Friday, January 15, 2010

"A Republic, If You Can Keep It."

The longer I am involved in the political scene, the more I see the need for a consistent understanding of the basic philosophical difference between Democracies and Republics. The necessary distinction is often confused by so-called 'constitutional authorities' who loosely throw around terms like Democracy or democratic Republic without realizing the harm they are causing newcomers to the philosophy of liberty. This post is intended to dispel many false notions concerning the foundation of our country, and to reestablish a consistent and fundamental understanding between the two forms of government. There is much to write concerning this issue, and this post is not intended to be all-inclusive; however, as time permits I will edit and add to the post to constantly make it more comprehensive.


As he stepped out of Independence Hall, it is said that a woman asked Benjamin Franklin what kind of government we were given. His response, "A Republic, if you can keep it."

Whether this story actually happened is irrelevant, it carries a necessary truth -- that a Republic was the form of government intended by the founders, and that they knew it would take hard work and eternal diligence to maintain it.

What does this mean? What is a Republic? Today we hear all about Democracy or a democratic Republic, but we don't hear much concerning a Republic. Are these forms of government synonymous? Are they different? If so, how are they similar and different?

The only guarantee in the U.S. Constitution is for a "Republican form of government" (Article IV, Section 4). This is certainly not to be confused with the Republican Party. What does it mean "a Republican form of government"? The answer is actually more important than most give credit for.


I grew up in a very political and pious home where the principles of liberty and freedom were common discussion. Yet, even in my youth I remember hearing my mother speak of our 'democratic Republic'. Once I set on my own path to discover the truth of our American foundation, I constantly asked myself -- why didn't the Constitution include anything concerning our 'democratic Republic' or 'Democracy' in the text? Why did it only include the one word Republic?

It is all too often that those who are steeped in the ill-gotten traditions of our fathers will perceive this country in such a way that denies the glorious heritage that was bestowed upon us. Good people with sincere intent often promote inconsistent philosophies that necessarily tear-down the very freedom and liberty they seek to maintain. No wonder why the Latter-day prophets and authorities have told us that it is not enough for us to be sincere in what we support -- we must be right (President Marion G. Romney, October General Conference 1960).

Amidst all the confusion, what is the answer? What is the difference between a Republic and a Democracy -- or are there any differences at all?

The answer is found in a discussion of law.

Origination and Source of Law


In a Democracy, the only source of law and rights is a majority's rule -- nothing more, nothing less. The minority has no protection in a Democracy except what society's conventions will permit, because rights and law themselves are a fabrication of the majority; furthermore, there are no inherent and inalienable rights in a Democracy, because the majority decides what rights everyone has. This, by its very nature, makes individual rights alienable at the whim of the majority.

Any perceived security the minority has is merely the social acceptance of society at large. While this system of government and source of law may work in times of peace, the founders were nervous for times of national excitement, fear, and panic (e.g. after 9/11, regarding instances of "illegal" migration, etc.) -- those times when people do not think rationally and are apt to give up their rights for perceived security.


A Republic founds all government action on law -- even before it turns to the social will. Even if 99.9% of the nation accepts the infringement of .1% of the populace, a Republic looks to the law first before ever addressing the desires of a majority. The majority may want to lynch a thief before the rule of law may be enacted, but a Republic protects the rights of the individual until he is found guilty (or innocent) by due-process of law.

The necessary question here is who exactly makes the law? Is law simply a rule that society must obey, or is the law a representation of reality? If the law is merely a rule derived from the majority, the distinction between a Republic and a Democracy is futile. This is why a democratic Republic is a worthless phrase. Any Republic that stipulates that the law is merely derived from the majority's consent (i.e. a democratic Republic) is merely a Democracy in hiding. Any Republic that is built on the understanding and belief that the law is merely at the whim of the majority is inherently flawed and will necessarily fail.

There is no universal political dictionary that stipulates what a Republic is and how it should operate. Yet, the basic philosophical foundations of a Republic is that law reigns supreme. But what is this law that a Republic should adhere to that makes a Republic distinguishable from a Democracy? This necessarily supposes the discussion of legal positivism and natural law, but I will refrain on speaking of that in depth here and direct readers to a previous post concerning the issue.

Although the Declaration of Independence is not considered a 'legal document', it clearly shows the intent of the founders (if nothing, Jefferson and Franklin's ideal) to appeal to and establish a government according to the "Laws of Nature and of Nature's God." The Declaration of Independence proclaims the foundation of law wherein our Republic was built: the natural law.

Why is this important? Because a Democracy is at the whim of social frenzy and excitement -- i.e. the will of the masses. In a Democracy the people surrender their rights in a heightened and emotional state, as they combine into a mob against the minority in feeling that they can abdicate their rights for perceived security. However, our Republic negates such a frenzy by adhering to a law that is outside the majority's scope and ruling power -- a universal moral ethic that transcends emotionalism: the Laws of Nature.

In our Republic, all positive (human) law is required to bind itself down to a natural moral law; however, this is not necessary in a Democracy. Whereas the will of the majority is the moral law in a Democracy, the law in a Republic (as seen through the Declaration of Independence) is independent of any frenzied majority. The law in a Republic must find cause to move within the "laws of nature" to pass positive rules upon society. The majority, in a Republic, may act, it is true, but the majority's action is limited by a codex of universal realities and principles that transcend a majority's opinion. Government, through a majority, is not the source of rights, but we are 'endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights' -- this is to say that our Republic is built on the idea that God is the source of a moral law.


If the people are not aware, our Republic can easily slip into a Democracy (in fact, I argue that it already has). This can only happen through the ignorance of the people. When the people believe that their voting power is all that is necessary to grant them their position, then the people have necessarily supposed that might makes right and that a majority is all that is necessary to create law and rights. This is expressly against natural law and against the intended course of our Republican form of government as established by our founders. The people are to be moral and ethical, it is true. However, when the people believe that they can turn their moral behavior onto society at large (outside the scope of the direct infringement of life, liberty, and property) then the people accept Democracy at the expense and death of our Republic.


It is necessary to distinguish between the two forms of Government and to realize why we have a Republic. If anything, we have a constitutional Republic -- but I still prefer the words of the Constitution itself: "a Republican form of Government".


Charlie said...

I had a question for you because while I'm a libertarian like you, I am not Mormon. Is this the appropriate place to ask it?

Shiloh Logan said...

Charlie, feel free to post here -- open discussion in the marketplace of ideas is the best place to express ourselves. Thank you, however, for your consideration.

Charlie said...

The marketplace of ideas is music to my ears! Well here goes, I apologize since this is off topic. I was raised Christian, and one thing (out of many) that always really bothered me was the constant desire of most Christians to legislate their morality. To me, you lived your beliefs, you didn't enact laws to force others to follow them. My question is, where and why does that bridge happen with many religious people between believing something is wrong and taking that next huge step of outlawing the practice for everyone? Even as a Christian, that next step seemed repulsive to me. I lived in salt lake for 20 years, so I've experienced firsthand the effects of this. Maybe you as a Mormon could give me some insight into this? i realize you are a libertarian and don't share that desire, but you are lds and I was wondering if you could provide some insight. Thanks man.

Shiloh Logan said...

I personally believe it is a lack of knowledge and a misunderstanding of principles that both orthodox Christianity and Latter-day Saints share. As far as my thoughts are concerned over the Church's promotion of such things like Prop 8, I'll refer you to a previous post:

I am a strict naturalist (believer in natural law), and though I disagree with 'legislating morality' I do however see the problem with an appeal to life, liberty, and property without necessarily presupposing morality. Every argument for life, liberty, and property (the foundational limitation libertarianism sets for government) necessarily presupposes morality, and every positive law associated to a natural law is what we see as 'legislating morality'. Franklin and Jefferson, in the Declaration of Independence, side-stepped the morality debate long enough to say life, liberty, and property were merely 'self evident' truths; however, 'self-evident' truth isn't exactly a great foundation for truth nowadays...

The question remains -- how can we sustain a government according to natural law without digressing into the Spanish Inquisition? If we are forced to accept the 'legislation of morality' through natural law, how do we reign in the tyrannical? The answer to this comes through justice.

Many people have theorized that the founders were fearful of anarchy as much as they were tyranny, and that the Constitution weighed in somewhere in the scheme of law between these two polar opposites. I completely disagree.

If there was a dichotomy -- it was between justice and injustice. In order to maintain justice, government cannot rule in all matters of natural law without creating INjustice. For instance, it is a moral imperative for us to take care of our neighbor (natural law); however, when government necessarily steps outside the bounds of life, liberty, and property, and takes from one man to give to another, government has instantly created social INjustice. The only way for government to remain consistent and promote justice is to only rule in matters of natural law dealing with life, liberty, and property -- any extension beyond these three aspects of natural law (a universal moral law that encompasses all human interaction and association) necessarily creates injustice. All other matters of morality in natural law are left between men and their God.

Shiloh Logan said...

I still adhere to the idea that government cannot 'legislate morality'; however, until we are more capable of showing a scientific model of 'self-evident' truth, then we are hard-pressed to step outside the foundational arguments that first reigned in government through merely ruling in matters of life, liberty, and property (Blackstone, Locke, etc.).

Latter-day Saint doctrine states specifically that the individual's 'freedom of conscience' is paramount to good good government, and that no individual should ever be restricted in his full religious observance unless he infringes upon the rights of another (Doctrine and Covenants 98 and 134). Why do LDS not abide by this? I believe the people are ignorant of their own theology -- and I find this true of most Christians. Although you are not a Latter-day Saint, I believe you would find great comfort in reading an article written by the late president of the LDS Church, Spencer W. Kimball entitled "The False Gods We Worship". I believe this article applies to all those people who say they believe in Christ but who do not follow his teachings.

Please let me know if I haven't answered your questions, or if you have any further questions. I am certainly sympathetic to your view.

Charlie said...

But I feel that such an attitude like you said "a lack of knowledge and a misunderstanding of principles" permeates not only the day to day believers, the typical ward goer, but the highest ranks of the lds church. The "prophet" and the quorum of the 12 have never seen a law hurting alcohol that they didn't like and support. You live in utah, the proof is all around you. Why is there watered down beer, and state liquor stores, and a limit on alcohol licenses, and the incredibly archaic DABC regulations every restaurant, bar, and club owner must jump through? It's because the church loves to make it as hard as possible to consume and enjoy alcohol. I realize this doesn't affect you directly, and to be truthful it doesn't affect me directly either, (I don't drink, but not for a moral or religious reason). But the fact that it exists in utah with the blessing of the highest ranks of the lds church confuses me. Do they, too, lack knowledge and misunderstand principles? I would think that "dont drink alcohol" would be enough.

P.s. I apologize if I come off as attacking your faith, i dont mean to. I only use utah as an example because we've both lived there so it's a good example. Where do you live? I lived in slc, the aves if you know where that is.

BEN said...

Charlie, I am curious as to what particular instances you speak of when you say the LDS church has supported laws against liquor. In any case, I can think of a number of leaders of the Church that had varying opinions on types of legislation.

Shiloh Logan said...

Charlie, don't worry about offending anyone -- especially on this blog.

You have raised a very good point, and, to be honest, the Church's support of prohibition is an issue I have never quite solved. I have never quite solved it because it is an issue I have never fully researched. I don't know why the Church is always on the side of legislating away alcohol. I don't abstain from alcohol because that's what my Church tells me to do, but because of the consequences and inner-demons I've seen it bring out in people -- and I never want my children to experience that in their home. They can experience that in the world, that's fine -- but not in our home and from their parents. That's my personal feeling, and, like you, just because I don't consume alcohol -- I have no feeling about compelling my neighbor to do the same. Any drunken violation of life, liberty, or property I argue should be addressed in the same manner as though the individual were completely coherent -- I attach mens rea at the point of consumption when the individual personally decides to become inebriated.

I don't know if you're a religious man, though you say you were raised Christian. My own religious conviction tells me that the "Church" is no better than what the members at large make of it. In scripture, the God has established a pattern that he gives (or, better said -- allows) his children the level of happiness they wish to rise to. God will not force the drunkard to be happy, nor will he force you or me. He will, however, adjust what he requires of us based on decisions we make. As such, the Church will act in such a way as to meet the understanding and collective of its members at large.

Shiloh Logan said...

If I do not want to live the higher law, then the Lord will let me live the lower law (just as he did the Children of Israel when coming out of Egypt). Christ's higher doctrine of simply 'being' a good person is certainly not compliant with a society of people who require more direction and rules to follow than simply being taught to 'be good'. The Children of Israel required the lower law that Moses gave them, and the Lord mercifully gave them a step-by-step instruction book of rules that kept them in remembrance.

I say this, because, for me, this is the shift I see has happened to our society. Society cannot endure the principle of God showing them how to simply 'be good' -- he has to spell it out for them in great detail (rules and positive laws) because of the lesser portion of the gospel that they have chosen to live and accept. Whereas the people could have taken upon them the yoke of Christ to simply 'be good', they have chosen the yoke of Caesar instead that coerces them to 'do good'.

In other words, I see the Church's support of prohibition and other such legislation (like Prop 8) as a result of this shift of the people. In political terms, the people have given up a Constitutional Republic for a Socialist Democracy, and I think the Lord is giving his children what they have wanted (or, in other words, is allowing his children to have what they want -- even if its not him). We can see this as the Church trying to coerce the individual to be good through political legislation, but I see it as the Lord allowing his children to finally be subject to their knew god of government -- to become subjected to the yoke of Caesar (as it were).

Any thoughts?

Shiloh Logan said...

As a side note, I really need to proof-read what I post.

Charlie said...

Haha, well I have a lot of thoughts, Logan (should I call you that?). First of all, there is no god :) But that's a (quite large) topic for another day.

I would like to say that it's a pleasure talking with you. Unfortunately, I have found that the majority of mormons I've conversed with not been nearly as rational or level headed as you.

Anyways, it seems like a contradiction that you recognize acknowledge that "the Church's support of prohibition is an issue I have never quite solved." Agreed, me neither, but then you say, "Why do LDS not abide by this? I believe the people are ignorant of their own theology." Again, agreed. But then why does the leadership of the lds church pursue the very same policy as those "ignorant" of their own theology.

You make a good point that many of the general members of the church may support prohibition of alcohol due to a lack of knowledge, but to me, logically, if the church leadership pursues this same policy, is it also ignorant of its own theology?

Charlie said...

I don't mean to single the LDS out, because I really see the desire to legislate ones beliefs as the downfall of modern day conservatives (who are largely christian). I am all for smaller government, and so are conservatives, unless it comes to moral issues. Then they love government intervention. They're big on the economic freedoms, not so much on the personal freedoms.

And no worries, im not a grammar nazi. As long as i can get your point i could care less about grammar.

Charlie said...

Another unrelated question but you're lds and ivalways wondered this. What's the deal with bearing ones testimony? It's basically saying I know the Mormon church etc. is true right? is it for Mormons to tell other Mormons or non believers? Is it supposed to bear some special significance?

Shiloh Logan said...

Charlie, sorry I haven't responded sooner. I will post on your other questions later, but here is a pretty decent philosophical article concerning the LDS perspective of testimony:

Charlie said...

Thanks man I'll give it a look.

Shiloh Logan said...

Charlie, first of all, to say that I know what the Church leaders think or believe in their personal life is conjecture. I simply don't know. I can, however, use what they have said as a litmus to their beliefs (for the times when they specifically say "this is my personal opinion and should not be taken as Church doctrine"), and try to use my own powers of rationale, and, since I believe in a God, the revelation I receive through prayer from the Almighty.

That being said, there is an obvious difference between what Church leaders have said at the beginning of the Church and today. Until the 20th century, the Church leaned far more on what philosophers would call an Thomistic natural law vision of the citizen's relationship to government and establishing law (lex injusta non est lex); however, today, it's difficult to tell where the Church stands. Concerning the member's relationship to the law, the Church takes a positivist view; however, in establishing that view, the Church takes what appears as a mix between realism and social naturalism in establishing the positive law. The question now is to ask why the Church is taking such a stance. Well, from what I see there are a few reasons.

(1) In the 21st Century the Church has become international. What it states and supports politically has international consequences in what countries allow the Church to send in relief aid and other service-based groups.

(2) The Church was far more anti-communist through the 1930's - 1960's. Some of the final words of the Church leaders on the subject were that it would never support communism, but that it wouldn't speak of communism anymore because continued talk of anti-communism would split the Church -- several members, outside Church theology -- were sympathetic to socialism and communism (even though most of these members were self-professed 'conservatives'). Why was the Church speaking about anti-communism? There are some very valuable statements made, and I believe the Church was fully within their influence to have said what they did.

Shiloh Logan said...

(3) The Church must act in a way as to maintain its ability to move an act in various types of governments with various types of political leaders. What it supports in one state will likely have lasting influence on how another sovereign state will allow the Church to move and act -- thus restricting its services and social aid.

(4) Last, but certainly not least... In America, the leaders of the Church for decades spoke to the members to support the US Constitution and our Constitutional Republic; however, recently, the Church appears to have taken an approach diametric to its original stance. For instance, Proposition 8 in California cannot even exist in a Constitutional Republic; however, such a proposition can necessarily exist in a Socialist Democracy. In a Democracy, let along a Socialist Democracy, the will of the majority determines the collective morality accepted at large. This means that the minorities necessarily have no rights beyond what the majority will either passively allow them or progressively limit/grant them. In our Constitutional Republic -- under the Declaration of Independence -- we stipulate 'inalienable rights' (rights that are inherent in us at birth that cannot be alienated from us). However, such a concept does not exist in a 'Democracy', because Democracy is merely majority rule -- no other stipulations for legitimacy are necessary ore required.

How then can a Church, in a Socialist Democracy that denies inalienable rights of speech and religion, maintain its practice? In a Constitutional Republic, Churches are inherently protected through the individual's right to religion, association, and speech -- there is no need for a Proposition 8. However, in a Democracy that stipulates that 'morality' is simply what the majority chooses, then Churches are in a necessary bind and must use their influence to maintain their rights to carry on religious rite. In a Socialist Democracy, Proposition 8 becomes inherently necessary for Churches' to support. In a state of freedom, however, Proposition 8 is absolutely unnecessary.

I believe the same thing applies to things like alcohol consumption. The Church accepting prohibition or things like proposition 8 necessarily presupposes that we do not live in a Constitutional Republic anymore, but that it must use its influence in a more legal realistic and legal positivist way.

Does this 'infringe' upon the 'rights' of the minorities? Well, no, not if we accept we're a Democracy where people's 'rights' are accepted, granted, and stipulated by the majority. Such an argument of 'rights' has absolutely no place if we're a 'Democracy'. The only argument of 'rights' comes if we want to live in a Constitutional Republic, and I have only ever met a very, very, very select group of individuals who still want the responsibility of maintaining their freedom and liberty in a Constitutional Republic.

Shiloh Logan said...

While I haven't fully researched the specific debate on prohibition, the patterns and evidences that I have seen the Church leaders move and act in during my lifetime has made perfect sense in this idea of a transition from a Constitutional Republic to a Socialist Democracy.

In a state of freedom and liberty, the Church would only ever send out missionaries to convince people through "persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned; By kindness, and pure knowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy, and without guile" (Doctrine and Covenants 121:41-2). However, in a Socialist Democracy, the Church must yield its influence lest the positive laws of men coerce it to do something outside of its belief or that limits its practice (which is a historically common practice).

As far as legislating morality on another person through legislation like Prop 8... As a libertarian, I argue for necessary justice and equality by abolishing all forms of license (especially over religious institutions, such as marriage). Licensing negates the freedom and inherent right of the individual to contract. Ultimately, every argument for licensing goes back to some control the government wishes to yield over the people. If two homosexuals wish a progressive Church to 'marry' them, that is between the couple and their God -- not between me or the state. If I disagree with the 'morality' of their union then I reserve my right to befriend them and possibly persuade (without any force) them differently.

However, in a Socialist Democracy, licensing is absolutely necessary, because it protects the government's interests. The government is a necessary third party to every 'marriage' and the offspring of that marriage through that license. As such, marriage is no longer a 'rite', but it is a 'right' -- it has necessarily switched from a religious practice to a political power. In a Socialist Democracy, freedom is not a pure ideal -- the pure ideal is a legal realist interpretation of what society will accept as 'moral behavior' and what it will not. As such, the majority will stipulate what forms of 'moral marriage' it will allow the state to accept and what forms it will not. Socialist Democracies necessarily create social inequality and injustice.

The biggest problem I see is that most people want a Socialist Democracy until things don't go their way. They want their socialized systems and programs, and they want to use the majority to push their view. This is a very sad state of humanity.

I do not believe the Church leaders are ignorant of the principles of freedom, but I see their actions as necessary precautions to the social and political change of people desiring a Socialist Democracy rather than a Constitutional Republic.

Speaking of the issues of majoritism and Socialist Democracy, I suggest a great read by Lysander Spooner -- an early American abolitionist:

And, to be said, I have no problem with civil unions.

Questions? Statements?

Charlie said...

My question would be, after reading that first paper about testimony, what purpose could it possibly serve for a believer like you to, for example, bear your testimony to someone like me? A testimony, in the religious sense, is not evidence. I could equally "bear you my testimony" to the opposite. To me, a testimony shows only that you're sincere, which matters none in determining the truth of a matter. One can be sincerely wrong.

That paper discusses testimony and compares it to a trial testimony, when the two couldn't be further from each other. No one testifies that Mr. X committed the robbery because they know it in their heart. They testify because there is reasonable, objective evidence. I think it's fallacious to compare the two.

Charlie said...

I just never understood when people would say "I bear you my testimony that the LDS is the one true church, etc etc etc," and then look at me like Well there, now it's a done deal. I can just as sincerely testify that the opposite is true, as could any true believer from any number of faiths.

Is it more some sort of thing mormons do to each other? That would make more sense I guess, except why bear testimony to people you already know feel the same way? On the other hand, why bear your testimony to people that dont share your beliefs when it doesn't mean anything?

Charlie said...

For example, "He boldly testifies to King Noah and his people of their
wickedness and the judgments of God, testifies to them of the Savior, and
does so with complete disregard for his own safety and life (Mosiah 13:9).
This total engagement of acts and beliefs renders his testimony potent
and sincere."

Why? The fact that he does something with total disregard for his own safety and life says nothing about whether or not the testimony he bears is true. It simply shows that he sincerely believes it to be so. Which means nothing. Am I missing something?

I can think of thing that would demonstrate such a "potent" testimony like a suicide bombing. Those people end their own lives with the sincere belief that they will be in heaven as a martyr. I would say that a suicide bomber "does so with complete disregard for his own safety and life." Does that mean anything? No.

Shiloh Logan said...

A testimony is an accounting of our experience. I think it is pride in those members who say "I know the Church is true..." and then look at the 'non-believer' as though 'it is a done deal'. The purpose of a testimony isn't to say "I know" and then turn their nose towards anyone as though it were impossible to believe anything else. I know exactly what you're talking about, and I do not consider those who give such an accounting as bearing a real testimony.

A testimony is to reflect the attributes, essence, and will of God -- to be humble, patient, full of love, just, full of truth, etc. Too many members 'testimonies' turn into 'thank-ti-monies', where they thank everyone in the audience instead of actually bearing a testimony. When you open up a microphone to an audience, you are apt to have all kinds of thoughts -- few of which I consider actual testimonies.

So, what is the purpose of bearing my testimony to a non-believer who won't believe? Well, I believe it is done for many purposes.

First, a real testimony is given in hope, faith, and love in the person hearing the testimony. Furthermore, it is given with the trust in God that he will impart the truthfulness of the testimony when it is spoken to the heart of the person hearing it. If I am in possession of an article of great worth, will I not (in my trying to reflect the attributes, essence, and will of God) share this article with as many as possible so that they may too find joy? What is the knowledge of the love of God were this article? Would I not then share it to everyone?

This necessarily leads to the obvious question: Will everyone accept the testimony of the love of God? The answer is no. A testimony is not given with the intent that everyone will believe, but that the individual stands assured before his God that he did try to impart the joy he felt to his fellow man.

The problem here is that few people actually exhibit and give a testimony in such a way. Any testimony given as "I KNOW this is true, and now, because I know, you should know too and are damned if you don't" is anything but a testimony, because it necessarily negates the patience, humility, and love of the very God they're supposedly witnessing for.

A real testimony -- rooted in the knowledge of the love of God -- is not concerned about the consequences of sharing the message of God's love.

In the end, a testimony is like an act of prayer. Spoken prayer presupposes that a being exists that is listening to our discourse and petition. The act of prayer assures and builds confidence in a being that is not initially seen; however, through prayer, the hand of the unseen becomes clearly visible. Prayer, like a testimony, presupposes and necessitates several things to actually BE 'prayer' -- and I argue that few people actually give real prayer.

Shiloh Logan said...

A testimony is a way of solidifying the knowledge of the love of God we have been given through openly proclaiming such a belief to an audience of believers and non-believers -- to those who know and those who are struggling to know or don't even have a desire to know. A testimony is incredibly personal, yet it is given in public to proclaim the love and knowledge of God.

Personally, I have have a testimony of the love of God -- I had many empirical, metaphysical, and 'spiritual' experiences that have led me to what I consider as knowledge. Am I a schizophrenic or mentally delusional? ..laughs.. Well, maybe -- but I still cannot deny the feelings I feel through humbly praying to my Creator. I see that these feelings lead my actions to a great love of my fellow man and to do good continually. Are people who do not believe in God incapable of experiencing great love for their fellow man and doing good continually? No, I am not anywhere so naive as to believe this. I do believe, however, that while many people do not work and believe in their God, their God still works and believes in them -- I believe that God works in those who don't even believe in him, because of his eternal love for them.

Is this an over-fanciful way of perceiving the world? Sure, I am positive that it is for many people. However, I must go back to my own experience and the knowledge I see that God has granted me. For me, I know it -- and I know that God knows it -- and I cannot deny the love of God that I feel when I am actually really praying or bearing a real testimony. To be certain, not every 'prayer' I give is a real prayer -- I am not perfect. As such, how can I possibly judge and stand in condemnation towards someone I am supposed to love, and then have the pride to say to someone who does not believe in God "I know it, and, now, because I know it, you are out of excuses and must believe it too"? Really? Sadly, however, this is the attitude that prevails in many LDS sacrament meetings. That being the case, the purpose of a testimony is also to grow and progress in knowing how to give a real testimony -- and I must even love those of my own faith who give 'thank-ti-monies'.

Questions? Comments?

Charlie said...

Thanks for clarifying, I understand now. I think that the name threw me off, when I hear testimony, I think of something like an expert witness in court, or someone like that. I didn't realize that it was more about affirming your beliefs. I had heard it as a response to a request for evidence of faith. I thought "Well, I just know it's true," was supposed to be evidence showing that said faith was true. I know and feel that it's true isn't evidence of anything. Thank you for clarifying.

And as long as you realize that, "I still cannot deny the feelings I feel through humbly praying to my Creator. I see that these feelings lead my actions to a great love of my fellow man and to do good continually," isn't evidence of anything except feelings, we're all good :)

Thanks so much man, no one's explained this to me before. And sorry for filling your post up with unrelated comments.

One more question. Do you ever struggle with the fact that the church you believe is God's own supports things like prop 8, prohibition, etc.? That was one thing that always bothered me when I was christian. couldn't believe that all these people around me, and the larger christian movement in the US, were having such negative effects on society. It disgusted me that people i considered friends wanted laws based on the bible, to ban gay marriage, blah blah. I did not and do not see christians having a positive effect on society in many many regards, and that was a small (and unrelated) part of me leaving the church. It's interesting to hear from someone who I would agree with politically but not in terms of the supernatural.

Shiloh Logan said...


Yeah, a testimony is indeed an individual thing, and I do not stipulate that my 'feelings' constitute a metaphysical proof of anything. The testimony is to show God that my faith and trust are secure enough to make a public discourse, and that hopefully the words and meaning might influence someone to also feel of the same love and feelings.

As for Prop 8. I included a link in a previous post on this thread to something I have written on the issue. I personally have no issue with homosexuals participating in a progressive church that performs a religious rite -- that is between them and their God, and God can choose to accept that ordinance or not.

My support of Prop 8 (or, at least my support of the Church and Prop 8) largely comes from the belief that I no longer believe we live in a Constitutional Republic, but in a Socialist Democracy. The Constitution, in how it's used today, is not a 'Constitution' (as per our Founder's definition). Today, the people do not restrict their government, it is the government that restricts the people through freedom and liberty destroying legislation and license.

The rules of the game change between a Constitutional Republic and a Socialist Democracy. The principles of freedom and liberty that are held inviolate in a Constitutional Republic are all be destroyed amidst the onslaught of public opinion and the majority's morality. If the people understand the principles of liberty and freedom, they would not be worried about the religious (or irreligious) practices of their neighbor.

I believe that through government's encroachment on freedom of religious and liberty in general it has created this social inequality -- the very social inequality that spurned Prop 8. In a Constitutional Republic, I couldn't care less whether my homosexual neighbor is 'married' -- as I said, it's a religious rite, and that is between them and God. However, today, 'marriage' isn't a religious rite -- it's a political union. The state regulates marriage through licensing, and it has encroached on the liberty and freedom of the people.

Ironically, it has been the liberal-left that has promoted so ardently the ideology of a type of "Socialist Democracy". Yet it was this very Socialist Democracy that -- in action -- voted in Prop 8!! Prop 8 could not have existed in a Constitutional Republic, but, as we said, the rules of changed. A Socialist Democracy simply looks to the majority's consent -- nothing more or less. And, in California, the majority spoke -- end of story.

In a Socialist Democracy, there are no inherent or inalienable rights -- so it is extremely inconsistent philosophically and politically to argue about rights' violation when the people promote a system of government that denies inherent and inalienable rights.

In a Socialist Democracy, Churches must always be on the lookout for the encroachment of the majority to political rule against their favor. I like the argument of Machiavelli who hated organized religion, but saw its necessary need to maintain the morality of the people in ways that the body political never could. The Church, in order to perform this social need, must be capable of exerting political influence within a Socialist Democracy.

My argument is not with the Church (or churches at large), but with the inherent injustice that Socialist Democracy brings. In a state of freedom, the Church's only course of action is to persuade and uplift -- otherwise, no one would ever join and be a part of it. In a Constitutional Republic, the Church has no need to support Prop 8, because there exist no other socialist laws attached to the political name "marriage" wherein they should be concerned.

Hopefully this makes sense. If not, click on the link I provided concerning Prop 8 -- or just scroll through my blog to find it.

Let me know if you have any questions or the like.

Anonymous said...

"Yeah, a testimony is indeed an individual thing, and I do not stipulate that my 'feelings' constitute a metaphysical proof of anything. The testimony is to show God that my faith and trust are secure enough to make a public discourse, and that hopefully the words and meaning might influence someone to also feel of the same love and feelings."

Ah, ok. Makes perfect sense, thank you man.

Jeff said...

I know this discussion is over, and I'm chiming in at the end of it all, but as I was reading the comments, I was reminded of an article I had read a while back that addresses many of the same issues discussed here. I found it interesting, and thought you might as well.