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Where can I sign up for my special prize? :) Actually, the prizes should go to those who wrote so many of the comments--Geoff J, ECS, Seraphine, et al.

Dave: It's not an epistemological trump card, it's just a way of saying "I'm right because God told me so" using fancier terminology.

True. Of course "I'm right because God told me so" is just what all the prophets have said throughout history.

My post was simply saying that personal revelation is ultimately how we a) learn who really is a prophet and who is a fake, and b) learn personally what God thinks of us and what God wants us to do in our lives.

Several people mistook that claim in my post and assumed incorrectly that I meant our personal revelation can be used as some sort of proof text to prove various propositions to others. It can't be used for that.

Thanks for the comment and clarification, Geoff. You might have made it somewhere in the hundreds of comments at NCT, but if you did I missed it.

Actually, that's one of the nice features of the shorter comment threads here at DMI: every comment counts. I'm sure there are other advantages.

Well I'd like to let you off the hook and all Dave but I'm pretty sure that's what the actual post said too... but I guess the title threw people off so at least you're not alone.

Hmmm... maybe you are more off the hook than I realized Dave. I just reread and the original post didn't explicitly make my point about the the focus being on our personal standing before God as much as I thought it did...

I've long enjoyed this quote from Nibley --

Nothing is easier than to identify one's own favorite political, economic, historical, and moral convictions with the gospel. That gives one a neat, convenient, but altogether too easy advantage over one's fellows. If my ideas are the true ones--and I certainly will not entertain them if I suspect for a moment that they are false!--then, all truth being one, they are also the gospel, and to oppose them is to play the role of Satan.

This is simply insisting that our way is God's way and therefore, the only way. It is the height of impertinence.

Nibley, "Beyond Politics", _BYU Studies_ 1974

So Jim Cobabe, what exactly do you think that quote has to do with this post?

Dave,

You failed to mention that the first post on Women as Possessions over at ZD was actually largely a continuation of the previous thead on modesty which garnered 283 comments. So, really, the whole thing was closer to 1000 comments. Ugh.

More on this idea from Elder Oaks:

“Each of us is influenced strongly by our own desires and preferences. We may even mistake these influences as the ratification or prompting of the Holy Ghost. It is therefore significant when we feel prompted to do something contrary to our personal preference. That is good evidence of authenticity. Conversely, a feeling that seems to confirm a person in some action he or she strongly desires should be received with caution and subjected to more than one test of validity. In that circumstance a person could well ask himself, ‘Am I humbly submitting myself to the will of my Heavenly Father and asking for his guidance, or am I proudly submitting my will to my Heavenly Father and asking for his approval?’ Humility is more likely to receive inspiration; pride is more likely to be deceived and fall.” Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, “I Have a Question,” Ensign, June 1983, 27.

Geoff, the discussion proposes an critical approach to understanding why particular groups of people hold certain religious convictions. In a more general sense, this thread is a practical demonstration of Nibley's observation, and for those who consider themselves a "believing Latter-day Saint", also likely ground for application of Elder Oak's answer to the "revelation trump card".

My own first impression here was that so-called critical thinking may perhaps carry its own set of "trump cards" that have a tendency toward condescension and denigrating the beliefs of others.

I understand the points you're making, Jim, although I doubt whether many of those exchanging views and comments via the Bloggernacle actually attempt to denigrate the beliefs of others or be condescending. The only way to avoid any friction at all (especially given how touchy some Mormons are about their beliefs) is to avoid discussion. I'm not saying you're touchy, just that some are.

Tolerance is a mixed virtue. While tolerance of the beliefs of others and respect for the conventions of civil discourse is desirable, the only people who can fully disengage their feelings and judgments from a religious discussion are those who have no beliefs. It's just a fact that people who take religion and their own beliefs seriously are going to disagree about religion, even on some points of doctrine or history within their own denomination. Not all disagreement is of the devil. Folks who think it is are usually really thinking that anyone who disagrees with them is of the devil. As you might guess, I don't think much of that approach. It is generally employed as a way to cast aspersions on someone else's ideas without actually having a fair discussion.

And how can anyone adopt a point of view or a set of religious beliefs without, in some sense, feeling they are right and others (who adopt other beliefs) are wrong? It just seems like a psychological impossibility for one to say: "I know that X and Y didn't really happen or are incorrect and inconsistent statements of doctrine, buy hey, that's just what I believe."

So while I disagree with the oversimplified version of the personal-revelation-as-trump-card argument, it's also the case that all of us think we're holding a few trump cards in our hand. We all feel some warrant for our beliefs, whether we can articulate them in a persuasive way or not. I don't see how we can function without, at some level, thinking that way.

My strongest suspicion is that from God's perspective, our arguments about "truth" and "knowing" are pitifully inadequate to even accurately characterize our own ignorance.

Well and good, Jim, so long as you aren't arguing that you have a better lock on "God's perspective" than the rest of us.

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