Non-Authorities

Some people want to learn about the Church, but not from the Church. It’s not hard to believe. When shopping on Amazon.com, do you pay more attention to the publisher’s review or the users’ reviews? Do you shop for the best-in-class car by researching Ford.com or a user forum that discusses all makes and models?

Elder M. Russell Ballard said, “…some who seek answers want them to come directly from a member of the Church, like each one of you. They appreciate one-on-one conversations.” (source)

In the book Made to Stick, Chip and Dan Heath call this concept an appeal to “antiauthorities” (or non-authorities):

“A citizen of the modern world, constantly inundated with messages, learns to develop skepticism about the sources of those messages. Who’s behind these messages? Should I trust them? What do they have to gain if I believe them?

“A commercial claiming that a new shampoo makes your hair bouncier has less credibility than hearing your best friend rave about how a new shampoo made her own hair bouncier. Well, duh. The company wants to sell you shampoo. Your friend doesn’t, so she gets more trust points. The takeaway is that it can be the honesty and trustworthiness of our sources, not their status, that allows them to act as authorities. Sometimes antiauthorities are even better than authorities.” (Made to Stick, pp. 136-37, emphasis added)

Church members can bring credibility to the Church by raising this “antiauthority” (or “non-authoritative”) voice.

Amulek was a non-authority for the prophet Alma. Because Amulek was well known in his community, when he added his testimony to the words of the prophet, the people believed:

“I am also a man of no small reputation among all those who know me; yea, and behold, I have many kindreds and friends, and I have also acquired much riches by the hand of my industry.”

“…I know that the things whereof [Alma] hath testified are true…”

“And now, when Amulek had spoken these words the people began to be astonished, seeing there was more than one witness who testified…” (Alma 10:4,10,12)