In the question How is one supposed to "know" whether or not the Book of Mormon is true?, the accepted answer affirms:

But the witness of the Holy Ghost is testimony from God's spirit directly to yours. It's a very personal affair, and it didn't happen to someone else. It happened to you, and you know what you received from the Lord, and no alternate interpretation from some other person who hasn't experienced it can change the reality of that witness. Simply put, it's the only truly trustworthy evidence there is, because it comes directly from the only perfectly trustworthy source there is.

As to how one is supposed to recognize the answer, this will probably sound like a cop-out, but the best answer is "you'll know it when it happens." The problem is that any description requires a common frame of reference, and the witness of the Holy Ghost is a unique experience that isn't like anything that would be familiar to anyone who doesn't already have experience with it. It's often described as a strong feeling of peace, and a sensation of warmth, a "burning in your bosom" to use the scriptural language, but it's not the same as physical heat. But once one has experienced it, they truly know that they have received a testimony from the Lord.

Seconding the answer above, mormonwiki affirms the following:

One of the foundations of Mormonism is its insistence that a person seek the truth by praying for a private, special revelation from the Holy Spirit [1]

"In answer to our prayers, the Holy Ghost will teach us through our feelings and thoughts... Heavenly Father will answer their prayers, typically through feelings of their hearts and thoughts in their minds." (Preach the Gospel, p. 39; this is the "2004 handbook utilized by the Mormon missionaries") [7]

What they receive is sometimes called a burning in the bosom as a confirmation of truth. Mormons frequently appeal to James 1:5 for this, especially given that their founder, Joseph Smith, claimed that this was the verse and method he used for finding the truth. This is often accompanied by the insistence that one suspend judgment of his or her religion (even in the face of its historical and theological problems) until he or she has read the Book of Mormon and received, by prayer, a special revelation from the Holy Spirit of its truthfulness.

(*) All emphasis mine.

Question: Do other Christian denominations/groups have an equivalent concept to Mormonism's burning in the bosom, or at least acknowledge that similar experiences are legitimate and truly happen from time to time?

  • Yes, it is a traditional monastic experience, commonly associated with persistent prayer and engodment.
    – user46876
    Aug 28, 2021 at 16:25
  • @Lucian - perhaps you should expand that into a full answer to the question ;)
    – user50422
    Aug 28, 2021 at 16:30

4 Answers 4


Please take my answer with a grain of salt, because I am not from another denomination. I have served a 2 year LDS mission and had in-depth discussions with thousands of faithful Christians of many denominations. From my experience, the concept of consciously leaning on a "burning in the bosom" for a confirmation of truth is at least culturally (perhaps not doctrinally) exclusive to Latter Day Saints. There is usually a typical set of responses when digging into the fundamental reasons for a Christian's faith (I'm talking about lay people here).

The most common for Catholics' being a feeling of authority based on the age and size of their religion, claim to papal continuity, cultural-religious inertia, and a strong sense of familial religious loyalty. Not generally a claim to receiving a spiritual confirmation from God.

For Jehovah witnesses, the arguments are almost always scriptural and evidential, and tends to always boil down to the feeling that the scholars that define the Jehovah Witness viewpoints are more qualified and logical than other denominations. They would perhaps be the most quick to discount a spiritual confirmation as a point of evidence for belief.

For Pentecostals, they often bring up spiritual experiences they'd had of healing, or speaking in tongues. I suppose theirs could be the most similar to LDS as a spiritual confirmation of their belief. Though theirs would live more on the side of external sign-like confirmations rather than internal spiritual confirmations.

For most other protestant Christians, I've found that it's uncommon for them to bring up extra-biblical reasons for their faith. The arguments they give tend to start in the bible, and end in the bible. And to direct the conversation toward the extra-biblical reasons of their faith in things like Christ's resurrection or biblical inerrancy is not an easy task, and usually bears little results.

That being said, there is definitely a concept of 'feeling the spirit' that is common to most. Though it seems to be approached not as an evidential reason for a specific faith, but more as a special experience to seek after, and a reason to keep the faith.

I do apologize if I butchered anyone's fundamental viewpoints, and I am happy to revise my answer. I don't like giving answers in behalf of other denominations, but I do feel like I've had enough in-depth, in-person, open-hearted discussions to give my experience some credence in regards to the viewpoints of lay members of other faiths.


See Luke 24

31 And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight. 32 And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?

There are others but this is the one that immediately comes to mind. Contrary to what has been said, this was not the result of human effort or ritual but, that of the Holy Spirit through the Word of God - in this case, Christ himself, being the Word (John 1)


In the methodist tradition there is John Wesley. The story goes how he reluctantly attended a meeting in Aldersgate. Someone read from Luther's Preface to the Epistle to Romans. About 8:45 p.m. "while he was describing the change which God works in the heart through faith in Christ, I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone for salvation; and an assurance was given me that He had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death." (Maddox, Randy L. Aldersgate Reconsidered. Nashville, Tennessee: Kingswood Books, 1990)


Here I wanted to provide a Jehovah's Witness viewpoint. Incidentally we had our mid-week meeting yesterday (on Zoom) that had led me to think along the lines in this question.

As a side note, Jehovah's Witnesses do not have a person or a group of people who are considered somehow infallible or to be "prophets" or "scholars". We also do not have any book, except the Bible, that is viewed as inspired by God.

So, back to that meeting mentioned earlier. Our mid-week meeting currently includes a study of the book "Pure Worship of Jehovah—Restored At Last!" which discusses the Bible book of Ezekiel.

(If anyone is interested, the schedules for this meeting are published in the "Our Christian Life and Ministry​—Meeting Workbook" publication here on jw.org. The book that was studied can be found here; the parts that were discussed in yesterday's meeting were paragraphs 1-8 from chapter 17.)

My reason for bringing this up is that the studied paragraphs considered the identity of "Gog of Magog", mentioned in Ezekiel chapter 38. An earlier view of Jehovah's Witnesses had been that "Gog of Magog" referred to Satan.

The studied paragraphs stated that further consideration of Ezekiel chapter 38 had led to an adjustment in the earlier understanding. Paragraph 4 explained what the earlier view was and paragraphs 5 and 6 provided the reasoning behind the adjustment.

(In short, the reasoning why "Gog of Magog" is likely not Satan was based on Ezekiel 39:4 and Ezekiel 39:11, together with a consideration on why these verses would reasonably refer to humans.)

The points to be made are that

  • The reasoning is open and we are all going through the material explaining that reasoning.
  • The reasoning does not include references to some human authority (like some church father who lived a thosand years ago) according to whom some specific understanding should be correct.

This leads to the point that rather than looking for a feeling to indicate truthfulness, we recommend studying the Bible to see what it says on a matter.

One reason for this is Bible's view that the heart is "treacherous" (Jeremiah 17:9) and as such, an unreliable guide. This is why Proverbs 28:26 (KJV) says "He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool".

We do however view it as appropriate to pray for faith. But just like a man who prays that he can provide for his family should himself also put an effort toward that, a man asking for faith would also need to do something toward his own faith.

So although it is Biblical to pray for faith, as is said in this old Watchtower article, "true faith is not to be confused with blind credulity" but "follows from the things heard" (Romans 10:17). This is why the Beroean Christians were portrayed in a good light in Acts 17:10-12, as they did not just simply believe, but put forth effort in checking whether the things claimed were so.

It is kind of like the work of an archaeologist who digs in some area and then draws conclusions from it. For Jehovah's Witnesses the Bible is the most important "dig", so to speak.

This article talks about Jehovah's Witnesses view on how to increase ones faith and this article about how to find the true religion. Although the latter article refers to truth "striking a responsive chord" in a listener, the emotion is not the basis of the listeners conviction.

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