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Mudcat's thread on the Holy Spirit.


Mudcat

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Some of you may view this post as a bit of a polemic. It isn't really. Just trying to get to the bottom of something is all, and wondering what you might have to say on the topic. That being said...

As importantly as the work of Christ, the witness and fellowship of the Holy Spirit is essential to a Christians faith. Without such, a Christian's faith would be as benign and meaningless as any myth. The Holy Spirit is the validation to the believer that what they believe is true.

Though I am certainly not an LDS, we do share a common vein in the notion that there is a testimony of truth we would attribute to the Holy Spirit. I think, in this particular view, we would both mutually yield to the Holy Spirit's preeminence as the primary revealer and dispenser of truth.

Yet taking into consideration, there are 39,000 + Christian denominations(including LDS). I imagine you might think

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Some of you may view this post as a bit of a polemic. It isn't really. Just trying to get to the bottom of something is all, and wondering what you might have to say on the topic. That being said...

As importantly as the work of Christ, the witness and fellowship of the Holy Spirit is essential to a Christians faith. Without such, a Christian's faith would be as benign and meaningless as any myth. The Holy Spirit is the validation to the believer that what they believe is true.

OOOOH, this is an excellent question!!! No, no offense taken, these are the sorta questions I LOVE talking about!!!!! =D!!!!

1.On what basis do you consider what the Holy Spirit has led you to believe, as more truthful than what some else believes he has revealed in opposition?

Well, for starters, I have come to the conclusion that it doesn't really matter, ultimately, what other people experience. What they experience is important to them, yes, but it is not really that important to you - you cannot feel it to the extent they do. Thus, in matters of the Holy Spirit, only your experiences matter - only you are responsible for what you do. It's up to you to listen to the Holy Spirit and all it has to offer. And I have a feeling that we all sometimes don't listen to him as much as we should. I know I don't sometimes XD.

2.What proof aside from your own experience, gives evidence to the Holy Spirits existence?

None, personal experience is what the Holy Spirit is about.

3.Can a non-LDS individual read and pray about the BoM with an open heart and not receive a testimony from the Holy Spirit of it's veracity? If
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Yet taking into consideration, there are 39,000 + Christian denominations

I personally think there are as many denominations as there are people :P. We are each individual/unique. I think we are all given what we need in order to progress.

1.On what basis do you consider what the Holy Spirit has led you to believe, as more truthful than what some else believes he has revealed in opposition?

I am a convert to the LDS church... before I joined the church (or even knew anything about it) I met with many different groups, and experienced what I thought was their version of feeling the Spirit... For me, the LDS version of feeling the Spirit was very different than what I had experienced in other meetings.... not saying that other meetings do not have the Spirit, or that others do not feel it, just for me personally, what I felt elsewhere was more akin to emotions, vs. what I felt/feel at the LDS church which is something very different than just emotions...

2.What proof aside from your own experience, gives evidence to the Holy Spirits existence?

I think that our conscience = the light of Christ = the first form of communication we all get from God. That everyone on the earth has a conscience with similar morals, is very interesting don't you think?

http://www.columbia.edu/cu/augustine/arch/lewis/abolition4.htm

so it's not just me that is guided into these morals, it's all humanity... many of the morals that we embrace do not help us survive... Morals must come from God, everyone is guided to some extent by God.

3.Can a non-LDS individual read and pray about the BoM with an open heart and not receive a testimony from the Holy Spirit of it's veracity? If
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I don't think that the Spirit supplies variant info. Perhaps someone feels the spirit in xyz church that helps them gain faith in Christ, and then they interpret it as telling them that the church is true, rather than it being a suggestion to have faith in Jesus etc. etc. All (or at least most) church groups teach some truths - even the eastern non-Christian groups have truths, and all of the truths can be confirmed by the Spirit.

(Pearl of Great Price | Articles of Faith 1:13)

If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things. (no matter where these things come from)

Amen.

Yes indeed, I do feel this way too, all truths, no matter where they be from, can be confirmed by the Spirit.

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Hello Brother Mudcat, :P

The Holy Spirit (The Spirit of Truth, The Spirit of God, The Spirit of Love)

The Holy Spirit is a Gift of pure Grace (FREE-Without boundaries) to ALL who allow it to dwell in them.

What it is not is a tool/device that any group of mere humans can claim sole ownership of, nor was it freely Given to prove or disprove claims of mortal men.

Simply put, The Holy Spirit is a Gift of Grace so that we broken human beings may be able to confirm God's Love, God's Spirit, and God's Truth. Nothing else.

Peace,

Ceeboo

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1.On what basis do you consider what the Holy Spirit has led you to believe, as more truthful than what some else believes he has revealed in opposition?

2.What proof aside from your own experience, gives evidence to the Holy Spirits existence?

3.Can a non-LDS individual read and pray about the BoM with an open heart and not receive a testimony from the Holy Spirit of it's veracity? If

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1.On what basis do you consider what the Holy Spirit has led you to believe, as more truthful than what some else believes he has revealed in opposition?

The HG does not contradict himself. There are many truths in most religions, and He will testify to those truths. If someone receives the spirit, they then receive a testimony of that truth which is in their religion.

2.What proof aside from your own experience, gives evidence to the Holy Spirits existence?

I have seen how the Spirit works in the lives of many people.

3.Can a non-LDS individual read and pray about the BoM with an open heart and not receive a testimony from the Holy Spirit of it's veracity? If

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Excellent questions Mudcat! I'll give you a bit of where I'm at right now on these questions.

1.On what basis do you consider what the Holy Spirit has led you to believe, as more truthful than what some else believes he has revealed in opposition?

2.What proof aside from your own experience, gives evidence to the Holy Spirits existence?

3.Can a non-LDS individual read and pray about the BoM with an open heart and not receive a testimony from the Holy Spirit of it's veracity? If

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I hope my response doesn't seem too hollow, but I've become something of an agnostic practicing Mormon. I'm not going to try to answer the questions, because I don't think they apply to me so much. I have had mystical-type experiences. Most of those experiences happened while I was engaged in Mormonish things. However, I've been unable to this point, despite considerable effort on my part, to feel the least bit certain, and lately, to even feel that I have good reason to believe, that my experiences were in fact caused by a divine being. The experiences were powerful, at least to me. In the experience I felt enlightened, as if I had learned something new, but I don't recall there being any specific, what I'll call, 'propositional content' to the experience. Nevertheless, I am religious, and specifically I'm actively Mormon. My faith consists mainly of hope. Hope that there is an afterlife, that there's a benevolent God, that the relationships that are important to me will extend beyond death, and so on. I find a lot of the teachings of the Church worthy of hoping for. And, I've had good experiences associated, as I said, with Mormonish things. But, for me to say that I believe that, for example, there is an afterlife is, I think, for me to say more than my knowledge and experience warrants. So, in a sense I think I'm agnostic, at least insofar as agnosticism is a position where one withholds judgment because of a lack of good evidence either way (or good evidence for two competing cases, say). In terms of the certainty of others, I sort of bounce back and forth between thinking that others' are simply making unjustified leaps from their religious experiences to feeling certain about very specific religious claims to thinking that others really are communicating with divinity. In the latter case I often wonder how it is they're able to arrive at such certainty. Some of my experiences have been quite powerful, and yet, I'm unable to express the same kind of certainty. And, I've thought that perhaps I have a defect of some sort that prevents me from feeling what they feel and knowing what they know. Anyway, those are just a few thoughts of mine...

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Those four questions are a bit a laundry list, so by no means feel compelled to answer all of them. Thanks for your responses.

Regards,

Mudcat

Mudcat, Could you check your sources again on the number of denominations? I did some searching a while back and came up with a figure of a bit more than 3900, not 39,000. Even 3900 is a lot to have started from just the one.

As far as your questions, I really cannot answer them empirically, i.e ther is no way to provide empiracl proof for a spiritual experience.

As fas as the Book of Mormon is concerned, either the Book of Mormon is what it claims to be or it isn't. Therefore if one person feels he receives a witness that the Book of Mormon is not true and another receives a witness that the Book of Mormon is true, both of those witnesses cannot be correct.

I have had two spiritual witnesses in my life. One was long ago, and the other more recent. The first told me something was true. The second woke me up and brought me to a remembrance of that first experience when I was vacillating and had gone the wrong way.

I cannot prove or confirm those experiences but I can affirm them.

Glenn

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I have few questions for starters

1. On the rare occasion where this occurs, on the basis of the positive or greater fruits I experience from applying the correct beliefs; the lack of confirmation from the Holy Spirit that the opposing belief is correct or at least leading to correct truth and its associated fruits; observing or experiencing the negative or lesser fruits brought forth from the application of false beliefs.

2. None, not to diminish the value of the scriptures and others

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I have few questions for starters:
1.On what basis do you consider what the Holy Spirit has led you to believe, as more truthful than what some else believes he has revealed in opposition?

First I would like to make it perfectly clear that I do not believe that the Holy Spirit is capable of testifying of error. The very purpose of the Holy Spirit is to lead men into all truth. The following amplifies what I am trying to say:

(Jacob 4:13-14)
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1.On what basis do you consider what the Holy Spirit has led you to believe, as more truthful than what some else believes he has revealed in opposition?

I accept what the Holy Spirit tells me, personally, over what other people say the Holy Spirit has told them when what others are saying is in opposition to what the Holy Spirit has told me because I see more sense in accepting a first-hand account from the Holy Spirit over what is basically hearsay, in my perspective, from the second-hand witness.

2.What proof aside from your own experience, gives evidence to the Holy Spirits existence?

The existence of the Holy Spirit, himself, otherwise I would have never had a personal experience with him because there would be no Holy Spirit for me to know.

3.Can a non-LDS individual read and pray about the BoM with an open heart and not receive a testimony from the Holy Spirit of it's veracity? If
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Thanks for all the responses so far everyone. It's turned out to be a hectic day and may be the weekend before I can approach any serious reply.

I did want to address CFR on the statistical issue brought up by Glenn.

Mudcat, Could you check your sources again on the number of denominations? I did some searching a while back and came up with a figure of a bit more than 3900, not 39,000. Even 3900 is a lot to have started from just the one.

It should have been 38,000 not 39,000. Apologies

per Mary Fairchild

However, this figure may not be accurate either. When I ran across it, I found it quite discouraging that so many differences could come from Christianity's beginning. Several months back, I had a bit of an email exchange with Mary on the issue, as I didn't agree with her computations vs. her source material

Her current source being a quote from The World Christian Encyclopedia. The cited article only admits to 33,830 denominations.

The admittance of this citation was a change from her previous source that I contended with.

The article originally sited Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminaryon the matter. The present figures posted there only reflected 9,000 denominations. Thus the reason she removed the link and placed another one more consistent with her first total.

I don't feel comfortable posting our entire email discourse, but I don't think Mary would mind me giving her response on the variance of her G-CTS statistics.

This *was* an actual statistic provided by Gordon-Conwell Theological

Seminary. Unfortunately, the information in the database is no longer

accessible online without a subscription. Originally, the material explained

that the 38,000 estimated Christian denominations was a world-wide statistic

taking into consideration the cultural distinctions of denominations in

different countries. This made sense to me after living in Brazil, knowing

that many of the denominations I was familiar with in the U.S., looked (and

practiced) completely different in Brazil.

Just to clarify, the Gordon-Conwell World Christian Database states, "Over

9,000 Christian denominations are represented in the World Christian

Database. The number of denominations is too great to list here, so the

number of denominations which are represented in each country are listed

below."

This statement refers to the number of denominations *represented* by the

database, not the total number of denominations in the world. It says, "The

number of denominations is too great to list here."

Since I don't have a subscription, I am taking Mary at her word.

Regardless of the accuracy of 38,000. Assuming it's only 9,000.. that is still staggeringly more than I would have initially speculated.

Regards,

Mudcat

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Interesting questions.

1.On what basis do you consider what the Holy Spirit has led you to believe, as more truthful than what some else believes he has revealed in opposition?

I believe in the teaching in Alma 29:8 that the Lord gives to all people and nations according to what they are ready and willing to receive. When a person is ready, unless the Lord has another purpose for that individual, he will give them witness of higher truths, leading to all truth. All will receive an opportunity to hear all the saving truths, either here or in the Spirit World. It may be that God keeps some in mortality in other religions so as to inspire people to the level they are ready and willing to accept. For God, some level of salvation is better than none at all.

2.What proof aside from your own experience, gives evidence to the Holy Spirits existence?

The Holy Ghost basically works on an individual basis, so there really is little evidence beyond the testimonies of several indiviudal experiences. One key difference in the LDS Church is shared revelations that other Christian churches (and particularly those with their own prophets) do not experience. Joseph Smith saw Christ and/or angels with Oliver Cowdery, Sidney Rigdon, Martin Harris, David Whitmer, and several others. During the Kirtland Temple dedication, hundreds saw angels, spoke in tongues, etc. Even non-members who were outside the temple thought the temple roof was on fire, or even saw men in white walking on the roof.

3.Can a non-LDS individual read and pray about the BoM with an open heart and not receive a testimony from the Holy Spirit of it's veracity? If

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1.On what basis do you consider what the Holy Spirit has led you to believe, as more truthful than what some else believes he has revealed in opposition?

Of course I can only speak from my personal experience. Revelation has come in some surprising ways, yet one way which seems to happen often is how lessons come through spiritual dreams. I will have a dream, then when I awake a scriptural verse will be given. The dream and verse will be the explanation of each other where the message is revealed and conveyed and the verse will show that the dream did come from God. This serves as the two or more confirmations we are told to expect.

Now if we remain humble, we will never need to say, "I have the truth over your truth." Understanding that I only need to be accountable for what I received. I still listen to the opposition, but I look closely to the details of what they are saying. Many times they will betray themselves and the message the preach, because it cannot be confirmed.

2.What proof aside from your own experience, gives evidence to the Holy Spirits existence?

It is impossible for me to say that anything outside of my experience serves as proof to the Holy Spirits existance. Whether it came from scripture, someones testimony, a miracle, all of it I witnessed which became my experience. If I have not experienced it in some way, then I cannot say it serves as proof for me!

3.Can a non-LDS individual read and pray about the BoM with an open heart and not receive a testimony from the Holy Spirit of it's veracity? If

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Another question:

This may not be so much of a question, but what I see as a potential logical problem with Holy Spirit epistemology.

To preface:

Given the responses in general this question follows from some of the answers that have been offered primarily to questions 1. and 4.

It seems most do hold personal experiences with the Holy Spirit as preeminent to second hand experiences/accounts. I think Ahab put it forward very concisely in his reply to 1.

It seems most agree that the Holy Spirit does not actually dispense false information though most are agreeable to the notion that no requirement is placed upon the Holy Spirit to give the same amount to all at any given time or give knowledge on the same subject to each person. The underlying explanation seems to be that the Holy Spirit gives us what we need, but not all have the same needs at the same time.

Now to add to that a bit to flesh out the issue a bit better.

I would point out, that many feel led by the Holy Spirit in directions that are dissimilar. In example, take a Christians understanding of the nature of God. Though, I personally have had no direct spiritual encounter that positively affirms something like... the Trinity is true, the LDS Godhead is true, Oneness Modalism is true, or something to that effect, I don't think I would have look that far to find someone who held that the Spirit had led them to the conclusion that one of these views was correct.

If we assume the law of noncontradiction, either one or none of these is true, but all can not be true.

So, if there is indeed error, then such error would be on the part of the recipient. If so, it is likely through interpretative means or perhaps some other cognitive filter or preferential bias of sorts, that is involved in process.

Also false perceptions that are simply intramental could most certainly be self generated affirmations of what we wish the Spirit to say.

In short, I am asserting that it is quite possible for a person to "trick themselves" into believing a number of things. This does create a dilemma, in that, if ones perceptions of truth are malleable and people can be mistaken about directives of the Holy Spirit for on reason or another.

Then it seems that we have to come to the conclusion that it could be possible that we could possibly be believing things that are in error for some reason or another and yet we prefer this possibility over the potentiality of accepting information in a second hand fashion from someone else for exactly the same reason.

It is a bit of thin ice IMO, in that we seem to hold an explicit trust of our own experiences (which in some sense seems like observation bias) and yet we do not extend the same courtesy beyond ourselves to the experiences of others. However, it may also be the safest ground we have as individuals.

It has it's difficulties, in the realm of personal experience, we are in many respects islands.

I think when we look at the difficulty of such a situation, we better understand the good reason and grounds that the Holy Spirit operates from. He literally does carry and confirm the truth, well beyond our ability to share what limited knowledge we can only present subjectively to any other individual.

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In short, I am asserting that it is quite possible for a person to "trick themselves" into believing a number of things. This does create a dilemma, in that, if ones perceptions of truth are malleable and people can be mistaken about directives of the Holy Spirit for on reason or another.

I believe you are on to something here and I would like to offer a particular way people may "trick themselves". They may in fact received truth, but that doesn't mean they received ALL truth. Let me try to create an example to make this point.

Speaking of the wind: Someone may say that the wind blows due to the suns interaction with the earth. Due to thermals the air rises and falls creating wind movement. This is correct, but is it the ONLY cause for wind? Others will say that the wind is caused by the rotation of the earth. This is also correct, yet not the only "cause" for wind moving because we know the sun also causes wind to blow. Still others will say that "all movement upon the earth" can create forces which causes the wind to blow. The butterfly fluttering its wings, our exhaling, a waterfall or even falling stars. These might not be as great a force for creating wind movement, but the wind still blew all the same due to these actions.

Where I'm going is the perception that the Holy Spirit revealed to us ALL truth when we may have only received in part. Then we trick ourselves in thinking we have the whole, denying the other truths revealed to another. As you can see from my example, one my preach the Holy Spirit showed me that the wind moves due to the sun (which is true), and another will say the Holy Spirit showed me the wind moves due to the earths rotation (which is true), and each other fights to prove the other wrong.

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... it could be possible that we could possibly be believing things that are in error for some reason or another and yet we prefer this possibility over the potentiality of accepting information in a second hand fashion from someone else for exactly the same reason.

In the end, we're going to be judged based on how we measure up to God, our Father in heaven, and if we have some false ideas about something, whether it's because we came up with a wrong idea all by our individual selves or from some other person (other than God), it will be on our own head because we are each responsible for the kind of person we are, with God being willing to help every single one of us, personally.

It is a bit of thin ice IMO, in that we seem to hold an explicit trust of our own experiences (which in some sense seems like observation bias) and yet we do not extend the same courtesy beyond ourselves to the experiences of others. However, it may also be the safest ground we have as individuals.

I do my best to allow for poor communication skills when trying to understand other people, including asking God to help me understand someone and see any truth in what they are saying, but, yes, in the end, I base who I am and what I think of on what I understand God to have taught me, and continue to teach me, rather than accepting someone else (who is not the God I worship) as my Master Teacher to help me become who I am.

Isn't that the whole point of what having a God is all about? Whose disciples are we supposed to be?

It has it's difficulties, in the realm of personal experience, we are in many respects islands.

No, not really. I'm never alone, and I wouldn't be even if I didn't have another mortal with me with whom I am one.

God is always with me, and so is Jesus, and so is the Holy Spirit, which means I always have at least 3 other people with me with whom I am one, as much as I can be.

... plus my wife, which now makes 4.

I think when we look at the difficulty of such a situation, we better understand the good reason and grounds that the Holy Spirit operates from. He literally does carry and confirm the truth, well beyond our ability to share what limited knowledge we can only present subjectively to any other individual.

Right, but even with our poor communication skills, we can still teach each other a lot simply by how we live our lives while showing who and what is important to us.

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I think when we look at the difficulty of such a situation, we better understand the good reason and grounds that the Holy Spirit operates from. He literally does carry and confirm the truth, well beyond our ability to share what limited knowledge we can only present subjectively to any other individual.

Very true: when one testifies of a truth according to the will of God, the Spirit carries His own witness unto the heart of the hearer, and the hearer receives it by the same Spirit or refuses to receive the Spirit. In any case, the hearer has to be ready, able and willing to receive the Spirit. Sometimes a hearer also receives it and knows it not until it dawns on him later, or he experiences the same thing again. Likewise, when one testifies of something that is not true, the Spirit a) carries no such witness to the hearer, or b) carries a warning to the hearer. The hearer then makes his own determination with the discernment of the Light of Christ that is in him, or with his own wherewithal if he is not sensitive to the Light of Christ.

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Notice how we're all focusing on different ideas here, even though all of our ideas are related, in some way.

Sometimes we read right over something and don't give it much attention because we think we already understand the point being made without needing to give it any more thought than we do on a cursory glance, while someone else sees that as something to focus on and comes back with a response about it, indicating they were giving those particular words their attention.

Sometimes I think the key is in seeing the harmony, when there is harmony, which there should be when there is truth there, rather than seeing what we think conflicts with our ideas and then shooting back with a response to try to correct the other person's ideas.

Not that giving correction is a bad thing, if it truly is correction, but sometimes we can all learn by seeing the truth that is there that we don't pick up on right away.

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I would point out, that many feel led by the Holy Spirit in directions that are dissimilar. In example, take a Christians understanding of the nature of God. Though, I personally have had no direct spiritual encounter that positively affirms something like... the Trinity is true, the LDS Godhead is true, Oneness Modalism is true, or something to that effect, I don't think I would have look that far to find someone who held that the Spirit had led them to the conclusion that one of these views was correct.

Like Ahab said, this is why we stress trusting your own feelings. Because ultimate, when judgment day comes, you are going to be responsible for your actions and feelings. Other people have had feelings concerning the spirit - but ultimately, on that day, it's not going to matter. All that is going to matter are your experiences and how you react to them. And for this important of a decision, there is nobody's feelings you can trust enough save your own. Therefore, you, are the only one responsible for your understanding, or your downfall.

Also false perceptions that are simply intramental could most certainly be self generated affirmations of what we wish the Spirit to say.

This is part of the challenge of life - it's one of the tools Satan uses to make the Spirit hard to read (I know because I've had it happen myself). However, I also know the Lord God will help me overcome this trial. The more we focus on him (it doesn't even need to be the specific him, just the general idea of him), the easier we are able to break though this barrier. The more humble and mild and kind and loving and loyal to God we are, the easier it will be.

In short, I am asserting that it is quite possible for a person to "trick themselves" into believing a number of things. This does create a dilemma, in that, if ones perceptions of truth are malleable and people can be mistaken about directives of the Holy Spirit for on reason or another.

It is possible - I've seen a few times in the past where I've done it. But it still doesn't make other people's feelings more reliable - because you can't experience what they have. You are still bound to only your own feelings, and since you can to an extent control this 'tricking yourself', you are responsible wholely.

It is a bit of thin ice IMO, in that we seem to hold an explicit trust of our own experiences (which in some sense seems like observation bias) and yet we do not extend the same courtesy beyond ourselves to the experiences of others. However, it may also be the safest ground we have as individuals.

Nah, it's because spiritual feelings cannot be expressed to their full meaning between individuals... save when they both participate in the event (like between husband/wife). Because of this unovercomeable barrier, we must rely on our own feelings only. You'll also notice that other people can lie to themselves too - there is no guarantee they didn't "trick themselves". Thus, you are responsible for not "tricking yourself" into believing something wrong.

I think when we look at the difficulty of such a situation, we better understand the good reason and grounds that the Holy Spirit operates from. He literally does carry and confirm the truth, well beyond our ability to share what limited knowledge we can only present subjectively to any other individual.

Mmm... I can think of the difficulty he has in doing the good thing in the long run, rather than explain it in the short run, that I can... it must be hard considering he (the Holy Ghost) cares about us just as much as Father and Christ do.

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Not that giving correction is a bad thing, if it truly is correction, but sometimes we can all learn by seeing the truth that is there that we don't pick up on right away.

Regarding correction, I would say if someone has an agenda of getting someone to confess that they do not know for sure whether they were tricked by themselves or others into believing something came from the Holy Spirit when it didn

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Regarding correction, I would say if someone has an agenda of getting someone to confess that they do not know for sure whether they were tricked by themselves or others into believing something came from the Holy Spirit when it didn

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Are you saying that, instead of questioning whether or not someone else received an answer from God, we should instead focus on asking God to give us a witness on an issue to help us know whether it's true or not, with God being the one we look to for our answers rather than the other person who was trying to share that idea, so that we would then see whether or not the idea came from God?

This is a correct principles as well, but what I

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