Recently, on the TV show Heart of the Matter, a caller asked, “If the LDS Church is not true, then why do Mormons have spiritual experiences?” (Paraphrased). I thought the host, Shawn McCraney, did a really good job answering the question. However, I found myself wanting to add a few more reasons for clarification. So, why do Mormons have spiritual experiences?
I know that this question presupposes that they do, and some may want to argue that in fact they do not. However, before one comes to the conclusion that they do not, please consider my arguments for why they do.
Warning Warning Warning
Just as a Clarifying side note. I am in no way suggesting that Mormons are Christians or that Mormonism is Christianity. I wanted to make this clear just in case anyone was wondering where I was going with this article.
There are three reasons why Mormons have spiritual experiences:
First, Mormons, like every human, are spiritual beings. We are all composed of spiritual matter (called the soul) and physical matter.
We must understand this point carefully. First, spiritual experiences are not necessarily Godly experiences. Or, to be more definitive: spiritual experiences are not necessarily Godly experiences that involve the work of redemption. We cannot equate spiritual experiences to mean: Therefore, that person is saved.
This is where things get a bit tricky. Sometimes, we equate a non-saved person with a non-spiritual person, or a person that cannot have spiritual experiences. This is a false equation. Unsaved people are not non-spiritual people, they are fallen spiritual people. The fall ruined people spiritually. It did not eradicate people spiritually. After all, the soul or the spiritual nature of an unredeemed person will suffer conscious torment after death. And, the soul will be reunited with the body in the resurrection.
This is one of the reasons why Mormons can have spiritual experiences and report that those experiences even feel “good” in some sense of the word. For example, I have known many Mormons who have given to or helped a charity and have had a “good” spiritual experience doing it. These experiences can also happen in family life and in many other areas.
However, all of this only proves that they are human. It does not prove that their religion is true or that they are saved. Often Mormons will conclude that their spiritual experiences prove their Church is true or that they are Christian. But this is an improper conclusion based on the data.
The second reason for Mormons having spiritual experiences can be attributed to Satan and his demons. The Scripture clearly warns:
For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light (emphasis added, 2 Cor. 11:13-14).
Often Mormons appeal to their testimony to try to substantiate their religion. They will say that they have a “burning in the bosom” that testifies that their Church is true. If you ever talk to Mormon missionaries, they often ask you to pray over whether or not the Book of Mormon is true. And if you pray with a sincere heart, God will give you this “burning in the bosom” as a testimony that their Church is true.
This “burning in the bosom” is for many a real spiritual experience. The reason I say “for many” is that I have had a chance to talk to many ex-Mormons. Some have admitted that they never really had this experience and they were faking it for various reasons. However, the majority of ex-Mormons will say that the overwhelming, other-worldly experience of the “burning in the bosom” was real. I do not doubt this reality one bit. I just attribute it to Satan and not God.
The final reason is due to God, His people, and His overall plan. This is particularly the case when it comes to the many claims of healings in the Mormon community. There are many stories that circulate in Mormon communities about old so and so who was healed of some sickness when the Mormon elders came and prayed. Now, much of this is just pure nonsense. These “healings” can be attributed to the body’s natural ability to heal and to medical breakthroughs. Some of these stories are also made up and have become a type of Mormon-urban myth. I cannot tell you how many times I have heard the story about a group of people who got into a car accident and only those who were wearing their garments survived the crash. However, there are some experiences that you cannot shuffle into these categories. So does this prove the Mormon Church is true? No!
Let me explain by giving an example from my own experience. One of my wife’s nieces was in a car accident and suffered severe brain injury. The niece and her family are all Mormon. And, I am sure they prayed to their false god repeatedly. However, they were not the only ones in prayer. My wife and I prayed too. We petitioned the Lord for a speedy recovery and that somehow God would use this to draw them out of the LDS Church. While there was no bonafide, “breaking the-laws-of-nature” miracle, she did recover at a phenomenal rate. God was not answering the prayers of the Mormons but the prayers of my wife and me.
Why did God choose to answer our prayers? Perhaps he plans on saving this girl at a later date. Perhaps God is planning to save her children or her great grand children. The truth is only God knows why. However, whenever it comes to any prayer God answers or chooses not to answer, we must consider that God has an overall plan for history.
In summary, the spiritual experiences reported by the members of the LDS Church do not validate their belief system. If spiritual experiences were a test of truth, then we would have to accept New Age, Wicca, and whole variety of other religions. All experiences, included spiritual ones, must be tested by the sure Word of God found on the pages of the Bible.