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  • Writer's pictureJacob Hansen

God Told You So? You Sure?

Dear Brandon

In our recent conversations I asked you why you felt Homosexual behavior was morally acceptable to God. You said you prayed about it and felt God revealed to you personally that homosexual behavior was not sinful. Case closed? I don't know. Let‘s consider the nature of personal revelation.

How can I tell if my personal revelation is actually of God? Is Gods spirit the only spirit trying to reach me? Is there any way to tell? What is the standard against which I can check my personal intuitions since they are obviously subject to personal bias and social/cultural conditioning?

I think it’s helpful to consider the law of witnesses in scripture. This is the notion that one witness is not sufficient to established the validity of a proposition. Rather the more witnesses there are (especially if those witnesses are more independent of each other) the more sure we can be that this is not just our own personal biases speaking.

This actually was taught by the savior himself! Jesus explained this principle to his disciples in John 5 and explicitly declared that even his witness alone was insufficient.

“If I bear witness of myself, my witness is not true. There is another that beareth ​​​witness​ of me; and I know that the ​​​witness​ which he witnesseth of me is true. Ye sent unto ​​​John​, and he bare ​​​witness​ unto the truth... But​ I have ​​​greater​ witness than ​that​ of John: for the ​​​works​ which the Father hath given me to finish, the same ​​​works​ that I do, bear witness of me, that the Father hath ​​​sent​ me... Search​ the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which ​​​testify​ of me... For had ye believed ​​​Moses​, ye would have believed me: for he ​​​wrote​ of me. But if ye believe not his ​​​writings​, how shall ye believe my words?"

Jesus said each of the following supported his assertion: John the Baptist, Jesus’s works, the Father Himself, and the scriptures, including the words of Moses. The point is that the more independent witnesses (be those people or otherwise) the more sure we can be that something is of God. These can be prophets, our own intuitions, the fruits of the spirit which we observe in the results of a given action, our power of reason and logic, empirical evidence etc etc. The more of these things witness for the validity of a given proposition, the more confident we can be in its Truth.

What Christ is offering is a faithful epistemology. He offers a way for us to be more or less confident in the truth of a proposition by utilizing all the tools give to us by God to know the Truth. I call this methodology The Collective Witness Model.

These principles (based in the law of witnesses) have been taught in nearly all dispensations.

"In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established." Paul, 2 Cor 13:1

"One witness shall not rise up against a man for any iniquity, or for any sin, in any sin that he sinneth: at the mouth of two witnesses, or at the mouth of three witnesses, shall the matter be established." Duet 19:15

"Know ye not that the testimony of two nations is a witness unto you that I am God, that I remember one nation like unto another? Wherefore, I speak the same words unto one nation like unto another. And when the two nations shall run together the testimony of the two nations shall run together also."- 2 Nephi 29:8

“When prophets write and speak on the principles of the gospel, they should have the guidance of the Spirit. If they do, then all that they say will be in harmony with the revealed word. If they are in harmony then we know that they have not spoken presumptuously. Should a man speak or write, and what he says is in conflict with the standards which are accepted, with the revelations the Lord has given, then we may reject what he has said, no matter who he is.” (Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, 1:187.)

I personally a really glad that we are not left to rely just on own often bias intuitions. It seems that just as God has given us more than 1 eye to see he has given us multiple points of reference to grant us deeper confidence in what we believe to be his mind and will.

For a more detailed breakdown of this concept please check out my video on YouTube.

Best wishes my friend

- Jacob

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