Mormons And The Burning In The Bosom (revised)July 21, 2010
Mormons will point to their experience of the burning in the bosom to ultimately validate that their beliefs are true. Since scriptures, interpretations, and prophets can all contradict each other, then supposedly a final arbiter of truth is needed outside of the realm of people’s opinions. We need something verifiable. That “something” is a verifiable burning sensation in the heart to Mormons.
In The Book of Mormon (TBM), the Book of Moroni 10:4 states, “And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.”
Then James 1:5 says, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally”. (KJV)
Doctrine & Covenants (D&C) 9:8 says, “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.”
These texts are commonly used by Mormons to Scripturally justify the burning in the bosom. Namely, that it should serve as an initial proof that they are in the truth.
Now I would like to simply point out the flaws, problems, and inconsistencies with all of this:
1. The D&C passage was written to Oliver Cowdery, someone who was already a Mormon. Why is someone who is already a Mormon needing to verify if the teachings of Mormonism are true? Mormon, were you honestly completely indifferent to Mormonism when you prayed your prayer, or were you in favor of it when you asked for your burning in the bosom?
2. Further, the next verse, in verse 9, says that “if the things are not true then you will have a stupor of thought and will forget about the false thing.” I testify to all Mormons that I have believed things to be true in my heart and LATER had a stupor about it. So how do you know that you will NEVER eventually have a stupor towards Mormonism? You can’t know for sure. Someday you might. If you’re going to assume D&C as authoritative, then you need to assume it is authoritative that you may someday have a stupor even towards Mormonism.
3. Someone could pray and ask if the Quran, or even the teachings of the FLDS or the RLDS (other Mormon sects which the LDS’s reject) were true and if one got the burning in the bosom we’d still have to conclude these are all just as correct too. But A and non-A can’t both be true. You’d then need to appeal to another standard to know which burning in the bosom about which teaching should be accepted.
4. The burning in the bosom is self-contradictory once you think about it for a while. The Mormon is assuming the authority of the TBM, or the authority of D&C in order to validate if TBM and D&C is authoritative. In other words, they’re assuming they should listen to it in order to find out if they should listen to it. And that is so backwards it doesn’t make any sense. One does not need to bother to find out if they should listen to it if they’re already going to listen to it anyways!
5. What if the Mormon wanted to validate whether their burning in the bosom was authentic. You know, just to make sure it wasn’t caused by indigestion. Would they validate it by another burning in the bosom? And what about authenticating that burning, and so on? They’d be caught in an infinite regress. This is the problem with using “empiricism” as an ultimate standard of truth.
6. Both the passage from the Book of Moroni and James never mention anything about an actual burning in the bosom. They speak of the Holy Spirit giving us right knowledge, not a burning in the heart to verify the knowledge. That is the unwarranted leap in interpretation. That is no where to be found in either text.
7. The book of James is written to people who are already believers, not people who are questioning whether or not God’s word is true and are needing to verify it! Further, the context of James 1:5-9 is that God will grant wisdom to those who have confident faith in Christ. Wisdom deals moreso with how to live rightly, not a burning in the heart to verify if doctrinal precepts are correct.
8. Even the book of Moroni, in verse 4, says that the truth will be revealed to those whom have faith in Christ. This means that those whom ask God to reveal the truth to them are already believers in Christ! So if one is already a believer in Christ, why are they still needing to verify claims they already have faith in with an initial burning in the heart?
9. Jeremiah 17:9 says, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” Just because one experiences a burning in the heart, doesn’t mean it should be trusted. Just because one sincerely believes they know the truth, doesn’t mean they really do.
10: Galatians 1:6-10 “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned!
Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.”
Compare the gospel that the apostles teach and proclaim to that of the Mormon gospel. It’s as though this passage in the Bible was written directly to them so that they’d be without excuse for accepting another gospel, which is really no gospel according to the apostle Paul. Perhaps the angel Moroni did reveal a gospel to Joseph Smith. We are commanded to judge the gospel Joseph Smith was given with what the apostles revealed 2,000 years ago. The Mormons have a gospel of salvation by works. The apostles teach we are justified apart from works, so that no man may boast and so God would be all glorious. We are only saved by Christ’s works. He worked so we could be saved, and we’re saved so we can then work for Him as an act of love, not fear. We do good works not to earn salvation, but as a result of it just as a good tree bears good fruit.
We cannot base truth on subjectivity. Even agnostics understand that objective truth must exist independent of ourselves, and our subjective opinions. We live like this is the case everyday. We do not invent that 1+1=2.
The Mormon, with their burning in the bosom testimony, is really only telling you that they accept the authority of the Mormon Church because they do. Scripture is not their authority. Consistent interpretation of the Quad is not their authority. Just the Church’s tradition and the Prophet’s say-so. They accept Mormonism to be true because they accept Mormonism to be true. I would submit that this is not safe.
NOW PLEASE TELL ME YOUR THOUGHTS!!!