I’ve been blogging lately on Mormons and with my speaking soon at my church on Mormonism, it could be going on for a couple of weeks. If there is one tactic you can be sure you will be the recipient of when a Mormon knocks on your door, it is the testimony. In this, you will be told by the Mormon that the Holy Spirit has confirmed to him the truth of the Book of Mormon. (BOM)
This is a convincing tactic to many in our day and age. We are caught up entirely in experience and feeling the Holy Spirit. (I remember being at a church once and hearing someone in a band performing say the best thing about it was that you could really feel the Spirit there. Pray tell what this means? Why not that the pastor is expounding on truth or the church has people growing to be like Christ? Instead, the best thing is a subjective experience that we’re not sure what it is even?)
So what is going on? Is there any reason to reject this experience, this burning in the bosom?
For one thing, we have yet to see hard evidence for the veracity of anything in the BOM. I know there are claims, but these claims aren’t taken seriously for good reason. We have enough evidence of the contrary in fact, such as Joseph Smith claiming to get the book of Abraham out of an Egyptian document when we know today it was actually the Book of the Dead. But hey, what do Egyptologists know?
However, if the BOM is true, then we should expect some evidence. We should expect copies of the OT to be found over here. We should expect to find ruins of temples that the Nephites built over here. We should expect to find remains from the battles that were supposedly fought. Instead, we have come up with nothing at all.
Whereas the Bible has a totally different story. That’s another blog though.
Thus, I don’t see the Holy Spirit saying one thing and what I can see with my eyes saying another. Readers know my thoughts on these subjective experiences anyway. If you want to use one, fine, but make sure you have external facts to back it up also.
Also, the only pieces of data that seem to count are those in favor of the BOM. We have to do double-blind tests now for new drugs because doctors used to get so excited when giving a new drug to a patient thinking it’d cure them that the placebo effect would kick in. It wasn’t a valid test. Now, the doctors don’t know even which drug is the placebo and which isn’t.
The point is that how do we not know that the accounts of people having a burning in the bosom are not simply emotional excitement worked up? We only know by comparing it with people who pray the prayer in the book of Moroni in the BOM and get a negative answer. We could look at each case and see why the results turned out differently.
However, imagine doing a placebo test and saying you were only going to accept the results that agreed with what you were trying to prove? It would hardly be a valid test. Someone who is open will want to know why things did not work out as they were intended to do in certain cases. Unfortunately, the BOM doesn’t give much leeway.
Also, why should it only be Mormon experiences? Why not the New Age experience? Why not the Jehovah’s Witness experience? Why not your experience or mine? The only reason to have the BOM experience be at the forefront is arbitrary. Again, we need to go to something outside of the experiences in order to determine who has an experience rooted in truth.
Finally, the experience can’t be the final arbitor because experience is not self-interpreting. You need something outside the experience to interpret it. What I’ve asked Mormons lately is what it would mean if Jesus did not rise from the dead. It’s amazing how long it takes them to come up and say “I guess my faith would be shaken.” Paul had no hesitation in 1 Cor. 15. He said he knew his faith was in vain, that he was to be pitied above all men, and that he was still in his sins.
Consider this though for the Mormon. If Jesus did not rise from the dead, then the experience must be interpreted another way. This means that something outside of the experience is indeed interpreting the experience. Whatever is outside of it then must be a higher authority than the experience themselves. That would be the facts. What we can find about the BOM outside of experience, and what Scripture tells us as well.
Unfortunately, you can expect this technique to show up often and it’s the foundation. Whenever you hear a Mormon speak, you will most often hear the testimony. Be prepared. Giving your own can be helpful and I’m not against it in this case. It would be best for you to stick with Scripture though to determine what is true. If Mormonism doesn’t match up, and it doesn’t, at the end of the day, their experience can’t overrule that.