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Latter-day Saints often claim to gain a personal witness of the truth of their beliefs through the Holy Ghost. Sometimes this has been described as a "burning in the bosom":

A Latter-day Saint “spiritual” experience has intellectual content as well as emotional elements of peace or joy

Accordingly, a Latter-day Saint “spiritual” experience has intellectual content as well as physical phenomena which can include elements of peace or joy. In the early days of the Church, Oliver Cowdery received the following revelation through Joseph Smith:

Verily, verily, I say unto you, if you desire a further witness, 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? (D&C 6:22–23).

Notice the information is spoken to the “mind,” and the feeling of peace accompanies the intellectual gift. Further, the solution for later doubts or concerns is not reliance on “a feeling” alone but an admonition to recall specific information communicated earlier.

This matches the revelatory pattern later explained to Oliver Cowdery when he attempted to participate in the translation process of the Book of Mormon:

Behold, you have not understood; you have supposed that I would give it unto you, when you took no thought save it was to ask me. But, 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, but you shall have a stupor of thought that shall cause you to forget the thing which is wrong… (D&C 9:7–9).

Again, the united witness of intellect and heart are essential. If either does not agree, then revelation has not yet confirmed the matter under consideration. Anyone who relies exclusively on any one faculty – either feeling or reasoning or physical sensation – does not properly understand the LDS approach to spiritual witness.

(Source: Holy Ghost/Burning in the bosom - FAIR)

Although I find this "burning in the bosom" experience quite intriguing, I'm curious about the LDS Church's stance on other forms of revelation, such as prophecies, dreams, and visions. Here I'd like to mention Jack S. Deere's book, Why I Am Still Surprised by the Voice of God: How God Speaks Today through Prophecies, Dreams, and Visions:

Not only does God still speak to us apart from the Scriptures—we should expect Him to.

This is the story of how Jack Deere learned to hear the voice of God in his life and how you can too.

Now a modern classic, Jack wrote Surprised by the Voice of God over twenty-five years ago. Based on that first book, Why I Am Still Surprised by the Voice of God has been entirely rewritten and includes additional thoughts and insights from a lifetime of hearing God speak.

Deere will guide you through the Bible to discover the variety of creative, deeply personal ways God still communicates with us today. You'll learn:

  • How God speaks with people apart from the Bible, though never in contradiction to it.
  • The ways God revealed his thoughts to the men and women of the Bible.
  • Why God continues to speak to us today using the same methods.

Deere provides counsel and guidance for knowing how to accurately hear God speak through prophecies, dreams, visions, and other forms of divine communication. With candor, sensitivity, and a profound understanding of Scripture, Deere identifies our hindrances to hearing the voice of God and calls us to a more intimate relationship with God.

Filled with fascinating stories and intimate personal accounts, Why I Am Still Surprised by the Voice of God is for all who want to walk in friendship with God

Please note that Jack Deere is a charismatic Christian, not a Latter-day Saint. He used to be a cessationist but later shifted his theological stance after experiencing the charismatic gifts for himself through the ministry of John Wimber. Setting aside theological debates, I believe Deere's emphasis on God's ability to communicate through various means, such as prophecies, dreams, and visions, is pertinent here.

What is the LDS Church's stance on seeking communication with God through prophecies, dreams, and visions, or hearing God's voice directly, as a means to gain a testimony, instead of solely relying on a "burning" sensation?

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We believe in the gift of tongues, prophecy, revelation, visions, healing, interpretation of tongues, and so forth. (Articles of Faith 1:7)

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God's warning to Lehi came in a dream (which was communicated with clarity Lehi would understand):

2 And it came to pass that the Lord commanded my father, even in a dream, that he should take his family and depart into the wilderness.

3 And it came to pass that he was obedient unto the word of the Lord, wherefore he did as the Lord commanded him (1 Nephi 2:2-3)

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For my soul delighteth in plainness; for after this manner doth the Lord God work among the children of men. For the Lord God giveth light unto the understanding; for he speaketh unto men according to their language, unto their understanding. (2 Nephi 31:3)

As the etymology of the word suggests, the purpose of revelation is to reveal something, not to impress. God is not only providing feelings, He is conveying knowledge. One of my favorite analogies is that of turning lights on in a dark place - with the illumination of the Holy Ghost, that which was obscure & incomprehensible becomes clear & understood.

God avails Himself of a variety of methods in revealing truth to His children, including visions & dreams.



Note that the phrase "burning in the bosom" is seldom used but often mischaracterized. In contemporary English the phrase "stirring in the soul" is sometimes used to convey a similar idea.

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