The core of an unassailable testimony of the restored gospel

September 20, 2009    By: Geoff J @ 7:48 pm   Category: Personal Revelation

I have been thinking about the core of a sure testimony of the restored gospel. It seems to me that a truly solid testimony of Mormonism must be based on personal revelation from God confirming a couple of things:

1. That God exists and is worthy of worship and emulation, and
2. That God inspired the founding of Mormonism and is currently guiding the church

That’s it. I submit that all the other stuff people focus on in publicly expressed testimonies is less core than these two.

I reckon that if one can personally communicate with God and have God convince them of those two things, one should be sufficiently anchored to handle anything that might otherwise shake their faith in the gospel. Further I think that if one can at any time turn to God and confirm 1 and 2 above one should be permanently inoculated against any surprises one comes across.

Of course if one cannot break through and receive any revelation from God at all then there are bigger problems to deal with than any other issues one has with Mormon culture/history/practices.

Mormon Humanism

March 29, 2009    By: Geoff J @ 11:03 pm   Category: Personal Revelation

Sterling McMurrin said in his classic little Mormon theology book that the the Mormon view of reality has a “humanistic quality unusual in theistic philosophy”. Humanism and Theism do indeed seem to be unusual companions — especially in recent centuries. But in the early days of the the humanism movement it was not so unusual to combine the two.
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Worshiping the Bible

October 1, 2007    By: Geoff J @ 12:02 am   Category: Calvinism,Mormon Culture/Practices,Personal Revelation,Scriptures,Theology

I have long suspected that some of our creedal Christian friends have inadvertently begun worshiping the Bible itself in place of, or at least in addition to, the living God. Recently Aaron Shafovaloff (of the Fluffy Bunny Nice Nice Club) seems to have confirmed that suspicion for me in his case at least.

We were discussing how he knows the Bible is the word of God over at his blog and he kept saying things that made no sense at all to me. I kept asking things like “Did God tell you it is true or not”? And he kept saying things like “No, not in the way Mormonism talks about this “yes” answer.” Well his last comment finally started clearing up this issue for me. Here are some of his quotes: (more…)

What is the proper definition of “spiritual”?

August 25, 2007    By: Geoff J @ 10:59 pm   Category: Personal Revelation,Theology

Julie put up an interesting post over at T&S asking “Are Women More Spiritual Than Men?” This question has come up at several Mormon blogs recently and it has become pretty clear to me that before we can answer it we need to define the word “spiritual”. So what does spiritual mean to you? (more…)

When God says “no”

May 16, 2007    By: Geoff J @ 11:24 pm   Category: Personal Revelation

God sometimes tells us no when we ask him for assistance or intervention on various things. Sometimes the “no” answer is very clear. Sort of like the big ol’ “no” that the ancient prophet Mormon got when he prayed that his people might repent and be spared:

2 But behold, I was without hope, for I knew the judgments of the Lord which should come upon them; for they repented not of their iniquities, but did struggle for their lives without calling upon that Being who created them. (Mormon 5: 2)

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Propositional Knowledge: Is there any other kind?

May 14, 2007    By: Jacob J @ 2:14 pm   Category: Personal Revelation

On a recent thread, RT made the following comment:

I think the Spirit rarely gives propositional knowledge; it instead gives experience and comfort. The Spirit primarily reveals God as a being, we get to know God and Jesus Christ through the Spirit, as the New Testament suggests — note that the phrase is know as in become acquainted with, not know about as in have propositional knowledge regarding. Knowing someone involves joint emotional experience and the development of empathy, not the acquisition of true sentences. The Spirit likewise is called the Comforter because we receive God’s love, compassion, and comfort through it. Again, none of these involves propositional knowledge. (RT in this comment)

RT asks us to imagine a scenario in which a person has feelings which are spiritually meaningful, but carry no content with respect to propositions. After some time and effort, I have been unable to imagine such a scenario. (more…)

Of course personal revelation is our ultimate epistemological trump card!

April 21, 2007    By: Geoff J @ 7:47 pm   Category: Personal Revelation

I have been diverting myself by debating with several of Zelophehad’s Daughters and their friends over the past few days. The ZDers are mostly a group of intelligent and well-educated Mormon women (many of whom are actually sisters) who like to talk about, well, Mormon women’s issues. After two too-long threads we arrived at a disagreement on what what the ultimate “trump card” (their term) is when it comes to understanding metaphysical truths (aka the ultimate realities of existence).

The general topic of the latest debate specifically was this subject: Is God a sexist? In other words, does God see women as the property or possessions of their husbands?

(No, I’m not kidding. Some of them really are deeply concerned that this is the case. I can only imagine how distressing taking such a metaphysical nightmare seriously would be.) (more…)

Faith and Proximity

January 17, 2007    By: Jacob J @ 1:03 am   Category: Personal Revelation,Theology

“Oh Lisa, vampires are make-believe, just like elves, gremlins, and Eskimos.” (Homer)

Many of the different uses of the word “faith” in the scriptures can be accounted for by recognizing that belief itself is a complex phenomenon with many facets. The question of whether or not to believe in the existence of God is significantly different than the question of how to fully trust in the God whose existence is accepted. Despite these differences, both are questions of faith. The scriptures run the gamut from talking about faith at the most rudimentary level as a simple “desire to believe,” to talking about the faith of Abraham, whose trust in God was such that he was willing to slay Isaac, his only begotten son of promise, despite the obvious immorality of human sacrifice.
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Yes, you speculate too

December 1, 2006    By: Geoff J @ 7:43 pm   Category: Personal Revelation,Theology

There has been some interesting action around these parts while I have been away. It started with some exchanges between Jacob and Mogget about the general subject of theology. Late in one of those threads at Mogget made an interesting comment:

Two points about our info on the post-mortal existence:

If it’s something that is known only by revelation, then let’s admit that it’s so.

If we’re going to speculate about it, then it needs structure and organization.

Now it seems that there are folks that think three kingdoms, and folks that think “many kingdoms.” Interestingly enough, both sides seem to think they have logic, exegesis, and revelation on their side.

So let’s take a step back in the whole process and talk about how to distinguish between competing claims in general before we work on this issue. It would seem that the tough one is competing claims of revelation, no?

Anybody got any ideas? Something reasonably objective?

The point she brings up about competing revelations a difficult but highly important one. (more…)

Why keeping the commandments will lead to prospering in the land

October 23, 2006    By: Geoff J @ 3:45 pm   Category: Money and getting gain,Mormon Culture/Practices,Personal Revelation,Theology

A while back I posted on the oft repeated promise in the Book of Mormon “Inasmuch as ye shall keep the commandments of God ye shall prosper in the land”. I have always taken this to be a self-evident truth in Mormonism but it turns out that lots of people in the church just don’t believe it. Well, they may sorta believe it but apparently many want to water it down and make it only applicable to societies and not to individuals. Or perhaps they misread the word “prosper” and think the only thing it could possibly be referring to is worldly riches (ignoring other ways we can prosper in the land like by having good physical and mental health, true friends, loving relationships, etc.) I think the promise is very literal and applies to individuals today. In this post I’ll explain the two ways I think the promise plays out. (more…)

Do Mormons Meditate?

September 8, 2006    By: Geoff J @ 12:56 pm   Category: Mormon Culture/Practices,Personal Revelation

I am finally getting around to reading my copy of David O. McKay and the Rise of Modern Mormonism. It has been excellent so far. Near the end of chapter 1 there was a quote from co-author Bob Wright that was startling to me so I thought I would post on it. Wright described a letter he once received from President McKay’s personal secretary (his aunt, Clare Middlemiss) discussing how President McKay went about seeking inspiration from the Lord: (more…)

Our occasionally intervening God

August 16, 2006    By: Geoff J @ 1:13 am   Category: Life,Personal Revelation

Aaron B put up a provocative post over at BCC and my response was too long for the comments there so I thought I would respond here.

In the post Aaron confesses that he prefers the idea of a God who can’t intervene in our lives to the idea of a God whose intervention he can’t predict or explain. (Frankly his position seems illogical to me. How is a predictable impotent God preferable to an unpredictable yet loving powerful God? But that is sort of off topic…) The post sort of veers into a theodicy discussion as well. Aaron concludes by asking four questions about divine intervention. I’ll respond to these questions below and try to show where I think Aaron is missing the point with this subject in the process. (more…)

After the fire a still small voice

July 21, 2006    By: Geoff J @ 1:06 am   Category: Personal Revelation,Scriptures,Sunday School Lessons

I’m teaching lesson 28 covering stories about Elijah in 1 Kings 17-19 this Sunday and since we have a shortened block (2.5 hours) here in Arizona I’m going to focus mostly on the things we learn about personal revelation in chapter 19. You are familiar with the famous verses:

Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the LORD. And, behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the LORD; but the LORD was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the LORD was not in the earthquake: And after the earthquake a fire; but the LORD was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice. (1 Kings 19: 11-12)

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Why Prayer Works

April 20, 2006    By: Geoff J @ 5:22 pm   Category: Ostler Reading,Personal Revelation,Theology

Chapter two in Blake Ostler’s new book is titled “Prayer and Providence”. Although it is a full 50 pages I’ll try to cover it all in this post (and using my own words). The chapter mostly explains why many theological assumptions accepted by creedal Christianity make effective petitionary prayer impossible and why Mormon doctrines do allow for effective petitionary prayer if we are willing to accept them. (more…)

Is God Your Bellhop, Santa Claus, or Friend? (Ostler reading part 2)

March 30, 2006    By: Geoff J @ 11:00 pm   Category: Ostler Reading,Personal Revelation,Theology

My home teaching companion, Bruce, shares lots of wisdom when we home teach together. This month he perceptively mentioned that most people treat God like he is either their Bellhop or Santa Claus. We hope to call on God to take care of undesirable tasks for us or to give us stuff. Sure we might be profusely grateful when he fills either of these roles but gratitude doesn’t change the basic Santa/bellhop role we tend to cast God in. In this, the second installment of my reading of the newly released Volume 2 in Blake Ostler’s Exploring Mormon Thought series I’ll cover Blake’s views on the type of relationship we should have with God (covering pages 15-22). (more…)

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