Saturday, February 15, 2014

The Mormon use of Testimony

When Marquardt & Walters (p.18) describe the revival of the Baptists, they point to the prevailing role of the conversion experience and its testimony in joining the Church.
For Baptists the awakening began on 20 October 1824, when church minutes show that “Michael Egleston, Erastus Spear, Lorenzo Spear, Abagail Spear, Belena Byxbe, Minerva Titus, Sophia Rogers, and Harriot Rogers told their Christian experience to the Church and were fellowshipped by the Church and on Thursday following were Baptized by Elder Bradley and Received into the Church.” The minutes of 20 November mentioned eight more individuals baptized; the 24 November minutes name an additional twelve. In December nineteen more were added by conversion. In the first four months of 1825 there were forty-five additional baptisms. For the one year period from October 1824 to the end of September 1825 there were a total of 94 persons baptized, an increase of 87 members. Membership increased from 132 to 219 (65 percent). 6
Footnote 6 reads:
For 1820, see Minutes of the Palmyra Baptist church under the dates of 18 Mar., 17 June, and 19 Aug. 1820. For 1824-25, see the Minutes of the Palmyra Baptist church, 16 Oct., 20, 24 Nov., 4, 5, 18 Dec. 1824; 1, 15, 29 Jan., 19 Feb., 5, 19 Mar., and 3 Apr. 1825. See Minutes of the Ontario Baptist Association (Rochester: Printed by Everard Peck, 1825), 5, for published membership figures for the conference year 1824-25.
But this suggests an alternate context in which to interpret the Testimony of the Three and the Testimony of the Twelve in the Book of Mormon preface; it is not meant as a testimony in the court of law, but as a testimony in the sense of the revival experience.

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