by Sharon Lindbloom
21 September 2017
Eric D. Richards is a popular LDS speaker and educator. Last week (12 September 2017), LDS Living magazine published an article Eric wrote that tells the story of how he and his mother came to be converted to Mormonism. It’s written as a sweet, Mormon-faith-promoting story, telling of the experiences that led Eric and his mom, Linda, to embrace what Mormons refer to as “the restored gospel.”
Eric’s story begins in the early 1980s, with his mom on a quest to find a new church for the two of them. They had been attending a Baptist church, but Linda was sure there was “something more” for them elsewhere. Eric explains,
“In her quest, she would park in front of a random church and try to feel if it would be a good one to attend. After parking in front of and not feeling right about the local Presbyterian church or the Methodist church or the Church of Christ over the several weeks, she became frustrated, knowing there certainly must be a better church for her and for me.”
Then Mormon missionaries knocked on Linda’s door with a message about the LDS Restoration. Linda felt good about this, and eagerly embraced all the missionary lessons except one: she struggled with the Mormon doctrine of living prophets. Eric writes,
“…one day my mother went to work early to study her scriptures (she had heard that if you read the book of Isaiah out loud God will speak to you, so she would read from Isaiah or other books of scripture each day before work for about an hour). Her quest was to get an answer to her prayers regarding this idea of modern-day prophets.”
One day, after coming across the standard Mormon proof-text found in the biblical book of Amos, Linda believed she had her answer regarding living prophets. But before she had much time to think about it, she was called to attend to an emergency in her job as a trauma nurse. As Eric tells the story, Linda was assigned to work on a 12-year-old boy who was dying from what appeared to be an attempted suicide. As she worked to save him, she experienced a spirit whispering to her: “Linda, this will be the case with your son if you do not join the Church.”
When Linda got home from work she told Eric, “You’re going to get baptized!” Soon Eric and his mom were members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
As I read this story, I was struck by Linda’s admirable strong instinct to find a good church for herself and her son. But I was grieved over the way she went about it (as Eric tells the story) and the conclusion she reached.
- Linda was not satisfied with the church they were attending. Yet in her search for a new church she didn’t look for one that taught biblical truth or promoted biblical teaching. Her search was driven by how she felt when she was in close proximity to a church building while a congregation worshipped inside.
- After talking with LDS missionaries, Linda had a question about a Mormon teaching for which she desired a trustworthy answer. She rightly believed that God was a trustworthy source, and that the Bible could help her find the answer. But her approach wasn’t to read the Bible to see what it said; rather, she thought to read it out loud as a sort of incantation, believing that by doing so she would receive revelation.
- When Linda no longer struggled with the Mormon doctrine of living prophets, she knew it was time to make a decision about whether to join the LDS Church. She didn’t reasonably evaluate Mormonism’s claims; Eric says, “She loved the missionaries and the lessons they presented.” The teachings of Mormonism resonated with Linda. She felt good about them, and that was enough as far as doctrine went.
- But the thing that pushed Linda over the line regarding LDS Church membership was the spirit who told her that Eric was going to end up like that dying 12-year-old boy: “Linda, this will be the case with your son if you do not join the Church.”
So they became Mormons, and when Eric turned 12 (I assume) he did not attempt suicide. As far as I can tell, Eric and Linda have been happy as Latter-day Saints.
Yet as a Christian, I know that a day of reckoning is still ahead for Eric and Linda — and for all of us. Our eternal fate is not based on our happiness in mortality; it’s all about reconciliation with God. Forgiveness of sins. Trust in Jesus as Savior. Our names written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.
Eric’s story begins with his mom searching for “something more” than what her Baptist church had to offer. He doesn’t define this “something more,” but from what he’s written there’s no reason to think that what Linda wanted was truth, forgiveness, or Jesus. All of these are absent from her story. What Linda was seeking, her desire for “something more,” seems to have been a desire for certain feelings and experiences. In biblical terms, it appears that she may have had “itching ears” like those the Apostle Paul forewarned Timothy about:
“For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.” (2 Timothy 4:3-4)
Mormonism is not true. It cannot deliver on its eternal promises. Linda, in choosing a spiritual message she preferred rather than seeking the one that is true, listened to and obeyed a deceiving spirit (2 Corinthians 11:1-15). Rather than rescuing her son by embracing Mormonism, her choice has left them both in grave eternal danger. But the Good News is that while we have breath it’s not too late for any of us. God stands ready to forgive (Ezekiel 14:6). Those who seek Him will find Him (Jeremiah 29:13). By His mercy He will save us (Titus 3:3-7), and our names will be written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.