Back in 1829, Joseph Smith claimed that God appeared to him saying:
Cast your mind upon the night that you cried unto me in your heart, that you might know concerning the truth of these things; did I not speak peace to your mind concerning the matter? What greater witness can you have than from God?… Behold, I say unto you that you must study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right, and if it is right, I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you: therefore, you shall feel that it is right. But if it be not right, you shall have no such feelings…¹
This, of course, is the origin of the popular Mormon doctrine of the “burning in the bosom.” As a result of this verse, most of the Mormon missionaries who’ve arrived at my doorstep over the decades have encouraged me to pray to God, asking him to confirm the truth of The Book of Mormon by means of an internal experience of this kind.
What’s fascinating is that last year when I conducted a poll of nearly a hundred Christians at a variety of different events here in the St. Louis area, the majority of those I interviewed ended up describing faith as a kind of subjective feeling or experience. When I discussed this topic on Episode 4, “Is Faith a Feeling,” I mentioned the fact that in my own study of this issue, I wasn’t able to find a single occurrence of the word “feeling” anywhere near the word “faith” in most English Bible translations. Even when I searched for different versions of the verb “to feel,” and substituted alternatives for the word “faith” (such as “faithful,” “belief,” “believer,” etc.), I still couldn’t find a single passage in which “faith” and “feelings” were within 200 words of each other.
Shane Rosenthal | “The Mormonization of American Christianity” | Sept 7th, 2023
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