Testimony & Spiritual Witnesses

We are taught in the LDS church that we can receive confirmation of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon, of the Gospel, that the Church is true, etc. by praying and asking for a confirmation through the Holy Ghost. But feelings and emotions are not a reliable method for discerning truth – particularly when it doesn’t line up with facts. We can feel strong emotions about lots of things – I have had what I consider to be spiritual experiences myself, in and out of the church. I don’t discount those. And I don’t discount experiences that others have with things that resonate with them, make them feel good, etc. The danger is when you use feelings as a substitute for evidence and as a way of determining or proving actual external truth.

I have read and seen videos of people expressing how they know their church is true via the spirit. They are all adamant their church and/or leader is true, and they all feel the spirit so strongly. The problem is that these people were all in different churches. They can’t all be part of the one true church. Using feelings and emotions in this way is simply not appropriate because feelings and emotions can be manipulated, they are based on our individual experiences and beliefs, and any number of factors go into them.

Another troubling aspect in this section are quotes from church leaders advising church members to bear their testimony even if they don’t believe yet because then their testimony will get stronger the more they say it. This strikes me as dishonest and manipulative.

I think it’s important to be in tune with our own feelings and emotions and the voice that is within all of us (we can absolutely call that the Spirit!). We can listen to our inner voice through prayer or meditation. It is appropriate to use that method for determining things that resonate with us, determining how we personally feel about something, helping us know what is right for our own lives. But it is not appropriate to use it as a determining factor for whether something is factually true. That is what critical thinking and actual evidence is for.

Want more detail? See https://read.cesletter.org/testimony/, https://www.ldsdiscussions.com/testimonies and http://www.mormonthink.com/testimonyweb.htm

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