Thursday, May 7, 2015

The Book of Mormon As a Catalyst for an Acceptance of Personal Revelation

Someone asked me in a more private setting about what I've written regarding the way the Book of Mormon opens the door for people to accept and experience personal revelation - and why that is so important.  The following is the specific question he asked and my response to it: 

I do have a question about one specific line in one of your posts: "It [the Book of Mormon] also opens a conduit to seek personal revelation in personal areas." How have you found that works, exactly? Again, I would assume that revelation would not come directly from the words of the book itself, since oftentimes we're seeking personal revelation about topics that the Book of Mormon simply doesn't address. So what's the connection between the Book of Mormon and that conduit of personal revelation?

Most people are not taught to ask God for specific answers to specific questions, so teaching people to ponder God's mercy throughout history and then to pray for a specific answer to a specific question ("Are these things true?") opens the door for them to continue to ask God for answers to questions once they feel He has answered them the first time. It's not just a one-time thing. In our theology, it leads to the concept of on-going and personal revelation - and praying about the Book of Mormon often is the first step in that process for many people.

It's not exactly how it worked for me, since I grew up with an acceptance of the principles of on-going and personal revelation and didn't need that catalyst personally, but I have seen it work that way for lots of other people.

You might want to consider that aspect - that, if someone grows up with an acceptance of something, "gaining a witness of it" can be very different than having an extraordinary experience that teaches it for the first time. I think we teach many things as happening for everyone in the exact same way, and, in doing so, miss the complexity of humanity and the idea that God speaks to us in our own language, according to our own understanding. I'd rather teach a principle and let people experience things themselves.

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