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An Email From a Mormon

Part One of Two

Note from Donna Morley: For those who are interested in the Mormon mind-set, I have included onto this Faith & Reason site, two emails from a Mormon named "Tom" (name has been changed, and last name eliminated). You will see, I broke up Tomís letter, responding to the specific comments he made. I did not eliminate anything from either one of Tomís letters.

Dear Sister Morley, I refer to you by the title of 'Sister" because first I believe that we are all children of a loving Heavenly Father, secondly because we share a common faith in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I write to you as a life long member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints who's heart is troubled.

I am sorry your heart is troubled. Maybe after my response you will have a better understanding. Thank you for wanting to call me "Sister," but do you really want to do that? Yes we are both made in the image of God, but even according to Mormon theology, God's TRUE children are Mormons who go to the Celestial Kingdom. So, according to your own beliefs, I cannot be a TRUE child of God (see Mormon theology book: Principles & Practices of the Restored Gospel, page 242). Certainly, most Mormons would not call me "Sister."

And, with all due respect (please do not take offense), because we have different beliefs about Jesus Christ and other important doctrines, I think you would agree with me that we don't share a "common faith." Besides, in Joseph Smith's First Vision, he was supposedly told that he wasn't to join any of the Christian denominations because "they were all wrong...their creeds were an abomination..." (Pearl of Great Price, J.S. 2:19).

Certainly, you wouldn't want to say that we share a "common faith" when my beliefs are "wrong" and an "abomination."

To begin, my wife is a nationally certified recreation therapist and has worked for the past year at a 'Non Denominational Christian/ Bible" based treatment facility for women with eating disorders. She was hired by the treatment center I suppose mostly as an act of desperation. They badly needed someone with Sarah's skills, talents and training, and even though she's a Latter Day Saint, they hired her anyway. I think it was kind of - 'we know you're from Utah and probably a Mormon, but if we don't ask we won't have to deal with it". Much like the military's 'Don't ask; Don't tell" policy toward homosexuals.

Your wife sounds like a blessing to that facility. But just because a facility calls themselves a "Non Denominational Christian/Bible place doesn't make them a Christian ministry. Anyone can call themselves a Christian. Usually people use the term "Christian" to say, "I'm a good person" and that's about it.

That facility probably hired many of the people for their qualifications, rather than because of their beliefs. If your wife were to work in a Catholic hospital, or a Jewish facility, etc., she would see that the majority of the people working in those places are not Catholics, Jewish or what have you. I use to work in a Catholic hospital, and when I applied, I was not only out of fellowship with the church (having left) and in profound disagreement with some key areas of doctrine, but I shared the gospel with the "Reverend Mother" at the risk of being fired. So, I can tell you first hand that there are many facilities that are not good representatives of their official religious views.

About two weeks ago one of her fellow employees approached her with a comment to this affect. 'I've noticed that the staff here treats you differently from everyone else. They're short tempered with you, they speak unkindly about you when you're not in the room. I've observed you, you do your job well, you're very pleasant to be around I can't figure out why you're being singled out. Do you know why?" Sarah provided her co-worker with no explanation and gave no clue as to what her heart knew was the reason.

I am sorry that Sarah has to go through that. I can identify with her. I too have worked in a place where I was the object of gossip. A true Christian doesn't want to take part in gossip. They know that the Bible speaks against it, and gives us the three types of gossip: the "whisperer" or "talebearer" (Greek: psithyristas); the slanderer (katalalous) and the one who insults, abuses, or reviles (loidoros).

Obviously these types of gossip hurt, such as it did with Job when he was tormented and crushed by the many insults from Bildad (Job 19:2-3), and who knows the grief Abigail experienced when she risked her life to prevent the bloodshed prompted by her husband's insults (1 Samuel 25:23-42).

Sarah has been very aware of an unchristian bias and treatment which, started shortly after she suggested to her supervisor that they break a long standing Sunday afternoon ritual of taking the residents to the Mall to go shopping. Kathleen requested that the residents organize service projects or other more appropriate activities for the sabbath. Keeping the sabbath holy is an important part of our religious tradition. She saw an immediate change in attitudes towards her, Sarah apparently got the reputation of being a religious fanatic, and the 'rumors" began to spread.

Again, these people may not be true Christians. I have seen negative attitudes in some Mormons, (such as demonstrating anger, and boastfulness). I have also known Mormons who didn't pay their tithes (and got kicked out of the church) another Mormon who couldn't stop drinking coffee (she also got kicked out of the church) and know of two Mormons who are lesbians. Obviously, they may not be true Mormons. If the non-tither or the coffee drinker were a true Mormon, they wouldn't have been kicked out of the church. Let's not assume your wife's co-workers are Christians just because they say they are.

A couple of weeks ago she was in the company book store when she saw your book, A Christian Woman's Guide to Understanding Mormonism, and decided to buy it to see if she could find some explanation as to why other self-described Christians had such bitter feelings toward Latter Day Saints.

True believers---born-again Christians--do not have bitter feelings toward Latter Day Saints. In fact, they care enough about them to want to share with them what they believe to be the truth. From your letter, Tom, I would say that you have bitter feelings against born-again Christians who write books about Mormonism.

Since then we've both read through it and found no new insights. Just a kindler, gentler form of anti-Mormonism. A sort of 'Chicken Soup" for the anti-Mormon Soul, with the same tired old stories about Joseph Smith, the same half truths, slants and distortions about what 'Mormons" believe.

I am not "anti-Mormon." I do have to say, I am not in agreement with Mormonism, any more than you are in agreement with my "born-again" beliefs. Do I call you an "anti-born again" individual? Tom, I firmly believe if you are going to state that I gave "half truths, slants, and distortions" about what Mormons believe, I ask that you be fair about this. Please provide the documentation. You have my book, and say you have read through it, therefore this should be quite easy for you to provide.

You see, much of what you report in your book is true. However, a great deal is not. But even when you get it right the information is presented with your narrative of how it should be interpreted.

Again Tom, please provide me an example.

It's kind of like the Muslims who report that all Christians are polytheists because they believe in a concept of a Holy Trinity, 3 gods. Which is a distortion of the traditional doctrine of the Trinity that clearly states that the Father, Son and Holy Ghost are simply 3 manifestations of One God not separate and distinct individuals.

So, which do you believe? The traditional doctrine of the Trinity or the Mormon view?

Your own prophet, whom you say is a true prophet, states that there are three God's (read History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, 6:474, June 16, 1844; and 6:476, June 16, 1844).

Your own theology book, "Principals and Practices" states: "Latter-Day Saints adhere to the tritheistic concept, proclaiming that the Father and Son are separate beings with perfected bodies of flesh and bones. Mankind is thus literally made in their image. The Holy Ghost is also a separate divine person with a spirit body in the image of God." (p. 25).

The Mormon view of the Godhead is not considered to align with Biblical Christianity. I believe it's important for Christian women to understand how far apart the Mormon doctrine is when it comes to the Trinity. This is not to be critical, it's simply to state fact, as a way to keep them from being confused.

By the way, since we're on the subject, while Latter Day Saints have a belief in the eternal nature of the spirit of man and a belief that it is possible for us as children of a loving Father to have the potential to continue to grow and progress through eternity. Nevertheless, we worship only one God, Our Heavenly Father. We worship him following the pattern the Savior himself established during his earthly ministry.

Tom, your "potential to continue to grow and progress through eternity" is a nice way of saying that you will be a god in eternity. In love I say to you, this is not only a false doctrine, but a gross distortion of the nature of God--we will never become divine. God is a unique being in the universe and there is no other like Him.

Sister Morley, the thing that really bothers me is 'why"? Why do people like you feel it necessary to try and denigrate and defame a church that has brought the knowledge of Christ, His atonement and His grace to so many millions of people. Who is to judge who are followers of Christ, and who are not.

Tom, it is not my desire to defame anyone, or any church. With that said, let's put some things in perspective. It is not the Christians who started all this. It was Joseph Smith with his First Vision.

From the time Joseph Smith eventually wrote out the First Vision (he had more than one version of it), and to this day, Mormons have been denigrating Christianity.

Mormon missionaries come to our doors telling us about Joseph Smith's First Vision. I personally have had many Mormon missionaries read to me parts of that First Vision, and I always hear the word "abomination." They communicate that although every religion has an "element" of truth," Mormonism has the truth--GREATER TRUTH.

Now, may I ask. Why is it wrong for me to help women defend their faith? Obviously I have to tell them what you believe in order for them to be "ready to make a defense" (1 Peter 3:15) when the missionaries knock on their door. Let me go further by asking, why is it okay for Mormon missionaries to go door to door telling Christians that their religion is "wrong" and an "abomination?"

Tom, if a traditional Christian were to say Mormonism is "wrong" or an "abomination", Mormons will say that we have animosity towards them; that we hate them; that we are Mormon bashing. This isn't so, whatsoever. Every Christian I know, who desires to reach out to Mormons, loves each and every Mormon that comes their way.
If I may, can I put a different light on this? Mormonism exists because Joseph Smith prophesied that traditional Christianity is an affront to God. That is the whole reason for the existence of the Latter-day church. If traditional Christianity were acceptable, according to Mormons, then there would be no need for God to begin Christianity again with a new prophet, new Scriptures, a renewal of priesthood authority, and so on.

I was watching something on television the other night, I don't recall what it was, the question was asked, ' In what religion were you raised?" The woman responded 'I was raised Catholic but now I'm a Christian" the inference being - if you're a Catholic you certainly can't be a Christian.

Tom, I was a Catholic for 21 years before I became a "born-again" Christian (which Jesus says you must be to enter the Kingdom of God, John 3:3,7). Now, that I have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ--the Living Lord--I know, without a doubt, I wasn't a Christian when I was a Catholic.

I would guess that Mother Teresa likely never repeated that phrase found in all the Evangelical handouts that if repeated with sincerity somehow, magically saves your soul and makes you a Christian. Whether she ever repeated anything like that in her entire life is nothing compared to the pure love of Christ she demonstrated.

I cannot comment on the soul of Mother Teresa. It would depend who she was trusting in for her eternal salvation. Was it the grace of God through Jesus Christ, or a combination of things which include the sacraments and her good works? (something many Catholics depend on getting them to heaven). For her, it comes down to the same thing for every human: are we depending on our good works to earn our way to heaven--which the Bible clearly says we cannot do--or are we trusting in God's grace and unmerited favor to save us?

(Don't you believe in the book of James? or would you like to disqualify that book from the Bible, I know some ministers refer to it as the epistle of straw.)

I whole heartedly believe in the Book of James. But, there is a difference in what we believe about "good works." Mormonism says you must DO WORKS to get salvation. The Bible says differently, simply because it magnifies the tremendous mercy of God (Ephesians 2:8-9). As we know, mercy means undeserved favor--it's God's grace.

The Bible says that it is by grace we are saved, NOT THAT OF OURSELVES (Ephesians 2:8-9). If we could be saved by our works then we eliminate God's grace (Romans 11:5-6). If by works, then Christ died needlessly (Galatians 2:21).

Yes, as James says, faith without works is dead----BUT genuine faith cannot be dead. True faith believes what Jesus says (John 11:25; 1 John 5:13), it relies upon His righteousness (Philippians 3:9).

Now, here's the point of what I'm saying, Tom: the works I do for the Lord, are a RESULT of my salvation----not the cause of salvation (see John 6:28-29). That's a big difference between what born-again Christians believe and what Mormons believe (and for that matter, what Catholics believe).

In my Bible and yours, Christ says that we ought to be careful about judging others, that we are judged by the fruits of our lives whether good or evil. 'Neither doth a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit." (Luke 6:37-46). Of course, Christ never suggested that we refrain from dividing true beliefs from false beliefs. The whole Sermon on the Mount from which we get the "judge not" passage was itself about judging between the true understanding of God's requirements and the false requirements of the religion of the Pharisees. In many places we are, in fact, commanded to discern truth from error.

Correct me if I'm wrong (and I want to say this respectfully), but isn't a major point of your letter to tell me that I'm not quite right in my understanding of the Bible and am not acting biblically? So you yourself are critiquing me---something I think is fine to do, yet you are saying that such a thing shouldn't be done, that we shouldn't judge others.

Likewise the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is dedicated to spreading the gospel message and caring for the spiritual and temporal needs of all of Gods children. Do you have any idea of how many millions of tons of food and clothing are provided by the Church, every year, to people in need around the world. Or is there any stronger ally in strengthening traditional family values and marriage than the Church? You may be aware of the millions of dollars spent by the church in recent years to battle against same sex marriage laws in Hawaii, Alaska and California. If you want to hear about something that's really exciting you ought to find out about a new program called the 'Perpetual Education Fund".

I admire many things about the people in the Mormon church. I even mention this in my introduction to the book. And I heard about the "Perpetual Education Fund" when I watched the last Mormon conference on cable television. But, the issue here isn't all the nice things the LDS church does, it's about doctrine, and the message of salvation. This is very important. If doctrine and the issues of salvation weren't important, then you could say that people who belong to the Satanic Church are just as correct as anyone else. Joseph Smith thought the doctrinal differences between biblical Christianity and what became Mormonism were important enough to start a new religious movement over.

I have here in my office 8 different Bible translations, you state, as do all who profess your brand of Christianity, that the Bible is pure and un-defiled and contains all the word of God that anyone needs to come to Christ. But, which of all the many translations fits that criteria. Having read them I find considerable differences in language from one translation to the next, in many cases these are not insignificant differences.

I'm aware of the differences between translations, but I don't think the best ones are saying anything essentially different. I say, the "best ones" because there are some translations that have been manipulated (such as the "Inspired Translation of the Bible" also known as the "Inspired Revision, or the Joseph Smith version; as well there's the Jehovah's Witnesses' New World Translation, which has completely distorted the gospel truth by putting in their own personal doctrines).

If the Bible is so perfectly constructed, so clearly understood why are there so many different Christian churches.

Not all churches that claim to be Christian are truly Christian.

I have to ask the same question of Mormons, why are there so many different sects of Mormonism?

There are the Fundamentalist groups that say they are the true Mormon church (fulfilling the commandment Joseph Smith put forth regarding polygamy).

The Reorganized church, two schismatic groups left RLDS (now known as The Community of Christ) say they are the true Mormon Church.

There are many more sects: The Church of Christ with the Elijah Message (Blue Springs, Missouri); The Church of Jesus Christ (Pittsburgh); The Church of the Firstborn of the Fullness of Times (Mexico--now defunct); The Cutlerites (Independence, Missouri); The Pentecostal Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (based in Louisiana; they reject the Doctrines and Covenants); The Restored Church (also claimed Joseph Smith founded the church); The True Living Church of Jesus Christ of the Last Days (they believed that the fullness of the Gospel by Joseph Smith had been corrupted; this group split into two groups in late 1994)

Which church is truly founded on the prophetic ministry of Smith? You can't simply go by numbers, because traditional Christianity is much bigger than any Mormon group. Besides, the group that became the LDS church was once quite small.

I've spoken with people from many different churches, Presbyterian, Baptist, Methodist, Church of God, Church of the Nazarene, Pentecostal, Church of Christ, Episcopal, Catholic, Greek Orthodox, Russian Orthodox, Lutheran, Seventh Day Adventists, Jehovah's Witnesses and lots and lots of so called non denominational folks and Evangelical Christians from across the spectrum. See, they all have a little different take on the Bible.

If you have spoken about doctrine to all these people, you would come to quickly realize that some of them overlap in the most important beliefs while others do not. Some of them are so "out there" that they can't even be categorized as "Christian" whatsoever----especially the Jehovah's Witnesses who completely reject the Deity of Christ.

The challenge is to interpret the Bible accurately and not make it say something it doesn't. I don't think it is as simple as depending on someone we take to be a living prophet, as Mormons typically do. The Bible complemented the Bereans for examining the teachings of even the Apostle Paul to see if what he was saying was biblical! (Acts 17:11).

The non denominational churches found a way to stay above the doctrinal fray by stating they simply teach the Bible. But which one was that? The Contemporary English Version, the Good News Bible, The Revised Standard or the New American Standard, (I believe that's the one you like).

There are several in your above list, that do teach the Bible rather than bring in man-made doctrines and rules.

The Mormon Church only adheres to the King James Version because it is "the best version translated by the power of man."

Now, this is interesting due to the fact your own prophet, Joseph Smith, at the command of God (D&C 73:3-4; 124:89-90) "corrected" the King James Bible and put back in all the "plain and precious truths" that Mormons believe were taken out. The version is called the "Inspired Translation of the Bible" also known as the "Inspired Revision, or the J.S. version).

So, why aren't you or the Mormon church using your prophet's Bible? The Reorganized Church does...they publish it and sell it. So, why not use it? The official answer is that Joseph did not finish it, but why don't they use what they believe he did finish? I'm not talking about putting a few verses that Joseph translated in the back of a King James Bible (In any case, Joseph said in his own writings that he did finish his translation work.)

My oldest son is working on his masters degree in Jewish Studies at Emory University in Atlanta, he thinks the Oxford Study Bible is excellent and appears to have less denominational bias. The other night I spoke briefly with a small group of 'Christians" standing with protest signs in front of the LDS temple in Mesa Arizona. They stated emphatically that the King James version of the bible was the only correct version.

Yes, there are people (including many in your church) who do believe the King James Version is the only correct version. I don't believe this, and I personally think this is a minor issue. The real issue is the Bible's message, which I believe is the same in those versions you mentioned.

My point is not to lesson the sacred nature of the Bible but rather to suggest that there are many doctrinal differences in the Christian community,

Yes there are doctrinal differences in the "Christian" community, but too, there are doctrinal difference in the Mormon community (as I mentioned above).

and that the Bible is hardly a clear and unambiguous voice for doctrinal teachings. (How many hundreds of Christian denominations are there?) A few hundred years ago Christians were killing each other over those differences.

As I mentioned, there are quite a few Mormon sects. Not long ago, Brigham Young offered blood atonement for those who left the church as a way to save their soul. The LDS has changed its practice on admitting blacks to the priesthood, and its views of polygamy. And if you read Joseph Smith's diary and other documents it's quite clear that the current church interprets the Word of Wisdom quite differently from Smith himself, who wrote that he had a beer, and on more than one occasion drank wine as a prophet, and years after he wrote the Word of Wisdom command (by the way, I could go on, but I think this is enough to show that there are serious issues regarding Mormon doctrine and practice.)

Not that many years ago a 'good Christian" from Missouri hacked my 3rd great grandfather to death with a corn scythe, he was 68 years old. He and hundreds of others were murdered and tens of thousands driven from their homes and their property stolen because the 'Mormon" brand of Christianity didn't conform to the Bible" definition of their neighbors.

Yes, this "good Christian" considered himself a Christian because he thought of himself as "good." This does not make him a true Christian. I am sorry to hear about your 3rd great grandfather. Let's be fair to history. There were murderous acts also done by Mormons. An objectiveĖ-as opposed to a merely "faith promoting" view of persecution of Mormons--shows that there is plenty of blame to go around. You might want to go back and read the diaries, newspaper articles, and letters written at the time by both Mormons and non-Mormons.

By the way, many of the sources you quote as 'credible"contemporaries of Joseph Smith were the murders, rapists and terrorists apposing the church at that time. Hardly unbiased sources of historical perspective.

Please, provide for me documentation. Everything I say in my book is documented. I would appreciate you to do the same.

It's so easy to say such things as people being murderers, rapists, and terrorists. Please go back to the Hurlbut, the Demining, the Kelly, and the Howe affidavits and show me the names of those you think were murders, rapists, and terrorists.

Let me share with you what Joseph Smith says, from his journal, about Dr. Hurlbut (a Mormon who would eventually leave the church):

Doctor Philastus Hurlbut came to my house. I conversed with him considerably about the Book of Mormon. He was ordained to the office of an Elder in this Church under the hand of Sidney Rigdon on the 18th of March in the same year above written. According to my best recollection, I heard him say, in the course conversing with him, that if he ever became convinced that the Book of Mormon was false, he would be the cause of my destruction..." (March 13, 1833)

I guess Hurlbut came to discover the BOM wasn't true, because he left the church. He was quite upset over what he was seeing Smith doing (such as marrying many women) that this may have been one of his intentions for getting affidavits. I still do not see how people's own personal experiences with Joseph Smith could be discounted simply because Hurlbut didn't like the church.

Joseph wrote of Hurlbut: "The Lord shall destroy him who has lifted his heel against me, even that wicked man Docter (sic) P. Hurlbut (April 1, 1834).

Joseph also wrote, "Also that I may prevail against the wicked Hurlbut and that he be put to shame." (April 7, 1834)

It's obvious that Joseph didn't like Hurlbut. How did Hurlbut, or any of the others I documented commit rape, murder or become terrorists? Some of those who became the church's worst enemies had at one time been trusted and powerful men in the Mormon church (cf. Bennet, Law).

So again, provide for me documentation that my sources were rapists, murderers and terrorists.

Today you can be a member of about any denomination, with a few exceptions, and nobody spends the time and energy to write books about where you've gone wrong. How you're founding members were degenerates and frauds, and all you're doctrines are false.

TRUTH IS TOO IMPORTANT. If I can help one person understand the truth on the important issues I deal with, then for me it's well worth all the effort and time I have put into this.

Again, Tom, you are criticizing me because I wrote a book to show your doctrines to be false. Yet, you have no problem with Joseph Smith criticizing Christians when he says that their churches are "all wrong" (J.S. 2:19), and that "all their creeds were an abomination" (J.S. 2:19).

Joseph also says of Christians (as if coming from the Lord), "they draw near to me with their lips but their hearts are far from me, they teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof" (J.S. 2:19).

To repeat myself, why is it okay for the Mormon church to say that Christianity is "wrong," it's an abomination" and that Christians themselves only have a "form of godliness" but it's terrible for me to write about the differences between Mormonism and Biblical Christianity?

I was wondering, in that regard are Episcopalians considered Christians? Or have they fallen off the accepted list? Maybe just east coast Episcopalians are apostate? I suppose it's an individual thing depending on their personal relationship with the Savior. We wouldn't want to judge them as a group that wouldn't be Christian.

Your own church judges who are God's true children; who will be the ones to get into what you call the Celestial Kingdom; who are the "honorable" verses who are the wicked...as well who are the "sons of perdition." Such teachings are not hard to find. You can find all this and more in your Mormon theology book called, "Principles and Practices of the Restored Gospel" by Mormon theologian Victor Ludlow. According to Mormon doctrine, some are going to be accepted and others will fall short.

I have been a member of the Church all of my life, I was a missionary as a young man. (By the way, be gentle with these young missionaries. They generally have a simple but rock solid faith in the message of the Church but they are not paid ministers, and they are not trained to do battle with the likes of you. ).

I'm sure you will be glad to know I am quite gentle with the young missionaries (and I take it a compliment that you think I am more than a match for their training). I'm not paid to do this either. It seems to come as a shock to everyone that there really is no money in writing a book either. So, to make it clear to you, I have not written a book on Mormonism to make money. If I was interested in money, I could do many other things. But, money isn't my interest---the human soul is.

Anyway, when missionaries come to my door, I give them a smile, invite them in, and then we usually have some great discussions. All very friendly (except for one episode...the missionary didn't like the fact I quoted Galatians 1:8). But I have to be honest with them and share what I think Scripture says on important issues. If I really care about them, how could I do less?

Honestly, what would you say if I told you that the Mormon missionaries who came to me are missing something of eternal significance but I didn't share it with them? I would be unloving, of course.

I have held many positions of leadership within the local wards and stakes that I have lived in. I have sat in meetings with the General Authorities of the Church, I have studied the scriptures and writings of Church leaders from the beginning, and the Church you describe is barely recognizable.

Then I suppose you do not read as much Mormon literature as you say you do. Everything I say regarding your doctrine comes directly from all Mormon sources.

If you are stating that I am misleading others---GIVE ME SOME PROOF, give me some documentation.

It sounds like you are reading mostly, or only, the things that are considered faith promoting. BUT IS THAT REAL HISTORY? Eternal things are at stake here. Don't you want to look at everything?

You think you know what we believe, but you don't. You ran right over the top of it looking for what you wanted to find.

Give me one error I made in your doctrine. PLEASE. BACK UP WHAT YOU SAY.

I think what really bothers you and others who have devoted so much time and energy to straightening out 'Mormons" is that we draw people to us who recognize that God may have something to say today and that you folks who went to divinity school may not have all the answers.

No, that's not it at all. I'm concerned about people missing out on truth.

Frankly, what bothers me is when intelligent people stake their eternity on something they don't check out thoroughly.

It bothers me when a church discourages its members from reading the writings of its own prophet. I can't remember the last Mormon I met who read Joseph's diaryĖmost of them don't even know he wrote one.

It bothers me when church members don't even know that there have been hundreds upon hundreds of changes in the Book of Mormon itself.

It bothers me when a church works so hard at covering up their past. Did you know that only certain people in the church historian's office have access to some of the "sensitive" material held by the church that concerns its own past? That, historians who want to see some of the material held by the church have to be approved in an interview and even then sign a statement that they will not use the work in a way that the church doesn't approve? I can't think of another religious organization that works so hard to keep control of its history. The Mark Hoffman forgeries were an example of how eager the church is to control documents (and if the church leaders are always so in touch with the Spirit, how were they so easily fooled by simple forgeries? A lot more is at stake here than money for forgeries).

As the Lord Himself said, "Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide, and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and many are those who enter by it. For the gate is small, and the way is narrow that leads to life, and few are those who find it. Beware of the false prophets who come to you..." (Matthew 7:14-15) .

Please understand, it's my concern for truth and people that motivates me to spend my time on these issues. It's my concern for you that motivates me to spend my time writing back to you.

For every Latter Day Saint who leaves the Church to become a so-called Christian, there are ten thousand coverts to take their place. And they join the church not because we ran somebody else's church down but, because of the power of our message.

I have talked to many, many Mormons. When I have asked each one of them why they are in the church, most do not say it's because of the message---it's that they joined the church for the activities and the like. Now, from missionaries, I get some who say they were born in the church, and several have told me that they like the Mormon message of Heaven. But, just because you like something, it doesn't mean it's true.

Tom, with all due respect, I disagree with your statement that the church doesn't run down other churches. Let's again go back to Joseph Smith's First Vision....of all churches being "wrong" and an "abomination." You must agree to this Vision before being baptized...before being recognized as a true member of the church.

I said more than I thought I would. I hope you don't find this letter too long to read, I tried to be as brief as possible. Let me just say this in closing. I am a Christian, I believe in the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, I accepted him many years ago as my Savior. I look to Him as my ONLY hope for salvation. I love him, I have a person relationship with him. I have felt his spirit many times in my life and he has been my strength in times of deep trial.

I am glad you look to Christ for salvation. If you look to Him alone for salvation, as you say, then it seems you do not hold to the Mormon message.

In your Mormon book, Doctrines of Salvation, it states that there is "NO SALVATION WITHOUT ACCEPTING JOSEPH SMITH...no man can reject that testimony without incurring the most dreadful consequences, for he cannot enter the kingdom of God. It is, therefore, the duty of every man to investigate that he may weigh this matter carefully and know the truth." (Doctrines of Salvation, 1954 ed., 1:189-90, upper case in the original).

Even Journal of Discourses shows us we must "believe in Joseph" (JD 6:229).

So, according to the Mormon Church, all of us who reject Joseph Smith, will not go to the Heaven where God the Father is. I disagree with this theology. The Bible says that we are to accept Jesus Christ only (Acts 4:10-12; Acts 16:30-31).

Likewise I know that the Book of Mormon is the word of God. It is as important to me as the Bible. It is a powerful witness of the divinity of Jesus Christ, and his love for all of Our Father in Heavens Children. I also know that I have a loving Father in Heaven who knows and cares for each of his children.

Yes, and the loving Father in Heaven wants everyone to know truth, believe the truth, and act upon the truth. He wants us to believe in Him properly. Jesus Christ said that the Father is "spirit" (John 4:24), and we are to worship Him in "spirit and truth" (John 4:24)

Heavenly Father must be terribly upset to know there are people who are worshiping Him as having flesh and bones, and have other false notions about him, such as Him physically impregnating Mary--as Brigham Young and others have taught. Brigham Young also taught that the Father is really Adam..I'm sure you already know about this since you've studied a lot of Mormon documents.

I also testify that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God as real as any in the Bible. With a message relevant for us today. I love him while acknowledging that he was a mortal man prone to all the weaknesses of our species, (see Moses, Abraham, Jonah etc.).

The message the "prophet" gave is completely opposite to the Bible's message. Joseph Smith gave the message exaltation; the Bible gives us the message of humility; Joseph gave a message on how to be gods. He also the message on having plural wives; on the fact that Jesus and Lucifer are brothers. He taught a lot more that completely contradicts the Bible's message, such as falsely giving us the message of when Christ would return...does this not make Joseph a false prophet? The Bible says that if a prophet gives just one false prophecy, then he is a false prophet...he is not speaking for the Lord (see Deuteronomy 18:20-22).

I would firmly prefer trusting in the Bible, over Joseph Smith.

If you believe that you must accept Joseph Smith to get into heaven, then you aren't trusting in Christ alone for your salvation.

But despite his human frailties he was a devoted and loving servant of the Savior and Our Father in Heaven, he lived an exemplary life and sealed his testimony and his work with his blood and died as a martyr.

Just before dying as a "martyr" he [Joseph Smith] killed three men. It's a dangerous thing to trust anyone other than Jesus for your salvation. If you say you are trusting in Christ alone, then may I ask, Could you walk away from believing in Joseph?

In truth we have far more in common than you might care to believe.

Most likely, our political and moral views are very much aligned.

We both believe in Jesus Christ as Savior and Redeemer of mankind.

Yes, we both believe that Jesus is the Savior and Redeemer of mankind, but we each believe in a different Jesus. The Mormon Jesus puts a great burden upon you in order to be saved.

We both believe that it is only through His atoning sacrifice that we may be saved and that salvation comes as a direct result of our faith in him.

If you truly believe the above, then...

Can you say you don't need the Mormon church to help you get to Heaven? You only need Jesus.

Can you say you don't need the priesthood? You only need Jesus.

Can you say you don't need the Church ordinances? You only need Jesus.

Can you say you don't need the Mormon baptism? You only need Jesus.

Can you say these things?

True we differ as to the nature of the Godhead, and in some of the specifics of the afterlife, but why should these points of doctrine diminish our faith in Jesus Christ?

Simply because, the particulars you are speaking about are serious. Jesus wants people to believe in Him in truth--we are not to have false ideas about Him. He even questioned his apostles on what people were saying about Him (Matthew 22:42).

We are to worship God in truth (John 4:24). And, we are not to pursue personal exaltation. That's reserved to the One who, rather than exalted Himself, humbled Himself (Philippians 2:8).

Perhaps the hardest thing for me to accept about Mormonism is the idea that we can one day be a god, that we are even co-equal with God (D&C 88:106-107). I believe this is in profound disagreement with Scripture.

Remember the words of Paul in 1 Corinthians 1: 11-24 that we who are believers in Christ should not contend against one another.

If you really believe the above verse, might you want to show this verse to your own church? Let's not forget. The Mormon Church was founded because all other forms of Christianity were supposedly an abomination to God.

Your church states that it is "the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth (D&C 1:30).

Your church states that it's the only organization authorized by the Almighty to preach the gospel and administer to ordinances of salvation, and that it's the only Church which has the power to save (Mormon Doctrine, 1977, ed., p. 136).

Is it so wrong for me to disagree with the above?

Is it so wrong for me to show where I believe your doctrine is wrong? Your missionaries deal with doctrine. What's the difference between what I am doing and what they are doing?

And, since you mentioned Paul, may I remind you of something else he said:

I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you, and want to DISTORT the gospel of Christ. But even though we, OR AN ANGEL FROM HEAVEN, should preach to you a gospel CONTRARY to that which we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel CONTRARY to that which you received, let him be accursed (Galatians 1:6-9).

The issue is not simply whether someone claims to have a vision from God, but whether it's BIBLICAL. That is what we have to ask about Mormon teaching.

Don't worry so much about Latter Day Saints, we'll be just fine.

WITH MUCH LOVE, I shall be praying that one day you too will become "Born-Again," just as Jesus says. Not, based upon Mormon baptism, but complete spiritual rejuvenation, where the Spirit of God will open your eyes, penetrate your heart, and convict your soul.

Pertaining to 1st John 3: 21- 24, as I look around me at other members of the church and I see people who have, 'confidence before God". Because we strive to keep his commandments and to believe in the Name of Jesus Christ. What more is required?

You are believing that the commandments will save you. That's putting requirements upon salvation. Paul the apostle says that the Law is a curse (see Galatians 3:10-13). Mankind cannot possibly keep all the Laws, hence his bondage (cf James 2:10....one sin, small or great, makes a man a sinner and brings him under condemnation).

Our righteousness cannot save us whatsoever (Ephesians 2:8-9). No amount of goodness is going to save us (Hebrews 11:6) . This is why we need the righteousness of Christ, rather than our own (Philippians 3:9).

True saving faith is believing what Jesus says. He says we're saved only through Him (John 11:25; 14:6). Even when some people asked Jesus, "What shall we do, so that we may work the works of God?" Jesus answered, "This is the work of God, that you BELIEVE in Him whom He has sent" (John 6:28-29). As you notice, Jesus did not say anything about commandments and other works.

Out of my love for Jesus, I obey His commandments---but I certainly don't abide by them to gain salvation! It's a free gift! (Ephesians 2:8-9).

Another difference is that you believe in a different Jesus and a different gospel.

So, you ask, what is required?------TRUTH, MY FRIEND, TRUTH! It shall set you free (John 8:32)

Tom, I hope nothing of what I have said sounds harsh. All that I say, I say in love and out of concern. You have taken the time to share your thoughts with me and I appreciate it. I hope it has been helpful for me to share some things with you.

Jesus loves you....and so do I.

Donna Morley

God Bless You and Best Regards,


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