Wednesday, June 26, 2013
During that semester, Craig came by to see me every week, the two of us discussing the audio lectures I'd been sending him and any questions he had about the literature. He easily quoted Scripture, had done mission work, and lived a morally upright life. His open smile, the way he carried himself--just everything about him made me love him as if he were my own child. At the time, I thought how blessed I would be if I had a son who grew up to have the character qualities this young man did.
Yet, I struggled with one thing. Craig was a committed Mormon.
He did not believe Jesus Christ was the one and only Son of God. He did not believe faith in Jesus Christ was the only way to attain entrance into heaven. Instead, Craig believed Joseph Smith's Book of Mormon to be a complementary, if not superior, text to The Bible. His was a works-based faith where men sought to achieve heaven and god-hood by their good works.
My heart was broken for this beautiful young man's lost-ness. To this day, I am still burdened for Craig's soul because I know the God of the New Testament and the Jesus of The Bible are not the same God and Jesus found in The Book of Mormon. I can't see a photograph of him, his wife, and his sons on Facebook without my heart being crushed for him to know the truth. Not a week goes by that I don't pray for God to send him someone to show him the truth of the real Jesus.
Perhaps Craig's story is why Lynn Wilder's Unveiling Grace: The Story of How We Found Our Way Out of the Mormon Church reached out to me and begged to be read. The text is an easy-read autobiography detailing her family's thirty years spent in the Mormon church.
Wilder breaks her text into three parts. The first third demonstrates how she and her husband found their way into the Mormon church, their life as a typical Mormon family with duties in the church, and Wilder's less-than-traditional work as a professor seeking tenure at BYU (Brigham Young University) in Utah.
Part Two illustrates the part of her family's life when their hearts begin to be burdened that things were not right in Utah's Mormon culture where, among other things, polygamy and racism still existed in the mainstream Mormon church. In the midst of this heart turmoil, their son, Micah, broke from Mormonism and called upon his family to "just read the New Testament," believing that if they did, they, too, would see the discrepancies between the words of Christ and the words of Joseph Smith.
The final third of the book describes her entire family's attempt to start their lives over in Florida, leaving behind the Mormon church. This section is chock full of Scripture as Wilder shows over and over again where God showed her truths in New Testament Scripture that illuminated the twisted truth she had believed for thirty years in Mormonism.
At the very end of the narrative, she then provides a "Quick Doctrinal Comparison" between Mormonism and The Bible, giving not interpretations but merely quotes of Mormon Scripture and Bible Scripture.
Wilder's text is a must read for anyone with friends or relatives who are Mormon. It is eye opening. It is sad. It is real.
And "Craig"--if you're reading this, know that I do still pray for you to find the truth, to believe in your heart that Jesus is the only way to eternal life in heaven.
I am extending the same challenge to you that Micah extended to his mother: just read the New Testament.
I challenge you to commit yourself to reading the Words of Jesus Christ and compare them to The Book of Mormon, to the Mormon Doctrine & Covenants. Do not blindly accept the religion of your youth; do not be deceived by pride or fearful of what you may find, but test the Scriptures.
I honestly believe if you will seek the truth of God, you will find Him--not just for the sake of your soul but for your wife and little boys as well.
*My former student's name has been changed to protect his identity.
at 9:15 PM