Friday, October 03, 2008

Mormon epistemology, part 3

In one of the emails from the Mormon fellow I've been talking about, he said, "I've received my answer from the Lord. However, I don't want you to believe me. I want you to take it to the Lord and get an answer from Him." He didn't say how the Lord answered him. I just assumed he was referring to some sort of subjective experience since that's what most Mormons say. So I wrote back and said, "I don't think asking God for a subjective experience is the best way to determine whether somebody is a true prophet or not, or whether a book contains his revelation or not."

That's when he brought up James 1:5:
But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all men generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.
Before I go on, lemme explain why I keep saying, "Mormon fellow" instead of saying, "Jim" or "Bob" or whoever he is. I asked him ahead of time if he'd be okay with me posting some of our dialogue on my blog. He didn't come right out and say "no," but at the same time, he didn't seem to feel entirely comfortable with it. He said that as long as I wasn't degrading that he didn't mind. So, I'm protecting his identity. Let's just call him George. I like that name, and I'm tired of saying "Mormon fellow."

Anyway, George said he'd be interested in knowing what I think about James 1:5. This is the rest of his email:
I don't see any disclaimers on that verse. Anything that says "you can ask anything BUT _____". Nor does it say "if any of you lack wisdom, read the Bible, and you'll find the answers there (although I believe that can be the case sometimes). God is our father, we are his children. I believe that this scripture is true. Most people in the world "lack wisdom" as to whether or not there is a true prophet of God on the earth today.

Lastly, I think it's interesting how many Christians feel that praying to God and asking him if Joseph Smith was a prophet and if the Book of Mormon is true is a terrible thing to do.....don't they believe God answers prayer? If it's false he'll tell them "'s not true". Shouldn't they confidently pray to God, and then if God reveals to them that it is true, shouldn't they be joyful that they've received light and truth from heavenly father?

Isn't this a truly biblical and Christian way to access truth? The LDS teachings do not contradict the Bible....we believe in both. They may conflict with certain interpretations of the Bible, but that does not mean that they conflict with the Bible.

Matthew 21:22 "And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive."
In my next blog entry, I'll post my response. I may break it up into parts, though, because it's long.

Part 4


At 10/04/2008 1:35 AM , Blogger Paul said...

Not to get ahead of you, but here are some thoughts.

This verse says to ask God for wisdom in general. Not, necessarily, to ask if X or Y is true and He will confirm it with some mystical sense. Coincidentally, when I was first (seriously) approaching Christianity the primary focus of my prayers was the desire for wisdom. I did not ask for confirmation that this or that theology was true, or that one denomination was the right one, or even if Christianity itself was the right religion. I simply asked for wisdom and guidance in coming to a deep understanding of the truth. And then I voraciously studied and meditated on Scripture and various religious ideas.

This took me far and away from where I had been previously in my thinking -- to a place that was different from the preferred spirituality (and often lack of it) of my youth. It took me to classical Christianity, and by comparison, it took me to the conclusion that Mormonism, or anything in opposition to classical Christianity, is false. I prayed fervently for more than a year, according to James 1:5, and God did NOT confirm to me that Mormonism is true.

Do I have feelings about these things? Sure, I have strong passions and deeply heartfelt knowledge and intuitions about my beliefs, but I do not lean upon these as my apologetic, nor even try to interpret what they represent in God's economy and how the Spirit does His work within me. I know my feelings can be fickle and laced with my own sinful desires, and they are not much help in convicting others who also bear feelings that are, in practice, impossible to compare against my own.

At 10/04/2008 7:58 AM , Blogger Sam said...

I guess a Mormon could always claim that you didn't pray with sincerity or with real intent, but of course you would know better. A Mormon told me a month or so ago that you have to want it to be true. But that seemed to me to be a recipe for self-deception. As for me, I want to believe it if it's true, but I've first got to have a good reason to think it's true.

I've prayed for God to reveal truths to me before (including whether the BOM is true), but I never imagined he would reveal them by giving me a warm fuzzy or anything. I figured he would do it by exposing me to belief-producing facts, or opening my mind to notice things I didn't notice before. And that has been my experience.

I have to admit that my own religious life is not particularly emotional. I have experienced similar things that Mormons describe a few times in my life, but it is usually the result of believing or coming to realize something, not the cause of it.


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