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What Distinguishes The Evangelical Witness Vs. Lds Testimony


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Folks - get back to the OP and stop derailing the thread. The writer of the OP has requested this be a civil discussion about the distinction between the Evangelical and LDS understanding of Testimony and Witness. Stick to that.

This thread is not about:

Atheism vs. religion

The behavior of other posters

My experience as a mormon/anti mormon before I converted... etc. etc.

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I think quibbling over the terminology used (one calls it an experience, the other calls it a testimony) is rather juvenile. I guess I will make sure to choose my words more carefully for now on. Or perhaps I misunderstood you.

If you get something wrong about LDS doctrine or theology, I'm going to correct you, as should you if I get something wrong about what you believe. I expect, and want, you to. I see nothing "juvenile" about that, and I think it's rather juvenile of you to say so.

But I was simply saying that a testimony and an experience are not the same thing. Rather, a testimony is what comes as a result of an experience, and can be about anything, at least in a religious sense. For example, I have a testimony that Jesus is the Christ; that testimony came gradually as a result of several experiences that I had, and continue to have. It's not something that just comes all at once. Make sense?

Edited by altersteve
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Of course I do, I never said otherwise. I only meant that the Church has never taught that it is the only religion that teaches truth. If a Muslim, Catholic, Protestant, Buddhist, or Hindu tells me that he had a strong spiritual experience, I have no reason to deny it, nor am I in any position to.

God works in and through all religions on this earth and has raised up teachers and leaders here and there around the world and throughout the ages, and He continues to do so, even outside the Church, as 2 Nephi 29 so clearly tells us. In the words of Elder Orson F. Whitney:

So its fair to conclude that there's no reason to join the LDS church, since truth and strong spiritual experiences can be had in all religions.

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Folks - get back to the OP and stop derailing the thread. The writer of the OP has requested this be a civil discussion about the distinction between the Evangelical and LDS understanding of Testimony and Witness. Stick to that.

This thread is not about:

Atheism vs. religion

The behavior of other posters

My experience as a mormon/anti mormon before I converted... etc. etc.

Okay.

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It is not too difficult to understand particularly for those of such enlightenment that they are able to discount all spiritual experiences. First, pharisees were great at twisting belief into anything they wanted; they had perfected how to make law say anything they wanted. Second, philosphers often can twist themselves into such a twisted maze built solely on the understanding of man that they don't even know where they are. Third, for those without God there is a host of those who work darkness; those who reject the Holy Spirit are at their mercy. Fourth, sadly we create our own h*** in this earthy existence. Those who reject the witness of the Holy Spriit in the name of pseudo intelligece, much as we might wish them peace, are condemned to a life bereft of the Spirit of Light and truth.

Not very difficult at all.

Okay, but I don't know what this has to do with my post? Rejecting the "witness of the Holy Spirit" first requires that it is the true witness out of the many. How do we do that?

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Back to Rob points. It seems to me from your explaination that Evangelicals limit themselves in what they believe the Holy Ghost will confirm or testify of.

The identity of God's authorized church on the earth seems important enough to be within the scope of the knowledge that the Holy Spirit will confer. In fact there is no where in the Bible where the Holy Ghost is limited in what it can testify of. There is no disagreement with LDS doctrine that the primary mission of the Holy Spirit is to testify of Christ as divine Savior but that does not limit the gifts of the Spirit.

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Back to Rob points. It seems to me from your explaination that Evangelicals limit themselves in what they believe the Holy Ghost will confirm or testify of.

The identity of God's authorized church on the earth seems important enough to be within the scope of the knowledge that the Holy Spirit will confer...

Here you are suggesting that a personal witness will confirm the truth of a specific organization, namely the LDS church.

Yet, another LDS, altersteve, says that the a personal witness in other religions are genuine and not counterfeit:

Or, we can conclude that each of those spiritual experiences contain at least some truth, and we don't have to believe that any of them are "counterfeits" by any means. I sure as heck don't.

So here we have an obvious problem. How does one claim a personal witness will confirm the identity of the true church, while at the same time maintaining that it does so for every religion?

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Here you are suggesting that a personal witness will confirm the truth of a specific organization, namely the LDS church.

Yet, another LDS, altersteve, says that the a personal witness in other religions are genuine and not counterfeit:

So here we have an obvious problem. How does one claim a personal witness will confirm the identity of the true church, while at the same time maintaining that it does so for every religion?

It is not all or nothing. According to LDS belief there is truth in many places. The question of the truthfullness of the LDS Church is about authority that we (and others) claim to have exclusively.

If someone else tells me God told them to join their church I say "go for it" and understand God is merciful enough to bless those who earnestly seek to follow him.

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So its fair to conclude that there's no reason to join the LDS church, since truth and strong spiritual experiences can be had in all religions.

No, it's not fair to conclude that at all. I said that truth may be found in all religions, yes, but the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the only religion in which truth may be found in its fullness. But we do not claim to be the only religion that God works through.

Yet, another LDS, altersteve, says that the a personal witness in other religions are genuine and not counterfeit:

Actually, I was talking about spiritual experiences, not personal witnesses. And I said that they can be genuine, and that we have no reason to doubt someone if they claim to have had a strong spiritual experience, nor are we in the position to doubt or reject it, for it is something between them and God, a relationship that nobody else has the right to interfere with.

So its truthfulness is not based on the personal spiritual witness?

No. It is the spiritual witness that confirms the truthfulness of the gospel, but this truth is not based on this witness. In other words, whether you receive a spiritual confirmation of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon, for example, or not, it's still true. You just don't know it yet.

It seems the waters are getting muddied here.

You are the one muddying the waters, my friend.

Edited by altersteve
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The LDS (burning of bosom), the EV (internal dwelling of the Holy Spirit), the Muslim (Sufism), the Buddhist (Nirvana), the Hindu (Moksha), etc., all claim to have spiritual experiences.

We can conclude that all spiritual experiences are false, but all cannot be equally true. If we accept the notion that one amongst the crowd is true, then the rest are counterfeits.

Now, if we make the witness itself the sole authenticator of which religion is true, then we have no way to arbitrate which religion is true, as we can get a witness in any religion.

This is like saying “I know my gold is real because look at the joy it gives me!” All who possess gold (religion) may experience joy (witness). But the only joy that counts in the end is the one who possesses the genuine gold (the real religion from amongst the imposters).

So how does a bystander determine what religion is true? By examining the gold (the truth claims about the religion)... not by experiencing the joy (the experiential claims from the religion).

I would offer that these experiences are not as cut and dried as to be either false or "equally true". The Bible clearly teaches that there are layers of truth to be understand when it talks about the differences between milk and meat. The Holy Ghost, who is the witness of Christ and truth on the earth, is also the one who leads us to all truth. It doesn't happen all at once. See how the Apostles learned at different rates. See how three of them were chosen to witness Jesus' Transfiguration. See how Jesus taught all of the Apostles for around 40 days (I would imagine He taught with great earnestness, intensity, and detail) before His Ascension; and yet He still told them that He had NOT taught all that He could have. Even they, the very Apostles (again, three of whom had witnessed His Transfiguration) were STILL not able to bear any more truth. Thus it was the Comforter was sent to us for this purpose. Remember how Moses' face shone so brightly after coming down from the mountain that he had to place a veil over has face in order for the people to be able to look upon him. His physical body had changed because he had spent time with Jesus on the mount. Among other things (layers of understanding), these instances should be revealing to us that ALL truth is NOT learned instantly; that each of us has his own ability and capacity to have truth revealed to him at his own individual and personal pace.

With this understanding, it is not difficult to then also consider how each of us comes with their own personal POV which is based on oh so many different factors which will absolutely effect HOW they will UNDERSTAND what is being revealed to them. Therefore, when they are seeking truth, Heavenly Father then determines what each person is able to bear. What they then learn is filtered through their POV. The Holy Ghost only passes on what Father has specifically instructed Him to (the Holy Ghost does not reveal in accordance to what He knows, but in accordance to what He hears the Father tell Him to reveal). Then, as we learn line upon line and precept upon precent, more and more is revealed to us as we are able to bear it. Thus, I would offer that when any man is sincerely and earnestly seeking truth, they will receive it. Yet the portion of truth they receive will rarely be perceived 100% exactly the same as others who have had the same truth revealed to them, based on what I have explained above. Therefore, what may appear to some as being a "different" truth, is really just an incorrect interpretation of what has actually been manifested.

Now, the Holy Ghost is not going to sit us down and have a conversation with us. He reveals things to us sometimes with very powerful experiencing (such as feeling as though a powerful force of energy has entered our bodies from the tops of heads and flowing through the rest of our body), to subtle whisperings into our hearts and minds, to the occasional audible "yes" or "no" or of our name, to complete silence and a feeling that maybe our prayers haven't been heard (and then later, suddenly, the answer enters our mind's eye), to the awesome epiphany when unexpectedly our mind is literally opened momentarily to the actual Kingdom of God at which time something becomes crystal clear to our spirit's understanding, etc. Once we start experiencing the Holy Ghost, we are able to discern Him more and more easily. Most people who are accustomed to experiencing the Holy Ghost know that they must be sincere and very specific about questions they are asking. Many times, we realize that WE must do the footwork and learn all we can about certain issues, make a decision based on what we have learned and reasoned over, and then bring that decision to Father in prayer; then wait and listen quietly to discover if our decision is the right one, or the wrong one. Sometimes, the decision is neither right or wrong; and it tutns out Father is okay with whatever WE decide on and wants us to learn from the experiences of those choices. So He will not confirm or disconfirm to us. Sometimes, if we get confused in our prayer with what we are trying to figure out, we have learned to identify this as a stupor of thought. This is also an answer; it is an answer telling us that we haven't got it all figured out yet, or we are completely off track, or it just isn't necessary for us know yet. We also learn that if we ask an ambiguous question, that we won't be able to hear an answer at all. When we feel comfort and peace, we have learned that this too is an answer, even though we may not see its application until at a later time.

This is why a witness is a byproduct of a religion, but it is not the sole verity of it. Take Christianity, it rests on the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Either it happened (adding evidence to its truth claims) or it didn’t (and the whole thing is false)—irrespective of whatever personal feelings I experience. That Christ was resurrected does not rest upon whatever feelings I may or may not possess. The same with Mormonism: either Joseph Smith was visited by God the Father and Jesus Christ and Moroni, and the Book of Mormon is an authentic ancient text... or the whole thing is false. The Book of Mormon must be true of itself, with or without any feelings we have over it.

I would offer that the witness of the Holy Ghost is a byproduct of exercising faith in Jesus Christ. As we become better and better acquainted with Jesus, the experiencing of the Holy Ghost also increases, and becomes easier to discern. The only way to KNOW if ANY so-called "scripture" is true or not is ONLY through the Power of the Holy Ghost. Until that witness is received, all canon is merely paper and ink; once a person has received a witness from the Holy Ghost, THAT is when canon is recognized to contain the word of God. There IS no way to prove they are the word of God by any physical means.

Regards,

jo

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Of course I do, I never said otherwise. I only meant that the Church has never taught that it is the only religion that teaches truth. If a Muslim, Catholic, Protestant, Buddhist, or Hindu tells me that he had a strong spiritual experience, I have no reason to deny it, nor am I in any position to.

God works in and through all religions on this earth and has raised up teachers and leaders here and there around the world and throughout the ages, and He continues to do so, even outside the Church, as 2 Nephi 29 so clearly tells us. In the words of Elder Orson F. Whitney:

Altersteve,

I just have to tell your that I think your posts are right on the money! I am thoroughly enjoying reading them.

Love,

jo

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In another thread there was an unanswered question that unfortunately got bogged down in arguments over whether it had been answered before or not.

For the benefit of those of us who were not privy to theearlier discussions can any self described (non-LDS) Christian explain whytheir belief in a witness from the Holy Spirit leading to knowledge of theclaims of their faith is distinct and by implication more valid than the LDSclaims of testimony from the Holy Spirit that can lead to a knowledge of the truthfulnessof the LDS claims?

For example why is the Spirit witnessing to someone at analter call that they can be saved by declaring Christ their Savior and covenanting as such by beingbaptized into a non-denominational Christian church any more or less valid thana person finding out that they can be saved by testifying Jesus Christ is their Savior and covenanting as such through LDSbaptism?

I apologize if my descriptions aren’t in line with inside languageof respective denominations (or non-denominations) but please don’t let thathang the discussion up. Explain what distinguishes the claims of revelation through the Holy Spirit and makes one more valid in your eyes than the other.

Any time a honest attempt at worshiping God is manifest by anybody.. he will witness to; the differance being .... we receive that {very,very,very powerfull} confirmation at temples, worthy baptisms by ", preisthood authority, blessings, spirit of many truths that others do not seek nor understand, and so on....:)

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Ahh the "your subjective experience is different from mine" card. We can play that all day long. When I was sixteen years old, I prayed about the church and got what I thought to be an answer from god. A strong burning feeling, and a wanting to live and preach the gospel. Several years later I got the same feeling reading "The God Delusion". The other day I got it looking in a microscope.

If my original feeling (which lead me to be strong in the church) was not really from god, then why would god give me such a feeling to wrongfully interpret it as such? It certainly is a reason for my falling out from the church. If the original feeling WAS from a god, then why give it to me again and again in very inappropriate times.

Hi Eldwynn!

I think it is interesting that you made the comment "If the original feeling WAS from a god...". Have you thought of the possibility that your response to reading "The God Delusion" could also have been from a god?

Indeed, the excitement you felt from looking through the microscope could also have been sourced from a god.

I believe you just need to figure out which god for which instance. Review in your mind what the fruit has been from each of the occasions you have described; though I'm probably not telling you anything you haven't already thought about.

Sometimes God leads us down paths we cannot understand; but I have faith that He has His reasons, and He certainly will not take away our agency to make our choices. I believe His reasons are ultimately always for our benefit, and that they will serve His purposes at the same time; regardless of how they are accomplished.

You kind of remind me of Jonah, whom I call the reluctant Prophet. Obviously, he knew that God had called him to be a Prophet; but he would struggle against God's will. Even when he decided to take a boat to Tarshish (in the total opposite direction) rather than go to Nineveh, we can see that the circumstances of that eventful boat trip wherein the shipmen dumped him into the sea, where every man on board began to believe in God though before that event, they had not. So, God took advantage of Jonah's choice to be disobedient and used it for their good and for His own purposes. Then, Jonah was swallowed by the large fish where he stayed for three days and three nights until he repented and was finally vomited out (ewwe...) onto dry land.

God commanded him once more to go Nineveh which he did though he mumbled and complained. Even after the people of Nineveh avoided their destruction because they turned to God, Jonah STILL was an unhappy camper. His story makes me laugh because I think all of us can see we are capable of doing what Jonah did because he didn't want to do what the Lord had told him to do. It's just part of who we are.

Be at peace with your choices.

Best regards,

jo

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I am sure that God has heard me so many times that I must seem like a broken record. I am sure I have asked for spiritual strength 5000 times at least. And I became a Christian about five years ago. Yesterday as I was driving down the freeway I came over a rise and before me was a car in my lane who was passing someone illegally. I slowed down hard but waited for the car to dive left or right before I turned. As it turned out they dived to the shoulder on my side of the road because the car being passed also was braking hard so they could not get back into their own lane. I shot between the two cars doing at least fifty and they were doing the same. The whole thing did not last two seconds. I was told to wait. I am sure of that. I believe we can't die until God wants us. But if we don't listen we can die anytime.

Was this a test of my faith? I don't know. But I thanked God the moment I cleared the two vehicles.

I keep thanking God, too!!!

Love,

jo

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Folks - get back to the OP and stop derailing the thread. The writer of the OP has requested this be a civil discussion about the distinction between the Evangelical and LDS understanding of Testimony and Witness. Stick to that.

This thread is not about:

Atheism vs. religion

The behavior of other posters

My experience as a mormon/anti mormon before I converted... etc. etc.

Oops. Sorry, I just saw this and have already been responding to some of the other posts. Please accept my apology!!!

Regards,

jo

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So its fair to conclude that there's no reason to join the LDS church, since truth and strong spiritual experiences can be had in all religions.

Hi Mordecai,

Everyone is free to choose for themselves. Paul mourned because his Jewish brethren were blind to Jesus' true identity. He wasn't mourning because of the status of their souls in eternity, as he explained that they would all be saved. I think what he was mourning is that they were limited to the amount of joy and knowledge they could receive while they were still in their body of flesh. He also knew that if God had not intervened into his own life, that he wouldn't be experiencing the incredible joys through the increased knowledge he was receiving as a result of his conversion. The Jews believed in the same God as Paul; they just were blind to the Son's true identity, and the fact that they could be rejoicing in the knowledge that the Messiah HAD come, etc.

Likewise, we believe that much of the world already believes in God, though non-Christ believers are limited in what they know; thus their joy and knowledge are also limited. We believe that those who already believe in Christ can ALSO benefit from the Restored Gospel. I know that I have. Therefore, much like Paul, what the LDS offer to the world is pretty much the same thing; an increased amount of joy and knowledge is available and more easily accessible through the Restored Gospel. Hmmm, I wonder if, in this respect, Paul is also a "type" for the Restored Church; the similarities are certainly there.

Best regards,

jo

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No, it's not fair to conclude that at all. I said that truth may be found in all religions, yes, but the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the only religion in which truth may be found in its fullness. But we do not claim to be the only religion that God works through.

What criteria are do you apply to measure that the LDS church is the most true of all?

Actually, I was talking about spiritual experiences, not personal witnesses.

The OP is about "EV witness" and "LDS testimony". That is what we are talking about. If you want to quibble about "spiritual experiences"... I recommend finding a different thread.

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I would offer that these experiences are not as cut and dried as to be either false or "equally true". The Bible clearly teaches that there are layers of truth to be understand when it talks about the differences between milk and meat. The Holy Ghost, who is the witness of Christ and truth on the earth, is also the one who leads us to all truth. It doesn't happen all at once. See how the Apostles learned at different rates. See how three of them were chosen to witness Jesus' Transfiguration. See how Jesus taught all of the Apostles for around 40 days (I would imagine He taught with great earnestness, intensity, and detail) before His Ascension; and yet He still told them that He had NOT taught all that He could have. Even they, the very Apostles (again, three of whom had witnessed His Transfiguration) were STILL not able to bear any more truth. Thus it was the Comforter was sent to us for this purpose. Remember how Moses' face shone so brightly after coming down from the mountain that he had to place a veil over has face in order for the people to be able to look upon him. His physical body had changed because he had spent time with Jesus on the mount. Among other things (layers of understanding), these instances should be revealing to us that ALL truth is NOT learned instantly; that each of us has his own ability and capacity to have truth revealed to him at his own individual and personal pace.

With this understanding, it is not difficult to then also consider how each of us comes with their own personal POV which is based on oh so many different factors which will absolutely effect HOW they will UNDERSTAND what is being revealed to them. Therefore, when they are seeking truth, Heavenly Father then determines what each person is able to bear. What they then learn is filtered through their POV. The Holy Ghost only passes on what Father has specifically instructed Him to (the Holy Ghost does not reveal in accordance to what He knows, but in accordance to what He hears the Father tell Him to reveal). Then, as we learn line upon line and precept upon precent, more and more is revealed to us as we are able to bear it. Thus, I would offer that when any man is sincerely and earnestly seeking truth, they will receive it. Yet the portion of truth they receive will rarely be perceived 100% exactly the same as others who have had the same truth revealed to them, based on what I have explained above. Therefore, what may appear to some as being a "different" truth, is really just an incorrect interpretation of what has actually been manifested.

Now, the Holy Ghost is not going to sit us down and have a conversation with us. He reveals things to us sometimes with very powerful experiencing (such as feeling as though a powerful force of energy has entered our bodies from the tops of heads and flowing through the rest of our body), to subtle whisperings into our hearts and minds, to the occasional audible "yes" or "no" or of our name, to complete silence and a feeling that maybe our prayers haven't been heard (and then later, suddenly, the answer enters our mind's eye), to the awesome epiphany when unexpectedly our mind is literally opened momentarily to the actual Kingdom of God at which time something becomes crystal clear to our spirit's understanding, etc. Once we start experiencing the Holy Ghost, we are able to discern Him more and more easily. Most people who are accustomed to experiencing the Holy Ghost know that they must be sincere and very specific about questions they are asking. Many times, we realize that WE must do the footwork and learn all we can about certain issues, make a decision based on what we have learned and reasoned over, and then bring that decision to Father in prayer; then wait and listen quietly to discover if our decision is the right one, or the wrong one. Sometimes, the decision is neither right or wrong; and it tutns out Father is okay with whatever WE decide on and wants us to learn from the experiences of those choices. So He will not confirm or disconfirm to us. Sometimes, if we get confused in our prayer with what we are trying to figure out, we have learned to identify this as a stupor of thought. This is also an answer; it is an answer telling us that we haven't got it all figured out yet, or we are completely off track, or it just isn't necessary for us know yet. We also learn that if we ask an ambiguous question, that we won't be able to hear an answer at all. When we feel comfort and peace, we have learned that this too is an answer, even though we may not see its application until at a later time.

This is all fine and dandy, but it presumes that the LDS witness, testimony, experience, etc., is true. How do you know its more true that the same premonitions, promptings, feelings, etc., other religious folks experience?

... The only way to KNOW if ANY so-called "scripture" is true or not is ONLY through the Power of the Holy Ghost...

What do you base this argument on?

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What criteria are do you apply to measure that the LDS church is the most true of all?

The OP is about "EV witness" and "LDS testimony". That is what we are talking about. If you want to quibble about "spiritual experiences"... I recommend finding a different thread.

The criteria has to do with the fullness of the Gospel (All that God has revealed to us) including Temple work, Preisthood Authority, Church Organization, living Prophets and other doctrines that are not revealed by or followed by others. Here are some good notes by Elder Perry of the Quorum of the 12 http://lds.org/general-conference/2007/04/the-message-of-the-restoration?lang=eng&query=fullness+gospel

The LDS testimony is not limited to the Divinity of Christ. While this is the first and most important job of the Holy Spirit, He will also testify of the truthfullness of all things.

Conversely the Holy Ghost is not limited to testifying to only one or a select set of denominations. It will confirm the truth of all things to anyone who is prepared to ask and receive the answer. I would never contend that a Baptist, Evangelical or Catholic could not or has not received revelation about Christ or the important things in their life. The light of Christ is available to anyone.

I wouldn't even contend that a devout Muslim or Buddist has not received instruction or revelation from God to guide them.

That there are conflicting doctrines in the world is obvious - but those of us who claim the priveledge of hearing God's voice should be charitable when others claim they have heard it even if their conclusions are different from ours.

As Latter-day Saints we are instructed to share what we have and see if we cannot add to others knowledge. It is no coincidence that you do not find me preaching on former-methodist, or reformed-agnistic chat boards claiming what I used to be is evil, delusional or wrong.

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This is all fine and dandy, but it presumes that the LDS witness, testimony, experience, etc., is true. How do you know its more true that the same premonitions, promptings, feelings, etc., other religious folks experience?

At some level I don't. Revelation is a very personal experience. I only know what God has instructed me to do and when someone else claims God has instructed them differently I encourage them to live according to their beliefs as long as they don't infringe on others priveledge to worship according to the dictates of their conscience.

You might find it interesting that LDS charitable efforts have rebuilt the meeting houses and temples of a variety of religions, including Christian, Muslim and Hindu meeting places. While this isn't a tacit endorsement of their beliefs it is recognition that we afford all mankind agency and support in following the better angels of their nature.

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Jmordecai- excuse me if I'm mistaken but it sounds like you have been treated with intolerence by a Latter-day Saint. I hope that is not true but if it is I am sorry to hear that.

It is a basic tennant of our faith (in fact in our Cannonized Articles of Faith) that:

"We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may."

It is my hope that all Latter-day Saints would remember this doctrine and never engage in the kind of tearing down of other faiths we have been subjected to ourself. Being human I know it can happen- but I for one remind my fellow believers that it is not Christlike to do so.

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Conversely the Holy Ghost is not limited to testifying to only one or a select set of denominations. It will confirm the truth of all things to anyone who is prepared to ask and receive the answer. I would never contend that a Baptist, Evangelical or Catholic could not or has not received revelation about Christ or the important things in their life. The light of Christ is available to anyone.

I wouldn't even contend that a devout Muslim or Buddist has not received instruction or revelation from God to guide them.

That there are conflicting doctrines in the world is obvious - but those of us who claim the priveledge of hearing God's voice should be charitable when others claim they have heard it even if their conclusions are different from ours.

What do you do when a person claims the Holy Ghost told them the LDS church is false?

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