How do we know something is true?
Is a spiritual witness a reliable method of obtaining knowledge?
How can we tell if that spiritual witness originates from our own emotions or our own thoughts?
Does personal revelation, always need to align with that of the Brethren?
“Epistemology is the branch of philosophy dealing with the nature and scope of knowledge. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has no uniform position on the classical issues of epistemology, such as the relationship of the sources of knowledge, theories of truth, and modes of verification, but the superiority of knowing by revelation from God is commonly cited from the scriptures.“– Encyclopedia of Mormonism
Here is some Wikipedia background on Epistemology.
The Gift of the Holy Ghost: What is it and how important is it?
To faithful members of the LDS faith, this is the supreme gift bestowed upon them by a loving Heavenly Father who has provided this mechanism to guide his children back to him. It is the mechanism by which we can know right from wrong, to know which path is correct, and to be warned of any potential danger to ourselves or those over whom we have stewardship. It is perhaps the greatest gift God has bestowed on his children who have been baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and are faithfully obeying the teachings of the church.
“From what I have read we gather this important truth- that without the Priesthood, without the Spirit of God, the gifts and blessings that come to the membership of the church, through the Gift of the Holy Ghost and their faithfulness, the fulness of the truth can never be obtained. In other words, no matter how much a man may learn in his secular training, he will never obtain the fulness.” – President Joseph Fielding Smith- Salvation, June 23, 1954 BYU Leadership Week (page 11 Deseret News)
“We declare in all solemnity, however, that we know salvation in the world to come is dependent upon accepting the gospel of Jesus Christ as taught in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. One factor in salvation is personal revelation. Joseph Smith said: ‘No man can receive the Holy Ghost without receiving revelations. The Holy Ghost is a revelator.’”-President James E. Faust- Communion with the Holy Spirit-March 2002
“In our interview with the President, he interrogated us wherein we differed in our religion from the other religions of the day. Brother Joseph said we differed in mode of baptism, and the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands. We considered that all other considerations were contained in the gift of the Holy Ghost.” Joseph Smith- History of the Church 4:22
“There is a difference between the Holy Ghost and the gift of the Holy Ghost. Cornelius received the Holy Ghost before he was baptized, which was the convincing power of God unto him of the truth of the Gospel, but he could not receive the gift of the Holy Ghost until after he was baptized. Had he not taken this … ordinance upon him, the Holy Ghost which convinced him of the truth of God, would have left him.”- Joseph Smith- History of the Church 4:555
“Those possessing the gift of the Holy Ghost can come to a greater light and testimony. The Holy Ghost bears witness of the truth and impresses upon the soul the reality of God the Father and the son Jesus Christ so deeply that no earthly power or authority can separate him from that knowledge.”- James E. Faust- The Gift of the Holy Ghost—A Sure Compass, General Conference April 1989
“I believe the Spirit of the Holy Ghost is the greatest guarantor of inward peace in our unstable world. It can be more mind-expanding and can make us have a better sense of well-being than any chemical or other earthly substance. It will calm nerves; it will breathe peace to our souls. This Comforter can be with us as we seek to improve. It can function as a source of revelation to warn us of impending danger and also help keep us from making mistakes. It can enhance our natural senses so that we can see more clearly, hear more keenly, and remember what we should remember. It is a way of maximizing our happiness.”- James E. Faust- The Gift of the Holy Ghost—A Sure Compass, General Conference April 1989
Many non-literal believers accept that there is a spiritual realm but do not believe that members of the LDS church have exclusive access to the Holy Ghost, or inspiration, or whatever they may call it. Additionally, they don’t believe that Latter-day Saints have exclusive VIP access to a source of inspiration that the majority of the world doesn’t not enjoy. They would tend to take a more universal approach, where anyone, through any faith tradition, has equal access to God’s power and God’s will, and may use varying methods to obtain it.
99.94% of the world’s inhabitants are not active members of the LDS faith (see Mormon Math) and don’t have access to the gift of the Holy Ghost or don’t live the standards necessary to enjoy that gift. It is extremely unlikely that a God would bestow active use of this gift on only the .06% of the world that live an active, obedient LDS lifestyle, a gift that as Elder Faust said, “is the greatest guarantor of inward peace in an unstable world,” and “can be more mind-expanding and can make us have a better sense of well-being than any chemical or other earthly substance.”
Additionally, as mentioned over and over again in talks by general authorities, only those who finely hone their skills, with decades of experience, are able to fully recognize the influence of the Holy Ghost in their lives, which whittles down even further the .06% of the world that can fully access this power. Does God really limit the bestowal of his most important gift, one that is designed to give his children the greatest peace, to such a minuscule percentage of his children?
Lastly, if the Gift of the Holy Ghost is so essential in the lives of church members, then why are children of a parent living in a same-sex relationship denied the opportunity to receive this gift until they are 18? The LDS church obviously feels they can make it through their entire youth without this gift, so it can’t be that important. Elder Christofferson said of the children that have to wait until they are 18 to participate in church ordinances and practices that “Nothing is lost to them in the end.” Non-believers would wholeheartedly agree with that. Nothing is lost to them because the Gift of the Holy Ghost is a theological construct that is not based in any reality.