Holy Ghost/ Latter-day Saint Epistemology

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Latter-day Saint Epistemology

Summary: This series of articles defines epistemology broadly and how to approach and define Latter-day Saint Epistemology

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Question: What is epistemology?

Epistemology is defined as:

the study or a theory of the nature and grounds of knowledge especially with reference to its limits and validity[1]

For thousands of years, knowledge was defined as epistemologists as a justified, true belief. Knowledge is only knowledge if and only if P (a proposition) is true, S (a subject) believes that P, and P is justified. Justification simply refers the evidence that we give to verify a true belief. For instance, I can be inside a room with no windows and a single, opaque door to the outside. I can receive a call from a friend inviting me to go for a walk in the park and I can think to myself "With my luck, it will be raining right now." Now, it could be raining outside, therefore the proposition may be true. But I don't know that the proposition is true because I can't justifiy it. The JTB model came under question in 1963 when philosopher Edward Gettier proposed the "Gettier Problem" that showed that we can have justified, true belief and not have knowledge. The nature of justification came under significant question. Many theories were proposed in order refine the JTB model because of Gettier's paper. These either added a fourth condition to JTB or sought to redefine knowledge acquisition entirely. These included models such as infalliblism, indefeasibility, causalism, reliablism, tracking theories, and so on. Each of these theories had certain "Gettier Cases" proposed for them. It led certain philosophers to abandon any endeavor of seeking to define what constitutes knowledge and to see epistemology simply as a study of normative study instead of a descriptive one. This is now called "virtue epistemology".

The author of the articles in this series asserts generally justified true belief being knowledge since the proposed Gettier cases for each model can be implausible. It is the way that most humans work. It's one of the reasons that we developed terms such as "explanatory power" since certain explanations define phenomenon better than others and we rely on the explanation that is evidenced by past experience or other evidence being evaluated at any given time.

This video explains JTB in an easy way and the Gettier Problem. Readers should see the whole series on YouTube for more easy-to-learn information on Epistemology.


Question: What is the best way to define Latter-day Saint epistemology?

Latter-day Saints take no uniform approach to epistemology. Belief is found at a confluence of reason and revelation

There are several schools of epistemology—each defining the best and most important sources of knowledge. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has no uniform position on defining epistemology—only to understand that it is the result of reason and revelation. Latter-day Saints highly value the proposition of a good education and the primacy of reason. But they also seek to understand things by faith. Several scriptures in the Latter-day Saint canon affirm the primacy of reason and of learning through the Spirit--used interchangeably with "faith"--because there are times where one needs to strengthen the other:

10 But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.

11 For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.

3 Behold, I would exhort you that when ye shall read these things, if it be wisdom in God that ye should read them, that ye would remember how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men, from the creation of Adam even down until the time that ye shall receive these things, and ponder it in your hearts.

4 And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.

5 And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.

Noted is how this short passage begins by emphasizing a moment of pondering and reflection before seeking revelation.

2 Yea, behold, I will tell you in your mind and in your heart, by the Holy Ghost, which shall come upon you and which shall dwell in your heart.
7 Behold, you have not understood; you have supposed that I would give it unto you, when you took no thought save it was to ask me.

8 But, behold, I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall feel that it is right.

9 But if it be not right you shall have no such feelings, but you shall have a stupor of thought that shall cause you to forget the thing which is wrong; therefore, you cannot write that which is sacred save it be given you from me.
40 For intelligence cleaveth unto intelligence; wisdom receiveth wisdom; truth embraceth truth; virtue loveth virtue; light cleaveth unto light; mercy hath compassion on mercy and claimeth her own; justice continueth its course and claimeth its own; judgment goeth before the face of him who sitteth upon the throne and governeth and executeth all things.

77 And I give unto you a commandment that you shall teach one another the doctrine of the kingdom.

78 Teach ye diligently and my grace shall attend you, that you may be instructed more perfectly in theory, in principle, in doctrine, in the law of the gospel, in all things that pertain unto the kingdom of God, that are expedient for you to understand;

79 Of things both in heaven and in the earth, and under the earth; things which have been, things which are, things which must shortly come to pass; things which are at home, things which are abroad; the wars and the perplexities of the nations, and the judgments which are on the land; and a knowledge also of countries and of kingdoms—

Noted in this passage is its instruction to seek learning from all disciplines so that we can be better instructed in how to think about and live out our faith. Thus, we gain revelation from a prophet, but understanding how God communicated to that prophet, understanding what the intention is behind certain scriptures, and finding the blessings from following commandments comes largely from our own independent research and reason. We attempt to approach the scriptures contextually and holistically to understand their full significance and our role in God's plan.

118 And as all have not faith, seek ye diligently and teach one another words of wisdom; yea, seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom; seek learning, even by study and also by faith.

Noted here is that secular learning and devotional learning are commanded for increasing the faith of those who struggle

36 The glory of God is intelligence, or, in other words, light and truth

18 Whatever principle of intelligence we attain unto in this life, it will rise with us in the resurrection.

19 And if a person gains more knowledge and intelligence in this life through his diligence and obedience than another, he will have so much the advantage in the world to come.

Our form of epistemology does stress the importance of the Spirit more frequently than we do reason and that is because of a general perception of the fleetingness of reason, scholarship, and science in a certain regard. Obtaining and listening to the spirit is central to conversion to the Church since we are given the opportunity to seek answers from God himself. An assurance from the Spirit is used as a means of coping with uncertainties that we might have at various times of our development in the Church and our convictions. This assurance gives us the belief that, like the apostle Paul stated, that the Lord will "bring to light the hidden things of darkness" so that one day every one may have a praise of God (1 Cor 4:5).This should not, however, be understood to mean that Latter-day Saint testimonies rely solely on feelings. Spiritual understanding for Latter-day Saints is arrived at the confluence of reason and revelation, with a stress on revelation.

Reason is obviously only an intellectual exercise (primarily of the mind), while revelation is an effort that requires all of our faculties

We can obtain knowledge and truth through many sources. But one reason we stress the importance of revelation is that it appeals to our whole body for verification. It involves “our faculties” (Alma 32: 27). Latter-day Saint doctrine also affirms that the body and spirit make the soul (D&C 88:15).[2] Thus, spiritual experiences and coming to spiritual understanding for Latter-day Saints involve much more than simply good feelings as some have criticized us for, but for seeking to “study [something] out in our mind” and then asking for confirmation of it (D&C 9:7-9). We also teach that when the Spirit does touch our souls, that it is an experience that should feed both mind and heart (D&C 8:2). There are times when we have to rely solely upon revelation given to us in our hearts (1 Nephi 4:6), there are other times when we need both revelation and reason (D&C 8:2), and there are other times when we simply need to do something based only upon reason and what we know is good (D&C 58:26-29).


Question: How do members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints view the concepts of spiritual experience and the obtainment of testimony?

This article is still under construction. We welcome your suggestions for improving the content of this FairMormon Answers Wiki article.

Introduction

As part of their epistemology, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believe that commitment and belief in the Church and/or its doctrines may be established through spiritual experience. This is known as having with an experience with the Holy Ghost or "Holy Spirit" (Moroni 10:3-5).

This article introduces how Latter-day Saints conceptualize the Holy Spirit as it relates to experiencing it and how Latter-day Saints conceptualize the obtainment of testimony.

The Latter-day Saint Conception of the Holy Spirit

The Holy Spirit is considered the third member of the Godhead (referred to in mainline Christianity as the Trinity). The Father and the Son have a body of flesh and bone but the Holy Spirit does not. He can, however, appear in the form of a man (Luke 3:16-17; 1 Nephi 11:11; Doctrine and Covenants 130:22). The Holy Ghost works through something called the Light of Christ. Since God is considered corporeal and thus has matter, he is widely considered to exist within space and time. This has brought up questions as to how he can be omnipresent (present everywhere at once). This is accomplished through the The Light of Christ. It is understood to be the indwelling presence that God holds with all things because it lives in all things (Doctrine and Covenants 88:6-13). Through the Light of Christ, the Holy Ghost and angels of God (both in unity with the intents of God and Christ: 2 Nephi 31:21; Alma 11:44;) communicate to mankind (2 Nephi 32: 1-2; Doctrine and Covenants 84:46).

Conversion by the Power of the Holy Ghost

The Holy Ghost is central to conversion in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.[3]

President M. Russell Ballard, an apostle and president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, wrote:

True conversion comes through the power of the Spirit. When the Spirit touches the heart, hearts are changed. When individuals … feel the Spirit working with them, or when they see the evidence of the Lord’s love and mercy in their lives, they are edified and strengthened spiritually and their faith in Him increases. These experiences with the Spirit follow naturally when a person is willing to experiment upon the word. This is how we come to feel the gospel is true[4]

In the Book of Mormon, the prophet Moroni teaches that one may come to learn of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon by reading the book, pondering its message in our minds, and praying about the book with a sincere heart, real intent, and having faith in Jesus Christ:

3 Behold, I would exhort you that when ye shall read these things, if it be wisdom in God that ye should read them, that ye would remember how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men, from the creation of Adam even down until the time that ye shall receive these things, and ponder it in your hearts.
4 And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.
5 And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.

Praying about the Book of Mormon thus brings one a testimony or conviction of the Church since the Book of Mormon encompasses several propositions relating to the truthfulness of the Church including God being sovereign over the whole earth (1 Nephi 11:6), God creating the earth (2 Nephi 2:13), God having a body of flesh and bone (3 Nephi 28:10; D&C 93:33-35), the prophecy from the Book of Mormon of Joseph Smith being the one to bring it forth implying his prophethood and calling from God (2 Nephi 3:14-15),[5]and the existence of the priesthood and its necessity in knowing how to find salvation in Christ through ordinances (Alma 13). Thus when one "knows" that the Book of Mormon is true, one "knows" that Joseph Smith is a prophet since he claimed to translate the Book of Mormon by the gift and power of God. If Joseph Smith was a prophet of God, this strongly implies that God exists. If God exists and he called Joseph Smith to translate the Book of Mormon, then it follows that the priesthood is real since the Book of Mormon is true and that that priesthood is on the earth today. That priesthood (the power and authority to act in God's name with his authorization) is claimed to reside only in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

This "knowing" is not a type of "knowing" in the philosophically empirical sense but rather a deep, perhaps intuitive sense of the higher truth present in the Book of Mormon.

Latter-day Saint philosopher and theologian Blake T. Ostler explained:

There is a vast difference between the way the Hebrews felt we come to knowledge of truth and the way the Greeks thought of it. Whereas the Hebrews and early Christian writers of scripture constantly refer to the heart as an instrument of knowledge and choice, the philosophers rarely, if ever, do. The Hebrew scriptures and the New Testament regard the heart as the source of knowledge and authentic being. For the Greeks, the head is the place of knowing everything we know.

[. . .]

The head is a piece of complex flesh that knows only a beginning and ending. By "head" I mean that complex system that includes our brain and central nervous system, which translates sense experience and gives rise to the categories of logic, language, and thought. It knows only what can be learned through the sense of our bodies and categories of reason. The head is the source of the ego—or the categories by which we judge ourselves and create or self image.

In contrast, the heart is the home of our eternal identity. It can be opened or shut, hard or soft...The heart must be "penetrated" (D&C 1:2), "pricked" (Acts 2:37), "melted" (Josh. 2:11), or "softened" (D&C 121:4) so that truth is known, pretense is given up and humility in God's presence can be manifested.[6]

Once one receives this witness of the Holy Ghost, one is motivated to make covenants with God to progress towards salvation and exaltation. Ordinances such as baptism and confirmation are signs of the covenants that one has made with God.

It is understood that one does not receive the witness of the Spirit confirming the truth of the Book of Mormon unless they walk up to the requirements as specified in Moroni 10:3-5 quoted above and become clean through repentance so that they can receive the Holy Ghost. It is understood that the Holy Ghost does not manifest itself to people who deliberately sin or go against what they believe God has commanded ( Alma 7:21; Helaman 4:24). Emphasis on deliberately go against what they believe God has commanded. If a person does not know what God has commanded then they remain without sin (Alma 29:5). This emphasis on repentance, along with the reception of the Holy Ghost for illumination, is central to conversion (Moroni 6:1-2).

The Latter-day Saint Conception of the Soul

It is important to understand how these sensations/revelations given by the Spirit are felt. Latter-day Saints believe that the body and spirit are connected as one in a form of substance monism. This union between body and spirit is denominated the soul (D&C 88:15). The body is a separate entity from the spirit, as the spirit can live independently of the body (Ether 3:16); yet when the spirit and body are connected, they are intimately and intricately intertwined and can act upon one another.[7] Thus, whenever we do something with our bodies, it affects our spirits. Whenever something occurs in our spirit, it can affect our bodies. It may be said that, at times (perhaps when the Spirit moves upon us), they can react to each other.

All spiritual entities are known to be material instead of immaterial (D&C 131:7). Thus they're able to interact with material objects such as our bodies.

This is in contrast to the rest of mainstream Christianity that sees the spirit as immaterial and the body as material—the spirit being the life and intelligence of the body in what is known as mind-body dualism.

The Latter-day Saint Conception of the Holy Ghost, False Spirits, and Light

Latter-day Saint theology teaches that there is a spectrum of light (synonymous with "truth" in this context) that one can receive in this life that comes from God. This light is known in Latter-day Saint vernacular as “The Light of Christ” (Moroni 7:16[8]; D&C 84:46). When one receives more of God’s truth, one receives more light (D&C 50:24; D&C 84:45). When one rejects light, is persuaded towards rejecting the truth that one has already received, or one deliberately chooses to remain without the light that God has revealed, one stays away or moves away from light.[9] This is seen as sinful. The Holy Ghost is seen as the one that moves God’s children further and further into the light (D&C 84:47). The Holy Ghost works through the Light of Christ given to all people (Moroni 7:16; D&C 84:45-46). Since the Light of Christ is understood to give life and life to all things (D&C 88: 11-13), it follows that the Spirit can work on our spirit and/or our body through that Light in order to produce sensations. The Holy Ghost works in unity with God, whom Latter-day Saints believe to be of their same species—a corporeal human being with a glorified body (3 Nephi 28:10; D&C 130:22). Satan, and many false spirits and false angels under his control (Moroni 7:17; Doctrine and Covenants 50:1-3), are seen as those beings that move God’s children further and further into the darkness. As one receives more light, one is more receptive to receiving additional light and is seen as more sensitive to the Holy Ghost and the truth that God has revealed through prophets. As one moves away from the light, they are less and less able to perceive light. The ability to perceive light can ultimately be quenched (1 Nephi 17:45). As Elder David A. Bednar, an apostle in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, has taught:

As we yield to that influence, to do good and become good, then the Light of Christ increases within us. As we disobey, light is decreased and can ultimately be diminished within us.[10]

Thus these spirits are acting on both our body and our spirit, connected together intimately (called the “soul” in Latter-day Saint theology), to persuade us to accept, reject, or stay indifferent to light and truth. Since God is assumed to be the same species as humans, it follows that he will know how to stimulate our beings in such a way as to produce a spiritual reaction. When these spirits act on us, they produce physically felt sensations. Latter-day Saints believe that all human beings have the ability to perceive that which is of God from that which is of the devil (Moroni 7:14; see also D&C 8:2) through the same power given by the Light of Christ. It is generally believed that what God has revealed to prophets is good and will inspire one to love God and serve him (Moroni 7:20-25; Joseph Smith – Matthew 1:37).

Stewardship in Latter-day Saint Epistemology

Establishment of Official Doctrine

Latter-day Saints believe that the President of the Church is a prophet, seer, and revelator. As part of the calling as President, only that president may receive revelation on behalf of the entire Church. This is a doctrine laid out in the Doctrine and Covenants, a collection of revelations of the Presidents of the Church that forms part of the Church's official canon (Doctrine and Covenants 28:2). The Prophet of the Church, if he receives a revelation that he believes is on behalf of the entire church, will have to approve of that revelation with the other members of The Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (Doctrine and Covenants 107:27). The President of the Church, along with the other members of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve, will present that revelation to the general body of the Church for ratification (Doctrine and Covenants 28:13). These revelations are usually canonized but sometimes aren't. These revelations govern the Church (Doctrine and Covenants 42:56-59).

Personal Revelation

Latter-day Saints are promised that personal revelation may accompany their reception of new doctrines.

President Brigham Young taught:

Some may say, "Brethren, you who lead the Church, we have all confidence in you, we are not in the least afraid but what everything will go right under your superintendence; all the business matters will be transacted right; and if brother Brigham is satisfied with it, I am." I do not wish any Latter-day Saint in this world, nor in heaven, to be satisfied with anything I do, unless the Spirit of the Lord Jesus Christ, the spirit of revelation, makes them satisfied. I wish them to know for themselves and understand for themselves, for this would strengthen the faith that is within them. Suppose that the people were heedless, that they manifested no concern with regard to the things of the kingdom of God, but threw the whole burden upon the leaders of the people, saying, "If the brethren who take charge of matters are satisfied, we are," this is not pleasing in the sight of the Lord.

Every man and woman in this kingdom ought to be satisfied with what we do, but they never should be satisfied without asking the Father, in the name of Jesus Christ, whether what we do is right.​[11]

This does not mean that Latter-day Saints must simply follow their own revelation when dealing with the prophets words. Latter-day Saints are commanded to follow the prophet as they believe he receives revelation from God and Jesus Christ to guide the affairs of the Church and the lives of the entire human family on the earth (Doctrine and Covenants 1:37; 112:10;)

As mentioned before, the Holy Spirit is generally thought to confirm those things that the prophet teaches (Moroni 7:20-25; Joseph Smith – Matthew 1:37).

Revelation and Stewardship

These concepts apply to other callings of the Church. It is understood that no one will receive revelation outside of their own stewardship (Doctrine and Covenants 70: 1-10). This means that a person called as a Primary leader will not receive revelation as to how the calling of bishop should be performed. Claims of reception of revelation outside of one's stewardship are regarded as the influence of false spirits, angels, and/or the devil, the wishful thinking of the person claiming to receive it, or the confusion of emotion for the revelation of the Spirit. Since Latter-day Saints consider the spirit and body to be connected intimately and intricately as the soul, it is easy for them to understand that a heart murmur or just warmth can be over-interpreted as the influence of the Holy Ghost.

Personal Revelation

Revelation to Guide One's Life

As a part of a person's being part of the Church, they will frequently hear the encouragement of Church leaders to receive personal revelation to guide their own lives.

President Russell M. Nelson, the current president of the Church taught:

I urge you to stretch beyond your current spiritual ability to receive personal revelation, for the Lord has promised that “if thou shalt [seek], thou shalt receive revelation upon revelation, knowledge upon knowledge, that thou mayest know the mysteries and peaceable things—that which bringeth joy, that which bringeth life eternal.”[12]

Oh, there is so much more that your Father in Heaven wants you to know. As Elder Neal A. Maxwell taught, “To those who have eyes to see and ears to hear, it is clear that the Father and the Son are giving away the secrets of the universe!”[13]

Nothing opens the heavens quite like the combination of increased purity, exact obedience, earnest seeking, daily feasting on the words of Christ in the Book of Mormon,[14] and regular time committed to temple and family history work.

To be sure, there may be times when you feel as though the heavens are closed. But I promise that as you continue to be obedient, expressing gratitude for every blessing the Lord gives you, and as you patiently honor the Lord’s timetable, you will be given the knowledge and understanding you seek. Every blessing the Lord has for you—even miracles—will follow. That is what personal revelation will do for you.[15]

Doctrine and Covenants 121:33 teaches:

33 How long can rolling waters remain impure? What power shall stay the heavens? As well might man stretch forth his puny arm to stop the Missouri river in its decreed course, or to turn it up stream, as to hinder the Almighty from pouring down knowledge from heaven upon the heads of the Latter-day Saints. (emphasis added)

The understanding given by revelation may come little by little. Or, as Latter-day Saints like to refer to it, "line upon line, precept upon precept. Here a little and there a little (Isaiah 28:10, 13; 2 Nephi 28:30; Doctrine and Covenants 128:21).

Process for Receiving Personal Revelation

The process for receiving personal revelation is described in scripture.

Process to Undertake Before Receiving Personal Revelation

To receive personal revelation, a person is supposed to make themselves clean through repentance first as explained above. This so that the person can have greater potential access to God's power and limit influence by false spirits.

Top Down and Bottom Up Revelation

Latter-day Saint scripture affirms the reception of spiritual experiences as revelation in three different ways:

  1. Top Down Revelation is personal revelation that comes from God to us but in this instance, it is God who corrects our mental frame of mind to bring us certain knowledge. Examples of this are impressions that Latter-day Saints might report to keep them from danger, the revelation of special details that Latter-day Saints report during the giving of priesthood blessings, and so forth. These are instances where God is doing most of the work in the revelation.
  2. Bottom Up Revelation is revelation in which the agent seeking revelation studies an issue out in their mind first and then brings it to God for confirmation (Doctrine and Covenants 9:7-9). This is a type of personal revelation where the agent seeking it has to do most of the work. God confirms the validity of what they have concluded and the person proceeds according to the impression that is given to him as a confirmation of his reasoning.

Effects of the Holy Spirit

The Holy Spirit is known to affect people in different ways. Preach My Gospel, the Church's instruction manual for prospective missionaries, lists many of these supposed effects. The chart produced there will be reproduced here a long with other effects of the Spirit noted by the author from his own study of the Latter-day Saint canon.

Effect of Spirit Scriptural examples
Gives feelings of love, joy, peace, patience, meekness, gentleness, faith, and hope. Doctrine and Covenants 6:23; 11:12–14; Romans 15:13; Galatians 5:22–23
Softens one's heart to the idea of the God, Christ, and/or the Restoration Alma 16:16-17
Inspires one to love and serve God 2 Nephi 31:18; Moroni 7:13; Doctrine and Covenants 20:27; Doctrine and Covenants 84:47; John 16:14
Inspires one to believe in Christ 2 Nephi 31:18; Moroni 7:13; Doctrine and Covenants 20:27; Doctrine and Covenants 84:47; John 16:14
Gives ideas in the mind, feelings in the heart. Doctrine and Covenants 8:2–3
Occupies the mind and presses on the feelings. Doctrine and Covenants 128:1
Helps scriptures have strong effect. Joseph Smith—History 1:11–12
Gives good feelings to teach if something is true. Doctrine and Covenants 9:8–9
Enlightens the mind. Alma 32:28; Doctrine and Covenants 6:14–15; 1 Corinthians 2:9–11
Replaces darkness with light. Alma 19:6
Strengthens the desire to avoid evil and obey the commandments. Mosiah 5:2–5
Teaches truth and brings it to remembrance. John 14:26
Gives feelings of peace and comfort. John 14:27
Guides to truth and shows things to come. John 16:13
Reveals truth. Moroni 10:5
Guides and protects from deception. Doctrine and Covenants 45:57
Guides the words of humble teachers Doctrine and Covenants 42:16; 84:85; 100:5–8; Luke 12:11–12
Recognizes and corrects sin. John 16:8
Gives gifts of the Spirit. Moroni 10:8–17; Doctrine and Covenants 46:8–26; 1 Corinthians 12
Helps to perceive or discern the thoughts of others. Alma 10:17; 12:3; 18:16, 20, 32, 35; Doctrine and Covenants 63:41
Tells what to pray for Doctrine and Covenants 46:30; 50:29–30
Tells what to do. 2 Nephi 32:1–5; Doctrine and Covenants 28:15
Helps the righteous speak with power and authority. 1 Nephi 10:22; Alma 18:35
Testifies of truth Doctrine and Covenants 21:9; 100:8; John 15:26
Sanctifies and brings remission of sins. 2 Nephi 31:17; Alma 13:12; 3 Nephi 27:20
Carries truth to the heart of the listener 1 Nephi 2:16–17; 2 Nephi 33:1; Alma 24:8
Enhances skills and abilities 1 Nephi 1:1–3; Exodus 31:3–5
Constrains (impels forward) or restrains (holds back). 1 Nephi 7:15; 2 Nephi 28:1; 32:7; Alma 14:11; Mormon 3:16; Ether 12:2
Edifies both teacher and students Doctrine and Covenants 50:13–22
Gives comfort. Doctrine and Covenants 88:3; John 14:26

Effects of False Spirits, False Angels, and the Devil.

As mentioned, there also exist false spirits, false angels, and experiences of the Devil.

False Spirits and Angels

The Latter-day Saint scriptures consistently see false spirits and false angels simply as those entities that move you away from the Light of Christ. There really is no distinction between the feelings that one is supposed to experience when under the influence of a false spirit or angel. There is only a specification as to what effect a false spirit or angel has. They are consistently associated with moving into darkness (Moroni 7:17; Doctrine and Covenants 50:1-3). Once one moves into the "darkness" Yet the Lord supposedly provides equal blessings to his children no matter where they are in their mortal journey.

The Devil

The Devil is also known in Latter-day Saint scripture to influence men and women. He usually shows up at important moments within both the scope of the entire Plan of Salvation and also crucial moments in people's progression towards exaltation. There are two ways in which he is described as as an influence:

  1. The Devil is understood to be able to appear to people as in the form of angel (Alma 30:53) and more particularly an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14). Latter-day Saint scripture gives a procedure for such an encounter (Doctrine and Covenants 129:8).
  2. The Devil can cause the tongue to bind and powers of great darkness to gather around people as was the experience of Joseph Smith, founding prophet of the Church (Joseph Smith—History 1:15-17).

Dynamic Influence verses Passive Influence

Latter-day Saints do not claim magnificent experiences from spirits, angels, or the devils always. There are times when the influence felt is more passive than dynamic. This to mean that sometimes a Latter-day Saint can be claiming to feel the Spirit as if it were revealing something important to them (dynamic influence). At other times, a Latter-day Saint can be claiming to feel the Spirit as if it were just assuring them that they are doing what is acceptable before the eyes of God, or just giving them peace of mind, etc (passive influence). As part of the covenant made at baptism, Latter-day Saints promise before baptism to humble themselves before God, desire to be baptized, come forth with broken hearts and contrite Spirits, and witness before the Church that they have truly repented of their sins. They are shown willing to take upon them the name of Christ, having a determination to serve him to the end, and truly manifest by their works that they have received of the Spirit of Christ unto the remission of their sins (Doctrine and Covenants 20:37). They promise to bear the burdens of their fellowmen, mourn with those who mourn, comfort those who stand in need of comfort, and stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that they may be in until death (Mosiah 18:8-9). Since Latter-day Saints can't keep this covenant perfectly, they renew this covenant each week by partaking of something known as the Sacrament. As part of the Sacrament prayer, Latter-day Saints are promised to always have the Spirit to be with them (Moroni 4:3; Moroni 5:2). This Spirit is obviously not a revelatory influence but a passive influence that lets Latter-day Saints know that they are in good standing before God. Latter-day Saints may also feel this passive influence while in the presence of uplifting things. Latter-day Saints are given the injunction to seek after all "virtuous, lovely, good report, or praiseworthy" things (Articles of Faith 1:13). It is also understood that all things that inspire to love God and serve him are of him and that, in general, all good things come from God (Moroni 7:12-14). Thus, when Latter-day Saints are in the presence of uplifting and inspiring things they may feel this more passive influence instead of the more dynamic influence experienced by revelation.

The Holy Ghost in Relation to Other Faiths in Latter-day Saint Thought

Some might wonder how Latter-day Saints view spiritual experiences outside of their own faith tradition. This has been discussed on another article on this wiki.


Question: Is Latter-day Saint epistemology a valid form of epistemology?

The verification of certain propositions in religious epistemology can come through both rational and empirical means. This is absolutely valid and Latter-day Saint scholars and lay members seek to validate these types of propositions every day

Gratefully for many religions, epistemology isn't simply a matter of subjectivism alone. Many propositions in the Latter-day Saint tradition require that one study them out in their own mind. This is manifested a lot in the scriptures. For instance, the Savior apparently used empiricism to prove himself to the apostles (Acts 1:3). Latter-day Saints also cherish the intellectual study of the scriptures and other disciplines in order to defend them and validate their truthfulness (D&C 88:77-79). Latter-day Saint scripture also shows that God values the mind and rational decision making (D&C 9:7-9; D&C 50:12; and D&C 58:26-28). Jesus taught his followers to keep the commandments he gave them to know if they were from God (John 7:17). Thus, there is no truly official approach to epistemology in this regard from Latter-day Saints. We simply cherish all the education we can get on any facet of life and the Gospel before we believe we will be resurrected (D&C 130:18).

The witness of the Holy Ghost is more closely scrutinized and to validate this part of our epistemology, we have to make more inquiries into the nature of justification and answer criticisms against it.

Near the end of the Book of Mormon the prophet Moroni, the last to write in the book, gives a promise that those who ask God about the truthfulness of the book with real intent, having faith in Christ, and a sincere heart may have the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon revealed to them by the power of the Holy Ghost (Moroni 10:3-5). This proposition includes all Moroni's promise encompasses all other propositions compiled and abridged by Mormon as is the best interpretation of “these records” in Moroni 10:2 and “these things” in 10:3. These propositions would include God being sovereign over the whole earth (1 Nephi 11:6), God creating the earth (2 Nephi 2:13), God having a body of flesh and bone (3 Nephi 28:10; D&C 93:33-35), the prophecy from the Book of Mormon of Joseph Smith being the one to bring it forth implying his prophethood and calling from God (2 Nephi 3:14-15),[16]and the existence of the priesthood and its necessity in knowing how to find salvation in Christ through ordinances (Alma 13)—among the foundational claims of the Church. When Moroni says “these things”, he is referring to the words that he is speaking to the future Lamanites that receive them per verse 1. He is also referring to the record as a whole.

As Brant Gardner, preeminent Latter-day Saint scholar of the Book of Mormon has observed about Moroni 10:2-3:

"In “seal[ing] up these records,” Moroni is not referring to any physical process that will bind the plates together, but rather to a spiritual sealing—an anointing to their divinely ordained purpose. This is the context for Moroni’s title page:

“Written and sealed up, and hid up unto the Lord, that they might not be destroyed.”

The sealing is so that “they might not be destroyed.” It is a protective sealing not a preventative sealing such as was plated on the vision of the brother of Jared. (See commentary accompanying Ether 5:1)


[Gardner here quotes of Moroni 10:3]


Moroni speaks directly to his future reader. While he wrote to future Lamanites, he certainly understood that the Book of Mormon would come to the Gentiles as well [1 Nephi 10:11]. It is appropriate for us to consider ourselves included in this direct address. [17]

Thus, Latter-day Saints believe that the reception of the Holy Ghost following Moroni's promise is a valid way of knowing the truth of the Restored Gospel and the Church that espouses it since the proposition includes knowing the truth of all other propositions contained in the Book of Mormon. This does not mean that we believe that the propositions are then loaded to our memories. Latter-day Saints are encouraged to explore the scriptures, learn their principles, and search them out. The Holy Ghost may witness to us that the Book of Mormon is true, but it will generally not force us to treasure up its propositions in our minds nor live them (Alma 32:33-37).

At the center of the Latter-day Saint noetic structure lies this central hinge of the witness of the Holy Ghost. It is this witness that Latter-day Saints use to justify their testimony as something from God that can demonstrate the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon and thus the Church.

But is this a valid form of epistemology? For Latter-day Saint philosophers and theologians the answer would be both "yes" and "no". Can we prove through external empiricism that our spiritual experience comes from God? No. But we can, at the very least, provide evidence that spiritual epistemology is a valid way of gaining knowledge and answer criticisms against it. Thus we let the door open for people to believe in the Spirit's influence, act on the promises of the Book of Mormon and other scripture, and then choose for themselves to follow those spiritual promptings as the dying Lehi told his sons (2 Nephi 2: 27-28). Some people may believe that that is a weakness of Latter-day Saint epistemology or religious epistemology in general. However, this is not a bug but a feature--especially when agency is such a fundamental part of Latter-day Saint doctrine pertaining to the Plan of Salvation (Moses 4:1-3). If we were able to prove that these experiences came from God, then would we truly be able to have agency? Wouldn't he be compelling us to believe in him? But then what is a spiritual experience meant to provide? It is meant to provide that sliver of God's power that he wants all of us to experience as we continuously seek him. God is found as we apply all of our faculties and seek him through various forms of epistemology. We can seek him through rationalism/philosophy. We can seek him empirically through ancient history that provides evidence for the Book of Mormon. We can seek him experientially by the Spirit and witnessing miracles. Those categories aren't mutually exclusive but they are used to demonstrate a point--that God is reaching to us through various forms of epistemology. However, he leaves just enough space for us to choose for ourselves to believe in him. As Hebrews expresses, faith is the substance of things hoped for.

Now, as members of The Church of Jesus Christ we still need to answer criticisms against the Spirit. Both believers and non-believers have asked questions regarding the justification of this belief in the validity of a spiritual experience. They can be roughly divided into four categories: the question of diversity, the question of neuroscience, the question of reliability, and the question of circularity. Below are our responses to different critical arguments against justification. Before readers proceed to those articles, it is wise to understand how Latter-day Saints understand the conception of the Holy Ghost and the obtainment of testimony. As additional reading, one might read the material that we have written on the conception of prophetic revelation.

Question of Diversity

Question of Neuroscience

Question of Reliability

Question of Circularity

Latter-day Saints testify to remarkable aspects of epistemology with sacred experiences

Two of the most extraordinary aspects of Latter-day Saint epistemology are these:

  1. The ability to receive a "no" to a question that the questioner wanted to receive a "yes" to in prayer.
  2. The ability to receive miraculous knowledge through miraculous experience including everything mentioned as gifts of the Spirit, warnings about eminent danger, revelation about specific people given during priesthood blessings, and other phenomena.

These events can properly be described as "top-down" revelation in Latter-day Saint epistemology as this is God correcting the mental framework of the person occupying it and giving us specific knowledge. This is distinguished from "bottom up" revelation where the subject has to correct their own state of mind before seeking revelation. Requirements for this include that Latter-day Saints and other individuals interested in receiving revelation become worthy of the Spirit's influence including trusting in God enough so that they believe that he will answer (Matthew 14:21; Mosiah 2:37; Alma 7:21; Mormon 9:27; D&C 6:36D&C 97:17), that they study something out in their mind (Moroni 10:3; D&C 9:7-9), and that they then ask God for inspiration.

Latter-day Saints and other individuals struggling with questions of epistemology should remember/seek out these two extraordinary aspects of it and the times that they have/will personally experience(d) it in their life/investigation process.

Further Video/Listening Content

The following discuss themes of epistemology and objections to the use of spiritual experience in Latter-day Saint epistemology in more depth:


Source: K. Codell Carter: "Epistemology" in Encyclopedia of Mormonism

Epistemology is the branch of philosophy dealing with the nature and scope of knowledge. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has no uniform position on the classical issues of epistemology, such as the relationship of the sources of knowledge, theories of truth, and modes of verification, but the superiority of knowing by revelation from God is commonly cited from the scriptures.

The word "knowledge" is used in different ways and has different meanings in different cultures. Different kinds of knowledge may be independent of each other.

The Western philosophical tradition, like Western thought generally, emphasizes knowledge in the sense of knowing facts. But this emphasis may not be appropriate, especially from a gospel perspective. Some scriptures teach that other kinds of knowledge may be more important. Thus, Jesus prays, "This is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent" (John 17:3). This is knowledge by acquaintance more than "knowledge about" (cf. JST Matt. 7:32-33). There are also indications that factual knowledge alone is not sufficient for salvation: "But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only" (James 1:22). At the request of President Spencer W. Kimball, a prophet, the words in a LDS children's hymn were changed from "Teach me all that I must know" to "Teach me all that I must do," because it is not enough just to know; one must do the will of the Lord.

A related gospel theme is that knowing comes from doing. "If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself" (John 7:17). The Prophet Joseph Smith taught, "We cannot keep all the commandments without first knowing them, and we cannot expect to know all, or more than we now know unless we comply with or keep those we have already received" (TPJS, p. 256).

In formal philosophy, "knowing," in the sense of knowing facts, is often defined to mean true belief together with good reasons. In other words, a person knows some statement X if and only if that person believes X, and if X is true, and if the person has good reasons for believing X. The European-American philosophical tradition recognizes two kinds of reasons that support the claim to know: rational argument and empirical evidence. Within the Church these are tacitly accepted as sources of knowledge, sometimes even of religious knowledge. For example, after reviewing the traditional arguments for the existence of God, James E. Talmage observed that some were "at least strongly corroborative" of God's existence (AF, p. 29).

However, there is a continuing tradition, based on the scriptures and reinforced by modern Church leaders, that specifically religious knowledge requires a different and distinctively spiritual source. "We believe that no man can know that Jesus is the Christ, but by the Holy Ghost. We believe in [the gift of the Holy Ghost] in all its fulness, and power, and greatness, and glory" (TPJS, p. 243; D&C 76:114-116). It is widely accepted by Latter-day Saints that gospel knowledge must ultimately be obtained by spiritual rather than exclusively rational or empirical means (e.g., 1 Cor. 12:3). Thus, in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, there is no clear counterpart to the Roman Catholic tradition of natural theology.

One of the most suggestive and frequently cited scriptures in LDS teaching makes the point: "And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things" (Moro. 10:4-5). This scripture is usually taken to apply to all knowledge. This suggests that both rational argument and empirical evidence, the two traditional approaches to knowledge, can be either supplanted by or encompassed within spiritual knowledge. Of course, the scripture does not say that knowledge comes only by the Holy Ghost. Yet, within the Church, it is often held that what might be thought of as secular learning, for example, modern scientific knowledge, is directly associated with the restoration of the gospel and is rooted in divine inspiration throughout the world.[18]


Encyclopedia of Mormonism (Ralph C. Hancock): "Reason and Revelation"

LDS teaching affirms the supreme authority of divine revelation. However, revelation is not understood as an impediment to rational inquiry but as the framework within which the natural human desire to know can most vigorously and fruitfully be exercised. In traditional Judaism and Islam, revelation is mainly seen as law, and the orthodox life of pious obedience is incompatible with the questioning spirit of philosophic life (see World Religions (Non-Christian) and Mormonism] and Mormonism, Mormons). The Christian view of religion as belief or faith and of revelation as teachings or doctrine has encouraged a perennial interest in reconciling the authority of revealed religion with that of reason. Thus, among revealed religions, Christianity has been the most open-and the most vulnerable-to the claims of reason.

The theological tradition of medieval Christianity viewed the Gospels as a supernatural fulfillment of the brilliant but partial insights of natural reason as represented by Greek philosophers, especially Plato and Aristotle. The Christian philosophers Augustine and Aquinas agreed with their pagan predecessors that reason is the noblest natural human faculty, but argued that it cannot reach God, its true end, without the aid of revelation. Thus, revelation was held to be superior, but even this superiority was to some extent defined by a view of the good inherited from pre-Christian philosophy.

The founders of the Protestant tradition attacked this alliance between classical philosophy and the gospel, and tended to limit reason to an instrumental status. So limited, however, the Protestants viewed the exercise of reason as redounding to the glory of God. In this way, the Reformation laid the foundation for the later alliance between faith and technological science.

The LDS understanding of this issue rests upon foundations equally distinct from Protestant and Catholic traditions. LDS doctrine emphasizes the continuity between the natural and the divine realms, a continuity founded in part on the eternal importance of human understanding. But Latter-day Saints do not see the dignity of the mind as the sole basis of this continuity. Rather, they look to the exaltation of the whole person-not only as a knower of truth but also as a servant of the Lord and a source of blessings to one's fellow beings and one's posterity. In contrast to other Christian and Jewish traditions, moreover, LDS teaching emphasizes the necessity of present and future revelation, both to the individual and to the Church, in the pursuit of all these ends.

Warnings against the arrogance of human reason are common and founded in scripture. Thus, the Book of Mormon prophet Jacob decries "the vainness, and the frailties, and the foolishness of men! When they are learned they think they are wise, and they hearken not unto the counsel of God, for they set it aside, supposing they know of themselves, wherefore, their wisdom is foolishness and it profiteth them not. And they shall perish. But to be learned is good if they hearken unto the counsels of God" (2 Ne. 9:28-29). He thus announces a theme-the goodness of learning-that is almost as prominent in LDS teaching as the necessity of revelation, especially in the Doctrine and Covenants, where the Saints are enjoined to pursue learning of all kinds by "study" as well as by "faith" (D&C 88:78-79, 118).

Though one purpose of rational inquiry is to enhance missionary work (D&C 88:80), the goodness of learning transcends any practical applications. Indeed, this intellectual goodness is linked directly and intrinsically with the exaltation of the individual, whose nature must conform to the "conditions" or "law" of the kingdom he or she attains: "For intelligence cleaveth unto intelligence; wisdom receiveth wisdom; truth embraceth truth; virtue loveth virtue; light cleaveth unto light" (D&C 88:38-40). Such perfections also pertain to natural human faculties, directed and aided by general and personal revelation, for ultimately the light that "enlighteneth your eyes" and "quickeneth your understandings" is the "Light of Christ," the "light of truth…which is in all things" (D&C 88:6, 7, 11, 13; cf. Moro. 7:16-25).

Revealed light and natural light are not completely distinct categories. Revelation engages natural reason and indeed may build upon it. It is sometimes described in LDS teaching as "a still voice of perfect mildness" able to "pierce unto the very soul" (Hel. 5:21-31) or as a spirit that resonates with the mind to produce a feeling of "pure intelligence" or "sudden strokes of ideas" (TPJS, p. 151). It is thus appropriate to seek and prepare for revelation by the effort of reason: "You must study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right" (D&C 9:8).

LDS teaching encourages a distinct openness to the intrinsic as well as instrumental goodness of the life of the mind, an openness founded on the continuity between the human and divine realms. The full exercise of human reason under the direction of revelation holds a high place among the virtuous and praiseworthy ends to be sought by the Saints (A of F 13), for the scripture promises that "whatever principle of intelligence we attain unto in this life, it will rise with us in the resurrection," and the more "knowledge and intelligence" one gains through "diligence and obedience," the greater "the advantage in the world to come" (D&C 130:18-19). This emphasis on intellectual development in human progress toward godhood accords with the fundamental doctrine that is the official motto of Brigham Young University-namely, that "the glory of God is intelligence" (D&C 93:36).

Equated with "light and truth," such intelligence by nature "forsake[s] that evil one" (D&C 93:37). It cannot be simply identified with conventional measures of "intelligence" or with the Greek philosophic idea of a pure, immaterial, and self-directed intelligence, a concept that was very influential in medieval theology. For Latter-day Saints, the attainment of intelligence must be integrated with the labor of shaping the material world and binding together families and generations, for "the elements are eternal, and spirit and element, inseparably connected, receive a fulness of joy" (D&C 93:33). To the doctrine that "the glory of God is intelligence," one must add God's statement to Moses that "this is my work and my glory-to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man" (Moses 1:39).[19]

Notes

  1. Webster's Dictionary, "Epistemology" <https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/epistemology> (accessed 3 January 2019)
  2. This is essentially the view that biblical scholars recognize as being advocated in the Bible. Donald R. Potts, "Body" in Eerdmans Dictionary of the Bible ed., David Noel Freedman (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2000) 194; Henry L. Carrigan, Jr., "Soul" Ibid., 1245; Alice Ogden Bellisb, "Spirit" Ibid., 1248.
  3. See The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, "Chapter 4: How do I recognize and understand the Spirit?" in Preach My Gospel: A Guide to Missionary Service (Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 2004), 98.
  4. President M. Russell Ballard, "Now Is the Time,” Ensign (November 2000), 75
  5. Brant Gardner has brought up some valid issues about the specificity of this prophecy (especially the inclusion of the name of the prophet being the same as Joseph of Egypt) in translation of the plate text at this point of the Book of Mormon—attributing it to Joseph Smith. The verses surrounding v. 15 are enough however to establish that Lehi is looking towards the future and that he has a specific person in mind. There does not seem to be any other viable fulfillment of this prophecy than the translation of the Book of Mormon through the Prophet Joseph Smith. This gives us the proposition ready to be verified by revelation that Joseph Smith is a prophet of God. See Brant Gardner, Second Witness: Analytical and Contextual Commentary on the Book of Mormon Vol 2. Second Nephi-Jacob (Salt Lake City, UT: Greg Kofford Books, 2007), 2:55-9.
  6. Blake T. Ostler, Fire on the Horizon: A Meditation on the Endowment and Love of Atonement (Salt Lake City, UT: Greg Kofford Books, 2013), 82-3, 84. ISBN: 9781589585539
  7. This is exactly the view that biblical scholars recognize as being advocated in the Bible. Donald R. Potts, "Body" in Eerdmans Dictionary of the Bible ed., David Noel Freedman (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2000),194; Henry L. Carrigan, Jr., "Soul" Ibid., 1245; Alice Ogden Bellisb, "Spirit" Ibid., 1248. This is also the same understanding advocated in the Book of Mormon. Dennis A. Wright, “Soul” in Book of Mormon Reference Companion ed., Dennis L. Largey (Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book Company, 2003), 734; Noel B. Reynolds, "The Language of the Spirit in the Book of Mormon" Interpreter: A Journal of Latter-day Saint Faith and Scholarship 33 (2019): 187-222 (193). off-site. The Doctrine and Covenants accords with this understanding. See Larry Evans Dahl, “Soul” in Doctrine and Covenants Reference Companion eds., Dennis L. Largey and Larry E. Dahl (Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book Company, 2012), 619. There is nothing in the Pearl of Great Price that contradicts this understanding. See Andrew C. Skinner, "Spirit(s)" in Pearl of Great Price Reference Companion ed., Dennis L. Largey (Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book Company, 2017), 280-1; Dennis L. Largey, “Soul” Ibid., 279-8. This understanding makes it so that the noumenon/phenomenon distinction disappears in Latter-day Saint theology. See Blake T. Ostler, "Ep71-Knowledge is Being (Pt 1) - Vol 5" Exploring Mormon Thought. January 17, 2019. <http://www.exploringmormonthought.com/2019/01/topics-discussed-a.html> Accessed October 16, 2019.
  8. Here the term used is “Spirit of Christ”. It is understood that this is synonymous with “Light of Christ”. See Alan L. Wilkins, “The Light of Christ” in Book of Mormon Reference Companion ed., Dennis L. Largey, 521.
  9. See “Darkness, Spiritual in the Scripture Index on churchofjesuschrist.org
  10. Elder David A. Bednar, “Patterns of Light: The Light of Christ” The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. <https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/inspiration/latter-day-saints-channel/watch/series/mormon-messages/patterns-of-light-the-light-of-christ-1?lang=eng> Accessed October 5, 2019.
  11. Brigham Young, (6 October 1855) Journal of Discourses 3:45.
  12. Doctrine and Covenants 42:61.
  13. Neal A. Maxwell, “Meek and Lowly” (Brigham Young University devotional, Oct. 21, 1986), 9, speeches.byu.edu.
  14. See 2 Nephi 32:3.
  15. President Russell M. Nelson, "Revelation for the Church, Revelation for Our Lives," General Conference (April 2018).
  16. Brant Gardner has brought up some valid issues about the specificity of this prophecy (especially the inclusion of the name of the prophet being the same as Joseph of Egypt) in translation of the plate text at this point of the Book of Mormon—attributing it to Joseph Smith. The verses surrounding v. 15 are enough however to establish that Lehi is looking towards the future and that he has a specific person in mind. There does not seem to be any other viable fulfillment of this prophecy than the translation of the Book of Mormon through the Prophet Joseph Smith. This gives us the proposition ready to be verified by revelation that Joseph Smith is a prophet of God. See Brant Gardner, Second Witness: Analytical and Contextual Commentary on the Book of Mormon Vol 2. Second Nephi-Jacob (Salt Lake City, UT: Greg Kofford Books, 2007), 2:55-9.
  17. Brant Gardner, Second Witness: Analytical and Contextual Commentary on the Book of Mormon; Vol. 6 4 Nephi – Moroni (Salt Lake City, UT: Greg Kofford Books, 2007) 6:407.
  18. K. Codell Carter, "Epistemology" in Encyclopedia of Mormonism (ed.) Daniel Ludlow (New York: Macmilllan Publishing Company, 1992; 2007) off-site
  19. Ralph C. Hancock, "Reason and Revelation" in Encyclopedia of Mormonism (ed.) Daniel H. Ludlow (New York: Macmillan Publishing, 1992; 2007) off-site