Skip to comments.What critics don't understand about testimony (REAL Mormon / LDS)
Posted on 03/28/2011 7:12:57 PM PDT by Paragon Defender
Author: Michael R. Ash
Source: For Mormon Times
28 March 2011 6:00am
In last weeks issue, I argued that secular evidences alone can never offer the power to convert anyone to the restored gospel. Undeniable secular evidences for Joseph Smiths prophetic status would frustrate the necessity of agency and would still likely not change the hearts of those who adamantly reject the Prophet.
Critics typically claim that Latter-day Saints rely on feelings in lieu of evidence thereby implying that there is no rational thought that factors into their spiritual testimonies. This is unmitigated nonsense and contains at least three errors the first two of which will be discussed in this installment.
The first error is that all Latter-day Saint testimonies are void of reason and rationale. This is not, however, the way many member testimonies are formed and maintained. While a testimony must be grounded on a spiritual confirmation, the mind is an integral part of gaining our testimony. We are expected to use our minds to study the scriptures and learn what God wants.
When Oliver Cowdery made his failed attempt at translating the plates the Lord told him: Behold, you have not understood; you have supposed that I would give it unto you, when you took no thought save it was to ask me. But, behold, I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind; then you must ask me 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. (Doctrine and Covenants 9:7-8).
Moroni (Moroni 10:3) and other prophets (2 Nephi 32:1) have counseled us to ponder things in our hearts which sounds like an emotional rather than intellectual approach. Most people in ancient times, however, generally didnt understand that the brain was the source for thoughts and reasoning. They typically believed that the heart was home for both the soul as well as the origination of thoughts.
While the Egyptians experimented with brain surgery, for instance, they nevertheless believed that the heart not the brain was the source for thoughts. To ponder things in our hearts means to include our brains in our spiritual quest.
As Latter-day Saints who believe that the glory of God is intelligence (D&C 93:36), we are told to seek wisdom from the best books (D&C 88:118) and learn more than just what we hear in Sunday School. We are encouraged to learn about astronomy, geology, history, current and foreign events, and much more (D&C 88: 79).
Each of us, said President Boyd K. Packer, must accommodate the mixture of reason and revelation in our lives. The gospel not only permits but requires it.
In 2007, the church published a statement about LDS doctrine which read in part:
"The church exhorts all people to approach the gospel not only intellectually but with the intellect and the spirit, a process in which reason and faith work together.
Latter-day Saints (like most other people who believe in a spiritual realm) believe that some evidence such as a spiritual witness can only come through faith, but they also maintain that faith and reason are not typically in conflict and that reason can support faith (more on this later).
The second error made by critics is the implication that a testimony is nothing more than feelings or emotions. They sometimes profane the burning in the bosom into something like what you could get from eating too much pizza. As Elder Dallin H. Oaks said:
What does a burning in the bosom mean? Does it need to be a feeling of caloric heat, like the burning produced by combustion? If that is the meaning, I have never had a burning in the bosom. Surely, the word 'burning' in this scripture signifies a feeling of comfort and serenity. That is the witness many receive. That is the way revelation works.
As noted above, a testimony should be grounded both in the heart and mind. Dr. Wendy Ulrich, speaking at the 2005 FAIR conference, explained:
How do the goosebumps and tearfulness I experience when someone speaks in a testimony meeting differ from the goosebumps and tearfulness I experience when the 4:00 parade begins at Disneyland? ...
Fortunately, we are not left with emotion alone to discern God's hand in our lives. Reason, experience, counsel from others and other forms of revelation may all assist us. In fact, I notice that emotion plays into only some of my spiritual experiences, and often only in a secondary way. More often the spiritual promptings and confirmations I receive come very quietly as something simply occurs to me with a kind of rightness that has no real emotion attached to it at all. Others have come as a pure love beyond my previous capacity to imagine. I expect that people from many religious backgrounds may have such experiences, and I am comfortable imagining God in many of them, but they are not easily explained away as a self-produced warm feeling.
Whats ironic about the feelings/emotions charge made by critics is that they often base their rejection of the restored gospel on emotions or non-intellectual reasons (as we will see in next weeks installment).
The article references a previous article. I’ll post that one the next time I post if I remember.
It’s here though if anyone wants to peruse it. It is a good article also.
Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing,
but inwardly they are ravening wolves ... For such are FALSE apostles,
DECEITFUL workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ.
(Matthew 7:15; 2nd Corinthians 11:13).
You are truly without class.
And you are truly without Jesus. I advise that you seriously seek Him. Your mormon Jesus is not the Jesus of the Bible.
Thank you for warning FReepers that this is yet one more Mormon cult spam post. They should know it is cultic and not Christian.
It’s not spam.
It’s not cultic.
It’s very Christian.
You have followed a version of Jesus that is NOT of the Bible. You are following a false Christ. You have no basis for any of your beliefs. There is no proof, archeological or otherwise of any of the mormon teachings. Mormonism relies so heavily on feelings because of this. And saying I have no class simply because you cannot take the heat is just lame. But then, what is new, really?
I went to an evening young people’s get together dinner at a Mormon church many years ago. As the program progressed the hosts, some of the elders in the church asked the young people (late teens and early 20s) for a testimony.
Each stood up and gave a testimony as to why they had joined the Mormon church.
Good fellowship, friendship, good get togethers, social programs.
After all were done, I noticed that NONE had joined because they needed a saviour or even believed J Smith, but considered the church to be more of a social club.
Lol. It fits the Bible's warnings about false prophets and prophecies perfectly.
Its very Christian.
Only if you change the meaning of the word 'Christian' from the Bible's original meaning. But then, you change the meanings of a lot of words and concepts just to make them fit your heretical beliefs.
The irony of you, OF ALL PEOPLE, complaining about this is utterly breath-taking.
Please go and try to convert some Muslims. The history of the Mountain Meadows Massacre would positively entrall them.
“Death to Infidels!”
And saying I have no class simply because you cannot take the heat
lol too funny. I said you have no class because of your propaganda attack cartoon you slap up.
Disagreeing is one thing. What you and your anti-Mormon gang do goes well beyond disagreement.
Reason! Lol! Everything about Mormonism is unreasonable, illogical, unprovable, and totally unsupported by archeology. Take Smith's Book of Abraham for instance. He bought an old papyrus scroll and claimed he translated it and was all about Abraham. But any fool who studied Ancient Egypt can easily tell that the scroll a piece of the Book of the Dead. I studied Ancient Egypt in elementary school and I could tell that easy as pie. It shows the embalming process and the judgment of the soul before Osiris.
And if J. Smith couldn't be trusted in his 'translations' in that account, why should anybody trust anything he ever said? This is not even to mention Smith's false prophecies (example: his claim that the second coming would be in 1891). Everything is against Smith. The evidence indicates that he was a conman.
Its not cultic.
Lol. It fits the Bible’s warnings about false prophets and prophecies perfectly.
Except for the false prophet and prophecies part. Unless you believe the anti-Mormon regurgitated propaganda that is.
Its very Christian.
Only if you change the meaning of the word ‘Christian’ from the Bible’s original meaning.
We are in Christ’s only fully true Church. That would make us as Christian as can be.
Have a great night!
You need to look here. You are being misled as is obvious by your worn out propaganda.
Heres a few links to get your started from a different viewpoint. I have found that the vast majority of the issues brought up in the anti-Mormon propaganda can be found and addressed at http://www.fairlds.org/ but heres more:
Have a great night! Study and pray!
Your comebacks are lame. Can’t you even argue in support of your beliefs? Or is it too hard? I suppose you would rather post your list-o-links instead, because it is easier to not have to answer for yourself. All you do is sit in la-la land and make ‘comebacks’ that are not real combacks and then slap yourself on the back for scoring a ‘hit’. ROFL.
What vile blasphemy. Repent lest you be judged.
Ooh! My bosoms are burnin’ Placemarker!
FWIW, I had a young Muslim man from Saudi Arabia over for dinner a while back. I wasn't trying to convert him to the Jesus Christ of Joseph Smith's or Paragon Defender's imagination.
Yeah, that stuff about the Book of Abraham really being an Egyptian book of the Dead is just propaganda. Those stupid Egyptologists, they just gotta be wrong. They must be biased against mormons or something.
And that annoying archeology record. It still hasn't produced any proof of mormonism yet. What's taking it so long? It must be hiding things on purpose. The mean old archeological record just hates mormons. That's gotta be it.
And there's gotta be something wrong with all the native americans too. None of them seem to have any semetic blood. I just bet they are hiding it. It is a vast conspiracy! Everyone and everything is biased against mormonism!
LMAO!!!!!!!!! Funniest thin on FR Today if you’ve been following this confounded articulation of diatribical vitriol.
In this corner....bound for celestial glory.....armed with thousands of LDS quotes....
I do apologize, CommerceComet. My comment wasn’t for you but for ParagonDefender.
I noticed the author and others referenced in the article failed to mention a little thing that happened in the Acts of the Apostles. An example we are to follow when we hear something that contradicts the written Word.
Test what they “feel” and “hear” against the Word of God.
Oh, btw, your lds.org link was useless in my research on this topic. There is only a D&C reference that is unbiblical.
If it does not come from the Bible, it is not of God.
Paragon Defender, I respectfully disagree that the Mormon-related 'issues' that are so frequently discussed on Free Republic are addressed appropriately at the websites you always post. I also question your use of the term 'propaganda' when describing any discussion that includes unflattering quotes from LDS leaders, LDS publications, or historical events.
This is only my third post on an LDS-related FR thread. The first concerned the difference between LDS Scouting, under its Green Book as permitted by the BSA and the 1913 agreement between the BSA and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, and traditional Scouting, a topic on which I am well-versed.
The second occurred on a recent rainy Saturday or Sunday and went unnoticed by the normal posters on similar topics, including those who perhaps show excess glee in pointing out elements of LDS doctrine and history that they find offensive or humorous.
I am an agnostic (which is permitted in the BSA, as I believe in a Supreme Being). I did not try to convert you.
I mentioned that I have read the Book of Mormon, The Pearl of Great Price, Doctrines & Covenants, and other LDS writings, including sermons in the Deseret News. I've also spend most of two days in the home of Mormon apostates Gerald and Sandra Tanner in the late 1980s, to learn about the Mountain Meadows Massacre (I lost a relative there, was working on my family history in Salt Lake City, and went to visit them; they are . . . interesting). I've also studied history of the early church as written by LDS-historians and non-LDS-historians, both religious and secular.
I asked a single question in respectful terms: why does the official website of the LDS church, www.lds.org indicate that Joseph Smith had only one wife, when he practiced polygamy? You pointed me to a two- or three-sentence description of the history of polygamy on the website which said, essentially, that God had revealed the doctrine of polygamy to Smith around 1831, but it was controversial, so it wasn't fully revealed to anyone except a few church leaders nor widely practiced until the Mormons moved west.
I responded that it didn't seem to be a particularly complete answer. Polygamy was a major factor in the LDS church moving west and in the unrest between the LDS church and non-LDS residents in Missouri and Illinois. Historians believe Smith had 40 wives or more, which makes polygamy like a wide practice before Utah - at least for Smith (others LDS leaders had multiple wives, too), and that Smith took as wives the wives of married men, or sent LDS men on missions and took their wives as men (some of the women wrote diaries or books about being taken as Smith's wife when they were already married), and that destruction of the printing press that published an editorial about Smith's polygamy is what led to Smith's imprisonment and death. Members of the church, including witnesses to the Book of Mormon, had left the church over polygamy. Anti-polygamy was preached at a time when polygamy was praciced. These are simply facts. It seemed as though leaving out so much information made the official website explanation of polygamy and the biography of Smith having only one wife incomplete at best and at worst misleading. The Mormons headed west so they could practice their religion in peace, and ONE of things they wanted to be able to practice in peace was polygamy. It was a factor in heading west.
Your response was swift.
You called me a propagandist.
There was no discussion of whether my facts were true. You made no attempt to lead me to historical sources to dispute what I understood. It was simply a case that if I was going to state historical facts that raised any questions about the purity of Joseph Smith or shined a light on the confusion regarding even one issue in the church's past - then I was a propagandist.
Asking questions about facts isn't propaganda.
I was offended.
If there's any propaganda going on, its the LDS website doing things like publishing an official biography of Joseph Smith that lists him as having only one wife, or brushing by polygamy in two or three sentences. It's propaganda by omission.
The term "McCarthyite" is misused - a slur created by the left, because there were communists in the State Department and everywhere McCarthy said they existed. Always screaming "Propaganda" and "Propagandist" appear to be like screaming "McCarthyite!" If somebody dares point out an inconvenient part of the LDS church history, or the writings or quotes of its leaders, or a part of LDS doctrine that may seem odd to Methodists, Baptists, Catholics, etc., directing them to websites that offer carefully written and incomplete answers (particularly ones that use the same words that are used by other faiths, without disclosing that those words have different definitions than used by those other faiths), and then screaming "propaganda" if they dare post quotes by LDS leaders that don't mesh with the LDS church's current "hey there, buddy, we're just like you" stance, is getting old.
Even for those of us who aren't trying to convert you. Or any Mormon.
If you would please delete my post above.
I am frustrated at the continued posting of websites that do not offer thorough answers and I am angered at being called a propagandist for asking polite questions.
However, I don't want to add fuel to what is already a raging continual fire of the LDS topic on FR, and the tone of my post was less polite than I would prefer it to be. Thanks and thanks for the time you put in on FR.
PD, Please read the following and give us your thoughts on it. http://www.watchman.org/lds/heart.htm Is that how it works?
I have and God said flee, lds is not My church.
Nonintellectual reasons - what a hoot. What is lds trying to say, that nine versions of the first vision is not an issue, that no reputable archaeologist or anthropologist has ever found any evidence of the claims in the BoM, that lds changes its foundation at the whim of government pressure - there is no intellect in lds only feelings IE burning in the bosom.
The lds jesus in not the Jesus of the Bible.
Do you actually believe that PD even knows what lds teach?
I don’t otherwise he would at a min try and defend rather than post links.
Your comebacks are lame.
Your attacks are lame.
They are old and tired, worn out and regurgitated propaganda. All addressed at the links provided for all to see. Nothing new. Never is.
haha that Godzilla facepalm photoshop is pretty funny!
unfortunately having creative photoshoppong abilities doesn’t change reality.
Good one though!
Repent lest you be judge.
Good grief man, if you are going to miss quote Bible because you have no historical context at least try and throw in a reference.
Your (miss) quote is a perfect example of lds not understanding the Bible.
Paragon Defender, I respectfully disagree that the Mormon-related ‘issues’ that are so frequently discussed on Free Republic are addressed appropriately at the websites you always post.
Well that’s ok, we don’t have to agree on everything.
I also question your use of the term ‘propaganda’ when describing any discussion that includes unflattering quotes from LDS leaders, LDS publications, or historical events.
I disagree that I do that. I call it propaganda when such things are misrepresented in one way or another to reflect a predetermined conclusion.
Blazing Bosoms Placemarker! Oh, but their spicy!
Ah, more appropriate to for you. Still waiting for you to let me know when the nephite exhibit opens at the smithsonian.
ROFL! So now you are comparing me to the Phelps gang! ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! Ultimate FAIL!
I think he knows some parts better than others, but he is not good at debate. I think he is afraid of losing so he just posts his links and then claims he is giving us answers. Or perhaps Mormonism forbids much in the way of theological debate because it makes Mormonism look bad.
Nothing is worn out unless you have adressed it first FRiend. And posting the links doesn't count. We want an answer from YOU, YOURSELF, not some general list of links.
This thing is kinda like Obama and the birth certificate. If he would just producce a real one instead of dodging, people would be satisfied. If you would just actually give folks here real answers YOURSELF instead of dodging, people would be a lot less irked with you.