On Spiritual Experience

I came upon this insightful quote from John Widtsoe from 1960. With all the talk of so called personal experience that particular groups use as justification for ignoring counsel given, I felt impressed to share.

“If a person who has received such manifestations by dream, vison, or otherwise, feels impressed to relate it beyond his immediate family circle, he should present it to his bishop, but not beyond. The bishop, then, may decide upon its further use, if any, or may submit it to those of higher authority for action. The gift was a personal one, not for the Church as a whole, and the recipient is under obligation, in harmony with the established order, not to broadcast it over the Church.”

 -John A. Widtsoe, “What Shall Be Done with Personal Spiritual Manifestations?” In Evidences and Reconciliations, 1960, p. 99.

I find that this method of sharing is a keep safe for our spiritual confidence. It is a way of taking John’s advice to “Try the spirits,” because not everything that passes our earthly understanding is necessarily divine, and even closely held experiences may be used as a tool against us if taken out of their proper context or purpose.

The magicians of Egypt were also able to create ostensible miracles.

As we test them, we may see that our understanding was wrong. If we are wrong privately, we can use it as a personal teaching moment that will be for our good. Bishops aid in that process.
If we are wrong publicly, it is far harder to admit it and much more difficult to move on. It may leave us feeling foolish, and that was not the Lord’s intention with learning experiences, as that would not contribute to our education.


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