Holy Ghost/"Feeling the spirit" while listening to ex-Mormon exit stories

Table of Contents

"Feeling the spirit" while listening to ex-Mormon "exit stories"

Jump to Subtopic:


Question: Can someone feel the spirit when listening to stories of apostasy?

The Spirit only testifies of things that come from God, and should not be confused with emotion

One critic of the Church, who believes that the "spirit" is simply an emotional manifestation, poses the question: "Why did I feel the Spirit as I listened to the stories of apostates sharing how they discovered for themselves that Mormonism is not true?" [1]

The Spirit does not confirm apostasy. This is simply an attempt to diminish the experience of those who have truly had the Spirit testify of Christ.

A more accurate way to phrase this would be: "Why did I feel good as I listened to the stories of apostates sharing how they discovered for themselves that Mormonism is not true?" After all, ex-Mormons have already concluded that the "Spirit" is unreliable and inconsistent. The answer, of course, is that the stories that the ex-Mormon is hearing support the conclusion that they have already formed.

This is likely an attempt to demonstrate that the feelings associated with what Latter-day Saints understand as the Spirit are deterministic and thus meaningless

Ex-Mormons sometimes attempt to equate the experiences of believers who feel the spirit during testimony meeting with how they feel when hearing the stories of those who have left the Church, thereby proving that the feelings associated with what Latter-day Saints understand as the spirit are deterministic and thus meaningless. However, while the spirit communicates with us through feelings, such as love, joy, or peace, (Gal. 5:22-23), the mere fact one experiences such feelings does not mean that person is "feeling the spirit." Correctly identifying when such feelings represent the presence of the Holy Ghost can take practice and depends upon study, prayer and experience.

Alternative Interpretations

There are at least two other ways to view this claim:

  1. Is it possible that one could be feeling the love of Christ for these people in such a situation? An empathy and love for those that have gone through pain as they have lost their faith? One of the fruits of the Spirit is love according to Galatians. This situation is possible. Then the only objection to this claim would be that feeling the Spirit in this situation does not mean that it is confirming the truthfulness of the stories. This claim is then willfully reinterpreting the experience to simply distort the purpose of the Spirit, confuse, and sow doubt.
  2. If it does seem to confirm the truth of their experiences, such could be the influence of false Spirits, which are spoken of in Latter-day Saint doctrine (Doctrine and Covenants 50:1-5, 31-33; 1 John 4:2). Experiences may also be caused of the devil (see for instance Alma 30: 42, 53).


"Recognizing the Voice of the Spirit" (Podcast): "How can I come to know that spiritual experience is not just a product of chemical processes in the brain?"

"FAIR Questions 2: Recognizing the Voice of the Spirit":

How do I find a way to not only discern the Spirit from emotion, but how can I become convinced that the Spirit is actually real? How can I come to know that spiritual experience is not just a product of chemical processes in the brain? I mean, I’ve prayed about the truth of the Book of Mormon and the gospel and I have gotten answers to my prayers, but how can I come to know whether or not this is from God, and not just either a part of my subconscious or a delusion.[2] —(Click here to continue)


Notes

  1. Jeremy Runnells, Letter to a CES Director (2013)
  2. "FAIR Questions 2: Recognizing the Voice of the Spirit," FairMormon Blog (28 August 2011).