Stop being dishonest concerning their witness of Jesus Christ

 

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LDS members and Apostles need to stop bearing false witness by being dishonest concerning their witness of Jesus Christ, God and the truth of the church.

Reasoning:

The purpose and calling of an Apostle was according to the Bible, and is according to modern scripture, to be a special witness of the Resurrected Lord Jesus Christ to all the earth. Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery were given this title early in church history, because they witnessed that they saw Christ in vision (see D&C 76). In the case of our present “apostles”, if that witness is a first hand visual witness as was the case for Christ’s original apostles they need to proclaim that witness clearly and honestly.

If their visionary witness of Christ is from vision as it was with Joseph Smith, Oliver or Paul they should say so. But if their witness is simply a powerful witness given by the Holy Ghost (as many modern LDS apostles have admitted) they need to proclaim that clearly without secrecy, guile or misrepresentation. No more of this mysterious and deceptive language. If God is an honest God, then when he calls someone as witness of Him, he NEVER would then swear them to secrecy or tells them to speak in hushed muted terms concerning the experience. That’s not a witness. It is an absolute contradiction to call oneself a witness of Christ and then not proclaim the specifics of that witness while pretending that somehow the experience was too sacred to talk about or that you are sworn to secrecy after “being called” to be a witness!  The current practices of LDS apostles in this regard tend toward evil and need to be reformed to accord with complete openness and honesty.

The same goes for the testimonies of church members. We have developed a cultural tendency of saying we “know” this or that when in fact we actually only believe or have faith in it.  This actually causes a lot of guilt, shame, confusion and contempt. It is dishonest of us to redefine the word know to mean believe. It is also unscriptural. Alma says in Alma 32:21 “faith is not to have a perfect knowledge of things; therefore if ye have faith ye hope for things which are not seen, which are true”.   If you have not seen God, you should not stand up in front of the congregation and say “I know god lives”, that is a lie, you should say “I have faith and hope that god lives for such and such reasons. The Brother of Jared in the Book of Mormon teaches us how we should differentiate faith and knowledge.

19 And because of the knowledge of this man he could not be kept from beholding within the veil; and he saw the finger of Jesus, which, when he saw, he fell with fear; for he knew that it was the finger of the Lord; and he had faith no longer, for he knew, nothing doubting.
20 Wherefore, having this perfect knowledge of God, he could not be kept from within the veil; therefore he saw Jesus; and he did minister unto him. (Ether 3:19–20)

By saying we “know” God lives or we “know” the church is true, we are effectually saying by the definitions in our own scripture that we no longer need faith because we are redeemed from the veil. At the very least, we are reading into our experiences and claiming that they say universal or objective things about truth that they dont, and it’s time we as a church stop promoting it as a cultural practice of both leadership and members.

 

Also:

Stop manipulating people into thinking every church related spiritual experience or emotional reaction to spirituality is proof that “the LDS church is true”.

Reasoning:

Much like the intrinsic human experiences of love or infatuation, the “burning heart” or spiritual awakening is experienced by members of most religions. These experiences can connect people to a religious tradition and seem to typically yield good fruits but can easily be used to manipulate people into cults. When we use manipulation techniques to suggest to youth that spiritual emotions or a burning heart, prove the Mormon church is the only true one, these individuals will likely be bitter when they find people of many, many religions experience them. (see this youtube video for many such examples)   Many ancient and modern religions promote better systems to explain the phenomena of spiritualism in terms of spiritual connection, activated endocrine glands or spiritual centers attached to the human nervous system. (see this wikipedia article on kundalini)

Our current system of gaining a “testimony” is manipulative. If members or investigators “feel the spirit” during a discussion of Joseph Smith or while reading the book of Mormon, we ask them to accept this as proof that Mormonism is the only true church. If they “feel the spirit” while listening to a general conference address, we ask them to accept this as proof that these men are called of God and essentially everything any of them say is the word of God. This is synonymous with asking people to kiss someone or hold a baby or view a sunset and then asking them to accept these good feelings as testimony that the one involved is their only love or that the LDS church is God’s only true church and thus all its tenets are true. We need to stop manipulating people into drawing man-made conclusions which aren’t necessarily true, from their very personal spiritual experiences.  See ‘Is The LDS Church the Only True Church? Understanding Religion and Truth‘, for a detailed exegesis on how religious truth relates to religious pluralism and real truth.

Watch the following video to see how impossible and dangerous it is to believe that spiritual emotional confirmation can serve as the sole basis for testimony.

 

Quotes concerning whether the apostles have objectively ‘seen’ Christ, etc...

Elder Dallin Oaks spoke yesterday at a multi-stake fireside on Jan 23rd in Seattle.. A youth in attendance asked him if they should seek to have an “Alma the younger” type of experience and get a personal witness of Christ. His answer was refreshingly honest and direct. He told them that neither he nor anyone in the 1st presidency or Q12 have ever seen Christ, had a vision, or supernatural experience. He reaffirms that the basis for the Q15 testimony is no different than the typical member.

Just after the 30 minute mark. The question is asked. The response that I transcribe here is starting at time mark 31:38:

“I’ve never had an experience like that and I don’t know anyone among the 1st Presidency or Quorum of the 12 who’ve had that kind of experience. Yet everyone of us knows of a certainty the things that Alma knew. But it’s just that unless the Lord chooses to do it another way, as he sometimes does; for millions and millions of His children the testimony settles upon us gradually. Like so much dust on the windowsill or so much dew on the grass. One day you didn’t have it and another day you did and you don’t know which day it happened. That’s the way I got my testimony. And then I knew it was true when it continued to grow.”

Brigham Young was almost exclusively referred to as the President of the Church, never as a prophet and he actually made many public statements saying that he was specifically not a prophet. For example: ” I am not going to interpret dreams; for I don’t profess to be such a Prophet as were Joseph Smith and Daniel; but I am a Yankee guesser;” Brigham Young, Sermon, July 26, 1857, JD 5:77. Brigham also made it very clear several times that he had not seen Jesus. For example: “I cannot bear the same testimony of Jesus that I can of Joseph, because I never saw him with my natural body. Peter, James and John etc., were apostles of Jesus, they were called and ordained by him, so they could testify of him, but they could not testify of Joseph as I can. –Brigham Young, June 27, 1854, The Complete Discourses of Brigham Young 2:809.

When called before congress to testify in the Reed Smoot hearings, President Joseph F. Smith similarly testified that “I have never pretended nor do I profess to have received revelations”. His testimony was that he was unsure if he had been inspired or not and compared his experience as the prophet of the church to the “same as any Methodist, Protestant, or preacher”

I had come to the conclusion long ago that none of the Apostles had reasons to believe beyond what they publicly taught. It always seems that when they dodged the occasional probing questions about seeing Christ, that they were deliberately trying to be vague and let people believe what they wanted to believe. I’m happy to see Oaks owning up to reality with a clear statement.

If you pay close attention, you will find that none of the modern apostles even say that they are special witnesses of Christ anymore. The phrase used now days is “special witnesses of the name of Christ”.

Oaks has gone on record several times explaining this. He quotes D&C 107:23 – “The twelve traveling councilors are called to be the Twelve Apostles, or special witnesses of the name of Christ in all the world” and then says “This is not to witness of a personal manifestation. To witness of the name is to witness of the plan, the work, or mission such as the atonement and the authority or priesthood of the Lord Jesus Christ, which an apostle who holds the keys is uniquely responsible to do. Of course apostles are also witnesses of Christ just like all members of the church who have the gift of the Holy Ghost”

There are accounts of supernatural experience both among some early apostles and more modern members…

Descriptions of the experience can also be found in the annals of the membership. Here we find a description from the journal of Parley P. Pratt.

My dear  wife [Thankful Halsey Pratt] had now lived to accomplish her destiny; and  when the child  was dressed, and  she  had  looked  upon it and embraced it, she ceased to live in the flesh.  Her death happened about three hours after the  birth  of this  child  of promise. A few days previous to her death she had a vision in open day while sitting in her room. She was overwhelmed or immersed in a pillar of fire, which seemed to fill the whole room, as if it would consume it and all things therein; and the Spirit whispered to her mind, saying: “Thou art baptized with fire and the Holy Ghost.” It also intimated to her that she should have the privilege of departing from this world of sorrow and pain, and of going to the Paradise of rest as soon  as she  had fulfilled  the prophecy in relation  to the promised son. This vision was repeated on the next day at the same hour, viz:­ twelve  o’clock. She was overwhelmed with a joy and peace indescribable, and seemed changed in her whole nature from that time forth. (Autobiography of  Parley P. Pratt, Salt  Lake City:  Deseret Book Co.,  1972.  p. 166; italics  added.)

President Lorenzo Snow also relates the choice experience of his rebirth:

Some two or three weeks after I was baptized, one day while engaged  in my studies, I began to reflect upon the fact that  I   had  not  obtained   a knowledge of  the  truth  of  the work … and  I  began  to feel very  uneasy. I   laid aside my books, left the house, and  wandered around through the fields under  the oppressive influence of a gloomy,  dis­consolate  spirit,  while an indescribable cloud  of darkness seemed  to envelope  me. I had been accustomed, at the close of the day, to retire for secret prayer, to a grove … but at this time I felt no inclination to do so. The spirit of prayer had departed and the heavens seemed like brass over my head. At length, realizing that the usual time had come for secret prayer, I concluded I would not forego my evening service, and, as a matter of formality,  knelt as I was in the habit of doing,  and in my accustomed  retired place, but not feeling as I  was wont  to feel.

I had no sooner opened my lips in an effort to pray, than I heard a sound, just above my head, like the rustling of silken robes, and immediately the Spirit of God descended upon me, completely enveloping my whole person, filling me, from the crown of my head to the soles of my feet, and 0, the joy and happiness I felt! No language can describe the almost instantaneous transition from a dense cloud of mental and spiritual darkness into a refulgence  of light and  knowledge, as it was at that  time imparted  to my understanding…. It was a complete baptism­ a tangible immersion in the heavenly principle or element, the Holy Ghost; and even more real and physical in its effects upon every part of my system than the immersion by water; dispelling forever, so long as reason and memory last, all possibility of doubt. …

I cannot tell how long I remained in the full flow of the blissful enjoyment and divine enlightenment, but it was several minutes before the celestial element which filled and surrounded me began gradually to withdraw. On arising from my kneeling posture, … I knew.’  that He had conferred on me what only an omnipotent being can confer – that which is of greater value than  all the  wealth  and  honors worlds can bestow. That night, as I retired to rest, the same wonderful manifestations were repeated, and continued to be for several successive nights. The sweet remembrance of those glorious experiences … impart[s] an inspiring   in­fluence … and  I  trust  will to the close of my earthly  ex­istence.

(Biography – Family  Record of Lorenzo Snow, comp. Eliza R. Snow,  Salt Lake City: Deseret  Book Co., 1884, pp. 7-9; most italics added.) http://jesus.christ.org/teachings-of-jesus-christ/born-of-the-spirit-baptism-by-fire

We have examples of the baptism of fire in scripture, we find them infused in the testimonies of several of the early saints. Are there modern day occurrences of being born again?

 From James:

I wanted a spiritual experience, so I prayed and fasted the next day, Sunday. I broke my fast because we were invited to eat at someone’s house that night.  On Monday I decided to do as Enos and Nephi and fast and pray all day. I went out into a bungalow and prayed vocally for as long as I could. When I couldn’t think of things to pray about I read my scriptures. I prayed until the afternoon, but nothing happened. I was really discouraged. That night I went to my … friend’s house to talk about things. He gave me a blessing.

The next day was Tuesday. … I decided to give it another go. I broke my fast and went out to the bungalow to pray again. I prayed for about an hour and this happened:

From my journal:

I knelt down and was praying to the Lord with all my heart that I might receive evidence that what I was doing was right.    I could feel the spirit in my chest and my face was tingling.  While   feeling this I pleaded that I might have greater evidence.  All of a sudden I felt power come into my body.  As Nephi said it consumed my flesh.  So much so that I felt that my hands were out stretched and my chest was pulled up and power surged through me like I have never felt in all   my life. It was so powerful that I could hardly control myself.  I   felt like I was being shocked with energy.  I knew it was the energy of God.  I felt His power!

At the time I wasn’t sure what had happened, but it wasn’t long after that Heavenly Father began to help me understand that I had experienced the baptism of fire.

  • Wanda

    Keep reading on in Alma 32
    “Behold, if it be a true seed, or a good seed, if ye do not cast it out by your unbelief, that ye will resist the Spirit of the Lord, behold, it will begin to swell within your breasts; and when you feel these swelling motions, ye will begin to say within yourselves—It must needs be that this is a good seed, or that the word is good, for it beginneth to enlarge my soul; yea, it beginneth to enlighten my understanding, yea, it beginneth to be delicious to me.
    But behold, as the seed swelleth, and sprouteth, and beginneth to grow, then you must needs say that the seed is good; for behold it swelleth, and sprouteth, and beginneth to grow. And now, behold, will not this strengthen your faith? Yea, it will strengthen your faith: FOR YE WILL SAY I KNOW THAT THIS IS A GOOD SEED; for behold it sprouteth and beginneth to grow.
    And now, behold, because ye have tried the experiment, and planted the seed, and it swelleth and sprouteth, and beginneth to grow, YE MUST NEEDS KNOW THAT THE SEED IS GOOD.
    And now, behold, is your knowledge perfect? Yea, your knowledge is perfect in that thing, and your faith is dormant; and this because you know, FOR YE KNOW that the word hath swelled your souls, and ye also know that it hath sprouted up, that your understanding doth begin to be enlightened, and your mind doth begin to expand.

    For example, I know the Book of Mormon is true because of how it has affected me. It changes me every time I put in the effort to study from it. My love for others increases, my appreciation and understanding of my Savior is deepened, and my understanding of my own purpose is strengthened. We can know things without physical evidence.

  • I’d agree that I think you could go even farther in finding examples in scripture that contradict the meaning of “knowing” vs. “having faith in” Ether 3:19–20 and Alma 32:21. Even many people in scripture say “I know”, when they mean, “I have faith in”.

    But I love your quoting of the rest of Alma 32 because it proves my point. It says “Yea, your knowledge is perfect IN THAT THING”. When you experiment with something, and get results you have to be careful not to misrepresent the results to mean more than they do. If you experiment with the philosophies in a book and they yield good fruits/results for you. Then you can say you know they are good FOR YOU. It’s important to make that distinction and not say that just because they were good for you, they will universally be good and true for everyone. That’s over generalizing.

    When I first read the Book of Mormon, I had an amazing ‘Burning Heart’ experience. A truly transcendental experience for me. I interpreted that to mean the book was universally true, and thus the LDS church was the only true church (because that’s how the church programmed me to interpret that experience). Imagine my shock to find out that many Muslims have that same experience reading Koran. (you can watch videos of it on YouTube.) Mind blown. If the burning heart experience is telling both a Mormon and a Muslim that their church is the ONLY truth… there’s an interpretive problem here. Come to find out, Hindus and Buddhist and new agers have the same experiences, all with different things (they call it a kundalini awaking, among other names.)

    The truth is… that someone’s powerful spiritual experiences, or the way they connect with a certain philosophy, book or religion give to truth ONLY TO THAT INDIVIDUAL, and only IN THAT THING. If we have powerful experiences we should share them in testimony meeting and say.. this is what it meant TO ME. It made ME feel like this or that, and meant this TO ME. As soon as you say… “i know the book of Mormon is true (ie. everything in it is without error) and thus the church is true (ie. It is god’s only truth on earth) because I had a powerful spiritual experience while reading it”. You tell a lie. We don’t know that. The voice of God never said that, and neither did the Spirit. You are misinterpreting what that powerful spiritual experience is saying… and doing it in a selfish way that forces people who believe you to discount the similar experiences of Muslims or Catholics or Buddhist which tell them that their path is the right one for them.

    Universalizing our faith means understanding how our truth fits in with the truth of others, and how other religions can be equally true as our own. It means dropping our pride which suggests that our truth is the only truth or best truth. Understanding that all good paths lead to god.

  • Wanda

    I think you and I generally believe the same about truth; that it belongs to God and it is found in many places. I think we will be responsible for what we do with the truth we do come across in this life; no matter the source. But the Book of Mormon is very clear in its teaching of Christ and His Gospel being THE only way for us to return to our Father. And me having a conviction in this book, leads me to echo its message. Not that the “mormons are right” and “everyone else is wrong”, but that all are fallen and come short of the glory of God. That we can do nothing of ourselves. That we need and have a Savior. That the Book of Mormon is another testament of Him through which we can come closer to Him. And by so testifying I am not nullifying others’ truths, but inviting them to add to their truths. As I appreciate when others do for me.

    We’re taught in Moroni 7:

    12 Wherefore, all things which are good cometh of God; and that which is evil cometh of the devil;

    13 But behold, that which is of God inviteth and enticeth to do good continually; wherefore, every thing which inviteth and enticeth to do good, and to love God, and to serve him, is inspired of God.

    15 For behold, my brethren, it is given unto you to judge, that ye may know good from evil; and the way to judge is as plain, that ye may know with a perfect knowledge, as the daylight is from the dark night.

    16 For behold, the Spirit of Christ is given to every man, that he may know good from evil; wherefore, I show unto you the way to judge; for every thing which inviteth to do good, and to persuade to believe in Christ, is sent forth by the power and gift of Christ; wherefore ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of God.

    17 But whatsoever thing persuadeth men to do evil, and believe not in Christ, and deny him, and serve not God, then ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of the devil; for after this manner doth the devil work, for he persuadeth no man to do good, no, not one; neither do his angels; neither do they who subject themselves unto him.

    18 And now, my brethren, seeing that ye know the light by which ye may judge, which light is the light of Christ, see that ye do not judge wrongfully; for with that same judgment which ye judge ye shall also be judged.

    19 Wherefore, I beseech of you, brethren, that ye should search diligently in the light of Christ that ye may know good from evil; and if ye will lay hold upon every good thing, and condemn it not, ye certainly will be a child of Christ.

  • Wanda

    I think you and I generally believe the same about truth; that it belongs to God and it is found in many places. I think we will be responsible for what we do with the truth we do come across in this life; no matter the source. But the Book of Mormon is very clear in its teaching of Christ and His Gospel being THE only way for us to return to our Father. And me having a conviction in this book, leads me to echo its message. Not that the “mormons are right” and “everyone else is wrong”, but that all are fallen and come short of the glory of God. That we can do nothing of ourselves. That we need and have a Savior. That the Book of Mormon is another testament of Him through which we can come closer to Him. And by so testifying I am not nullifying others’ truths, but inviting them to add to their truths. As I appreciate when others do for me.

    We’re taught in Moroni 7:

    12 Wherefore, all things which are good cometh of God; and that which is evil cometh of the devil;

    13 But behold, that which is of God inviteth and enticeth to do good continually; wherefore, every thing which inviteth and enticeth to do good, and to love God, and to serve him, is inspired of God.

    15 For behold, my brethren, it is given unto you to judge, that ye may know good from evil; and the way to judge is as plain, that ye may know with a perfect knowledge, as the daylight is from the dark night.

    16 For behold, the Spirit of Christ is given to every man, that he may know good from evil; wherefore, I show unto you the way to judge; for every thing which inviteth to do good, and to persuade to believe in Christ, is sent forth by the power and gift of Christ; wherefore ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of God.

    17 But whatsoever thing persuadeth men to do evil, and believe not in Christ, and deny him, and serve not God, then ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of the devil; for after this manner doth the devil work, for he persuadeth no man to do good, no, not one; neither do his angels; neither do they who subject themselves unto him.

    18 And now, my brethren, seeing that ye know the light by which ye may judge, which light is the light of Christ, see that ye do not judge wrongfully; for with that same judgment which ye judge ye shall also be judged.

    19 Wherefore, I beseech of you, brethren, that ye should search diligently in the light of Christ that ye may know good from evil; and if ye will lay hold upon every good thing, and condemn it not, ye certainly will be a child of Christ.