Leaving Mormonism but Growing in Grace

Although I virtually never read books that counter other religious viewpoints, I have begun reviewing books for Kregel Publications. I think they produce some outstanding Christian resources, and their recent release, Leaving Mormonism: Why Four Scholars Changed Their Minds, intrigued me. The few Mormons I know are clean living and service-minded. In fact, there are many Mormons who serve in our military, and my military kids have become good friends with several because of their moral standards and family values. Therefore, I wondered why four Mormon scholars would take such a strong stand against the teachings of their church.

When Mitt Romney was campaigning for the Republican presidential ticket, I remember sharing the gospel with a Mormon gentleman on a flight home from the West Coast. He expressed such warm agreement that I assumed the Mormon church must have changed a lot in the past forty years. Perhaps it wasn’t a “cult” after all. Perhaps it’s just another branch of true Christianity. Or, so I thought!   The book is deep and wide. I was blown away by how much I didn’t know. Each of the four scholars trace their own life experience of loving the Mormon Church  (some whose lineage can be traced back to the times of Joseph Smith) but growing into such an appreciation for the Bible as the true Word of God (which they go to great lengths to support) that they could no longer believe Mormon doctrines. Why? Because at their heart, many Mormon teachings run contrary to what the Bible says. Consider just a few essential doctrinal contradictions:

“The Lord created you and me for the purpose of becoming Gods like Himself” (Brigham Young).

Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created” (The Bible, Revelation 4:11).

“The Spirit of God fell upon me to a marked extent and the Lord revealed to me, just as plainly and the sun at noon-day, this principle, which I put in a couplet: ‘As man now is God once was; As God now is, man may be'” (Lorenzo Snow, Latter Day Saint (LDS) apostle and prophet for three decades).

…we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is none other God but one. For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth, (as there be gods many, and lords many,) but to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him. Howbeit there is not in every man that knowledge” (The Bible, 1 Corinthians 8:4-7).

A “plurality of gods exist…There is an infinite number of holy personages, drawn from worlds without number, who have passed on to exaltation and are thus gods” (LDS Apostle Bruce McConkie).

And the scribe said unto him, Well, Master, thou hast said the truth: for there is one God; and there is none other but he” (The Bible, Mark 12:32).

“One of the most fallacious doctrines originated by Satan and propounded by man is that man is saved alone by the grace of God; that belief in Jesus Christ alone is all that is needed for salvation” (LDS apostle and prophet for four decades, Spencer W. Kimball).

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).

As Cory Miller points in the book, “One can be wrong on every other nonessential Christian doctrine and still go to heaven. But no matter how sincere one is, if one is wrong on the doctrines of God and salvation, one could be sufficiently wrong to lose one’s soul. In this Mormonism does not provide a path to the reality of the good life, eternal happiness in the knowledge of God.”

Leaving Mormonism not only lights the way for understanding the clear teachings of the Bible about the person of God and the way of salvation, it’s also one of the most scholarly books I’ve read in recent years on apologetics,  defending of the authenticity of Scripture and the reasonableness of faith in God no matter who you are. So, if you are a Mormon, love a Mormon, or are interested in sharpening your own spiritual sensibilities, please consider reading Leaving Mormonism!

“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (1 Timothy 2:15).

But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen” (2 Peter 3:18).


Time to Go Back to School

Apples in a BasketIt’s the first day of school here…and I know also in Boston where Joel is attending as well as in Maryland and Indiana where friends are involved in campus ministries. Are you going back to school this year? Any of your friends? Kids? Grand kids? Just a week ago, Alan and I had two of our longest-standing friends and their spouses over for dinner. Brenda and Tom's family I’ll never forget the excitement I felt when Brenda joined my junior high class!  I’d just become a believer, and she was the first person I met who shared a similar understanding of salvation by faith alone apart from working one’s way to heaven by good deeds. Larry, Kari, Jess, Emily Alan can’t ever remember not knowing Larry, who attended Alan’s first birthday party!  Both couples were so weary that it didn’t occur to me to take pictures, though, so I’m sharing a few pictures of their growing families through the years.  Larry is retiring from a long career as the developer and director of MSU’s Office for Survey Research at the Institute for Public Policy and Social Research. He’s also been serving as the president of a national organization, the Association of Academic Survey Research Organizations, which leads the “support and promotion of excellence in the survey research conducted in colleges and universities.” So, you can imagine the emotional challenges ahead for him related to his retiring! Larry and Kari's older kids His wife, Kari, is an OB/GYN who’s  just recovered from extensive treatment for an aggressive uterine cancer. Last week they put their home on the market (where they reared their family) and are relocating to GR in order to be closer to their daughter’s family. Benedict Family copyCoincidentally (and simultaneously), Brenda and Tom just sold their cottage…a cottage with roots older than Brenda, because it had originally been her grandparents’ home. I remember as a girl (newly saved) spending the night at “Ma” and “Pa’s” cabin along the St. Mary’s River. My favorite memory is waking up in the morning to see Pa bent over his Bible in the kitchen, reading. He’d been a part of Al Capone’s gang back in the day but came to Christ, and by the time I knew him, he was as kind and peaceful a lamb of God as one could ever imagine. At a time when my own father was still a fire-breathing atheist who thought only idiots and simple-minded men ever believed in God, it was a huge encouragement to have “Pa” in my life! As you might imagine, Brenda is in deep mourning over the loss of their cottage, but it had just become too much work to care for two places 300 miles apart. Brenda's Kids It was great fun sharing the joys of marriage and expanding families. That’s so much more exciting than sharing the traumas of aging, contraction and illness. But, what a comfort to be able to commiserate with one another and know that we are truly loved and understood! Grilling Dinner Also, one of my nearest and dearest friends here just married off her daughter last week, so last Saturday night, Cindi and Rex had us (and our GR kids) over for a celebratory dinner and a song fest afterward.

Scooping Ice Cream  What a joy and comfort to share the ups and downs of life with loved ones! Playing the piano As our children begin school this fall and our nests empty out, it occurred to me that those of us who remain behind and are growing older also need to be “going back to school!” This isn’t just a time of endings; it’s a time of new beginnings.Steaming Dinner! Until we graduate to glory, we need to continue being “tutored” and “governed” by the Holy Spirit…if we’ll meditate on his Word and listen to his voice.Leaving Home So, as my son took off for school this morning, it occurred to me that I need to go back to school today too! No reason to be a drop out just because I’m getting old.Canning Peaches There will doubtless be a lot of big challenges ahead for Alan and me,
and I need to be prepared! Old dogs do need to learn new tricks!Sceny Wildlife Refuge“Study to shew yourself approved unto God, a workman that needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (1 Timothy 2:15).