top of page

"I know the church is true"

On the first Sunday of the month, we could attend any of our chapels on the planet and likely hear the phrase "I know the church is true" several times.

"I know the church is true", "I know Joseph Smith is a prophet", "I know the Book of Mormon is the word of God", "I know God loves me", etc. etc.

These are wonderful sentiments, but I worry that at times this “language of knowledge” can do as much harm as good.

Most of us know what is meant by the phrase “I know…” when someone testifies. They mean, “I have received a spiritual witness from God that this specific principle is true/right/good. For me, that witness is just as good as knowing. And because of that witness, I am choosing to live my life according to that truth.” But, I am sure all of us have at times forgotten that this is what they mean.

I greatly respect anyone who has paid the price for a testimony of spiritual things, but I see both a potentially positive and negative interpretation of these types of declarative statements for those without this same conviction.

Positive - The firm knowledge-based testimony of others becomes a foundation for my own faith. For most of us, this is where our testimony needs to begin. Before we receive our own spiritual witness we rely on the testimony of those we trust and respect.

"What was once a tiny seed of belief for me has grown into the tree of life, so if your faith is a little tested ... I invite you to lean on mine."

Negative - When we hear someone say, “I know ____ is true”, but we do not have that same “knowledge”, it may cause us to question ourselves. What’s wrong with me? Even little kids say they know this. How does everyone seem to know this but me?

I am definitely not saying we should stop using the words "I know" when testifying of our beliefs. But, there is also nothing wrong with "I believe" or "I hope" when that is how we feel.

As the Book of Mormon prophet, Alma, so eloquently taught, it is OK if you "can no more than desire to believe." You can then "let this desire work in you, even until ye believe" (Alma 32).

The language of faith is just as acceptable as the language of "knowledge."

"A 14-year-old boy recently said to me a little hesitantly, 'Brother Holland, I can’t say yet that I know the Church is true, but I believe it is.' I hugged that boy until his eyes bulged out. I told him with all the fervor of my soul that belief is a precious word, an even more precious act, and he need never apologize for 'only believing.' I told him that Christ Himself said, 'Be not afraid, only believe,' ... I told this boy that belief was always the first step toward conviction and that the definitive articles of our collective faith forcefully reiterate the phrase 'We believe.'"

"If you want to know that you know that you know, a price must be paid. And you alone must pay that price. There are proxies for ordinances, but none for the acquisition of a testimony."

"In order for us to be strong and to withstand all the forces pulling us in the wrong direction … we must have our own testimony ... Whether you are 12 or 112—or anywhere in between - you can know for yourself that the gospel of Jesus Christ is true."

"Learning for ourselves that the restored gospel of Jesus Christ is true can be one of the greatest and most joyful experiences in life. We may have to begin by relying on the testimonies of others ... This is a good place to start, but we must build from there. To be strong in living the gospel, there is nothing more important than receiving and strengthening our own testimony."

"The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a place for people with all kinds of testimonies. There are some members of the Church whose testimony is sure and burns brightly within them. Others are still striving to know for themselves. The Church is a home for all to come together, regardless of the depth or the height of our testimony. I know of no sign on the doors of our meetinghouses that says, 'Your testimony must be this tall to enter.'"

"The answer to your question 'How can I be sure?' is simple. You’ve got to dive into the work. The fact that you think the Church is true shows that you’ve got at least your toe in the water. Now to be sure, you must dive completely in. Some want to know that the gospel is true before they dive in. They don’t want to get wet for nothing. But for me, I had to get wet first and then I knew. I believe to get the answers which you seek you will have to do the same thing."


Jul 26, 2021

Good point. I always had the thought when I heard ‘I know the church is true’ that yes, it is true that it’s a church. I think some people just say the phrase without considering what it actually means; because that is what seems to be the ‘trained’ and accepted response. I agree that we don’t need ‘to know’ and that having faith or a hope is also sufficient. There’s also no action behind knowing so maybe if it was expanded (as you say) to ‘I know because of the experiences I’ve had’ then it would qualify that knowledge. Alma 32 is such an amazing chapter to help us understand how to develop our faith and keep it nurtured until…

Drew Wolsey
Drew Wolsey
Jul 26, 2021
Replying to

Thank you for your thoughts Martin. I love that, "yes, it is true that it's a church." 😁

Never miss a post
Sign up here and I'll shoot you an email when I post something new.
No spam. I promise! 

Thanks for submitting!

Recent Posts

*Email address must be confirmed before your comment will be posted :)
bottom of page