The Revelatory Process in the Mormon Church

As a bishop I was shocked to learn that most priesthood leaders don’t pray about each individual item on the agenda.

When I was first called as bishop and introduced the principle of praying about every single individual calling & release, I had some resistance from the mature, experienced priesthood holders in our ward.

They were convinced that they only had to pray & ask for the Lord’s inspiration at the beginning of the meeting & they would then receive that inspiration during the rest of the meeting. They had never heard of praying about every decision before.

When I asked the Stake President if it was appropriate, he was a little shocked I was asking. It had never come up before as a query, and he seemed, at first, a little unsure what to say. But told me he sustained me if that’s what I decided to do.

So it appears that the Church leadership in our Ward had never prayed for the Lord’s inspiration about each calling until I instituted it.

Let me assure you all that we were quite fastidious about praying about individual callings & releases! We got on our knees, for each & every person. We waited for a warm reassurance or a stupor of thought. I was insistent on unanimous positive feelings of divine acceptance amongst the whole bishopric, otherwise we would go back to reconsidering the person and calling.

Sometimes one member of the bishopric would not feel anything & they might admit to being distracted by other concerns so their ‘vote’ was therefore not considered. But most of the time we had unanimity.

I think my particular style of decision making, as described above, may have caused some concern in the Stake Presidency because after awhile we were counselled that my feelings as bishop should always take presidence! That if I felt good about something then it was more likely to be right. More likely to be the ‘will of the Lord’! This did seem strange to me as I considered that the Lord would inspire all men equally, & that all revelation from God was of equal merit & value, but I was obviously wrong!! It appears the revelation I received as Bishop was of greater value & credibility than everyone else in the Ward!

In Stake Leadership & Ward meetings the Stake Presidency, and General Authorities, would be very vocal about how Bishops received direct revelation from God. They repeatedly told the members that I, as Bishop, received revelation from God for the Ward, much like the Prophet does for the Church. It actually got to become quite embarrassing. I didn’t consider myself to be similar in any way, shape or form to a prophet. If I had been arrogantly inclined it could have gone to my head.

So it came as quite a shock to everyone when I resigned as Bishop due to discovering the Church is a fraudulent cult.

What I found interesting is I didn’t feel any different. I still felt the same feelings of ‘inspiration’ or ‘revelation’ as I did as a true believer.

In fact, even now, as an athiest I have those same feelings of ‘the Spirit’!

Honestly I really do have those same ‘feelings of the spirit’, except I don’t now attribute them to coming from God!

I think it comes down to how you interpret those feelings. To what do we equate feelings of inspiration or revelation?

In the past I believed they were from God. Now I think they come from my own sub-conscious.

Neuro-scientists are mapping the neural processes of our brains & have discovered that our sub-conscious minds have come to a decision about something several seconds before we (our conscious selves) have become aware of it.

It can appear that we are being inspired from a supernatural entity outside ourselves, but actually it is most probably just us. Our own wonderful, amazing brains which inspire us.

So everyone can, & does, receive ‘personal revelation’! Everyone has their own ‘God in their own heads’. Their own imaginary friend, who whispers things to them, who inspires them, who gives them warm peaceful emotional feelings when it is positive, supportive, reassuring & good, and conversely gives rise to negative, uncomfortable, discouraging feelings when something is deemed bad.

It’s just realising this process for what it is.

But never, can these feelings be relied on exclusively to decide on truth. Feelings are never a good indicator of truth. Even though these personal inspirational feelings may seem real & palpable to us, they do not always reflect objective reality outside of us.

Just ask a paranoid schizophrenic, or someone on hallucinogenic drugs, or even consider your own personal night-time dreams. They can all seem very real to that person at the time, but are just psychological constructs of the mind.

Then, if we’re honest, we should also consider that millions of religious people all round the world, in many different religions also have personal spiritual experiences which appear to be very real to them. Just ask someone from another faith to describe their conversion or other significant spiritual event & you’ll discover how amazingly similar their feelings are to your own.

Spirituality is universal. And is a normal, natural process of the brain. But it doesn’t mean it’s evidence of God inspiring us, or even that he even really exists outside our own amazingly powerful & wonderfully malleable minds.

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3 Responses to The Revelatory Process in the Mormon Church

  1. David says:

    Great read Steve. You are beginning to understand yourself. Just like me, when I first realised that I was not special or called of God I felt a great sense of peace and more connected to the universe, with nature – equal to every living creature on the planet.

    Don’t you find it interesting that though neither side can prove the existence or none-existence of a creator, each person has their own version of that creator? The experiences of each person enforces their belief of that particular type of God. There have been thousands of versions of ‘God’ throughout history. Each God having the exact same attributes the believer perceives.  When the believer experiences profound spiritual experiences, these experiences enforce their version of God. So in essence there is a God for everyone.

    In the mind of the believer God exists, and the believer will always “acknowledge the hits but ignore the misses”, meaning, the believer will acknowledge those experiences throughout life which enforce the belief in God, but ignore and forget those experiences which contradict Gods existence. This is a habit we all have and is not restricted to the paranormal. This pattern of behaviour restricts our choices and focuses our mind on the desired result, not what is fact.

    You can guaranty that if a person hates homosexuals, their God does too. If a person believes in honour killing, their God does too. If a person believes that female genital mutilation is good… guess what?… God will also agree.

    Why has religion hijacked ‘Spirituality’?

    Each person will go through life having spiritual experiences which enforce their belief. People can have profound spiritual experiences whilst listening to a beautiful piece of music, a beautiful poem, exploring the vastness and majesty of the universe. Spiritual experiences are not just for enhancing paranormal beliefs. It has nothing to do with the supernatural at all. It is a beautiful natural phenomenon which can be explained by science. Don’t forget, Synthetic entheogens produce profound spiritual experiences too, these experiences have often been life changing and can alter the persons beliefs about God. There is a version of God for everyone, and each God agrees with each believer.

    It is fair to say that each persons God shares the same individual values and prejudices as the believer, and ‘spiritual experiences’ will enforce the belief. When belief is perfected, it is recognised as knowledge or faith. Faith in it’s purist form can have catastrophic consequences, as demonstrates on 9/11.

    Every religion has the potential for acts of martyrdom.

    God is as versatile as ‘Mr Potato Head’.

    In the Bible Jesus told us where to find the kingdom of heaven  “Don’t look here or there”, he said, “the kingdom of heaven can be found within”. The kingdom of heaven is a state of awareness to be had in the here and now, without paying homage to an authority figure.

    Once we move away from organised religion with their versions of Jesus and their self vested interests, we become closer to our authentic self. Our goals and sub goals are motivated by our emotions. We can increase our emotional/spiritual well-being and happiness when we  begin to understand and except our place in the universe. First we must except that what we know to be true may not be so. This does not require us to surrender ourselves to a higher being, or admit our weakness. Our awareness will be raised as we understand our connection with nature and the kingdom of heaven within. The supernatural and the invisible look very much alike. So too does our perception of our own knowledge. What we think is true but isn’t so, are the same as untruths.

    “The greatest obstacle to discovery is not ignorance – it is the illusion of knowledge.” — Daniel J. Boorstin

    Its not that people know too little, its that people know too much which isn’t so.
    When we loose a belief. We don’t in fact loose anything, but rather we gain new knowledge, information and enlightenment.

    Understanding this principal and becoming a non judgmental ‘Third Person’ of our own thoughts and emotions as they rise and fall, we practice the art of mindfulness. Perhaps through time, we may become aware of those beliefs which are purely emotion driven.

    The culture we live in does not except death easily. Instead it fears death. This is one of many cultural ‘Negative Psychological’ faults we have in modern western societies. The fear of our consciousness dying and being in a non existent state, the same state as before birth. This is compensated in our society by the teaching of a fabulous afterlife, one to look forward to. It is more beautiful than we could ever conceive. This fear and consequent cognitive bandaid is taught to children as soon as they can imagine, but before they are taught how to think for themselves. No wonder nurses are constantly having to console the dyeing!

    I believe a cultural shift is happening. As Cognitive and Neuro Psychology delves deeper into the human mind. Conventional Psychology will take a shift away from relativism which helps people find what gives meaning and purpose in their individual lives, and instead concentrate on exploring what will enhance all human beings individually, also to help communities to flourish. Psychologists of the future will require Biology.

    Positive Psychology is one area that is becoming more popular. It is a none relativistic approach to human happiness and Wellbeing. Its main aim is to discover what helps us feel happy and what maximises human flourishing. A Mind/Body experimental psychology. Research in this field have discovered that not everyone is born with the same level of happiness. Our base-line level of happiness has much more to do with our genes than the environment we are brought up in, though our environment certainly does effect how we feel about ourselves, our relationships and our general wellbeing.

    If we were to imagine the two extremes for humans wellbeing… the ultimate state of flourishing and the ultimate state of misery… We can conceive of a crude midway point from this. A state of happiness which is represented by the number ‘0’. Scientific research has found that we are all born with a different baseline level of happiness. So while one person is born with +5 baseline happiness, another is born with -5 baseline on the happiness scale for example. This reflects our observations of people. Why do some seem always happy and others are always unhappy and pessimistic? The brain will always attempt to return to the baseline we were born at and provide our consciousness with emotions corresponding to that baseline level.

    Positive Psychology however, can help a person who is +2 or -2 become +5 on the happiness scale for example. By proscribing ways of living which may include more exercise, spending more time connecting with nature etc. we can find ways of living which can raise that baseline level strategies of living.

    I believe as science progresses, it will continue to find facts on how to enable individuals and communities to thrive, how to find fulfilling and meaningful lives, how to support families and schools to flourish. Studying the strengths such as the capacity to love, work, have compassion for others, creativity, self control and wisdom. Science will continue to study and discover the strength which fosters better communities such as justice, responsibility, parenting, work ethic, purpose and tolerance.

    The world is built upon religious institutions. I believe if superstitious beliefs disappear tomorrow, the world would indeed fall apart. Science and reason however, will continue to replace the practices and cultural beliefs of the past regarding the wellbeing of human beings. Realising new ways of thriving. Generations to come will have the awareness that we are the conciseness of the universe, and have a deep spiritual connection to it.  We are capable of thriving and evolving to new states of enlightenment. Our Supersense will never disappear, we will grow to understand the limits of our understanding and the power supersense can have on our emotions. Religion will always be a part of what made us who we are today. But just as with all mechanisms of human evolution, it will mutate or be discarded for something of greater worth to us.

  2. Lisa Hubble says:

    I also resigned LDS church in August 2011 after 19 years membership. I had so much struggle to understand about the powerful spiritual experiences that I received and I thought it was from God or Holy Ghost. So therefore, I began my spirituality journey through mediumship, channeling, and all that. It helped me a lot to understand about our life on earth. We do have our own spiritual guides and angels who help us process the life here. All the feelings we have received are from our spiritual guides. We joined LDS church for our spiritual development and we are out of shell now because we have an old energy and we are in now spiritual awakening. A lot of people are going through the spiritual awakening at this time. There are so much to learn. The universe is too huge! We are not alone. Just thought you would know…

    Enjoy this journey!
    Lisa

  3. Marc says:

    Some very good posts here, and a great article!

    I often wondered about the early saints spiritual experiences with visions in the Kirtland Temple,
    and on other occasions, under the leadership of Joseph Smith. How was it all done? – then I read the following article and it all became very clear, and so obvious – it was self induced with much fasting and partaking of the (laced) sacramental wine, and lots of it!

    http://www.i4m.com/think/history/holy-ghost.htm

    Joseph was totally immersed in the occult and folk magic of his day, with the rest of his family and founding fathers of the LDS church. Many early church members joined the church on the promise of heavenly visitations etc, Joseph sure knew how to come up with the goods! I don’t think many church members are aware of this fact. One thing is sure, the LDS churches founding fathers world view was very different than ours is today.
    It also explains why the era of heavenly visitations ended with the death of Joseph Smith, I believe he was a master of manipulation, and the administration of Entheogens! No one could follow him, not even Brigham Young who was reported to be ‘not very good with revelations’. I think history has proved that one!

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