Unreliable Method

CES Letter Core Question

Is God's method for revealing truth unreliable?

Same method: read, ponder, and pray. Different testimonies. All four testimonies cannot simultaneously be true. Is this the best God can come up with in revealing His truth to His children? Only .2% of the world’s population are members of God’s one true Church. This is God’s model and standard of efficiency?


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Unreliable Method

If God’s method to revealing truth is through feelings, it is a very ineffective and unreliable method. We have thousands of religions and billions of members of those religions saying that their truth is God’s only truth and everyone else is wrong because they felt God or God’s spirit reveal the truth to them. Each religion has believers who believe that their spiritual experiences are more authentic and powerful than those of the adherents of other religions. They cannot all be right together, if at all.


CES Letter, Page 75

God’s method of “revealing truth through feelings” is actually extremely efficient to those who are not “past feeling” (Eph. 4:19, 1 Ne. 17:45).  The Lord calls “upon all men by the Holy Ghost everywhere” (Moses 5:14). The righteous will respond. Christ explained:  “Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice” (John 18:37).

The alleged inefficiency is a result of a majority of people refusing to hear the Holy Spirit. The Lord told Joseph Smith in the 1830s:  “All flesh is corrupted before me; and the powers of darkness prevail upon the earth, among the children of men, in the presence of all the hosts of heaven.”  (D&C 38:11.) “And the whole world lieth in sin, and groaneth under darkness and under the bondage of sin.”  (D&C 84:49.) It would appear that the world is even more wicked today.

Before mortal birth we could learn to feel the Holy Spirit. Elder Boyd K. Packer remarked: “Revelation is the process of communication to the spiritual eyes and to the spiritual ears that were ours before our mortal birth.” Apostle John Taylor explained it this way:  “When truth shall touch the cords of your heart they will vibrate; then intelligence shall illuminate your mind, and shed [its] lustre in your soul, and you shall begin to understand the things you once knew, but which had gone from you.”

Joseph Smith declared that “All things whatsoever God in his infinite wisdom has seen fit and proper to reveal to us, while we are dwelling in mortality. . . are revealed to our spirits precisely as though we had no bodies at all.” The Holy Spirit is “the still small voice, which whispereth through and pierceth all things” (D&C 85:6).

The author of The CES Letter alleges inefficiency in God’s methods, but we cannot predict how many of His children will be saved. The process of gaining light and truth continues after death in the spirit world.  President Joseph F. Smith saw that in that realm:

Chosen messengers went forth to declare the acceptable day of the Lord and proclaim liberty to the captives who were bound, even unto all who would repent of their sins and receive the gospel.

Thus was the gospel preached to those who had died in their sins, without a knowledge of the truth, or in transgression, having rejected the prophets. . .

I beheld that the faithful elders of this dispensation, when they depart from mortal life, continue their labors in the preaching of the gospel of repentance and redemption, through the sacrifice of the Only Begotten Son of God, among those who are in darkness and under the bondage of sin in the great world of the spirits of the dead.  (D&C 138:31-32, 57.)

Multiple scriptures state that “strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it” (Matt. 7:14; see also 2 Ne. 31:18, 3 Ne. 14:14, 27:33, D&C 132:22). Joseph Smith taught: “The disappointment of hopes and expectations at the resurrection would be indescribably dreadful.”


Additional Resources:

The Spirit of Revelation — Elder David A. Bednar

Obtaining Revelation for your Personal Life — Elder Richard G. Scott

Spiritual Experiences as the Basis for Belief and Commitment by Blake Ostler

Strengthening Faith and Testimony — Elder Robert D. Hales

Best of Fair 11: “Believest thou…?”: Faith, Cognitive Dissonance, and the Psychology of Religious Experience, Dr. Wendy Ulrich, 0:53:25

FAIR Questions 2: Recognizing the Voice of the Spirit 0:10:55

Keeping the Faith 5a: Don Bradley–Seeing with an eye of faith, pt 1, Don Bradley, 1:22:46

Keeping the Faith 5b: Don Bradley–Seeing with an eye of faith, pt 2, Don Bradley, 1:19:34

Keeping the Faith 5c: Don Bradley–Seeing with an eye of faith, pt 3, Don Bradley, 1:26:24

Keeping the Faith 5d: Don Bradley–Seeing with an eye of faith, pt 4, Don Bradley, 1:03:01

RiseUp Podcast: Building a Testimony on a Sure Foundation – Part 1, J. Max Wilson, 0:22:24

RiseUp Podcast: Building a Testimony on a Sure Foundation – Part 2, J. Max Wilson, 0:16:11

Best of Fair 18 – Mike Parker: The Challenge and Choice of Faith, Mike Parker, 1:00:15

Reason, Experience, and the Existence of God – Daniel C. Peterson

Building a Testimony on a Sure Foundation

To Help Advance the Pursuit of Truth as it Concerns our Way of Life — Ralph Hancock

Finding Answers to Your Prayers pdcast

Overcoming Struggles and Doubts Podcast

Keeping the Faith 10: Reconverted.Org

Is an LDS testimony based only on emotional “feelings”? — Fair Mormon Podcast

Is it a sin to have doubts? — Fair Mormon Podcast

Tom Mould on Folklore and Personal Revelation- Fair Mormon Podcast

Testimony and Lifelong Conversion- Fair Mormon Podcast

4th Watch 2: Testimony and Lifelong Conversion, Ned Scarisbrick, 0:31:22

pt 1, Enlarging Ones Testimony with Answers and Evidences

pt 2, Enlarging Ones Testimony with Answers and Evidences

pt 3, Enlarging Ones Testimony with Answers and Evidences

Pt. 1, How to receive answers to your prayers

Pt. 2, How to receive answers to your prayers

pt 1, I Don’t Have a Testimony of the History of the Church

pt 2, I Don’t Have a Testimony of the History of the Church

pt 3, Don’t Have a Testimony of the History of the Church

pt 4, Don’t Have a Testimony of the History of the Church

pt 5, I Don’t Have a Testimony of the History of the Church

pt 6, I Don’t Have a Testimony of the History of the Church

pt 1, Spiritual Experiences As The Basis For Belief And Commitment

pt 2,Spiritual Experiences As The Basis For Belief And Commitment

pt 3,Spiritual Experiences As The Basis For Belief And Commitment

pt 4, Spiritual Experiences As The Basis For Belief And Commitment

pt 5, Spiritual Experiences As The Basis For Belief And Commitment

pt 6, Spiritual Experiences As The Basis For Belief And Commitment

How to Receive Revelation

Autobiographical Notes of my Testimony by Daniel C. Peterson

Great Advice on Life from Elder Busche

How to receive answers to your prayers

I Don’t Have a Testimony of Church History by Davis Bitton

I Have Kept the Faith

Autobiographical Notes on My Testimony (2004 FAIR Conference) by Daniel C. Peterson

“Believest thou…?”: Faith, Cognitive Dissonance, and the Psychology of Religious Experience (2005 FAIR Conference) by Wendy Ulrich

Can We Trust Our Feelings? by J. Cooper Johnson

Disenchanted Mormonism (2013 FAIR Conference) by Rosalynde Welch

Education, Scholarship, and Mormonism by Scott Gordon

I Don’t Have a Testimony of the History of the Church (2004 FAIR Conference) by Davis Bitton

Letter From a Youth Pastor: Four LDS Responses to Frequently Asked Questions

Spiritual Experiences as the Basis for Belief and Commitment (2007 FAIR Conference) by Blake T. Ostler

What I Learned about Life, the Church, and the Cosmos from Hugh Nibley (2005 FAIR Conference) by Boyd Petersen