William James

William James
We must get by on what truth we have today, and be willing to call it error tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Is The Testimony Of An LDS Member More Valid Than The Conflicting Testimony Of Someone Else?

On this question, the comment was made:

"A few thoughts:

First, let's make sure we are comparing apples to apples. The nature of an LDS testimony (ostensibly based on receiving a spiritual witness from God) is, in my view, necessarily superior to subscribing to a belief system for lesser reasons (cultural/familial expectations, tradition, prooftexting, bibliolatry, etc.).

Second, I think LDSers are fairly unique in that they strive to base their testimony on personal revelation.

Third, I think LDSers are also fairly unique in that their testimonies include a belief in divine authority vested in a specific, visible, quantifiable earthly organization: The LDS Church.

I don't think we do. Not wholesale, anyway.

Please give some examples of Muslims professing faith in Islam because they have received a spiritual witness from God about the matter. IIRC, Daniel Peterson (a professor of Islamic Studies and occasional participant on this board) has said that the LDS paradigm of receiving a testimony is pretty much foreign to Islam and its adherents.

In other words, I think you are creating parallels where none exist. In the main, other religions don't exhort their members to read, ponder and pray about scripture, and then seek out confirmation from God. (In fact, we are regularly taken to task by some of our Protestant critics for doing this.

Kinda loosey-goosey here. Are you going to dismiss any answer you like as not rational?

No, we should not leave such important matters to chance.

Your handle ("LDS1973") suggests you are LDS. Is that right? If so, please explain your preferred method of developing faith."

To which I responded:

You raise some good points. But here's where I think the reliability of the LDS spiritual confirmation of LDS-ism falls apart: It appears to me that a great many people have taken the Moroni challenge, and sincerely studied and pondered and prayed to ask God about the truth of the BoM and the LDS church. And very often, they do not get the promised confirmation. We can try to explain this away by saying they were not truly sincere, or that they were unworthy at the time they asked, or whatever other excuses there might be. But ultimately, we will find ourselves having to make judgments about the good faith of others' attempts at seeking the truth in order to defend the correctness and soundness of our own LDS testimony. Protestants will say that we are deluded or wicked or deceived, and explain our "testimony" that way. While good faith is a necessary ingredient in our quest for truth, it is not in itself a gaurantee that we will find it easily or in this lifetime. What it boils down to is that we have to do the best we know how, based upon imperfect information, and while we may have convictions, we must also recognize that those convictions will sometimes require modification where the evidence justifies.

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