The Burning Bosom

Yesterday I blogged about a theme that seems to always pop up when I’m talking with Mormons: that Mormonism and Christianity are the same. Sure, there are some differences, but Mormonism is ultimately a form of Christianity just like the Baptist denomination is a form of Christianity.

I don’t buy that line.

Here’s another issue that comes up: the “burning heart.”  Ask an LDSer, “how do you know that the LDS faith is true?” or “how can I know?” and he’ll reply that if you read the Book of Mormon and pray with a sincere heart, that God will reveal the truth to you via a “burning heart.”   The burning heart boils down to an intense feeling or conviction that Joseph Smith is a true prophet.  You’ll just know.bookofmormon

My question is this: how is this adequate evidence for the truth of the Book of Mormon in light of the fact that people have similar reasons (a strong conviction, in other words) for rejecting it?

For Christians, the Holy Spirit gives witness to the heart that God is our (non-literal, or spiritual…He didn’t literally physically sire us) Father a la Romans 8, so I understand the possibility of having such a testimony.  The thing is, though, is that for Christians, this witness is not in a vacuum–I can give several objective lines of evidence to substantiate the subjective witness.  The subjective testimony isn’t the only leg I have to stand on.

Also, when I talk to others about Jesus, my subjective testimony is completely unconvincing to them.  I must give reasons and evidence that they can access, which I am able to do.

But when pressed, Mormon missionaries have shied away from giving that, preferring instead to focus on the “burning heart.”  I wonder why.

When you have competing “burning bosoms,” both can’t be valid.  You have to go to an objective source to substantiate between the two.  I wonder why I don’t see more of this in the LDS missionary approach.

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19 responses to “The Burning Bosom

  1. First!

    Whenever I discuss Mormonism, I always lead with the beginning of the physical universe. I list the 6 discoveries that led up to the standard big bang theory and then ask them how they square that with their eternally existing matter model.

    It’s the quickest way to show them the difference between Christianity and Mormonism.

    Learn how to do it here:

    http://winteryknight.wordpress.com/2009/04/08/how-to-defend-the-kalam-cosmological-argument-just-like-william-lane-craig/

  2. Last time Mormon missionaries came to my door I admit I resorted to a bit of savagery I like to think was a “reductio ad absurdum” kind of argument.

    When I stated that I believed the bible was the complete word of the infallible omniscient God and that all others were pretenders and fakes, and asked him what led him to believe that his word was truer. He responded with the burning in the bosom.

    I responded stating the last time I had a burning in the bosom, I took a pepcid and it cleared it right up.

    Not the most convincing argument, I must say. But I think they oughta work on their verbiage. “Conviction” may be a better word for what they’re describing.

  3. Matthew,

    That is kinda funny, but even if they change the verbage, I think the overall question is the same: how is that adequate evidence for the truth of the B.O.M in light of competing convictions?

  4. From my perspective, all brands of Christianity are equally ridiculous and lacking in objective proof for their validity, so it’s amusing for me to watch as they debate amongst themselves.

  5. Kevin,

    I think you missed the point of the post I linked to in the beginning–Mormonism is a separate religion alltogether. It is not accurate to brand it as a version of Christianity. Branding it so does not take into account the doctrinal differences as well as its historical origins.

  6. As a Mormon missionary I was confronted with these questions on a regular basis, and while I appriciate that you view The LDS faith as a christian denomination (that’s progress I guess) we never claim to be anything but the same church that Jesus Christ established ancently, restored in this day by the savior himself through a prophet. We also believe there is a living prophet today. That is not nessisarily the issue at hand though. I have read The Book of Mormon and I know that it is true partly because I feel the spirit of God within me as I do but the main reason for my belief is the fruits in my life from living the principles within it’s pages. I have seen peace, love and joy flood into my life because of the full testimony of Christ that is expressed within it’s pages. Now I know this can be debated by others as well.

    Joseph Smith claimed to be a prophet nothing else. So he was either a crack pot or an actual prophet. Just like Christ claimed to be the Savior not a teacher or a wise man. He was either the Savior of mankind or a mad man. These are important claims that each person needs to sort out for themself. The book of Mormon is Josephs parting of the red sea. I believed on faith at first but put the book to the test in my own life the words within it’s covers ring true for me as the word of God similar to the feeling I receieve when I read the words of God in the Bible.

    I would challenge anyone to read the book of Mormon and ask themselves if they felt it were honestly written by ancent prophets or by a 21 year old delusional farm boy.

    I hope that adds some clarity. I wrote this on my iPhone so there are probably some errors. Sorry :)

  7. Do they believe in jesus? Yes. Then I’m going to have to agree with Kevin’s comment on this.

  8. Rich you make some very good points in your post. After reading a book someone sent me to review, I have to say that Mormonism does seem very different from traditional Christianity.

  9. Way to go, opening up a whole new front on the religious war question on a Sunday morning. You know this ranks right up there with which Korea to put your money on right now?

  10. Seth,

    I actually don’t think Mormonism is a denomination of Christianity. Read the link I reference in the first paragraph. I thought I made it clear that Mormonism and Christianity are two different religions.

    Stjogo: what the heck are you talking about? You lost me.

    Summer: why do you think that? What reasons do you have for agreeing with Kevin? You must do better than make a 1-2 sentence assertion about your beliefs.

  11. Rich, I agree with your assessment. I’ve been doing a lot of reading about Mormonism lately, and have felt a strong desire to pray for LDS people who sincerely want to follow God but are unwittingly trapped.

    It’s dishonest for the LDS church to compare itself to mainstream Christianity when their concepts of God, Jesus, salvation, and redemption are entirely different. They use the same words but give them different definitions.

  12. @Seth : quote
    “Just like Christ claimed to be the Savior not a teacher or a wise man.”

    I disagree with this, but correct me if I’m wrong. While it may have been subtle, and not of his own words directly(Acts 10:42-44), from my knowledge, Jesus did not claim to be the Savior. He would constantly refer to himself as the Son of Man, and only the Son of God on a couple occasions(Luke 22:70 , Mark 13:32). Although i doubt the “Son of God” would have had the same meaning when it was written as many people make it out to be. I have, however, found Acts 10 to be weird because of verse 39…”…They killed him by hanging him on a tree,” Clarification would be nice(but maybe on a different occasion).

    I think Mark 13 would be quite an asset in “combating” the Mormon faith.

    But then again, I don’t personally know much about the Mormon/LDS faith or whatever. I personally don’t participate in any of the Christian churches. Reasons that i could elaborate on, but i don’t think are necessary for this topic.

  13. Seth,

    A comment you made on a previous post made me wonder about something. If we can become “gods” but still remain subservient to “Eloheim”, is he then subservient to someone or something else? Does he himself have a “God the Father” of his own? Or is he the one true God, the only and the everlasting?

  14. Kelli,

    i did not make a comment on any other posts- but I assume that was a loaded question about the doctrine of eternal progression, Just because we may be like God one day does not make God any less our father. Growing up and becoming like our parents does not make them any less a parent nor does it make us better than them, only like them.

    If you truly want to know more about it i would be happy to talk with you on skype (sethjenks@gmail.com) If you are trying to “show me the light” I think your time would be better spent elsewhere. I have looked into a lot of religions and made a choice biased on ernest prayer and extensive study.

    As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints I realize the differences between our beliefs and mainstream christianity, and it is because of many of those differences i made a choice to believe in what i believe is true christianity restored. I would invite you to have an open mind and converse with actual members of the church about it’s doctrines and practices, I would not trust books or other literature written by apostates and detractors.

  15. Eric,

    Great comment, could not the Mark 13 chapter be applied to Catholicism and the Protestants etc. given the mormon position that it is a restoration of Christ’s church after a great apostasy?

  16. Seth,

    I guess the comment I read was not yours. Sorry for the mistake. My question remains, however, and you obviously know something about it. Though I have read quite a bit about Mormonism, I have not read anything definitive regarding Mormon doctrine on whether God is the one true God or if there is one (or more) above him. I asked you because I really want to know what you believe on the subject.

    I am currently reading the Book of Mormon for myself to get a first-hand look. My first impression has been affected by the fact that I didn’t get past the introduction before certain Scriptures swiftly came to mind: 1 Corinthians 11:1-3 and Galatians 1:6-10.

    The previous commentor also said something about discussing doctrine instead of ad hominim attacks. That’s what I’m trying to do here. I think an honest discussion of core doctrines is relevent, and I would say my question qualifies as a doctrinal one.

  17. Seth,

    I encourage you to play fair. You are welcome to comment on the blog and persuade vigorously, but I sense you are ‘stacking the deck’ a bit. What I mean is that you aren’t interested in Kelli “showing you the light” (assuming she is trying to do that), but clearly, you are trying to show all readers here the Mormon “light.” Why should she be interested in your words while you not be interested in hers? Your appeal to her (and others) is that she has an open mind, but you clearly indicate you’ve made up your mind.

  18. Correction on Scripture reference, 2 Corinthians, not 1 Corinthians.

  19. @Seth
    “Just because we may be like God one day does not make God any less our father”

    See Genesis 1:26. I’m not sure if you were alluding that we are not like God now, and will become more like God through some religious experience. However, in case you were, i would like to say that is very much like the serpent(Genesis 3: 4-5). Just trying to clear that up in case there was some misconception, but yes, he is our father.

    Ok. Well, i’m not sure if this will be relevant to Mormanism and the conversation, but allow me to vent a little: enjoy. The main reason i disagree with any current form of church and religious institution on any branch of Christianity(because this is the topic yeh?) is that i do not think the church Jesus intended to be created is the church that was created. Seldom does Jesus talk about a Church and certainly not telling people to go make great churches and religions based off of his teachings! Also, i feel that, like many institutions, that the original intent has been perverted and distorted into a frame of control and power. We do also have to have the hope and faith that the writings in the bible have been preserved in their original meaning and content and not perverted by the translations and the heads of the church’s who clearly did not always have the best intentions. But i would think it foolish not to take the bible and religion(as there are so many that make such interesting claims) with a grain of salt. -end vent for now

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