Little Known Propaganda: 9 – Inner Feeling

20 Sep

This is my continuing responses to the list of “little known facts” referenced at the blog Sound Doctrine. On this blog the author presents the list along with responses to each from a F.A.I.R. Mormon scholar, known only as CleanCut. In addition the author of this blog, known as Damon, gives a response to CleanCut. As I said in my introduction blog, I am writing a response to each fact in a lengthy series. I will not, however, comment on what CleanCut or Damon said.

See also Fact #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6, #7, #8

FACT #9. To the Mormon, the ultimate test that Mormonism is true is an “inner feeling.”

Mormons often refer to this feeling as a “burning in the bosom.” They believe their scripture (Doctrine and Covenants 9:8) gives the best test for determining truth. This test reads:

“…study it out in your mind; then you must ask me [the Lord] if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall FEEL that it is right.”

The Bible, on the other hand, tells us:

“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (II Timothy 2:15)

I can only speak to my experience, but the witness of the Holy Ghost is hardly a simple feeling. It is a direct communication from the Spirit of God to our spirit. It is communication on a spiritual level, which is an incredibly powerful witness. As the spirit and the body are joined in this mortal life the power of this communication if literally felt. This can be emotional, but in my experience, is more frequently a physical sensation. The description of a burning the bosom is not a metaphor, but an attempt to explain that when one feels the witness of the Holy Ghost they will literally feel a physical sensation of warmth fill their body. They will also frequently feel an emotional reaction of true joy or contentment or satisfaction, but rarely is there an emotional reaction without the physical sensation.

However, both of these are incidental to the true communication that is taking place. This communication cannot be explained, nor can it be truly understood unless it is experienced. To even attempt to explain it is impossible, and so the only descriptions that are given are those of the physical and emotional reactions to it.

So, to trivialize the communication of the spirit by referring to it as merely some emotional thing is to show ones ignorance as to what it really is.

Now, let us look at the references given and the evidence from the Bible.

You may note that the reference from the Doctrine and Covenants above tells us that we must study things out before God will reveal anything to us. The reason for this is that we are intelligent beings who have the ability to detect contradictions and can, by our own diligence, discover some bad philosophies and spirits.

However, he also expects us to seek His confirmation of our conclusions. Why? Because while we have the ability to discern things ourselves, we are also very gullible and have the tendency to set reasoning aside in favor of that which pleases us. So, to make sure that we are right we need God to confirm it to us.

However, we do not simply rely on these impressions, because we know that Satan can deceive, especially when we leave ourselves vulnerable to his influence.

There was the story in the early church of a woman who was visited by an angel. Now, the woman’s husband had been called to take the gospel to the ends of the earth, but the angel told the woman that he must not go more than a hundred miles from home or he would die. In telling this story Joseph Smith asked “How…was this known to be a bad angel?” He then answered the question “By…his contradicting a former revelation.” The woman, from her thoughts and feelings, had been deceived. But the deception was discovered through a careful examination of previous revelation, for God will not contradict himself. (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pg 214)

Now let us consider the Biblical evidence. This is only a small sampling, but it gets the point across.

Let us look at Luke 24: 32. This is the story of the disciples on the road to Emmaus. I am sure most people are familiar with it. Two disciples are walking to Emmaus a few days after the crucifixion. They are troubled by Christ’s death, and as they are talking about it they are met by a stranger. When they tell the stranger the reason for their troubles he begins to teach them the scriptures and how it all was going according to plan. Then, when they stopped to eat the stranger blessed the bread, revealed himself to be Christ, and disappeared. The two disciples are astonished and they look to each other and exclaim “DID NOT OUR HEART BURN WITHIN US, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures.

On this please note that they reasoned they should have known it was Christ because of how they felt. It wasn’t because of what He said, or His knowledge of the scriptures. It was how they felt because of his presence and because of his teachings.  And notice how they describe how their hearts burned within them.

This goes right along with Luke 4: 32. Here we have Christ preaching in Capernaum. Luke tells us that when the people heard it “they were astonished at his doctrine: for his word was with power.” It was not what he taught that astonished them, but the sense of power that was in his words. In fact, the exact doctrine that he taught it not even mentioned. It seems that the power that his words held was of greater significance to Luke’s audience than the exact words.

Then we have a similar event happening on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2: 37. Peter has just preached a sermon, and the gift of tongues was manifest in a powerful way. As a result some three thousand were received by baptism into the church (see verse 41). What was it that so moved these people? Was it the eloquence of Peter’s words? Was it how well he expounded the scriptures? Was it any of the so called tests that people put forward today? No. Luke tells us that “when they heard this, they were PRICKED IN THEIR HEART, and said…what shall we do?” Again, it is the feeling that they had in response to the preaching that so touched them and convinced them of the truth of what they were hearing.

Now, let us briefly look at 2 Timothy 2: 15 in context (verse 11-16).

“It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him: If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us: If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself. Of these things put them in remembrance, charging them before the Lord that they strive not about words to no profit, but to the subverting of the hearers. Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness.”

So, after listing the good doctrine that Timothy should be teaching, Paul warns Timothy to ‘strive not about words’ or to avoid arguments over trivial matters. He also latter warns against ‘vain babblings’ or vain disputations which have no real purpose. Rather, he is to learn the truth so that he is able to put down false doctrine and ‘rightly divide’ or teach the truth.

So, this passage has nothing to do with gaining a testimony or personal revelation. It is, rather, an exhortation to learn the truth before you try to teach it. This is the same message that God gives us in Doctrine and Covenants 11: 21, when He tells Hyrum “Seek not to declare my word, but first seek to obtain my word, and then shall your tongue be loosed…” Hyrum, like Timothy, had already been converted and had a testimony of the gospel. So, the counsel given is what to do to prepare to teach after you have already received.

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3 Responses to “Little Known Propaganda: 9 – Inner Feeling”

  1. shematwater September 26, 2016 at 8:44 pm #

    Reply to CleanCut

    While CleanCut bares a good, and in my opinion, a powerful testimony, I do not think that it is the best response in this kind of a forum. Our faith is being attacked, and to simply restate that faith does nothing to counter the attack. We need to use the word of God, the one offensive piece of the Armor of God that we are given, and I just don’t think that he does this.
    Don’t get me wrong. Everything he says is true, and if this was a class or a meeting with the missionaries it would be very effective and a great help to the setting. I just think this is out of place here.

  2. shematwater September 26, 2016 at 8:45 pm #

    Reply to Damon part 1
    I think that Damon fails to understand what CleanCut said. CleanCut stated that both the LDS and the rest of Christianity can have good fruit. Damon latches onto this and twists it to be a claim that both beliefs can be true, which is not what Damon was saying.
    Christianity has always produced good fruit, in the sense that it leads people into moral living. It inspires many to help their fellow men, and leads them into lives of service. These are all good fruits that are produced by most of Christianity. This does not equate to the basic doctrines and belief systems being true or able to bring us back to the presence of God. So, Damon is twisting words to try and discredit CleanCut.
    Of course Damon doesn’t stop there. He also misrepresents the basic doctrine of the church to make a false comparison with the rest of Christianities doctrine. Damon first states what Christian’s believe.

    “Christianity says there is one true God and that God became a man to die for the sins of the world.”

    He is accurate here, but then he tries to summarize LDS doctrine by saying the following.

    “Mormonism says that men are not helpless but have within themselves the ability to become a God.”

    What is wrong with this statement? The fact that it claims we have the power to become a God ourselves. It is true that we believe we can become like God, but it is not through our ability or power it is through the atonement of Christ and the power of God that this is possible. We have the potential in us, but we have no power to unlock that potential. Just as we needed God to create and provide us with a physical body, we need God to resurrect us, glorify us, and raise us to exaltation. We cannot do it, nor do we claim that ability to.
    So, when Damon challenges us to judge which of his doctrinal statements is from God, the answer is that neither are from God, because both are inaccurate as to the doctrine of God.

  3. shematwater September 26, 2016 at 8:45 pm #

    Reply to Damon part 2
    Finally, Damon tries to steer the discussion back to the main point. Of course, he wrongly blames CleanCut for diverting it, but that is another matter. The main point is that the argument being made is that feelings are deceptive and so you can’t base a testimony of the truth on them.
    I have actually dealt with this extensively in my main article. There I point out that the New Testament is full of examples of people basing their testimony on just such feelings. The disciples on the road to Emmaus talk of their hearts burning within them. The converts on the day of Pentecost were pricked in their heart. Christ taught with power, not just reasoning. All these things point to the fact that God communicates through feelings and that it is by this communication that we may know the truth of things.

    Now, if feelings are so deceptive that we can place absolutely no trust in them, then why does God so frequently advocate for us to turn our hearts to Him, or state that it is by the heart that we understand and are converted.
    For instance, take Isaiah 6: 10. “…lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed.”
    So, we can see that word of God through reading the scriptures. We can hear through the preaching of those called to preach. But, it is our heart that understands the truth, and through this understanding we become converted. This passage is quoted by Christ in Matthew 13:15; Mark 4:12; and John 12:40, reinforcing its truth.
    Joel 2: 12 records “Therefore also now, saith the Lord, turn ye even to me with all your heart…”
    So, clearly the Lord does not think that the feelings prompted by the Spirit are deceptive. Rather, God wants us to bring our hearts and feelings in line with the Spirit so that there is no deception, because we will have the ability to recognize the spirit when it speaks to us.

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