What is Mormon "testimony"?
November 27, 2021 5:30 PM   Subscribe

What does a Mormon mean when they say they had a "strong testimony" or a "weak testimony"?

In the Evangelical tradition I grew up in, a "testimony" was basically a story. To "give your testimony" meant telling the story of who you were before you converted (or "got saved"), how and why you converted, and who you are now.

I've been watching a bunch of ex-Mormon videos recently, and testimony-as-story doesn't seem to fit how they use the word "testimony".

My guess at this point is that a Mormon "testimony" is something like a positive feeling. If you have a "strong testimony", you have strong positive feelings about the religion and your place in it. Is that anywhere near what it means? If not, what does it mean?
posted by clawsoon to Religion & Philosophy (7 answers total)
If I understand correctly it's more of a revelation kind of thing.
posted by flabdablet at 5:33 PM on November 27, 2021

Best answer: Ex-Mormon here. I don’t remember if there’s a exact definition but in general it’s a church member’s feelings about their faith. Once a month (at least back in the late 90s) the main church meeting is called “testimony meeting” where anyone can stand up in front of the congregation and “bare their testimony.” People tell personal stories, they talk about challenges they’ve encountered, they talk about parts of the scriptures that means something to them. It’s a way to publicly express your faith.
posted by not_the_water at 5:56 PM on November 27, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Born and raised in the Mormon religion and was in for 40 + years (ex-mo, now). A testimony is your belief in the “church” and can include your belief in Jesus/deity. Basically I could bear my testimony of my level of belief of the truthfulness of the gospel (according to the Mormon religion), Jesus as a savior, truthfulness and belief in the Book of Mormon, that the prophet (current and Joseph Smith) are modern day prophets who lead the church and are the mouthpiece of God. People also have testimonies about pretty much any aspect of the teaching of the church/prophets/leaders such as tithing, keeping the sabbath holy, word of wisdom, etc. So a testimony is what you believe and how hard and strong you believe it.
posted by Sassyfras at 6:30 PM on November 27, 2021 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Raised Mormon, family still very active. I like Sassyfras’ explanation. A testimony is just a strong belief in the truthfulness of church theology generally or or part of the church (the Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith’s story, the sanctity of the temple, anything) based on God’s personal revelation to you (which can take many forms).
posted by charmedimsure at 6:38 PM on November 27, 2021 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Born and raised Mormon, but left in the late 1980s when I was in high school. All answers but the first are spot-on for my understanding. It's your personal conviction that the Mormon church is "true". At least when I was Mormon, people who "bore their testimonies" at Testimony Meetings on the first Sunday of each month would invariably include the phrase, "I know this church is true" among whatever else they said.
posted by jdroth at 7:02 PM on November 27, 2021 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks everyone! Seems like a fairly consistent answer from those who've been Mormon.
posted by clawsoon at 8:06 PM on November 27, 2021

That conviction should ideally be accompanied by "feeling the spirit" which is either a manifestation of the Holy Ghost revealing truth to you and hopefully the recipient(s) of your testimony, or just really strong emotions, depending upon your perspective. More (church website)
posted by mecran01 at 8:00 AM on November 28, 2021 [1 favorite]

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