A detailed experiment-theory comparison reveals that linear ideal MHD theory is in quantitative agreement with external magnetic and internal soft x-ray measurements of the plasma response to externally applied non-axisymmetric fields over a broad range of beta and rotation. This result represents a significant step toward the goal of advancing the understanding of three-dimensional tokamak equilibria. Both the magnetic and soft x-ray measurements show the driven plasma perturbation increases linearly with the applied perturbation, suggesting the relevance of linear plasma response models. The magnetic and soft x-ray measurements are made at multiple toroidal and poloidal locations, allowing well resolved measurements of the global structure. The comparison also highlights the need to include kinetic effects in the MHD model once beta exceeds 80% of the kink mode limit without a conducting wall. Two distinct types of response fields are identified by the linear ideal MHD model: one that consists of localized currents at the rational surfaces that cancel the applied resonant field and another that is excited by the components of the external field that couple to the kink mode. Numerical simulations show these two fields have similar amplitudes in ITER-shaped DIII-D discharges where n1/43 fields are used to suppress edge localized modes. c 2011 American Institute of Physics.