Objections to Mormon Testimony

When I served as a Mormon missionary, the focus was to convince people that the Book of Mormon was translated by Joseph Smith Jr. as a prophet of God. Once this is established (see Moroni 10.2-5, Book of Mormon), it follows that one is to accept the prophecies of Joseph Smith Jr., and finally the church that he established. In a revelation, Joseph clarified this process:

But, behold, I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it is right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall feel that it is right, (Doctrine and Covenants 9.8).

John Wesley's burning heart, (itself Methodist folklore) which Joseph Smith relies on, is a reference to Luke 24.32. This passage is not about confirmation of truth, but a description of piety, and what it was to be in Jesus' presence.

It is difficult to comprehend the reasoning that this burning in the bosom or warm, comfortable feeling (Gospel Principles), a result of study coupled with emotional response, can be misconstrued as a confirmation of truth. Such instincts are inconsistent; they are wrong as often as right. Faith, for all its hope, must still ground itself in reason.

©2001 David Egan Evans.