When we think about our testimony, what is it based upon? How is it not only relevant to us, but more relevant in how it inspires others? A testimony is not a set of ritual and rote phrases repeated on a consistent basis. A personal and true testimony is one that brings us into a deeper and more satisfying and fulfilling relationship with Jesus Christ, and how it empowers us to live out a more authentic Christian life that empowers and inspires others.
This is from the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship and from Mormon Theology Seminar.
I have sometimes been frustrated by our tendency as members of the church to focus so much on testifying about the Book of Mormon—its truthfulness, its miraculous origin story, etc.—while sometimes neglecting to focus as strongly on what it actually says. The Mormon Theology Seminar provides a model of how to actually engage with scriptural texts in a way that brings richness and depth to the material.
During our study of Mosiah 15, Abinadi spoke to me most strongly of a God that teaches us by example how to confront loss, pain, and death, while still choosing life and love. As someone who works in the mental health field, it’s no surprise that these are the themes that stood out to me—most of the time, these are exactly the kinds of themes that dominate the work I do with clients.
What I am a little surprised by, though, is how much studying theology in the context of this seminar has, in turn, influenced my daily work and made me a better mental health clinician. So often we tend to talk of theology and doctrine and philosophy in a way that seems abstract and far removed from life on the ground. One of the most powerful things about this seminar project was how it made theology relevant to my own lived experience again, and made me think a lot about how to be a better Christian.
What comes across is the detachment we may succumb to when it is reading the scriptures. We sometimes, and I know I’m quite guilty of this myself, is to intellectualize and philosophize the texts. Instead, what I am missing is how to actually implement the very teachings and insights I’ve gained from my time in scripture reading.
In a sense, a true testimony is not so much what we attempt to teach others from the scriptures, it is more represented in how we are living out the teachings, revelations, and insights we gain from our time meditating on the words of God.