The Question

> These web pages are not meant at all to be a defense of a certain belief
> or the propagation of a certain doctrine.  In our conversation of a few
> weeks ago, I had asked you how it was possible for a leader in the Mormon
> church, after thought, prayer, and reflection,  to turn his back on the
> Mormon church and embrace Christianity.
> Now you and I both know that there are many individuals in both the LDS
> Church and the Christian church that leave the church because of emotional
> issues, never really having believed, or because of some sharp dispute
> with some other individual/s in the church.  I'm not talking about these
> cases.  What I am talking about are Mormon leaders, who, after much
> reflection, prayer, and soul-searching, decide that the Mormon church is
> based on falsehood.  They embrace Christianity and the Bible as being the
> only true Word of God.
> You tell me that if you sincerely ask the Holy Spirit what is true, no,
> more specifically, that if the Book of Mormon is true, that He will answer
> that question in the affirmative if you are truly seeking.  I am just
> confused about how, when Mormon leaders, who are asking the same
> questions, who are praying to God asking for guidance, who have been in
> the Mormon church for years and who have been active, come to the
> conclusion that the Christ embraced by the LDS church is not the Christ of
> the Bible?  And then they reject Mormonism and embrace Christianity?  Are
> they just decieved?  Did they ignore the burning in the bosom and the
> answer of God and decide for themselves that Mormonism is false? (note,
> there are a couple of testimonies in which the person did not end up
> embracing Christianity.  I included these merely because they raise some
> points that I think would be good for you and I to talk about - although,
> there is some commonality in my question - how could they come up with ANY
> alternative?)
> I know that you can't answer for these people and I don't expect you to.
> And like I said, this is not part of a defense of my viewpoint.  In fact,
> I think some of the arguments given in some of the testimonies are
> specious at best.   But based on your description of relationship with
> God, and looking at the testimonies of those that have left the Mormon
> church not out of emotional or irrational motive (this, of course, is a
> subjective determination), I am hard pressed to understand why this
> happens.
> Also, like usual, I don't mean any insult in my liberal use of the word
> Christian and Mormon - you understand what i mean.
> Tim
> p.s. I am halfway through a response to your e-mail from earlier this
> month.
> (an interesting letter
> from Ezra Booth)
> just read the first few paragraphs in this one, and then the last few
> paragraphs
> others who were not necessarily leaders in the Mormon church, but whose
> 'conversion' to Christianity would be interesting to talk about

The Response

I will try to answer your questions and possibly some others that you didn't ask. As we both know people leave and enter different religions for all sorts of reasons, sometimes they are the right reasons. I could also bring up testimonies about ministers and members who, after much reflection, prayer, and soul-searching, decide that the historic, orthodox Christian church is
based (at least partially) on falsehood.  They embrace The Church of Jesus Christ (Mormonism), with the Bible and the Book of Mormon being the true Word of God.  Also there are others who have left mainstream Christianity to become "counterfiet revivalists", Muslims, or atheists.  But I'm not convinced what this would prove.  Fundamentally I feel that your problem with understanding how people could reject the truth after having known it, comes from an un-scriptural idea of "once saved always saved". I hope to answer your questions and discuss this idea as well as discuss the reasons for some of the problems of these individuals as I see it..

First of all before you worry too much - I've written a lot about the first and second examples you've given me. I won't write quite so much about all of them, but these are good examples.

JOHN R. FARKAS - Elder's Quorum President (local volunteer position - overseeing some of the Melchizedeck priesthood holders of a local congregation (approx. 20 to 70 men) helping and encouraging them to lead their families and fulfill church duties.) - He first questions lists of cow, ox, ass, horse, goat, and wild goat in the Book of Mormon (BoM). Gets "answers" from wife's anti-mormon literature. And then starts questioning other things.

Classic problem #1 - reads only critical anti-mormon material. Doesn't do much to look at both sides of the story. Never mentions even thinking about looking at LDS apologetic info.

Let's start specifically with these list of animals. There are several possibilities as to why the lists don't jive with modern experts:

He mentions other topics which could also be discussed at length, but the point is - he only seems to have looked at one side. He doesn't seem to try and find answers from the LDS point of view. He ignores completely the many evidences that indicate the impossibility that the BoM was written by any 19th century person or group of persons. (Some of the things written about in the BoM which were completely unknown to to the western world in 1830 and subsequently shown to be valid by 19th and 20th century science and archeology include: writing on metal plates, description of ancient coronation ceremony,  an ancient form of Arabic poetry, hundreds of examples of several ancient forms of Hebrew poetry,  a reference to an ancient legend about Joseph of Egypt, ancient Israelites building temples outside of Jerusalem, accurate portrayal of the Arabian Peninsula and the existence of a place like Bountiful in the Arabian desert, writing Hebrew in a type of Egyptian script, description of olive tree cultivation [problematic at best for Joseph Smith], among others). The popular statement that there is no Book of Mormon archeology is a direct lie.  Many of these topics were ridiculed for years and years by the experts until the BoM was found to describe authentic ancient practices, through archeology and other studies.  (Tim as a statistician, you might be especially interested by a statistical analysis of the BoM done by non-mormons (with one LDS advisor) at Berkeley. This group helped pioneer new work in textual wordprinting, which analyzes the use of the if's, and's, and but's of a writers style that forms a unique unconscious fingerprint of a writer in order to determine authorship, and concluded with "a statistical confidence of greater than 99.5%, 99.9%, 99.99%, and 99.997%  probability" that the different books of Nephi and Alma in the BoM were written by different authors and that none of those authors was Joseph Smith, Oliver Cowdry, or Solomon Spaulding .)   And this was acheived in a little over 60 working days from a 22 year old farm boy with a 3rd grade education.  It's not like Bro. Farkas simply didn't want to use space to give a detailed analysis, he seems to be unaware of any of it. He certainly didn't study it. [Like you can.  See  Jeff Lindsay BoM Evidences  and  Is the Book of Mormon really an ancient book?   for a tip of the iceburg.]

Let's put this in terms that you can more readily see. Suppose there is a member of a mainstream Christian church (who volunteers in the church and maybe is asked to work in the church's youth group) and he sees some contradictions in the Bible that he can't explain immediately (possibly the various versions of Paul's conversion story, or unfulfilled prophecies of Jonah or Nathan, or the simple fact that each of the 4 Gospels report a different superscription on the cross of Christ) Now this man is married to a "devout" atheist to whom he goes for answers, and she is more than happy to give him the "answers".  She provides him with the standard party line of how the Bible is just stories and can't be relied upon. Then she goes on and of course details all sorts of other information about contradictions in the Bible. This man does not check out the many books that resolve the apparent contradictions and just listens to her side. He does not attempt to see beyond minor textual problems and understand how solid the evidence for the resurrection is (which might help him see the real importance of Christ). Would anyone be surprised that he becomes convinced of the skeptic's erroneous view of the Bible?

If you're going to decide this sort of thing based on evidence, don't you think it is only fair (if not wise) to look at both sides. I guarantee that Bro. Farkas is unable to to answer how the BoM is able to contain such impossible things, since the most experienced anti-mormons almost entirely avoid the questions.

Classic problem #2 - Never had a spiritual testimony.

He hints at something about answering prayers but never discusses what might be considered a testimony. Either he never really had one or he is trying to forget he ever did, but in any case doesn't deal with the question. I would guess that he never had one.  He says - "It is interesting that I had never had any thing like this drive to share Mormonism with others. I had not been a good member missionary." Suppose a new Christian does not have any drive to share the Gospel with others, I don't suppose he would be shot down like a dog but many would probably hope that his conversion would become strong enough in the future to do so. And some might even question if he really has been converted. I must ask the same questions. Don't confuse the fact that he had been given a position of responsibility with the idea that he was a great spiritual leader of the ward.  A ward the size of what it is in Rochester NY would be small and be doing everything it can to fill all the available positions. Since there is no full time ministry or any type of full time workers, the work load is distributed among as many people as possible. We hope the challenge makes one grow. Nevertheless one would hope that the President of the Elders Quorum would have more of a testimony than that.

This problem is more than just a minor one. I have read many testimonies of those who have left the Church. And 99% of them never describe having received a testimony in answer to prayer. They have good feelings when they are with the missionaries or at Church and may have generally felt the Spirit, but have never found out for themselves and received answers through prayer and study. I have read many testimonies of those who have entered the Church and are confident enough to really bear their testimony and to spread the Gospel, and many describe the intense feelings of peace and joy that come in answer to prayer.

I find the following statement problematic ' 'I said to Phyllis, "If we are both praying to the same God, how come we are getting different answers? Now I realize that the Mormon gods are not of the Bible. Mormonism is not Biblical Christianity". Is he saying that I can pray to God, in the name of Jesus Christ and receive false answers to prayer, while another receives true answers. If this is the case put the blame on God, not the LDS who accept the answer. (I know this a common tactic, claiming that the Devil will answer our sincere prayers to God if the question is about the Book of Mormon, while also pretending that it could not possibly happen if the subject is the Bible). If this is true then no one can count on any answer God gives, for it is then incumbent upon us to know whether the question we are asking is true or false before we ask it, because we never know which answer is from which source.  If this is the case then it is just as likely that Phyllis was receiving the false answers.  I can't speak for Frank and Phyllis but I know the answers I have received and I can not, and will not, and (as Paul says) dare not deny them despite all the evidence of all the experts in the world.

Let's basically cover the how could this happen question with Matthew 13 :5 "Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth: 6 And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. 7 And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them:  ... 20 But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it; 21 Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended. 22 He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful".

Jesus tells us that not only can men fall away but that we should expect that they will fall away. (an interesting letter from Ezra Booth)

Ezra Booth is an early apostate who contributed to the first major anti-mormon work, "Mormonism Unvailed" [sic].   I love the way they start out this page "he witnessed what he believed to be a healing at the hands of Joseph Smith".  Let's of course do all we can to discredit any possible chance of someone thinking that a Mormon miracle could occur.  The truth is that this miracle of restoring Sister Johnson's  hand and arm afflicted with rheumatism for 2 years has been documented by several people in personal journals. (See HISTORY of LUKE JOHNSON).  To my knowledge Booth never denied it happened.  Nevertheless a miracle doesn't prove a religion is true anyway: Matthew 7 : 21 "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? 23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity". ....... but the anti-mormons must of course close their eyes as tightly as possible.  See DAVID PATTEN'S GIFT OF HEALING  or JOSEPH NOBLE HEALED BY JOSEPH SMITH  as spots for differing opinions of LDS healing. Or go to  Dave Kenison's Church History Stories Collection , select the search routine, and enter the word "heal" if you want to have too much to read.

Anyway Booth has his opinions of the Church and we have ours of him.

"This was Ezra Booth, formerly a Methodist minister of Hiram, Portage county, Ohio. He entered the church on seeing a person healed of an infirmity of many years standing; and as he was begotten to the faith by seeing a `miracle,' so too, it appears, he craved continuous miraculous manifestations to feed his spiritual life. ... His letters make no charge of immorality against the Prophet, or any charge at all that could be said to be serious, or fundamental, the man's soured spirit being taken into account, and the false coloring noted which in all such cases paints the picture untrue to truth. The Booth Letters had but momentary influence, and though they have been several times reproduced in "anti-Mormon" works, they seem never to have been effective in discrediting the work at whose destruction they were leveled." (Roberts, History of the Church, 1965, vol 1, 265-6)

See LDS Critics Profile for more critics and also some more balanced accounts from other non-mormons

"Truth will prevail."
Vol. V. No. 7.] CITY OF NAUVOO, ILL. APRIL 1, 1844.[whole No. 91.  HISTORY OF JOSEPH SMITH.

"On the 12th of September, I removed with my family to the township of Hiram, and commenced living with John Johnson. Hiram was in Portage county and about thirty miles south easterly from Kirtland.  From this time until the forepart of October, I did little more than to prepare to re-commence the translation of the bible. About this time Ezra Booth came out as an apostate. He came into the church upon seeing a person healed of an infirmity of many years standing. He had been a Methodist priest for some time previous to his embracing the fulness [fullness] of the gospel, as developed in the Book of Mormon, and upon his admission into the church, he was ordained an elder; as will be seen by the foregoing revelations. He went up to Missouri as a companion to elder Morley; but when he actually learned that faith, humility, patience, and tribulation, were before blessing; and that God brought low before he exalted; that instead of "the savior's granting him power to smite men, and make them believe" (as he said he wanted God to do him;) he found he must become all things to all men, that he might peradventure save some, and that too by all diligence, by perils, by sea and land; as was the case in the days of Jesus, which appears in the 6th chapter of St. John's Gospel he said, "verily, verily I say unto you, ye seek me not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled." So it was with Booth, and when he was disappointed by his own evil heart, he turned away and as said before, became an apostate, and wrote a series of letters which by their coloring, falsity, and vain calculations to overthrow the work of the Lord exposed his weaknes [weakness] wickedness and folly, and left him a monument of his own shame, for the world to wonder at."

Taking my cue from what Joseph Smith said above, let's look at the disciples of Christ.  Go to John 6:61,66 "this is a hard saying; who can hear it?" and "From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him".  Think of this, they turned from Christ, from God himself because they couldn't reconcile some doctrine.  Now these are his disciples, they were no doubt baptized since the Gospels testify Jesus went around baptizing (or at least his disciples, and He must have approved)  They had seen many miracles, recently having been at the feeding of the five thousand.  Yet they could not reconcile their old way of thinking about Moses and the Law and see it in a new and different light.

Now do you think these people went home saying, "Yes, this Jesus is the Messiah but I just can't follow him".  Maybe a few did, but human psychology hasn't changed that much in 2000 years.  They went home justifying themselves.  They said, "I thought he was the Messiah but I was deceived.  You can not believe unless you've experienced it the strength of the deception.  It has taught me quite beyond my knowledge, the imbecility of human nature, and especially my own weakness. It has unfolded in its proper character, a delusion to which I had fallen a victim, and taught me the humiliating truth, that I was exerting the powers of both my mind and body, and sacrificing my time and property, to build up a system of delusion, almost unparalleled in the annals of the world".  Would some of them have borne false witness or at least remembered things in a colored fashion, as witnesses during Christ's trial did.  To the Pharisees these men would be heroes who spoke the unvarnished truth :-), however the apostles wouldn't have wasted much time or ink with the opinions and stories of apostates.  Of course this is all speculation, there are early anti-Christian documents but I'm not familiar enough with them or what they contain.

Notice that Booth said  "I now know Mormonism to be a delusion; and this knowledge is built upon the testimony of my senses".  Apparently not upon the testimony of God, which I am more comfortable following.

So let's label this  Classic problem #3, taking offense at something that is said or at the leaders in general and wanting the Kingdom of God to conform to your own small view of what it should be.  (Everyone wants to serve God, but most want to do it in an advisory capacity.) Also not accepting the authority which God has placed over us.  Maybe I should classify this as problem 2b since it is an offshoot of Classic Problem #2.

If I don't really know that it is the Church of God and that He has ordained its leaders, its harder to humble myself and admit the possibility that I may be the one who doesn't see things according to God's plan.  You may find this concept difficult to understand in our modern day, but to help you see it in the proper light, imagine yourself as a member of the church after 35 AD.  At that time, could you be a follower of Jesus Christ, and at the same time insist that Peter is an idiot, that he doesn't know what he is doing, and refuse to follow his teachings and advice?  What if you were one of those Jews who choked on the idea of allowing Cornelius to be baptized?  Would you be able to humble yourself enough to understand that Christ put Peter and the apostles in charge.  And that Jesus makes changes to the organization and even to centuries old customs through these men without having to first explain it all to you intellectually.  Or in other words according to a well known LDS saying - when the Prophet speaks (i.e. speaks prophetically) the debate is over.  Look at the discussion of circumcision in Acts for an example of this.  Because many had a problem with this and still wanted to impose their personal ideas, (which did not come through the revelations of the Lord's chosen servants) even years later Paul encountered many problems with the Jewish factions within the church.  How did these factions get people to listen to them?  By claiming the authority of the apostles which everyone understood to be THE valid source of leadership in the Church.
I found this one interesting also.  I assume you included it only because he had grown up in the Church, since he was not of course ever a leader in the Church, having become effectively inactive by age 18.  For him I point you to Classic problem #1 and #2 also, at least in some degree.   But can you imagine basing your eternal welfare on the only scriptures that we know from scripture are "hard to be understood" and that "they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction" (2 Peter 3:16)?  Paul was a great writer and great thinker but like many academicians today, he talked over people's heads sometimes.  Luckily  Peter's epistles speak of the same things  (vs. 15 & 16), which can help us to see what Paul was saying from the viewpoint of the common man.  Thanks to the introductions in his epistles we know that Paul was not writting to unbelievers but to the Church.  Did you ever notice that Paul only preaches salvation by grace to those who are already members of the Church, baptized and presumably schooled in the basic doctrines of repentance and obeying the commandments to inherit eternal life, as the Lord taught.  Romans suddenly becomes a very Mormon book when you take into account the context and the audience.  Bro. Champney says he was led by the Holy Ghost, what does that mean?  Did he receive answers to his prayers not only that Jesus is the Christ but also that the peculiar doctrines of salvation built up by theologians over the past 1800 years are true and are fully the doctrine of Christ.;-)   One thing I know is that for the seeker of eternal truth all the learning and all the writings of all the most learned Jews for the previous thousand years went straight out the window as soon as the prophet John (the Baptist) spoke. How could he leave the true Gospel of Jesus Christ?  Staying with 2 Peter 3, we go to verse 17, "beware lest you also being led away with the error of the wicked fall from your own steadfastness". (I'm not trying to imply anything about the wickedness of Christians - I'm just saving you from having to turn the page in your Bible - the point is " fall from your own steadfastness")  Usually someone gets a testimony that Jesus is the Christ or maybe even that the Bible is the word of God and then assumes the rest.   I must testify that I have been led by the Holy Ghost and received revelation of the Holy Ghost that the LDS Church and the LDS Doctrine are Christ's.
This one goes into so many topics it is impossible to even begin covering them without several more months of effort. I have also looked at many of these topics, but have not attempted to just not think about it; like he implies we must do to believe in the Church.  But like a judge hearing conflicting testimonies I must decide which are the most consistent and trustworthy and which are in error. Emotionally I resent what he said about LDS missionaries. He never went on a mission.  I have been a full time missionary and have never spent a similar time of my life being hated, laughed at, or sumarily dismissed by people.  In a "business" sense as he puts it I was not very successful and "enrolled" only a few people, yet I returned with more love in my heart and soul for those same people who hated me than I ever thought possible.  I love the French people and would do again whatever I could to serve them.  My friend who went to Argentina loves the Argentinean people.  My friend's son who went to Russia loves the Russian people.  That is the great secret of how a missionary becomes successful.  I'm not sure Bro. Packham would understand these spiritual things because he has studied a great deal but is ever learning and never able to come to a knowledge of the truth because he is a serious victim of Classic problem #2.  Can he bring up his family without God (either mainstream Christian or LDS) and be happy as he says he did, of course he can - the rain falls on the just and the unjust.  He puts his particular spin on things, the same spin that those who report in the early centuries about Christianity that "everywhere it is spoken evil against", not withstanding that the early Christians must have been very good and kind people trying to do the best they could.  And yet the Romans knew full well that they were a secret atheistic society (that means they wouldn't acknowledge the same gods) teaching all men to do evil and even sacrificing children, and were therefore worthy of being completely vilified, and hated, and tortured, and murdered.  Which side is true?  Both sides have facts.

>> just read the first few paragraphs in this one, and then the last few paragraphs
Sorry I can't just read part of it, the middle part is neccessary to judge intentions.  Also I can't respond to all she says, because of the time it would take to check original sources, which though not on my bookshelf are not as hidden as she likes to imagine.  But there are some obvious errors that make either her scholarship or her ethics questionable.  She says, "by reading diaries, records, newspapers, etc., one seeks in vain to find any mention of this so-called 'First Vision' story until 1842, when it was published in 'Times and Seasons', 22 years after this vision supposedly took place."   This is completely false.  Which is easy to see in this quote which is from another anti-mormon site: "The most detailed account of the first vision is a six page manuscript in Joseph Smith's own handwriting. It has been dated between 1830 and 1833.   Joseph Smith described the first vision again in his diary for Nov. 9, 1835."  Also the main account we use of the First Vision was written in 1838, and we do have evidence that he had told others of the experience long before 1832.
Her analysis of BoM problems is standard stuff, it has been dealt with in LDS Apologetics 101, and many of her facts need to be updated to the second half of the 20th century.  For being such a "highly" placed LDS member (so as not to decieve you, she wasn't - she had the common jobs that every member has, and working in the Church Office Building and translating is no more than what it sounds like, its a job, not a leadership calling.  Her husband being a High Priest and High Councilman had one of 15 part time voluntary important positions in his local Stake [which is made up of 6 to 10 congregations or wards and 3 to 4 chapels or ward houses], but not in the workings of the Church as a whole) she shows a distinct lack of understanding about the BoM.  For example calling the Nephites "Jews" is technicaly incorrect, they were from the tribe of Joseph (although culturaly they could be called Jews); but calling Jaredites "Jews" is ridiculous since they were a people long before Abraham was born, and never had anything to do with "Jews" or the Law of Moses.
The statement, "now that the papyri [of the Book of Abraham] had been located and proven by the leaders of the Church and its scholars to be the very one Joseph Smith had translated...", is such an out and out lie that it becomes difficult to believe anything she says.  If she had said she believes it, or even that it has been proven to non-mormons in general, but that the Church has proven it!?  I think it has been shown, conclusively that these fragments are not the ones JS translated because they bear no resemblance to the first hand account descriptions, but that's another question.
From most of the short quotes provided it is impossible to tell if the writer is even talking about the subject she ascribes to them.  And I have read some of the quotes she gives which do not say what she is trying to make of them.  An easy specific example is "for example, Martin Harris changed his religion at least eight times".  This is only true if you consider that attending several meetings to see what a church is like can be defined as "changing religions".  Often she quotes speculations as facts in at least as irresponsible a manner as "The God Makers" .

Another easy example:
Higley's version:

For example, in "Journal of Discourses," vol. 2, p. 171, in 1855, Brigham Young preached a sermon in which he said:
Jerald and Sandra Tanner's version of Journal of Discourses, Vol. 2, p. 171 from "Joseph Smith Speaks on the First Vision,"
"The Lord did not come . . . . But he did send His angel to this same obscure person, Joseph Smith, Jun., . . . and informed him  that he should not join any of the religious sects of the day, for they were all wrong."
Brigham Young's version in Journal of Discourses, Vol. 2, p. 171,:
But as it was in the days of our Savior, so was it in the advent of this new dispensation. It was not in accordance with the notions, traditions, and pre-conceived ideas of the American people. The messenger did not come to an eminent divine of any of the so-called orthodoxy, he did not adopt their interpretation of the Holy Scriptures. The Lord did not come with the armies of heaven in power and great glory, nor send his messengers panoplied with aught else than the truth of heaven, to communicate to the meek, the lowly, the youth of humble origin, the sincere enquirer after the knowledge of God.  But he did send his angel to this same obscure person, Joseph Smith, Jr., who afterwards became a Prophet, Seer, and Revelator, and informed him that he should not join any of the religious sects of the day, for they were all wrong; that they were following the precepts of men instead of the Lord Jesus; that he had a work for him to perform, inasmuch as he should prove faithful before him.
Now, if you're a good enough puzzle master you can figure out where the Tanners pulled their quote from, and if your an exceptional puzzle master you can figure out where Higley pulled her quote from, though I doubt it. She apparently paraphrased the Tanner's hacked up quote and called it a quote from Brigham Young, possibly without knowing the real quote.  So much for her access to "Top Secret Mormon Documents", she doesn't even do the primary research.   At least the Tanners simply omit sections of the quote which totally distorts the meaning of the paragraph, Higley can't even get close to the actual quote.  Brother Brigham wasn't doing an historical exposition, as in all the Journal of Discourses he was giving an impromptu talk to the the believers who understood the historical aspects.  He is speaking generally about how God did not reveal His message with pomp to the "important people" of the world, but chose the weak and humble.  It should be obvious to anyone that if I say "I did not come to work with a brass band", it is NOT equivalent to "I did not come to work".  In fact it indicates the exact opposite, that I did come to work.  To omit the parts that make this clear and use it as proof of your claim is dishonest.   Tell me, if you were found to have distorted the meaning of an original quote in this manner in a college level term paper (and not just once) what kind of grade would you get?  The thing about this type of literature is that this is not uncommon.

Her handling of areas I am familiar with makes me very very suspicious of the other areas that would take time to study and read about.  In fact based on the above I can't think of a reason that I should believe anything she says.  Unfortunately, when reading this literature the first thing you have to check is veracity.  I realize that each side may think the other side is lying when really they are so over enthusiastic they fail to fully think about alternate explanations.  However, there are times that truth and honesty must be taken into account, such as above.

About 5 - 6 months after my baptism someone gave me an anti-mormon pamphlet.  It had some disturbing stuff in it and I spent a lot of time pondering it.  There is a fairly well known story about some guys getting Martin Harris drunk (after he had apostatized) to get him to deny his testimony of the BoM (he was one of the 3 witnesses which saw an angel and heard a voice).  The pamphlet reported it this way - They asked him if he still believed in the Book and his testimony and Martin Harris said, "No I do not believe it ...."
This really bothered me for awhile, because I had been told that none of the three witnesses ever denied their testimonies of the BoM, and if it wasn't for my testimony I might have turned away from the Church.  But I eventually found the original quote and as you may know what Martin Harris said was, "No I do not believe it, I know it!"  Although I was very upset at what I knew could NOT be an honest mistake in this pamphlet, it did teach me to always check the sources and to be very wary of the ellipsis (...).  The fact is that I have seen this kind of creative quoting fairly often in anti-mormon liturature.  Some people are so wrapped up in vindictiveness, anger, and contention (from whom would these feelings come?) that the end justifies the means.  For example, see what the National Conference of Christians and Jews has said about "The God Makers".  There are enough legitamate issues that we can discuss without resorting to these kind of tactics.

Why did they leave the Church maybe it was 1 CORINTHIANS  10:12 Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall. or better yet back to 2 Peter 3:17, "beware lest you also being led away with the error of the wicked fall from your own steadfastness". (this time I mean to emphasize "the wicked")  In any case, I'm just glad they left.

This is a clear case of Classic Problem #2.   Many of his original questions were not that difficult - and you can see how some of the false information from people like Higley can come into play since he quotes some of it.  And I will confess that I think the Church could do a little bit more in helping members find answers to these questions.  Although nowadays the internet helps, generally you are required to do the bulk of the work and research yourself, and some people just don't know how.  The Church emphasizes gaining spiritual knowledge of the truth, which definitely is the first priority; so maybe it should be this way and it's a sifting out process, like for the wise and foolish virgins (Matthew 25 : 1 - 12)
This gets a little deep but -  I can not say why God did not answer his prayers about the Church.  I can not say that it is his fault or some failing, or punishment for sin or any of those other things we humans try to find as a cause.  Bill is responsible, but also his bishop is responsible (at least partially, if Bill actually went to him to ask for help and answers). He, as a Judge in Israel, is entitled to receive revelation to help him, but being human we sometimes fail.  Does this sound weird or cultic to you?  Nevertheless it is true, in Numbers 11: 29 "And Moses said unto him, Enviest thou for my sake? would God that all the LORD'S people were prophets, [and] that the LORD would put his spirit upon them!", and they are all prophets each in the sphere that God has called them to.  The Church President is the prophet of the Church, The Stake President is the prophet of the stake, the Bishop is the prophet of the ward, but we are all still poor, failiable, sinners who are working out our salvations with fear and trembling (Philippians 2: 12 ) and we often do the wrong thing.   The same relationship exists between a missionary and those he teaches. My missionary companion because of his great faith and humility received specific revelation, which normally no man could have known, about the problems of a family  (it was not the sins or faults of anyone in the family), and we were then able to help them overcome obstacles.  I because of my great lack of faith and humility would have not asked or understood the Lord's response, and probably would not have been able to solve their problems and teach effectively.  They would have endured the consequences of living a life still searching for what was missing in their religion and their lives.  In the end (the end sometimes meaning not before the final judgment before the bar of God) they would be compensated  for having to suffer and can not lose any blessing because of my faithlessness, and they will be judged based on what they did with what they had.  I will be "punished" for my faithlessness, but not in the sense that I will be beaten with whips or lose some blessing, but I will have failed to have earned a greater reward, I failed to exercise my faith and thus grow and become more like my Savior Jesus Christ.  It does not mean that I can not "make up for it" later and experience the growth of becoming more like Jesus (or perhaps I could say to become more one with God) but I missed an opportunity to help someone else and myself.  If I procrastinate and miss these opportunities my whole life then I don't grow and I don't receive the blessings I could have had, because I am not becoming like Jesus Christ. I am not afraid of damnation and hellfire, I am not even afraid of never being able to live with Christ, for a Mormon (or anyone who has accepted Christ) we should consider these blessings (great as they are) as a given.  I do fear not becoming all that Christ wants me to through my own choices, and thus not participating in the fullness of the peace and joy that He wants for me. This is what Paul ment when he said "work out your own salvation with fear and trembling" (Philippians 2: 12 )

Ok, so it's all about progression and becoming one with Jesus Christ. (Moses 1:39 For behold, this is my work and my glory--to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man).  Now God is a God of Truth and can not lie. (Ether 3:11 And the Lord said unto him [Jared]: Believest thou the words which I shall speak? 12 And he answered: Yea, Lord, I know that thou speakest the truth, for thou art a God of truth, and canst not lie).  But I think that maybe He answers (or does not answer) prayers in the way that will provide us with the most growth possible at that time.  He will tell us "this is true" or "that is true" AND/OR He will tell us "go here", "go there", "do this", in order to lead us to our greatest potential.  Now the "do this" type of instructions can change throughout a person's life and can appear to be contradictory within a lifetime and between different people because of individual needs at specific times.  But the "this is true" type of answers are solid.  The "go here" type of answers do not indicate that "here" is true.   And if someone tells you that something is true and you get the truth of it confirmed by receiving an answer to prayer, that does not mean that everything else the person told you is also true.  Specifically, if a Latter-day Saint/mainstream Christian teaches Bob that Jesus is the Christ and Bob receives an answer from the Holy Spirit through prayer that Jesus is the Christ, then Bob can not assume that the entire  Latter-day Saint/mainstream Christian church and theology are also true.  I don't mean to trivialize things either, it can be a difficult journey to recieve answers.

I don't know why Bill didn't receive answers, I only know the answers I have received and what others have testified to about (as Bill said) being "filled with a joy  that I had never experienced before", as we sought answers about the Church and the BoM.  Now I haven't started transcribing my testimonies from my journal into HTML yet (but when I do you can bet that it's going to get really big), but here are some examples of those who have:

Latter-day Testimony of Wade, Carmen, Kimberly, Eric, Danielle, Robert, Paul , Michael, Bill, Dan, J.L., Gary
[Note: you may no longer be able to access these directly. The files are now in a blue box at the bottom of this page. Look for each person's name]

Wow, I meant to only write a small paragraph about this one.
This is also a clear case of Classic Problem #2.  and similar to what I said above.  Being a 6th generation Mormon doesn't accord you any special status.  It's sad that Tricia just never "got it".  She seems to have concentrated so much on secondary things that she never got the main points.  And it's hard for me to see why.  In our human failings we can sometimes concentrate on the wrong things but she seems to say we don't teach about Christ or His love.  It's true we don't talk about "having a personal relationship with Christ", I can't even find that wording in my KJV, so I'm not sure how it can become a condition of salvation.  But we do talk about His love for us and ours for him.  Personally I can't see how you can miss the significance of scriptures such as:

1 Nephi 11:21 And the angel said unto me: Behold the Lamb of God, yea, even the Son of the Eternal Father! Knowest thou the meaning of the tree which thy father saw?  22 And I answered him, saying: Yea, it is the love of God, which sheddeth itself abroad in the hearts of the children of men; wherefore, it is the most desirable above all things.

2 Nephi 1:15 But behold, the Lord hath redeemed my soul from hell; I have beheld his glory, and I am encircled about eternally in the arms of his love.

2 Nephi 4:21 He hath filled me with his love, even unto the consuming of my flesh.

 Jacob 3:2 O all ye that are pure in heart, lift up your heads and receive the pleasing word of God, and feast upon his love; for ye may, if your minds are firm, forever.

Mosiah 4:15 But ye will teach them [your children] to walk in the ways of truth and soberness; ye will teach them to love one another, and to serve one another

Alma 5:26 And now behold, I say unto you, my brethren, if ye have experienced a change of heart, and if ye have felt to sing the song of redeeming love, I would ask, can ye feel so now?

Alma 26:13 Behold, how many thousands of our brethren has he loosed from the pains of hell; and they are brought to sing redeeming love, and this because of the power of his word which is in us, therefore have we not great reason to rejoice?

Moroni 7:13 But behold, that which is of God inviteth and enticeth to do good continually; wherefore, every thing which inviteth and enticeth to do good, and to love God, and to serve him, is inspired of God.

 Moroni 8:26 And the remission of sins bringeth meekness, and lowliness of heart; and because of meekness and lowliness of heart cometh the visitation of the Holy Ghost, which Comforter filleth with hope and perfect love, which love endureth by diligence unto prayer, until the end shall come, when all the saints shall dwell with God.

D&C 6: 20 Behold, thou art Oliver, and I have spoken unto thee because of thy desires; therefore treasure up these words in thy heart. Be faithful and diligent in keeping the commandments of God, and I will encircle thee in the arms of my love.

D&C 95:1 Verily, thus saith the Lord unto you whom I love, and whom I love I also chasten that their sins may be forgiven, for with the chastisement I prepare a way for their deliverance in all things out of temptation, and I have loved you--

D&C 112: 11 I know thy heart, and have heard thy prayers concerning thy brethren. Be not partial towards them in love above many others, but let thy love be for them as for thyself; and let thy love abound unto all men, and unto all who love my name.

D&C 121: 41 No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned;  42 By kindness, and pure knowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy, and without guile--

D&C 133: 53 In all their afflictions he was afflicted. And the angel of his presence saved them; and in his love, and in his pity, he redeemed them, and bore them, and carried them all the days of old;

This is a small list of  verses in Latter-day scriptures that discuss love.  I haven't begun with the verses on joy and the verses on peace (It's also my sneaky way of getting you to read the BoM), and again we have the Bible also. They're hard to miss, we talk about them all the time.  If she and her husband had not "felt to sing the song of redeeming love", if they did not feel "encircled about eternally in the arms of his love", if they were not filled "with hope and perfect love, which love endureth by diligence unto prayer", then they should have known by reading their BoM (which she hinted was the only thing they read, not the Bible) that they were not living as Mormons, despite whatever actions they were going through.  They tithed mint and cummin and omitted the weightier matters.  These they ought to have done, but not leave the other undone.  I don't know why they just didn't get it.
[whoops, this was supposed to be just a paragraph too]
Ok just a paragraph or two - see Ezra Booth and Classic Problem #3

"If he had done faithfully what God here gave him to do, he would have received the blessings promised, but when he failed to obey the Lord, even his appointment in the First Presidency could not save him from failing. When he lost the Spirit of God he became one of the most bitter enemies of the Church. Apostates and persecutors rallied around him, and he tried to form a church of his own of such material" (Doctrine and Covenants Commentary, p.785). See 2 Peter 2:17-22  (The dog is turned to his own vomit again)  and  Hebrews 6:4-6  (put him to an open shame) and Hebrews 10:26-29 (trodden under foot the Son of God)

Everyone in the early Church had difficulties.  It was very hard to be a member, everyone was new and many times there was confusion, misunderstandings, and then hard feelings.  Not to mention the intense pressure they had from outside the Church in the form of spiritual, mental, and physical persecution.  Personally I hate to judge any of these early members, but I will anyway.  The history of William Law shows that he not only became an ex-Mormon but because of his advocacy of current and future persecution of the Saints he became an ex-Christian, although discrediting all Christians by keeping the name.  The views Law and apostates like him had about Joseph Smith and others has not been borne out by more dispassionate historians.  Specifically in Law's case, he had a newspaper, he could have printed about the murders, he should have felt obligated to based on his personal knowledge, but instead printed mainly rumors and allegations about polygamy, it was fairly tame stuff.  To say that a conspiracy of such magnitude could be carried out by such perverse and evil people without leaving behind direct historical evidence other than accusation and innuendo is amazing.  No matter how hard you might try to disguise it this kind of thinking leaks into your personal diaries and letters, especially letters between your coconspirators.  No one who is evil believes himself to be really evil, that's Saturday morning cartoon stuff, they think they are right and are entitled to whatever evil thing they promote, and that belief comes out as they speak and write.    To think that a group could be so thoroughly schizophrenic that by all appearances they seem just and good to the outside world, often sacrificing their own comforts and property for others, while behind closed doors they are viscous, murdering, money grasping, devils is just not probable. Despite what you may think of polygamy (and you may have to argue that position with Abraham when you get to his bosom) there is a great deal of evidence that they were just and moral men, but not perfect men, they definitely had human shortcomings.
This site comes back with "The Web server cannot find the file or script you asked for" but for my comments on it, just see all the other stuff above.

>>others who were not necessarily leaders in the Mormon church, but whose 'conversion' to Christianity would be interesting to talk about

First of all just in case I haven't been clear, we haven't heard from anyone who was a leader in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints except William Law.   Br. Higley would be considered a leader in his local stake but that's one out of about 47,200 men currently  in that volunteer position in the Church.  And Bro. Farkas a leader in his local ward would be one man out of about 76,700 men in that same calling and 230,000 men or 383,000 men and women currently  in similar callings.  I can't even begin to count the total number of current members who have ever had one of these callings, since a call will last generally 3 - 5 years, but can be more or less depending on differing circumstances and needs.
"I was a member of the Mormon Church until one day I appeared at a Bishop's Court and requested that my name as a member be removed from the records of the Church."
Ok first of all you don't go to a Bishop's Court except to answer for questions of serious transgressions, not just because you don't believe anymore, but since he doesn't discuss this I don't know what that was about.  Without discussing specific issues I can't say much except that I agree with him.  Except in reverse.  To me, the mainstream Christian community is in a mass of confusion  and doesn't follow the Bible, about the need for baptism, grace and works, the trinity, church organization and offices, church financial practices (communal living), and many other issues that they can't even agree upon.  It seems strange to me that if he knows so much about the Bible that he would rely upon the arm of flesh, trusting his salvation to his own understanding of the Bible, rather than trusting in the arm of the Lord, like Peter, and learning the things we need to know by revelation from the Father. (Matt 16: 15-17)
"I had only a vague idea of a "hereafter," and at best, I wasn't particularly concerned."  - Where has she been?  We have a very specific idea of the hereafter.  As concerns the other stuff - she's been able to read the BoM.  Tim, you should remember the scriptures I showed you from the BoM about how we are nothing without Christ's atonement, that without it we would all be devils and angels to a devil. And that we can be saved by no other name.   Just like Betty said about Romans 6 : 23, and Acts 4:12.  Serious case of  Classic Problem #2.   No Testimony - No Roots
Well, I'm tired and most points I've discussed in one way or another.  "When I accepted Jesus Christ as my personal Savior and believed on Him, yielding myself to His will, the Holy Spirit did come into my heart. It was the most glorious experience of   my life. I had a definite transaction with God that day. I was "born again" and became "a new creature in Christ." And believe me, itís just as He promised it would be, "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new" (2 Corinthians 5:17). "  I believe her - because we teach all this, like I've said before. Does she know by the Spirit that all the doctrines are correct or just that she's been saved by Christ's atonement.  Usually when these men were talking about salvation, they weren't talking about the salvation we take for granted, like I've said before.  But the salvation of a fulness of reward that depends on our actions.  Again I'm sorry she just didn't get it, but we teach it.

In the final analysis men can fall from grace .....

Scriptures that show - Once Saved Not Always Saved.(OSNAS)

[The Virgins are members of the Lord's Church because they are all coming out to greet him - yet in the end failed to be saved]
MATTHEW - Chapter 25
1 Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom.
2 And five of them were wise, and five were foolish.
3 They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them:
4 But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps.
5 While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept.
6 And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him.
7 Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps.
8 And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out.
9 But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves.
10 And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut.
11 Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us.
12 But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not.

[Context is to baptized members of the Church - Though he wants to be a partaker - Even Paul could be castaway, isn't he Saved - if OSAS he could never be castaway from what he preaches.)
1 CORINTHIANS - Chapter 9
23 And this I do for the gospel's sake, that I might be partaker thereof with you.
24 Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain.
25 And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. 26 I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air:
27 But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.

[Context is to baptized members of the Church - take heed lest you fall - if OSAS then there is no need to take heed, we can't fall)
1 CORINTHIANS - Chapter 10
4 And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.
5 But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness.
6 Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted.
7 Neither be ye idolaters, as were some of them; as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.
8 Neither let us commit fornication, as some of them committed, and fell in one day three and twenty thousand.
9 Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed of serpents.
10 Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer.
11 Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.
12 Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.

[Shows we can become entangled AGAIN - and become fallen from Grace]
GALATIANS - Chapter 5
1 Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.
2 Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing.
3 For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law.
4 Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.
5 For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith.

[this is too obvious for comment] - Back to William Law
HEBREWS - Chapter 6
4 For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost,
5 And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come,
6 If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.

[If there is no sacrifice for sin for someone who WAS sanctified by the blood of the covenant and has trodden under foot the Son of God despite the Spirit of Grace (that he had) - that IS no longer saved]   - Back to William Law
HEBREWS - Chapter 10
26 For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins,
 27 But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.
 28 He that despised Moses' law died without mercy under two or three witnesses:
 29 Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?

[Escaped through knowlege of the Lord, known the way of righteousnes - and becomes entaingled AGAIN in pollution]  - Back to William Law
2 PETER - Chapter 2
17 These are wells without water, clouds that are carried with a tempest; to whom the mist of darkness is reserved for ever.
18 For when they speak great swelling words of vanity, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through much wantonness, those that were clean escaped from them who live in error.
19 While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage.
20 For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning.
21 For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them.
22 But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire.

If you read the above testimonies balance that with some of these testimonies:

 How did Christ say we could know who are the people of God.  Not that we will agree with everything they say, not that none of their members will ever loose faith, not that they will never make mistakes, not that they will be accepted by the world, not even that they will agree with the established doctrine and understanding of the scriptures.

1. He said that they must be one and they must love one another.  Mormons are not perfect but we are one, no matter where we come from or how we got there we join together in one heart as much as any people can.  We love the Lord and seek to serve him and work hard to love one another.  Although I know that they too love the Lord and seek to serve him, if mainstream Christianity were one tenth as united and organized (see the opening chapters of Acts) as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, they could accomplish 100 times what they are able to do now.   I do not have to search for a healthy well balanced church - I open the Yellow Pages, find the local ward, and there it is..  I don't have to worry about examining my Bishop to be sure just what kind of  trinitarian he is before I'll believe what he has to say, I know what kind of trinitarian he is; One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism.  The wards may be different sizes, different personalities, different demographics, but of the many wards I have lived in they are all of one heart and one mind.  The welfare system also brings us closer to being of one might and one strength as we work to support each other as a whole.

2.  And he said " by their fruits (works) ye shall know them".  Almost universally critics of the Church praise the LDS morals, the strong families that are produced, the programs, the welfare system, the food storage and emergency preparedness programs, and the "non religious" things we try to accomplish.  The amount of what we do (of which most if not all, you never heard about) compared with our total numbers is unbelievable to me.  Despite what I am writing now you don't hear much about it because we don't broadcast it much and we don't do it in order to get good press (although that sometimes comes).  But we constantly do what we can to send hundreds of tons of food and other essentials to needy parts of the world with no regards for religion.  We have farms and food packaging plants at which we volunteer our time to feed and help our own needy.  And this is the food which is also sent overseas and to disaster areas.  As two specific recent examples of our fruits during emergencies:  After the Tornado which hit downtown Salt Lake City (which before any faulty judgments be made about that, it skirted around any Church properties causing only minor damage to some trees and widows (even though a huge crane fell on the new Tabernacle being built) and no damage to the Temple, and did a great deal of damage to two "worldly" entertainment centers) the papers reported that outside emergency agencies were amazed that within hours streets were cleared of  fallen trees and debris, that most of the power was back up, and people were supplied with necessary food and shelter.  They credited the Church's organization,  attitude of preparedness, and willingness to volunteer. And after the recent tornadoes in Oklahoma one radio station reported that two churches lead the way in providing help and needed supplies, the Mormons and the Latter-day Saints.

What does this prove?  I can't prove anything.  But maybe you should think about why He did not say by their doctrine ye shall know them, He said "by their fruits ye shall know them".

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