The first time my wife and I attended an LDS baptism a man stood up to speak and he told the young woman being baptized that the following day they would lay hands on her and give her the gift of the Holy Ghost. He counseled her to avoid all evil afterwards and to never enter a place in which the Holy Ghost could not follow. My wife and I were stunned. This might have been the thing that stunned and offended our sensibilities more than anything we had heard in Mormonism to that point.
As we discussed it later we couldn’t imagine living a faith where the possibility existed that the Holy Spirit could not bear his presence. Our own journeys and the faith we had grown up in taught us that even in the deepest darkest places the Holy Spirit was at work convicting, counseling and comforting. Though the distractions around us may make it difficult to hear him, we believed that he always had to power to reveal himself. As God, He could always overcome the situations or atmosphere of those he wished to guide.
Jared recently directed me to an article written by Boyd K Packer on “the light of Christ” and I was encouraged to see that this concept was not absent in Mormonism, it was just renamed and attributed to the “light of Christ” rather than the Holy Spirit. The article states:
The Light of Christ existed in you before you were born (see D&C 93:23, 29–30), and it will be with you every moment that you live and will not perish when the mortal part of you has turned to dust. It is ever there.
Every man, woman, and child of every nation, creed, or color—everyone, no matter where they live or what they believe or what they do—has within them the imperishable Light of Christ. In this respect, all men are created equally. The Light of Christ in everyone is a testimony that God is no respecter of persons (see D&C 1:35). He treats everyone equally in that endowment with the Light of Christ.
and then later:
President Joseph Fielding Smith spoke of the teachings of the Holy Ghost and of the Spirit of Christ: “Every man can receive a manifestation of the Holy Ghost, even when he is out of the Church, if he is earnestly seeking for the light and for the truth. The Holy Ghost will come and give the man the testimony he is seeking, and then withdraw; and the man does not have a claim upon another visit or constant visits and manifestations from him. He may have the constant guidance of that other Spirit, the Spirit of Christ.”
The Spirit of Christ is always there. It never leaves. It cannot leave.
I’m a bit baffled how I was unaware of this teaching within Mormonism for so long. I notice that Elder Packer refer to the Spirit of Christ as an “it” rather than a “he”, as if it is something different than Christ himself. It doesn’t seem to be described as a “personage” the same way the Holy Ghost is described but it is some sort of entity.
It seems to be akin to what Paul describes in Romans 1 and 2 as the qualities of God that are written on every heart.
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, so that people are without excuse.
. . .
(Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts sometimes accusing them and at other times even defending them.)
The New Testament appears to teach that it is the Holy Spirit that calls people into faith, but it appears that in Mormonism it is the Light of Christ that calls people to faith. Do I have that right? How prevalent is this teaching within Mormonism? Am I missing any major details?