I was born a member of the Church of England and christened in that faith, but my parents joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints shortly before my seventh birthday. Because they attended church regularly, I was raised in a religious home and believed what I was taught. However, my recollections of my childhood and some of the decisions I then made by myself, suggest that I was sensitive to the things of the spirit from an early age, though I knew I did not know all I wanted to know.
When I was fourteen years old, I read the Book of Mormon through, cover to cover for the first time. I knew it was true. I knew that Joseph Smith could not have written it as some suggested. But that knowledge was not enough for me. I wanted to know for myself, separate and independent from all other creatures under heaven, whether Joseph Smith was what he claimed to be. While I already knew what the witness of the Holy Ghost felt like, I knew I did not know by that power that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God. It was not enough for me to simply deduce from my knowledge that the Book of Mormon was true, that Joseph Smith must therefore be a prophet of God. But for some reason, God and the Holy Ghost made me wait before they gave me that knowledge. When personal revelation that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God finally came in answer to sincere prayers that stretched back for years, the resulting knowledge was absolute and indelible. As Joseph Smith said in relation to his First Vision, “I knew it and I knew that God knew it,” and I know too that to deny this revealed knowledge would be to incur God’s displeasure. But denial has never been an option. Since that day of personal revelation in 1977, my life has not been the same. I have been prepared to concede that if I doubted something connected with the history of the Church or its operations, I just didn’t know the answer yet. More recently I have learned that my doubts are opportunities; questions about matters of faith are further revelations waiting to happen if I will but ask. And since that understanding came, I have received revelation upon revelation. I know and have even testified in court as an expert witness that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the “true and living church of Jesus Christ” on earth. That does not mean that I do not celebrate the virtue that I have seen and felt in many other churches and places of learning. But it does mean that God’s authority to perform His saving ordinances vests in this Church and in this Church alone. I know that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is led by a living prophet and Twelve Apostles who are called of God by prophecy and revelation. That they are called by prophecy and revelation does not mean that they are perfect or infallible. It means rather, that they are called of God to perform a special work in ministering His gospel to the ends of the world—a work in which I have been greatly privileged to assist.
Technically, my greatest secular expertise is in the law of evidence. The law of evidence is that body of rules which courts and other temporal tribunals apply to decide whether a fact is proven or not. I have learned in that study, despite the contrary assertions of academics from many disciplines, that facts do not prove anything. It is the deductions we make from factual strings that we say constitute proof, but in reality when we say we are convinced ‘on the balance of probabilities’ or ‘beyond reasonable doubt’, we are only ever affirming that our doubts have been resolved to one degree or other. But the knowledge that comes by revelation through the influence of the Holy Ghost is of an altogether different character. When the Holy Ghost affirms any truth to a human soul, that soul knows the relevant truth completely. For the Holy Ghost cannot lie or be deceived.
The final truth to which I have chosen to here depose, is to the divine Sonship of Jesus Christ and to the infinite character of what Christians call His atonement. I cannot explain it. But what I know by revelation is that it will heal every human soul that repents—and it will heal them all completely. It does not matter whether that soul’s wounds be the consequence of self-inflicted harm or the result of abuse in war or in a monastery. It matters not that a human being was born with intellectual or physical deformity, or whether that person became subject to disease involuntarily or by choice. The atonement of Christ will heal and compensate every human soul that repents so that they can enter the eternal world, whole and competent in every respect. Jesus Christ and Jesus Christ alone of all the human beings that have ever lived on this earth is competent to do this for us under the direction of His Father, who is also our Father.
In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
Keith Thompson has worked as Area Legal Counsel for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints since March 1991, for nineteen years in the Pacific, based in Sydney, Australia, and most recently in Africa, from a principal office in Accra, Ghana. Before appointment to this role, he was a partner at Fortune Manning, a commercial law firm in Auckland, New Zealand.
He holds LLB (Hons) and M Jur degrees from the University of Auckland in New Zealand and a PhD in Law from Murdoch University in Perth, Australia. An expanded version of his PhD thesis (“Religious Confession Privilege at Common Law: A Historical Analysis”) is currently in course of publication. He has been admitted to the bar in New Zealand, Australia, and Kiribati.
In the Church, Keith has served as a bishop and as a stake and mission president. He and his wife Anita are the parents of eight children and they have three grandchildren.
Posted April 2010