Christian J pointed out in the discussion of my last post that he thought the Mormon model of seeking spiritual confirmation of doctrine was biblical. I think he is right. When I was LDS, I was very impressed by Paul’s discussion in his First Epistle to the Corinthians, chapter 2. It captured perfectly my view of the core of Missionary work. Those interested in Mormonism would do well to understand how Paul’s words are lived by LDS today.
He starts out by explaining that his message should be judged and honored because it evokes a demonstration of the Spirit:
My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power.
He goes on to point out that there is plenty left for God to reveal spiritually, urging his audience to keep an open mind even though the social and religious leaders of the day had rejected his message. (v. 6-9) He also underscores the primacy of the Spirit in theology and religion. He describes the Spirit as the companion of the believer and devotee, something that reveals knowledge about the deep things of God– things that may not jibe with human wisdom or judgments.
The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us. This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words. The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit. The person with the Spirit makes judgments about all things, but such a person is not subject to merely human judgments,for,
“Who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?”
But we have the mind of Christ.
I took and lived by Paul’s advice for a long time. I continue to see LDS shape their lives around the phenomena Paul is describing. What LDS describe as the Spirit is an active, persistent, part of their lives. These sorts of experiences, in fact make people more articulate, sincere, and convincing when they teach about the Church. Again, I think these sorts of passages present a very distinct challenge to non-Mormon Christians. Should they attack this part of Mormonism, as they generally to, or follow its example in embracing Paul’s view of the Spirit and its relationship with understanding the truth?