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Should You Pray About the Book of Mormon?

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Should You Pray About the Book of Mormon?

Subjective Truth Test
Joel B. Groat

The LDS Church encourages reliance on a subjective experience of internal feelings if a person wants to know if the Mormon religion is true. Without a doubt there is a certain attractiveness to the idea that God would provide us with a direct infusion of revelation in a moment of wanting to know the truth about something.

We ask - God answers - we know.

But can we be sure that is how God works in matters of truth? And maybe more importantly, can we trust ourselves to know that the subjective confirmation was really the Holy Spirit? I would venture to guess that most of us can think of times when we thought it was the Spirit—that we were sure Heavenly Father Himself had spoken to our hearts—only to have later circumstances prove otherwise. We are after all imperfect, finite, fallible, even sinful creatures.

So here are some important questions:

  • Is there not a potential risk in resting the full weight of a religious decision on a test for truth that boils down to subjective experience?
  • Do we leave ourselves open to spiritual error, at least a little, when we are willing to accept an emotional/physiological response as the "ultimate" means of knowing?
  • What if God has already revealed something that pertains to the matter? Shouldn’t we search the Scriptures to see if God has already spoken?
  • When we find God has spoken clearly on a subject, is there any need to pray and ask God about whether or not it is true?
  • If we desire to know the truth about something can we not safeguard ourselves by incorporating objective facts into the decision-making process?
  • How are we to explain the fact that other people have had subjective religious experiences that seemed to support truth claims that conflict with ours?
  • At what point do we allow facts to raise doubts about our experience? Are we willing to let historical evidence or revelation from the Bible prompt us to consider reevaluating a certain religious experience?  (Galatians 1:6-9)

Often God provides us with objective facts that corroborate and validate our subjective experiences.  For example, God has revealed that He does not lie (Numbers 23:19) and that he does not change (Malachi 3:6), so when we feel confident in God’s power or trustworthiness, or we feel comforted by His promises, those feelings are part of what draws us into closer relationship with God – but while they are subjective feelings they have roots in objective facts.  Those same objective facts also help us evaluate feelings of doubt in God’s character, or when we have a sense that God is not trustworthy or that He is distant from us.  We can reject those types of subjective feelings and experiences because we know they do not correspond to the objective truth God has already revealed.  We should not discount objective truths merely because they call into question our subjective experience.  Instead we must subject or feelings and subjective experiences to the test of objective truth.

We cannot and should not let subjective experiences by themselves be our measure for what is true and right. Why? The New Testament warns of the danger of deceiving spirits (1 Timothy 4:1) and instructs us to test the spirits to see if they are from God (1 John 4:1).

Therefore, to pray and ask God if a particular book or writing (like the Book of Mormon) is true or not, and look for this to be confirmed by some sort of feeling or experience or internal sense or “witness”, is to act foolishly, if we have not first looked at the objective evidence and truth that is relevant to the evaluation.

For example, as we’ve seen, God does not lie and he does not change. God has revealed His truth in writings we have already – the Bible.

  • Any new writing or book that would claim to be from God would therefore have to agree with what God has previously given in the Bible.
  • Any new writing or book that is truly from God will support and confirm any previously given scriptures in the Bible.
  • Any new writing or book will be produced in a manner consistent with how God has revealed previous scripture.

However, the Book of Mormon fails on each of these points.

This, and other extensively documented objective evidence about the Book of Mormon, allows us to come to conclusions based on facts and objective truth that God has already revealed.  Therefore, we can be confident in our decision that the Book of Mormon is not true scripture; it is not from God and should not be looked to for divine guidance.

To ignore all the clear evidence that God has provided and instead simply pray about the Book of Mormon, looking for an unreliable, subjective feeling about it, is an unwise course of action. It disrespects God and what He has already revealed to us, and opens a person up to a being deceived by feelings that have no basis in facts or objective reality.

For further information on a subjective truth test as it relates to Mormonism and the Book of Mormon see the following:

The danger of a subjective truth test

Mormons and the "Burning in the Bosom" (D&C 9:8)

Truth, Salvation and the Mormon Testimony: Does Having a Testimony Make it True?

“Did Not Our Heart Burn within Us?” Luke 24:32 and the Mormon Testimony