Question: Why do critics of Mormonism who belong to other religions discount spiritual experiences?

Table of Contents

Question: Why do critics of Mormonism who belong to other religions discount spiritual experiences?

Sectarian Critics and the Biblical Roots of Burning Feelings

Sectarian critics also belittle appeals to spiritual experiences, comparing them to "warm fuzzies," or merely something "felt by simply watching a Hollywood movie." However, it is strange that sectarian critics fault appeals to a "burning in the bosom" within the LDS community when the roots of the idiom are found in the Bible itself.

Following Jesus' resurrection, He walked with two disciples on the road to Emmaus. They did not recognize Jesus, but listened to Him as "he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself" (Luke 24:27).

After breaking bread with them, Jesus was revealed to the disciples, and vanished from their sight.

Interestingly, they did not say to each other, "We should have known it was Jesus because of his scriptural teaching." Rather, their explanations went beyond their intellectual faculties. They said:

Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?(Luke 24:32)

Likewise, a reference to a "burning" in the heart can be found in Psalms 39:3:

My heart was hot within me, while I was musing the fire burned: then spake I with my tongue. Psalms 39:3

The Lord's counsel to Oliver Cowdery makes perfect sense in this context:

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. D&C 9:8

It seems unlikely that sectarian critics who generally work to uphold the Bible to the best of their understandings would dismiss Jesus' disciples' witness because it was described in words with an LDS ring to them such as “burn” and “heart.” Surely sectarians wouldn’t argue the disciples in Luke 24 must have been emotionally manipulated or that they were experiencing some kind of social effervescence simply because they referred to their feelings when speaking to each other about being in the presence of a holy being. The disciples in Luke 24 were not new to the gospel. They knew what it felt like to experience Christ and they recognized the feeling even when they weren’t expecting it. Human nature remains the same in contemporary times and it stands to reason that even now people experienced in spiritual witnesses can know the difference between spiritual sensations and the emotional rush of a Hollywood film.

Ultimately, as the Bible instructs us, we trust in the Lord to reveal the truth:

Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.
In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. (Proverbs 3:5-6)

Notes