Amen

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Within Christianity it is common to say the word amen to assert agreement with a statement or a prayer. Within The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we say amen at the end of prayers as well as at the end of a talk in sacrament meeting (usually following the bearing of testimony) and at the end of some ordinances. The word amen is a Hebrew word meaning “so be it” or “truly” or “verily.” The word can be used as an affirmation of agreement or a statement of conclusion (e.g., a speaker in church closes her talk by saying “…in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.” The congregation members then all say “Amen.” The speaker said amen as both an affirmation of the truth of what she just said and for the finality of it (akin to saying “The end” or fin or finis). The congregation members say amen implying that they are in agreement with what was said. [This means that maybe it is not appropriate to say amen after a talk or testimony if the speaker espoused obvious false doctrine. Not saying amen should never be done out of personal dislike but rather because someone simply was teaching grossly incorrect things {of course, the presiding authority in the meeting in that case should either find a way to – tactfully – get the person to stop talking or to at least – tactfully – teach the correct doctrine following the talk or testimony}].

As a further side note, the root word for amen is also the root of the word Mammon. I am not a linguist but I want to conjecture that amen is related to the word Ahman, which is a name for Jesus Christ found in the Doctrine and Covenants (D&C; 78:20; D&C; 95:17). This could imply that whenever we say amen to something we are not only affirming our agreement with it and the veracity of it but also we are declaring our devotion to Jesus Christ. We close in His name and then say amen not just as a statement of conclusion but also in recognition as Christ as the End, even Omega. Again, that is conjecture.

I want to return to what we imply when we say amen following a talk or prayer given by someone else. We are not only saying that we agree with what they said, we are accepting ownership for their words. This is more than slipping in a colloquial “What he said” or “Ditto”; it implies that you agree with what was said as if it were you were the one originally saying it. The distinction might seem trivial but the implications are not. It means you not only agree with the words but you are willing to be responsible for them and to sustain them. Saying amen is a verbal commitment to the truths of God as found in what was just said. Next time we say amen I hope we will think more about what we are really saying.

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