Exclusive claims and personal revelation

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Orson
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Exclusive claims and personal revelation

Post by Orson » 12 Jan 2017, 12:58

I have been asked my views on the “one and only” true church on the earth, and I wanted to offer a perspective. It does hold that title for me, but my definitions and understanding on the topic has changed with experience.

Revelation is personal by definition. In the church we understand we can receive revelation for our stewardship but the process is still personal, and obviously spiritual. In the “old days” I didn't fully understand the difference between spiritual truth and physical truth. Today it is simple and clear to me – spiritual truths are given through spiritual means and physical truths may be verified through physical means. We get into trouble when we try to verify physical truth through spiritual means, or the other way around. I don't know anyone, even in the church, that would design a bridge or rocket using spiritual confirmation in place of math calculations. In a like manner it is impossible to use physical substance to inspire meaning in life. All the riches in the world cannot give life meaning.

In my book even the most ardent atheists have a spiritual side, recognized or not, if they experience love, joy, or meaning in life.

When I seek a spiritual answer to “is it true?” I need to not mix an expectation for a physical answer with the spiritual. If I am open to a spiritual witness of the Book of Mormon and the personal value that it contains then I will remove the confusion that would come from imposing a joint historical “truth” in my quest. The spiritual truth is easily discerned through the spirit, in my opinion the physical historical verification can only happen through physical means.

I don't interpret “one and only true church” the same way that I used to. The question must be a personal one because I am not entitled to revelation for the whole world. Is it the right church for me, or is it where God wants me to be? That is the answer I am entitled to. Members say “but the prophet is entitled to revelation for the whole earth.” I admit a little confusion on this statement, I am not certain if it is the whole earth or the whole church, but either way my personal verification of what the prophet declares will still only apply to me. I cannot receive revelation for my brother. Again if it is more of a physical question: “is this the literal organization that God personally established on the earth?” In a physical sense that answer will be out of reach of my personal revelation. I do accept that we have a long history of members offering their personal speculations, but when it comes to my own confirmations I must hold to what is within my grasp. While others may feel they have received a personal physical experience that has confirmed physical truths which lie outside the standard scientific process of verification, that has not been my experience thus far.


On a side note as Joseph Smith said: "A prophet is only a prophet when acting as such." (paraphrased) I take that to mean he is only speaking prophetic words when they are carried by the spirit into the hearts of his fellow men. No matter what else he may do when not acting as a prophet, the spiritual accomplishment cannot be revoked. It is almost like saying a fine artist didn't actually move you last month during the performance because you learned something today that shattered your image of them. I don't believe in super humans, I believe God can work through regular humans.
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I first found faith, and thought I had all truth. I then discovered doubt, and claimed a more accurate truth. Now I’ve greeted paradox and a deeper truth than I have ever known.

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Heber13
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Re: Exclusive claims and personal revelation

Post by Heber13 » 12 Jan 2017, 15:02

Excellent thoughts, Orson. Thanks for taking time to share them.

I'd like to continue on the conversation, if I may.
Orson wrote:spiritual truths are given through spiritual means and physical truths may be verified through physical means.
I think another complexity to this is that there can be overlap, like a Venn diagram. They are not always mutually exclusive...and so there are times when physical evidence can lead to spiritual truths, or times inexplicably when spiritual manifestations can help a doctor or scientist, for instance, with physical truths. The trouble, I think, is not understanding these differences, and then mistakenly expecting all truth (physical or spiritual) can always be found thought spiritual means, or the same risk that if physical evidence does not prove something, there is no truth.

But...I think there can be overlap. Which complicates things.

I agree with you about how personal the revelation can be. And that makes it challenging at times to discuss it with others. But it is what it is.
Orson wrote:Members say “but the prophet is entitled to revelation for the whole earth.”
I reject this notion. I believe he holds keys for the church, but to the world, he may offer wise words...but not revelation for things he doesn't know or have keys to the understanding. He can receive revelation for the church, because we give him that right when we sustain him.
Orson wrote: “is this the literal organization that God personally established on the earth?”
I do not know this for sure. I totally believe He was behind the work as it formed. And I can accept He appeared to Joseph, literally. But...just as He allowed the Brother of Jared to come up with a way to light the ships, He may not have had much input on how the church got organized, but allowed the early leaders to grow by developing it and He approve of their efforts based on talents He gave them. I also believe God could similarly be behind many other churches...if they are out to do His work. The vineyard may have many workers in different areas of the vineyard, depending on what needs to be done to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of His children.

I also am not sure I see a need for exclusivity. If this is an organization God established...it does not mean it is the only one. "One and only" is too limiting and problematic to be meaningful for me.

I think from my experience, sometimes revelation can be physical or spiritual...I never know how it is coming to me, or how it gets validated. It is typically not a repeatable or universal process. I'm open to all forms of it, however it comes to me and in whatever situation.

I also don't care to force it into my life as much anymore. Sometimes...there isn't revelation, spiritual or physical. It just isn't there. I don't know what to make of that. But I will not use that confusion to accept it when it does come. I look for it when I can get it, but limit my expectations based on my past experience.
Luke: "Why didn't you tell me? You told me Vader betrayed and murdered my father."
Obi-Wan: "Your father... was seduced by the dark side of the Force. He ceased to be Anakin Skywalker and became Darth Vader. When that happened, the good man who was your father was destroyed. So what I told you was true... from a certain point of view."
Luke: "A certain point of view?"
Obi-Wan: "Luke, you're going to find that many of the truths we cling to...depend greatly on our point of view."

ydeve
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Re: Exclusive claims and personal revelation

Post by ydeve » 12 Jan 2017, 15:13

I find the spiritual and the physical to be two sides of the same coin, two different ways of describing much the same thing. But the paradigms are so different that, like you pointed out, the assumptions, methods, and vocabulary used in one rarely ever translate over to the other. Although it's interesting to note how the philosophical or mathematical idea of "truth" is rarely what we mean by the word, physical or spiritual. Practical use of the word is much more fuzzy or hazy than "absolute truth". Real life deals more with approximations.

I really like the point of personal revelation only applying to you personally. We get in trouble when we think we have the answers for other people. I've come to the same conclusion that a prophet is "acting as such" when the spirit bears witness of their words, and I believe that a prophet can be "acting as such" to one person but not another. I know for me personally, there have been times when the spirit bore witness of their words, as well as other times when I had a witness that their words were wrong for me.

Again, for me personally, I don't think there is a "One True Church". Unlike you, where you've had an answer that this is where God wants you to be, I've had an answer that there are many places where God would be pleased to see me at, and it's up to me to decide which one is most suitable for me at any given time. After I graduate from BYU, I'm thinking about taking a sabbatical from SS and Elder's Quorum, and using the time to visit other churches. I also doubt that I'll limit myself to just dating girls. We'll see where I end up. As the psalmist said,
Psalm 32:8 wrote:I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye.
Whether it's in our out of the LDS Church, the Lord will still be with me, and the spiritual truths I've learned will still guide my life.

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Re: Exclusive claims and personal revelation

Post by Roy » 12 Jan 2017, 16:56

Orson wrote:When I seek a spiritual answer to “is it true?” I need to not mix an expectation for a physical answer with the spiritual. If I am open to a spiritual witness of the Book of Mormon and the personal value that it contains then I will remove the confusion that would come from imposing a joint historical “truth” in my quest. The spiritual truth is easily discerned through the spirit, in my opinion the physical historical verification can only happen through physical means.
Does this mean that parts of the BOM can be "true" and other parts can not be true for you? Also that parts can be paradoxically true. Such as "The early bird gets the worm." And "All good things come to those who wait." Both of these axioms are true for different people in different circumstances and not true for other people in other circumstances. They are both true axioms yet contradictory.
Orson wrote: I cannot receive revelation for my brother.
Does this mean that the BoM might not be spiritually true and this church might not be spiritually true for your brother?
"It is not so much the pain and suffering of life which crushes the individual as it is its meaninglessness and hopelessness." C. A. Elwood

“It is not the function of religion to answer all the questions about God’s moral government of the universe, but to give one courage, through faith, to go on in the face of questions he never finds the answer to in his present status.” TPC: Harold B. Lee 223

"I struggle now with establishing my faith that God may always be there, but may not always need to intervene" Heber13

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Orson
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Re: Exclusive claims and personal revelation

Post by Orson » 12 Jan 2017, 19:54

Heber13 wrote:I think another complexity to this is that there can be overlap, like a Venn diagram. They are not always mutually exclusive...and so there are times when physical evidence can lead to spiritual truths, or times inexplicably when spiritual manifestations can help a doctor or scientist, for instance, with physical truths. The trouble, I think, is not understanding these differences, and then mistakenly expecting all truth (physical or spiritual) can always be found thought spiritual means, or the same risk that if physical evidence does not prove something, there is no truth.

But...I think there can be overlap. Which complicates things.
Yes. Thank you. It is difficult to communicate everything, I don't want to give the impression I have certainty on all the details of any area.

Thank you for all your thoughts, they stand well - I don't have anything else I feel like clarifying beyond your insights.
ydeve wrote:I find the spiritual and the physical to be two sides of the same coin, two different ways of describing much the same thing. But the paradigms are so different that, like you pointed out, the assumptions, methods, and vocabulary used in one rarely ever translate over to the other. Although it's interesting to note how the philosophical or mathematical idea of "truth" is rarely what we mean by the word, physical or spiritual. Practical use of the word is much more fuzzy or hazy than "absolute truth". Real life deals more with approximations.
Thank you for your thoughts, I appreciate that. I also like the idea that "the opposite of a great truth is another great truth" where the opposite of a small truth is a falsehood. We do fight major barriers to fully effective communication.

I believe the Lord will be with you.
Roy wrote:Does this mean that parts of the BOM can be "true" and other parts can not be true for you? Also that parts can be paradoxically true. Such as "The early bird gets the worm." And "All good things come to those who wait." Both of these axioms are true for different people in different circumstances and not true for other people in other circumstances. They are both true axioms yet contradictory.

-------------------------------

Does this mean that the BoM might not be spiritually true and this church might not be spiritually true for your brother?
Yes, I "never" want to make an all-or-nothing statement. To believe any scripture is infallible is to believe a human may be infallible, even for a time. Not only because humans actually put the pen to paper, but because our language is so prone to misinterpretation. You could give me a pure message but it is still up to me to receive that purity without clouding it through my own limited ability to comprehend. At the moment the Sermon on the Mount is very true for me, but the Lord saying "slay Laban" doesn't register.

In the same way depending on the focus, interpretation, and unique purpose of my brother any variation may or may not be "true" at one point in time. Yes.

[edit:] I feel that I should clarify this idea further. People can only see what their paradigm will allow, like filtered lenses, or even being on a safari at night with and without night vision goggles. A guide may say "a lion is in the grass 70 yards on your right" but for the person without night vision, the lion does not exist for them. Saying it is there but they can't see it doesn't make it any more or less real from their point of view, they can't see it, that is all they know. When we are talking about spiritual things our individual experience is our reality. If we try to tell others to accept our own personal reality and discard their own we are doing a disservice to both of us. It is not sustainable. We can try to help them put on and dial in the night vision, but until they see the lion we need to accept the reality that they don't see it.


The general purpose of this post was to give a flavor of my mindset as I use a common vocabulary with others in church. I enjoy the deeper dive from your thoughts and observations.
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I first found faith, and thought I had all truth. I then discovered doubt, and claimed a more accurate truth. Now I’ve greeted paradox and a deeper truth than I have ever known.

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Re: Exclusive claims and personal revelation

Post by SilentDawning » 12 Jan 2017, 21:23

Just curious how you reconcile the physical evidence verifying the physical truth, and spiritual evidence verifying spiritual truth, when we have the time honored scripture that "all things are spiritual". This would mean that physical truths are spiritual....
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Re: Exclusive claims and personal revelation

Post by Orson » 13 Jan 2017, 08:06

SilentDawning wrote:Just curious how you reconcile the physical evidence verifying the physical truth, and spiritual evidence verifying spiritual truth, when we have the time honored scripture that "all things are spiritual". This would mean that physical truths are spiritual....
Yes, two sides of the same coin. Think about repairing a computer, I would not work on the hardware to fix a software problem.
My avatar - both physical and spiritual.

I first found faith, and thought I had all truth. I then discovered doubt, and claimed a more accurate truth. Now I’ve greeted paradox and a deeper truth than I have ever known.

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Re: Exclusive claims and personal revelation

Post by Roy » 15 Jan 2017, 14:53

Thank you Orson for helping to show your perspective. Permit me to sandwich some other ideas in there. :P
Orson wrote:for the person without night vision, the lion does not exist for them. Saying it is there but they can't see it doesn't make it any more or less real from their point of view, they can't see it, that is all they know. When we are talking about spiritual things our individual experience is our reality. If we try to tell others to accept our own personal reality and discard their own we are doing a disservice to both of us. It is not sustainable. We can try to help them put on and dial in the night vision, but until they see the lion we need to accept the reality that they don't see it.
This almost sounds like you are saying that truth is relative. This is something that would not be well received in LDS circles. However, individual experience and assumptive reality IS somewhat relative and that reality would certainly color or influence the "truth" perceived by each individual.

Some aspects of LDS doctrine basically teach that we are held accountable for the truth and "law" that we have and not what we do not have. This means that there can be different standards for every individual. A loving HF and a perfectly empathetic Savior will leverage mercy to the maximum to bring as many precious souls home as possible. This does not mean to say that all paths are of God but rather that He will travel down all paths in order to find the lost soul.

In this way one can sandwich the idea that each person has a personal reality and truth with the idea that there is a larger and more all encompassing truth of a loving creator and God figure, a Savior, and an afterlife that is determined in some degree by how one lives in this life.
Orson wrote:The general purpose of this post was to give a flavor of my mindset as I use a common vocabulary with others in church. I enjoy the deeper dive from your thoughts and observations.
As you say, this could be one possible way to use common vocabulary with others in church.
"It is not so much the pain and suffering of life which crushes the individual as it is its meaninglessness and hopelessness." C. A. Elwood

“It is not the function of religion to answer all the questions about God’s moral government of the universe, but to give one courage, through faith, to go on in the face of questions he never finds the answer to in his present status.” TPC: Harold B. Lee 223

"I struggle now with establishing my faith that God may always be there, but may not always need to intervene" Heber13

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Re: Exclusive claims and personal revelation

Post by ydeve » 15 Jan 2017, 19:32

Roy wrote: This almost sounds like you are saying that truth is relative. This is something that would not be well received in LDS circles. However, individual experience and assumptive reality IS somewhat relative and that reality would certainly color or influence the "truth" perceived by each individual.

Some aspects of LDS doctrine basically teach that we are held accountable for the truth and "law" that we have and not what we do not have. This means that there can be different standards for every individual. A loving HF and a perfectly empathetic Savior will leverage mercy to the maximum to bring as many precious souls home as possible. This does not mean to say that all paths are of God but rather that He will travel down all paths in order to find the lost soul.
So, if truth is universal, how do you reconcile how some commandments emphasized by the Q15 as the will of God bear exclusively evil fruit in the lives of some people, which is exactly how Christ said we should discern whether or not doctrine comes from God (try obeying and look at the fruit)?

Unless you think that when the Q15 speak explicitly (and united) in the capacity of prophets that they are not necessarily speaking the word of God (which also isn't well received in typical LDS circles ;))? Just trying to make sure I understand.

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Re: Exclusive claims and personal revelation

Post by Roy » 16 Jan 2017, 10:59

I answer only for myself and not for Orson.

Orson mentioned a lion. The lion is either real or not - a universal truth. Yet for someone that does not see the lion - it does not exist according to their perception and experience.

Suppose we change the lion into God. God either exists or does not in the literal sense. For those that believe in God and believe that they see evidence for His existence - for them He does exist according to their perception and experience. For those that do not believe in God and see evidence against His existence - for them God does not exist according to their perception and experience.

Suppose a literal God does exist. How does He handle the unbelievers? He could condemn them. I am proposing that God could (according to some aspects of LDS belief) judge them by how well they lived their lives inside the bubble of their own assumptive reality. If they did not believe in God - No Biggie. What did they believe and how did they apply it in their lives?

Ok, so what about the believers? How does God handle them? I am proposing that all see through a glass darkly.
ydeve wrote:Unless you think that when the Q15 speak explicitly (and united) in the capacity of prophets that they are not necessarily speaking the word of God (which also isn't well received in typical LDS circles )?
Yes, that is exactly what I am saying.

(This is where I depart most considerably with LDS norms) I am proposing that a member of the Q15 lives inside the bubble of their own assumptive reality. God rejoices for the good that they do and sorrows for the harm that they do. God applies mercy to the fullest extent considering that "they know not what they do." Scriptures are written by people in this same boat. "Commandments" are interpreted and emphasized by people in this same boat.

I am proposing that Gerald and Sandra Tanner ("Career Apostates") live inside the bubble of their own assumptive reality. God rejoices for the good that they do and sorrows for the harm that they do. God applies mercy to the fullest extent considering that "they know not what they do."

The same for us. The same for everybody.

With this framework an individual can believe in "universal truth" such as the existence of God, a judgment, and an afterlife while still validating the variable lived experience of each person. It allows an individual attempting to StayLDS to utilize a shared vocabulary with their LDS brothers and sisters (up to a point). It assists the individual to view the lives and motivations of others through a lens of charity.
"It is not so much the pain and suffering of life which crushes the individual as it is its meaninglessness and hopelessness." C. A. Elwood

“It is not the function of religion to answer all the questions about God’s moral government of the universe, but to give one courage, through faith, to go on in the face of questions he never finds the answer to in his present status.” TPC: Harold B. Lee 223

"I struggle now with establishing my faith that God may always be there, but may not always need to intervene" Heber13

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