Within the last few days I have had multiple readers send me a link to a piece done by a member of the church on facebook titled “The alarming Truth Behind Anti-Mormonism”
Apparently the article is gaining traction and going viral.
The article is well written and seems much more compelling than many of the apologetic articles that have come out in recent times. It is from a lay member of the church instead of an LDS scholar.
He brings up several interesting and thought provoking issues.
He claims that many, if not the majority of people who suffer from a crisis of faith and leave Mormonism become atheists because they cannot find a “believable Christian alternative”
I have also observed and blogged about how many Mormons are becoming atheists.
He claims most ex-Mormons become atheists because it is difficult to settle for an abbreviated version of the Gospel after having had an expanded viewpoint of the plan of salvation:
It is simply impossible to leave the Restored Gospel for another version of Christianity without realizing that you have lost so many of its essential elements. What happened to prophets, revelation, temples, priesthood authority, the plan of salvation, the doctrine of Eternal Man, etc
While that may be the main issue for some, I think that only characterizes a small minority of those that leave the church and become atheists.
I think the bigger problem is that most of those that leave the church and become atheists simply never were converted to Christ and his gospel.
The problem is that the modern corporate church has digressed into a religious cult that puts all of the emphasis on trusting in a salvation of works with heavy emphasis on placing one’s faith and trust in human priesthood authority.
Once a member of the church begins to learn about troubling historical issues and doctrinal heresies that have been introduced into the church during the last four generations, the trust in human priesthood leaders is broken. At that point, the need for the cult collapses and there is no reason to seek another Christian faith to join because their religion was really never truly centered in Christ.
The author makes the following observation
“…for LDS members (particularly RMs and life-long members), Christianity itself hinges upon the question, “Was Joseph Smith really a prophet?”
That is a sad commentary about modern Mormonism and I believe it is true.
Therein lies the problem with Mormonism and one of the major red flags that proves that the modern Mormon Church has become a religious cult.
Indeed, that is one of the major aspects of the definition of what a cult is.
a misplaced or excessive admiration for a particular person or thing.
I suppose that atheists could argue that Christianity is based on an “excessive admiration” of Christ, but there is a huge difference between New Testament Christianity that emphasizes faith in God, as opposed to a cult that places the emphasis on a human being that was simply used by God as a facilitator for bringing forth and canonizing God’s word.
Hence the “misplaced” component of the above definition having to do with putting excessive admiration on flawed, fallible, human leaders and personalities
Interestingly, the official practice of prophet worship in modern Mormonism did not technically begin among the Utah Saints until the administration of David O. McKay. It was under his administration that the members of the church were required to sustain the president of the church as a prophet seer, and revelator.
Brigham Young had emphatically denied making the claim of being a prophet. He did not even claim to be the legal successor to Joseph Smith.
“The brethren testify that brother Brigham is brother Joseph’s legal successor. You never heard me say so. I say that I am a good hand to keep the dogs and wolves out of the flock. I do not care a groat who rises up. I do not think anything about being Joseph’s successor.” (Journal of Discourses 8:69).
The whole original prophetic premise of the restoration is that Biblical Christianity is true and that it needed to be restored back to the earth after a general apostasy took place. This is why the New Testament narrative of the life, ministry, crucifixion, resurrection and atonement of Christ was initially the essential foundational focus of Mormonism.
Indeed during the early years of the Kirtland era, the restored church was indistinguishable from the order and spiritual fruits of the Church of Christ depicted in the New Testament and Book of Mormon.
The Lord had told the saints:
“..I will establish my church, like unto the church which was taught by my disciples in the days of old. (BofC 4:6)
Mormonism has strayed from the original laws, ordinances and covenant and lost its way.
True faith in the true gospel begins with gaining a testimony of the life, ministry, crucifixion, resurrection and atonement, of Jesus Christ that resulted in the true gospel of Jesus Christ.
Many Mormons do not have that as their foundation.
All one needs to do is attend a typical LDS church service and listen to the talks that are given.
Those who do have a foundation in Christ, that leave the church either find another Christian denomination to worship with, or they do home-church. Either way, they remain steadfast in Christ.
Those who leave Mormonism and eventually find themselves identifying with atheism were either cultural Mormons who participated in the cult for social and entertainment reasons, or they were cultural Mormons who had a belief system founded upon prophet worship and subjection to human priesthood authority.
It only makes sense that disenchanted members of such a cult, who never had Christ as the center of their belief system, become atheists. Why would they bother looking for Christian options if they never truly believed in Christ and him crucified?
I think the author of the article does a great job of showing how Satan wants to replace a system of morality based on God’s laws and standards of “right and wrong” and “good and evil”, with a morality that is based on a Godless science based system and on human desires, cravings and impulses-
For thousands of years, morality has been based on beliefs about human purpose, the immortality of the soul, and other transcendent truths—all beliefs that are religious in nature, as they cannot be scientifically evaluated. However, post-modern Atheism rejects all of these notions, in the long-term, for the same reason that it rejects religion—they cannot be studied or confirmed by scientific inquiry.
Instead, Atheism replaces the foundations of morality with what can be seen, heard, touched, or otherwise measured. Since this eliminates notions of God and the interplay between good and evil, we can stop looking outward to ask, “what do God’s laws or the Universe’s laws require of us?” And instead, we can begin looking inward and ask more fully than ever before, “wait, what do I want?”
Rather than morality being driven by belief in standards of right and wrong, good and evil, and other such dualisms, morality will eventually be driven solely by human desires, cravings, and impulses—as these are actually palpable. Simply put, society will be governed completely by what individuals think they want and need—as opposed to a sense of duty and obligation to some higher truth about good and evil or directives from Heaven.
I find profundity in the above observation about what Satan wants to achieve and how atheism provides a different and insufficient motivation for morality.
The really deceptive thing about the narrative being presented in the article is that it implies that there are only two paths from which a doubting Mormon has to choose.
According to the article, one path choice is to hang on to belief in modern day Mormonism with all of it’s problematic doctrine and history and related cognitive dissonance.
The other path choice is to be swallowed up in atheism.
That is pure sophistry.
The article subtly leads the reader into the false conclusion that there are only two realistic paths that a Mormon can choose when they enter into a crisis of faith. Towards the end of the article the author shares the thoughts that go through his mind during his darkest moments of his own doubts. During these moments of despair he opines to himself,
“Ultimately, I must decide to take one path or the other.”
Your only two choices are between the modern corporate apostate church or atheism?
I call bullshit.
There are lots of other paths one can take.
One of the other paths that I would strongly urge the readers of that article to consider is to get back to the basics to see why your brand of Christianity is not working.
Try getting back into the New Testament and begin where you should have begun in the first place.
Begin with Christ.
The Biblical account of Christ is critical.
It is compelling.
That is why one of the very first things God commanded Joseph Smith to do was to work on an inspired revision of the Bible.
That is why Joseph warned that the church “would yet fail” if it did not support the prophet Joseph Smith in publishing the Inspired Version of the Bible and the stick of Joseph as a joint canon of scripture to the world. He made that declaration in 1831, just months after the restoration of the Melchizedek Priesthood at the Morley Farm.
“Brother Joseph Smith, Jr. said … that the promise of God was that the greatest blessings which God had to bestow should be given to those who contributed to the support of his family while he was translating the fulness of the Scriptures … that God had often sealed up the heavens because of covetousness in the Church … and except the Church receive the fulness of the Scriptures that they would yet fail.” (Far West Report, p. 16, quoted in Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Joseph Fielding Smith, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1938, p. 9.)
Those familiar with the true history of the church know that the fulness of the scriptures were never published to the world as commanded by God. Joseph continued to try and get financial support from the saints to do so all the way up to his last days in Nauvoo. During the succession crisis Brigham Young and the Twelve pleaded with Emma to hand over the unpublished manuscript of the Inspired Version of the Bible but she refused.
Eventually the RLDS Church would own the copyright on the work.
It would be many generations before the LDS church would strike an agreement with the RLDS church to allow them to include portions of the Inspired Version to be included into the footnotes of the official King James Version of the Bible. Nevertheless, very few Mormons study the Inspired Version of the Bible or have any idea just how essential it is.
Joseph’s prophecy that the restored church would fail if the translation of the Bible was not completed and canonized as per the Lord’s instruction has verily come to pass. This is certainly one of the reasons that the restored church has failed and lost it’s way.
For those who are leaving the church, my recommendation is to go to the New Testament (preferably the JST version that is currently available) and start from the beginning and work your way through the gospels all the way to the book of Revelation.
Gain a witness of Jesus Christ and the Good News that he brought.
Gain and understanding of the fall of Adam and the literalness of the creation storyline in Genesis. Gain an understanding of why the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ is essential in cleansing you and restoring you into God’s presence.
Continue moving forward through the other standard works that Joseph Smith brought forth, to see if your current version of Christianity can be validated by God’s holy word.
When you find that it cannot be, begin studying the history of the church and the scriptures that Joseph Smith brought forth in greater depth. Avoid the spin and propaganda of church leaders and LDS scholars and authors. Parse out the truth for yourself while praying for guidance from the spirit. You don’t need other humans to explain church history or the scriptures to you.
If you do so with sincerity of heart and a desire to know the truth and to believe it, things will begin to fall in place and you will come to know the truth and the truth will set you free.
When you get to Moroni’s promise in Moroni 10:3-5 that shows how to discern the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon, don’t stop there.
Consider and ponder the greater promise contained in verses 6-7. It is unfortunate that LDS missionaries have been trained to direct people to the three verses that speak about the Book of Mormon instead of emphasizing the next two passages that invite the reader to invitation to KNOW that Christ is the Son of God by the power of the Holy Ghost:
Following those two passages, the chapter details what the gifts of the spirit are that are always manifest by the true Church of Christ. Listed are such novel spiritual gifts as wisdom, knowledge, great faith, the gift of healing, the beholding of angels and ministering spirits, the spiritual gift of tongues, etc.
Those fruits of the spirit are nowhere to be found in the modern corporate church.
If the above listing of spiritual gifts represented the fruits of modern Mormonism, there would not be such a mass exodus of depressed and confused people who are experiencing a crisis of faith.
In the article, Dustin shares some of the heartbreaking feelings of despair that he and many other Mormons are experiencing-
“I have personally experienced overwhelming doubt.”
He speaks of his “darkest moments” when he feels like he is “losing touch with reality—no longer knowing what was real and what was true—“
He speaks of his “moments of desperation” and speaks of
“looking out into the dark and stormy world where two paths lie before me. I feel confused as to which I should take. I have no way of really knowing which path I would want to take, for I cannot be sure where either leads. As confusion settles in, I look to see where the path on the left seems to lead. As I look out into the distance, there appears to be a dark and horrific abyss. And it seems as if this path will lead me there.“.
He confesses that his decision to stick with apostate Mormonism is to avoid the dark horrific abyss that atheism seems to lead to..
At the end of the chapter in Mormon 10 we are informed that those that have no hope suffer from despair and that despair comes from iniquity.
A warning is given that if the day ever comes when the spiritual gifts of God are no longer found in the church, it is because of unbelief:
And if ye have no hope ye must need be in, despair, and despair cometh because of iniquity. And Christ truly said unto our fathers If ye have faith ye can do all things which are expedient unto me.
And now I speak unto all the ends of the earth-that if the day cometh that the power and gifts of God shall be done away among you, it shall be because of unbelief.
And wo unto the children of men if this be the case; for there shall be none that doeth good among you, no not one, for if there be one among you that doeth good, he shall work by the power and gifts of God.
This is why Dustin and countless other Mormons struggle with so much doubt, depression and despair with regard to the cult that they are participating in. The power and gifts of God have withdrawn from the church because of unbelief.
I began to realize these things when I began to have a faith crises some 30 years ago.
At that time I began working my way back towards the foundational truths of Christianity that are contained in the Bible, the Book of Mormon, and the original teachings of the restoration. In doing so, I found why modern Mormonism was creating so much doubt and confusion in my mind.
That is what one of the main purposes of this blog is about.
I have written over 300 posts, many of them showing how and when Mormonism lost its way and has strayed from the pure doctrine of Christ and the original teachings of the restoration that were revealed through the prophet Joseph Smith. I have provided documentation to show clearly how and why the Church has lost the truth and authority that it once had.
The good news is that God foresaw the latter day apostasy just as clearly as he foresaw the eventual apostasy of the New Testament Church. A remedy is in place for those that truly believe in Christ and call upon his name and search his word in the scriptures.
Remarkably, the article by Dustin made no attempt to address the really serious problems with Mormonism. It only offered the fear of what would happen if a person chooses atheism instead of Mormonism.
This prompted the following comment from an astute reader of the article:
Your whole article is written from the logical standpoint of “look what might happen if the church isn’t true…so it must be true”
It is not my desire to cause those who are happy in Mormonism to leave it.
If a person is happy and fulfilled in the Mormon Church and it fills their spiritual and religious needs, then more power to them, they are probably where they need to be on their journey in this life.
However those that are experiencing a crisis of faith might want to become more familiar with Biblical Christianity.
It is the ancient, mystical religion that Mormonism was originally founded upon before they discarded Christianity altogether.
Search the scriptures because in them, you can find the path to eternal life. I admonish you to do this because the restored gospel is true even if the modern church isn’t..