Monday, September 28, 2009

Spiritual Experiences Can Be Used to Manipulate Us

I freely admit that the primary basis for my loss of believe in Mormonism is that I took it so literally and blindly. I accepted every pronouncement from church authorities spoken at conference, written in the Ensign, or published in their many books…Hook, Line and Sinker....and as the word of God

When the church and church scriptures taught that Adam left the garden 6,000 ago I literally believed it. When I was taught by the general authorities that there was no death on earth prior to Adams exit from Eden, I accepted it as an essential doctrine for the justification of and evidence for the need of an atonement.

When Spencer Kimble, declared in conference that every native American from Alaska to the tip of South America and the Islands of the Pacific were descendants of Father Lehi…I never questioned. The Prophet had spoken; the thinking had already been done.

When the Book of Mormon established Noah’s universal flood and the Tower of Babel as real historical events I accepted this whole cloth. I now find each of these claims unbelievable and unsubstantiatable.

While serving my mission, I had many so called spiritual experiences. One that stands out in my mind involved a book that shook me to the core. An investigator had given me a copy of Gerald and Sandra Tanners ”Mormonism: Shadow or Reality?” This was considered Hard Core anti Mormon stuff at the time and probably still is. Of course having a firm testimony of the gospel and knowing that real truth can stand up to any scrutiny, I accepted the challenge to read the book and get back with these people. Unfortunately, the book had the opposite effect than I had hoped on me; it exposed the ugly underbelly of Mormonism in a manner of which I had never been informed. The book showed photo copies of all the changes in the D&C, additions inserted in God’s so called revelations made to enhance Joseph Smiths claim to authority, eye witness accounts of Joseph’s drinking and tobacco use after the Word of Wisdom had been revealed. You see I was of that generation when Joseph had been made into a man-god (seemingly without fault) something I now know to not be true…he was very much a man with all the complicated personality traits and flaws all humans have. There were all the prophecies made by Joseph that NEVER came true, even one involving his prophecy regarding church members teaching the inhabitants of the Moon (yeah I know its bizarre, but he actually did prophecy such things) he even went on to describe their dress (like Quakers) so typical of Joseph now when I look back. All the information was documented from church records and accounts…and it blew me out of the water.

In a matter of minutes, I was rocked to the core of my being. I literally crumbled to the floor in a fetal position and shivered…during that HOT summer day.
I KNEW the church was true…I had felt the spirit so many times in my life…but these revelations were so detrimental to the truth claims of the church that if found true drew only one logical conclusion…the church could not be what it claims to be and these things also be true… at the same time.

I retreated to another room…and fell to my knee’s… Dear God, my Father I pleaded…if ever there was a need for You in my life it is now. I have lovingly served you tirelessly and I have asked for nothing in return…but dear Father…I need you now. These things cannot be true AND the church be what it claims to be. So I am telling you what I need from you. If this book is true…you need do nothing…leave it where I let it fall. BUT if it is NOT true…then I plead dear Father, knowing that You have all power to do all things…I ask You to Move that book off my bed and place it across the room to the opposite side of my room and place it on my companions bed. I know it is a sin to ask for a sign…but I NEED this…

I then concluded the most earnest prayer of my life and returned to my room. (I might add that my comp had been in another room studying during this entire incident he was oblivious to what I had been going through). I fully expected to return to my room and find the book laying exactly where I had left it (my faith had been so devastated…where upon I would have packed my suitcase and gone home from my mission a broken man) But as I walked into the room…the book was NOT where I had left it… God in His wisdom had performed my own personal miracle. As I entered the room…the book was on the other side of the room sitting on my companion’s bed. (I know gives you goose bumps doesn’t it) I again fell to my knees thanking God for answering my most fervent prayer…all doubts left…I was filled with the most wonderful spirit I had ever experienced in my life…I knelt there in my room crying, thanking God for His love and knew that the contents of that book was filled with NOTHING but lies and distortions. I went on to serve a wonderful mission serving as District leader, Zone Leader and as Assistant to the President. I returned from my mission with honor.

So why hasn’t this most powerful of spiritual experiences sustained me? Because in the end the claims made by the Tanners had in fact been based in some truth…but what about that book…didn’t it move across the room? Well yes it did. It turns out that while I had been praying my companion had come into our room , picked up the book, looked at it, then sat it back where he had been sitting…on his own bed. Yeah the argument could be made that GOD prompted my companion to do that…at least that’s what I believed at the time…but IF the Tanner material IS factual (and it is) can the church be true and the Tanners be telling the truth as well? Personally, it would be equivalent to having the Sun rise both in the East and the West at the same time.

So, based on my personal experience I’ve concluded that human emotions are a bad device to base truth claim on…Why? Because human emotions can be manipulated, we can deceive ourselves when using the so called prompting of the spirit…it just is not a valid standard upon which to measure truth claims on.

Bottom Line truth and faith must be based (at least on some level) on facts and reality...not fiction...Mormonism is based on the latter.