by faith" rather than by perfect
knowledge (2 Corinthians 5:7). The plan ensures that our perspective
is intentionally limited.
|Lord, Increase Our Faith
(Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1994), 51
|Dallin H. Oaks: Whereas
the world teaches us to know something, the gospel teaches
us to become something, and it is far more significant to
become than it is to know.
|"On Learning and Becoming,"
in On Becoming a Disciple Scholar
(Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1995), 92