When the Spirit leaves……

Jeff Spector accountability, apostasy, church, faith, God, Happiness, Mormon, Mormons 41 Comments

We believe that the first principles and ordinances of the Gospel are: first, faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; second, repentance; third, baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; fourth, Laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost. (Articles of Faith 1:4)

Another of the unique doctrines of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the gift of the Holy Ghost as our constant companion, received following our baptism and during our confirmation as a member of the Church.

Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost. (Acts 8:17)

…The gift of the Holy Ghost is the right to have, whenever one is worthy, the companionship of the Holy Ghost.  More powerful than that which is available before baptism, it acts as a cleansing agent to purify a person and sanctify him from all sin.  (Bible Dictionary, Holy Ghost:Entry)

When we are close to the Holy Ghost, we can expect to receive personal revelation for ourselves and our family, special promptings to act, and confirmation of truth.  At times, when our personal worthiness is in question, we may feel far from the Holy Ghost and not receive the answers we seek.

But what happens to those who, through acts of sin, unbelief, or other reasons, distance themselves from the companionship of the Holy Ghost? After all, it is the very first commandment we are given after our baptism, to “Receive the Holy Ghost.”

And there were no gifts from the Lord, and the Holy Ghost did not come upon any, because of their wickedness and unbelief.”  (Mormon 1:14)

When the Spirit leaves:

  • Can a person discern the things of God without the Holy Ghost as their guide?
  • Do we lose our eternal perspective?
  • Do we allow the things of lesser consequence to overshadow the things of greatest consequence?
  • Do we feel a sense of loss from not having the Spirit with us constantly?
  • Do we care?
  • How do we get it back when we are troubled by doctrinal and historical issues?

Spirituality—being in tune with the Spirit of the Lord—is the greatest need of Latter-day Saints. We should strive for the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost all the days of our lives. When we have the Spirit, we will love to serve, we will love the Lord, and we will love those whom we serve. Spiritual-mindedness does not come without effort. We live in a very wicked world. We are surrounded with propaganda that evil is good and good is evil. False teachings abound that affect us. Almost everything that is wholesome, good, pure, uplifting, and strengthening is being challenged as never before.  One reason we are on this earth is to discern between truth and error. This discernment comes by the Holy Ghost, not just our intellectual faculties. (Ezra Taft Benson, Come unto Christ, p22)

And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things. (Moroni 10:5)

Comments

comments

Comments 41

  1. The spirit leaving metaphor does not really seem to work for me. If we accept the idea of light of christ, which i do, then according to the description we have in D&C 88(?) the power of God is the light of Christ. I guess i see these things as arbitrary titles that are supposed to indicate to us different levels or capacities. I see it more as capacities than discrete levels. So if the spirit leaves then we reduce our capacity to experience all the light of Christ has to offer. So we can still have an eternal perspective and judge the eternal perspective, we can still do these things because they are part of the most basic experience of the light of christ.

  2. I believe “the Spirit leaving” means our communication with God is diminished (both ways). We can still know and understand with our brain and feel emotions with the emotional-feeling part of our brain, but we may have more difficulty learning spiritual truths and receiving inspiration or other gifts of the Spirit.

    Thus, it can be more difficult to discern the things of God, understand and accept an eternal perspective, feel like the Spirit is with us/teaching us, or care for others.

    How do I get the Spirit back? I try to repent, or change my behavior to be in line with God’s will. I try to rely on the witnesses I have received from the Holy Ghost and stay true to what I do know. If historical issues remove me from God, I need to separate myself from them and put them on a mental shelf until I have a testimony rooted firmly enough in God’s church and prophets that I can deal with them from a faithful perspective.

  3. “When we are close to the Holy Ghost, we can expect to receive personal revelation for ourselves and our family, special promptings to act, and confirmation of truth.”

    I think what baffles many members is the “confirmation of truth”. As we study our history we learn that prophets in this dispensation make blunders even big ones. If they are we hope closer to the spirit than we are and can’t alway’s get discernment right of the holy ghost what hope is their for us mere mortals in the church.

    INFALLIBLE

    President Brigham Young
    If I do not speak here by the power of God, if it is not revelation to you every time I speak to you here, I do not magnify my calling. What do you think about it? I neither know nor care. If I do not magnify my calling, I shall be removed from the place I occupy. God does not suffer you to be deceived. Here are my brethren and sisters, pouring out their souls to God, and their prayers and faith are like one solid cloud ascending to the heavens. They want to be led right; they want the truth; they want to know how to serve God and prepare for a celestial kingdom. Do you think the Lord will allow you to be fooled and led astray? No (Journal of Discourses 9:141).

    In an 1862 address, he said

    The Lord Almighty leads this Church, and he will never suffer you to be led astray if you are found doing your duty. You may go home and sleep as sweetly as a babe in its mother’s arms, as to any danger of your leaders leading you astray, for if they should try to do so the Lord would quickly sweep them from the earth (Journal of Discourses 9: 289).

    FALLIBLE BACK TO INFALLIBLE

    James e Faust, when he was a member of the Council of the Twelve, said
    “We make no claim of infallibility or perfection in the prophets, seers, and revelators” (Ensign, November 1989, p. 11).

    In the same conference address, he also affirmed that we can be sure that the leaders will never lead the people astray.

  4. James #3

    “As we study our history we learn that prophets in this dispensation make blunders even big ones. If they are we hope closer to the spirit than we are and can’t always get discernment right of the holy ghost what hope is their for us mere mortals in the church.”

    I think this depends on your POV of what constitutes a “blunder,” like making a bad financial investment, calling a Stake President who didn’t do a good job, mispeaking a point of doctrine, etc. versus “leading the church astray.”

    At the risk of an early thread-jacking of my own post. I think “leading the church astray” constitutes risking the eternal salvation of all members of the Church or risking the viability of the church as a whole, not an individual mistake.

    I think it is a rather high bar to reach.

  5. #5, Alice,

    A bit cryptic, but If I get you right, my answer is:

    Our Heavenly Father never leaves us, it is we who leave Him…

  6. Thank you for the post. The whole Spirit thing, for me, raises far more questions than answers. As I have gone through my disillusionment I have had a lot of emotions. I have also gained a lot of insight, even spiritual. How do I know if I don’t have the HG anymore?

    Re 2
    “I believe “the Spirit leaving” means our communication with God is diminished (both ways)”
    What is communication with God like? How can I know it?
    “We can still k now and understand with our brain and feel emotions with the emotional-feeling part of our brain, but we may have more difficulty learning spiritual truths and receiving inspiration or other gifts of the Spirit.”
    What exactly are spiritual truths? How do I know if I have learned one? Do they have to fall in line with what the Church says is doctrinally sound? What limitations does this place on what I can consider “came from the HG”?
    “How do I get the Spirit back? I try to repent, or change my behavior to be in line with God’s will.”
    What does this mean? Who decides what God’s will is? Is this always in harmony with the leaders of the church? Does my own revelation trump what the prophet says if they don’t agree?

    I guess I just don’t see it in my own life. I see emotions, I see ideas, I see powerful spiritual experiences. But, to me, I see those in my life the same as when I had an orthodox testimony.

    For me, it seems like this leaves me with a couple of options.
    1. I never had or experienced the HG (in spite of all my total devotion to the church and God my entire life up to a year ago). I consider this a possibility, but an awfully sad one since I worked really hard to do what I was supposed to do.
    2. My belief in the HG, my state of sinfulness, and really my actions altogether don’t really influence the HG and his comm with me.
    3. There is no HG.

    I try to live a good life, and I still follow the Mormon rules, but I just don’t really notice anything I can clearly identify as the HG at all.

  7. jmb275-

    I wonder if sometimes we don’t realize the HG with us because we are so accustomed to it. You said you have been totally devoted to the church and God your entire life up to a year ago and that you are still living a good life now. Do you consider an option to be that you have been experiencing the HG all along and are so accustomed to His influence that you don’t easily recognize it for what it is?

  8. I find the concept of the HG to be inadequately fleshed out. We seem to be talking about a range of things when we refer to the HG:
    – discernment
    – spiritual gifts
    – the comforter
    – a witness of truthfulness (or of Christ)
    – a personified but disembodied member of the godhead

    Do these things originate from a Person (a ghost)? Or are they more like the light of Christ (collective unconscious)? Or are they personal traits we possess and can develop but not necessarily explain through logical means (like intuition and experience)? Maybe these questions are like how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, but I find the vernacular problematic.

    I experience what we call the HG, but to me it feels more like the 3rd option, something that originates within me that I develop. The only distinction I would make is that the concept of “the comforter” is the one that to me feels like it comes from an external source.

  9. I feel similarly to jmb275…especially to the three options:

    1. I never had or experienced the HG (in spite of all my total devotion to the church and God my entire life up to a year ago). I consider this a possibility, but an awfully sad one since I worked really hard to do what I was supposed to do.
    2. My belief in the HG, my state of sinfulness, and really my actions altogether don’t really influence the HG and his comm with me.
    3. There is no HG.

    I guess I’m willing to accept 1 when I’m charitable to the church (although I’m biased and think that a “better” God would do 2…but who am I to say what’s “better” or “worse” for God)…and 3 is ultimately a conclusion that cannot be ignored…but if 1 is true, then that means my baptism was never complete lol. I need to go get my money’s worth back!

    All jokes aside…let’s say the spirit leaves someone…if they cannot discern any difference (or they never discerned a difference back when they were faithful), what does this mean?

    A lot of people used, “you’ll lose the gift of the Holy Ghost” as some kind of guilt trip for me, I think, but it had little effect, because I thought, “I’ve never felt too special, and I don’t feel too special now.” And I realized that the good in my life or the bad in my life was more often than not due to good actions or bad actions, taking to good lessons and concepts over the bad. But, in tune with jmb’s 2nd option, “good” and “bad” didn’t have much at all to do with the Church’s spiritualist doctrines about “righteousness” and “sin.”

  10. re 8:

    Jen,

    if this is the case, then the church and belief isn’t necessary. As long as you live a good life, regardless of what you believe, you’ll be ok. Which I’m fine with. But it seems to definitely detooth some of the guilt trips people used against me. (Which I’m also fine with)

  11. AndrewS-

    The whole point of my comment is that baptism and the HG were received at the age of 8 and that jmb275 may be so accustomed to having it that gift that it isn’t AS EASILY recognized. That automatically assumes that the church and belief are then necessary.

  12. re 12:

    I misunderstood you then. But what you’re really meaning doesn’t make so much sense. If you’re so accustomed to having it, then not having it should be a rather different sensation. Yet it’s…not.

  13. AndrewS-

    If you are accustomed to living with your parents for many years and they support you in many different ways, once you move away you WILL notice a difference and most likely recognize just how much they were helping you, but it won’t be until you are away from them and having to fend for yourself, not while you’re there with them. I believe it can be that way with the HG. If you are living a clean, good life you may be used to having the HG with you. It may not be until you choose to do something that directly offends the HG that you will finally recognize the difference in how you feel. In others words, I think it can be easy to take for granted, but that doesn’t mean it is completely unrecognizable if we are seeking to understand it. Another way to think about it is “you don’t know what you’ve got til its gone.” That’s my point and it does make sense.

  14. re 14:

    Jen,

    So then, exactly as I said, it’s more dependent on living a clean, good life, and not on the church or belief. The question is…who has a monopoly on “clean, good life.” As members of the church, we are each biased toward thinking that the church does…but we can easily conceive of things that the church has wanted its members to do in the past or wants it members to do in the present that strike us as wrong and dirty…and it is when we do *these* things, even though we are being completely obedient to the church, that we offend the HG and we feel a difference in our lives.

    Interestingly enough, when we retreat from whatever offense — by not mindlessly following what the church or any other body says but instead going by intuition and meditation — then interestingly enough, we have more peace and calm than ever. We have more joy than ever. We are not stressed, we are not anxious. For some, this fits right in the church. For others, this fits in other churches. Or it might not fit in a church at all.

    So, I agree with your point, “You don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone.” But the point jmb is trying to make (or if he isn’t, I certainly am)…is that whatever it is doesn’t “go” when you leave the church. It doesn’t “go” when you do not believe. The belief was irrelevant.

  15. I am truly humbled when I consider the fact that I am one of the lucky .2% of the world’s population that has the Gift of the Holy Ghost. I’m not sure why God would limit such an important Gift like the constant companionship of His Spirit to only .2% of his children, most of whom are born into it, but I’m glad I made the cut. I don’t know what I did in the pre-existence to deserve the privileged treatment of being born into a family where I’d be able to receive the Gift of the Holy Ghost, but it must have been pretty amazing.

    I hope I never, never, never do anything to lose the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost because then I would be in the same sad situation as the other 99.98% of God’s children who, as Jeff Spector correctly pointed out, due to their sin and/or unbelief feel distant from God and can’t get answers to their prayers.

  16. AndrewS-

    You can’t have the gift of the HG if you don’t attend church, get baptized and receive that gift. Belief is a part of it all, in addition to living a clean, good life. And, I do not easily conceive of things that the church has asked others to do that strike me as wrong and dirty, that is subjective and I don’t feel the same as you in relation to it.

    To me, belief is essential in maintaining the gift of the Holy Ghost. In fact, I believe the loss of the HG is directly related to non-belief. The HG will always be prompting us to be closer to God, not further away. It will always teach us that God lives and the He is our Father, not that He is non-existent. When I say “you don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone, I mean it is obvious to those who offend the HG when they are familiar with its companionship.

  17. re 17:

    then Jen, I have to establish that even attending church, getting baptized, following the commandments, and every single activity the church beckons its members to do…has little to do with receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost.

    You’re right; it’s *subjective*. This is immensely problematic when you want to claim “the HG will always be prompting us to be closer to God, not further away.” If the church can’t do it, if scripture study and prayer can’t do it, if none of these things can reliably do it, then this is a huge problem

  18. I totally agree with Jen. Even though LDS prophets who have had the Gift of the Holy Ghost, like Brigham Young, have said things like God’s penalty for white men mingling their seed with the seed of Cain is death on the spot and always has been and always will be, or that monogamy is a corrupt form of marriage that results in prostitution and disease, I nevertheless have full confidence that those LDS prophets can be relied upon 100% to accurately discern and tell us who gets how much communication from the Holy Spirit and under what conditions.

  19. AndrewS-

    I struggle to follow what your point is, sometimes I think you over analyze things too much. 🙂 I do agree with you in that just attending church, getting baptized, following commandments, etc. doesn’t necessarily mean we will have the companionship of the Holy Ghost IF our hearts aren’t sincerely trying to seek God and we are just going through the motions. I believe the HG stays with us because our hearts want Him to be with us. We are able to keep our hearts and minds on the Lord through church attendance, following commandments, etc. Human nature tends to focus on what is in front of us and we must be constantly reminded of the things of the God. I feel the HG is a constant reminder as we seek after His companionship.

  20. Do we feel a sense of loss from not having the Spirit with us constantly?

    Situation #1: Viewing or reading media not in keeping with moral standards

    Reaction: The comforting feeling of the Spirit departs. A carnal/lustful spirit draws nigh, beckoning reprioritization of how one intended to spend time, risks, and limits.

    Alternative explanation: Entrenched guilt from socialization changes the mood; underlying repression of harmless urges is liberated.

    Situation #2: Reading Anti-Mormon material

    Reaction: The hopeful witness of the Spirit departs. Dread and despair draw nigh; possibly shame–i.e. those who partook of the fruit in front of the great and spacious building.

    Alternative explanation: The discomfort is cognitive dissonance. Working through it will induce resocialization which will lead to temporary isolation.

  21. One of the things that occurs to me is that folks whose lives are not in harmony with having the companionship of the Holy Ghost will rationalize away the effects of having the Holy Ghost as our constant companion even to the point of forgetting how it feels when we do.

    I saw that effect with men who fell into sin and lost their membership in the Church.

  22. Jeff is right, but to be completely accurate with respect to Mormon doctrine, it’s not just people who fall into sin and lose their membership in the Church who don’t know how it feels to have the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost. It’s 99.98% of the world that doesn’t know what the Gift of the Holy Ghost -that constant companionship of the Holy Ghost- feels like.

    I mean, seriously, are we Mormons the luckiest people in the world or what?! If the Gift of the Holy Ghost is something only .2% of the world’s population has today, and 0% of the world’s population had during almost two thousand years of Apostasy, it must be something special! So how could any Mormon ever turn his back on a Gift that only 0% to .02% of the world’s population has ever had?!

  23. re 20:

    I do get rather wordy. My point is this: we must seek our own paths. This doesn’t mean that every path is acceptable and permissible, but rather that our own path — the path that will win us joy — is very personal. To try to codify it into a “one size fits all” package will fail every time, although we can find some commonalities in what generally works for most people. We just need to recognize what is truly common, what is confusing noise, and what differs by person.

  24. AndrewS-

    I agree with you on this. That is what is so wonderful about our ability to choose what we want in life. For me, I feel like the Lord knows what will bring me joy more than I could ever know and that is why the companionship of the Holy Ghost is so important to me. But I also realize that not everyone believes the Lord knows what is best, or that He even exists. I believe that each one of us will be given what we desire and seek after in life and that is exactly how it is supposed to be. Assuming the LDS church is true and is a way to happiness, I don’t believe everyone necessarily wants the type or level of happiness that it offers and many will not choose it. I think we all knew this before we ever came to earth and it is the natural order of things.

  25. #9, Hawk,

    When we talk of the Holy Ghost versus the “Light of Christ,” we are talking very different things. The “Light of Christ,” which is present in all people is the Spirit of Jesus which can help discern right from wrong, truth from error and is sometimes equate to our “conscience.” While that is a great gift given to all people by Jesus, that is all it is.

    The Holy Ghost, the personage of Spirit and part of the Godhead is the second comforter and the testator of ALL truth, not just right from wrong.

    “The Holy Ghost undoubtedly possesses personal powers and affections; these attributes exist in Him in perfection. Thus, He teaches and guides, testifies of the Father and the Son, reproves for sin, speaks, commands, and commissions, makes intercession for sinners, is grieved, searches and investigates, entices, and knows all things. These are not figurative expressions, but plain statements of the attributes and characteristics of the Holy Ghost.” Talmadge, Articles of Faith, 144

    The Holy Ghost is as real as the Father and The Son.

  26. #23

    Derek-

    I think with that gift comes great responsibility and accountability. I don’t feel I am any more special than anyone else on this earth, but I do feel that because I have been taught the gospel of Jesus Christ I am much more accountable before God than those who do not have it. I also feel that I have been given all the tools to understand how to love others and not to judge them and I am expected to learn how to do this in this life, not the next. In other words, when God gives you all the materials to build a beautiful ship, you better build it, and then you better offer the comfort it affords to others even if they weren’t a part of the building process.

  27. I have a quick question in regards to the “when the Spirit leaves,” issue.

    Most Protestant Churches teach that once you believe or you are confirmed in the Church you receive the Gift of the Holy Ghost. The Spirit is your constant companion, and if you sin, is there to gently press upon your heart that what you have done is wrong. You repent and keep going. The idea that making a mistake and the Spirit leaving immediately makes the LDS Church less of a joy to be part of. It almost becomes a paranoid game of trying to figure out if you still have the Spirit.

    As a member of the Church I am a firm believer that the Spirit is with you – even after sinning. You may get to a point when you have sinned so much that the Spirit departs or even become “immune” to the Spirit. However, God loves us and does not play games with our relationship with Him. If you miss a Sunday or you miss a tithe, the Spirit does not leave. This is a horrible idea that has given credence to the idea that Latter Days Saints are constantly working (miserable) for their salvation.

  28. Jeff #26 – I posed my questions more based on my personal experience, not to understand the theology of it (which is still quite vague when you dig into it). Having been baptized at 8, I’m not sure I remember my pre-HG days that well. My mother, who was baptized at 28 has had a very different pre- and post-HG experience. But I don’t really know how that would be.

  29. Jen, I totally agree with you. I don’t feel any more special than anyone else either, just more blessed and fortunate because I have special gifts like the Gift of the Holy Ghost that 99.98% of the world doesn’t have. It makes me feel a sense of urgency to let everyone else know about this Gift so they can get it too. We sure have our work cut out for us, but with diligent efforts, perhaps in a few decades we could get the percentage of the world’s population with the Gift of Holy Ghost up to maybe 1% or even 2%. Just think of how amazing that would be.

    Regarding your statement above that “For me, I feel like the Lord knows what will bring me joy more than I could ever know and that is why the companionship of the Holy Ghost is so important to me.” I made a similar statement to a friend who has apostatized and he told me that even though I thought I was relying on the Holy Ghost rather than relying on my own judgment, in actuality I was relying on my own INTERPRETATIONS of PERCEPTIONS that I was attributing to the Holy Ghost. He said no matter which way you go –believing in the Holy Ghost or not believing in the Holy Ghost– in the end you’re relying on your own interpretations of things you believe you’re perceiving, which may or may not be accurate. In other words, if I say “I rely on what the Holy Ghost tells me,” what I’m really saying is “I rely on my interpretations of my perceptions that I attribute to the Holy Ghost”. So either way, I’m relying on my own judgment. In one scenario I recognize I’m relying on my own judgment, in the other scenario I think I’m relying on God’s judgment but am actually relying on my own judgment, which consists of my own interpretations of my own perceptions that I am attributing to the Holy Ghost.

    Can you believe my friend would come up with crazy ideas like this? Some people will find a way to rationalize away anything.

  30. “This family unit is so important that the Lord has made it known to us that by the time of the end of the Millennium all of Adam’s posterity who accept the gospel must be sealed together as one family by the power of the priesthood, which is the power to seal on earth and it shall be sealed in heaven, and to bind on earth and it shall be bound in heaven.

    Every person who comes on this earth must have an opportunity to receive all the blessings of these sealings, if he will accept, sometime before the end of the Millennium. There could not be a just God if it were otherwise.”

    Eldred G. Smith, Ensign, Nov 1974

    “It is also the Holy Ghost, in His character as the Holy Spirit of Promise, that confirms the validity and efficacy of your covenants and seals God’s promises upon you.”

    D. Todd Christofferson, “The Power of Covenants,” Liahona, May 2009, 19–23

  31. Hawk,

    “I posed my questions more based on my personal experience, not to understand the theology of it (which is still quite vague when you dig into it)’

    I figured that but decided to expound for the benefit of others who may not be as clear on the distinction.

    “My mother, who was baptized at 28 has had a very different pre- and post-HG experience. But I don’t really know how that would be.”

    I was also baptized at 28. And I had two very profound experiences with the HG pre- and post, exactly the same. One occurred when I received my spiritual witness of the truthfulness of the Gospel after I had intellectually decided it was true and the other when I actually received the Gift of the Holy Ghost.

    It is something that I cannot deny.

  32. #28, Jeff (not me)

    “The idea that making a mistake and the Spirit leaving immediately makes the LDS Church less of a joy to be part of. It almost becomes a paranoid game of trying to figure out if you still have the Spirit.”

    There is more to it than “making a mistake.” We know right from wrong, we have the HG and the Light of Christ to help us discern. If we choose something we know is wrong, it is we who cause the separation, not the HG. He doesn’t leave so much as we push Him away. In my mind, though, we are never really alone. God never really abandons us. it is we who abandon Him.

  33. My apologies to you Jeff Spector. For added clarification between the two I have added a “J” to my name.

    I agree with the thought that there is more to making a mistake. However, we are human and as long as we are in this mortal life we will continue to make mistakes. I have to go with the Catholics on this in their idea about sins of commission and omission. When deliberately done I believe the Spirit does tug away at us. In sins of omission (done because we are human) we are gently reminded that we have done wrong and that something now seperates us from God. We repent of the sin and move. Sins of commission are very different and most people spend time deliberating the sinful act before doing. The Spirit warns us that what we are about to do is wrong and yet we decide to sin – this is when there is a seperation of choice – pushing Him away and not the other way around.

    I would also like to say that following commandments alone does not make one close to God. There are plenty of people who tithe, keep the Word of Wisdom and grace the doors of the church any time it is open. These acts alone are not going to bring us close to God and keep the Spirit with us.

  34. Kind of late to this but thought I’d add my two cents. I hope it might be of some worth.

    Hawk – I was baptized in the LDS church at age 18 and have some basis for comparison of pre- and post-gift of the HG.

    I remember reading the Bible when I was little, wondering about the resurrection versus the teachings of my religion at that time of how a person went to live with God after they died (“Well, are they taken out of heaven for the final judgment, hoping to get back there after they’re resurrected?” Of course, I was only 9 or so and there’s much more to it than that.). Suffice it to say that I knew / wondered things back then, for a long time, and learned of their truth later on. Kind of like a radio in my home that picks up some stations more clearly in one part of my home than others. You could say the gift of the HG put me in a better spot now.

    Following that little analogy, you could say that following my confirmation things became pretty clear and tend to remain that way provided I do what I know and believe to be correct (in which “correct” is entirely subjective). It was as if I was searching pre-HG gift with a flashlight and post-HG gift with the lights on in the room. I had some of it before, what we refer to as the Light of Christ, and a little more after I was confirmed.

    I do not know that I necessarily *always* have it with me though I have experienced some surprise at its’ sudden absence when I wasn’t fully aware of its presence. Does that make any sense at all? Maybe I don’t always know when it’s around, but I know when it’s not.

    Being in my certain “frequency sensitive” spot in my “house” I’m also aware that I may stand right where I need to be and sway just a little and the “channel” becomes fuzzy, not as clear. What I endeavor to do is sway a little closer to center as often as possible and listen as hard as I can for the intermittent messages sent my way.

    And the “room” I mention? It’s all about understanding more fully the atonement and my relationship to the God I love. When I lose sight of that and humor my pride, the “channel” gets fuzzy. Sometimes it’s tough to stand still and keep from falling over completely.

  35. This is interesting.

    I have never had any sense of having the Spirit with me or not with me, can’t discern a thing, never have. What I used to think were “promptings” and being “warned of danger” in hindsight was clearly a severe anxiety disorder (I was pretty much prompted to never leave the house). What inspired me to pray fervently and work hard at my church callings and read the scriptures was fear. Where others talked about feeling the Spirit in meetings or being supported and inspired by the Spirit in their callings, all I got was a cold, sick, tight feeling in my chest. All things church-related have been a source of misery, desperate pleading in prayer for help not withstanding.

    I’ve had to teach a few lessons on the Holy Ghost and it’s difficult, since the concept is basically meaningless to me. A theory that seems not to hold up in application. At least not for me.

  36. Jeff Spector: “I was also baptized at 28. And I had two very profound experiences with the HG pre- and post, exactly the same. One occurred when I received my spiritual witness of the truthfulness of the Gospel after I had intellectually decided it was true and the other when I actually received the Gift of the Holy Ghost.

    It is something that I cannot deny.” My mother’s experience was very dramatic as well. She had been catechized as a Lutheran and their class was told they had received the HG. She said she didn’t feel anything, and she asked her friend who was sitting next to her, and she said she didn’t either. But when she was baptized and confirmed at age 28, she said she clearly felt the HG as a physical sensation during the confirmation process. Perhaps conversion was the difference. Perhaps it was her age. Perhaps it was the HG. She would not deny her experience, to be sure, or its meaning to her.

  37. I understand gifts of the spirit. They are part of the human condition, but that doesn’t account for the Holy Ghost.

    A good friend of mine is the minister of a large Presbyterian congregation in South Carolina. I told him the story of how I was recently on a business trip to India and went to a Hindu temple. I was overwhelmed by the very recognizable attitude of worship that I saw in the people there. My LDS upbringing let me instantly recognize an outpouring of the Spirit, even though the icons and symbols were so different from the religion I knew. The devotion, faith and hope for divine intercession their daily affairs was utterly familiar. I was unable to distinguish what I experienced there from the fervor of an LDS testimony meeting.

    My friend the pastor listened to this story and then told me that he feels that God has called him to be faithful within his tradition but that his community of faith is not inherently privileged, more valued by God or “correct” than any other. His moorings seemed to be quite intact. He was confident of his relationship with God and the value of his ministry to others. I was struck by how his acceptance of other traditions gave his faith strength, resilience and even a kind of maturity.

    When I tell this story to fellow Mormons, the air gets thick. Before I even finish, the answers are already formed. In essence, the Hindu religious experience can’t be real because there are no priesthood keys to confer the gift of the Holy Ghost, etc. This devolves into hair splitting over the definitions of light of Christ versus Holy Ghost, etc. It ends up being a long, tortured and thoroughly unsatisfying discussion, at least for me.

    My conclusion is that exclusive access to gifts of the Spirit does not make faith stronger, although it does push us toward stronger sectarian divisions.

  38. “When I tell this story to fellow Mormons, the air gets thick.”

    I can relate to that, with some other members, anyway, certainly not all. Many of my LDS friends and family would respond to something like that with “isn’t God great that he is watching over ALL of his children?”

  39. Adam– The problem is that I’ve been to testimony meetings and I’ve been to Hindu temples in India. You can’t tell me that the experiences aren’t identical. It contradicts direct observation. So if God is watching over all of his children, what does “the only true and living church on the face of the earth” really mean? Not much.

  40. Of course I can’t tell you that the experiences aren’t identical, because I’m not you. 🙂

    Are you suggesting that some members believe that “the only true and living church” means that people in other faiths do not have spiritual experiences just like we do? Also, I would need to think more about it, but I suspect that the “only true and living church” idea is one that means a lot to many members, including those who feel that God speaks to other people as well. I would have to let the speak for themselves though. For me, the belief is not important in the sense of a “I’m right and they’re wrong” kind of way. There have been much better posts here on this topic though (i.e. better than I could do).

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