CES Letter Core Question
Does every major religion have members who claim the same thing: God or God’s spirit bore witness to them that their religion, prophet/pope/leaders, book(s), and teachings are true?
CES Letter, Page 75
Perhaps many faiths can find a member who feels God told them by the spirit that their faith is true. However, Abrahamic traditions usually emphasize the Holy Spirit and its role in guiding them, but even among those religions, the focus of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on personal revelation is unique.
All men and women may receive guidance from the Holy Ghost. Joseph Smith taught: “A man may receive the Holy Ghost, and it may descend upon him and not tarry with him” (D&C 130:23).
The Holy Ghost will lead people to valid ordinances like baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost: “Every one that hearkeneth to the voice of the Spirit cometh unto God, even the Father. And the Father teacheth him of the covenant which he has renewed and confirmed upon you” (D&C 84:47-48).
False and deceiving spirits also influence mankind: “Believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1). “There are many spirits which are false spirits, which have gone forth in the earth, deceiving the world” (D&C 50:2).
Revelation from a supernatural source plays a less important role in other religious traditions such as Buddhism, Confucianism, Hinduism, and Taoism.
Hinduism, Buddhism, and Judaism generally do not seek converts. Adherents do not encourage others to seek to learn their path to God is the only path through personal revelation.
The use of lay clergy in the LDS Church contrasts most organized religions and indicates that special education is not needed to serve as leaders, which further accentuates the need for personal revelation to fulfill callings.
While some Abrahamic religions do claim special authority for their religion or teachers many do not. For example, many Protestant religions believe in a “Priesthood of all believers,” which doesn’t necessarily exclude those in other sects from performing acts that would be considered valid in God’s eyes.