A nice man named Seth made some comments on my YouTube channel and then asked me to text him so that we could chat further.
I soon realized that he was pretty invested in witnessing to me about everything wrong with Joseph Smith and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In his opinion, he was in the right and I was wrong. He also believed I was just too scared to admit it, and with time, and with support from him, I would come to see the light.
It got to a point in the conversation with Seth that I told him he had nothing to add – he was just trying to take away from my beliefs.
Take away what? I got to thinking of some of the beliefs that I would have to abandon if I left The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
- The knowledge of the Godhead. Instead of 3 separate beings I get one entity that is unknowable.
- I have to give back the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price
- Living prophets? Can’t keep those either.
- The quorum of the twelve apostles and their ministry throughout the world? Gone too. (I was personally ministered to by a member of the twelve just days before this article was written)
- The role of temples – yeah, that’s not necessary in Seth’s religious framework
- The list could go on and on (an increased understanding of the afterlife, the conditional and unconditional nature of Christ’s salvation, the authority of the priesthood that allows me to bless my family)
This is in direct contrast to our position declared by President Gordon B. Hinckley: “To anybody who is not of this Church, I say we recognize all of the virtues and the good that you have. Bring it with you and see if we might add to it.”
This exchange with Seth reminded me of a visit I made with my wife and daughter to a ward in New York that my daughter had served in as a missionary. During Elders Quorum, a concerned quorum member brought up the fact that one of their elders had left for another church and asked how concerned we should be when some leaves the Church to go to another denomination?
There were a few comments made, but the gist of those comments was that we shouldn’t be too concerned, and that the most important thing was that a person is trying to come closer to Christ. I think the brethren handled the conversation well, but after a few minutes of feeling restless, and after the topic changed to something else, I had to raise my hand and respond.
I shared with brethren that my thoughts were led to what I would be willing to give up to leave this church. Was I willing to give up the Book of Mormon? The priesthood authority to act in God’s name? The covenants I have made in the temple? The understanding of the plan of salvation? My response was similar to the comments I made to Seth. Any other church I would go to would force me to give up so much truth, and a must more expanded view of the gospel of Jesus Christ and of diving truth.
As I finished my comments, there was a general sense in the room that I had hit a nail on the head, and there a lot of nodding heads, followed by a member of the Bishopric who confirmed my words.
To anybody who is not of this Church, I say we recognize all of the virtues and the good that you have. Bring it with you and see if we might add to it.
Sometimes we don’t consider the things we are giving up because we don’t realize what we have. In a recent training I attended with Elder Gary E. Stevenson, he talked about counseling with members who have asked to have their records removed. He suggested starting from the beginning. Do they believe in God the Eternal Father, and His Son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost? Do they believe they are three separate beings? Because that is a very unique and foundational difference between the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and other religions.
What elements of your testimony do you treasure? Would you have to give those up if you left the fullness of the gospel? Trust me, I’ve seen this. I know many people who have left this church and they start deconstructing their beliefs one by one, and then have to build their foundation once again.
I remember one friend in particular took to Facebook within the first few months and asked people what they believed about God so that he could start to form his own belief. That has to be a devastating and confusing process.
One thing I won’t give up? The chance to receive two hugs. One from God the Father, and the other from my Elder Brother Jesus Christ. The knowledge of these two supreme beings, their distinct roles in my life, and these very different relationships is something I won’t give up. Ever. And that’s something Seth wanted to take away from me.
What is one truth that we are taught in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that you are not willing to give up?