How can we tell the difference between God’s influence and other things like emotion?
What are signs of good versus evil spiritual energy?
What are signs of demonic influence?
We discuss these and other questions in this presentation; slides here:
Continue reading “Presentation on Spiritual Discernment”
Behold, verily I say unto you, that there are many spirits which are false spirits, which have gone forth in the earth, deceiving the world.
And also Satan hath sought to deceive you, that he might overthrow you.
Behold, I, the Lord, have looked upon you, and have seen abominations in the church that profess my name.
Behold, verily I say unto you, there are hypocrites among you, who have deceived some, which has given the adversary power; but behold such shall be reclaimed; (D&C 50)
Nothing is a greater injury to the children of men than to be under the influence of a false spirit when they think they have the Spirit of God (Joseph Smith)
How can I tell when my thoughts and feelings are my own, or revelation from God? How can I tell if an emotionally-satisfying narrative or activity is good for my soul, or would lead me away from God?
The answer to both questions is discernment.
Continue reading “What is Discernment?”
Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground: for it is time to seek the Lord, till he come and rain righteousness upon you.
Fallow ground is soil that is hardened, set in its ways, unable to receive water and nutrients. What does it mean to “break up our fallow ground” to receive more of what God desires to give us?
When I am really, really serious about seeking personal revelation, these are the kinds of things I pray:
Continue reading “Seeking Revelation”
Some of the most vexing questions for students of scripture have to do with 1) the nature of relationships between texts, and 2) the relationships between texts and the environment and worldview of the people who produce them. As an example of the first problem, it is common for Latter-Day Saints to approach the Book of Mormon text with the assumption that the word translation connotes an exact rendering of a set of words and phrases in one language into a corresponding set of words and phrases in another language. Operating with that assumption, we might be dismayed to see commonalities between the King James biblical language and passages in the Book of Mormon, or confused by Royal Skousen’s characterization of the Book of Mormon text as a “creative and cultural translation of the Nephite record.” Skousen’s characterization finds support in Doctrine and Covenants 9:8, where the Lord specifies that the translation of the Book of Mormon required one to “study it out in your mind,” an imprecise process in which the mental building blocks of the translator (including cultural forms of expression) would be formed into an approximation of the intentions of the original authors.
Continue reading “Does Revelation Need To Be Original?”
In April 2020 Conference, President Oaks said the following:
In the Council in Heaven, all the spirit children of God were introduced to the Father’s plan, including its mortal consequences and trials, its heavenly helps, and its glorious destiny. We saw the end from the beginning. All of the myriads of mortals who have been born on this earth chose the Father’s plan and fought for it in the heavenly contest that followed. Many also made covenants with the Father concerning what they would do in mortality. In ways that have not been revealed, our actions in the spirit world have influenced our circumstances in mortality.
That last sentence struck a nerve with a lot of people, because the doctrine of the preexistence has in the past been misused to promote racist and ethnocentrist religious ideas. But I’d like to propose a better way of seeing that statement, informed by our personal experiences.
Continue reading “Revelation as Remembering”
Introduction: Expanding our Categories
Epistemology is the study of knowledge. In discussions of epistemology, it is common practice to make distinctions between belief, justified belief, and knowledge. Generally unaware of these distinctions, Latter-Day Saints have sometimes employed binary categories of knowing/not knowing in expressions of personal conviction, and doctrine/not doctrine when discussing boundaries of belief. We embrace more and better distinctions among these concepts. Professions of knowledge are appropriate when one possesses experiential or revelatory confirmation of a principle; when one possesses none of those things, professing knowledge out of cultural or other forms of pressure can have the effect of thwarting our spiritual progress, giving us the sense that we have arrived at an important destination when in fact we have barely begun the journey. Personal knowledge of gospel truths is a lifetime pursuit, and until knowledge is obtained, the decision to exercise hope, belief, trust, or confidence is a perfectly valid form of faith.
Continue reading “What Do We Know, And How? A Look At Orthodox Latter-Day Saint Epistemology”