William James

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

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Supposed Advice By Non-LDS To Not Pray About The Book Of Mormon

The comment was made:

"A friend tells me that he was out West once and saw a billboard that read¦
Don't Pray About the Book of Mormon¦ That's how they get you!
Has anyone else ever seen anything like this? Why would any "Christian" group tell someone not to pray? The scriptures tell us to pray always. How does one seek guidance from God if they do not pray? Unlike, what others may say, the Bible (nor any other book) does not have everything one needs to know. We live in a rapidly changing world; now more that ever we need the direction of the Holy Spirit!

The scriptures do not tell us who to marry¦ where to live¦ what job to take, etc. We cannot even know that Jesus is the Christ without the conformation of the Holy Spirit.

This may sound awful, but when I got out of the military I did not even pray to ask if it was the right decision because I did not want to receive an answer contrary to my desires. I knew that if God wanted me to remain, I would have. I wanted out so I got out. I loved the military but I wanted my children to have roots in one place. So when I hear someone say; don't pray, I consider them to be somewhat anti-Christ.

I believe that when Spirit speaks to spirit it is unmistakable."

To which I responded:

1. I am naturally skeptical of the account of the bilboard, but for now, I'll take it at face value.

2. Yes, we should pray, while at the same time recognizing that perceived spiritual experience is not a 100% reliable method of ascertaining the truth. One criterium people often use to gauge the authenticity of their spiritual experience, ironic as it seems, is how much the prompting or perceived revelation/answer to prayer differs from the answer that they would normally desire or expect. The logic behind this methodology seems to be that a spiritual experience which goes against our own desires or expectations is more likely to be authentic because we probably did not simply invent it through our own willpower and thought process. This in turn leads to a rather strange irony: those spiritual experiences which diverge more from our secular reasoning can have a tendancy to be more likely to be accepted as authentic true revelations. Consequently, people wind up accepting doctrines which tend to be rather far-fetched from an objective and logical standpoint. This is not to say that all spiritual experience is totally worthless, but rather that we have to (hard as it is to do) do our best to interpret and filter our spiritual experiences in a way which harmonizes with our logic, reason, and life experience. Even my suggested methodology is not foolproof, but we have to simply accept from the outset that we will occasionally draw erroneous conclusions no matter how hard we try not to. It is the quest to have all of the answers in black and white now which is often to blame for the perpetuation of false doctrines which people are afraid to abandon for fear of having anything less than perfect certainty.

3. Perhaps the people who are afraid about people obtaining convictions about the BoM through prayer are concerned that people can be led away by inauthentic, but perceived-to-be-true revelations. Viewed in this way, the "billboard" is perhaps not an admission of the truth of the BoM as a TBM might like to think at first glance, but rather it may be simply a recognition that there are false spiritual witnesses, and that people should be careful not to be led astray on a whim.

4. I personally believe that no one should be discouraged from praying, including praying about the BoM. But I also think it is proper to not give people the impression that even sincere prayer is a foolproof method of learning truth.

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