It is almost like playing tape recordings... because the Mormon testimonies have been heard and given over and over in the monthly meetings until they can be given without any actual thought, like one is saying the pledge of allegiance to the flag. (They do still do that at school, don't they?)
But what is behind the Mormon testimony, and is it valid?
The missionaries will tell you to follow Moroni 10:4-5 and it will lead to gaining a testimony that the Book of Mormon is true. Here is the promise:
"And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you by the power of the Holy Ghost. And by the powe rof the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things."
When pressed with HOW the Holy Ghost reveals the truth, they will say that it comes through gentle spiritual feelings...a sort of burning in the bosom. So this is a proposed TEST of how to know what is true. First, is this the Biblical way to know what is true or not true? Jesus said "Thy Word is truth." So logically anything that does not line up with the Bible is not true. When I decided to put the above verses to the test... I was ENTIRELY sincere, and had TOTAL faith in Christ, and as I prayed and asked God to show me the truth about the Book of Mormon, and started to read, the Holy Spirit brought to my mind a verse I had learned earlier that is in Isaiah 8:20. It says "To the law and the testimony; If they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them" In other words... the new revelation must line up with existing (Biblical) revelation. So I knew that I had to be COMPARING the two books.
When I did that, I got to I Nephi 13 and found that it did NOT agree with the Bible (lost truth vs. preserved truth - Psalm 100:5), and the full story of the many differences I found between the Bible and the Book of Mormon can be found here: Facts and Feelings. The bottom line is that the very TEST that is being suggested in the Book of Mormon is entirely subjective.
As evidence of this consider: I heard through a friend of a man who went into the Roman Catholic church and got what Mormons would call a "burning bosom" experience, so he just "knew" that the Roman Catholic church was the place for him and he joined it. My daughter read the Book of Mormon and it gave her a sort of sick feeling in the pit of her stomach ... she sensed if was a poor imitation of the Bible. My son was asked to read it for 3 days for 15 minutes each morning... on each of those days, BIG BIG problems hit him in his life. A boy attending BYU told me that when he prayed the prayer, God told him the book was NOT true. 50,000 Mormon missionaries are every day asking people to employ the Moroni 10:4 test, and it has been employed for many decades. If it always worked as they suggest it should... by now the Mormon church should have 100+ milion members... but instead we understand that up towards half of its 14+ million members have become inactive (and many of the rest of their membership are children). It must be that many MANY who pray that Moroni 10:4 prayer are not getting the answer suggested (as happened in my family). Are some of the ones who pray that prayer insincere? I doubt it...why do such an exercise at ALL if you don't want to learn the truth? OBVIOUSLY...the burning bosom test is VERY subjective....and therefore counterfeitable, if that's a word.
One other interesting fact. This reminds me a bit of The Emperor's New Clothes story... A former Mormon missionary has stated that when missionaries at the Missionary Training Center have a difficult time getting this burning bosom testimony... they are told that until they get their own, they can borrow someone else's testimony. How honest is that? I have to wonder ...what is a person to do when they can't get the testimony...feel unworthy? I have heard of some who really struggled with this.
"But, doesn't it say in James 1:5 that if we ask God for wisdom He will give it?" Yes, it does. What IS wisdom? It is the proper use of knowledge. Knowing not to steal isn't wisdom; choosing not to steal is wisdom. What one is really asking for in this evaluating of the Book of Mormon.... is FACTS - INFORMATION. Is it true or false? Is it of God or not? This is not asking what action to take, so it is not asking for wisdom, but knowledge. And that knowledge (truth) is THERE for us to learn in the Word of God. IT must be the standard by which we test other prophets or teachings or revelations. The Moroni test PRESUMES that people have faith in Christ, which could only come from what has been revealed in the Bible, so it is entirely CORRECT to test new revelations by comparing them to the Words of Christ. That said... I would encourage readers to go back to the Facts and Feelings article as it employs the PROPER test for any new revelation, and then you will not just FEEL something, but KNOW FOR A FACT the truth about the Book of Mormon.
Unfortunately, the ones who DO get this false "burning bosom" experience or see, hear or experience something they deem to be supernatural will become so convinced of their idea of "truth" that sharing the FACTS with them just might get you nowhere. They know what they know and your facts just don't matter. They need to understand that the SPIRIT OF GOD NEVER CONTRADICTS THE WORD OF GOD. A good question to ask is this: How do you know that your feelings or experiences came from God, not Satan? The Bible says that "there is a way that SEEMETH right unto a man; but the end thereof are the ways of death." They need a wake-up call. It is knowing the truth that sets us free, not trusting in a feeling. Satan is a clever counterfeiter and we have been warned that people can do WONDERS (miracles) but will be told by Christ on the judgment day, "Depart from me, for I never knew you." Are you trusting in facts, or feelings?
A related article to check out is this: Why I believe in the Book of Mormon.