from a.r.m:


>>>Active LDS Thought<<<

Former-LDS response


>>>On the 20/20 [actually it was 60 Minutes] interview President Hinckley had with Mike Wallace, Mr. Wallace asked him about some things which to which President Hinckley replied, "Those things miss the point."<<<

Which appeared to me, as I watched this interview, to be an evasion of the point. I've noticed in these debate forums online that whenever someone explores a particularly vulnerable area his opponent will brush past it with, "you missed the point".

>>>The missionary discussions do not ever delve into any of the questions you mentioned above. Why? Honestly, they are neither here nor there.<<<

Honestly, they are very much in need of addressing, but the missionaries don't delve into anything beyond a very well defined area of standard doctrines and approved ideas. After all, how much accumulated knowledge are 19 year olds expected to have? They are taught what to say and what areas to avoid and are sent out with preset lessons and are expected to stay within the parameters of those lessons.

>>>The most critical issue at hand is coming to know that you have a loving Father in Heaven who prepared a plan of salvation -- a plan of happiness for His children.<<<

The most critical issue at hand is coming to know ourselves better and to recognize how we fool ourselves into believing comfortable ideas.

>>>It is important to learn how He communicates truth to us (through prophets and the Holy Ghost).<<<

It is important for us to examine this "communication". The LDS testimony experience is just like all the other spiritual experiences used by many religions to prove that God has affirmed one's faith; they are all circular. Joseph Smith, writing as "Moroni", tells how to pray, what to pray for, and even interprets the meaning of the ambiguous emotional experience one is to receive as confirmation from God. Independent tests have confirmed that such "spiritual messages" are a product of the brain/mind itself, endorphin production in response to stressful prayer, anxiety. The "meaning" of the rush, the burning in the bosom, the tunnel vision and feeling of warmth and lightness, is dependent upon what one has been taught to think it means, whatever one has been taught to pray for the truth of.

>>>It is important to question Him specifically on these fundamental issues and learn for yourself, through the power of the Holy Ghost, that they are true.<<<

Note, "that they are true", not "whether they are true". That's part of the standard conditioning technique. What is really important is to question everything extraordinary, to confirm, using the logical evidence requirement of extraordinary proof, whether something is extraordinary, or whether it's a natural phenomenon misunderstood because of cultural influence and just plain inadequate examination.

>>>What greater witness can you have than from God?<<<

None, of course, but first you must establish that the witness IS God and not your own mind reassuring you of what you want to believe. Having lived in Northern Utah for many years, I've encountered many members of LDS offshoot groups, most of whom use the "testimony" experience to confirm that their own prophet is true, that their radical doctrines are from God, and that the LDS church is off the track. The descriptions these people give of their spiritual experiences are virtually indistinguishable from those of mainstream LDS. In the 70's I began inquiring about the problems with LDS history and changed scripture, Joseph Smith's diaries, and this testimony discrepancy. In discussion with Henry Richards and Eldon Watson, special counsellors working under Mark E. Peterson at the time, I was advised to rely on the Holy Ghost. When I pointed out that offshoot groups used the same technique with success, they admitted that this was a legitimate concern that they, too, had encountered. They quickly shifted to, "rely on the scriptures and Joseph Smith's words", to which I referred them to their own documentation (they were both scholars of LDS history) showing that these things had indeed been changed and had other problems as well. They had no recourse but to ask for all to kneel and pray for guidance. "Circle the (reasoning) wagons, we're under attack!"

>>>Ask specifically whether the Book of Mormon is true, whether He really opened the heavens to the boy Joseph Smith, whether His Church is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.<<<

Ask if the moon is made of green cheese, and if you can get your mind focused enough to feel deeply about the question, you may get a confirmation from the "Holy Ghost" that it is indeed green cheese. That's the gimmick. I speculate that Joseph Smith, as he inquired of those who had spiritual experiences at various revivals and services, learned that the specifics of the question was irrelevant, that the attitude of the seeker was enough to invoke a spiritual experience. I have seen such things at fundamentalist meetings in the deep south myself. I was LDS for many years, quite active, married in SLC temple, etc., and after much research, found that not only Mormonism but Christianity had so many evidences of human manufacture that I could no longer accept them on faith in the extraordinary supported by the claims of ordinary men.

>>>Upon this foundation I have found that the wisdom of the world is weak.<<<

A house whose foundation rests on its roof has no existence in reality and neither does spiritual evidence generated by a mind taught to pray hard enough to manufacture it.


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