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Discerning The Wind, by Bryan Hurlbutt
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Discerning The Wind, by Bryan Hurlbutt Discerning The Wind, by Bryan Hurlbutt Presentation Transcript

  • Discerning the Wind: responding to the “trump card” of Mormon personal religious experience
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  • Who can argue with a testimony? Unbelievers may argue about our doctrine. They may wrest the scriptures to their destruction. They may explain away this or that from a purely intellectual standpoint, but they cannot overpower a testimony.” - Bruce R. McConkie (Ensign, April 1979, 24)
  • The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.“ - John 3:8
  • For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, "Abba, Father." The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children. - Romans 8:15-16
  • The Nature of “Testimony” in Mormonism
    • D&C 8:1  Oliver Cowdery, verily, verily, I say unto you, that assuredly as the Lord liveth, who is your God and your Redeemer, even so surely shall you receive a knowledge of whatsoever things you shall ask in faith, with an honest heart, believing that you shall receive a knowledge concerning the engravings of old records, which are ancient, which contain those parts of my scripture of which has been spoken by the manifestation of my Spirit.
    • 2 Yea, behold, I will tell you in your mind and in your heart , by the Holy Ghost, which shall come upon you and which shall dwell in your heart.
    • 3 Now, behold, this is the spirit of revelation; behold, this is the spirit by which Moses brought the children of Israel through the Red Sea on dry ground.
    Oliver Cowdery
  • The Nature of “Testimony” in Mormonism
    • D&C 8:4 Therefore this is thy gift; apply unto it, and blessed art thou, for it shall deliver you out of the hands of your enemies, when, if it were not so, they would slay you and bring your soul to destruction.
    • 5 Oh, remember these words, and keep my commandments. Remember, this is your gift.
    • 6 Now this is not all thy gift; for you have another gift, which is the gift of Aaron ; behold, it has told you many things;
    • 7 Behold, there is no other power, save the power of God, that can cause this gift of Aaron to be with you.
    • 8 Therefore, doubt not, for it is the gift of God; and you shall hold it in your hands, and do marvelous works; and no power shall be able to take it away out of your hands, for it is the work of God.
    Oliver Cowdery
  • The Nature of “Testimony” in Mormonism
    • D&C 9:8 But, behold, I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you ; therefore, you shall feel that it is right.
    • 9 But if it be not right you shall have no such feelings , but you shall have a stupor of thought that shall cause you to forget the thing which is wrong; therefore, you cannot write that which is sacred save it be given you from me.
    Oliver Cowdery
  • The Nature of “Testimony” in Mormonism
    •   Moroni 10:3 Behold, I would exhort you that when ye shall read these things, if it be wisdom in God that ye should read them, that ye would remember how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men, from the creation of Adam even down until the time that ye shall receive these things, and ponder it in your hearts.
    • 4 And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost .
  • The Nature of “Testimony” in Mormonism 5 And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things. 6 And whatsoever thing is good is just and true; wherefore, nothing that is good denieth the Christ, but acknowledgeth that he is. 7 And ye may know that he is, by the power of the Holy Ghost; wherefore I would exhort you that ye deny not the power of God; for he worketh by power, according to the faith of the children of men, the same today and tomorrow, and forever.
  • We are not required to prove the Book of Mormon is true or is an authentic record through external evidences—though there are many. It never has been the case, nor is it so now, that the studies of the learned will prove the Book of Mormon true or false. The origin, preparation, translation and verification of the truth of the Book of Mormon have all been retained in the hands of the Lord, and the Lord makes no mistakes. You can be assured of that. - Ezra Taft Benson (A Witness and a Warning) We do not have to prove that the Book of Mormon is true. The book is its own proof. All we need to do is read it and declare it.” - Ezra Taft Benson (A Witness and a Warning)
    • “ A testimony is a spiritual witness given by the Holy Ghost”
    • - True to the Faith: A Gospel Reference, 178
    • “ For members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the term testimony is a warm and familiar word in our religious expressions. It is tender and sweet. It has always a certain sacredness about it. When we talk about testimony, we refer to feelings of our heart and mind rather than an accumulation of logical, sterile facts. It is a gift of the Spirit, a witness from the Holy Ghost that certain concepts are true. A testimony is the sure knowledge or assurance from the Holy Ghost of the truth and divinity of the Lord’s work in these latter days.”
    • - Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “The Power of a Personal Testimony,” Liahona, Nov 2006
    Dieter Uchtdorf (quorum of the Twelve Apostles)
  • Obtaining a Testimony
    • It always starts with a “sincere desire” (the Loch Ness Monster Syndrome)
    • This immediately makes it circular and self-authenticating
    • “ Reality is what we take to be true. What we take to be true is what we believe. What we believe is based upon our perceptions. What we perceive depends upon what we look for. What we look for depends upon what we think. What we think depends upon what we perceive. What we perceive determines what we believe. What we believe determines what we take to be true. What we take to be true is our reality.”
    • - Gary Zukav, the Dancing Wu Li Masters
  • April 19, 1934: Colonel Robert Wilson, a surgeon, was driving along the north shore of the Loch early in the morning when he noticed something large moving in the water, so he stopped and took a picture of it. At least, that was his story. For the next sixty years this picture was regarded as one of the best pieces of evidence of Nessie’s existence. It wasn’t until 1994 that the full truth came out. What Wilson had taken a picture of was not the Loch Ness Monster. It was a toy submarine outfitted with a sea-serpent head. Moreover, Wilson himself hadn’t even taken the picture. He had simply been the frontman for an elaborate hoax.
  • The Role of Testimony in Mormonism
    • 1. It serves as the foundation for Mormonism as a personal system of belief
    • Blake Ostler makes the point that the heart of Mormonism is “the human heart as the basis of religious knowledge and commitment.” (He also calls it “the lifeblood of the church, when we get right down to it.” )
    • - from “Spiritual Experiences as the Basis for Belief and Commitment” 2007 FAIR Conference lecture
  • “ The truth of it all can be known, they believe, by inspiration sought through prayer. Mormon missionaries want more than anything else for their prospective converts to pray for a testimony of the missionaries’ teachings. - Richard L. Bushman (Mormonism: A Very Short Introduction) “ Mormon parents hope and pray their children will gain testimonies that the ‘gospel is true.’ If they do, all else will fall into place. Growing children may ask questions and have doubts about particulars, just as Joseph Smith did, but if they pray and receive their own revelations, all will be well.” - Richard L. Bushman (Mormonism: A Very Short Introduction)
  • The Role of Testimony in Mormonism
    • It serves as an authoritative means of identifying truth
    • “ When we bear testimony, we declare the absolute truth of the gospel message. In a time when many perceive truth as relative, a declaration of absolute truth is not very popular, nor does it seem politically correct or opportune. Testimonies of things how “they really are” (Jacob 4:13) are bold, true, and vital because they have eternal consequences for mankind.”
    • - Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “The Power of a Personal Testimony,” Liahona, Nov 2006
  • Survey Personal Testimony Questionnaire Age ______ Gender: M F 1. Do you have a testimony that Joseph Smith was a true prophet and that the Book of Mormon is true? (circle one) YES NO 2. From 0% to 100%, how certain are you that Joseph Smith brought the restoration of the Gospel and that the book of Mormon is true? ________ 3. From 0% to 100%, how much of this certainty is attributable to your testimony? __________ 4. Which one of the following best describes the nature of your testimony: (circle one) a) Knowledge through a warm feeling of peace and confidence from the Holy Ghost b) Knowledge through study, prayer and changes that the Holy Ghost has brought in your life c) Knowledge through the acceptance of authoritative teaching d) Other: _____________________________________________________________
  • SURVEY RESULTS
    • 126 total surveys filled out
    • 7 were apparently non-mormons
    • Out of 119 Mormons surveyed, 91% (108) said they were 100% certain that Joseph Smith brought the restoration and that the BOM is true
    • Out of that 108, 82% said that they credit 100% of their certainty that Joseph Smith brought the restoration and that the BOM is true to their “testimony”
  • The Role of Testimony in Mormonism
    • 3. It serves as a “trump card” in religious dialogue
  • Is “Testimony” a Sound Basis for One’s Eternal Destiny?
    • The nature of belief
    • Issue of certainty
    • three factors to consider:
    • 1. The strength of belief
    • 2. The evidence available
    • 3. The situation at stake
  • Trumping the “Trump Card”
    • Four Approaches:
    • 1. Removal
    • 2. Reliability
    • 3. Reality
    • 4. Reasonability
  • "It is morally as bad not to care whether a thing is true or not, so long as it makes you feel good, as it is not to care how you got your money as long as you have got it." - Edwin Way Teale (1889-1980), Circle Of The Seasons, 1953