This Sunday in their Gospel Doctrines classes, members of the LDS Church will be looking at 1 Nephi 16-22 from the Book of Mormon. One teaching that the teacher’s guide draws from this section is the importance of feelings. It shares the following quote by Boyd K. Packer, one of Mormonism’s 12 apostles.
“The Holy Ghost communicates with the spirit through the mind more than through the physical senses. This guidance comes as thoughts, as feelings, through impressions and promptings. It is not always easy to describe inspiration. The scriptures teach us that we may ‘feel’ the words of spiritual communication more than hear them, and see with spiritual rather with mortal eyes.”
The best known example of Mormonism’s emphasis on receiving inspiration and revelation through feelings is the “burning in the bosom” that is to confirm the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon.
Gospel Principles, the basic manual that they studied last year, said: “To be worthy to have the help of the Holy Ghost, we must seek earnestly to obey the commandments of God. We must keep our thoughts and actions pure.” (p. 123). That this is talking about the same thing is seen in the next paragraph which also quotes Packer. “The Holy Ghost speaks with a voice that you feel more than you hear.” Therefore isn’t it logical to say that any Mormon, who claims to have this help of the Holy Ghost, who claims to receive guidance through their feelings, has both pure thoughts and actions? And if their thoughts and actions are pure, then can’t they claim to be sinless? Or does pure not mean pure?
I pray that members of the LDS Church don’t lightly brush off those questions. I pray that they don’t make pure mean something less than pure. I pray that they really see what their church is saying – how, in this case, it demands purity as a prerequisite for receiving the Holy Ghost’s help.
And then I pray that they listen, not to their feelings, but to the Word of God in the Bible. That is where the Holy Spirit works. Jesus said, “the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.” (John 6:63) A few verses later Peter shows that he understood what Jesus said when he replied, “Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.” The Holy Spirit speaks to us in the Bible, not through our feelings.
And what does he tell us there? “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9) It’s not through obeying the commandments; it’s through the blood of Jesus that we are pure. “and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.” (1 John 1:7) May our Mormon friends listen to these words of the Holy Spirit.