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The idea of “gaining a testimony” is a key aspect of Latter-day Saint teachings, suggesting a special kind of revelatory spiritual experience serving to establish the truth of specific doctrines.

Consequently, this experience is meant to possess remarkable epistemological significance.

A testimony is a spiritual witness given by the Holy Ghost. We can gain a testimony that we are children of our Heavenly Father, and that he loves us. We can gain a testimony that Jesus Christ is our Savior, and because of Him, our sins can be forgiven. We can gain a testimony that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God, and that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is Jesus Christ’s restored church on the earth today. By the power of the Holy Ghost, we can know the truthfulness of these things. We can share our testimonies with others.

(Source: I Know This Church is True)

How Can I Gain a Testimony?

The most important truth you can learn is that the gospel of Jesus Christ is true. This knowledge is called a testimony. You can have a testimony, but it takes work. [...]

  • Read and study the scriptures.
  • Obey Heavenly Father’s commandments.
  • Attend sacrament meeting and Primary.
  • Pray in faith to Heavenly Father for a testimony that the gospel of Jesus Christ is true. You will know it is true “by the power of the Holy Ghost” (Moro. 10:5).

(Source: How Can I Gain a Testimony?)

[...] Earlier that month, one of my friends who had also been investigating The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints received revelation that the Church was true. I’m not going to lie, I was incredibly happy for him, but a part of me was slightly jealous when I found out. I had been reading the Book of Mormon and praying diligently almost all summer, asking God if this church was true. I was ready to join, ready to convert, ready to take it all in…. once Christ gave me a sign. I had not received my green light yet, so I sat on the edge of believing and wanting to be a part of this church without committing to a baptism. I had to know that Christ wanted it for me. Without some sort of sign or answer from Him, I was not willing to become a member.

(Source: The Effort to Gain a Testimony)

This is the true, solid evidence of religious faith. Millions upon millions of Latter-Day Saints attest to the power of this principle: when you go to God in prayer, asking if this thing that purports to be from Him is true, he does answer. It is a distinctive and unmistakable experience, and once you have received a confirmation of the truth from God, any earthly evidence pales by comparison. People can make mistakes, but the witness of the Holy Ghost is powerful and absolute.

(Source: According to Latter-day Saints, should every honest, rational, and well-informed individual be able to reach the conclusion that Mormonism is true?)

Does the notion of "gaining a testimony", perhaps worded in different terms, exist universally across Christianity? Is this something important for all (or at least most) Christian denominations or just for Latter-day Saints?

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    I publish my own testimony on my own website (see my profile). I wrote it at the age of twenty one in 1972. It was published in 1992 and then again, by myself in 2012. Testimonies are a personal matter ; an individual matter. They are not 'organised' by Christian denominations. Paul gave his testimony on occasion, verbally, and then again in writing (Galatians, particularly.) You are viewing something personal, voluntary and individual as a 'denominational' matter. I do not believe it is.
    – Nigel J
    Jan 8 at 0:05
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    Seeking the type of testimony you describe is a form of putting God to the test. It is antithetical to the faith that saves. This faith is a gift from God as Scripture says. But we are all responsible for whether we believe the truth or reject it. So seeking the type of “testimony” you describe runs counter to what the Bible teaches. As for the other types of testimonies (about specific teachings), the Bible is all we need. Anything that runs counter to it is false no matter what feelings or signs you receive. Demons can grant feelings and work signs to mislead those who reject God’s Word.
    – bob
    Jan 8 at 6:21
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    I am yes. Not with the aim of upsetting anyone, but yes.
    – bob
    Jan 8 at 13:02
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    What you present in the quotation seems an unusual definition of "testimony". I'm not aware of any other denomination using the terminology "testimony" or "gain a testimony" to describe quite what LDS apparently means by it. Jan 8 at 15:48
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    @Mark would you consider editing the title of the question to match the body? The title asks whether testimony is crucial in general, but the body asks for the viewpoints of christian denominations other than LDS. That might be why you're getting answers that only expound the LDS viewpoint (with which I assume you're already familiar) Jan 8 at 22:32

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Evangelicalism is a worldwide, interdenominational movement within Protestant Christianity that emphasizes the centrality of being "born again", in which an individual experiences personal conversion; the authority of the Bible as God's revelation to humanity; and spreading the Christian message. An evangelical take on this question is that it is critical for being a Christian: You must be born again. The Holy Spirit of God is the testimony and unless one has received the Holy Spirit one is not even a Christian.

If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater: for this is the witness of God which he hath testified of his Son. He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son. And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. - 1 John 5:9-12

If, as the Protestant Biblical Canon asserts, a person who repents of sin and receives Christ is indwelt by the Holy Spirit of God it is to be expected that this brand new inner witness, or testimony, should make a crucial difference. But it is important to recognize that the difference need not be the same for each individual believer and that this testimony is far more than a feeling. To place too much weight upon a particular manner of confirmation (speaking in tongues for example) or particular feelings (which can wax and wane with circumstance), or denominational prescriptions (which can be leading or restricting) can lead to much error and discouragement.

The work of the Holy Spirit within a believer is multifaceted; Christians are not machine stamped copies but individual works of art, however there are generalized similarities. Primarily the Holy Spirit testifies, within the believer, of Christ (John 15:26), leads the believer into all truth (John 16:15), sanctifies the believer (1 Peter 1:2), and delivers power to become children of God and witnesses of Christ in the world (John 1:12, Acts 1:8).

A full treatment of the teachings about the Holy Spirit are far beyond the scope of this question but some universal expectations can be noted.

A Christian should expect, as they study the Bible and strive to obey what they are shown, to encounter internal resistance. This is one of the most ubiquitous confirmatory 'testimonies' in Christian life:

For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. - Galatians 5:17

And they can expect to increasingly manifest the fruit of the Spirit in their lives as opposed to the deeds of the flesh, but again, this is as different an experience for each believer as is each believer's history. Suffice it to say that no one in this life fully escapes that inclination to sin which resides in our flesh and so the struggle remains.

A Christian can expect, as they study the Bible and obey what they are shown, to receive greater depth of understanding within what is written: We must first be found faithful with little before more is revealed:

For with thee is the fountain of life: in thy light shall we see light. - Psalm 36:9

A Christian can expect, as they study the Bible and obey what they are shown, as they become more and more like Christ, to receive resistance, ridicule, and even hatred from the world at large as it is at enmity with God:

If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. - John 15:18-19


There are more spirits than just the Holy Spirit of God in this world and we are to take special care in testing them to see if they are from God. This is not merely a test against or about a feeling; many a soul has gone far afield chasing feelings. The Apostle Paul praised those who checked what he said against what was written and that was 2000 years ago: There is no need for additional revelations.

Anyone who has gotten too deeply involved in doctrines of demons or who have attempted to delve into the powers of darkness and who have then been saved by Christ will agree that those evil spirits are active in providing 'testimony' to 'validate' the lies that they have whispered. Validation of what one currently believes is insufficient. The validation itself must have a touchstone for verification.

This is why it is critical to measure everything against the Bible: If you do not go beyond what is written you cannot be led astray. It stands the test of time, it is rooted in and filled with demonstrated and discoverable history far, far more than any other religious work in the world. It is truth. Very, very often part of the whispering is that the Bible is incomplete, or corrupted, or insufficient, or untrue. That in itself should make us sit us up straight and take notice.

As the serpent whispered in the Garden of Eden that God was holding out; was preventing man from becoming like God in knowledge, so he ever whispers into the heart of man ... believe that you can become like God and I will validate your belief. And he did validate. They became like God:

Then the LORD God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever—” therefore the LORD God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken. He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life. - Genesis 3:22-24

And they died, separated from access to the Tree of Life. Yep, the serpent lied about that part.

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    The question was about whether the idea of testimony is present in other denominations, whereas this answer seems to be re-stating the LDS doctrine. Perhaps it could be edited to address other denominations' views? Jan 8 at 22:28
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    Fair enough. In any case, it is still your view and not answering the question which is about the view within different denominations Jan 9 at 0:04
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    @BugCatcherNakata Though I do not hold to denominationalism I believe the answer is representative of most Protestant denominations in that the indwelling Holy Spirit is the internal testimony (or witness) which marries the experiences of salvation and sanctification to the written testimony of the Bible. Jan 9 at 0:16
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    @BugCatcherNakata I probably should have said some rather than most but since it is not an 'overview' question I am not required to summarize every view to remain in scope. The 'Comparative Christianity' tag compares two or more views and OP has presented the LDS view. Evangelical Protestants are, statistically numerous across many denominations. See this: pewresearch.org/religion/2015/05/12/… Is there something specific I can add or clarify for you? Jan 9 at 1:34
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    Perhaps add a short introductory paragraph saying something like "yes, similar views on the holy spirit can be found in evangelical protestant (/US non-denominational/wherever it fits)" so that it answers the question directly, rather than just containing information/perspectives on the holy spirit? Jan 9 at 2:18
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Although the precise vocabulary used may differ, the witness of the Holy Spirit is significant for Christians of many faiths.


Theory


We'll show this from 2 different angles:

1. Where is the foundation

We are to put our trust in the Lord over the wisdom of the world:

5 Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.

6 In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. (Proverbs 3:5-6)

Paul's approach to teaching was to rely on the convincing power of the Spirit:

And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power (1 Cor. 2:4)

If the foundation of my belief in Christ is man's discoveries in archeology, history, textual criticism, etc. then I leave my theology at the mercy of the wisdom of men. Prevailing hypotheses in academia vary over time--should a devout Christian abandon belief in the New Testament every time Bart Ehrman is cited in peer-reviewed research, then switch back every time William Lane Craig is cited, then switch back...etc? If the predominant claims in academic journals should dictate what we believe about God, then everybody should have stopped believing in God when the Tubingen school imposed naturalism as the standard for New Testament research in the 1830s. Clearly most practicing Christians do not/have not taken this approach.

This is not to say that these other disciplines are without value, but they are insufficiently stable to provide a foundation (and Jesus had a few things to say about foundations--see Matt. 7:24-27).

What the world gives the world can take away. What God gives the world cannot take away.

--

2. Trust in the New Testament apostles

The testimony of the apostles that Jesus died, was buried, and rose again (see 1 Cor. 15:3-4) is absolutely central to Christian belief. Why is it that we trust the apostles?

One of the common reasons given for trusting Peter & Paul is their willingness to die for their testimonies. This is indeed valuable evidence (since they--and especially Peter--were in a position to know firsthand if they had made it all up), but how do we know they died for their testimonies?

Our primary source is the historical record written by someone who was there at the time (Clement of Rome, see his Epistle to the Corinthians, chapter 5). But most Christians have never read Clement.

It appears that the most widespread and enduring reason given for trusting the apostles is that their words, preserved in the New Testament, have been ratified by the Holy Spirit in readers' hearts & minds.

--

Theory Conclusion

The witness of the Holy Spirit is essential to Christians who do not wish to be "tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive" (see Ephesians 4:14).


Application


Reasons were provided above for expecting that belief be grounded in direct revelation from the Holy Spirit. The degree to which what is expected in theory is in fact the case will vary based upon individual application.

Citations from several Christian denominations are provided below attesting to the essential nature of learning & accessing truth through the Holy Spirit.

From the Catechism of the Roman Catholic Church:

the Spirit will teach us everything, remind us of all that Christ said to us and bear witness to him. the Holy Spirit will lead us into all truth and will glorify Christ. He will prove the world wrong about sin, righteousness, and judgment (source, emphasis mine)

--

From the Orthodox Church in America:

The Christian Church lives by the Holy Spirit. The Spirit alone is the guarantee of God’s Kingdom on earth. He is the sole guarantee that God’s life and truth and love are with men. Only by the Holy Spirit can man and the world fulfill that for which they were created by God. All of God’s actions toward man and the world—in creation, salvation and final glorification—are from the Father through the Son (Word) in the Holy Spirit; and all of man’s capabilities of response to God are in the same Spirit, through the same Son to the same Father...The Holy Spirit is the personal presence of the new and everlasting covenant between God and man, the seal and guarantee of the Kingdom of God, the power of the divine indwelling of God in man. (source, emphasis mine)

--

An Anglican perspective (note this is an Anglican publication but not an official Anglican source):

the world needs to know that Jesus and the Father are one, which it can't without the witness of the Holy Spirit in the unity of the church. (source, emphasis mine)

And that also means that we who know we have been found by God need to view the world very cautiously, knowing that our standards of judgement are not good, knowing that we are looking for the unity of the Father and the Son, which we will only be able to see through the work of the Holy Spirit, whose job it is. (ibid, emphasis mine)

--

Presbyterian:

By the work of the Holy Spirit, the gift of faith is given so we see reality in a whole new way. Our hearts, minds, and wills are made new! Theologians call this the witness of the Holy Spirit. Presbyterians have always stressed that we come to faith in Christ as Lord and Savior by God’s divine work, through the Holy Spirit, and not by our own powers of reason or intuition or experience...We recognize, receive, and believe in this gift by the work of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit enables us to look at creation and perceive it as God’s work. (source, emphasis mine)

--

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints:

We invite all men everywhere to read the Book of Mormon, to ponder in their hearts the message it contains, and then to ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ if the book is true. Those who pursue this course and ask in faith will gain a testimony of its truth and divinity by the power of the Holy Ghost. (See Moroni 10:3–5.)

Those who gain this divine witness from the Holy Spirit will also come to know by the same power that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world, that Joseph Smith is His revelator and prophet in these last days, and that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the Lord’s kingdom once again established on the earth, preparatory to the Second Coming of the Messiah. (source, emphasis mine)

I discuss my own personal testimony relative to this promise here.

--

Pentecostal Tabernacle:

The primary purpose of the baptism of the Holy Spirit is to empower believers to witness for Christ (Acts 1:8). The Holy Spirit will honor and glorify Jesus Christ (John 15:26; John 16:14), and provides believers with guidance, comfort, and truth. (source, emphasis mine)

--

Application Conclusion

Do all Christian faiths emphasize this matter equally or in the same way? No. For a point & counterpoint discussion regarding a competing perspective, see the section "The Bible demonstrates the viability of inspiration" in this post.

To the OP's point, although I am unable to identify any denomination that denies the importance of the witness of the Holy Spirit (I found some unofficial, individual perspectives that do), I am unaware of any denomination that focuses on testimony through the Holy Ghost to the same degree or in the same way as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

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    This answer is great in terms of presenting theoretical reasons for expecting that belief be grounded in direct revelation from the Holy Spirit. However, what this answer is missing is supporting evidence in the form of citations from actual denominations, confirming that what is expected in theory is in fact the case. For instance, what are examples of the vocabulary used by other Christian branches to refer to the experience of 'gaining a testimony'?
    – Mark
    Jan 7 at 22:41
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    @Hold To The Rod. If as you say we are to trust in the testimony of the Apostles and the gospel as outlined in the verses you quoted, "I Corinthians 15:3-4" (which is the gospel) then what need was there for "Another Testament of Jesus Christ," aka the Book of Mormon? You even said their words are preserved in the New Testament have been ratified by the Holy Spirit in readers' hearts and minds. And I could not agree more with your conclusion by quoting Ephesians 4:14.
    – Mr. Bond
    Jan 8 at 15:00
  • @Mr.Bond I have shared my thoughts on this elsewhere, but such is not the focus of the OP's question. Jan 8 at 18:12
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    Agree with your para after the 1st two Bible quotes, but the OPs objection to your answer is that he wants you to quote "vocabulary used by other Christian branches to refer to the experience of 'gaining a testimony'." Could that not be swiftly done by giving your own account of how you gained a testimony, and that group's written accounts of similar (approved) ways of gaining what, to them, would be a valid testimony?
    – Anne
    Jan 8 at 18:31
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    @Mark post expanded as requested. Of course, there can be quite some daylight between what a person should do in theory, and what a person actually chooses to do. Jan 9 at 4:24
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You cannot defend what you do not have. Since the qualifying characteristic of those who inherit the kingdom of God is that they are "valiant in the testimony of Jesus" (Doctrine and Covenants 76:79), it is impossible to have such a character in the absence of a testimony.

A similar thing holds true of every group claiming Christianity. Since all denominations that claim Christianity require the acceptance of certain doctrines or creeds, it is necessarily true that espousing such doctrines is viewed as prerequisite to being "converted" or being a "believer" or in any way affiliated with such a faith. To say that to hold a belief or even claim or have knowledge in certain matters is "unimportant" would violate the very essence of holding such a belief system. This is true in all faiths that make some form of conditional salvific claims.

Holding and even sharing a testimony is a necessary condition of Christianity:

But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear (1 Peter 3:15)

What is a testimony?

a testimony is not emotion. It is the very essence of character woven from threads born of countless correct decisions. The Transforming Power of Faith and Character

Given the definition of testimony, it is of course essential to gain a testimony, because otherwise we could and would not be converted to the Christian faith (see Luke 22:32).

All Christian belief must of necessity include testimony as the building block of any guarantee of personal redemption, salvation or perfection, built on the chief cornerstone of Jesus Christ.

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    This answer doesn't address "other denominations" which was the focus of the question. In fact it only links to an LDS website, which seems like the exact opposite of what was asked for Jan 8 at 22:29
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How crucial is it for Christians in general (not only LDS) to “gain a testimony” validating the truth of their beliefs?

This is somewhat of an option based question, as the response will vary widely with regards to denominations and even individuals within those denominations.

This post will be different than the others here. Perhaps a more historical twist on the question at hand.

Some Christians may feel a great need to “gain testimony” in order to validate the truth of their beliefs. But in the end personal testimonies can not completely validate one’s belief. Doctrine must validate beliefs and be supported by Sacred Scriptures.

The ultimate manner to give testimony is to be ready to shed one’s blood for one’s faith in Christ.

This is way the Early Church valued the testimony of the early Christians Martyrs. In fact, for those denominations which honour saint in their liturgical calendars, the only saints recognized in the Early Church, short of a few exceptions, were are Christian Martyrs. This is the testimony, that the Early Church honoured foremost and above all others.

For some modern more charismatic Christians of our modern times this question could be somewhat more related to be born again and the outpouring of graces given by the Holy Spirit. However, the Early Church associated the term of being born again in a different light.

If I may be allowed to quote the answer of Mike Borden as an example:

Evangelicalism is a worldwide, interdenominational movement within Protestant Christianity that emphasizes the centrality of being "born again", in which an individual experiences personal conversion; the authority of the Bible as God's revelation to humanity; and spreading the Christian message. An evangelical take on this question is that it is critical for being a Christian: You must be born again. The Holy Spirit of God is the testimony and unless one has received the Holy Spirit one is not even a Christian.

However the Early Church clearly associated this term of being born again with the sacrament of baptism.

St. Irenaeus (202) wrote the following in 185, which many claim it refers to infant baptism:

Irenaeus, c. A.D. 185:

He came to save all through means of Himself—all … who through Him are born again to God—infants, and children, and boys, and youths, and old men. He therefore passed through every age, becoming an infant for infants, thus sanctifying infants; a child for children, thus sanctifying those who are of this age, being at the same time made to them an example of piety, righteousness, and submission … (Against Heresies II:22:4)

The article on infant baptism from this site claims that the term "born again" was synonymous with baptism to early Christians.

Note here that the term "born again" was synonymous with baptism to early Christians. That really didn't change until the time of the pietists in the 17th century.

Has the term "born again" always been synonymous with baptism with the Christians of the Early Church?

Now moving on with the question at hand more clearly, the more traditional approach would be in strengthening our spiritual life in order, if God so willed it, that we would be able to imitate Our Lord and give testimony to Christ with the ultimate price!

Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. - Matthew 24:9

The Apostle Saint Paul explains that living by the Spirit we must live disciplined lives in this world.

For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live. - Romans 8:13

Thus living disciplined christian lives we will be ready for that terrible day that God will call upon us to render an account of our lives!

In conclusion to your question, (How crucial is it for Christians in general (not only LDS) to ”gain a testimony” validating the truth of their beliefs?) will not only depend on the particular denominations and individuals concerned, but also with the historical situation that Christians find themselves in. The faithful of the Early Church would see things in a absolutely different light than Christians of our day and age. As for myself, I will allow the Early Church Martyrs be my inspiration to in order to ”gain testimony” in the eyes of God!

Martyrdom is the ultimate testimony and all Christians must be ready for!

You can judge the quality of their faith from the way they behave. Discipline is the index to Doctrine. - Tertullian

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OP: Does the notion of 'gaining a testimony', perhaps worded in different terms, exist universally across Christianity? Is this something important for all (or at least most) Christian denominations or just for Latter-day Saints?

It is an odd concept to "gain a testimony" from within yourself about the truth out there.

After all, the Bible says our hearts are deceitful above all else.

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? Jer 17:9

So, to ask for an inward testimony first about an external so-called truth is to put the cart before the horse. It is the heart that must be changed first. How?

How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? ... So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. Romans 10:14, 17

What does that mean? John and others tell us.

These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God. 1 John 5:13

So, to answer the OP. It would appear that only Latter-day Saints see the importance of a personal testimony.

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  • There is another answer from an Evangelical Protestant that disagrees.
    – Mark
    Jan 9 at 17:45
  • @Mark if I understand correctly your OP, you're asking whether the idea of "gaining a testimony" is unique to LDS. This is shown in the paragraph string from we can have a spiritual experience of heavenly Father and we have Jesus Christ our Saviour and we have Joseph Smith a prophet. This string is unique to LDS. Per the Bible, first you must be born again, which is to receive the Spirit. Then your source of deeper knowledge comes the same way, from hearing, from grace through faith. It is not to look inward and see what feeling comes up. See Hebrews 6.
    – SLM
    Jan 10 at 15:28
  • This answer would benefit from addressing the question as asked, which is about whether the emphasis on personal experiences with the spirit is present in other denominations. Your answer makes a case for why it SHOULDN'T be, but there's no supporting evidence for the conclusion that "ONLY LDS see the importance of personal testimony" Jan 10 at 22:05
  • The OP cites the LDS example: do we have a Father God? Do we have a Jesus Christ savior? Do we have a Joseph Smith prophet? Presumably, this string is a one-step. LDS believes itself the restored church, which implies unless you're LDS, you're not and can't be in a proper relationship with God, Jesus, or Joseph. I'm not aware of any church that follows that idea. Christians typically hear the Good News. They are saved by grace through faith and that not of yourself. IOW, one shouldn't look internally for the answer, but to God-breathed as revealed 2,000 years ago, not some 200.
    – SLM
    Jan 10 at 23:21
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To answer your initial question of, "How crucial is it for Christians to 'gain a testimony' validating the truth of their beliefs?" It's so "crucial" that your life depends on where your going to spend eternity.

You also made this statement, "Consequently, this experience is meant to possess remarkable epistemological significance." In philosophy, the term addressing "knowing" is "epistemology"--the study of the means of knowing. There are many theories of epistemology but emotional reactions rates rather low.

Probably the most commonly accepted epistemology can be summed up in the phrase: "justified true belief" (or warranted true belief"). That is, we may believe something, but we cannot rightly claim to "know" that something until we can show warrant for that belief or justify it by means of valid substantiation. This is done by means of comparing the belief to the available facts about the subject.

The following are the facts (at least for me) of how I gained a testimony and it did not take work. It's taken from 1 John 5:11-13, "And the witness is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. Vs12, He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. Vs13, These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, in order that you may "KNOW" that you have eternal life."

To put this in the simplest of terms, "I took God at His word." I simply believed Him. These verses are "NOT' asking you to pray to see if some book is true. The words are "NOT" asking you to work in some manner to get saved or follow some sort of "Priesthood." Please read Hebrews 7:11-19. Here we have a much better hope--a hope by which believers are now actually drawing near to God himself. Through the Son Christians are able daily and continuously to enter into the very presence of God.

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    This answer doesn't address "other denominations" which was the focus of the question. Jan 8 at 22:30
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    Well Bug I gave my testimony from a Protestant view point which would fit into your "first broad testimony." Btw, are you aware that Pentecostalism is a Charismatic movement that emphasizes direct personal experience of God through baptism with the Holy Spirit? In your second category what personal experiences have you strived for to gain a testimony? Lastly, in your third category that some churches (like the Lutherans) don't emphasize personal experience with the Holy Spirit. Does that mean they don't have a testimony that can affect others? Let God do His job in the life of the believer.
    – Mr. Bond
    Jan 9 at 0:47
  • but the question asks "is this universal in christianity" and specifically "do all or most denominations consider it important" and yet this answer seems to be about your personal experience and views, which wasn't how I interpreted the question, at least. I could have misinterpreted the question though. Jan 9 at 1:17
  • Can't answer your question about the lutherans, though it might be covered by the article I linked above or elsewhere. Jan 9 at 1:18
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I would say that the approaches of different denominations to the idea of 'gaining a testimony' can be put into three broad categories:

Gaining a testimony is critical for a believer

This is what you describe above. It is also the case in some Pentecostal churches. I don't know much about Pentecostalism though, so I'll have to leave it there.

Personal experiences with the Holy Ghost are very important and believers should strive to have them

Some branches of Christianity emphasise the fact that believers should have similar experiences with the holy ghost to what you describe. For Evangelical Protestants and other people who subscribe to Charismatic Christianity, believers expect to have experiences which you could call 'testimony' with the holy ghost. My friend grew up in a youth church in that vein and her and her friends would be always searching for a holy spirit experience, but this wasn't to prove the truth of their beliefs, it more like receiving a gift from God (who is already known to be true).

Denominations that don't emphasise personal experience with the Holy Spirit

On the other hand, personal experience with the Holy Spirit has not had a lot of emphasis in my time in the Anglican church, and I would guess it would be the same in the Catholic church, at least at times. These denominations emphasise the relationship with Christ and with God though prayer, ritual, service, and so on. Here is an article from the Lutheran Witness Magazine that discusses the role of the holy spirit in Lutheranism. It says

Unless it’s Pentecost Sunday, however, Lutherans may hear much less about the Holy Spirit in sermons and Bible studies, and they may be largely unfamiliar with who the Spirit is and what He does.

it contrasts the Lutheran position to the Pentecostal one:

Pentecostal churches often emphasize the dynamic works of the Spirit [...]. Some even teach that these tangible experiences of the Spirit are necessary to validate one’s faith. They prompt Christians to look toward glorious manifestations of the Spirit’s presence — rather than to cross and Baptism — for the assurance of salvation.

The rest of the article outlines a defence of the Lutheran position. There would be some differences, but I dare say it would be fairly similar to an Anglican or Catholic position.

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    Edit to correct the 3 times you spell 'Pentecostal/ism' wrongly. However, I would encourage you to remove your last paragraph as some of it could be viewed as inflammatory and thus generate unhelpful debate with comments. And there's no need for you to delete your own answer just because other answers might be considered by you to be 'more well-versed' than yours.
    – Anne
    Jan 8 at 13:25
  • @Anne fair enough, have done so Jan 8 at 22:23

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