From Baptist Preacher to Mormon Teacher
Springville: Cedar Fort (2015)
By Wain Myers
Reviewed by Eric Johnson
Former Christians who end up joining Mormonism are cherished in many Mormon circles. For those who once served as Christian leaders or pastors, this is doubly true. Intentional headhunting of Christian leaders by Latter-day Saints has been in vogue for many years. For example, in the late 1980s, a Mormon living in Arizona by the name of Darl Anderson realized that one of the greatest hindrances to the efforts of the Mormon missionaries was Christian ministers who were speaking out on Mormonism from their pulpits. Anderson concluded that he could “neutralize” what he called the “ground swell of anti‐Mormonism” in his area if he could only befriend these outspoken Christian leaders. He self‐published a book in 1992 titled Soft Answers to Hard Questions and began giving a lecture series to fellow members called “Win a Minister and Influence a Thousand.”
Anderson’s approach began with the assumption that Christian ministers do not understand the teachings of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter‐day Saints, but he did not hide the fact that the ultimate goal was to win the pastors (and possibly their flocks) to Mormonism. In his lecture he acknowledged, “Some LDS question the integrity of making friends with ministers while ‘out after their sheep’” (Win a Minister and Influence a Thousand lecture series, “Love Thy Minister Neighbor” (lecture notes, n.p., n.d., under the heading “Excuses”). Anderson came to be unofficially known in LDS circles as the “missionary to the ministers.” I found out during an early 2016 ministry trip in Arizona that this strategy continues today, as LDS leaders in that state have made a concerted effort to court Christian pastors under the banner of ecumenism. One Phoneix-area pastor explained to me how successful the local LDS leadership has been in convincing pastors to join this movement, though he is convinced this union does nothing but “neuter” the effectiveness of the churches that have been commissioned to be salt and light in the local community.
In 2012, former Christian pastor Tom Scott wrote a book where he told of his conversion from Protestant Christianity to Mormonism (It’s True: An Evangelical Pastor’s Journey to Truth in the Mormon Church). Scott made the speaking rounds throughout Utah, participating in book signings at places such as Costco warehouses as well as at LDS firesides. While he was readily accepted in Mormon circles, few apparently checked out the inconsistent details of his story. When I contacted those in Ohio who knew Scott personally, it became clear that he had not been completely forthright with the information that he shared in his book. Scott quickly faded from the scene and doesn’t appear to be promoting his story any longer. (Click here for this story.)
Wain Myers and his early history with Pentecostalism
Wain Myers is a black man who converted to Mormonism from Protestant Christianity in 1995. As stated in the title of his book (From Baptist Preacher to Mormon Teacher), Myers claims that he was a “Baptist preacher” who became a “Mormon teacher.” His spiritual story began at the age of 8 in 1977 when he described an “out-of-body experience” he had “that changed my young life and set me on a path that, relatively speaking, not many black people have taken.” While he was listening to a sermon given by a pastor, he went ahead “twenty years into the future where I saw myself preaching a sermon at the pulpit.”
His early experience with the divine came while he attended Pentecostal churches, including one in his youth that allowed young men to give “trial sermons.” If they were successful, they were given the title of “Reverend,” though no education was necessary. Myers described his experience when a person came under the influence of the Holy Ghost and began to scream for apparently no reason:
The only phrase that can accurately sum up how I, as a child, felt about his manifestation of the Holy Ghost is, This scared the H-E-double-hockey-sticks out of me! I wanted no part of what I was convinced was the devil or one of his demons taking over my body while under the influence of “the spirit.”
Myers came from a broken home with a mother who battled mental illness. She had nervous breakdowns once or twice a year, which he says scared him every time she experienced them. This, he writes, “created a deep desire in me to know God personally.” In fact, his mother encouraged Wain to read the Proverbs as written by Solomon. The young man was impressed with how many times Solomon referred to “my son.”
The more he read the Bible, Myers said, “the more I began to develop a relationship with my Heavenly Father. I began to talk to him regularly, and guess what? He talked to me too!” While Myers doesn’t claim that God spoke to him in an audible voice, he said he received regular heavenly messages in his mind. “His words simply flowed into my mind in response to my prayers,” he wrote. “I know they were His words because they were accompanied by the power of the Holy Ghost.” He kept this communication “secret,” glad he did so because otherwise he says he would have been ridiculed.
Myers claims plenty of occurrences where God personally communicated with him. However, he gives absolutely no indication that he seriously studied the Bible or was able to grasp its fundamental teachings. For instance, while he was serving in the United States military while stationed in Germany, Myers reports:
On a particular occasion, I was preparing to depart on a field maneuver and found myself in the PX (the Post Exchange store) gathering a few supplies to take with me. As I passed the magazine rack, I noticed a Bible sitting amongst the magazines. I thought it odd that a Bible would be there but decided to buy it so I could read it in the field. In spite of my good intentions, I found the Bible at the bottom of my duffle bag when I returned from the field—unread. I placed it on my nightstand and paid it no attention for a few weeks. On an otherwise ordinary night, I sat on my bed, peering out my window into the dark of night, when my Heavenly Father spoke to me. “You have the Bible you asked Me for,” He said. “Now go and preach My word!” My Father was reminding me of the promise I’d made to Him with my mom several years earlier. He spoke to me again: “You have the Bible you asked Me for. Now go preach My word!”
Myers ended up becoming a preacher in the Pentecostal church, presenting his first sermon on 1 Sam. 15:22. He explains,
That sermon went well and was the first of many I delivered. It was official: I was a preacher. The hard part was over. Or so I thought.
Myers admits that there was a pride factor owning a fancy title that allowed him to speak in front of a group of people. He said, “As a preacher in the Pentecostal church, my title was minister. Minister Myers!” It didn’t take long before there was a major disagreement between the Pentecostal church where he preached in Germany and a local apostolic church. One day the apostolic pastor came to the home of the Pentecostal pastor and the two got into an emotional argument, fighting over which church could rightfully claim Myers as its own. This so upset Myers, he said, that he decided to pray to God about which church he should provide his services.
…I needed to find a way to decide which of them I should align myself with. I decided to seek my Father’s guidance about which church to attend. I’d read in the Bible that God is not the author of confusion and that if I asked, it would be given me; if I sought, I would find; and if I knocked, He would open.
Although he supposedly didn’t know the story of Mormonism’s founder Joseph Smith at this time, his experience turned out to be just like Smith’s—though he gives no indication that he even knew about the Mormon founder before this time. According to his story, Myers
kneeled at my bedside that same night and asked my Father which of the two churches I should attend. “Neither,” He replied. Not exactly the answer I was expecting, so I waited to hear more. “Neither of those churches has the truth. They’re both wrong.”
When Joseph Smith supposedly asked God in the Sacred Grove about which church he should join in 1820, Smith was told that he
must join none of them, for they were all wrong; and the Personage who addressed me said that all their creeds were an abomination in his sight; that those professors were all corrupt; that: “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.” (Joseph Smith-History 1:19).
Could stories so similiar be coincidental? Or can we assume that Myers’s story morphed into a Mormon-like experience as time went on? He reports the outcome:
(God’s) answer came quickly and clearly; I was to inform Pastor Clemons that I would not be attending his church any longer and that I needed to wait until I returned to the United States for the Lord to lead me to His true Church. I obeyed my Father and sought out Pastor Clemons the next day.
After he told Pastor Clemons the news and left the church,
then I felt the finger of the Lord lift my head up by the chin as He spoke to me. “My son, I am pleased with you. You did what I told you to do. Peace be unto you for following my instructions.”
This account begs the question: if God had been pleased with Myers leaving the Pentecostal church, then why didn’t God direct Myers to the Mormon church rather than to the Baptist church? If the communication that He had with God is supposed to determine truth, then has Myers ever wondered that maybe, down the line, he will be told by God how Mormonism is also wrong? This idea of personal communication can be quite tricky.
Myers’s journey to the Baptist church
When Myers returned home in the United States, he came into contact with the True Vine Missionary Baptist Church in Dayton, Ohio, which at that time was pastored by Rev. J.A. Preston. It wasn’t long before Preston convinced Myers to become a Baptist “preacher.” One of the reasons Myers was attracted to this position was the financial rewards associated with it:
I started getting paid to preach, which was a game-changer for me. I felt bad about getting paid to preach. It felt wrong. Money took the purity away from what I was doing, but I took it anyway. It felt like dirty money, but I needed the cash, so I found a way to justify my actions.
He was soon preaching at other churches and began living a
lifestyle that was contrary to the principles by which a preacher should conduct himself. Before I knew it, I was so deeply involved in unrighteous living that I no longer felt worthy to preach, but I continued anyway. This made everything about being a preacher worse than I could imagine. I was a hypocrite, and I knew it. I was off course, and it wasn’t pretty. I started carrying a .357 snub-nosed pistol for protection because I was going places I shouldn’t have been going, and I felt unsafe. I don’t know how much of a real threat there was, but in my mind, I needed to carry a weapon. I also began entertaining thoughts of suicide. Things had gotten so bad that I found myself driving around one night in search of a spot to end my hypocrisy with one pull of the .357’s trigger. I didn’t want this kind of lifestyle. How did things get so bad so quickly? I was supposed to be a man of God!
Despite being a “Baptist preacher,” Myers admits that everything he did was hypocritical. He may have been a “Baptist preacher,” but he was not a “moral” Baptist preacher. His personal life was in complete shambles:
To make matters worse, my marriage was falling apart and we did nothing to save it. My wife and I eventually separated, and the child support was a huge financial burden. If it weren’t for the money I received from preaching, I don’t know how I would have survived. I felt trapped in the life I’d built for myself and knew that I was cheating God. There seemed to be no way out of the hold I’d dug for myself. Things at church started getting bad too. Reverend Preston benched me, to borrow a sports term, and didn’t tell me about it….My life was a mess.
After five years, his preaching days in this Baptist church were over.
With this history serving as a background, I’d like to take a closer look at Myers’s story. As I read this book, I discovered seven major inconsistencies that I believe shed doubt on Myers’s testimony and his experience with the true God of the Bible. My purpose is not to attack the author personally. However, the following inconsistencies are quite problematic to me.
Inconsistency Number 1 in Myers’s story: A lack of understanding of the Bible
One thing I find extremely bothersome in Myers’s story is how little he seemed to grasp the fundamentals of the biblical story and Christian doctrine. Much of this seems to come from a lack of reading and study of God’s Word. For instance, Myers explains how he bought a Bible while he was serving overseas in the military, although he admitted that he never read it. Even though God knew how apathetic Myers was to His Word, God supposedly told him to “preach My word.” This lack of preparedness would be akin to a basketball coach rewarding a lazy player who sloughed off in practice by moving him to a starting role. Myers’s attitude certainly contradicts the Bible, which states in 2 Timothy 2:15 that believers are required to “study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needed not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” In Acts 17, the Berean investigators were considered to be nobler than the Thessalonians because they compared Paul’s words with the Old Testament scripture. And 2 Timothy 3:15-16 says that God’s Word is inspired and profitable to equip the believer to “preach My word.”
The connotation in the book’s title is that Myers was a faithful preacher while he was part of the Missionary Baptist movement. Yet did he even hold to the essential teachings of the denomination to which he belonged? According to the Missionary Baptist website,
We believe that the Holy Bible was written by men divinely inspired, and is a perfect treasure of heavenly instruction; that it has God for its author, salvation for its end, and truth without any mixture of error for its matter; that it reveals the principles by which God will judge us; and therefore is, and shall remain to the end of the world, the true center of Christian union, and the supreme standard by which all human conduct, creeds, and opinions should be tried.
Although he doesn’t go into much detail about his belief system during the five years he served as a “Baptist minister,” it appears that Myers may not have grasped what his denomination taught about at least one important doctrine. In a YouTube video that he produced titled “Mormon Meets Evangelicals” (posted on July 17, 2015), Myers had a cordial 15-minute conversation with MRM’s Aaron Shafovaloff. Toward the end of the video when Shafovaloff asked him about significant doctrinal difference between Mormonism and Christianity. Myers explained,
Being on both sides of the fence, I would say the main difference that I noticed would be how we view Christ or the Trinity. The Trinity, that’s the major difference. When I was a Baptist preacher, I taught that God was the Father, God was the Son, and God was the Holy Spirit, so that they were all one being. As I’ve grown in the grace and knowledge of the church, I know that those are three separate beings, one in purpose.
Myers’s description of Christianity’s doctrine of the Trinity is corrupted. After all, the Trinity does not teach the three Persons of the Trinity are “one being.” Rather, the doctrine is described as “Three Persons” comprising one God. According to the official Missionary Baptist articles of faith, the Trinity is certainly an essential part of this church’s belief system:
We believe that there is one, and only one, living and true God, an infinite, intelligent Spirit, whose name is JEHOVAH, the Maker and Supreme Ruler of heaven and earth; inexpressibly glorious in holiness, and worthy of all possible honor, confidence, and love; that i[n] the unity of the Godhead there are three persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost; equal in every divine perfection, and executing distinct but harmonious offices in the great work of redemption.
While the Trinity is incomprehensible—meaning that this doctrine cannot be fully grasped by the human mind—this does not make it untrue. Although the word “Trinity” (the Latin words Tri and Unity conflated) is not found in the Bible, the concept of this teaching is certainly there. The basic concept of the Trinity can be summarized in the following points:
- The existence of one God (Deut. 6:4; Mark 12:23)
- The deity of each member of the Trinity is affirmed. For example, each member participated in the creation of the world (Gen. 1:1; Gen. 1:2; John 1:3) as well as the resurrection of Jesus (John 2:19; Acts 3:15; Rom. 8:11)
- The Trinity is eternal—there never has been a time when any member of the Trinity was not God
- The function of one member of the Trinity may be subordinate to the others at a particular time, but this does not mean that He is inferior in essence. For example, though He was in very essence God, Jesus humbled Himself to become a man and even was obedient to death on a cross. Yet it is at the name of Jesus that every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord (Phil. 2:5-11)
There are good definitions of the Trinity. According to the Athanasian Creed,
We worship one God in trinity, and trinity in unity, neither confounding the persons nor dividing the substance [essence].
Christian apologist James White defines the Trinity this way:
Within the One Being that is God, there exist eternally three coequal and coeternal Persons, namely, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit (The Forgotten Trinity, p. 26).
In contrast to these definitions, Myers apparently taught that the three Persons of the Trinity were “one being” as well as “one in purpose.” It appears that Myers may be repeating Apostolic teaching (remember, he had been involved in Pentecostal circles for more than the first half of his life and also the time when he was known as “Minister”) by advocating a “Modalistic” (or “Sabellian”) view of the Trinity. According to this heresy, there is one God in existence who reveals Himself in three modes: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. Hence, the Father’s role gives way to Jesus in the New Testament, and today, the person of the Holy Spirit is revealed. This interpretation is not the same as the orthodox view of the Trinity.
If Myers believed what he described in the video, he would have been in direct contradiction to the Missionary Baptist article of faith, the very denomination for which he once preached! As the Missionary Baptist website explains, there is “unity of the Godhead” yet “there are three persons” (Father, Son, and Holy Ghost). They are “equal in every divine perfection” yet have “distinct but harmonious offices.” This is a concise definition of the orthodox teaching of the Trinity, yet it apparently was not believed by Myers. What he describes as the Trinity is nothing more than a straw man logical fallacy. That is, he has created an absurd view of the Trinity that is easy to defeat. His version is just not accurate to the authentic teaching of Christianity. I fully expect Myers—as a Latter-day Saint—would disagree today with something as basic and essential as the nature of God and the Trinity. However, Myers must not have understood this basic teaching while he was a “Baptist preacher.” How could someone who didn’t teach a proper view of God’s nature have been considered a “good” Baptist preacher?
For more information on the Trinity, visit here.
Today, Myers is a Latter-day Saint, so I know he doesn’t agree with other Missionary Baptist doctrines. He doesn’t describe many doctrines in his book, but I am left to wonder which of these he might not have taught properly during his time in the Baptist church, including:
ARTICLE III. OF THE FALL OF MAN: “We believe that man was created in holiness, under the law of his Maker; but by voluntary transgression fell from that holy and happy state; in consequence of which all mankind are now sinners, not by constraint but choice.”
The doctrine of original sin is rejected by Mormon leaders. Second Nephi 2:25 says that “Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy.” According to Mormonism, this “fall” was considered a positive step for humanity. According to Sterling Sill, who was the assistant to the Twelve Apostles,
Adam fell, but he fell in the right direction. He fell toward the goal… Adam fell, but he fell upward (“The Fall of Man Still Goes On,” Church News, July 31, 1965, p. 7. Ellipsis mine).
Concerning salvation, the Missionary Baptist articles of faith explain:
ARTICLE IV. OF THE WAY OF SALVATION: “We believe that the salvation of sinners is wholly of grace.”
ARTICLE V. OF JUSTIFICATION: “We believe that the great gospel blessing which Christ secures to such as believe in him is justification; that justification includes the pardon of sin, and the promise of eternal life on principals of righteousness that it is bestowed, not in consideration of [any] works of righteousness which we have done, but solely through faith in the Redeemer’s blood; by virtue of which faith his perfect righteousness is freely imputed to us of God; that it brings us into a state of most blessed peace and favor with God, and secures every other blessing needful for time and eternity.”
ARTICLE VII. OF GRACE IN REGENERATION: “We believe that in order to be saved, sinners must be regenerated, or born again; that regeneration consists in giving a holy disposition to the mind; that it is effected in a manner above our comprehension by the power of the Holy Spirit, in connection with divine truth, so as to secure our voluntary obedience to the gospel; and that its proper evidence appears in the holy fruits of repentance, and faith, and newness of life.”
In Mormonism, salvation (and grace in particular) provides a resurrection for all people born on this earth. Unlike what the Missionary Baptist denomination teaches, Mormonism says that complete obedience is required. Two different LDS Church manuals state:
We are saved by the power of the atonement of Jesus Christ. We must, however, come unto Christ on His terms in order to obtain all the blessings that He freely offers us. We come unto Christ by “doing all we can do” to remember Him, keep our covenants with Him, and obey His commandments (see D&C 20:77; see also Abraham 3:25) (Book of Mormon Seminary Student Study Guide, 2000, p. 53).
The Atonement of Jesus Christ assures each of us that we will be resurrected and live forever. But if we are to live forever with our families in Heavenly Father’s presence, we must do all that the Savior commands us to do. This includes being baptized and confirmed and receiving the ordinances of the temple (Gospel Principles, 2009, p. 233).
Again, I have no idea what Myers believed and preached while he was a Missionary Baptist, as this information is not available in his book. But if he didn’t comprehend the Trinity, I wonder what else he didn’t properly understand. The Missionary Baptist articles of faith appear to be consistent with historical biblical teaching. To disagree with this denomination’s teachings on vital issues of the Christian faith is nothing less than heresy.
Inconsistency Number 2 in Myers’s story: A lack of training for the ministry
While he does take great care not to call himself a Baptist “minister” or “pastor,” Myers does describe himself as a former “Baptist preacher.” Because “minister” and “pastor” are typically considered to be synonymous with “preacher” in most denominations, how many readers (especially Mormons) would assume that Myers must have served full-time in the Christian ministry? When I saw the title to the book, I too assumed that Myers must have been a Baptist pastor. The title of the books practically demands this assumption. Please understand that I am licensed by a Baptist denomination and received my Master’s of Divinity (M.Div.) from a Baptist seminary. Of course, there are different types of Baptists out there, yet despite my familiarity with many of these, I have never heard anyone distinguish between a Baptist pastor/minister and a “Baptist preacher.” And despite the fact that I have guest preached in a number of Baptist churches, I would never call myself a “Baptist preacher.” My point? It is confusing to use the term “Baptist preacher” in the title as well as throughout the book, giving a mistaken impression that Myers was a pastor in good standing.
As far as his training, Myers never attended any Bible college or seminary. He apparently was not licensed or ordained as a minister, either with the Pentecostal or Baptist churches where he preached. Myers writes,
Interestingly, most Pentecostal preachers never got ordained, unless they wanted to become a pastor or a prison or hospital chaplain, or wanted to officiate at a wedding or funeral. This meant that many Pentecostal preachers were preaching to congregations across the country without having been ordained! This was the case when I was a Pentecostal preacher.
Don’t misunderstand my point. I am not suggesting that a formal education is a requirement to be a qualified preacher. And I would agree that not all pastors are effective preachers. At the same time, I generally think a good biblical education is very important for the average pastor who hopes to successfully preach God’s Word. In addition, many churches—including most Baptist denominations—require a certain amount of training or schooling (i.e. Bible college, seminary, etc.) for a candidate to become licensed or ordained. Myers may have preached in Baptist churches and was even paid for it, but how successful was he in teaching truth? And was his lack of training fodder for his eventual conversion to Mormonism? This possibility remains strong.
Inconsistency Number 3 in Myers’s story: The courting of another woman by a married man
Although Myers doesn’t give many details about his first wife–she is never named–we do find out that their marriage was rocky. Sometime in the mid-1990s, he left the paid preaching circuit and was driving a bus for a living. One day he saw a beautiful woman and claims that God began to speak to him about her. He describes this encounter with the divine:
As He had many times during my life, my Heavenly Father spoke to my mind, right there while I was turning the bus around. “That’s your wife,” He said. How could this be? I thought. I’m still married and in the middle of a divorce! “The wife you have now is the one you chose,” the Lord said to me. “This is the wife I chose for you!” Of the many conversations I had with my Father over the years, this one was the strangest. I mean, why would God talk to me in this manner while I was still married to another woman? I didn’t know why, but I figured that God’s ways are not man’s ways, so I rolled with it. I heard God’s voice enough in my life to know when He speaking to me.
Let’s unpack this carefully. First of all, while he certainly was in the process of a divorce, Myers was still legally married. The woman in whom he was interested was divorced. Both had children. The sheepish disbelief of Myers (“How could this be?”) shows that, down deep, he—a married man—understood how flirting with another woman was not morally right. The Bible is very clear that adultery is wrong. And as James 4:17 says, “So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.”
What’s truly bizarre is how Myers claims that God encouraged him to pursue this extramarital relationship because Myers apparently married the first wife without God’s approval. But let’s be serious. Are we really supposed to believe that God condoned a flirtatious encounter with a woman who was not Myers’s wife because “God’s ways are not man’s ways”? (Is this not one of the most misused biblical passages ever used for selfish and manipulative purposes?) Did God truly suggest that this second woman he encountered in an adulterous way would be “the wife I chose for you”? Even those who are not Christian would have a problem with this account. It all sounds very convenient! And yet we are left with nothing more than this man’s word that he was commissioned to do something specifically prohibited in the Bible. Jeremiah 17:9 says that “the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” Who should we believe? A man’s personal revelation? Or the Word of God?
The conversation between God and Myers continued:
Father, I thought, you’re gonna have to tell her she’s the one for me, because she don’t look like she wanna hear it from me! “Tell her she has a beautiful spirit,” He replied. What? That’s the best you got, Father? You’re trying to be my wingman and the best you can give me is to tell her she has a beautiful spirit? “Just tell her.” So I leaned closer to the young lady and said, “Excuse me, miss. You have a beautiful spirit.” She blushed, and her smile lit up the bus, and my heart. Yes, Lord! You always know what to say! I gushed heavenward in my mind.
At first glance, this account is completely ridiculous. Are we really supposed to believe that God is providing “pick-up” lines for a married man to use on a divorced woman? When the ruse works, Myers has the gall to congratulate God for helping him “always know what to say!” If I didn’t know that Myers was serious, I would have assumed he was pulling my leg. But this is not the case. In fact, Myers wants the reader to accept him at his word. But God is not a God of contradiction, and he clearly says how much he hates divorce (Mal. 2:16; Matt. 5:32)! I suggest that Myers’s account of how God instructed him to enter into an adulterous relationship ought to be questioned and even rejected.
Inconsistency Number 4 in Myers’s story: A convenient conversion
Sebrina, the divorced woman whom Myers courted, was a Latter-day Saint. Because Myers was no longer allowed to preach at the Missionary Baptist church, he found every excuse to miss church services. Soon, he says, he was forgotten by the parishioners at his former church. It didn’t take long before he was taking Mormon missionary lessons and being instructed in LDS teaching. Myers explains that, upon meeting the missionaries, “I shook their hands skeptically. You see, I was still an arrogant, know-it-all preacher.”
Myers was told about the First Vision account of Joseph Smith, who claimed to have seen both God the Father and Jesus. The missionaries told Myers about James 1:5—the same verse he had used years before while attending the Pentecostal church in Germany—and described the story of Joseph Smith. Myers explains,
Then my missionary read Joseph’s words: “Never did any passage of scripture come with more power to the heart of man than this did at this time to mine” (Joseph Smith-History 1:12). I was mesmerized as my missionary related how Joseph’s retreat into the woods in search of the truth differed from mine. . . . I was what missionaries call “golden.” I accepted the truth openly and wholeheartedly. I was the type of person full-time missionaries dream about finding on their missions.
Is it just a coincidence that James 1:5 was instrumental to Myers in the same way it was understood by Joseph Smith? Myers says this is when he began reading the Book of Mormon:
Father spoke to me confirming what I was reading was scripture. . . . When all is said and done, my testimony of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is founded in this simple truth: I know it’s true because God told me it’s true.
- Myers had burned his bridges with the two churches with which he was previously aligned: the Pentecostal and Missionary Baptist churches
- He met a woman—a Latter-day Saint—on the rebound
- He met with the Mormon missionaries
- He liked what he heard, especially the idea that it is possible for a person to have personal revelation
- He decided that the message of Mormonism is true
It all sounds so very convenient. Consider his testimony:
…I’ve been a member of several different churches during my life, most notably the Baptist church. None of the churches I attended has compared to the truth that I’ve found in the LDS Church. My introduction to the Church wasn’t the first time I’d felt my Father’s influence in my life, but what I felt when introduced to the gospel was more personal and powerful. It was like meeting up with my dearest friend in His house, where He has the most influence. You might say I’m in love under new management.
“Under new management”? It is true that Myers joined a completely new religion. But how can we be convinced that his new “manager” is the true Manager? And how can it be assumed that Myers had any type of relationship with the living God in the Bible before he met the Mormon girl and the missionaries? All indications point to someone being deceived and following what he–not God—wanted to be true.
Inconsistency Number 5 in Myers’s story: A complaint about Christian ministers getting paid
Earlier I had provided this quote by Myers about getting paid to preach. He wrote:
I started getting paid to preach, which was a game-changer for me. I felt bad about getting paid to preach. It felt wrong. Money took the purity away from what I was doing, but I took it anyway. It felt like dirty money, but I needed the cash, so I found a way to justify my actions.
Apparently this is a big issue for Myers. Regarding the fact that the LDS Church does not pay its bishops, he explained,
I especially love the fact that there are no paid clergy in the Church. Money and the clergy is a topic with which I’m all too familiar. I knew that accepting the world’s money for supposedly serving God as a Baptist preacher was wrong, and I still feel strongly about that.
Accepting money for preaching was “wrong”? Myers doesn’t provide much detail to his reasoning. Overall, his view remains inconsistent in several ways:
- The Bible says spiritual leaders should receive compensation.
Citing from the Pentateuch, 1 Timothy 5:17-18 says,
Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching. For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain,” and, “The laborer deserves his wages.”
According to Paul, elders (who were the leaders of the Christian church) should not be “muzzled” nor held back in the way of wages. The quotes come from the Pentateuch about the need for the priests to be taken care of in a financial sense. In a Christianity Today article titled “What the Bible says about paying your pastor?” theologian Wayne Grudem cited this passage and wrote:
The connection of verses 17 and 18 shows us how highly Paul valued the ministry of the gospel. He says, in effect, “So if even these deserve a fair wage, then how much is deserved by the one who works all the time in the highest and most important calling God gives? Certainly, his work is worth at least twice what other people get!”
If a minister is worthy of double pay, it’s a wonder why many Christian pastors only receive 50% of what they are worth! When we consider all that goes into pastoring a flock and preaching the Word, perhaps “double” is not so extreme after all. Paul did not specify exactly whose salary the pastor’s was to be double of, but it probably was not necessary in a society where the wage structure was much less complex than ours.
Other passages agree with the concept that Christian leaders should be paid. Second Corinthians 11:8-9 gives Paul’s position:
I robbed other churches, taking wages of them, to do you service. And when I was present with you, and wanted, I was chargeable to no man: for that which was lacking to me the brethren which came from Macedonia supplied: and in all things I have kept myself from being burdensome unto you, and so will I keep myself.
Notice how Paul took “wages” from other churches so that he could do the work with the Corinthians. In Philippians 4:15-18, he explained how he received “full payment” from the churches:
And you Philippians yourselves know that in the beginning of the gospel, when I left Macedonia, no church entered into partnership with me in giving and receiving, except you only. Even in Thessalonica you sent me help for my needs once and again. Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that increases to your credit. I have received full payment, and more. I am well supplied, having received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent, a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God.
Paul defended his right to accept payment in 1 Corinthians 9:14, and in 2 Corinthians 12:13, he told the Corinthian churches they were less favored because they didn’t participate in the support of Paul. Grudem wrote,
The Bible has many other provisions for being sure that only the right people enter and stay in the ministry. (For example, the personal qualifications listed in 1 Timothy 3:1-7, 5:19-22 and Titus 1:5-9.) Low pay, however, is simply not a requisite. Anyone who wants to argue that low pay is good for pastors must do so both without any clear scriptural support and in direct opposition to I Timothy 5:17.
Citing Galatians 6:6 (“Let the one who is taught the word share all good things with the one who teaches”), Grudem added,
The phrase “all good things” again includes more than money and possessions, but it does include at least that. Here is Paul’s provision for the spontaneous expression of the love that believers have for their pastor, a love that will show itself in a natural and free sharing of whatever blessings the Lord gives us.
- The Doctrine and Covenants says that LDS bishops should be paid.
Mormon bishops have great responsibility and, if the Bible is true, church leaders should not have to depend on outside resources to support their families. Even the Doctrine and Covenants supports this idea! Doctrine and Covenants 42:70-73 says:
The priests and teachers shall have their stewardships, even as the members. And the elders or high priests who are appointed to assist the bishop as counselors in all things, are to have their families supported out of the property which is consecrated to the bishop, for the good of the poor, and for other purposes, as before mentioned; Or they are to receive a just remuneration for all their services, either a stewardship or otherwise, as may be thought best or decided by the counselors and bishop. And the bishop, also, shall receive his support, or a just remuneration for all his services in the church.
According to D&C 70:12-13,
He who is appointed to administer spiritual things, the same is worthy of his hire, even as those who are appointed to a stewardship to administer in temporal things; Yea, even more abundantly, which abundance is multiplied unto them through the manifestations of the Spirit.
We must understand, though, that the bishops are given a HUGE responsibility. Check out what former President Gordon B. Hinckley told a general conference audience more than a decade ago:
We have more than 18,000 bishops in the Church. Every one is a man who has been called by the spirit of prophecy and revelation and set apart and ordained by the laying on of hands. Every one of them holds the keys of the presidency of his ward. Each is a high priest, the presiding high priest of his ward. Each carries tremendous responsibilities of stewardship. Each stands as a father to his people” (“The Shepherds of Israel,” Ensign (Conference Edition), November 2003, p. 60).
Why does the LDS Church not honor those who serve their church with full-time hours yet receive no compensation? Which scripture could Myers use to support the idea that it is “wrong” to pay these leaders? (For more on this topic, see here.)
- The LDS Church compensates some of its leaders and teachers but not others
The LDS Church has a payroll department. Secretaries, accountants, and many others work for the church and receive full-time pay. Instructors such as those for high school seminaries and college institutes are paid. Even mission presidents are compensated beginning with a six-figure number. (If you doubt this, I invite you to read the research I did here on this topic.) And there is no doubt that general authorities receive income. Whether the compensation is called “living expenses” or “wages”—does it really matter? The fact is that some LDS teachers and leaders receive what others—such as LDS bishops—don’t receive, even though the Bible and Book of Mormon both support this concept. Why the inequity?
- Did Myers pay restitution for the money he wrongly took?
If Myers was “wrong” by receiving money for preaching—and he says he was—did he ever pay back any of the churches or parishioners from whom he immorally took money? He never says, but the assumption is that he didn’t–otherwise, I’m sure he would have mentioned this fact. Yet if he has truly repented, according to the Mormon definition of the term, then he should pay back anyone from whom he has stolen. Consider the words of Apostle Boyd K. Packer:
To earn forgiveness, one must make restitution. That means you give back what you have taken or ease the pain of those you have injured. But sometimes you cannot give back what you have taken because you don’t have it to give. If you have caused others to suffer unbearably—defiled someone’s virtue, for example—it is not within your power to give it back. There are times you cannot mend that which you have broken. Perhaps the offense was long ago, or the injured refused your penance. Perhaps the damage was so severe that you cannot fix it no matter how desperately you want to. Your repentance cannot be accepted unless there is a restitution. If you cannot undo what you have done, you are trapped. It is easy to understand how helpless and hopeless you then feel and why you might want to give up, just as Alma did. The thought that rescued Alma, when he acted upon it, is this: Restoring what you cannot restore, healing the wound you cannot heal, fixing that which you broke and you cannot fix is the very purpose of the atonement of Christ. When your desire is firm and you are willing to pay the “uttermost farthing,” the law of restitution is suspended. Your obligation is transferred to the Lord. He will settle your accounts (“The Brilliant Morning of Forgiveness,” Ensign (Conference Edition), November 1995, pp. 19-20).
Myers might argue that he doesn’t have the means to pay back all that he took. Of course, some things can’t be paid back (such as the example given by Packer regarding a man who raped a woman). Another may even say that Myers received his money such a long time ago and therefore it’s too late to pay restitution. While he did preach during the early 1990s, he did become a Latter-day Saint right after (in 1995). If he knew that receiving money for preaching was wrong even when he was taking the money, why didn’t he at least attempt to pay back whatever he could once he became a Mormon? Or better late than never. If he didn’t even make an attempt, we must wonder how sincere Myers was in his repentance if he didn’t make restitution?
- Is Myers accepting payment from his book as a “Mormon teacher”?
I have no way to verify it, but I wonder if Myers receives income from this book he wrote concerning his life as a “Baptist pastor” as well as his conversion to Mormonism and his role as a Mormon teacher. Does he receive any income from donors who support his Internet show? Personally, I have no problem if he does receive income, but according to his argument, a person’s motives ought to be questioned whenever money is received for ministry work. Perhaps he will want to shed some light on why taking money as a Mormon teacher or author is fine if it’s done as part of a calling or ministry.
Inconsistency Number 6 in Myers’s story: Complaint about “anti-Mormon” attacks
According to Myers, the amount of opposition received by Latter-day Saints supports the idea that the Mormon Church is true. In chapter 11 (titled “Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing”), Myers wrote:
As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we endure more than our fair share of hatred, criticism, and judgment. This became evident to me when I started opening up and sharing my beliefs on my blog and elsewhere. I can usually handle these types of attacks on my religion, but there’s been a few times that it was difficult for me to deal with what are known as anti-Mormon sentiments and attacks.
He was especially angry when a Christian tract criticizing Mormonism was dropped into his car:
Let me take a moment to say I’ve been a member of several churches over the years, and until that Ohio summer day, I’d never seen a situation where someone went out of their way to go to a church with the sole intent of openly attacking that church’s beliefs. It boggled my mind! I could feel the hatred and bitterness through that pamphlet, and I felt bad for whoever felt the need to do this. While some fellow LDS members get all riled up and angry over these attacks, I see them as confirmations that the LDS Church really is the Lord’s true Church. The pamphlet—and all of the anti-Mormon situations I’ve come across since—bothered me, but I knew that to be like my Savior, I had to endure some of what He endured—on a much smaller scale, of course.
Because a stranger tried to share their faith with Myers using a method he didn’t agree with, he somehow assumed that this must have been done out of “hatred and bitterness.” The syllogism seems to go like this:
- There are some methods of evangelism that are wrong
- Someone put a Christian tract into my parked car
- This method shows utter disregard for others and is an attack on me as a person
- Therefore, this proves that the Christian church is not true while Mormonism is true
What a leap in logic! However, this way of thinking could backfire on the adherent:
- There are some methods of evangelism that are wrong
- Mormon missionaries rang my doorbell and I had to answer the door
- This method shows utter disregard for my privacy and is an attack on me as a person
- Therefore, this proves that the Mormon Church is not true while Christianity is true
Just because a person disagrees with an evangelistic tactic doesn’t make it mean-spirited or even wrong. Also consider how Mormonism has attacked Christianity in many ways since its founding. It all started when Joseph Smith asked God which church was true. He claimed that God the Father spoke to him in the Sacred Grove. As quoted earlier in this review, God told Smith that all the churches were “wrong” and “all their creeds were an abomination in his sight.” In addition, consider the attacks on Christianity from LDS leaders over the years:
2nd President Brigham Young:
The people called Christians are shrouded in ignorance, and read the Scriptures with darkened understandings (October 8, 1859, Journal of Discourses 7:333).
Should you ask why we differ from other Christians, as they are called, it is simply because they are not Christians as the New Testament defines Christianity (July 8, 1863, Journal of Discourses, 10:230).
3rd President John Taylor:
What does the Christian world know about God? Nothing; yet these very men assume the right and power to tell others what they shall not believe in. Why so far as the things of God are concerned, they are the veriest of fools; they know neither God nor the things of God (May 6, 1870, Journal of Discourses 13:225).
6th President Joseph F. Smith:
…for I contend that the Latter-day Saints are the only good and true Christians, that I know anything about in the world. There are a good many people who profess to be Christians, but they are not founded on the foundation that Jesus Christ himself has laid (November 2, 1891, [Stake conference message], Collected Discourses, 2:305. Ellipsis mine).
Apostle Bruce R. McConkie:
And virtually all the millions of apostate Christendom have abased themselves before the mythical throne of a mythical Christ whom they vainly suppose to be a spirit essence who is incorporeal uncreated, immaterial and three-in-one with the Father and Holy Spirit (Mormon Doctrine, 1966, p. 269).
Is it any wonder that the Lord of heaven, as he stood by his Father’s side on that glorious day in 1820, speaking of all the churches in all Christendom, told young Joseph “that all their creeds were an abomination in his sight” (The Promised Messiah: The First Coming of Christ, p. 117).
Apostle Dallin H. Oaks:
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has many beliefs in common with other Christian churches. But we have differences, and those differences explain why we send missionaries to other Christians” (“Apostasy and Restoration,” Ensign (Conference Edition), May 1995, p. 84).
How should the Christian take the statements from these general authorities? Were they not said “with the sole intent of openly attacking” the Christian church’s beliefs? Of course they were! Will Myers condemn the attacks of these men? Why do people take such umbrage when people want to sincerely share their faith? I wonder why we can’t just follow the instruction of Brigham Young:
If I should hear a man advocate the erroneous principles he had imbibed through education, and oppose those principles, some might imagine that I was opposed to that man, when, in fact, I am only opposed to every evil and erroneous principle he advances (Discourses of Brigham Young, p. 251. See also Journal of Discourses 6:331, June 19, 1859).
Instead of becoming offended, let’s discuss the issues and agree to disagree on topics without pulling out the “I’m offended” card.
Inconsistency Number 7 in Myers’s story: Whitewashing the doctrine of the priesthood ban on blacks
Myers was offended when he first understood the pre-1978 LDS teaching that those with black skin were denied the Mormon priesthood, thus limiting the opportunities they had to attain full exaltation in the celestial kingdom. When the missionaries first explained the ban when he was an investigator in the mid-1990s, Myers exploded.
“So, you’re telling me that black people are cursed?” I spat back. Without missing a step, my missionary gave an emphatic, ‘Yes!’ All H-E-double-hockey-sticks broke loose then. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. This white boy done lost his mind! I thought as I showed the elders the door. “Okay, meeting over. I’ve heard enough!”
After doing more study on this issue, he came to blame Brigham Young for this teaching. He writes,
…it was never given revelation to any prophet for the ban in the first place. It was a practice started by Brigham Young after Joseph Smith died. I told him that the Church was under a lot of pressure at the time and that Brigham Young saw the need to grow the Church. In order to do this, he felt the need to join the white mentality that was dominant in the society at the time. This decision gave birth to the priesthood ban.
His conclusion disagrees with LDS teaching from the past. For instance, tenth President Joseph Fielding Smith stated,
This doctrine did not originate with President Brigham Young but was taught by the Prophet Joseph Smith. At a meeting of the general authorities of the Church, held August 22, 1895, the question of the status of the negro in relation to the Priesthood was asked and the minutes of that meeting say: “President George Q. Cannon remarked that the Prophet taught this doctrine: That the seed of Cain could not receive the Priesthood nor act in any of the offices of the Priesthood until the seed of Abel should come forward and take precedence over Cain’s offspring” (The Way to Perfection, p. 110. See also Milton R. Hunter’s Pearl of Great Price Commentary, 1948, pp. 141-142).
Smith also wrote,
It is true that the negro race is barred from holding the Priesthood, and this has always been the case. The Prophet Joseph Smith taught this doctrine, and it was made known to him, although we know of no such statement in any revelation in the Doctrine and Covenants, Book of Mormon, or the Bible. However, in the Pearl of Great Price, we find the following statement written by Abraham: “Now this first government of Egypt was established by Pharaoh, the eldest son of Egyptus, the daughter of Ham, and it was after the manner of the government of Ham, which was patriarchal. Pharaoh, being a righteous man, established his kingdom and judged his people wisely and justly all his days, seeking earnestly to imitate that order established by the fathers in the first generations, in the days of the first patriarchal reign, even in the reign of Adam, and also of Noah, his father, who blessed him with the blessings of the earth, and with the blessings of wisdom, but cursed him as pertaining to the Priesthood.’ Pearl of Great Price, Abraham 1:25-26” ( “The Negro and the Priesthood,” Improvement Era, April 1924, p. 565).
Apostle Franklin D. Richards explained,
The principles that the Prophet Joseph taught are the doctrines that we must abide in, or we shall be overthrown. …It was manifest to him that the seed of Cain would not come in remembrance before the Lord for their final redemption, until the seed of Abel the righteous should all have their opportunity (October 5, 1896, Collected Discourses 5:220. Ellipsis mine).
Hyrum L. Andrus cited George Q. Cannon who believed the same thing:
The former decree of God concerning the Negro has been reaffirmed in modern times. According to George Q. Cannon, the Prophet Joseph Smith taught the following doctrine: “That the seed of Cain could not receive the Priesthood nor act in any of the offices of the Priesthood until the seed of Abel should come forward and take precedence over Cain’s off-spring.” Other reports confirm the fact that Joseph Smith taught that the Negro cannot yet receive the priesthood” (Doctrinal Commentary on the Pearl of Great Price, 1967, p. 402).
Myers chalks up the teaching to the LDS leadership making “mistakes”:
I do, however, realize that they are mortal men prone to make mistakes, just like all of us are. If they make mistakes and speak as mortal men, I’m not going to lose my faith in God the Father over it. Nor will my faith be shattered or my heart be broken. We’ve all made mistakes and fallen short of perfection, and I don’t think the prophets are exempt from those same weaknesses.
His views appear to be contradicted later in the book when he explained how a truth-seeker ought to follow the LDS leadership:
The key to survival in these last days is to stand firm with our Church leaders. Hold fast to what they teach and counsel. If Jesus wants something to change in His Church, He’ll let His prophets know. We need to stand united if we are to weather the storms of the latter days.”
So did the LDS leaders before 1978 make a “mistake” with this teaching? Or should the Latter-day Saint “hold fast to what they teach and counsel”? After all, weren’t the members of the church commanded to follow their teaching and counsel? If they have been wrong with “doctrines” such as those with black skin being denied the priesthood, then how can anyone determine if what the prophet teaches today won’t be contradicted tomorrow? Does the LDS leadership allow for such an opinion? After all, they were chosen from the preexistence to serve in this role:
The President of the Church was foreordained in the premortal life and is called in mortality after long, faithful service in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. He is set apart to exercise the keys of the kingdom of heaven on earth and formally sustained by the membership of the Church (Teachings of the Living Prophets Teacher Manual Religion 333, 2010, p. 13).
They are supposed to be trusted, as Seventy L. Aldin Porter stated,
As we look to the prophets for guidance, we can be confident that they will not lead us astray (“Search the Prophets,” Ensign, April 2002, p. 31).
Thirteenth President Ezra Taft Benson taught,
The prophet and the presidency−the living prophet and the First Presidency−follow them and be blessed; reject them and suffer (The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, p. 334).
Current President Thomas S. Monson said,
If you want to see the light of heaven, if you want to feel the inspiration of Almighty God, if you want to have that feeling within your bosom that your Heavenly Father is guiding you, then follow the prophets of God. When you follow the prophets, you will be in safe territory (“Follow the Prophets,” Ensign, January 2015, p. 5)
It is apparent that Myers still struggles with the banning of the priesthood for blacks before 1978. He writes, “When people ask me how I got over the pain I felt about the priesthood ban, I tell them that I haven’t yet—and hope I never will.”
In 2013 the LDS Church published a statement titled “Blacks and the Priesthood” on its website. An excellent article that discusses this essay, point by point, can be found on IRR’s website here. Also, click the following for related articles:
- “Were the reasons behind the priesthood ban on blacks based on ‘theory’?”
- “A Doctrine that was to Always Be”
- Race essay banned from LDS Church classroom (Blog)
Based on my thorough reading of his book, I believe there are major problems with Wain Myers’s testimony. To summarize:
- Myers has not shown that he really understood the Bible or Christian doctrine during his time as a “Baptist preacher.” If he couldn’t properly communicate a basic teaching such as the Trinity, how can we be assured that he was a Bible-believing/teaching Christian in the first place?
- Myers may have preached in the pulpit, but he admits that he was not an official pastor or minister. By classifying himself as a “Baptist preacher,” though, Myers confuses the audience reading his book. (Of course, using this title gives him credibility; without a background as a “preacher,” his story is not unique.)
- While some Mormons think Baptist preachers are immoral or corrupt, the ironic thing is that Myers was immoral during his five years as a “preacher.” Even if he were a Baptist “preacher,” I don’t think his church leadership or his congregation (has they known) would have thought he as a moral “Baptist preacher.” If they had known that he wasn’t living up to his calling, he wouldn’t have lasted even five years.
- Myers says that God told him to pursue another woman while he was still married, even suggesting that this new woman was chosen for him by God. Is God more concerned with the Christian’s happiness? Or is He more concerned with holiness?
- Did Myers have a genuine conversion experience to Christianity? I am not convinced. His conversion to Mormonism does not seem to have included any struggle of faith. At the time he converted to Mormonism, he was estranged from both his Christian church and his wife. He seemed to have no difficulty leaving them both behind to pursue a new Mormon love interest and the church to which she belonged. As they say, the grass is always greener…
- Myers’s complaint that Christian pastors get paid isn’t in congruence with his own scripture. He also needs to explain why LDS leaders and others (such as teachers and mission presidents) receive compensation.
- Suggesting that criticism of the religion somehow makes Mormonism true is nonsensical. Mormonism is either true or false on its own merits, regardless of alleged bad behavior on the part of those who disagree with the church.
- While Myers doesn’t agree with the LDS doctrine that banned blacks from the priesthood before 1978, he seems to want to lay all blame on Brigham Young when LDS leaders over the years have credited Joseph Smith with this teaching. And even if Young had been responsible for this teaching, this wouldn’t take away the fact that LDS leaders throughout the 19th and most of the 20th centuries held to this teaching.
I don’t think Myers’s story will be very convincing to those outside the LDS Church. In fact, I think this book raises more questions than answers questions about why a “Baptist preacher” was convinced to become a “Mormon teacher.”