Feelings surpass everything?

I’m in the Holy Land this week with 48 people—the majority are teens—as another apologist and I lead them on a trip they will never forget. Last week I asked a Mormon friend about a particular site in Israel that some are touting as evidence for the Book of Mormon. With a wipe of his hand, he said that it didn’t matter, that one’s feelings should play the prominent role in determining the reality of a particular piece of evidence.

Having visited the Holy Land himself, he told me:

“How does one explain the feeling one gets in the Holy Land?  I submit to you that THAT (the feeling) is a stronger proof of the divinity of the Bible than Peter’s House, or the Herodium, or Hezekiah’s Tunnel.  To the skeptic they (your top 5) prove that there is a house and a tunnel and a stadium, but one cannot deny the feelings one gets as one tours the Holy Land.  THAT my friend is what I am talking about.   Thank you for providing me the opportunity to teach you before you go so you can pass that along to those on your tour.  Ask them to put themselves in touch with how they feel when they are there.  Teach them that that feeling overrides any lookee here’s you could provide them.  Those feelings is/are God revealing to them that he indeed did come to that land as the Bible teaches.  Not the Herodium, not the tunnel and not a house someone has called Peter’s.  You can feel it.  That is the only way I can explain it.  You pooh pooh it, but it is the only thing that is real.  Pass it along.  Your tour participants will bless you for your insights, you needn’t credit a Mormon for clueing you in.”

Did you catch what he’s saying? According to this logic, it doesn’t matter whether these sites that I’m visiting are real. Rather, what matters is that a person has a “feeling” it is true. I do agree with him that archaeology does not “prove” the Bible—I have never claimed it did. Yet the places we’re traveling to are, generally, authentic historic sites. For example, Jesus may have never risen from the dead even though we know where the tomb probably is. (Yes, there are two possibilities, and scholars generally believe that one of them is correct.)

Yet twentieth century German theologian Rudolph Bultmann taught that the historical resurrection doesn’t matter as long as a person existentially believes the resurrection in his or her heart. I disagree. If the resurrection didn’t take place, then as Paul said in 1 Corinthians 15, this religion is worthless and Christians ought to be considered the most pitied of people. If it did take place, it ought to make every difference in the world.

By discounting the archaeological evidence that is used to support the Bible, my Mormon friend is trying to cover up the lack of historic sites that can be attributed to the Book of Mormon. Perhaps, deep down, he knows that the evidence to support the story as told in the Book of Mormon is just underwhelming.

But if it’s true that one’s feelings take preeminence when it comes to determining the truthfulness of a biblical (or Book of Mormon) site, the religion becomes nothing more than a post-modern, esoteric anything-goes faith. That’s more faith than I think God intended for humans to have.

Trust me, I’ll be having many emotional feelings over the next couple of weeks as I take in the wonderful sites of Ephesus, Jerusalem, Caesarea, and Capernaum. But my feelings will be based on facts, a reality that will make it even that much more satisfying to my soul.


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26 Responses to Feelings surpass everything?

  1. Violet says:

    This episode of hotm.tv answers all questions regarding 'feelings' mentioned in the above mentioned article.

    Its titled Episode 218 – Geneology but all questions are answered regarding motivations and feelings.

  2. f_melo says:

    Rick, let me ask you something. I agree with you about feelings, yet i´m sincerely puzzled by hearing about people´s experience in situation in which apparently God intervened. For example, i´ve heard recently from a close relative a story in which he had left some money at home, and yet during the day he felt he should deposit it in the Bank. He didn´t want to because he was going to need that money later, but that impression kept on nagging him until he decided he had to deposit the money. Later at night he went out and hours later when he came back, the house had been robbed. Because he listened to that "feeling" he avoided losing his hard-earned money.

    Many mormons and non-mormons as well have lots of those experiences to share, and those feelings came and helped them, prevented an accident, or something that would be harmful. What do you think about that – are those feelings/impressions from God?

    I don´t know what to think about that other than it isn´t right to say that God blessed you with such a warning because you were righteous, or because you´re a mormon or belong to a specific denomination. Yet i see how that could be confusing if you don´t have a solid biblical foundation.

  3. f_melo says:

    Eric, that´s one of my dreams, to go on a tour through the Holy Land. Good luck with the tour and please post as many pictures and videos as possible!

  4. The_Hammer says:

    I'm going to Israel this November.

  5. The_Hammer says:

    Do you have kids? Someone speaking to you and you having feelings are two different things. I have never as of yet meet anyone who said, when God spoke to me it was loud and audible like us speaking face to face or over the phone.

    I believe God can and does speak to people even though we tend to chalk it up to feelings. I myself have experienced a few times that "feeling" of, Dont do that. and I do it anyway, then regret not doing it. A friend of my wife had one of those moments where she felt God was saying Dont do that, and she did it anyway. It resulted in a broken arm.

    I also believe atheists or cult members can feel like God is telling them dont do this or do, do that. But it is explained by mere human terms as "feelings" I dont believe that God is speaking to the Athiests or Mormons, I believe as scripture teaches it is Satan or his angels coming in the form of angles of light.

    I asked if you have kids because when I tell my kids, dont stick your finger in a light socket, they are not experiencing feelings by me talking to them. Like I said their is a difference between speaking and feelings. But also we need to remember what the Bible tells us, We cannot see God and live, God even told Moses that, and down through scripture We see God speaking to people but not standing in front us us in His glorious form.

    Only Adam and Eve could walk and talk with Him in person. Otherwise Even the apostles after Jesus rose from the Dead and ascended into heaven had the Holy spirit with them and the spirit speaks to us, but we take it as feelings.

    Now onto the issue of feelings. We see crime everyday and all the time, What if I used this Mormons logic and said I rely on feelings. I feel good stealing from you, I feel Good sleeping with your wife because of how she makes me feel in bed. This is horrible logic. Athiests see real evidence with Coins, buildings, the dead sea scrolls Etc, yet they dont feel good about the evidence so they reject it. Yet Mormons feel good with no evidence of the Book of Mormon Coins, Or buildings, or the weapons that were left after 2 million plus were slain in battle at the hill in New York. They have no Evidence yet they feel good. This proves nothing for both sides.

    I can see tons of evidence and feel bad, but simply feeling bad does not remove all the evidence. Over the years many people Died because they were drugged up and felt like they could fly, so they jumped off of buildings. All those good feelings got them was a straight shot to eternal damnation, now how do they feel?

  6. Sarah says:

    "For the LORD gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding."
    Proverbs 2:6 NIV
    When God gives us inspiration for something, like the example you gave, it comes as knowledge, not feelings. The Spirit gives us knowledge, and that knowledge can produce feelings, but it wasn't the feeling that came from God. Like someone already commented above, Jeremiah 17:9 says, "The heart is deceitful above all things, and beyond cure." God wouldn't choose a medium of communication that is faulty, because feelings can be so easily manipulated. I agree with you, that God doesn't pick and choose who to give knowledge/inspiration to, because God doesn't show favortism. He loves everyone equally. Does this help answer your question? God bless! 🙂

  7. Violet says:


    I believe in gut-instinct, sixth sense, 'women's intuition.' The bible says do not trust your feelings. Feelings can lead you astray.

    I had a real good feeling about my first boyfriend, that when my loved ones went to Heaven, they could look down and 'keep watch' over me, and also really liked the whole, 'angel keeping me safe'. But all of that definitely was not biblical.

    Your uncle had common sense. The bible says we are to not judge, but to use discernment. What is scary about organizations, is they say 'just trust me.' Pyramid schemes, cults, word of faith movements, all say, its up to you to give God or us all your faith. That is a work. If I have to work up my faith, that's not God.

  8. falcon says:

    Feelings mean that God is speaking to you? WOW, is that a blank check on which to write in any amount you want, or what? There is no limit. This is the kind of thinking that ropes people into cults and maintains them there. It's foolish beyond measure. As a result of the discussions on this matter we have had on MC, I did a quick scan of the Book of Acts and look to see how often Paul or whoever told the people that truth was a matter of their feeling and how often we are told that the disciples reasoned from the Scriptures. Guess what?
    This "feelings means God is speaking to you" just makes me crazy, and remember, I'm someone who believes in the active miraculous work of the Holy Spirit in the lives of believers. As such I'm very aware of the feelings driven orientation of some Christians that I agree with doctrinally but question their "spiritual" experiences.
    These Mormons need to get real. I can see why they get so easily manipulated.

  9. Brian says:

    Dear Eric,

    I'm happy to hear of your tour to the Holy Land. What a wonderful experience. You've written an interesting article about your friend and feelings.

    Here are a couple of my observations about your friend's letter:

    "I submit to you that THAT (the feeling) is a stronger proof of the divinity of the Bible than Peter’s House, or the Herodium, or Hezekiah’s Tunnel."

    I agree with your friend that there is a stronger proof than archeology that the Bible is God's word. It is a proof that God cites many times in the Bible. And that would be … the Bible itself; its predictive prophesy. There are hundreds of specific prophesies about Israil and the lands with which it had to do. And of course many prophesies concerning Jesus Christ, which were made many hundreds of years before he was born. In Isaiah 45, God even challenges the followers of false gods to give an example of prophesies made by their gods, asking where are the witnesses to such prophesies.

    "You pooh pooh it, but it [my feelings?] is the only thing that is real."

    The only thing that is real? Well, the Bible is real and its author is God. It shall stand forever. If my feelings were telling me something in conflict with the Bible, could my feelings be coming from the God whose book this is?

  10. The Seeking Disciple says:

    i feel I can fly but my subjective reality will come crashing down with me if I jump out a window of a tall building. Subjective experience does nothing. Objective truth is what we must stand upon and this found only in the Bible (John 17:17).

  11. Kate says:


    I too believe in intuition. If I had left a large amount of money in my home and it really needed to be deposited, I would have a nagging feeling all day too. Stuff like that happens all the time. I don't chalk it up to God telling me to do something. It's common sense stuff. Even animals have intuition. I don't think that God is telling them to run when they sense danger during the hunting season. I know mormons who literally wait for a sign from their god before they buy something. Once they have a "feeling" then they go ahead and buy it. Strange for sure. I love good feelings, we all do, but I'm learning that truth where God is concerned, comes from the Bible not my emotional workup.

  12. falcon says:

    OK so we have Mormons playing the "Holy Ghost revealed thus and such to me about you etc." I guess my only question for the Mormon missionaries for example would be, "Please describe this Holy Ghost you are hearing from?" Once I know who this Holy Ghost is, then I know whether or not the "word" or "revelation" could possible be from God. It's important to remember also that in Christianity we interchange the name "Holy Ghost" and "Holy Spirit"; they are one and the same. This is not so in Mormonism. They have a real convoluted concept of who the Holy Ghost is (remember, he is a spirit but is "a god" and is one despite the fact that he hasn't a body which is a requirement in Mormonism for being a god). The Holy Spirit, in Mormonism is an energy force like electricity coming from the Mormon god.
    So if a Mormon tells me they're getting these feelings and the feelings are coming from the Holy Ghost I tell them that it's not the Holy Ghost I'm familiar with. What Mormons are doing to acquire their "words" and "revelations" and confirming feelings are nothing more than a spiritual parlor trick! Feelings are the results of active cognition. Implant a thought in someone's mind and you can produce whatever feeling you want. At the same time, those who are susceptible to the power of suggestion, can be led in any direction you want to lead them.
    One of the gifts of the Holy Spirit is discernment or discerning of spirits. Actually when it comes to dealing with Mormons, it's not even necessary to apply this gift. It's evident, based on their own description, that the Holy Ghost that they speak of is not the Holy Ghost revealed in the Bible.

  13. falcon says:

    It just doesn't seem to occur to Mormons that their hearing from the Holy Ghost might just be a figment of their imagination. To them it's real, all of the time. I believe in hearing from God, miracles, healing and everything else that God, in His sovereign will, might decide to do. I'll even vote in favor of angelic visitations if indeed that's what God wants to do. It is His program after all.
    But it seems that our Mormon friends, while enamored with the spiritual, get it wrong from the get-go. If a person doesn't have a firm grasp of who the God is that is revealed to us in the Bible, then these folks are simply on a wild spiritual roller coaster ride of emotions masquerading as spiritual experience. Believe me, it's quite easy to create a spiritual ambiance, personal or corporate. Heavens, if someone wants to "see" heavenly beings, it's really not that difficult to pull-off.
    We avoid all of this by having a firm grasp of the Word of God; knowing and understanding who God is. Secondly, anything that is driven by mystical experiences should be subject to intense scrutiny. Believe me, God doesn't mind, it doesn't show a lack of faith. Lastly, people need to take personal responsibility for their spiritual walk and not out-source it to others, especially those who are billed as apostles or prophets.
    God is not contained with in the confines of a particular religious denomination. Knowing Him is personal and while we can gain much from the gathering together of believers, at the end of the day it's our individual walk with Christ that has merit.

  14. wyomingwilly says:

    falcon, you brought out some excellent points, good job. When you stated that our Mormon
    friends get it wrong from the get-go, I thought of how most people who become Mormon are
    led step by step by the Missionaries with an emphasis on relying on feelings to validate what
    is being taught. Seems this technique is how a person is convinced that Mormonism is true,
    so everything after that is also evaluated by relying on a good feeling etc. Dangerous.


  15. falcon says:

    Last night I bounced over to a TV religious programming channel and found a show called "Extreme Prophetic". It was about a guy who goes out on the street where he encounters people and has a "word from the Lord" regarding them and then he prays for the need that he has insighted (my made-up word). While I watched he told a young woman that she had back problems, which she readily admitted. It seems she had one leg shorter than the other by, I'd say, a couple of inches. He prayed for her, right there on the street and the leg grew. He then said that one of the young ladies in the group of four had neck trouble and one of them self-identified. He prayed for her for healing also and she was made well. Then it was back to the first young woman who it turns out had carpel tunnel syndrome, she was prayed for and healed.
    In the next scene he encountered two young men and the procedure was played out again i.e. he discerned their physical problem, prayed for healing and they were healed. He then had them pray to receive Jesus as Savior.
    I found this interesting in light of our current conversation here. Do I believe what I saw was authentic or was the guy just doing a version of what we see on the TV show "The Mentalist". I don't know!
    Do I believe God can miraculously heal people? Sure, why not? He's God! Do I believe someone can have extraordinary gifts like this, endowed by the Holy Spirit as the disciples were in the Book of Acts? Sure, I'm OK with that also. Do I think it can be faked? Absolutely!
    In fact when the Mormons do their "feelings means God is revealing truth to me" routine, I believe it's fake but I don't necessarily believe they are faking it. Some Mormons probably think they're really hearing from God and they confuse their own cognition (thinking) with hearing from God.
    The real key here is to ask the often asked question (by me), "Who is your God?" Once we know that, then the whole picture becomes very clear.
    Praise to the Holy Name of Jesus and thanksgiving for what He did for us on the cross…..As we commemorate His death, burial and resurrection.

  16. wyomingwilly says:

    falcon, I got to pondering this question of good feelings= truth in the Mormon context and I
    realize that even when many a Mormon has had a personal conviction that " just did'nt feel right "
    about a particular teaching/revelation from their leaders, they still accepted it as spiritual
    truth . Why? It's because of they're being convinced that they need a prophet to guide them.
    This happened especially with many Mormon women when they were being asked to enter
    into polygamy. They at first were troubled by the thought, even shocked. But because they
    had accepted Joseph Smith as God's mouthpiece, they gave in . So I think the bottom line
    in this whole scenario is that of sincere people being emotionally persuaded by a man who
    has steered their desire to want to know about God, and manipulated it into submitting to
    his authority in order to thus know God's best for their life. No wonder Jesus warned all of
    us to BEWARE — Matt.7:15

  17. falcon says:

    Now why would someone believe that a man claiming to be a prophet is one? Well why did people buy snake oil, as it was called. Because they believed the person selling it. There didn't need to be any demonstrated proof that the snake oil did what the snake oil salesman was claiming it could do. All that was necessary was that the person purchasing the snake oil believed the claims of the snake oil salesman. But that's how cons work. The prey sees the lure and the lure obscures the fact that there's a trap. In fact the shiny lure gets the prey to act in a way that is not in (the preys) best interest.
    Mormonism came out of the religious revivals of the early 19th century. To read the accounts of some of these revivals, they were highly emotionally charged events. So Mormonism is a product of this with fantastic claims of visitations of spirit beings, special messages from God being delivered to His chosen anointed ones and a populous wanting something new and exciting.
    This emotional hook of Mormonism with the priesthood power and special insightful words of knowledge is an invention of Smith that plays into the need and desire for power and the fantastic. Skeptics won't last long in Mormonism because the psychology of the cult requires people to be compliant and malleable. The established order is not to be questioned.

  18. clyde says:

    Here is an odd take on things. A policeman has a bad feeling about a car that passes him and pulls him over. He saves a life by finding a person in the truck of the vehicle. The driver is arrested. The problem is the policeman has to lie because he only pulled the guy over because of his hunch or feelings. Testimony based on feelings are usually thrown out of court. It is sad but at times feelings are good. You may not think that this is related to the subject at hand but I believe that at times the right feeling can lead a person in the right direction.

    I could not resisted commenting.

  19. falcon says:

    Mormons and others use this technique of a "word from the Lord" or "revelation" as a means of manipulating people. Someone help me out here, but didn't Joseph Smith send his brother Hyrum over to Joseph's wife Emma with a "word" regarding Joseph's move into polygamy. Emma wasn't buying the program evidently and the brothers figured a personal "revelation" might provide enough fear, guilt or shame to get Emma to come around. Dare we forget that Joseph Smith had a word for one of the women he was trying to seduce that even included an angelic appearance. I guess you just can't beat a revelation that's combined with an angelic visitation. It seems Joseph had an angel appear to him with a sword saying he would kill Joseph if he didn't get these women to marry him. Smith and Co. were really good at this, in a perverse sense of the word. In order to pull this con off the con artist has to be very convincing and have a prey that's in a mental state to be hooked.
    It's a funny thing about psychological traps like this. The more the prey struggles to free themselves from the trap, the more entrapped they become. It's only the person who can move counter to the trap that can get themselves free. In Mormonism that means that a person has to let loose of the "faith" paradigm and start questioning what's going on and exercise some healthy skepticism. Part of the entrapment in Mormonism is the idea that any questioning is not "faith" promoting. So the logic here is that questioning will lead the Mormon out of Mormonism. Well since Mormonism isn't true if someone can be kept from uncovering the truth they can be kept entrapped.
    If I were a questioning Mormon, I'd consider it a high honor to be excommunicated from Mormonism.

  20. Violet says:

    falcon. Happy Easter.

    Its not the trap. The insidious part of mormonism is the 'shunning'. Can you imagine, if your father, mother, their fathers and mothers, sisters, brothers, everyone decided mormonism was true, and you didn't? Their testimony slants your perspective. Growing up hearing everyone you love and yourself say its true, there is no other alternative, even if you know in your heart, the story is far-fetched.

    Watching History Channel this morning regarding the Mennonites and the Amish, and sixteenth century beliefs regarding pride, learned that pride can turn on itself. By curbing pride (not buying a milking machine to milk the cows), you actually increase the pride in 'not' having the milking machine. Of course, pride changed when Ford, Hurst, etc., used pride to better life, they need to 'give away' money to help society, and getting 'kudos' for giving away the money is pride too. Big circle.

    There is a lot of pride in mormonism. My friend labels herself as a mormon first. So being 'shunned' in this religion is two-fold. Pride in being a mormon, and losing your family if you choose biblical Christianity. Also, mormons are very, very sensitive that they are Christians. Children named Christian, pictures of Jesus, and not their children all over the house. The defensiveness is being 'persecuted'.

    Jesus came to set the captives free. We are captive to our pride, family, . . religion.

  21. wyomingwilly says:

    clyde, the point of what is being said here is that praying and having a " good feeling " about
    something is not to be relied on as the final arbiter for spiritual truth. There are just to many
    instances in Mormon history where sincere Mormons have had convictions, positive feelings,
    that have proven to be dead wrong on important issues. Either your prophets and apostles
    have accurately interpreted the scriptures on issues affecting your salvation or they have'nt.
    Feelings aside. For your consideration: 2 Tim.2:15 ; 1Jn.4;1


  22. clyde says:

    my point was how feelings are not valid in a court of law, even though they have good results. Why pray if you don't get answers and how do you get them. 1John chapter 4 is a neat chapter.

  23. Violet says:

    We don't pray for answers. We pray that God's will be done.

  24. clyde says:

    Sometimes this blog leaves a gap in understanding. Pray that God's will be done but How do you know the answer is correct? Is it intuition,a hunch or letting your concious be your guide. Don't get me wrong feelings can be wrong tbut Prayerfully thought can get good results.

  25. Violet says:

    Life is like a tapestry. The back of a tapestry looks a mess, but the front is beautiful. God knows what is best for us, even when we don't. We can't see the big picture.

  26. clyde says:

    True but at times we can know we are heading in the right direction. Also the world around us is better for our efforts.

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