What if the Church Leaders Denied Their Testimonies?
I asked my seminary students and gospel doctrine classes this question:
“Suppose that the prophet announced at general conference that the church is not true. Therefore, the prophet asked that the members sustain the general authorities and officers in dissolving The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. How would that affect your testimony of the gospel?”
After the discussing the devastating impact of such an announcement, I conclude:
Such an announcement should have little impact if your testimony of the gospel comes from the Holy Spirit and is based on the Bible and Book of Mormon, the “keystone of our religion.” God still lives. Jesus is still our Savior and Redeemer. The Lord still restored the gospel through the Prophet Joseph Smith.
Desire to Have an Unshakeable Personal Testimony
Joseph F. Smith declared:
“From my boyhood I have desired to learn the principles of the gospel in such a way … that it would matter who might fall from the truth, who might make a mistake, who might fail to continue to follow the example of the Master, my foundation would be sure and certain in the truths that I have learned, though ALL men go astray and fail in of obedience to them.” (Gospel Doctrine, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1939, p. 4).
Bearing Testimony in the Face of Death
Joseph F. Smith was true to his words.
In the 1850’s, young Joseph F. Smith returned home from his three-year teenage mission to Hawaii. He traveled with a small group of saints through northern California. In a nearby town, a gang of drunken men decided to kill any “Mormons” they could find. They grabbed their guns, mounted their horses, and rode toward the “Mormon” camp.
When the armed mob approached on horseback, the saints scrambled and hid, Joseph was out gathering firewood at the time and was unaware of the threat. When Joseph walked back into camp, he suddenly found himself surrounded.
With guns pointed at Joseph’s face, the mob leader demanded, “Are you a Mormon?”
Facing certain death, the future prophet, looked him straight in the eye, and proclaimed, “Yes, siree; dyed in the wool; true blue, through and through.”
The gunman was so shocked, and taken aback, that he holstered his pistol, grasped Joseph by the hand, and said: “Shake, young fellow, I am glad to see a man that stands up for his convictions.”
The leader of the mob rode off, and the others followed. Joseph and the rest of the saints were spared.
Indeed, Joseph F. Smith had an unshakeable personal testimony.