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I am a regular listener of the Glenn Beck Radio Program. Glenn Beck is a Mormon and, while he doesn't directly discuss his Mormon beliefs, he does often speak about spiritual and moral matters in our society. Some of the things he's said, indirectly, about his personal faith and his church in general have made me curious about the official position of the LDS Church on spiritual gifts.

For instance, Glenn Beck has said that his church believes in proclaiming/granting spiritual blessings on people (like Abraham giving blessings to his children). He has also alluded to listening to the voice of God to give him direction in his life and he regularly encourages others to do the same.

So, my question is, what is the official position of the church on spiritual-gifts in general? For instance, what does the church teach regarding:

  • Prophecy
  • Speaking in tongues
  • Tongue interpretation
  • Blessings

Do they teach that these, or any other kinds, of spiritual gifts are commonly given today? If so, do they teach that they are available to all members, or only to certain people within the church? Are their beliefs in spiritual gifts more-or-less consistent among all members, or does it depend heavily on the local congregation?

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2 Answers 2

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The Articles of Faith are a set of simple statements of belief, taken from a letter written by Joseph Smith to explain various aspects of Mormonism to a non-Mormon audience. The church later accepted it as a canonical statement of doctrinal points.

The seventh Article of Faith states:

7 We believe in the gift of tongues, prophecy, revelation, visions, healing, interpretation of tongues, and so forth.

In terms of organization, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is highly hierarchical, roughly comparable to the Catholic Church. Basic doctrines are the same everywhere and do not vary from one congregation to another, so this belief is consistent throughout the church.

  • Prophecy: The applicable doctrine is bound up with the concept of stewardship, the idea that leaders have a responsibility to watch over that which has been entrusted to their care. Any member of the church has the right to receive personal revelation regarding that which is under their stewardship, but not beyond those limits. So a member with no particular responsibilities could receive revelation for his or her own life, a father or mother for their families, a Bishop for his congregation, and so on, with the Prophet authorized to receive revelation for the entire church; it would be considered invalid if a Bishop were to claim to have received revelation for the entire church, as this is beyond the scope of his stewardship.
  • Tongues and interpretation: Latter-Day Saints take a fairly literal view on these gifts. In Acts 2, the Apostles are able to preach their message to a very diverse crowd and have them all understand it in their own language by the power of the Holy Ghost, and in 1 Corinthians 14, Paul admonishes the Saints against random, meaningless babble that does nothing to edify anyone. The LDS interpretation is that the Gift of Tongues exists for the purpose of facilitating communication, and it's considered fairly common; many cases exist where a missionary serving in a foreign land, who hasn't gotten too far yet in picking up the language, reports a sudden surge in their ability to express his or her message at a crucial time, which leaves again once the need is gone. (ie. this is not a bestowal of a new, unearned skill, just as the Apostles didn't suddenly learn all those languages, but a bit of help when it could do some real good.)
  • Blessings: This is an extremely broad term that can mean any number of loosely related things. However, in the concept of spiritual gifts, if someone asks a Priesthood holder for "a blessing," this has a well-understood meaning. A Priesthood blessing is a sacred ordinance in which a holder of the Priesthood lays his hands upon the recipient's head and attempts to be in tune with the promptings of the Holy Ghost as much as possible, so they can pronounce upon them whatever God wishes for them. The most common use of Priesthood blessings is to heal the sick, with results ranging from simply giving comfort and reassurance, to subtle improvements, to classical "miraculous recovery." These blessings can also be given to someone who is not sick, where they're generally referred to as "a blessing of comfort" and asked for by someone who is undergoing (or about to undergo) a stressful time or ordeal.
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Thanks for the quick and thorough answer! One more thing: Do Mormons believe that some additional step, beyond, say, salvation, before they can receive spiritual gifts? For instance, Pentecostals typically believe that you must be Baptized in the Holy Spirit (apart from water baptism). Or is there any kind of works/faith based approach towards receiving or improving upon gifts? –  Steven Doggart Apr 16 at 13:26
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@StevenDoggart: That's a very broad question in its own right, particularly as the LDS understanding of salvation is very different from the Pentecostal version. –  Mason Wheeler Apr 16 at 13:35
    
Fair enough. I thought of asking it as a separate question, but I was hoping it was maybe just a simple yes or no question. –  Steven Doggart Apr 16 at 13:38
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@StevenDoggart We are similar in that before someone receives the Gift of the Holy Ghost they must first be baptized by water. Then they are given the Gift of the Holy Ghost through the laying on of hands. –  Nelson Apr 16 at 18:43

In addition to the list given by Paul in 1 Corinthians 12, Moroni 10:8-18 lists a number of the Gifts of the Spirit, and Doctrine and Covenants 46 lists these and others. These are overlapping but not comprehensive lists. It is specified in scripture that every member of the church is entitled to at least one such gift, although there are some who apparently do not recognize or appreciate what their particular strongest gift is, and in others the gift may become dormant or even be withdrawn because of pride, hypocrisy, or unbelief.

Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints do believe in all these gifts and that they are present in the Church today. There are accounts of various of them in official church publications, in personal and family histories, in the monthly fast and testimony meetings, and in private conversations among church members. There possibly are more such gifts manifested than spoken of. For one, they are considered often considered sacred, in accordance with Doctrine and Covenants 63:64. For another, those who are most likely to receive or show them are more interested in quietly doing good than in getting attention or credit and are not trying to impress anyone with signs or wonders, in accordance with Doctrine and Covenants 63:7-12.

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