February 19, 2021 E-Letter
Mormon missionaries have challenged millions of people over the years to read the Book of Mormon and in prayer ask God if it is true.
The missionaries will say that a yes answer will be evidenced by a “burning in the bosom,” an emotional and spiritual feeling. This is a subjective test of truth.
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Though Mormons test truth by feelings Joseph Fielding Smith, the tenth President of the LDS church, gave an objective criterion for determining the truth or fallacy of Mormonism.
He said in his book:
Mormonism, as it is called, must stand or fall on the story of Joseph Smith. He was either a prophet of God, divinely called, properly appointed and commissioned, or he was one of the biggest frauds this world has ever seen. There is no middle ground. If Joseph Smith was a deceiver, who willfully attempted to mislead the people, then he should be refuted, and his doctrines shown to be false, for the doctrines of an impostor cannot be made to harmonize in all particulars with divine truth. If his claims and declarations were built upon fraud and deceit, there would appear many errors and contradictions, which would be easy to detect. The doctrines of false teachers will not stand the test when tried by the accepted standards of measurement, the scriptures.Doctrines of Salvation, Vol. 1, page 188
The “accepted standards of measurement” have always been objective in the biblical Christian church. They include the written revelation of God in the Bible, the natural revelation in His creation, and a rational mind of man that can logically weigh evidences.
When the Holy Spirit speaks to the human heart His words will always be in agreement with those objective evidences. This presents us with the first question to ask about the Book of Mormon:
1. If you have a “testimony,” a “burning in the bosom” of the truth of the Book of Mormon, how do you know it is not from a “seducing spirit”?
Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils.”1 Timothy 4:1
Would not a “seducing spirit” be seductive, or in other words, feel good?
- Why rely on a subjective test when the Biblical test of truth claims were always objective?
- According to Isaiah 8:20, “To the law and to the testimony (see v. 19): if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.”
- Aren’t the scriptures “the accepted standards of measurement” according to Joseph Fielding Smith in Doctrines of Salvation (quoted above)?
This contest between subjective and objective evidences is strategic in understanding how to talk with a Mormon.
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