Archive for the 'Holy Ghost' Category


Revelation through Feelings

The November issue of Ensign, the monthly magazine of the LDS Church, contains all the talks given at the recent General Conference.  Therefore it is an important issue and one that many members will study for the next six months.

One talk that caught my eye was by Elder Craig C. Christensen, of the Presidency of the Seventy.  It was about the Holy Ghost and how he “communicates to our spirits through feelings and impressions” (p. 13).  He talks about how his six-year old son received a strong feeling as they toured an LDS temple before it was dedicated and how he was experiencing the influence of the Holy Ghost.  The following quote from that article summarizes well his message.

“As inspired thoughts come into our minds, we know them to be true by the spiritual feelings that enter into our hearts. President Boyd K. Packer has taught: “The Holy Ghost speaks with a voice that you feel more than you hear. . . . While we speak of ‘listening’ to the whisperings of the Spirit, most often one describes a spiritual prompting by saying, ‘I had a feeling . . .’” It is through these sacred feelings from the Holy Ghost that we come to know what God would have us do, for this, as stated in scripture, “is the spirit of revelation.” (p.14)

Revelation through feelings, as this talk illustrates, is an important component of Mormonism.  And it’s another thing in a long list that reveals the great difference between Mormonism and the Bible.  According to the Bible, it is the place of the Holy Ghost’s revelation.  It is the Spirit-filled word – it is the lamp which shows us our way – it is where Christ is revealed to us.  Mormons would agree with that (adding the caveat “as far as it is translated correctly).  The difference, however, is that the Bible claims to be the only source of revelation.  Isaiah 8:19-20 is just one example of that.  And when they shall say unto you, Seek unto them that have familiar spirits, and unto wizards that peep, and that mutter: should not a people seek unto their God? for the living to the dead? To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.”

On top of that, feelings can be so fickle – and wrong!  During my ministry, I can’t count how many times I talked with individuals who weren’t concerned that they were violating a direct command of God contained in the Bible because, “it felt right”.  Or “I prayed about it and God said it was OK.”  Just a couple of talks later in the Ensign, Elder Bowen talks about the guilty feelings that he still sometimes has 22 years later over the accidental death of his son.  He shares that, not because he wants to legitimize those feelings, but to say how they weren’t warranted. My point is: how come those feelings weren’t from the Holy Ghost revealing to him that he actually was guilty of doing something wrong?

Some of my LDS friends have sincerely said they feel sorry for me because I only have the Bible to rely on.  I understand where they are coming from.  But I don’t think they understand when I reply how thankful I am that I only have the Bible to rely on.  There God has told me everything I need to know for salvation and for living a life to his glory. There the Holy Spirit has revealed to me wonderful truths about God and his love for me.  There the Holy Spirit reassures me that I will live with Heavenly Father for all eternity solely because of what Jesus has done for me – even when I don’t feel like I’m going to.  Thank God that he has given us the sure rock of his holy Word on which to base our faith!



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.


March 2023

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