I wrote previously about cults, and I want to get a bit more personal. I grew up in the Mormon tradition. While I never felt comfortable with the faith and only with coercion was I baptized and became a member, it still affected my view of God for years. In my opinion, the constant danger of cults is that they mask themselves with a false Jesus that clouds the perceptions of those that escape them. Jesus becomes a trigger rather than a savior. When they escape, people run from Him when they should run to Him. That’s demonic.
When I left, I became an atheist, agnostic, mystic, or anything else I could use to fill that void I had. I was missing something and I didn’t know what. While my time with the Mormons was unfruitful in converting me, it did serve a purpose of providing greater meaning. Even if that meaning was unattainable to me. Without meaning, only emptiness survives. People fill that with whatever vice, hobby, or religion they prefer. I suppose life comes down to finding what is going to fill that void. To be clear, only Jesus as revealed in the Bible fills that emptiness because we long, whether we know it or not, to be in a relationship with Him.
I do not write this out of anger or insult, so if you’re Mormon, please take this as my opinion. I pray that you will find the truth of Jesus because, honestly, your following Joseph Smith. You may object to this but keep an open mind. The truth will show itself when you seek it.
To quote Timothy Leary:
“Throughout human history, as our species has faced the frightening, terrorizing fact that we do not know who we are, or where we are going in this ocean of chaos, it has been the authorities — the political, the religious, the educational authorities — who attempted to comfort us by giving us order, rules, regulations, informing — forming in our minds — their view of reality. To think for yourself you must question authority and learn how to put yourself in a state of vulnerable open-mindedness, chaotic, confused vulnerability to inform yourself.”
So let’s get into it.
In the Mormon tradition, the Prophet is the final authority because he alone talks to God.
When they speak, it’s scripture. As a result, Mormon’s have an ongoing revision of their church doctrine. God reveals his will solely to the one Mormon Prophet, and they continue to revise the doctrine routinely. Often doctrinal changes occur as a result of increased societal and/or political pressures.
- The 1890 Manifesto was issued by President Wilford Woodruff outlawing polygamy when the government began seizing Mormon property as a penalty for ongoing polygamy.
- The 1978 Revelation on Priesthood that allowed the ordination of black people into the Priesthood.
- In 2012 when, comically, caffeinated drinking soda was permitted at the same time as Mitt Romney, a devout Mormon, was running for president.
God’s word is always changing according to the Mormons.
“And whatsoever they shall speak when moved upon by the Holy Ghost shall be scripture, shall be the will of the Lord, shall be the mind of the Lord, shall be the word of the Lord, shall be the voice of the Lord, and the power of God unto salvation.” Doctrine and Covenants 68:4
The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 14:1 “Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophecy.” The Apostle Paul makes a pronouncement that everyone should seek to prophecy. If one prophecies, then he is a prophet. Paul states later in the chapter:
“Two or three prophets should speak, and the others should weigh carefully what is said. And if a revelation comes to someone who is sitting down, the first speaker should stop. For you can all prophesy in turn so that everyone may be instructed and encouraged. The spirits of prophets are subject to the control of prophets. For God is not a God of disorder but of peace—as in all the congregations of the Lord’s people.” 1 Corinthians 14: 29-33
Notice the words “all” and “everyone.” Paul is making it clear that we can all prophecy and should desire to do so. So what is the motivation of the church to have only one Prophet? It’s relatively straightforward, if there is only one, then you are extra special. Just like Joseph Smith wanted to be— extra special.
“But, behold, verily, verily, I say unto thee, no one shall be appointed to receive commandments and revelations in this church excepting my servant Joseph Smith, Jun., for he receiveth them even as Moses.” Doctrine and Covenants 28:2
Members are not encouraged to think but rather to follow what the governing authorities say. In this case it was the Bishop saying that you get credit for trying. Echoing the statement by Elder Jeffery R. Holland when he said, “The great thing about the gospel is that we get credit for trying, even if we don’t succeed.”
The definition of a Mormon testimony, from my understanding, is anything that’s interpreted as a sign or feeling experienced by a member that could in some vague way prove that the Book of Mormon is true. The truthfulness of the Book of Mormon and the insistence that all members ascribe to this idea is paramount. The contradiction between the Book of Mormon and Doctrine and Covenants is often ignored. The trained evangelists (missionaries) attribute these changes in doctrine to God clarifying his position. This adds another contradiction in that if God never changes what clarification is needed?
Members endlessly say “I know this book is true” and “This is the true church.” The overwhelming insistence the the Mormon church is the “true church” despite the evidence to the contrary inclines the members more towards indoctrination than belief. If the Book of Mormon says that polygamy is an abomination, then why does God says it’s fine for Joseph Smith to have multiple wives? But really, that’s just low hanging fruit. The missionaries are prepared to answer that so really its not worth bringing up should they come to your door. A better question to ask is why the Book of Mormon repeats the phrase, “it came to pass.” It’s just bad writing. An example, which is just the tip of the iceberg, is an excerpt from 1 Nephi 1:
4 For it came to pass in the commencement of the first year of the reign of Zedekiah, king of Judah, (my father, Lehi, having dwelt at Jerusalem in all his days); and in that same year there came many prophets, prophesying unto the people that they must repent, or the great city Jerusalemmust be destroyed.
5 Wherefore it came to pass that my father, Lehi, as he went forth prayed unto the Lord, yea, even with all his heart, in behalf of his people.
6 And it came to pass as he prayed unto the Lord, there came a pillar of fire and dwelt upon a rock before him; and he saw and heard much; and because of the things which he saw and heard he did quake and tremble exceedingly.
7 And it came to pass that he returned to his own house at Jerusalem; and he cast himself upon his bed, being overcome with the Spirit and the things which he had seen.
Lastly, the Book of Mormon plagiarized large portions of the Bible. So when members follow what the Bible says as it was copied in the Book of Mormon, they have a sense that the book is true. What’s scarier is that many feel that the Book of Mormon is more authentic than the Bible. So when they pray to God in Jesus name and He blesses them, they feel validated in their belief. Never mind that they are following the Bible. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain. As a bonus, the Bible is public domain, and no copyright or citations are needed. Just call it prophesy from a hidden book. It is a brilliant means of indoctrination and self-aggrandizement.
You never really escape it. The indoctrination. Even though I was never fully in, I’m hypersensitive to extra-biblical doctrine. Even if that doctrinal confession or creed lines up exactly with the Bible, I’m unable to commit fully. For instance, I love Lutherans, but I could never be one because I can’t commit to their confession. It feels adulterous almost. But that just the baggage that I carry and not a reflection on them. It’s all me and a result of my experience in a cult.