What I don't understand about the Holy Ghost

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hotsugarlips
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What I don't understand about the Holy Ghost

Post by hotsugarlips » 26 Sep 2009, 07:18

Essentially the reason that people believe that the church is true is because they feel the Holy Ghost tell them that it is. But I have noticed that even if I can go to church and feel the Spirit, other people in other churches feel the same things in their false churches. I've heard two explanations of why this occurs, but I don't think either one really makes sense.

1. The reason that people in false religions feel the Spirit is because their feelings come from Satan who is trying to keep them from the true church. The problem with this argument is that it is unbalanced: From my point of view, when I feel the Spirit, it is God telling me the church is true, but when someone else in another church has the same feelings, it is Satan deceiving them. When I look from the other person's viewpoint, that logic would indicate that our church isn't true.
The explanation that I've heard for this is that Satan can mimic the Holy Ghost except for the feeling of peace -- the feeling of peace is the way we know that the church is true. The problem with this argument is that I've never found this teaching in the scriptures or in the teachings of the modern prophets. If such a distinction exists, then shouldn't at least the Bible be clearer about it for the sake of non-members? It seems more like something that has been taught by the membership of the church, but not the leaders.
Also, if only the Holy Ghost is the only one who can provide a feeling of peace then most non-members wouldn't be able to feel peace on a regular basis. But there are lots of people who feel peace regularly who don't accept our teachings or who haven't even heard of the church. As for the other feelings from the Spirit, why would God tell people that the church is true with a feeling that Satan can emulate? For example, if one were to read the Book of Mormon and get a burning in the bosom, how is one supposed to know if this feeling came from God or Satan if both can provide the feeling and both would have a motive to give the feeling depending on whether or not the church is true?

2. The reason that people in false religions feel the Spirit is because wherever any truth is taught, God is obligated to testify of the truth -- the Bible is the word of God so when people teach from it, the Spirit is obligated to testify that it is true. The problem with this argument is that it would mean that it is God's fault that people are staying away from the true church. On judgement day these people won't be able to enter into the highest degree of heaven because essentially the Spirit kept them from it.
There is a scripture that says that the elect of God will hear and follow his voice implying that people who don't join the church aren't the elect of God. However, if God is testifying of the truth to people in false religions and the people in false religions follow the truth that they have, then why would they reject more of the truth? It would almost be like God is toying with these people.




However, even in the true church, the Spirit can be hard to feel. You can pray, read the scriptures, go to church, or go to the temple and not even feel the Spirit. Do other religions have this problem?

Curt Sunshine
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Re: What I don't understand about the Holy Ghost

Post by Curt Sunshine » 26 Sep 2009, 10:25

Great questions, but I have very little time right now. (Homecoming day at the college where I work) I just want to point out something that might help a little:

You keep mentioning "false churches". That paints a picture of groups that shouldn't feel the Spirit at all (that are 100% incorrect and Satan inspired) - and that really isn't what the core of the principles taught in the LDS Church teach at all. I know there are all kinds of polarizing statements by various people, and there is the "only true and living" phrase in the D&C, but there also are many, fundamental things that point to good and Spirit and rightesousness and inspiration ad infinitum in other churches and religions.

Once the "100% false church" mutation is eliminated, I believe many of the concerns in your post simply disappear, frankly. I really mean that.

As to the problem with not being able to feel a spiritual witness, our own scriptures say that some people have a gift to know that Jesus is the Christ and to some it is given to believe on those who know. (I would add a third category, at least, of those to whom it is not given to know or believe - who have to struggle with neither of those two gifts.) If even that basic, core concept is not "knowable" to all, then I believe everything else can be described that way, as well.

That's why I LOVE the Mormon concept of an atonement / grace that reaches ALL and gives ALL the chance for Celestial exaltation and eternal glory. (It's also why I am open to the possibility of multiple mortal probations, even though I absolutely don't teach it as doctrine or preach it in any open, public forum. I just think it makes sense and would accept it if it were revealed / taught.)

Finally, you said:
On judgement day these people won't be able to enter into the highest degree of heaven because essentially the Spirit kept them from it.
There is a scripture that says that the elect of God will hear and follow his voice implying that people who don't join the church aren't the elect of God. However, if God is testifying of the truth to people in false religions and the people in false religions follow the truth that they have, then why would they reject more of the truth? It would almost be like God is toying with these people.
Honestly, that is a very Protestant interpretation of that passage and concept - borderline Calvinist. It's not what the core principles of Mormonism teach about the judgment - at least not over the last 50-100 years when the hyperbolic rhetoric of the Restoration started to fade into the settled perspectives of the 20th Century. The core Mormon principle is that each individual will be judged based on how well s/he lived what s/he understood. That's grace at its finest, and it pretty much covers (atones for) the situation you describe in your paragraph above.

OK, that was longer than I thought it would be - but everyone here who knows me won't be surprised. :roll:
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

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mormonheretic
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Re: What I don't understand about the Holy Ghost

Post by mormonheretic » 26 Sep 2009, 20:55

hotsugarlips, I agree with Ray. God loves all people. I have heard people use this reasoning about the Satan imitating the Holy Ghost, and I think this is Mormon urban legend. I absolutely reject this, and I don't think we should refer to "false churches." President Hinckley has said before that other churches have truths in them, and he encourages people of other faiths to keep their truths, and add them to our church.

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Kalola
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Re: What I don't understand about the Holy Ghost

Post by Kalola » 26 Sep 2009, 21:41

I will admit I cringed when I read the terms "false churches" and "false religions."
There is a scripture that says that the elect of God will hear and follow his voice implying that people who don't join the church aren't the elect of God. However, if God is testifying of the truth to people in false religions and the people in false religions follow the truth that they have, then why would they reject more of the truth? It would almost be like God is toying with these people.
Which scripture are you referring to? I doubt that "God is toying with these people."

I would write more, but I fear I'd come off sounding way too judgmental about which church has the "truth" and "feeling the spirit." :(

MWallace57
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Re: What I don't understand about the Holy Ghost

Post by MWallace57 » 26 Sep 2009, 22:37

I have long since rejected the notion that all other churches are inherently wrong or false. Those that teach and testify of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, His mission and His Atonement are TEACHING THE TRUTH. The Holy Ghost WILL BARE witness of this truth regardless of who teaches it, what language it is taught in, what building or church or home or hut it is taught in. Truth is truth no matter who teaches it. One of the first missions of the Holy Ghost is to bare witness of the truth.

Now, one of the other missions of the Holy Ghost is to be "the Comforter". What great comfort I felt as a child, when I say my father walking up our porch steps. He held out his arms to embrace us and tell us that our mother had died. He was left, a single father, raising three daughters and a son. It seemed that the Holy Ghost burned through our home that night. My mother had been extremely sick for four years - that night, I felt that she was more alive than ever before. I felt her spirit, her love, her intelligence and her peace. The author of the book, "Uncle Tom's Cabin", spoke of having a "spiritual mother" after the death of her beloved mother. I knew then what it was to have a "spiritual mother".

Sadly, I have friends who belong to other faiths. One friend who is very close to me, lost her little son in death. She had been told that death is a state of unconsciousness and that she could not experience the comfort of her own son's spiritual presence in her life. She wanted to tell her little boy how much she loved him and I told her to she could. I told her that I was sure that her little boy would feel her love and warmth and be touched to know that he was loved and remembered. She asked me how I knew those things. She cried, please, please tell me that these things are true! Love doesn't end at death, eternal love begins with eternal life.

So that is the difference. It isn't that we should be the "know it alls" of the Christian Kingdom. It isn't that we should walk around saying "we have all the truth", a sort of "Our church is right, your church is wrong attitude". What simply have to fill in those gaps in understanding. We have to provide that testimony and reassurance to our friends and our loved ones. We can then worship Christ together as one.

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bridget_night
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Re: What I don't understand about the Holy Ghost

Post by bridget_night » 27 Sep 2009, 06:04

hotsugarlips wrote:Essentially the reason that people believe that the church is true is because they feel the Holy Ghost tell them that it is. But I have noticed that even if I can go to church and feel the Spirit, other people in other churches feel the same things in their false churches. However, even in the true church, the Spirit can be hard to feel. You can pray, read the scriptures, go to church, or go to the temple and not even feel the Spirit. Do other religions have this problem?
Thanks for this post. I first started struggling with this question while on my mission in Austria. I would be surprised when people would tell me that the Holy Spirit led them to their church and they knew without a shadow of a doubt that the felt the Holy Spirit the day they were baptized in their faith from the bottom of their feet to the top of their heads. This really confused me. A few years ago my daughter and sister in law told me amazing stories of how the Spirit led them to the church they are in now. Here is how it all came to make sense to me.

When my husband left the church the first time, I found myself crying my eyes out in a fast and testimony meeting one Sunday. I was begging the Lord to tell me why he had not given a good man like my husband a spiritual witness that the church was true after so much fasting prayer and study.

Something very unexpectedly happened then. A clear thought came through my head that said, "Why don't you go visit that 7th Day Adventist church around the corner?" I thought, "Where did that come from?" and then the thought came to me two more times. I told my husband about it and we decided to follow that prompting. I met with the pastor of that church several times and the things he gave me to read answered some important questions I had. You see I had been doing all the right things in the church, (paying tithing, going to the temple, etc. etc) but none of the blessings seemed to be coming. In fact everything had gotten worse. My kids were in trouble and my husband did not get his raise, the car and washer broke down, and now he left the church. Where we all the blasted blessings they kept preaching about from the pulpit. Then I came across some anti-Mormon stuff from the Tanners that quoted out of church history and Journal of Discourses. For the first time I thought that the church might be false.

This 7th day adventist pastor handed me a little book called "The 5 Day Plan to Know God." As I was reading, it talked about how the Jews were waiting for their Messiah to come save them from all their trials. When he came and told them he came to save them from their sins not their problems they were ticked off. A light bulb went off in me and I realized I was like those early Jews waiting for God to save me from all my problems. Suddenly I realized I had been living the gospel for the wrong reasons. I knew immediately that the only thing I should be concerned about is being saved from my sins and that is why Jesus died for me. When my husband joined the church the missionaries assumed he had the milk of the gospel (faith in Jesus Christ) but he didn't. Sometimes in the lds church we concentrate so much on the meat we neglect the milk of the gospel. Other churches mostly have the milk so it is often highly concentrated there. We left the church for two years and investigated the 7th Day church, but one day as they were teaching us a class on the signs of a true prophet, my husband and I looked at each other and knew they were talking about Joseph Smith. Then two books called the "Gainsayers" and "Are Mormons Christian" came into my hands and answered many of my questions. Plus we met every week for a year with a man in our old ward who had a Masters degree in Church history. I had never prayed so hard to know if the church was true or not. I cried and cried for a while thinking I had been betrayed by the church, like a woman who had found out her husband had cheated on her. We finally came back to the church and had a much stronger testimony, but during that time I asked the Lord about the 7th Day Adventist church and Ellen G. White and other churches (my daughter had joined the Baptist church and my daughter in law was Lutheran). The Lord spoke to me and said the following: "Although the lds church has the fullness of the gospel, I work through all the churches and they are all my people. That other churches are like stepping stones to the full truth. Not everyone can handle the fullness right away. You cannot take a junk food junkie and make them a health food nut overnight. Line upon line. So, at times God leads people to good Christian churches that may prepare them for the fullness eventually.
Remember that when Jesus told Joseph Smith that the other churches had teachings that were an abomination in His eyes, he never said the people or the churches were an abomination just some of the teachings. Martin Luther, John Calvin, etc, were all reformers and stepping stones towards the truth. I personally prefer to tell people we have the fullness of the gospel instead of saying the ONLY TRUE CHURCH, implying how false they are.

hotsugarlips
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Re: What I don't understand about the Holy Ghost

Post by hotsugarlips » 27 Sep 2009, 06:07

Kalola wrote:
There is a scripture that says that the elect of God will hear and follow his voice implying that people who don't join the church aren't the elect of God. However, if God is testifying of the truth to people in false religions and the people in false religions follow the truth that they have, then why would they reject more of the truth? It would almost be like God is toying with these people.
Which scripture are you referring to?
:(
The scripture is D&C 29:7

Perhaps using the term "false churches" is too strong or maybe I shouldn't use the terms false and wrong interchangeably, but that is what I was taught growing up in the church and that is still said in our scripture. JSH 1: 19 - God states that all churches are wrong and in the next verse Joseph Smith specifically identifies Presbyterianism as not true. Matt 7: 21-23 seems to indicate that there are many people who think that they are doing the will of God who won't be allowed to enter into the kingdom of heaven.

MWallace57
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Re: What I don't understand about the Holy Ghost

Post by MWallace57 » 27 Sep 2009, 09:08

I have studies John Calvin and the Presbyterian Church and really love that man!!! Calvin did a great deal of research into the Latin and Greek languages and (if I'm not mistaken) was very instrumental in translating what is now our modern Bible. Calvin taught me that ancient scripture can be translated by the gift of God and I love him for that.

The one thing that Calvin never really seemed to understand was the plan of salvation. Calvin taught the doctrine of "Predestination" and that God selects who He will and will not save. Salvation was not fully understood, neither was the atonement. If you really study Calvinism, very few people will actually be saved. This denies the purpose of the atonement and Christ's mission.

The Third Article of Faith States:

3 We believe that through the atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.

That one Article of Faith, if nothing else, made me believe that the Gospel of Jesus Christ had been restored and that JS was a true prophet.

MWallace57
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Re: What I don't understand about the Holy Ghost

Post by MWallace57 » 27 Sep 2009, 09:26

Calvinism (also called the Reformed tradition, the Reformed faith, or Reformed theology) is a theological system and an approach to the Christian life.[1] The Reformed tradition was advanced by several theologians such as Martin Bucer, Heinrich Bullinger, Peter Martyr Vermigli, and Huldrych Zwingli, but it often bears the name of the French reformer John Calvin because of his prominent influence on it and because of his role in the confessional and ecclesiastical debates throughout the 16th century. Today, this term also refers to the doctrines and practices of the Reformed churches of which Calvin was an early leader. Less commonly, it can refer to the individual teaching of Calvin himself.[2] The system is best known for its doctrines of predestination and total depravity, stressing the absolute sovereignty.

The rising importance of the Reformed churches and of Calvin belongs to the second phase of the Protestant Reformation. Evangelical churches began to form after Martin Luther was excommunicated from the Catholic Church. Calvin was a French exile in Geneva. He had signed the Lutheran Augsburg Confession as it was revised by Melancthon in 1540. However, his influence was first felt in the Swiss Reformation whose leader was Ulrich Zwingli. It soon became evident that doctrine in the Reformed churches was developing in a direction independent of Martin Luther's, under the influence of numerous writers and reformers among whom Calvin eventually became preeminent. Much later, when his fame was attached to the Reformed churches, their whole body of doctrine came to be called "Calvinism".

From Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Calvinism

When JS went into the sacred grove to pray, he was asking the Lord, "which of all the Churches were true". Now all of these "reformed" Churches had a common root. I don't think that the Lord actually meant to single out the Presbyterian Church, but I do think that the term "Presbyterian Church" may have meant the larger collection of churches in the reform moment that were based on Calvinism.

John Calvin (1509 - 1564)
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John Calvin is considered the father of Reformed and Presbyterian doctrine and theology.
http://www.mb-soft.com/believe/txc/calvin.htm

Again, John Calvin wanted to produce a Bible that families could actually read and understand, not just a collection of Greek and Latin writings, translated using language that most common folk could barely read, let alone comprehend. JS was correct in inquiring specifically about the Presbyterian Churches because of the issue of "correctness of translation" of sacred scripture. I think that when JS was told that these "Churches" were all wrong, I don't think that this implied that they were bad in any way whatsoever. All I think it implies is that these translations were not the fullness of the Gospel and that some of these doctrine were simply untrue. The concept that "ALL mankind could be saved" was the single MOST important truth.

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Kalola
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Re: What I don't understand about the Holy Ghost

Post by Kalola » 27 Sep 2009, 11:23

Something to remember ... the Eleventh Article of Faith states:

We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.

I realize I am veering away from the original topic, but there are times I read something and start wondering if some members of the Church believe that they are somewhat "superior" to members of other religions. This morning I read these statements of Elder Neil L. Andersen Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:
We must remember, my dear brothers and sisters, who we are and what we have in our hands. We are not alone in our desire to do good; there are wonderful people of many faiths and beliefs.

We are not alone in praying to our Heavenly Father or in receiving answers to our prayers; our Father loves all of His children.

We are not alone in sacrificing for a greater cause; there are others who are unselfish.

Others share our faith in Christ. There are loyal and decent fathers and mothers in every land who love each other and love their children. There is much we can learn from the good people all around us.

***

Our knowledge of the divine mission of the Church should not bring feelings of superiority or arrogance but should take us to our knees, pleading for the Lord’s help that we might be what we should be.
I did some research on Joseph Smith and the Presbyterian religion and found the following:

Joseph Smith History, Chapter 1:7-10

7 I was at this time in my fifteenth year. My father’s family was proselyted to the Presbyterian faith, and four of them joined that church, namely, my mother, Lucy; my brothers Hyrum and Samuel Harrison; and my sister Sophronia.

8 During this time of great excitement my mind was called up to serious reflection and great uneasiness; but though my feelings were deep and often poignant, still I kept myself aloof from all these parties, though I attended their several meetings as often as occasion would permit. In process of time my mind became somewhat partial to the Methodist sect, and I felt some desire to be united with them; but so great were the confusion and strife among the different denominations, that it was impossible for a person young as I was, and so unacquainted with men and things, to come to any certain conclusion who was right and who was wrong.

9 My mind at times was greatly excited, the cry and tumult were so great and incessant. The Presbyterians were most decided against the Baptists and Methodists, and used all the powers of both reason and sophistry to prove their errors, or, at least, to make the people think they were in error. On the other hand, the Baptists and Methodists in their turn were equally zealous in endeavoring to establish their own tenets and disprove all others.

10 In the midst of this war of words and tumult of opinions, I often said to myself: What is to be done? Who of all these parties are right; or, are they all wrong together? If any one of them be right, which is it, and how shall I know it?

Note that Joseph Smith became "somewhat partial to the Methodist sect."

Blessings to each of you.

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