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Is the Holy Spirit of Mormonism Trustworthy?

by Sharon Lindbloom
22 July 2019

The testimony of Latter-day Saint Sunju Kim Muir was included in the June 2019 Ensign magazine, published by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. (As I am unable to discern whether Sunju is a man or woman, I’ll use the universal “he” throughout this article.)

In his testimony, Sunju explains that when he first met Mormon missionaries, he was skeptical about Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon. Over time he agreed to read certain Book of Mormon passages the missionaries suggested, including what is often referred to as Moroni’s Promise from Moroni 10:4-5. This Book of Mormon passage exhorts readers to pray to know if the things contained in the book “are not true”; if the person praying meets certain conditions, the Book of Mormon promise’s that the Holy Ghost will reveal the answer.

When Sunju read this, he reasoned that it would be quite audacious for a charlatan to tell people to ask God to confirm the truthfulness of a fake book. This thought caused his skepticism toward Joseph Smith to falter a bit, but he was still not convinced. When the missionaries later presented Mormonism’s founder as a martyr, everything changed. Sunju writes,

“Then one day the missionaries explained that Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum were martyred for their testimony. Suddenly, a thought came to me that they would never have given up their own lives for something they knew was false. At that moment, a warm feeling, like a burning fire, spread through me. It was a witness of the Holy Spirit confirming to my heart that Joseph Smith was a true prophet. With this witness, I was baptized and confirmed.”

But consider this: the “witness of the Holy Spirit” that convinced Sunju to accept Joseph Smith as a true prophet was actually founded in fiction.

Historical fact confirms that Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum were not “martyred for their testimony.” They were in jail–not for any claims regarding the Book of Mormon, the restoration of the church, or any professed faith in Jesus Christ—but for lawless behavior including the destruction of a press that was critical of Mormonism and its prophet, and for the declaration of martial law in Nauvoo, Illinois; the official charge against the Prophet was treason. Joseph Smith was never offered a chance to recant his testimony in order to be released from jail (or, as it turned out, to escape death) because His opposers weren’t so concerned about what he believed — they were upset over what he did. Joseph Smith and his friends were attacked because they had skirted the law too many times. Their non-Mormon neighbors had had enough. They got caught up in mob mentality, which led to a shoot-out, which in turn led to the deaths of Joseph and Hyrum Smith (as well as two or three of the attackers).

So, when Sunju was told that Joseph and Hyrum were martyred for their testimonies, it wasn’t true. Yet Sunju was so moved by that false information that he felt something like “a burning fire” spread through him. He understood this to be the Holy Spirit telling him that Joseph Smith was a true prophet; therefore, he gave his life to Mormonism.

In reading Sunju’s testimony I can’t help but wonder about this holy spirit he encountered. This spirit’s behavior was highly inconsistent with the biblical revelation of the Holy Spirit. In the Bible, the Holy Spirit is described as “the spirit of truth” (see 16:13, 14:17, 15:26 and 1 John 5:6). He doesn’t confirm truth by using a falsehood as a catalyst. He doesn’t support belief in a fabrication in order to convince someone of a different truth. God hates lies. But we are told that Mormonism’s holy spirit utilizes falsehood in order to (mis)lead those who are in search of truth.

According to Sunju’s story, there were many opportunities for the spirit to testify to the truthfulness of Mormonism’s claims. It could have happened when Sunju was reading the Book of Mormon. It could have happened when Sunju encountered Moroni’s Promise. But this “witness of the Holy Spirit” was withheld until Sunju heard a false-but-faith-promoting story. Then and only then was Sunju convinced that Mormonism was true.

He was convinced because of a lie. And this raises some troubling questions.

  • If Mormonism’s holy spirit (as distinct from the biblical Holy Spirit) was willing to use a false pretense to convince Sunju that the LDS church was true, what other deceptions might it freely employ?
  • How does the use of such unscrupulous manipulation glorify God? (see John 16:14)
  • If God loves truth and hates lies, on what basis can this duplicitous spirit of Mormonism be regarded as “holy”?
  • Can a deceptive, unscrupulous, and duplicitous spirit be trusted to tell the truth?

Friends, the holy spirit of Mormonism is not trustworthy, but the real Holy Spirit of God is. In fact, according to the Bible, “truth” defines Him — His name, His nature, and His responsibility (see John 16). Unlike Mormonism’s so-called holy spirit, the biblical “Spirit of truth,” by the power of God and for God’s glory, embraces and speaks only truth, which bears rich and wonderful fruit:

“…the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control…” (Ephesians 5:22-23)

May God’s spirit of truth reveal the counterfeit spirit of Mormonism for what it is, and lead all of us to embrace God’s unassailable truth.

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