Telemantros

How does one determine sincerity and real intent?

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Good morning.

About ten years ago I was visited by a group of three missionaries for the first time while at college. Since then I’ve moved but have been thinking about, and studying, the Book of Mormon. I’m currently not a Mormon, but am looking for a safe place to think through and share my honest thoughts/questions ( as there really isn’t a strong LDS presence where I live (rural Midwest USA)). I hope this can be that place.

A question that has haunted me is how one can determine genuine sincerity and intent ( i.e. Moroni 10:4). It’s been ten years and no confirmation. For some reason though i think about the LDS worldview often. What’s going on? Obviously others can’t judge  the nature of an internal state that I myself have. In prayer I’ve not been told I’m insincere by God when I ask. I don’t feel or believe myself to be insincere. But I know that the heart is “desperately wicked” as well. What is a man to do? If only it was easier to know. 

Tele

Edited by Telemantros
Wording

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Welcome, @Telemantros!

You ask a good question.  Please do not assume anything personal from the below - I know nothing of your heart and wouldn't begin to judge it - I'm just presenting generic ideas about your question.

I think "sincere and with real intent" cannot be separated in this case (it's not two things, it's one combined thing).  I think they mean that you want to know with the intent of acting on the answer.  So, it's not the following:

  • Once I know, then I'll decide what to do about it.
  • I don't intend to join the Church either way, but I'm curious whether the Book of  Mormon is true
  • I don't believe it for a minute, and would just like confirmation that my skepticism is correct

Or similar thoughts.  So the question to ask yourself is whether you've already made up your mind to act, if the confirmation is received.  If you've made up your mind to act, why not start early?

Quote

John 7:17 If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.

There is something about acting that can break through doubts.  Things such as prayer, scripture study, and church attendance may be what you need to break down whatever mental resistance might be in the way.

Also, doing good in general (the above, and serving others) can help us learn to recognize the way the Spirit speaks to us - each of us experiences that in our own way.  Is it possible the Spirit has spoken to you, but you don't realize it was the Spirit?

Just a few thoughts.  I hope we can answer your questions and provide the discussions and encouragement you need.  You might also consider talking to the missionaries again - either in person or via http://mormon.org/.  Also, there's no replacement for getting together with Church members.  You can find your ward by going here: https://www.mormon.org/worship. (NOTE: Mormon.org is in the process of changing to WorshipWithUs.org, but after playing around on the latter, it doesn't look like it's quite ready for prime time.  Just mentioning in case the web address changes on you at some point.)

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On 9/16/2018 at 5:35 AM, Telemantros said:

Good morning.

About ten years ago I was visited by a group of three missionaries for the first time while at college. Since then I’ve moved but have been thinking about, and studying, the Book of Mormon. I’m currently not a Mormon, but am looking for a safe place to think through and share my honest thoughts/questions ( as there really isn’t a strong LDS presence where I live (rural Midwest USA)). I hope this can be that place.

A question that has haunted me is how one can determine genuine sincerity and intent ( i.e. Moroni 10:4). It’s been ten years and no confirmation. For some reason though i think about the LDS worldview often. What’s going on? Obviously others can’t judge  the nature of an internal state that I myself have. In prayer I’ve not been told I’m insincere by God when I ask. I don’t feel or believe myself to be insincere. But I know that the heart is “desperately wicked” as well. What is a man to do? If only it was easier to know. 

Tele

by their fruits shall ye know them. i don't think the question is whether or not that one is sincere... but possibly more of one of how sincere? how bad do you want to have that knowledge and if you did what would you do with it? that it has stuck with you all this time shows that you have more sincerity than a bunch of people i could name.

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On 9/16/2018 at 7:35 AM, Telemantros said:

Good morning.

About ten years ago I was visited by a group of three missionaries for the first time while at college. Since then I’ve moved but have been thinking about, and studying, the Book of Mormon. I’m currently not a Mormon, but am looking for a safe place to think through and share my honest thoughts/questions ( as there really isn’t a strong LDS presence where I live (rural Midwest USA)). I hope this can be that place.

A question that has haunted me is how one can determine genuine sincerity and intent ( i.e. Moroni 10:4). It’s been ten years and no confirmation. For some reason though i think about the LDS worldview often. What’s going on? Obviously others can’t judge  the nature of an internal state that I myself have. In prayer I’ve not been told I’m insincere by God when I ask. I don’t feel or believe myself to be insincere. But I know that the heart is “desperately wicked” as well. What is a man to do? If only it was easier to know. 

Tele

I'm not sure I can answer your question on sincerity.  I can offer some sincere advice if you're willing to accept it.  This is given with the belief that you want a confirmation.  

I felt the same as you do when I was an investigator.  I would read the Book of Mormon and any other material I could find and pray for confirmation.  Somewhere along the way, I heard a talk developing a testimony.  It spoke of having the desire for your beliefs to be true and then acting upon that desire.  It spoke of living your life as though your testimony were strong and following the Prophets.  When you act in faith, you gain confirmation.  

I really enjoyed this message:

 

Quote

 

“A light turned on in a dark room is like receiving a message from God quickly, completely, and all at once. Many of us have experienced this pattern of revelation as we have been given answers to sincere prayers or been provided with needed direction or protection, according to God’s will and timing. … However, this pattern of revelation tends to be more rare than common.

“The gradual increase of light radiating from the rising sun is like receiving a message from God ‘line upon line, precept upon precept’ (2 Nephi 28:30). Most frequently, revelation comes in small increments over time and is granted according to our desire, worthiness, and preparation. … This pattern of revelation tends to be more common than rare” (“The Spirit of Revelation,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2011, 88).

 

My experience was a gradual increase of light.  After living in faith for a short period, I looked and realized I had a testimony.  Even though I still wasn't "ready" to be baptized, once I had that understanding the confirmations came fast, furious, and very obviously.  I'm not sure this helps you at all, but I hope it is encouraging.  Here are a few talks on the subject:

https://www.lds.org/youth/article/gaining-and-keeping-a-testimony?lang=eng

https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2006/10/the-power-of-a-personal-testimony?lang=eng

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@zil @Blackmarch @Grunt

Thanks for your combined advice on knowing genuine sincerity and intent l. If I may sum what you have collectively said so I can make sure I’m understanding correctly. It sounds as if the general consensus is to act as if it where true (prayer, church attendance, listen to sermons, read). That is, the view is persueing  confirmation in the BoM and prayer is not always enough.

Sounds like I’m on the right track then. It’s encoraging, first of all, to know that some of you have had similar experiences and have felt the same way as me. That this is a process without time expectation is also encouraging. I have been praying and will continue, and I have been attending my local christian church so I’ll continue with this as well as finishing the Book of Mormon. 

Im also going to start reading a book I found in a used book store called, “The miracle of forgiveness,” by Kimball. Maybe I can capture a vision of the LDS worldview this way. If I have questions about what I read should I ask here or in the theology forum?

Tele

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2 hours ago, Telemantros said:

I have been praying and will continue, and I have been attending my local christian church so I’ll continue with this as well as finishing the Book of Mormon. 

FYI, what you hear outside The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will, in some cases / on some points, not be compatible with what you read in the Book of Mormon, so this may lead to some confusion / uncertainty.  I'd recommend finding a location where you can attend The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (even if not every Sunday) - we're never that far away (in the US at least).

2 hours ago, Telemantros said:

Im also going to start reading a book I found in a used book store called, “The miracle of forgiveness,” by Kimball. Maybe I can capture a vision of the LDS worldview this way. If I have questions about what I read should I ask here or in the theology forum? 

Fair warning: this book is rather blunt by today's standards. :)  Here or the LDS Gospel Discussion forum are good places to ask questions about it.

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3 hours ago, Telemantros said:

@zil @Blackmarch @Grunt

Thanks for your combined advice on knowing genuine sincerity and intent l. If I may sum what you have collectively said so I can make sure I’m understanding correctly. It sounds as if the general consensus is to act as if it where true (prayer, church attendance, listen to sermons, read). That is, the view is persueing  confirmation in the BoM and prayer is not always enough.

Sounds like I’m on the right track then. It’s encoraging, first of all, to know that some of you have had similar experiences and have felt the same way as me. That this is a process without time expectation is also encouraging. I have been praying and will continue, and I have been attending my local christian church so I’ll continue with this as well as finishing the Book of Mormon. 

👍

3 hours ago, Telemantros said:

@zilIm also going to start reading a book I found in a used book store called, “The miracle of forgiveness,” by Kimball. Maybe I can capture a vision of the LDS worldview this way.

A good resource for you as well is our monthly magazines https://www.lds.org/magazine?lang=eng

It's 100% free, and have articles on a variety of topics.  Overall it's a bit more modern and bite-sized than the "Miracle of Forgiveness".  There's also an audio option if you like to listen while driving or doing other things.  

4 hours ago, Telemantros said:

If I have questions about what I read should I ask here or in the theology forum?

100% !

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4 minutes ago, Telemantros said:

Blunt doesn’t bother me 😀. I’d rather have someone be blunt than beat around the bush of vagueness. Can you tell me anything about he author? 

(Little bit of background first)  LDS believe in modern prophets, whom like Moses and Peter, a servants of God whom help guide us in our understanding/walk with Christ.  They serve as His representatives and mouthpieces on the Earth.  Which is not to say that they aren't still human and have human quirks.  Likewise we believe in a modern day group of Twelve Apostles to help the Prophet with his task.  When the current prophet dies, he is replaced by one of the Apostles.  When an Apostle dies, the Prophet and remaining Apostle pray together as to who in the Church should be the new Apostle.  This all most recently happened last April, when we as a Church sustained the new Prophet and two new Apostles.   The Prophet and Apostles speak to us regularly, including in those monthly magazines I linked earlier.  

(Now focusing directly on your question) "The Miracle of Forgiveness" was written by one such Apostle, Spencer W. Kimball.  The book was originally published in 1969, and even in the 60's Kimball was known for his extremely blunt personality and 'old-school' stance.  Kimball was born in 1895, raised in the Church, and worked hard through the World Wars, Great Depression, and all of those times.  He was married with four children.  He served as an Apostle from 1943-1973, and then Prophet from 1973-1985, when he passed away.  During this time the Church and world went through a lot of changes.  If you're interested, here's his wikipedia page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spencer_W._Kimball

"The Miracle of Forgiveness" itself very much reflects Kimball's very blunt and 'old school' stance, even for the 1960's.  Though even Kimball himself described the book's tone as "too strong".   Today... the language simply doesn't carry over the best.  The book's fallen out of favor for a lot of members (including myself) and is no longer printed.  While most of it is good, there are a few particular sections that are problematic and don't reflect LDS thought.  

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4 hours ago, Jane_Doe said:

The book's fallen out of favor for a lot of members (including myself) and is no longer printed.  While most of it is good, there are a few particular sections that are problematic and don't reflect LDS thought.  

@Jane_Doe

i see. What sections don’t reflect LDS thought? I’ll make note of them.

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Telemantros, 

An excellent book that will help inform you as well as develop your testimony is a book authored by apostle M. Russell Ballard. “Our Search For Happiness”. It’s a book from the Missionary Reference Library about the church, and it greatly helps in regards to understanding sincerity. If you are interested, I will send you the book. 

Edited by Yes

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On 9/16/2018 at 6:35 AM, Telemantros said:

A question that has haunted me is how one can determine genuine sincerity and intent ( i.e. Moroni 10:4).

Sincerity.  That's between you and the Lord.  You can talk about it all you want.  But until you convince the Lord that you're being sincere, there will be no answer.

Intent. If you were to find out that it is the word of God, would you be willing to give up all your previous ideas of right and wrong or truth and error to follow the path the Lord tells you to now take?  In the end, all this is between you and the Lord. 

What I can say is that I didn't have the answer come all at once.  It came after I was torn apart and unmade.  I was truly humbled and was completely at a loss about myself and my life.  It was only at that point that I recognized all the tiny things that had happened in my life.  All the times I was told the truth and didn't listen.  Other times I did listen.  It was then I saw the whole pattern of all I'd experienced in my life that I realized,"Hey, I actually knew all along.  I just didn't know what knowing really was."

Since that time, I've had many experiences that were "clear and convincing".  But those did not come until AFTER I had gone down that long road already.  I had walked the path the Lord gave me to walk, not the one I expected/wanted to go down.  It was going down the path without knowing beforehand where it led. 

I think what I'm hearing here is that you haven't walked the path yet.  But you're trying to get that level of "clear and convincing" before you start walking the path.

Quote

If any man shall do his will, he shall know of the doctrine.

Ye receive no such witness until after the trial of your faith.

Edited by Guest

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Well, I finished Spencer Kimball’s “The miracle of forgiveness,” and I have a list of question  a mile long.

I appreciated his honest and clear writing style. I also appreciated  his heavy use of scripture (as to further his case, although not sure he needed to as an Apostle of the LDS Church?). The book seems timely even bough it was written in 1969!

I’ll have to think some on this so I can get my questions in order but just an update.

Tele

 

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Man, you're a fast reader.

Just so you know, like they were telling you last week about our prophets and Apostles... Every 6 months we have General Conference, where church leaders give talks.  General Conference is October 6th and 7th.  You might learn more stuff about the Church/Gospel by watching conference (It's broadcasted online at LDS.org, YouTube under the church channels, BYU TV, and some radio stations, Church buildings).   Also, the month after general Conference you can find the talks of the Church Magazine, Ensign, and you can also find them on LDS.org probably just a few weeks after general conference.

You might be able to find answers to those questions during conference. :)

https://www.lds.org/church/events/october-2018-general-conference?lang=eng

 

Edited by Chilean

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1 hour ago, Telemantros said:

Well, I finished Spencer Kimball’s “The miracle of forgiveness,” and I have a list of question  a mile long.

I appreciated his honest and clear writing style. I also appreciated  his heavy use of scripture (as to further his case, although not sure he needed to as an Apostle of the LDS Church?). The book seems timely even bough it was written in 1969!

I’ll have to think some on this so I can get my questions in order but just an update.

Tele

 

Wow you are a FAST reader!!!

Of course an Apostle is going to quote scripture.  Even Christ quoted scripture.   

Note: random words from an Apostle are NOT regarded as automatically being scripture by LDS.  Apostle are still men.

 

We love questions.  How about grabbing ~2 of the more important ones first?    I'm guessing if we resolve those ones it'll help resolve a lot of your other questions.  

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1 hour ago, Jane_Doe said:

We love questions.  How about grabbing ~2 of the more important ones first?    I'm guessing if we resolve those ones it'll help resolve a lot of your other questions.  

First question is which sections of this book don’t reflect LDS thought; that will help me narrow my questions 😀

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8 minutes ago, Telemantros said:

First question is which sections of this book don’t reflect LDS thought; that will help me narrow my questions 😀

Totally not reflected at all: the parts on sexual assault.

Parts that I would totally not recommend as being the best representation of LDS thoughts: self-pleasure.

A lot of readers also get incorrect ideas about perfectionism.  This is the most common confusion people have cause it's a bigger picture thing.

Edited by Jane_Doe

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On 9/16/2018 at 6:35 AM, Telemantros said:

A question that has haunted me is how one can determine genuine sincerity and intent

"Live with a man 40 years, share his house, his meals, speak on every subject. Then tie him up and hold him over the volcano's edge, and on that day, you will finally meet the man." 

I hear prices are still low to visit Hawaii if there aren't any active volcanoes in your area.

Edited by NightSG

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@Jane_Doe 

ok that helps. Last pre-question. How do you know this doesn’t reflect LDS thought? In other words, by what criteria are we discerning  what statements from an LDS apostle are true and  others  false? I’m not disagreeing with your analysis, I’m just trying to understand how one can justify disagreement with an apostle. Thanks,

Tele

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39 minutes ago, Telemantros said:

@Jane_Doe 

ok that helps. Last pre-question. How do you know this doesn’t reflect LDS thought? In other words, by what criteria are we discerning  what statements from an LDS apostle are true and  others  false? I’m not disagreeing with your analysis, I’m just trying to understand how one can justify disagreement with an apostle. Thanks,

Tele

Another great question!

Answering this in my own words: scriptures are the words of God and have the upmost authority.  Prophets and apostles help us better understand those words, as well as serving as God's mouthpieces today.  The more modern ones of course guiding most for our time.  Now of course, and individual leader is not a sinless being with a perfect understanding all things-- no no!  Rather, Christ alone is the only Perfect person to ever walk this Earth.   With all leaders the law of multiple witnesses is there  (see Deut. 19:15; 2 Cor. 13:1; 1 Tim. 5:19).  So look for things spoken of in scripture, and with many modern leaders, particularly with those leaders are speaking at General Conference.

 

Answering this with an official link (https://www.mormonnewsroom.org/article/approaching-mormon-doctrine) -- 

Much misunderstanding about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints revolves around its doctrine. The news media is increasingly asking what distinguishes the Church from other faiths, and reporters like to contrast one set of beliefs with another.

The Church welcomes inquisitiveness, but the challenge of understanding Mormon doctrine is not merely a matter of accessing the abundant information available. Rather, it is a matter of how this information is approached and examined. 

The doctrinal tenets of any religion are best understood within a broad context, and thoughtful analysis is required to understand them. News reporters pressed by daily deadlines often find that problematic. Therefore, as the Church continues to grow throughout the world and receive increasing media attention, a few simple principles that facilitate a better understanding may be helpful:

  • Not every statement made by a Church leader, past or present, necessarily constitutes doctrine. A single statement made by a single leader on a single occasion often represents a personal, though well-considered, opinion, but is not meant to be officially binding for the whole Church. With divine inspiration, the First Presidency (the prophet and his two counselors) and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (the second-highest governing body of the Church) counsel together to establish doctrine that is consistently proclaimed in official Church publications. This doctrine resides in the four “standard works” of scripture (the Holy Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price), official declarations and proclamations, and the Articles of Faith. Isolated statements are often taken out of context, leaving their original meaning distorted.
  • Some doctrines are more important than others and might be considered core doctrines. For example, the precise location of the Garden of Eden is far less important than doctrine about Jesus Christ and His atoning sacrifice. The mistake that public commentators often make is taking an obscure teaching that is peripheral to the Church’s purpose and placing it at the very center. This is especially common among reporters or researchers who rely on how other Christians interpret Latter-day Saint doctrine.

Based on the scriptures, Joseph Smith declared: “The fundamental principles of our religion are the testimony of the Apostles and Prophets, concerning Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended into heaven; and all other things which pertain to our religion are only appendages to it.”

  • Because different times present different challenges, modern-day prophets receive revelation relevant to the circumstances of their day. This follows the biblical pattern (Amos 3:7), in which God communicated messages and warnings to His people through prophets in order to secure their well-being.  In our day, President Gordon B. Hinckley (1910-2008) has repeatedly emphasized the importance of the family in our increasingly fractional society. In addition, the Church does not preclude future additions or changes to its teachings or practices. This living, dynamic aspect of the Church provides flexibility in meeting those challenges.  According to the Articles of Faith, “We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.”
  • Latter-day Saints place heavy emphasis on the application of their faith in daily life. For example, the active participation of Latter-day Saints in their community and worldwide humanitarian programs reflects concern for other people. As Jesus Christ declared, “By their fruits ye shall know them.”
  • Individual members are encouraged to independently strive to receive their own spiritual confirmation of the truthfulness of Church doctrine. Moreover, the Church exhorts all people to approach the gospel not only intellectually but with the intellect and the spirit, a process in which reason and faith work together.
  • Those writing or commenting on Latter-day Saint doctrine also need to understand that certain words in the Mormon vocabulary have slightly different meanings and connotations than those same words have in other religions. For example, Latter-day Saints generally view being born again as a process of conversion, whereas many other Christian denominations often view it as a conversion that happens in one defining moment. Sometimes what some may consider an argument or dispute over doctrine is really a misunderstanding of simple differences in terminology. 

Journalists, academics and laymen alike are encouraged to pursue their inquiries into the Church by recognizing the broad and complex context within which its doctrines have been declared, in a spirit of reason and good will.

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Another useful thing to remember: LDS is a faith which believes in continuing revelation-- right now we don't know everything.  This might sound really obvious, but I've seen it really frustrate folks from closed-cannon backgrounds.

Also, LDS folks aren't clones.  Like every other Christian denomination, there are core doctrines which are essential to the faith.  There are also other ideas/subjects that are not core doctrines and you'll get people with a variety of opinions on them, sitting in the same pew together--- and that's totally ok :)      

Edited by Jane_Doe

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moroni 10,4 And I would exhort you: When you receive this here, ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, whether it is true; and if you ask with a sincere heart, with real purpose, and have faith in Christ, He will manifest to you through the power of the Holy Ghost that it is true.

Just my opinion
1 talk to missionaries
2 When discussing you should have a good feeling about what the missionaries tell you.
3. Did you mean that, before the reading of the Book of Mormon, say a prayer in which you want to know the perceived truth
4. As you read, you get the answer in your mind.
if you do not have 2 it will be hard  and not successful,

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Hmmm ... well to be honest, after  praying, thinking, reading the Book of Mormon and Kimball’s book, and talking to you guys I’d have to say I don’t have a “burning the busom” or a “good feeling.” Actually on the contrary. Maybe I’m missing something. I’ll post a new topic on Kimball’s Book ... maybe that is what did it.

Tele

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2 minutes ago, Telemantros said:

Hmmm ... well to be honest, after  praying, thinking, reading the Book of Mormon and Kimball’s book, and talking to you guys I’d have to say I don’t have a “burning the busom” or a “good feeling.” Actually on the contrary. Maybe I’m missing something. I’ll post a new topic on Kimball’s Book ... maybe that is what did it.

Tele

Hi @Telemantros, I was thinking about you this afternoon and looking forward to your questions.

As I said, Kimball's book is not scripture by LDS standards, rather one man's writings.  

Still, regardless whether or not you decide to be LDS, we're happy to have you here and answer questions always :)     

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