There have been a couple of interesting discussions going on recently about what we can know or not spiritually and the hypothetical possibility we could be deceived about our faith. I like this topic. And since today is my birthday, I think we should talk about it. (You must obey the birthday boy after all).
First, Dave (bless his ecumenical heart) took the increasingly popular position that claiming that one “knows” the Church or Book of Mormon is true (or that Jesus is the Christ or that Joseph Smith is a prophet or that God lives) is an arrogant thing to say. He and many others prefer to simply say we have faith in those things. They ask: After all, isn’t that more accurate? Rusty posted on what he would do or feel if he discovered he had been deceived all this time about the church and it was all made up.
My question is: What can we say we know? Can I say I know who my genetic parents are? Of course I can. My earliest memories are with them. They tell me I am their son. I look and sound an awful lot like them. But then again… Maybe I have been deceived. Maybe they are really my Aunt and Uncle who adopted me when I was a newborn… I look and sound like my aunts and uncles somewhat too. How can I really know they are my genetic parents? I could get genetic tests done but how would I know if there was a conspiracy going on and the results were doctored? Am I being presumptuous when I say I know who my parents are? Perhaps I should just say I believe I know who my genetic parents are or that I have faith concerning who they are instead?
So how about this faith/knowledge I have in God and the scriptures and his ancient and modern prophets? What do I base that on? Well, I spoke with God and He spoke back to me. I was undeniably communicated with by an invisible Divine being outside of me. I felt/heard undeniable messages and power and love from that Divine source/being. I know what I felt. I know what I learned. Not only that but I have repeatedly heard/felt that voice/power in my life. So the upshot for me is that I personally know that God lives. Not only that but part of what was communicated to me was that I can trust with surety what God tell me to be true. Because of that I now say I know Jesus is the Christ, Joseph Smith was a prophet, the Book of Mormon and other scriptures are true, etc. The key is that because of this dialogue I have had with deity I know those things are true in a more sure way than I know who my own parents are. I’m guessing many of you also know these things with much more surety than you “know” George Washington was once a president of the U.S. or what you real given name was, etc.
Of course the next question is why is it that some people can claim to hear God talking to them and others can’t hear it. To answer that I recommend you check out my recent post called Ears. The post points out that some people can hear and discern things in music that are completely indiscernible to many others. The aural facts are there but not all can hear them. So it is with hearing God. But we can train our physical ears and begin to hear things that we were deaf to before. So it is with our spiritual ears. For those with trained musical ears, when they hear something out of tune they know it is out of tune.
So it is with Spiritual ears; when you know, you know.