TR Question Survey - Question 1c: Holy Ghost

Public forum to discuss questions about Mormon history and doctrine.

Do you have faith in and a testimony of the Holy Ghost?

Yes
25
83%
No
5
17%
 
Total votes: 30

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wayfarer
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TR Question Survey - Question 1c: Holy Ghost

Post by wayfarer » 05 Jul 2012, 04:13

1c. Do you have faith in and a testimony of the Holy Ghost?

My answer: YES.

I am quite certain that no-one in the LDS church or anywhere else knows who the Holy Ghost is. There is no coherent definition of the 'being' of the holy ghost, or even what special powers the 'gift of the holy ghost' conveys that is unique to confirmed members of the church.

Yet I fully subscribe to spirituality – This is my testimony: There is a subtle connection between people and things that we intuit without conscious thought. We read things, and we get a feeling that this is a good thing. We meet people and connect immediately. We have a conversation, and we feel a special closeness – these things are 'spiritual' to me. It's not supernatural or magic – it's a connection, deep within our non-conscious minds. That feeling we get of certainty is an emotional sense we've been born with. We also sense danger. These things are not logical or intellectual. They are the same things that animals feel as well – it's a connection to instinct and to our non-conscious learning that helps guide our life day by day. As we become enlightened, that sense of instinct can be tuned to help guide us to all truth. I have faith in and a testimony of this inner voice. I have come to call it the Holy Ghost.

So in summary of question 1: Do you have faith in and a testimony of God the Eternal Father, His son Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost? - My answer is YES. And in so saying, my range of believe could be in the traditional trinitarian point of view, the LDS point of view, or my own point of view -- the question simply does not require either knowledge nor a specific point of view.

On this issue, I am very close to the position of Thomas Jefferson, in that I do not require the supernatural to appreciate and believe in a sacred dimension represented by the "Father, Son, and Holy Ghost". I believe deeply in spiritual things, without requiring any belief that there are literally ghosts out there, as would be implied by the term "Holy Ghost".

Have you ever noticed that each of these internet mormon sites have a 'spirit' associated with them? For example, if I go to an RfM or exmo site, there is a 'spirit' there -- a prevailing way the site operates and people treat each other. The NOM site has a 'spirit', a very friendly, compelling one, that a poster here called a 'gateway drug' to leaving the church -- I happen to like that drug, but really don't see the need to go on to the others, but I can see his point. Chinese have a word for this, 'shen', which means as well, spirit or god. That which connects us, the way we behave, is a 'spirit' in a very real sense to me. We use this term quite often: "team spirit", "spirit of 76", "spirit of christmas" -- these all are figurative about something -- I'm suggesting that they are a real definition of the term 'spirit'.

So, in the 'spirit of love', we continue our exploration into the TR questions.... :-)
"Those who speak don't know, those who know don't speak." Lao Tzu.
My seat in the bloggernacle: http://wayfaringfool.blogspot.com

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SilentDawning
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Re: TR Question Survey - Question 1c: Holy Ghost

Post by SilentDawning » 05 Jul 2012, 04:57

I find the Holy Ghost easier to believe in than God or Jesus. The Holy Ghost is the most tangible evidence I've ever had of something supernatural that works in my life.
"It doesn't have to be about the Church (church) all the time!" -- SD

"Stage 5 is where you no longer believe the gospel as its literally or traditionally taught. Nonetheless, you find your own way to be active and at peace within it". -- SD

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. No price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself."

My introduction: viewtopic.php?f=8&t=1576

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mercyngrace
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Re: TR Question Survey - Question 1c: Holy Ghost

Post by mercyngrace » 05 Jul 2012, 05:02

Yes for me, too.

I love the symbolism of a spirit guide who leads me through the progressive stages of learning and growth and then testifies before God that I am prepared to stand in His presence. Just as the temple portrays, I have experienced ratifying witnesses, incremental purifying, baptisms by fire, which have changed my direction, refined my understanding, and enlarged my soul.
Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little. ~ Luke 7:47

leavingthecave25
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Re: TR Question Survey - Question 1c: Holy Ghost

Post by leavingthecave25 » 05 Jul 2012, 05:26

I really liked Wayfarer's comments on the Holy Ghost. I too believe that there is a deeper part of human nature that is spiritual and intuitive. I think the phenomena that we call the Spirit may well be rooted in the sub-conscious mind rather than a spirit entity whispering in my ear, but those details are irrelevant. I find that whenever I am in tune to it, it brings greater clarity and spiritual understanding to my life.

bc_pg
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Re: TR Question Survey - Question 1c: Holy Ghost

Post by bc_pg » 05 Jul 2012, 05:58

No

So this was the hardest thing for me to answer over the past several years. There was so much evidence in my mind that the church was not true.

And yet there was the spirit.

I have had myriad spiritual experiences.

I recall as a missionary teaching the discussions and feeling a nearly overpowering emotion and conviction that what I was teaching was true. It was a very deep warm feeling in my heart and I could often tell that those listening shared the exact same emotion. I firmly believe that often those listening to the discussions agreed to be baptized precisely because they were feeling the same thing I did.

I have felt that or a very similar feeling when reading the Book of Mormon and other scriptures.

I have felt that feeling when praying with real intent.

I have felt that feeling in church.

I felt that feeling on a trek pioneer reenactment in Wyoming.

I felt that feeling early in the dating process with my now wife confirming that she was the one for me.

I felt that feeling many more times.

I continue to feel that feeling at times in my life today.

This is a question I grappled for years with. On one hand when I would look at the evidence I would think "this can't be true" yet when I would consider my feelings I would think "this must be true". It was a great struggle in my life.

Ultimately I determined that it must be a feeling that is simply an emotion. I don't deny the feeling or the power of it but I don't believe that it is from anything outside of myself. Here's how I ultimately decided that is what I believe:

1) I see too many counterexamples in myself and others where the feeling of the spirit comes for things that are not true.
  • I also had strong spiritual feelings about another girl before my wife. She was not interested at all. I behaved badly in ways that I am very embarrassed about now primarily because of the spiritual feelings I had - I essentially was a stalker because of it - creepy. One could argue that she was a possible right match, but I see it as a false positive.
  • I can cite several other examples in my life where strong feelings were definitely wrong in hindsight - as well as definitely right. In the end, though, it proves to be unreliable.
  • People in other religions and beliefs have just as strong of spiritual experiences and feelings. This is a huge one. Often their beliefs directly contradict Mormonism.
  • At one point when I was 100% completely temple worthy, I experimented in the temple - so I knew Satan could not be involved. I found that I was quite easily able to manipulate my personal spiritual emotions. For example I could think/pray about "the church is not true and the gospel is made up" and I felt the spirit quite strongly.
  • There are many many examples where a minor spiritual prompting could have saved a life or prevented another catastrophe where the prompting didn't occur.
2) I've noticed that I felt the spirit much more strongly and consistently with professional lds speakers like Kenneth Cope, Brad Wilcox, etc. than with general conference or church talks. The emotional content and delivery of the talks had a lot more to do with my feeling of the spirit than the truths taught.

3) As a literal apostate I continue to often have spiritual feelings. Now that I officially have the gift of the Holy Ghost taken away I can perceive zero difference. If anything I have gotten more comfortable with these feelings within myself and feel them more often than ever.

4) I now feel the same spiritual feelings as a "testimony" when I think that the church is not true. That same conviction of mind, and peace/warmth of heart is exactly what I feel.

5) It makes sense to me that humans would have evolved such an emotion. Working with a group or "tribe" is the best way for humans to survive and pass along their genes. These emotions create bonding and obedience to the authority figure and tribe as a whole. I absolutely believe these emotions are innate and their for a purpose - survival. I believe religion found those emotions there and came up with a different explanation.

Ultimately everything hinged on this for me. It was this vs. all evidence to that contrary. I went back and forth many many times in my mind. However, it's now been about 4 years since last given serious consideration to it being more than a human emotion.
Last edited by bc_pg on 05 Jul 2012, 06:07, edited 3 times in total.

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Minyan Man
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Re: TR Question Survey - Question 1c: Holy Ghost

Post by Minyan Man » 05 Jul 2012, 06:04

My answer too is: yes.

I have felt a spiritual influence that I describe as coming from HG.
There have been other times that have been complete silence when I've looked for answers.
The idea that the HG can be a constant companion is difficult to believe or understand.

Mike from Milton.

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wayfarer
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Re: TR Question Survey - Question 1c: Holy Ghost

Post by wayfarer » 05 Jul 2012, 06:53

bc_pg wrote:No

Ultimately everything hinged on this for me. It was this vs. all evidence to that contrary. I went back and forth many many times in my mind. However, it's now been about 4 years since last given serious consideration to it being more than a human emotion.
I agree with everything you said in your post. I've even done exactly the same things you have, starting 20 years ago.

I appreciate your position, and I appreciate why this means "no" to you. I have a different view. I believe coming to understand the source of these confirmations of the spirit enhances my appreciation for the miracle of being human, rather than leaving me disaffected on the man-made institution we call 'the church'.

Does recognizing that the spiritual feeling is indeed an emotion change the answer from Yes to No, or does it make the "Yes" more real? I don't believe in 'spirits'. I believe in 'spirit' -- holy spirit. And yes, this is the same mechanism that creates comfort in conforming with the tribe or flock.

if the question were, "Do you know and fully accept that the standard LDS definition of Holy Ghost is literally true?" then I would have to say an emphatic NO. But that isn't the question. I have a belief in a very specific definition of 'holy spirit', and that is to that which connects us to our divine nature and the collective unconscious (as described by Jung). And because I've had the same experiences you've had, powerful ones, I can say emphatically "Yes", and yet, still appreciate and respect that you can emphatically say "No".

Interestingly, I've had the same duality of feelings on "the church is true" and the "church is not true". Strong feelings. And to me, both statements are correct.
"Those who speak don't know, those who know don't speak." Lao Tzu.
My seat in the bloggernacle: http://wayfaringfool.blogspot.com

bc_pg
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Re: TR Question Survey - Question 1c: Holy Ghost

Post by bc_pg » 05 Jul 2012, 07:12

I have a different view. I believe coming to understand the source of these confirmations of the spirit enhances my appreciation for the miracle of being human, rather than leaving me disaffected on the man-made institution we call 'the church'.

Does recognizing that the spiritual feeling is indeed an emotion change the answer from Yes to No, or does it make the "Yes" more real? I don't believe in 'spirits'. I believe in 'spirit' -- holy spirit. And yes, this is the same mechanism that creates comfort in conforming with the tribe or flock.
I really like what you have to say here. I too can completely understand and respect your thoughts/approach on this and had taken that approach for a time myself.

In essence, I think you could rationalize a temple recommend fairly easily taking one of two approaches. (I've done both.)

1) Interpret the questions loosely. There is a bit of a challenge here though because you can interpret them on how you interpret them, but at the same time you realize that is not how they were intended when they were written. I think I can say with pretty good confidence that the intent of the question is "Do you believe in the Mormon version of the Holy Ghost?"

2) Decide it doesn't really matter what the church thinks because it isn't true and "is not the boss of your spirituality". So as long as you feel at peace personally with how you are living there really isn't anything wrong with answering the questions however is needed to get the recommend. The problems caused by not having one in the family, ward, etc. supersede the gate-keeping process and it is more moral to hold a temple recommend than to not.

With some combination of 1 & 2 I think it is pretty doable to hold a temple recommend in good conscience even with very major doubts as long as you are not doing something that is a very clear horrid immoral thing like cheating on your wife or abusing your family.

However, after many years of mental gymnastics to try to believe or to try to fit and rationalize yet always feeling a bit out of place and a bit hypocritical it has been a great relief to not play those mental games with myself anymore to make it fit.

I also think perhaps my answers are illustrative for someone who is struggling to answer yes/no. They actually may be more comfortable saying "yes" when seeing my reasons for saying "no". They are not where I am and thus the difference of what a "yes" may be a very honest answer for them.

doug
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Re: TR Question Survey - Question 1c: Holy Ghost

Post by doug » 05 Jul 2012, 07:24

At this point, I'm usually thinking "Sure. Why not?", which comes out as "Yes".
The easy confidence with which I know another man's religion is folly teaches me to suspect that my own is also. -- Mark Twain

Curt Sunshine
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Re: TR Question Survey - Question 1c: Holy Ghost

Post by Curt Sunshine » 05 Jul 2012, 08:13

Yes.

I have had experiences where I felt totally connected into something outside myself that gave me understanding (in one way or another) that I just couldn't have had on my own - and I mean that literally, that there was NO way I could have known the things that came out of my mouth. Being me, I've analyzed those experiences in hindsight, and they constituted pure revelation in the truest sense of the word.

I've never been able to qualify "feeling the spirit" in a way that allowed me to "recognize the spirit" as distinct from natural emotions - but I've experienced being a mouthpiece for the Spirit on more than one occasion.

I'm fine calling that channel of communication "the Holy Ghost" - even as I have no clue whether or not an actual spirit personage exists as the manager of all those experiences and communications.

(Fwiw. given our current understanding of electronic media communication, I can picture the great Facebook master in Heaven and compare that position with our descriptions of the Holy Ghost.)
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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