Question: Can a person receive a spiritual witness about any book?

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Question: Can a person receive a spiritual witness about any book?

The scriptures are clear that there is a choice involved as to which power we bring ourselves under during this life.

Primarily secularist critics of The Church of Jesus Chist posit that a person can receive a witness about anything if they pray hard enough to receive the answer they want. Prayer is, as they posit, an entirely deterministic epistemic practice and spiritual epistemology is simply based in confirmation bias. It is sad to hear of cases like this since the person doing this is abandoning a unique proposition in order to squander the precious gift of spiritual witness. When we have received a testimony or when we have become aware of the proposition of receiving a spiritual witness, it is our choice to accept that testimony/proposition and to move forward with it. Heavenly Father isn’t going to stop us if we are really trying to disprove ourselves of the validity of the experience. As the dying Lehi taught his sons:

2 Nephi 2: 27-28

27 Wherefore, men are free according to the flesh; and all things are given them which are expedient unto man. And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil; for he seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself.

28 And now, my sons, I would that ye should look to the great Mediator, and hearken unto his great commandments; and be faithful unto his words, and choose eternal life, according to the will of his Holy Spirit;

According to this scripture, there is a choice involved even after we have received the Holy Spirit and had it testified to us of the truthfulness of something. We have our agency, now is our time to continue in light until the perfect day (D&C 50:24).

If we are to pray about other books, we may be opening ourselves up to the influence of false spirits.

1 John 4:1 gives us this council

Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits, whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. Hereby know ye that the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God

Additionally, Doctrine and Covenants 50:31 states the following:

31 Wherefore, it shall come to pass, that if you behold a spirit manifested that you cannot understand and you receive not that spirit, ye shall ask of the Father in the name of Jesus; and if he give not unto you that spirit, then you may know that it is not of God.

It is therefore dangerous to do this to ourselves as we may simply allow ourselves to be deceived. This information from the scriptures should hopefully inform our decision making process and allow us to broaden our understanding of how the Spirit works. We should be careful to simply understand how LDS pneumatology works and then trust in what the Lord has given us in faith.

Personal revelation may come while reading a book.

The dynamic influence of the holy ghost, as where we are receiving revelation, is both a revelation or inspiration brought to the mind combined with a discernible outside influence on the soul (D&C 8:2). Why can’t we receive revelation confirming a true principle while reading a book? To pray about a book to “confirm its truthfulness” is to meddle with what shouldn’t be meddled with. It is demanding signs and wasting the sacred gift of agency. To gain inspiration and encouragement from one to continue a long the path of discipleship and find renewed meaning through them is part of a normal spiritual interaction with all things that are good in the world. We are encouraged to seek after all good things (A of F 1: 13) because as Moroni 7 tells us, all good things come from God.

We also do believe that other books will be inspired by a god and will come from all quarters of the earth (2 Nephi 29:11; Alma 29:8). But one should wait for prophetic guidance as to what these books might be and who the inspiration of the Lord might have touched in order to bring these prophesied books to our understanding. There is no one else besides the prophet who can determine what this prophesy from Nephi might mean for the Church as a whole.

There are evidences against the deterministic claim

Latter-day Saints and other individuals wrestling with the question should remember the evidences against this posited determinism from critics by remembering “top-down” revelation. This is distinguished from “bottom-up” revelation. “Bottom-up”revelation is where the individual has to bring him or herself in tune with the will of God before receiving revelation by making themselves worthy, studying something out in their mind, and then asking God for inspiration with real intent. Top-down revelation is where God brings us in tune. This happens with promptings of eminent danger, “no” answers to prayer when we want a yes, other miraculous knowledge we would not otherwise have were it not for the Spirit’s influence.