Exploring Mormon Institute 2013 – D&C Lesson 6: “I Will Tell You in Your Mind and in Your Heart, by the Holy Ghost”

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Note: We’ve covered that personal revelation can be a horrible guide, but we DO get gut impulses and moments of real inspiration where bits of our subconscious/bodies know things that we don’t. We’re going to focus on that.

Also, my mother called up last night to tell me how wonderful her institute teacher is… sigh

Purpose: To help students realize that the mormon church does not have a monopoly on quiet moments of inspiration nor on “following one’s gut.”

Attention Activity

Take a moment and close your eyes. Focus on your breathing. Now open them and read some more, because yes, you are going to close your eyes. Just finish this paragraph first. Focus on your breathing. Feel the breath moving up and down in you. Take the thoughts that fill your head and imagine tossing them up above you so that you can observe them (like they were little balls). Keep doing this until you are separate from your thoughts. Remember your breathing and focus on it. Once you are separate from your thoughts rejoin us.

This is a meditation technique that was developed in China long before Christ walked this Earth, let alone Joseph Smith. This technique was used by monks to comprehend themselves and the self as separate from the conscious.

Simply because we feel that there are impressions and guidance that comes outside our conscious self, it does not imply that it is deity communicating with us, nor that there is a God. Just as the monks noted that they had feelings outside “the self” that influenced them, so too can we notice and learn to recognize these feelings.

Understanding how the Holy Ghost is said to communicate with us.

The Holy Ghost is said to be an all-knowing personage of spirit that communicates with our hearts and minds[2]. It is said to comfort us[3] and remind us of the words of Christ[4].

Joseph Smith, Jr. also said to Martin Van Buren that the distinctive characteristic from our church to all other churches is that we have the Holy Ghost. Lesson manuals and Ensign articles have pointed out that if the church were to lose the Holy Ghost, it “would not be any different than any other church” (LeGrand Richards, The Gift of the Holy Ghost, Ensign, November 1979).

This gives us an actual testable proposition. That is the following:

1) If a person leaves the LDS faith/sins, they will have the same guidance as other churches.

2) The LDS faith has far more guidance, a significant improvement over all other faiths.

3) Guidance from the Holy Ghost should be recognizably outside of the information subset that a person might possess. Further, the Holy Ghost’s guidance should never be wrong.

We’ll review each of these testable points in more detail:

1) If a person leaves the LDS faith/sins, they will have the same guidance as other churches.

Now, we know the LDS faith says that when people leave the church, they become bitter, angry and spend all their effort and energy in trying to destroy the church. One might even be tempted to say, “Look at Mithryn!” But let’s take a look at this problem from a few angles.

Was the statement, “those who leave the church, cannot leave it alone,” a prophetic statement? or an analysis of what was already happening?

Joseph, when making this statement, was trying to play down individuals who were privy to the inner workings of the church and who attacked him for actively cheating them. As near as I can tell, this statement was made in and around the same time as D&C 121 was recorded. Joseph was in prison in the liberty jail, shortly after running the Kirtland Safety Society into the ground. A short list of the individuals and their situations in context follows:

Thomas B. Marsh signed an affidavit stating that the mormons burned Gallatin and drove off  its inhabitants. This was a true occurrence. Orson Hyde signed one as well.

Joseph had mortgaged all the Saints’ land to establish the Kirtland Safety Society, which failed spectacularly. He had promised the Kirtland Temple as collateral as well. When the bankers came to collect, he skipped town.

Is there a reason that these individuals might not “leave it alone”? Interestingly enough, the very first man selected as First Counselor, Jesse Gause, not only left the church, but left it alone so much his name was rewritten in the D&C to Frederick Williams (Robert J. Woodford, “Jesse Gause, Counselor to the Prophet,” BYU Studies, Spring 1975, pp. 362–64).

Further, of the 14 reported members of baptism in church numbers, only 5 million self report on census studies[5]. We also see that about as many people leave the church each year as join it. That means almost 380,000 people at the time of this writing are leaving the church each year. If they all didn’t “leave it alone,” I think the attrition rates would be far better known.

In other words, individuals who left were/are not significantly different. They were bright, rational, intelligent men who then attacked an organization they could not leave (there was no method to leave the Latter-Day Saint church until 1985)[6].

The lack of difference between people who were in and people who were out of the church required Joseph to start demonizing apostates.

2) The LDS faith has far more guidance, a significant improvement over all other faiths.

If so, where are the Shakespeares and inventors who are mormons at such a higher rate? Where is the guidance for the world that is torn by terrorism, genocide, and energy crisis? Oh, when it comes to family, they talk a lot about it, but it’s almost as if God is very limited in what He will talk about, perhaps to non-testable suggestions.

For example, the recovery rates at Primary Children’s Hospital in SLC are not significantly better than any other hospital in the world. Nor in Provo’s Utah Valley Regional Medical Center. Otherwise, we’d have doctors from all around the world coming here to learn the “Secret.”

Yet, arguably, per capita, there would be far more priesthood blessings in these two hospitals than anywhere else.

The conclusion must be drawn that using priesthood blessings does not statistically improve your chances to recover from medical issues.

And so it goes for any measure that one chooses to put to the LDS.

3) Guidance from the Holy Ghost should be recognizably outside of the information subset that a person might possess. Further, the Holy Ghost’s guidance should never be wrong.

In order to measure this myself, I downloaded an app[7] and would enter every time I felt a spiritual impression. I further recorded in a diary what the outcomes of these “impressions” were since my mission.

I’ll cut to the chase. The frequency of “impressions” increased after I left the church. As well, the accuracy also increased (the reason for the increase, in my opinion, was that I was no longer forbidding accurate information from my subconscious because “it couldn’t come from the Holy Ghost”). Before, whenever I had “a prompting” that turned out to hurt people or be wrong, it troubled me. “Maybe I misunderstood it,” I would tell myself, but having actually kept notes and so forth, I could review and think back through the feelings. It became clear that the problem wasn’t me.

Then it hit me. What if everyone had this set of gut impulses that drove them, and Joseph Smith simply conscripted them into a term “Holy Ghost” or “Light of Christ” to achieve his ends? Indeed, it was very likely that people would begin to ascribe every good feeling and influence to the church, especially if they knew nothing else their entire lives (or from age 8).


It is the nature of man to claim credit for what he/she did not accomplish, and to ascribe failures to others. I see it in children. When we look at people of other faiths or even no faith, and see their wonderful accomplishments or read their journals filled with moments of inspiration, it is unfair to ascribe that to “The light of Christ” or the “Holy Ghost” without rigorous testing. Otherwise, we ascribe all success of the world to Joseph, and all failures of Joseph to everyone else.

And we’re grown ups now, right? We can accept our own successes and failures, and should be able to see that when Joseph succeeded, they were his successes, and when Galileo succeeded, they were his own success. When Joseph failed, the failure was his, and when the Pope fails, it’s his own failure as well, right?

Learning to trust your own gut, and develop that feeling… that’s worth while.

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Last edited by EmmaHS on February 7, 2013 at 10:41 pm

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