"God is about to convince you that I’m preaching absolute truth."

On testimony : Dreams, prompting, light-bulb moments, epiphanies … burning bosoms.

What to do with them?

Whatever we do with them – including our interpretations – the act is subjective for each of us.

When I was in my early 40’s and still struggling with walking away from the Salt Lake church, the bishop of the local ward (congregation) sent the High Priest Group leader to my home to call me to be the Sunday class teacher for their weekly meetings.

I refused (something devout Mormons don’t do too often because a “calling” is presumed to have come from The Lord through his local mouthpiece.)

When asked why, I told them that I was in a state of dissent moving to disbelief.

“Have you prayed about it Brother Ruger?”

“Yes, I have.”

“And did you get an answer? Did the Spirit prompt you that the Church is the true church, that Joseph Smith was a prophet, and that we have living prophets on the earth today?”

I said that such was not the answer I received.

“Then you didn’t pray for the right thing and got an answer from a source (Satan) other than God.”

This is my concern about what we do with those highly personal spiritual moments that come to us. In the religion of my childhood, youth and adulthood into my 40’s, the meaning and interpretation of dreams, promptings, answer to prayers, etc. were provided for me by church leaders and teachers with a powerful insistence that I accept their definitions and conform.

Mormon missionaries still challenge those to whom they preach to read the Book of Mormon and pray about it.

“You will know it is true because God will cause you to experience a ‘burning in your bosom.'” (In other words I’ll tell you what will happen and I’ll tell you the one true meaning of the event.)

The actual definition of that Group Leader’s assertions was this (and I responded to him with the following words):

“Let me get this straight. When in doubt I’m supposed to pray and ask God for truth. And you’re telling me what that truth is and what the answer from God will be …  so I’m supposed to ask God a question the answer to which I already know because I’ve already been told the answer by mortal religious authority. 

But because I asked, God is going to give me that answer personally. If I get any other answer, it wasn’t God.”The implication here is both monstrous and ludicrous. It makes as much sense as saying “Just for that you’re not going to know what I wasn’t going to tell you.”

This circumstance lies at the heart of most fundamentalist revival meetings where an emotionally psychological moment is set up with the pre-installed definition that “God is about to convince you that I’m preaching absolute truth.” Such has made how many of these mega church proselytizers powerful, famous – even rich?

The reason?

Millions of believers accept an external definition of something that has always been intimately personal and internal to each of them. Although the ability to discern for themselves has always been within them and needs no brokering by a charismatic preacher, they still suspend part of their belief and buy based on someone else’s magic.

How dare anyone intrude into that kind of personal intimacy with God?

How dare anyone pretend such a middleman (or woman) is necessary?

How dare anyone presume to dictate to another human being the interpretation of an intimate, internal and personal experience of God?

Never assume that there is only one true personal answer with one orthodoxy-approved interpretation.

Never assume someone else should define your prompting or dream for you based on their assumption …

… that some contemporary widely-accepted fundamentalist literal interpretation of what written scripture conveys spiritually is uniquely limited and doctrinally restricted to an absolute and inerrant true meaning.

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