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Note: I'm afraid that this question might make some cessationist readers uncomfortable, but given that Latter-day Saints are continuationists, I'll just go ahead with it.

It's my understanding that Latter-day Saints consider themselves in some sense "special" with respect to the rest of Christendom. For example, this answer affirms (emphasis mine):

[...] only those who are baptized and confirmed as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints can receive the Gift of the Holy Ghost. Once they have received the Gift, they must live worthy of it in order to maintain the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost.

Those who are not baptized can still experience some of the Power of the Holy Ghost, receive certain Revelations, and feel the influence of the Light of Christ, but they do not have the promise of constant companionship from the Holy Ghost.

[...]

Additionally, receiving the Gift of the Holy Ghost naturally grants greater access to the Gifts of the Spirit, such as the Spirit of Revelation and many other gifts.

The quote above is essentially stating a factual prediction about non-LDS Christians: non-LDS Christians cannot have a constant companionship from the Holy Ghost and, therefore, shouldn't be able to access greater manifestations of the gifts of the Spirit.

I've watched and read lots of testimonies, as well as stories of moves of the Spirit in different revivals throughout history, and cannot help but believe that this prediction is utterly false. There are tons of non-LDS Christians who can testify about how they have been led by the Holy Spirit pretty much everyday, how they operate in the gifts of the Spirit -- including "words of knowledge", which would be the equivalent to the LDS concept of "Spirit of Revelation" --, stories of people who were involved in witchcraft, the occult, etc, who had first-hand knowledge of the dark side, and then had dramatic supernatural conversions to (non-LDS) Christianity and are now having even more profound experiences with the Spirit of God.

For the sake of sharing a few notable examples, here are some links: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7.

Question: How do Latter-day Saints explain testimonies of profound experiences with the Holy Spirit in other denominations?


Related questions:

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We generally don’t feel a need to explain them.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints doesn’t claim a monopoly on experiences with God (see Alma 29:8). The church does, however, make the significant claim of being the church directly organized & led by Jesus Christ and invested with His authorized priesthood power. That’s a bold claim. I understand why adherents of other faiths do not like it. If the claim is an invention of man, it’s absurd. If it comes from God, it doesn’t matter if it sounds absurd. The means offered by Latter-day Saints for testing the claim is seeking a witness directly from God.

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Some doctrinal background

In discussing what is meant by the gift of the Holy Ghost, there may be value in offering some doctrinal background on ordinances and covenants. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints teaches that there are 5 ordinances of salvation (see here):

  1. Baptism
  2. Confirmation (including conferral of the gift of the Holy Ghost)
  3. Ordination to the Melchizedek Priesthood (for men)
  4. Temple Endowment
  5. Temple Sealing

Each of these ordinances is accompanied by one or more covenants (for sake of simplicity let’s define covenant here as a two-way promise with God), and we believe that (for people who are morally accountable) they are required for exaltation. Each of these ordinances must be performed by one holding the requisite priesthood office, under the authorization of one holding priesthood keys.

For those interested in the implications my comments carry for faith/works, I have presented a more detailed discussion of grace and covenants here.

The point of the covenants is not to complete a checklist that thereby earns our salvation; the point of the covenants is the transformation they produce in us. God (who is a really good parent) asks us to do things because doing those things will help us. With each covenant or set of covenants, we promise things to God and He promises things we need—things we could never earn on our own—that enable us to progress and develop.

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The gift of the Holy Ghost in broader context

Other posts have discussed differences between the gift and power of the Holy Ghost and links have been shared for further reading. I’d like to focus in on just one big-picture principle here.

The fruit of a tree (from the plant’s perspective) is not an end in itself—it’s a means for growing a tree. So too, I propose, is the fruit of the Spirit. It may impress, but that’s not its fundamental purpose. I am in fact wary of those who use gifts of the Spirit to draw attention to themselves (instead of to God).

The ordinances & covenants noted above are not ends in and of themselves, but means to an end. The God who designed tiny seeds that can transform into majestic trees wants to carry out an even greater transformation in His children. The power that comes into our lives (and beyond) through these ordinances (see Doctrine & Covenants 84:19-20) is essential for our exaltation. And so, I respectfully conclude that while the gifts of the Spirit and the power of the Holy Ghost are indeed manifested to many—regularly—the full transformative power of this and the other saving ordinances is only available through covenants instituted by God and performed by His power.

Several of the promises associated with baptism and confirmation were described by the prophet Alma:

9 Yea, and are willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in, even until death, that ye may be redeemed of God, and be numbered with those of the first resurrection, that ye may have eternal life—

10 Now I say unto you, if this be the desire of your hearts, what have you against being baptized in the name of the Lord, as a witness before him that ye have entered into a covenant with him, that ye will serve him and keep his commandments, that he may pour out his Spirit more abundantly upon you? (Mosiah 18:9-10)

The promise at the end of verse 10 conveys nothing about measuring time. The Spirit will be poured out more abundantly through these covenants. How much of the time do different people feel guided by the Holy Ghost? I propose that this question is unanswerable except by God. I am not God [citation needed], so I will not venture a guess. What the Book of Mormon does teach, though, is that pouring out the Spirit in greater abundance (than otherwise available) is a gift from God that is dispensed via His covenants, entered into by His power.

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Conclusion--personal note

The prediction in the OP--as stated--is not a prediction I as a Latter-day Saint would make.

It is one thing to judge how well an organization’s doctrine aligns with sacred texts; it is quite another to judge the authenticity of another person’s relationship with God. As a flawed, fallen, imperfect human being, full of motes, beams, and plenty in between, it is not my place to do the latter.

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  • "And so, I respectfully conclude that while the gifts of the Spirit and the power of the Holy Ghost are indeed manifested to many—regularly—the full transformative power of this and the other saving ordinances is only available through covenants instituted by God and performed by His power" - what is meant by "full transformative power"? What differences would you expect to exist between a person who does have access to this "full transformative power" and a person who doesn't? Feel free to answer this by amending your answer if you want. Jul 17 at 5:35
  • @SpiritRealmInvestigator would it be a cop out if I point you to one of my videos that discusses this? Especially the last 30 seconds. Jul 17 at 5:58
  • I think so :). No, but seriously, I think it would be great if you can illustrate the concept by way of examples. I know of cases of non-LDS Christians who are/were spiritually rich in terms of both fruit and gifts of the Spirit, so it's hard for me to grasp how they are/were missing out on this "full transformative power" you talk about. I like it when concepts are grounded in reality: do you happen to know any individual alive today who, in your opinion, is more or less close to the ideal of someone who has fully tapped into this "full transformative power"? Jul 17 at 6:21
  • @SpiritRealmInvestigator I'm sorry to be unhelpful -- I do not feel qualified to judge the authenticity of another person's relationship with God. I can point to doctrines/teachings that in my judgement are/are not in harmony with God...but not people. Jul 17 at 15:06
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Its not 100% clear who gets what gift, when, or in what amount. LDS scripture in D&C 46:26 says:

26 And all these gifts come from God, for the benefit of the children of God.

And as quoted in OP:

Those who are not baptized can still experience some of the Power of the Holy Ghost, receive certain Revelations, and feel the influence of the Light of Christ, but they do not have the promise of constant companionship from the Holy Ghost.`

The Holy Ghost guides helps mankind be closer to Jesus Christ, gifts of the spirit have a similar purpose. Other denominations follow Jesus Christ. So those testimonies and testimonies in other non LDS denominations are entirely possible.


EDIT based on comment conversation

Following the LDS doctrine that only after baptism by proper authority can one receive the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost, one may at first think this diminishes experiences of others who haven't been baptized. But anything less than constant is possible (according to the doctrine); so a full day, ten years, a year, 20 hours every day, etc we (man) don't know beyond its less than constant. IMO it would be safe to conclude that if they get baptized then the amount of experiences with the Holy Ghost would only increase.

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  • What is meant by "some of the Power"? What part is left out that only LDS believers can enjoy? Jul 15 at 17:42
  • not the constant companionship, as you stated in your post/quoted. You can feel 100% of the power (I don't think LDS use this phrasing), but you won't always be able to have him with you
    – depperm
    Jul 15 at 17:47
  • so are you implying that non-LDS Christians who claim to receive constant companionship must be lying? Jul 15 at 17:48
  • the LDS church teaches that the gift of the Holy Ghost comes after baptism and given by the proper authority. ...this guidance will not be continuous unless the person is baptized and receives the laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost. from (OP quoted answer link).
    – depperm
    Jul 15 at 17:54
  • In other words, "yes, they have to be lying" (the answer to my question) (?) Jul 15 at 17:55

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