This was originally posted on Adrienne’s blog at

I Bore My Testimony?

By Adrienne Rivetti Jensen
So, yesterday I bore my testimony at church for the first time in well over seven years. What compelled me to do such a thing? I don’t really know. I do know that  Elder Holland’s talk really spoke to me (more on that later), which isn’t shocking because I’m pretty sure he peers into the soul of every single person who hears him speak. It kind of inspired me. And I like to share my experiences and tell people what I think, so…what better platform, right? (Oh, right. A blog. A blog is a pretty good platform, too.)The testimony I shared is exactly what I have written on this blog as my  “hope testimony”.  And then a strange thing happened. People stood up and said that their testimonies were basically the same thing, a hope that this stuff is true, not a knowledge of it. At least ten people approached me throughout the day and told me that my “testimony” was the most inspiring testimony they had heard in a long time.Say what???They said that the honesty was refreshing. A few people told me that they or their husband or their son really needed to hear it. What is happening here???Anyway, this morning I read Alma 32 (obviously). “Faith is not to have a perfect knowledge of things; therefore if ye have faith ye hope for things which are not seen, which are true.” Alma 32:21Oh my gosh, I have faith? I think I do. That is exactly what my testimony is–hoping for things I don’t see.So then I started reading lots of hope scriptures.

Jacob 2:19–“And after ye have obtained a hope in Christ ye shall obtain riches, if ye seek them.” Not after you obtain knowledge, but after you obtain hope.

Ether 12:4–“Wherefore, whoso believeth in God might with surety hope for a better world, yea, even a place at the right hand of God, which hope cometh of faith, maketh an anchor to the souls of men, which would make them sure and steadfast, always abounding in good works, being led to glorify God.” Hope seems to be sufficient to anchor the soul, which then leads to all this other stuff.

Moroni 8:26–“and because of meekness and lowliness of heart cometh the visitation of the Holy Ghost, which Comforter filleth with hope and perfect love, which love endureth by diligence unto prayer, until the end shall come, when all the saints shall dwell with God.” I like this one because we tend to view the Holy Ghost as a means to obtaining knowledge, but this is saying that his job is to fill us with hope and love, which appears to be sufficient.

13th Article of Faith: “We believe all things, we hope all things…” There is no claim that we know all things. We admit here, and indeed in all the other Articles of Faith as well, that we believe this stuff–we hope it.

I think it’s interesting that our church–or at least the culture of it–places such a premium on knowing. We see kids being trained to say it from the very beginning. (“I’d like to bear my testimony. I know this church is true. I know Joseph Smith was a prophet.” Yadah, yadah, yadah.) Why do we do this? The scriptures don’t seem to indicate that knowledge is the stuff of righteousness or salvation. Faith is. Hope is. I mean, as Alma does go on to say, hope should compel us to “experiment upon the word”, which means living the principles of the gospel, testing them to see if they do indeed bring us the happiness they promise. But I’m just not getting the message here that knowledge is the requirement, or even the goal.

I know you’re probably thinking all of this is obvious, and wondering how I could have missed it all my life. Well, I did hear/read these scriptures over and over, and I did have a million lessons on Alma 32. Indeed, I delivered many of them myself. But they always seemed to end in the possibility of obtaining knowledge. You know, if you’re righteous enough you might obtain that. And I’m sure that a lot of my faith problems have to do with my personality, with the way I processed this stuff. But I’m clearly not alone. For goodness’ sake, in ONE ward, at least TEN people APPROACHED me! Who knows how many people feel the same way but didn’t approach me? And who knows how many people there are in all the other wards? And how many other people weren’t attending any ward at all yesterday BECAUSE they have these issues?

I blame “Moroni’s promise” (Moroni 10:4-5). “And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere hear, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost. And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.”

Or rather, I blame our emphasis on Moroni’s promise. We teach kids to seek this. As missionaries, our entire purpose is teaching investigators to seek this. We largely define a “testimony” as having received this witness. But what about all the people who never get this? Or what about those of us who think we have, but later realize maybe we haven’t? This emphasis on knowledge and bearing “testimony” of knowledge makes the church a really hard place to be for people whose minds just don’t work like this.

How about teaching people to hope for these things? Maybe for their entire lives. Maybe it’s okay to just hope and experiment until you die. That’s probably what I’ll be doing. But I think Alma says it’s enough in Alma 32:43–“Then, my brethren, ye shall reap the rewards of your faith, and your diligence, and patience, and long-suffereing, wating for the tree to bring forth fruit unto you.”

We are rewarded for faith and diligence, not for knowledge.

I have a dream–a hope, if you will–that one day, in LDS congregations all over the world, people will honestly acknowledge their doubts. They will feel safe to say that they don’tknow. The church will be a place where people come because they’re experimenting upon the word, they’re hoping for something, together. They’re helping each other sustain that hope and test the principles of the gospel in their lives. THAT is what I believe the church should be for. It shouldn’t be a club for knowers. It should be a support group for hopers.

Adrienne Rivetti Jensen is a homeschooling mom of three in Reston, Virginia. She is an openly agnostic Mormon, making her way back to activity after a six-year absence. Adrienne blogs in a shamelessly honest fashion about her faith issues, her desire to be active in the church, and her reconciliation of it all at

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