Vol.VI No.XI Pg.5
January 1970

Bearing Witness

Robert F. Turner

I am told that two elders (?) all of twenty years old, asked their host if he believed the scripture re. witnessing; i.e., in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.? he answered that he did: and then one young man turned to his companion and asked him to bear witness.

The youth said, I bear witness that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God. Whereupon, the first youth also said, I bear witness that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God.

Well, that settled it! Joseph Smith must have been a prophet of God for both young men bore witness — or did they??

In genuine trial, does God or the court consider every one who can speak — utter words — a witness? We know better! To qualify as a witness, one must have knowledge of that to which he testifies. John could bear witness of Christ because he had heard, seen, and touched Him; and because Christ had been manifested unto him. (1 Jn. 1:1-3) The manifestation of that eternal life was Deity made known in the life, works, and heavens declarations concerning Jesus of Nazareth. (Jn. 5:31-47 14:7-9) John, like Peter, had been with Jesus in the holy mount (2 Pet. 1: 16-21) and spake as he was moved by the Holy Spirit. Now theres a WITNESS for you.

But some have concluded there can be no witnessing or testifying today. This is hasty! We have as much right — and obligation — to be a witness, as did any saint of the past. What we have seen, heard, touched — i.e., what we have come to know, we may tell — testify. If you believe Jesus is the Christ, you may tell others THAT YOU BELIEVE JESUS IS THE CHRIST. If you were baptized on July 6th., you may tell others WHAT YOU DID, AND WHAT YOU FEEL ABOUT IT!! But dont get the idea that your testimony makes a thing true — or even that your testifying is on a par with that of the inspired Apostles.

Witnessing and Testifying have a sectarian or denominational connotation — enough so that I do not use the words in the current religious sense — because what can be no more than purely subjective, has been used as though it were a voice from God. In fact, this is one of the modern or neo-orthodox concepts of how God speaks to man. A bit earlier, sectarians thought the Holy Spirit moved them to witness in some direct way. Of course, both concepts are erroneous and harmful — leading gullible people to accept as testimony from God something that originated in the mind of the speaker.

Mormon elders may testify THAT THEY BELIEVE SMITH WAS A PROPHET OF GOD, and I would have no reason to doubt their testimony. They are qualified to tell me WHAT THEY BELIEVE, but that is a long way from proving that what they believe is true. When people tell me their religious experience, I believe they had some sort of feeling or experience — there is really no way I could testify that they had not. But I refuse to accept an interpretation of their feeling that contradicts the Bible.