How To Be A Successful Mormon Missionary

I think I know enough about the LDS missionary discussions that I know how to be a successful Mormon missionary. I’m confident that I could serve 2 years and bring in a number of baptisms with this method. It comes down to focusing your visits and your investigators on the right thing. There’s really no need to ever focus on the Book of Mormon, the need for modern prophets, the Great Apostasy, the restoration of the priesthood, temples or even Joseph Smith.

If you want to get baptisms it’s all about Moroni’s promise and Galatians 5:22-23.

First you have the investigator read this passage. If you can get someone to read this passage without at all considering if it’s authoritative or true the battle is almost won. It sounds authoritative, that’s good enough. Even if the investigator is skeptical about it’s authority, you ask them to test it anyways. The proof is in the pudding. What’s it really going to cost them to try it? It’s just a prayer, that’s easy right?

Moroni 10:3-5.
3 Behold, I would exhort you that when ye shall read these things, if it be wisdom in God that ye should read them, that ye would remember how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men, from the creation of Adam even down until the time that ye shall receive these things, and ponder it in your hearts.

4 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.

5 And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.

Notice the part I highlighted “he will manifest the truth of it unto you”. This is where you’ve got them sold. Now all you have to do is tell them HOW he will manifest the truth to them. Have them read Galatians 5:22-23

22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

You tell the investigator that this verse shows that peace and joy are a way the Spirit manifest truth to you. I’m totally taking this verse out of context. If you read the entire book of Galatians or even the entire chapter you’ll know that the “fruits of the Spirit” are outward manifestations in the life of a believer, they aren’t inward emotions that people experience. Just compare them to the preceding verses 19-21 which are the “fruits of the sinful life”

The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

This verse being out of context is beside the point. Baptism is a worthy goal, so if we’re taking verses out of context, it’s okay since the end goal is beautiful and valuable.

The main point is that if you can convince someone that they can know something is true because they have the emotions of joy and peace you’re work is practically finished. If an investigator lets you in their home it’s likely that they already have some kind of positive emotions directed toward you or the LDS church. Missionaries are often charming and good looking. Their clean cut across the board. The church is full of nice and wholesome people. It’s not difficult to find reasons for people to feel good about the church. I think investigators generally already WANT to feel good about the church. It’s really not all that hard to manifest good feelings. Try smiling while you read this, you’ll automatically feel more positive about it. Start asking the investigator if they feel good about anything associated with the Book of Mormon or the LDS church. If they say “yes” to anything, let them know that’s the witness of the Holy Spirit in their life. They know it’s true and they’re ready for baptism.

If the investigator has not accepted this, don’t move on. Stay with it. Everything else is an up hill battle unless they’ve accepted that spiritual truth is communicated through positive feelings. If you’ve convinced them that good feelings = truth from God, then they will take whatever other beliefs that come with the LDS church no matter how difficult they are to believe or live out.

In fact you have a built in defense mechanism. Any evidence that might contradict the church will cause negative emotions in the new believer. Since they believe that God brings good emotions, anything that causes negative emotions must be from Satan, and thus should be ignored and avoided.

This is all that is required to be a successful Mormon missionary.

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32 thoughts on “How To Be A Successful Mormon Missionary

  1. So, to put it another way, a missionary has to begin by convincing an investigator of four critical points:

    1. Absolute truth exists
    2. The source of absolute truth is God
    3. God willingly reveals absolute truth through the Holy Ghost
    4. The Holy Ghost manifests in the form of feelings of peace, warmth, and joy.

    If the investigator believes any of those already, then the missionary’s job is easier. If not, as was often the case in Germany on my mission, the missionary’s job is very hard (especially since the discussions don’t really focus on that first assumption, that there is such a thing as absolute truth).

    Then, the missionary has to get the investigator to feel the Holy Ghost about the Book of Mormon and/or the First Vision. This is supposed to happen when the investigator agrees to pray about it, and feels those feelings.

    At that point, if the investigator has thoroughly internalized points 1-4 above, then they will conclude that the Book of Mormon and First Vision are true. The missionary then has two more points to get across:

    5. If the Book of Mormon and the First vision are true, then the Church is God’s one true church.
    6. If the Church is God’s one true church, then you should be baptized.

    That’s pretty much the way it’s supposed to happen. Ideally, the investigator should be able to feel the Spirit/Holy Ghost when exposed to any of God’s truths, so the missionaries also teach the bare essentials of Mormonism (apostasy, restoration, priesthood, plan of salvation, temples, tithing, eternal families, word of wisdom, etc.), but they’re not actually critical to the conversion process. They’re just things you need to know if you’re gonna be Mormon.

    That’s the process as I understood it as a missionary- it all revolves around getting the investigator to feel and recognize the Spirit, and then to act on (and make commitments based on) that feeling/recognition.

  2. I believe I’ve heard post-modern LDS argue that #1 isn’t even all that important or relevant. What’s most important is what the individual is supposed to do with the good feelings they feel about the LDS church.

  3. The ignorant unwashed masses waiting for someone to tell them another fairy tale and make their woes disappear, eh Tim?

    So what makes the poor misguided little things stay then?

  4. I completely disagree. A testimony is much more than a “feel-good” thing. It is truth and intelligence communicated by the spirit of God directly to the individual. As such, it enlightens the mind as well as conveying the emotional fruits of the spirit as described in Galatians. It gives the receiver a new desire and resolve to follow the gospel and keep the commandments in the face of adversity. It gives assurance in the face of doubt, and brings the receiver to a greater understanding of the word of God. These are things that a “feel-good” experience simply cannot do. The “testimony” that you describe is in fact the shallow soil described by Jesus in the parable of the sower.

    But even if this were not true, and the pseudo-testimony you describe is the best result you can expect from applying Moroni 10:3-5, this would still be grossly insufficient to prepare a person for baptism into the LDS faith. In order to be baptized, an investigator must meet several qualifications, which include:

    1) Belief in God as our Heavenly Father and in Jesus Christ
    2) Belief in Joseph Smith, the Book of Mormon, living modern prophets, and all of those things you claimed in the first paragraph that you’d never need to focus on
    3) A commitment to live the word of wisdom
    4) A commitment to live the law of chastity
    5) A commitment to live the law of tithing
    6) A commitment to attend church regularly and to accept church callings

    These are serious commitments and require much more than a “feel-good” experience to be fully kept.

    When the missionaries teach, they do focus a lot of their efforts, especially with investigators who are not progressing, on the promise in Moroni. They do this because if one sincerely does what the scripture exhorts the reader to do, he/she will receive a spiritual experience producing a testimony.

    The scripture itself contradicts your claims made in this post. According to that scripture, it takes a lot more than a simple prayer to generate a testimony. Notice how in verse three, three prerequisite actions are described. These are “read,” “remember,” and “ponder.” In other words, if you were to simply sit down and pray about the church, or the Book of Mormon, you would not be fulfilling this scripture. You must first read the scripture, remember and think about what the Lord has done, and ponder all of these things. Furthermore, in verse four, there are more qualifiers. You must ask with a sincere heart, real intent, and faith in Christ. This is more than a casual question, or even a feel-good question.

    I get the sense from this post that you have not truly read Moroni 10:3-5–or, if you have read it, you have not even tried to understand it. For an excellent talk on this subject, read the following:

    Moroni’s Promise
    Elder Gene R. Cook
    April 1994 Ensign
    http://www.lds.org/portal/site/LDSOrg/menuitem.b12f9d18fae655bb69095bd3e44916a0/?vgnextoid=2354fccf2b7db010VgnVCM1000004d82620aRCRD&locale=0&sourceId=5941425e0848b010VgnVCM1000004d82620a____&hideNav=1

    I know from personal experience that it takes much more than this to be a Mormon missionary and teach by the spirit. I witnessed many miracles as a Mormon missionary, felt my conversion and faith in Christ strengthened more than it had ever been at any time in my life, and was, on a daily basis, given by the spirit of God what I should say to the people that we met. The spirit of Christ worked through me to help others gain a testimony of Christ and His restored gospel, and it was only through this spirit that I had any power. Whenever I tried to do things my way, or the way that seemed best to me, I failed and did not have the power to accomplish what I accomplished in Christ by submitting to his will and letting his spirit, not my own intellect, do the teaching.

    It was an extremely spiritual time of my life, and you insult that and waste my time by saying that you think that you could do it better by doing it your way, without the spirit or a testimony of the Restored gospel. When I read the title and about page of this blog, I was excited to read what you had to say. But with this post, I realize that this “discussion” is not worth my time.

  5. Tim, you are coming from a common mainline Christian preconception about Mormonism that we’re all based on shallow and unreliable touchy-touchy happy vibes. I’ve gotten this objection before – usually from mainline Christian intellectuals who get mad when Mormons refuse to play their artificial theological logic puzzles.

    I think this is a gross oversimplification of Mormon teaching, doctrine, practice and belief.

    Like onelowerlight said, the requirements for conversion are much more stringent than you are implying, and the requirements that are eventually imposed upon the convert after baptism are similarly demanding. And they are unrelenting.

    You are also addressing a model of missionary work which, though overlooked and tolerated at one period of LDS history, has been officially discouraged. Our current focus is on retention of new converts and not on simply racking up the baptism numbers.

    Your post would have been better entitled “How to Be a Shallow Missionary, and Enjoy Fleeting and Short-Lived Success.”

    But perhaps you could clarify in what way ANY religious belief is not similarly premised on vague “good vibes.” Is mainline Christianity somehow different from Mormonism in it proselytizing efforts in this respect?

  6. Tim,
    You are good! Are you in sales? Would you like to be? Have you ever seen the old movie “Flim Flam Man” with George C. Scott. It’s really good. Talks a lot about human nature, motivation etc. There’s an old saying in sales “Don’t sell the steak, sell the sizzle.”

  7. Tim,
    I wish you hadn’t posted this, because now I’m hooked. In sales you deal with features and benefits. In other words you list the features of your product or service and then talk about the benefits that feature affords the prospect.

    So what is the major feature of Mormonism and what is the benefit to the prospect? Same for Ev. Christianity?

    In Ev. Christianity my opinion is that the major feature is the cross of Christ and His shed blood atoning for our sins. The benefit of faith in Jesus’ shed blood on the cross is eternal life. It’s so simple. Jesus said, “it is finished” which in the Greek language (used in the NT)was an accounting term meaning “the debt is paid”. Jesus took our punishment on Himself.

    So if an Ev. Christian were to do a presentation to a prospect and then a Mormon missionary would do a presentation to the same prospect, who has the better deal? Another way of looking at it might be, who has the tougher sell or more challenging task regarding believability?

  8. I took a story telling class recently. The teacher was making a point about being “in” and being “out”. We like our stories when they are told from “within”. But if somebody “outside” takes our stories we get upset. He illustrated this by reading a portion of 3 Nephi without telling us what he was reading and then asked how we felt about this story about Jesus that was found in the Book of Mormon. No one was too pleased with it.

    I think if a Mormon had posted this same exact text there likely wouldn’t be too much negative reaction to it. In fact there would probably be adulations for spreading the gospel.

    In all honesty, I was not trying to mis-represent, simplify or over generalize this method of evangelism. I was simply reflecting back the exact approach EVERY Mormon missionary has taken with me (and they have not been limited in number). If you are upset I apologize for upsetting you. I actually was more concerned about Evangelicals getting after me for promoting Mormon faith (that may still come).

  9. Seth said:
    So what makes the poor misguided little things stay then?

    I think that’s an excellent question. And the answer seems to be “not much”. With a reported 12 million LDS baptisms, but only 3 million active LDS ward members, this method seems only effective at getting baptisms and little else. There’s a specific reason that the LDS church now has a policy about not laying hands on new members until the day AFTER their baptism.

    you are coming from a common mainline Christian preconception about Mormonism that we’re all based on shallow and unreliable touchy-touchy happy vibes. . . . But perhaps you could clarify in what way ANY religious belief is not similarly premised on vague “good vibes.” Is mainline Christianity somehow different from Mormonism in it proselytizing efforts in this respect?

    LDS are VERY quick to say that they KNOW that the church is true. When I ask HOW they know, without fail they say that they’ve had a personal spiritual experience. When I press and ask for details about what that experience is like so that I can recognize it if it happens to me, I have consistently been given descriptions of “warm fuzzies” similar to feelings I had at the end of a good movie. If your experience is different, I would LOVE to hear about it.

    There are no doubt, Evangelicals that use a similar evangelistic method. The most common evangelistic tool in the modern Protestant movement is “The Four Spiritual Laws“. If you’d like to deconstruct it, I’m more than willing to let you publish it here (I might beat you to it).

    My own premise for belief rest on the historical evidence of the resurrection of Jesus, as found in I Corinthian 15. If there was ANY kind of historical evidence supporting the Book of Mormon I can guarantee that LDS missionaries would lead with that rather than Moroni’s promise.

  10. One Lower Light said:
    As such, it enlightens the mind as well as conveying the emotional fruits of the spirit as described in Galatians.

    By insisting that these are emotional fruits you are distorting the scriptures to your own end. I would suggest that this is a form of bearing false witness against God himself. I highly recommend that you read Galatians in one sitting it won’t take you long.

    It was an extremely spiritual time of my life, and you insult that and waste my time by saying that you think that you could do it better by doing it your way, without the spirit or a testimony of the Restored gospel.

    I’m sorry if you felt insulted or that your time as a missionary was invalidated. I never suggested I could do it better than anyone else.

  11. Tim, how does the historical evidence in 1 Corinthians 15 differ from the witnesses I have from Joseph Smith and the dozens of others who witnessed the heavenly messengers, and handled the original “gold plates” from which the Book of Mormon was translated?

    In my case, I guess you either believe the written account of these men or you don’t. In your case, you either believe Paul or you don’t. What’s the difference?

    The historical record is compelling in proving that person named Jesus existed, had quite the following, and sparked a worldwide religious movement. But that’s about it. Son of God? The only way to heaven?

    You take those things on faith alone. The historical record is open to interpretation and challenges. It’s not going to prove the reality of Christ as our Savior. Not by a long shot.

  12. Hi Seth,

    This is a separate topic, but I would say the very fact that the witnesses to the Book of Mormon later claimed that they saw them with their spiritual eyes or that it was a spiritual sighting makes the two different. I’d also ask how many of those witnesses were so utterly convinced by what they saw that they stayed with Joseph Smith through thick and thin up until the point of death.

    As far as the resurrection. I think the story is true for a number of reasons. First, the disciples were willing to die for it. Plenty of people are willing to die for a lie, very few are willing to die for something they know to be a lie. First Century Christians were always in the minority, if they had recanted their story it would have made the “news” by those in power. There was something real about this story that compelled them to boldly challenge the world with this story. Second, the record of events makes women the very first witnesses of the resurrection. Women were considered invalid witnesses at the time. If the disciples were making it up, they wouldn’t have made women their primary witnesses, it would have been the last thing they would have done. Third, the events are recorded too close to the event for legend to have formed. I Corinthians 15 was written within 15 years of the resurrection and Christians were telling the same sequence of events. This chapter in particular includes a creed that early Christians memorized stating that Jesus defeated death.

    For more information, I would recommend Case for the Resurrection of Jesus by Gary Habermas and Reasonable Faith by William Lane Craig

    For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living (go ask them), though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James (a known skeptic), then to all the apostles,

  13. “My own premise for belief rest on the historical evidence of the resurrection of Jesus, as found in I Corinthian 15. ”

    I smiled when I read that. It’s sweet and touchingly niave.

    The truth, of course, is that while a majority of modern-day historians believe that Christ lived, even a generation ago, most did not. And few historians would agree that the resurrection can be proven or disproven from the historical record.

    1 Corinthians 15 might be compelling evidence to me or to you, but to somebody without the spirit of God, it is merely a missionary tract, comparable to modern day claims that “Elvis lives, and a bunch of people have seen and talked to him!”

  14. Tim, some of the witnesses to the Book of Mormon actually handled the plates physically and said so. I don’t recall this “spiritual eyes” reference off the top of my head. While the original three witnesses all left Joseph at one point or another, none ever denied their original testimony of the reality of the plates, even when pressed to do so.

    Mormonism claims its own witnesses. We have stories of people near death being healed and risen up, divine intervention with the weather, and countless personal miracles recorded by early Mormons. You either believe these accounts or you don’t. Same as with Christianity.

    As for other evidence of the Book of Mormon, archaeological or otherwise, let me just say that this is really not an angle that devout Christians should be attacking Mormonism from. The Bible has been a subject of intense critical scholarly scrutiny for centuries longer than the Book of Mormon. Quite a lot of the Bible is even more suspect in scholarly circles than the Book of Mormon. Granted, this may merely be because the Book of Mormon has been relatively neglected so far. But these calls for evidence between faithful evangelicals and faithful Mormons, too much resemble a circular firing squad, as the attacks we throw at each other rebound on our own churches.

    My intent is not to undermine the Bible. I count myself one of its defenders. But I defend it on spiritual grounds, not scientific grounds. Physical evidence is usually the wrong way to approach religious conviction. It makes a nice supplement to those who already believe. But it utterly fails as the main foundation. More on what I think the Mormon foundation is in a bit.

  15. Reviews of the books cited by Tim establish that the evidence for the resurrection of Christ fails to convince most historians.

    The review of “Reasonable Faith” acknowledges that the resurrection of Christ is not established through historical evidence. It acknowledges that people of faith are “living on the periphery of responsible intellectual existence” and that Christianity’s claims are seen as “irrational and outmoded.” Here’s the excerpt in full:

    “Evangelicals have been living on the periphery of responsible intellectual existence. The average Christian does not realize that there is an intellectual war going on in the universities and in the professional journals and scholarly societies. Christianity is being attacked from all sides as irrational or outmoded, and millions of students, our future generation of leaders have absorbed this viewpoint.”

    And Tim, I dearly love your assertion that the “story” of Christ’s resurrection is true because people died for it. People have died rather than relinquish their faith in Cathar reincarnation, or that the founder of the Bahia faith was the Mahdi, or that Joseph Smith was truly a prophet.

    Tim, you may tell yourself Christianity rests on hard, cold historical evidence till the cows come home. But the vast majority of people who consider the facts do not believe Christ was resurrected, not until they have the “emotions of joy and peace” you so naively deride.

  16. Tim, just an utterly irrelevant observation:

    I noticed that Amazon lists that those customers who bought “Reasonable Faith” also bought “Mormon Polygamy: A History.” No idea what the connection is, but I found it interesting, that’s all.

  17. Tim, some of the witnesses to the Book of Mormon actually handled the plates physically and said so.

    Handled them while they were covered. Check into it.

    Tim, you may tell yourself Christianity rests on hard, cold historical evidence till the cows come home. But the vast majority of people who consider the facts do not believe Christ was resurrected, not until they have the “emotions of joy and peace” you so naively deride.

    Did First Century Christians believe because they had emotions or because they actually saw the resurrected Jesus?

    I acknowledged that people have been willing to die for lies. The difference is that people don’t often die for something they KNOW to be a lie.

    I absolutely agree with the quote your provided. We have been on the “periphery of responsible intellectual existence” and that is because we don’t offer evidence but instead retreat to feelings.

  18. I noticed that Amazon lists that those customers who bought “Reasonable Faith” also bought “Mormon Polygamy: A History.” No idea what the connection is, but I found it interesting, that’s all.

    It’s recognizing your purchasing choices. I didn’t get that offer.

  19. Tim, you may want to read this thread over at Dave’s Mormon Inquiry:

    http://mormoninquiry.typepad.com/mormon_inquiry/2006/11/the_real_jesus.html

    It is basically a book review of “The Real Jesus: The Misguided Quest for the Historical Jesus and the Truth of the Traditional Gospels” (1996) by Luke Timothy Johnson. The thread that follows discusses the tension between historical fact and spiritual witness as alternative models for basing religious conviction.

    Mormon Metaphysics had a thread on this last year regarding historical evidence for the Book of Mormon as well here:

    http://www.libertypages.com/clark/10888.html

  20. Thanks for the post. I’ve only let one set of Mormon missionaries into my home in the past, and the pitch was quite similar to what you described. I’ve also had good friends in the Conservative movement that were lifelong Mormons, and hear similar things from them after they were prepped for the mission field.

  21. “Did First Century Christians believe because they had emotions or because they actually saw the resurrected Jesus?”

    Luke 24: 13-32
    13 ¶ And, behold, two of them went that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was from Jerusalem about threescore furlongs.
    14 And they talked together of all these things which had happened.
    15 And it came to pass, that, while they communed together and reasoned, Jesus himself drew near, and went with them.
    16 But their eyes were holden that they should not know him. …
    30 And it came to pass, as he sat at meat with them, he took bread, and blessed it, and brake, and gave to them.
    31 And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight.
    32 And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?

    Tim, they believed because their hearts burned within them, even before they recognized Christ.

    You’re simply wrong. Faith is more than a courtroom-style evaluation of the evidence. It involves a spiritual witness. That’s why I believe the Bible and in the Book of Mormon.

  22. Randomasdfguy, that’s not exactly as clear cut of a Biblical prooftext as you’re making it out to be.

    I completely reject the idea that Faith requires a spiritual witness. Neither Paul’s definition of Faith nor Alma’s definition of Faith are predicated on a spiritual witness.

  23. I absolutely agree that our spirits should burn and we should feel joy and peace because Jesus is alive. But we should not believe that Jesus is alive simply because we feel peace, joy and a burning in our bosoms.

    Paul H. Dunn used to make peoples spirits burn with his stories, but it turned out they were all lies. Those feelings are important and valuable in the life of a believer, but they are too easy to manufacture to solely rely upon.

    Our feelings make EXCELLENT servants, but terrible masters.

  24. The problem is Tim, this has been studied out, and research I’ve heard of seems to indicate that people typically come from a position of having made up their minds on any given topic, and then they proceed to look for evidence to back up their preconceptions.

    Not only is empiricism highly overrated, I’m not even sure it exists. My experience is that everyone operates primarily based on either conscious or subconscious “gut feelings.”

    Not only that, but there’s even some indications that these gut feelings are actually better practical, day-to-day guides than intellect. Often our intuitive sense of a situation will pick up any thousands of minute indicators that our conscious reasoning process does not even take note of.

  25. I’m not advocating empiricism in the slightest. I think it’s just as misguided as fideism. Just on the opposite end of the spectrum.

    Not only that, but there’s even some indications that these gut feelings are actually better practical, day-to-day guides than intellect. Often our intuitive sense of a situation will pick up any thousands of minute indicators that our conscious reasoning process does not even take note of.

    Tune into the Dr. Laura radio program and you’ll hear 3 hours of people who messed up their lives with that kind of thinking. “But I love him . . . .my heart tells me to stay. . . .”

    Would you buy a house, or stocks or hire a baby sitter based on intuition? If anything is likely to choose what’s comfortable and familiar, it’s intuition.

  26. Tim,

    You admit that “there are no doubt, Evangelicals that use a similar evangelistic method.”

    Are these evangelicals that use a similar method the norm? Or do the majority of evangelical Christians rely upon “the historical evidence of the resurrection” for their personal belief that Jesus is the Christ?

  27. Tim,

    The title of this blog is, “LDS & Evangelical Conversations*:
    A discussion of differences and similarities between Mormonism and Evangelical Christianity”

    In the first discussion I read here, you were describing your definition of “Christian” and why the LDS Church doesn’t fit it. I thought you were clear and respectful and interesting. I thought I’d make this a blog a ‘permanent read.’

    The flippant, sarcastic, and condescending tone in this post, however, is in stark contrast to that first discussion I followed. It’s the sort of thing that—for me at least—ends the conversation.

    *emphasis added, though I hope not misplaced.

  28. “Tune into the Dr. Laura radio program and you’ll hear 3 hours of people who messed up their lives with that kind of thinking. “But I love him . . . .my heart tells me to stay. . . .”

    Actually, I’d wager that if you pressed such individuals, you’d find that they had instinctive impulses against dating this guy, but rationally talked themselves out of it

    “oh, I’m just being paranoid”

    “I’m being too judgmental, he just needs me to give him a chance”

    “so he lost his temper once, that doesn’t logically mean that he always loses his temper, or that he’s a bad person”

    The thing people don’t get about bad relationships, is that they are usually founded on logical justifications. The above statements, taken in isolation all by themselves are all logical. What basis do you really have for being viscerally “creeped-out” by a first date anyway?

    None really.

    It’s your intuition that is screaming at you that this guy is possessive, volatile, and probably dangerous.

    People talk themselves into thousands of bad relationships every year with cold, emotionally divorced, logic. And it isn’t just “dumb poor people” either. Abusive relationships transcend all social and class boundaries. I’ve seen too many highly intelligent people exhibit little or no judgment in human relationships. If you talk to them about their actions, they will give highly intelligent and logical answers. But really, since they have silenced or cut off their inner intuitive voice, they might as well be dumb as a bag of rocks.

    Those who rely only on overt logic and reject what they contemptuously dismiss as “emotionalism” are actually flying blind through life.

    And to answer your question – yes, I would hire a babysitter based on intuition. That would not be the only criteria, of course. But it would be the deciding one.

  29. Time to note something that has been ignored so far.

    Up to now, I have, for the sake of argument, indulged the assumption that a Mormon’s faith is primarily based on emotional reactions. But this is only part of the story.

    Kullervo already pointed this out earlier in this thread. Read Alma’s analogy of the Gospel to a “seed” sometime. Emotional intelligence plays a part there, but only a part. Conviction in the Gospel, according to Alma is not only to be derived from uplifting feelings, but also from the “fruits” of a Gospel-centered life. You witness the results you get from living the Gospel. If the results, or fruits, are good, you can conclude that the tree itself is good. It’s like a personal science project, in a way.

    I’d say that the Mormon conviction is based on two things primarily, and neither one necessarily has primacy over the other:

    1. The joyful inner response of one’s soul to the Restored Gospel, and

    2. The positive results of a Gospel-centered life.

    Admittedly, though this stance is doctrinal, many lay Mormons themselves do not fully understand it. Thus you see a great many who wed themselves excessively to either one aspect or the other.

    On the one hand, you have the pure emotionalists, whose spiritual life kind of depends on whatever mood they happen to be in at any one stage of their lives. An example would be the teenagers I saw at Mormon youth retreat campfire programs who would stand up to give testimony of their faith:

    In a fast, routine, and sometimes even bored tone:

    “I know this Church is true, and I know Gordon B. Hinckley is a true prophet…”

    Then a pause and, in a choked and tearful voice:

    “And I love my Mom and Dad… And I love my little brother who…”

    You get the point. Mom and Dad apparently mean quite a bit more to the youth than Jesus does.

    Perhaps I’m being uncharitable, but I think this is definitely where pure emotionalism can take you.

    On the other side, you have, for example, what I call “social Mormons.” They join because of friendship with the missionaries, or stay in the Church because of the friendships they have with other ward members. Once they get into a fight at Church however, or a Bishop wrongs them, or they just don’t feel much love from their fellow worshipers, they leave the Church in bitterness.

    The two sides need to be balanced.

    Now, I’ve said that the joyful internal witness of the Gospel and the joyful life that results from Gospel-centered living are both probably primary to the Mormon experience of faith (although, as explained, they need to be balanced). But they aren’t always sufficient for the believer (though they can be).

    This is where Tim’s appeal to external histories, archaeological evidences, logical philosophical schemes and so forth come into play. These sorts of inquiries are not a bad thing. Indeed, I believe that they enhance, and enrich belief. I also know of Mormons who actually made their way into “the fold” through such inquiry and only later enriched their commitment with an internal witness and Gospel-centered living. Which is fine by me of course.

    But I do not think that external proofs and evidences are an ultimately sound foundation for a manifestly internal religious belief.

    Of course, when debating with outsiders, it would be silly to expect the foundations for an internal conviction to carry equal persuasive weight in an external discussion with others (such as this online forum). But the only consistently useful way to persuade such outsiders, is to invite them to experience the Restored Gospel. Pure argument simply will never do it.

    And whether they admit it or not, I think the same holds true for evangelicals. I see evangelicals get exactly the same reactions from avowed atheists that I’ve seen Mormons get from mainline Christians.

    I think mainline Christianity is on very dangerous ground when it seeks to found the Gospel message on cold and lifeless external proofs rather than the sacred inner life of the soul.

  30. Seth,
    Several decades ago I accepted Jesus as my personal Savior. Shortly thereafter someone laid hands on me, I spoke in tongues and prophesied. The prophecy that poured forth testified to the diety of Christ, His work on the cross, resurrection and His ultimate return to establish His Kingdom. The Gift of that time stays with me today as does God’s promise of eternal life through His Son Jesus Christ.
    Where does this fit? Rational thought, emotionalism, unsubstanitated encounter with God. This is not a trick question.

  31. Are these evangelicals that use a similar method the norm? Or do the majority of evangelical Christians rely upon “the historical evidence of the resurrection” for their personal belief that Jesus is the Christ?

    No, I think the norm is the “4 Spiritual Laws” method: You recognized that you are a sinner, you recognize you can’t pay the price, you accept Jesus as the price. . . . then you experience change in your life.

    There are a number of Evangelicals who have come to faith based on the historical evidence for the resurrection of Jesus, CS Lewis and Lee Strobel being the most well-known of them. I by no means think that this is THE way to come to Christ, but it is something Christians should know. It shores up faith when people enter “dark nights of the soul”.

    Seth, I would say those “logical” statements are justifications people put up to give themselves permission to do the things their heart wants.

    I by no means think that external proofs stand in opposition to the inner life of the soul. Have you heard of the book The Kingdom Triangle” by JP Moreland? He advocates a 3 fold balanced development for Christians
    1) Developing the Mind
    2) Renovating the Soul
    3) Being empowerd by the Spirit. (which really only noclaf has touched upon here)

    I think mainline Christianity is on very dangerous ground when it solely seeks to found the Gospel message on cold and lifeless external proofs rather than the sacred inner life of the soul.

    I agree with this statement as I have edited it. I think Christianity is equally in trouble when it solely retreats to the inner life and doesn’t seek to show that the faith is actually TRUE.

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