Listening to the Spirit

Viktor Frankl was a very important influence on my worldview in my adolescence. I found this clip the other day and it seemed to be a very good explanation of my view of religion as a Mormon. You could quite comfortably be LDS and believe everything Frankl says here.  Toward the end of the clip, he explains that if God is anything, he is not a fossil. (also an important theme in the LDS worldview).

The first part of the interview gives what amounts to a Mormon idea of the Spirit—which he refers to as “intuition”—and a fairly passable view of why the Spirit is so important in the LDS Religion and its spirit-based epistemology.

To those who can’t listen to the video, Frankl’s position is that intuition is the primal source of truth in human situations because cognitive capacities cannot deal with the absolute uniqueness of the situation in front of us, that requires intuition, which also includes conscience and access to a divine nature.  He says in the beginning of the clip:

“Intuition is the only way to arrive at truth, even when rational concepts, or intellectual capacities fail; because you can rationalize into rational terms only what is not absolutely unique.But if you are confronted with a phenomena which is unique, which never will recur, which only once appears and confronts you, you have to resort to intuition, because intuition can handle the unique things that only once and only here and now are confronting you. “

Frankl’s religion and Mormonism bear some characteristics of undifferentiated God-belief that springs up all the time. (see Insane Clown Posse)

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11 thoughts on “Listening to the Spirit

  1. In my world of definitions, the word “intuition” is a good way to describe how the Spirit speaks to us but is not always the same as the voice of the Spirit. I’ll use First John 3:20-22 to back up my point. It says in part, “God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God and receive from him anything we ask.”

    Our hearts (conscience, intuition) may go against the Spirit and condemn us. It may tell us (often does!) we’re guilty of something we’re not guilty of, or tell us that the forgiveness we have in Christ isn’t sufficient to get God to answer our prayers.

  2. When Jesus asked Peter, “Who do say that I am?”

    When Peter answered correctly, Jesus said, “Blessed are you Simon Peter, for flesh and blood have not revealed this to you but my Father in Heaven.”

    It comes from outside of us. Extra nos. Totally apart from anything that we do, say, feel, or think.

    The Spirit is capable of speaking to us in sighs too great for words. He is often doing things in us that we have no clue of. Quite often we work against the Spirit. But He works in us nonetheless.

  3. Kullervo, what’s facepalm?

    theoldadam, assuming I understand you, I agree.

    gundek, in 1 John 3:20-21, quoted with more context below, John, as I understand him, is indicating that our hearts don’t always tell us the right things. In John’s example, the hearts of certain Christians are condemning them. I’d say it’s something like, “You dirty sinner, God’s not going to answer your prayers. You’re not even a Christian. You’re not forgiven at all. Who do you think you are? You’ve got the gospel all backwards.”
    Countering their condemning hearts, John tells them that if they love with actions and in truth (verse 18) and do what pleases God (verse 22) they can be assured that they know God. (You might also be interested to know that a commentary I checked says that “the Johannine community has been split . . . by a group of secessionists. . . . Their version of the truth has caused confusion and insecurity among [John’s] readers.” [I forget what a secessionist is.])

    Anyway, since the word “intuition” doesn’t occur in the NIV, I chose 1 John 3:20-22, where the “heart” serves as a close kin to intuition. Our hearts (intuition, if you will) isn’t always correct. The Holy Spirit, however, is. Tim quoted Viktor Frankl as saying, “Intuition is the only way to arrive at truth.” I disagree with that.

    I might also add that it appears that Tim is trying to discredit the Mormon habit of listening to the Spirit. I think the problem with Mormons is that they don’t listen to the Spirit closely enough. They shouldn’t just ask God, “Is Joseph Smith a prophet?”; they should also ask, “Are are those things he said in Nauvoo correct?”

    Have a good evening, Gundek. You pressed me to reexamine the verses I used—a good exercise for me. 🙂

    For reference:
    1 John 3:18-22:
    “18 Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. 19 This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence 20 whenever our hearts condemn us. For God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. 21 Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God 22 and receive from him anything we ask, because we obey his commands and do what pleases him.”

  4. Our hearts (intuition, if you will) isn’t always correct. The Holy Spirit, however, is. Tim quoted Viktor Frankl as saying, “Intuition is the only way to arrive at truth.” I disagree with that.

    (I wrote the post.) I agree with Frankl, intuition is our best truth-detector in certain situations. I am also saying that what I called “living by the Spirit” as a Mormon was a practice of allowing intuition—as Frankl describes– to be more at play in everyday life.

    But what Frankl is not saying is the that intuition is the only truth-detector, we have reason, and our senses.

    But I have a question for you Cal:

    Even if I grant that the Holy Spirit is always correct, how can I ever really get a reliable interpretation of what the Holy Spirit is saying? Doesn’t that only come through our senses, or intellect, or what Frankl is calling intuition? I think that is Frankls’ point. He believes in God and believes that you can gain access to God through intuition. In essence, that there is access to God behind the intellect, and not directly through the senses. This, absolutely does not mean that everything that comes to us through our intuition is true.

    I might also add that it appears that Tim is trying to discredit the Mormon habit of listening to the Spirit.

    I am actually trying to explain it better in non-Mormon terms.

    I think the problem with Mormons is that they don’t listen to the Spirit closely enough. They shouldn’t just ask God, “Is Joseph Smith a prophet?”; they should also ask, “Are are those things he said in Nauvoo correct?”

    You and Brigham Young might be in agreement on this point, but with opposite conclusions.

  5. My apologies to Jared.
    Jared, your explanation of Frankl’s use of “intuition” confuses me. Re-reading your quote of Frankl in your article at the top (I haven’t listened to the video), it seems Frankl is using “intuition” as a general alternative to the physical senses or to natural logic. If that’s the case, I’ll go along with him. “God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24).
    On the other hand, you seem to equate intuition with (physical?) senses and natural intellect (logic).
    (I believe the Holy Spirit illumines our intellect so that our logic matches his. We give up our logic for his, so that the intellect is not trashed, it’s just cleaned up.)

    If intuition is that channel through which the Holy Spirit speaks—as the heart (human spirit) is, and as I understand Frankl to say—then intuition is the way to finally find God. (That’s not to suggest that our physical senses and natural intellect can’t help us find God. “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made. . . .” (Rom. 1:20). Let me add my comments to Romans 1:20 to help you understand how I read it: “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature [his spirit]—have been clearly seen [by the physical sense of sight], being understood [intellect] from what has been made [physical creation]. . . . “

  6. Jared, re-reading your last message, I realize now that I misinterpreted one of your sentences, that sentence being, “Doesn’t that only come through our senses, or intellect, or what Frankl is calling intuition?” I realize now that you weren’t saying those three are the same.

    You asked a question I never answered, namely, “Even if I grant that the Holy Spirit is always correct, how can I ever really get a reliable interpretation of what the Holy Spirit is saying?”

    To answer I would go back to what I said to Gundek in my second comment.

    Blessings to you.

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