I hate it when I’m wrong.
But I have to be honest.
I started fuming about it when I listened to more and more testimonies in church more critically (and by critically I mean carefully and engagingly rather than maliciously or with intent to malign). A lot of people, general authorities included, frequently testify of the truthfulness of many things from the Book of Mormon to the Word of Wisdom.
However, I never told one person on my mission that I knew the Book of Mormon was truthful, but rather that I knew it was true. The aforementioned testifiers are no doubt looking for a noun to correspond to the adjective “true.” I just don’t understand how they—or rather how we, since I’ve done it too—chose “truthfulness,” when “truth” seems like the more correct adjective, and nine times out of ten seems more appropriate than “truthfulness”.
I was convinced that truthfulness was not correct, so I looked it up in the OED. It turns out that I only might be vindicated.
The OED gave several definitions for “truthfulness.” The first one was “disposition to tell the truth.”
I bear witness to the disposition of the Book of Mormon to tell the truth.
Accurate statement, but not what I would suspect most people are going for. The second definition is a little closer: “Accuracy in representing the reality; freedom from pretence or counterfeit, as in a work of art or literature.”
I bear witness to the Church’s/Book of Mormon’s accuracy in representing the reality and/or its freedom from pretence or counterfeit.
That’s true and actually really profound. The skeptic in me begins to squirm, although I don’t know if your average testimony-bearer has thought things through to that level. But it was the semicolon, noticed last, that really did me in. The semicolon was appended onto the first definition: “veracity.”
I bear witness to the veracity of the Book of Mormon.
Bingo. That was the nail in my coffin. That was definitely what people mean in their testimonies.