When I went on my mission, I had not read the Book of Mormon from cover to cover nor had I read the Bible. I admitted these things in my farewell talk to the chagrin and embarrassment of my Stake President who was sitting on the stand behind me (who also happened to be my Father).
I suspect that I was not atypical when it came to Mormon missionaries being incredibly unprepared during that early 70’s. I suspect that the more naive a missionary was, the more pure and simple his passionate “testimony” sounded to prospects who were also not hampered with too much knowledge of the scriptures.
the world of missionary work has since changed.
Have you ever wondered how much of an impact the Internet is having on the preparation of missionaries? I am not talking about how the Internet is being used for missionary work, I am talking about how much do prospective missionaries learn from the Internet, about uncorrelated Mormonism and the sanitized history of the church, before leaving to go on their missions, and how much does it impact their belief during their mission?
How many missionaries and prospective missionaries have visited anti-Mormon websites and blogs before their mission and/or during their mission?
How many have visited controversial websites and blogs like this one that speak about disturbing and faith challenging doctrinal and historical issues?
Are there missionaries out there that realize that many of the truth claims of the church are blatantly false and unsupported in scripture? If so, how does it affect how and what they teach, now that the missionaries are not required to stick with a script and are given significantly more leeway in constructing their lessons?
Are there missionaries that realize that the “follow the prophet” doctrine is a soul destroying heresy and therefore only focus on pointing people to the Book of Mormon, the simple gospel of Christ and a relationship with Christ?
I got an interesting email from a Mormon missionary about a month ago that I found to be rather interesting. He is a convert to the church that has been on his mission for nearly one year. Perhaps he celebrated his upcoming “hump” day by contacting me. I asked him if I might share his communication with my readers and he said yes.
I’ve thought of contacting you for a long time, but with 1 whopping hour of alotted email time I’ve barely the time to send out anything I’ve fully thought through.
I too am watching.
I’m 23 years old and have been out nearly a year on my mission. My name is Elder XXXXX and contacting you comes from the desire to have a candid conversation with you before things completely unravel and we find ourselves talking under other such circumstances.
So let’s talk during the calm before the storm.
First of all let me say how grateful I am to serve as a missionary. I’ve seen lives change. And I know I’ve been an instrument in the Lord’s hand in bringing light to people in dire situations. All it takes is getting them to open up the Book of Mormon.
From age 17 to 21 I was deeply involved with drugs and alcohol and clubs and parties. God called me out of the fog I was in, somehow. There must have been an angelic encounter that occurred– if only I could remember those days more clearly. Sadly from ages 21 to 22, I became intrigued by the Mormon intellects, the “wise and learned” of the latter-day Saint people. I gravitated from Terryl Givens to Denver Snuffer then to your website.
I honestly thought you were off your rocker– a conspiracy theorist no-less– but I was enthralled. It was only until being on my mission and searching the words of the Doctrine and Covenants that I came to know for myself the prophecies that are deeply embedded therein. I know the things that will happen and I’m doing my best to prepare myself and my family for it– as well as whomever I come into contact with. I want them to know the reality of God’s word, that all things in them will be fulfilled. That His judgments are coming. We need to repent and take the Holy Spirit as our guide.
This church has done so [much] for me and for many others. I come from a place where there are no Mormons and so I know the fruits of this gospel. It’s evident to me where I’m from and it’s evident on this mission. We are essentially the only church that understands the doctrine of Christ. I’ve seen people from other Christian denominations become truly born of God through the lens of this faith. I don’t fully know your entire view on the LDS church. Many would scream “apostate” at you, I’m sure. (Many have said the same thing to me when I tell them my views on certain subjects.) So there are many things we would likely disagree on. But that’s okay.
For now that’s okay. It is because right now no one can agree on anything anymore. We will become united in doctrine when the third watch begins. There are things you are wrong on, there are things I am wrong in, and there are things wrong in the church. That’s no mystery. Contentions will cease through Joseph fulfilling the second part of his dual mission.
For starters, I just want you to know that I understand what happened in the Kirtland temple, and I understand why Joseph had to do what he did. I struggled for years with “Nauvoo” and everything that that chapter of Mormon history entailed, but I now know who God truly is because of it. The controversy has forced me to SEARCH for God, instead of expecting Him at every turn of the corner.
There are many dark things happening. The church has many tares. But we know the tares will be burned. The wheat will be harvested, and the church will put on the fullness, to which it holds a right to. This will happen by divine intervention. It can only happen by the power of God. I know the servants have been chosen and will return to do what they’ve been commissioned and appointed for. Yet there is an awakening occurring! I’ve seen it in ways I never would have imagined. God is waking up His people!
I’m waiting for Him to make bare His holy arm, but yet even so there are many wonderful things at work in the lives of His Saints.
At two firesides I’ve heard two different speakers slip up their words while teaching false precepts, to then instead teach true doctrine! Then they correct themselves and teach the falsehood. Yet the truth was said and I can tell the spirit testifying the truth to all in the room…
So I don’t know why I sent you this email if only to just tell you that. Maybe just to let you know that there are things happening. God is at work.
I’ll bear my testimony to you of God’s infinite mercy and yet of his great and terrible justice. God will cleanse this continent of all its iniquity. Vengeance will come speedily, first to those who profess to know Him, especially to the hypocrites in His church.
Yet those that are pure in heart, who have a testimony of Jesus and keep the commandments of God, will remain, safe.
See you at the New Jerusalem.
Your brother in the adopted family of God through conversion to His Son in Christ Jesus,
Here was my response:
Thank you so much for your email.
Praise God for missionaries like you.
You are on an amazing journey.
You are engaged in a great work and also being prepared for a future work.
What can be more important and more spiritually rewarding right now than presenting the Book of Mormon to people and testifying of it’s truthfulness!
I am blown away by how much you appear to know for being so young. I feel we have much in common. I was a bit wild during my youth before my mission. Once on my mission I delved into the deep doctrine and mysteries instead of staying with the basics of declaring faith and repentance. I read Mormon Doctrine and Jesus the Christ during my mission which was considered to be pretty deep stuff for missionaries back in the day… shortly after the flood. 😉
I obviously did not know a fraction of what you know, back when I was on my mission.
I am curious to know how long before your mission it was that you began to study the writings of intellectuals, and Givens and then Snuffer.
I would encourage you to prayerfully consider staying away from controversial blogs like mine and Snuffers until after your mission is over so that you can stay focused on the incredibly important work that you are currently engaged in.
Keep the faith brother.
I am praying for you.
This is his reply that came many days later when he was given another small allotment of time for email correspondence:
“Thanks for the response. It’s great to hear from you, it really is. I’m also slightly amused to hear that you too went somewhat wild as a youth. It seems like a rite of passage. Yet strangely, my father was not the type. He was the straight-and-narrow his whole life. I’m oddly envious. I seem to always take the path that’s hardest. If only I could shut down my yearnings to understand everything completely. I appreciate your recommendation to stay away from controversial blogs, to stay focused on the tasks at hand.
In my first area we literally had no investigators—[name of area]– so I couldn’t help but delve into the unanswered questions I brought with me from before the mission. I was reverted to your site (and email) when I was trying to come to my drastic conclusion of section 132. (The day I rejected it as scripture was the scariest day of my life– June 2014)
Considering that I will be receiving an iPad soon– and the church will track all my internet browsing– I won’t be able to go a surfing for things anymore. I won’t be taking any detours to your site again. But this is timely, because things on my mission have gotten extremely emotionally demanding. I don’t have time to pontificate on priesthood and temples etc.
Fall of 2011, I started reading literally everything on Joseph Smith. I’m a writer and wanted to write a novel about him from the point of view of a non-believer (which at the time I was), yet I wanted the book to be warm towards him as a human being, not being judgmental. (I’ve never spoken an ill-word towards Joseph or Mormonism, even in my “atheist” years.)
By the time I finished reading the major biographies/histories, I was a semi-believer. I knew that Joseph Smith was inspired of God, and through that I began a serious read of the Book of Mormon. By the summer of 2012 I was a believer in the early restoration and of the Book of Mormon.
To reconcile things I thought were irreconcilable, for the next year I was drawn to Terryl and Fiona Givens and John Dehlin. They helped me see beauty in the modern church. I really loved Denver Snuffer’s “Removing the Condemnation”– but PTHG was a joke. It certainly hit a spot, though. It made me reflect on things I tried to brush off. In the summer of 2013 I was waiting to go on my mission, still with many unanswered questions.
I feel like the majority of my past concerns no longer bother me. I try to focus less on the Doctrine and Covenants and more on the gospels of the New Testament and the missionary efforts in the Book of Mormon. The mysteries can wait.
You read Mormon Doctrine on your mission? Was that missionary approved? Haha
Someone left a copy of Visions of Glory in our apartment for the missionaries to (disobediently) read. That was an interesting find. Luckily, my comp didn’t mind my reading it.”
I must say, I was a little surprised to have such a conversation with a Mormon missionary. He is obviously the exception to the rule, nevertheless, I don’t think he is the only one that is on the journey of seeking deeply to understand the scriptures and the true history of the church that is not found in correlated Mormonism.
It is fascinating to hear from a Mormon missionary who understands and believes in doctrine of the three watches and rejects section 132, who realizes that all is not well in Zion and who is awakening to the true history of the past restoration while awaiting the future one.
Missionary work is critical and there is only one church that is seriously attempting to get the Book of Mormon out there, even if they do bundle the sales pitch with a lot of heresy.
Getting the Book of Mormon into the hands of as many people as possible is as important as it ever was. Praise God for young men who are willing to make the sacrifice of doing missionary work while carrying some doubts and the burden the comes with knowing that not all of what they are expected to teach, is true.