Many non-LDS Christians ground their belief in Christianity in what they refer to as the witness of the Holy Spirit. For example, Christian apologist William Lane Craig, of Baptist confession, explains:
Plantinga's model involves crucially what is usually called the inner witness of the Holy Spirit. In his model the Holy Spirit functions on the analogy of a cognitive faculty, producing beliefs in us. I myself prefer to think of the Spirit's witness either as a form of literal testimony or else as part of the experiential circumstances which serve to ground belief in God and the great truths of the Gospel. In either case His deliverances are properly basic.
I have characterized the witness of God's Holy Spirit as self-authenticating. As I explain in Reasonable Faith,
By that I mean that the experience of the Holy Spirit is veridical and unmistakable (though not necessarily irresistible or indubitable) for him who has it; that such a person does not need supplementary arguments or evidence in order to know and to know with confidence that he is in fact experiencing the Spirit of God; that such experience does not function in this case as a premiss in any argument from religious experience to God, but rather is the immediate experiencing of God himself; that in certain contexts the experience of the Holy Spirit will imply the apprehension of certain truths of the Christian religion, such as "God exists," "I am condemned by God," "I am reconciled to God," "Christ lives in me," and so forth; that such an experience provides one not only with a subjective assurance of Christianity's truth, but with objective knowledge of that truth; and that arguments and evidence incompatible with that truth are overwhelmed by the experience of the Holy Spirit for him who attends fully to it.
However, Latter-day Saints also report a similar experience with the Holy Spirit. For instance, this article explains:
As a part of their epistemology, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believe that commitment and/or belief may be established by spiritual experience. This experience is known as having an experience with the “Holy Ghost” aka the "Holy Spirit." As part of the experience of feeling the Spirit, members will frequently report (among other sensations and phenomena) feelings such as swelling motions in their chest, warmth in the chest, clarity of mind, and revelation of knowledge.
It is of paramount importance to understand in this discussion that spiritual revelation for Latter-day Saints is not just a feeling or stimuli. It is a matter that involves both heart and mind. Spiritual experiences don't just produce feelings but also knowledge. In the Church's official scriptures we read this about spiritual experience:
2 Yea, behold, I will tell you in your mind and in your heart, by the Holy Ghost, which shall come upon you and which shall dwell in your heart.
Thus, spiritual experience cannot simply be reduced to just a feeling ever. It must always take into account that there is revelation of knowledge provided by the experience. Sometimes this is knowledge that we wouldn't otherwise have. There are experiences of members of the Church who report the revelation that helped them to save a person's life (or otherwise help them) in the hour of need or who report that they received knowledge about a person during a priesthood blessing that they couldn't have known about the person because the person didn't tell the blessing giver of such things.
Similarly, this article affirms:
The Holy Ghost Testifies of Truth
[...] President Joseph Fielding Smith (1876–1972) taught, **“Through the Holy Ghost the truth is woven into the very fibre and sinews of the body so that it cannot be forgotten.”**3
It is also through receiving the Holy Ghost when we repent and are baptized that we may be sanctified. Sanctification is the process of becoming free from sin—pure, clean, and holy—through the Atonement of Jesus Christ (see Moses 6:59–60). We are sanctified as we yield our hearts to God (see Helaman 3:35).
The Holy Ghost “witnesses of the Father and the Son” (2 Nephi 31:18). It is only through the power of the Holy Ghost that we can receive a sure testimony of God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ.4
The Holy Ghost testifies of truth, and it is through His power that we “may know the truth of all things” (Moroni 10:5).
The Holy Ghost teaches us all things and brings to our remembrance all we have learned of the Lord and His gospel (see John 14:26).
The Holy Ghost will “show unto [us] all things what [we] should do” (2 Nephi 32:5). He can guide us in our decisions and protect us from physical and spiritual danger.
As we hunger to know the words of eternal life and allow these words to sink deep into our hearts, the Holy Ghost will open our minds and hearts to greater light and understanding.5
We are blessed with gifts of the Spirit through the Holy Ghost. These gifts bless our lives and the lives of those we love and serve. (See 1 Corinthians 12:1–12; Moroni 10:8–18; D&C 46:11–33.)
The Holy Ghost is known as the Comforter because He can fill us with “hope and perfect love” (Moroni 8:26).
Adam was the first on earth to be baptized and receive the Holy Ghost (see Moses 6:64–66).
Through the power of the Holy Ghost, we become sanctified as we repent, are baptized and confirmed, and strive to obey God’s commandments (see Mosiah 4:1–3; 5:1–6).
Do Baptists who believe in a witness of the Holy Spirit (like William Lane Craig) see any difference between their experience and the witness of the Holy Ghost experienced by Latter-day Saints?
Is the witness of the Holy Ghost experienced by Latter-day Saints as valid as theirs, according to these Baptists?
- Are there any Christian denominations that consider LDS (Mormons) to be Christians?
- How do Latter-day Saints explain testimonies of profound experiences with the Holy Spirit in other denominations?
- According to Latter-day Saint epistemology, do Latter-day Saints perceive the witness of the Holy Ghost as an intrinsic defeater-defeater?
- How do Christians discern genuine spiritual experiences from hallucinations or other mundane psychological phenomena?