Why did I leave the Mormon church? After all, Mormons seem so clean-cut, sincere and hardworking. A convert to Mormonism, I renounced the church 11 years after joining because it’s not what it claims to be. Masquerading as the only true Church of Jesus Christ, it’s merely another man-made religion. And while Mormons often mean well, good intentions aren’t a ticket to heaven.
Before my call to the South Dakota-Rapid City Mission in 1975, I eagerly studied Mormonism. My curriculum? Mormon scriptures, the church’s magazines and the words of its leaders. I poured over the teachings of church founder Joseph Smith; his immediate successor, Brigham Young; the tenth president of the church, Joseph Fielding Smith; and Spencer W. Kimball, church president in the mid-1970s. I also immersed myself in the writings of Orson Pratt, Mark E. Petersen and Bruce R. McConkie.
Upon arriving in the mission field, I felt well equipped to teach the Mormon gospel. Such preparation apparently paid off too, because by the end of my two-years, I led 24 people into the church. However, early in my mission, I encountered two Christian ministers. And though I testified of The Book of Mormon and the church’s "living prophets," the pastors strongly used the Bible to witness for Jesus Christ. When one of them fervently declared that members of the Mormon First Presidency aren’t true prophets, my testimony was shaken. So I prayed and asked God to confirm that Spencer W. Kimball was his prophet. But despite my best efforts, that confirmation never came. The Lord was apparently blessing my missionary work. And my knowledge of Mormon doctrine and history was growing daily. But he never assured me that Spencer Kimball was a prophet of God.
From Mormonism to Christ
In June 1978, while I attended Brigham Young University, Mormon leaders announced the ordination of "worthy" black males to the priesthood. I was delighted with the change, but the announcement contradicted virtually every teaching of Mormon apostles and prophets on the subject.
In 1981, I began to read Jerald and Sandra Tanner’s "Mormonism: Shadow or Reality?" It raises dozens of the church’s doctrinal, ethical and historical problems. And after listening to years of rhetoric, such as "The prophet will never lead the church astray" and "Follow the brethren," I needed spiritual stimulation. As I delved more deeply into Mormonism’s maze of confusion, my questions in BYU religion classes and priesthood meetings remained unanswered. For three years, I tried to stay in the church, but I couldn’t.
For me, remaining a Mormon was futile. I needed to be honest with myself, my family and with the church. To maintain my integrity, there was only one thing to do: resign my church membership, which I did in 1984. Unfortunately, I wasn’t ready to receive Christ. Disappointed that the church played me for a fool, I struggled spiritually for the next 17 years. But the Lord, ever patient (see 2 Peter 3:9), saved me in 2001. How ironic that no Mormon has ever tried to win me back into the fold. I knew hundreds of Mormons while I was active in the church. What’s even more incredible, no Mormon I know will even talk to me now. If Mormonism is so right and I’m so wrong, why don’t Mormons reach out to me? Their disdain doesn’t demonstrate the love Jesus referred to when he said, "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if you have love one to another" (John 13:35).
Mormonism has many doctrinal problems. Three readily come to mind:
- The Mormon Concept of God. Since 1830, when the church was established, Mormon prophets have been confused about such doctrines as whether God the Father is Adam or Elohim; if he became God or was always God; if he knows all things or is still learning; and if he’s a spirit or has a physical body. Yet the Bible teaches that God created Adam (Genesis 1:27; 3), that God is a spirit (John 4:24), that His understanding is infinite (Psalm 147:5), and that He has always been God (Psalm 90:2).
- How to Obtain Eternal Life. Ask a Mormon how to be saved (gain eternal life) and he’ll probably say, "Follow the prophet." That was my knee-jerk reply as a Mormon missionary. My answer now, as revealed in Acts 16:31, is "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved." No one, including the highest-ranking Mormon leaders, could ever obey God’s laws well enough to get into heaven. The Bible concurs when it says, "All have sinned and come short of the Glory of God" (Romans 3:23; also see 3:10-18).
The Apostle Paul insisted that we’re saved by grace, not by our obedience or good works. Eternal life is a gift of God that cannot be earned (Ephesians 2:5-9). But isn’t it important to do good works? Of course. Through them we demonstrate our faith and our love for the Lord. It’s also a way we glorify our Father in heaven. But obedience and good works aren’t the path to eternal life. Faith generates good works. They are the fruits of faith, not the way to heaven. I’ve performed more good works as a Christian than I ever did as a Mormon. Truly, faith without works is dead (James 2:20, 26).
Eternal life is available only through Jesus Christ. "He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me," He declared, "hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death into life" (John 5:24). And consider this priceless promise: "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life" (John 6:47). The Bible also teaches that after people die, they will either go to heaven or hell. It says nothing about the celestial kingdom, the three degrees of glory or eternal progression. It’s silent about man becoming a god. So whom will you trust for salvation? Jesus, or Joseph Smith? I trust the Son of God.
- Attacking the Bible. I’ve read the Book of Mormon many times. I even prayed about it and received a "testimony." But like many Mormons, I mistook good feelings for personal revelation from God. Admittedly, I was deceived. The book is nothing more than 19th century fiction. But I’ve also carefully studied the Bible. What a thorough and magnificent witness for Christ! The greatest book ever written, it has led millions of people to the Lord. Additional Mormon scripture is unnecessary and borders on blasphemy. Why trust in Mormonism for your eternal destiny when you can trust in the Son of God? Only Christ can save you. Everything is right when you abide in Him-and Him only. When He says that those who believe in Him have eternal life, He means it.
I challenge Mormons everywhere to abandon their man-made religion and receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior (John 1:12; 3:36; Romans 10:9-10, 13). When you do, He will bless you with consummate peace and joy on earth, and eternal life in the world to come.
Los Angeles, California