Burning Bosoms and Other Flawed Epistemologies

Posted: July 4, 2021 in Mormon Studies
Testimonies From Various and Sundry Faiths

A young Mormon woman bears her testimony.

compiled by Fred W. Anson
“I felt a burning in my heart, and a great burden seemed to have left me.” (Protestant)

“But what can I say? How can I describe an experience so profound and so beautiful? Shall I say that it was the most blessed experience of my life? Shall I say that [God] touched my heart and gave me a feeling of peace I had not known before? Shall I describe the tears that flowed freely from my eyes, affirming my . . . faith, as I . . . beg[ed] [God’s] blessings for myself and for those I love?” (Islam)

“The sense I had of divine things, would often of a sudden kindle up, as it were, a sweet burning in my heart; an ardor of soul, that I know not how to express.” (Protestant)

“As I read these books in a . . . bookstore, . . . I felt a burning in my heart that I should come and investigate.” (Catholic)

“[Even as a child], [w]ithout understanding much about the complex [doctrine] . . . he was attracted to [church]. There he often felt a strong feeling of peace flowing through his body.”(Hindu)

“I was praying . . . when I felt a burning shaft of . . . love come through my head and into my heart.” (Catholic)

“I truly [sic] wanted to know [the truth]. After a few weeks, I stumbled onto [texts] which . . . answered my questions in a way that I had not heard of before. I read everything . . .and I even tried the experiment of asking [God] for . . . his divine love. After about 6 weeks, I felt a burning in my chest and a sensation that was unlike anything I had ever felt. It was pure happiness and peace. I knew then that [God] had sent His love to me.” (New Age)

“A feeling of peace and certitude would tell me when I had found the answers and often after people would help me by pointing in the right direction.” (Islam)

“We gave up a lot of things. What did I get in return? I received a feeling of peace, hope and security. I no longer lay awake at night worrying. I stopped cussing. I became much more honest in all aspects of my life. [God] has changed my heart and my life. My husband’s heart is changing also. We pray all the time and really feel [God’s] presence in our marriage. My perspective has changed. My view of life has changed about what is truly important.”(Protestant)

“Many women described a feeling of euphoria after they committed to following [God] . . . . One woman described a feeling of peace; she said: ‘It is like you are born again and you can start all over again, free from sin.'” (Islam)

“A feeling of peace seemed to flow into me with a sense of togetherness . . . . . I felt very peaceful from inside and also felt [warmth] . . . .” (Hindu)

“I felt a burning sensation in my heart.” (Protestant)

“That inner light, that we all have or had at some time in our existence, was nearly burnt out for me. But in the [church] . . . I found a feeling of peace, inner solitude and quietness that I’d also found in reading the [text] and pondering over its meaning and trying to practice what it tells us.” (Islam)

“For the first time I not only felt accountable for my past sins but I had to fight back tears. I knew that I had let down [God] [and] my family . . . . However, I also knew I was forgiven! [It] gave me a feeling of peace that I have never felt it in my whole life. I felt like I had a huge weight lifted off of me and that I was finally home and free . . . . I felt like a new person.”(Catholic)

“Every time I am there [at the church building], a feeling of peace overcomes me.” (Buddhist)

“Every time I was with the [church members], I felt this warm feeling, a feeling of peace and for the first time in my life since my church-going days, I wanted to follow [God] . . . .”(Mormon)

“About 10 years ago, when Jenny and I decided to start a family, we began looking for a spiritual community for our kids. During my first service at [the church]. . . I was hooked. I recall the feeling of peace that I felt when I was attending [services].” (Universal Unitarian)

“The power of [God] came into me then. I had this warm and overwhelming feeling of peace and security. It’s hard to explain. I had to . . . stop myself from falling backward.” (Catholic)

“[The religious leader] looked into my eyes deeply for a moment, and I experienced a feeling of peace and love unlike anything I had ever experienced before.” (Hindu)

“[After praying,] [i]mmediately I was flooded with a deep feeling of peace, comfort, and hope.” (Protestant)

“I recently spent an afternoon on the northwestern shore of the Sea of Galilee, atop the mount where Jesus is believed to have preached his most famous sermon. . . . As I sat and gazed upon the surrounding hills gently sloping to an inland sea, a feeling of peace came over me. It soon grew to a blissful stillness that silenced my thoughts. In an instant, the sense of being a separate self—an “I” or a “me”—vanished. . . . The experience lasted just a few moments, but returned many times as I gazed out over the land where Jesus is believed to have walked, gathered his apostles, and worked many of his miracles.” (Atheist)

(source for all above: http://testimoniesofotherfaiths.blogspot.com; also see: http://mormonthink.com/testimonyweb.htm#peopleofallfaiths)

A Closing Thought and Question
Friends, the begging question here should be obvious: How can all these various and diverse – yet similar – testimonies of conflicting, and contradictory religions all be true? And, if some are false, by what criteria does one make that determination? After all, one most certainly can’t use one’s testimony to declare another’s testimony invalid – they can simply do the same to invalidate yours thus making both denunciations circular and rooted and grounded in subjective confirmation bias rather than any objective standard, correct?

For example, let’s consider the example of Mormonism. Here is the archetypical Mormon Testimony according to an official, correlated LdS Church source:

“I know that God is our Heavenly Father and He loves us. I know that His Son, Jesus Christ, is our Savior and Redeemer. I know that Joseph Smith is a prophet of God. He restored the gospel of Jesus Christ to the earth and translated the Book of Mormon by the power of God. I know that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the Lord’s Church on the earth today. I know that this Church is led by a living prophet who receives revelation.

In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.”
(from “Testimony Glove”, Friend magazine, October 2008)

Now, please consider this post from a Muslim woman on a Catholic discussion board:

“For me, I believe that Muhammad was a prophet because of the Qur’an–because I read it, and in my own estimation after reading it, reflecting on it, and praying about it, I found in myself an unwavering belief that the Qur’an is without a doubt revealed by the Lord of the Worlds, by the Almighty God.”
(see post from “Sister Amy”, Nov 23, ’08, 2:12 pm)

Sound familiar? Just substitute “Joseph Smith” where it says, “Muhammad” and “Book of Mormon” where it says “Qur’an” and you have the archetypical Mormon Testimony which simply mirrors the “stock” Muslim Testimony known as the Shahada:

“I bear witness that there is no god but Allah, and I bear witness that Mohammed is the servant and Messenger of Allah.”
(the “Shahada”)

Do you see the problem here friends?

So in response to Book of Mormon-believing Baptist Charismatic Lynn Ridenhour’s claim that “A man with an experience is never at the mercy of a man with an argument,” I would simply respond, that a man with solely a subjective inner experience is always at the mercy of a man with one that’s been validated by objective external evidence. Or if you prefer, probably nothing says it better than this:

“Test all things; hold fast what is good.”
1 Thessalonians 5:21 (NKJV)

A video that illustrates this article’s thesis both humorously and pointedly.

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