A common occurrence during Sacrament meeting on the first Sunday of the month, is the opportunity to listen to travel logs, relatively unimportant information, and rote testimonials; all of which are somewhat benign. However, several times a year the congregation will hear a ward member project unverifiable spiritual experiences, with the intent of bolstering the faith of the parishioners. At times, these tales provide enlightenment, and might be tucked away in the minds of the faithful as evidence to buoy their own personal convictions. These unconfirmed miracles tend to build a fortress in the minds and hearts of the ward members, which at times can lead to deep disappointment if discovered to be false.
In commenting on the carefully crafted similarities some draw between Jacob’s son Joseph and Jesus Christ, Adam Clarke warns about elevating private interpretation into the miraculous, and the danger it can cause because of its destructive nature:
“I am astonished to find comparatively grave and judicious men trifling in this way, and forcing the features of truth into the most distorted anamorphosis, so that even her friends blush to acknowledge her. This is not a light matter; we should beware how we attribute designs to God that he never had, and employ the Holy Spirit in forming trifling and unimportant similitudes. Of plain, direct truth we shall find as much in the sacred writings as we can receive and comprehend; let us not therefore hew out ourselves broken cisterns that can hold no water. Interpretations of this kind only tend to render the sacred writings uncertain; to expose to ridicule all the solemn types and figures which it really contains; and to furnish pretexts to infidels and irreligious people to scoff at all spirituality, and lead them to reject the word of God entirely, as incapable of being interpreted on any fixed or rational plan. The mischief done by this system is really incalculable.”
~Adam Clarke’s Bible Commentary 1:232~