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August 23, 2020 12:01 am
In this episode, Michael the Ex-Mormon Apologist takes some time out from his universe-wide book tour to stop in at the Outer Brightness studio. He talks with Matthew and Paul about his new book, Falling Into Grace: How A Mormon Apologist Stumbled Into Christianity.
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Word was God was all things were made through him and without him was nothing made him was life and the life was like man light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it. Listening to our brightness, contrast, like Jesus turn away this Saturday so when Michael saying welcome to this episode of the other brightness podcast. We were all born and raised in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, headquartered in Salt Lake City, Utah, were commonly referred to as the Mormon faith.
We may use nicknames or abbreviations of the church such as LDS, Mormon, etc. but not in an attempt to be pejorative or insulting, but as a reflection of our personal experiences as Latter Day Saints.
But these terms are used interchangeably reference to ourselves and or the church. All of us have left that religion and have been drawn to faith in Jesus Christ based on biblical teachings summary consider us sons of perdition.
The inheritors of outer darkness, who supposedly knew the truth and rejected it.
The name of our podcast outer brightness reflects the gospel of John, chapter 1 and the Bible specifically verse nine which calls Jesus, the true light which gives light to everyone, we have found life beyond Mormonism to be brighter than we were told it would be in the light, we have is not our own that comes to us from without. Thus, outer brightness making the transition from Mormonism to broader Christianity can be exciting and scary confusing challenging and ultimately life-giving our aim here is to share our journeys of faith in what God has done in our lives and drawing us to his son will have conversations about all aspects of that transition, the fears, challenges, new beliefs, surprises, enjoys were glad you found us and we hope you'll stick around. I Matthew the nuclear colonist Michael BX Mormon apologist Paul Bunyan.
I hate fireflies. This episode, we have a really special guest with us. Michael Flournoy is here to talk to us about his new book, falling into grace how and LDS apologists stumbled into Christianity, Mormon apologist, although I books I can read it.
Wow, what a novel idea reach flammable idea. Sorry I fireflies this week. We have a really special guests. Our program and got Michael Flournoy is recently published author were here to talk to about his new book, falling into grace, Mormon apologists stumbled into Christianity and one thing I wanted to note about this episode guys is that this is our 25th episode. Can you believe that 25 talking about that did not there so what I'd like to do is ask our listeners if you're enjoying what were doing here if it's meaningful to you. Give us a rating on iTunes or whatever podcast platform you listen to us on a written review would also help and tell your friends help us get the word out about what's going on here at the outer brightness podcast.
Thanks fireflies causing a celebrity.
Now you got to podcast already dedicated to you. Going into 1/3. He's like Justin Bieber of podcasting and now I feel bad because I looked at the downloads and you guys got way more downloads for your story somewhat, think people want to hear me blab on a non-about my stuff like this. The middle child of podcast. I don't think that has anything to do with it. Actually I think it probably has more to do with the fact of when we pick up some new listeners and then they just came in in the middle. Might be the case to so this is the first book is written so that book is no longer on the market. If you have a copy like Paul does your well positioned for blackmail of our listeners wants a lucky tell us about your first book. Why did you write it.
Did you take off of the market know this isn't the first book that I've written in 2012, I published a book called a biblical defense of Mormonism.
I wrote that because I wanted to defend the faith from smooth talking evangelical Christians I wanted Mormons who didn't know a lot about their faith to have something a resource that they could luck adding Bill to stand strong against opposition and end up taking the book off of the market because obviously I no longer believe in the positions that I took in that book did you have any comments about the ball or anything on it. Add to that. So, my God, I do a fair bit of writing myself and it's on my bucket list to publish a book. In fact, a series of blog articles that I'm writing now dialogues with my former self was initially conceived as a book idea I wanted to be a collection of essays on the LDS articles of faith and at the time I planned to write them from a bleeding. Even if unorthodox LDS perspective because I was still a member of the LDS church about time we talked. One of our first episodes about the fear of being wrong and that fear kept me from publishing blog pieces for a long time. I have to say that I've a huge amount of respect for you for having actually published a pro-Mormon book and then not only changing your worldview, but publishing a book about your transition. Can you tell us specifically what it's been like for you to put yourself out there. To the extent the publishing and then recanting your views. Yeah, I now remember the first the first evening when I went live with a biblical defense of Mormonism. I want to go throw up because I was like oh my goodness, my views are out there like anybody can see what I wrote and they can criticize it now and I'm sure there's a lot of criticism coming. I know idea that future me was going to put a really negative review on my Amazon account for that book. So I guess I'm one of the critics of that book now will enhance this better than putting a positive review of your own book out there that's that's true, but who does that right so over time I've written a lot of published 11 articles and things on from water to wine.org as I've gotten a lot more use to putting myself out there so it doesn't feel as scary as it used to. I think you just get used to it after a while. Recanting those views was was really tough time and those were views that I held very dear to my heart, but at the end of the day you I I traded those years for something better. So I felt like it was a worthy trade and I didn't mind taking the book of the market and they would really hurt about it was just that it was my dream my whole life to write a book and I finally did it, and then I had to take it off the market so I was back to square one. I think that was what was hard about it and it would be hard. Matthew 2000 and I agree. If you've already said it takes a great deal of humility to admit that what he said was wrong or that you no longer agree with it and today got the market because I know that there I've seen debates in the past where some where someone the debate will say well I don't agree with that viewpoint anymore or there's new data stuff like that to disprove that but will continue selling the book even though they don't update it or they don't correct it in.
Although, though you sell it, but sizing that's Strange but yet it's greatly decided to take it often to be so candid about your faith experience and be willing to take the criticisms from from others to you know that disagree with your pay transition now or who you know or even to deal the criticisms, probably from evangelicals like us in the past you really disagree with the book. It also seems like you probably had criticism on all sides. So it's really commendable date that you decide to take off and that you are forthright in your views and beliefs now. It was actually interesting as I member one latter-day St. that I was talking to about it was trying to encourage me to put the book back on the market at one point saying that you know it's still true to some people. Which is kind of like well I mean how can you even us and believing latter-day St. I can understand how you could accept a book like that.
Knowing that the author does not hold that position just seemed a little hard to grasp for me yeah Agatha yeah is interesting when I when I downloaded the Kindle version of your book and started reading it I was going through a Masters degree program in biblical studies of the time and I remember just thinking on the on the title of it that I was going to have no major disagreements, I did have disagreements but your writing style was engaging in is one of the things that they kinda drew me to you as a person and maybe want to get to know you better so right on so another question for you if you could tell that younger author of the biblical defense of Mormonism. Anything what would it be, that is it.
That is a tough question all be a little hesitant to tell them anything because I wouldn't want to mess up what was going to happen so I kind of an address that if the in the prologue of my new book, but it kind of addresses the question, what would you tell yourself you could go back in time and the answer that I gave in the prologue is that I would just tell myself to buckle up because it's going to be a bumpy ride if you but I think if I was going to try to just tell them anything, I would say hey you should really start to study imputed righteousness. I know it's important to you to understand the evangelical position and you cannot truly understand it without understanding forensic righteousness. So I would encourage you to really start digging Gannon and learning what that is, knowing that that would be his downfall in the future you would seek to accelerate the downfall I think so. I know that that he would find the truth. At some point special. By the time he wrote that book, he only had four years left so he was. It was coming pretty quickly, but I do. I do trust God's timing that the same point in looking back on like everything that happened was absolutely perfect and God knew what he was doing and as a fight went back to talk to myself. I mean, I don't even know if I would really talk theology and probably just be like hey start taking steps now so that you don't lose all your hair.
You know, stuff like that and I do like to go back and reference it never doing a podcast together.
I can look at the episodes on the Trinity and you put forth your questions like I could to reference the book and see how you developed your arguments so yeah I need to get myself a copy of I gave my last copy to to an elder out here I been kicking myself. Ever since cousin Mike.
I need that justice proof.
I guess you could get yourself an autographed copy to you. I could actually like my closest friend out here has a copy and@he's like not giving you my copy to be $400 is is a rare book due to my fine be that way G progresses to my future self with love, love.
I could be fun if you set up like another another printing addition with the publisher, but you only want one copy printed like 500 bucks for that one booklet why did you write falling into grace main part of it is I just loved to write and also written that other book a biblical defense of Mormonism and I put it out there publicly and so I felt like I should write something that was sort of a sequel to that book something that showed my position now and that explained everything so that people would understand the transition but more than anything.
I just really felt like it could help up some somebody else out there. Maybe somebody else's following where I've been and I just I wanted to be there and I really the biggest things I wanted to build a bridge because I know that latter-day Saints having really low view of ex-Mormons and I wanted to put some understanding in place.
I wanted them to be able to see it from an ex-Mormon's point of view in and see exactly what the thought process was and what happened but I also wanted the Christian to be able to read this and understand what's going on in a latter-day Saints mind and what the cultures like in and hopefully to build some relationships through this book they can actually go somewhere through the following summer.
So if you feel like if if listeners wanted to know more about coming your mindset. Do you think that book in conjunction with your personal story shared you think those are kind of basically give them everything they need to know or is there anything else that you thought that maybe you should've included the book or in the podcast that you wish you had feel like between the two of them. You do get everything. The only thing I didn't put in the book that I had in there originally was that I put in a couple of chapters. In the end basically talking about how I came to believe in imputed righteousness, and then I'll set a couple couple chapters about how to witness to latter-day Saints and I taking them out because I felt like it. It wasn't. It didn't flow as well, with a narrative template does at the end so I didn't do a whole lot of this whole Lotta doctrine and theology in the book.
It's a lot more story and just what was happening around me at the time and a lot more of my thoughts so that this part of it, but I just had to leave out the house falling into grace similar to and different from Mormonism is actually very similar to a blue below defense of Mormonism. In fact, if you read my chapter 4 of falling into grace. It is almost a me probably 80% of it comes from the original prologue of a biblical defense of Mormonism, so I don't know if that's plagiarism since I'm the author of both books but yeah this does a lot of the story of that comes out of the biblical defense of Mormonism. One of the big differences obviously is that I'm no longer promoting the church I'm promoting Christianity with my new book and a biblical defense of Mormonism was extremely doctrinal, heavy and falling into Grace's a lot more of a narrative, so there are different in that way, but with both books and tried to be as respectful as possible. I wanted anybody to be able to pick up both books and not get offended and and throw it away so I think that's one of the biggest similarities between the two of them to hold you to plagiarism because you have mentioned another episode that the author who wrote that book is dead, so I'm in a claim plagiarism here before. Yeah, I'm not really that afraid of him coming back and suing me that he knows I have no money so I could take like your cats yeah he came to write. In fact, I plead no contest, don't tell my wife will be in the show. She's listening to some great soup. Why did you decide to go less doctrinally heavy with this and more story heavy with this book and do you intend later to write a more doctrinal response or reputation to your prayer book different. Played with the idea a number of times and it's just been a really hard decision for me. Decide not to put the doctrinal ideas into the book but I think what ultimately decided it for me was that I felt like a narrative just really gave me the position to speak my mind and really get into the heart and the in the mind of a latter-day St., and what it's like leaving in just really show the chaos that ensues from that and I felt like that was stronger without the theology in this particular book, but I also have my my blog and my website my right a lot of my pieces on there and so I felt like Artie had Gotshal's the word I'm looking for. Artie had a place online that people could find my apologetics and so I didn't necessarily need to put it in the book. That said, I have recently been really toying with the idea of writing a second book geared towards latter-day Saints called the vicarious atonement so that may be in the works but I haven't totally decided yet. Sounds interesting.
What you hope will be the reception of falling into grace among modern accents right so my reading partner is actually a latter-day St., and so lucky him. He's been reading this as I've been writing it, and he's been really enjoying it. Actually, in fact he's been kind of my conscience. The whole time I've been putting it together is actually Billy. His idea in the first place for me to write the.
The first half of the book, kinda from an LDS perspective is much as I could kinda take out a lot of the little negative jabs and things that I had towards the church, originally in the book.
He said that he felt like it would be stronger if I really showed my audience that I loved the church at the time and I think he was absolutely right. So I wouldn't really try to make a positive read for latter-day St. something that they could read without really having any problems through it. I think that's the case up until about chapter 8 and so I think it's it's really good. I wanted to be something that latter-day Saints can re-and that they can enjoy and just kind of look at themselves in and then just rethink the way that they look at ex-Mormons and I think it'll be a good reception. You know if they actually pick it up and read it, which is the challenge of course so stole my thunder from the next question addressing what you so Matthew any follow-ups on Mount Sprague and there were still some some other things that ended up editing out but it was a lot of just the I guess the garbage from the divorce. You know, because I was really trying to be as authentic as possible and give as much detail as much truth as I could and I had it in there. Originally, and I decided to take it out because I felt like it was just too negative that it was trying to seem like I was just trying to prove something and I just thought that it kinda distracted a little bit so I took it took some of that stuff out and then yelled some of the some of the other stuff I mentioned to you.
Yes questions okay so popular? Hopefully you will get a good discussion going. What was the hardest part of your story to write and why.
Okay, I'm not sure which chapter this was exactly but the chapter the chapters where I wrote about falling in love with my first wife and then revisiting the divorce. I think those were the hardest chapters for me to write and it was actually Paul earlier on, who suggested that I convince my readers that I really loved Loretto that was my first wife and I kinda didn't want to but I was like yeah I guess I guess I do need to do that. So I went through it and just really tried to tell that story and then go back into the divorce and I really just felt myself going back in time and just feeling all those emotions all over again. While his writing that part of the book so that was definitely the hardest part of the story to write so over there.
There's an opponent that I wanted to be careful. But I was in the same there may be specific experiences or things as your writing. It there were difficult to kind of open that part of your life back up and write more about that, specifically falling in love the first time, and for a couple reasons one being that I am now in a committed relationship again and it's like okay like I have to be careful that I don't go too far in this writing you know where I'm crossing a line in my marriage and then secondly also try to keep that balance of showing that it really was there really were experiences and I do going to do some detail and show actually show myself falling in love for the first time and that it was a legitimate feeling and that it was important to me and that this girl was important to me, so have any kind of had a lot of elements of a fictional story to even though it was true because it's like I'm building up this building up this event just to tear down later. You know but still I mean, that answers your question are not yet does.
I was kind of an early sure expecting anything. I just kind of wondering if maybe yeah maybe you know sometimes anything back in your past specific experiences come to mind and it is difficult to write about. Especially when you're going nuts. I think from what you describe from your past is the hardest part of your top your life you know when the hardest parts. Your life was doing with their marriage and leaving the church and all that such it's difficult. It's kind like when you move on.
You know you want to put in a box and kind of walk it you know you have those memories meet only one open them up again so that the kind of force yourself to remember the past is not easy.
Yeah, exactly. It's like it's almost easier for me. Just remember to think of things the way they are now works like oh it's not you it's very pretty formal in a professional relationship because of our son.
And I don't like to open up those those parts of my memory, but I kinda had to just for writing this, but glad it's over. Just put it that way.
I think you think you did a really good job of finding balance. You mentioned your your reading partner in some of the encouragement he did. You two right from from positively LDS perspective almost try to put yourself back into what it was like for you during the time that you were serving a mission in and whatnot.
And so's you describe your meeting of Betty Noxon in the kind of thing everything went through their comes off very authentically to me as I was as I was reading and I thought you know you really really found balance there. You mentioned should chapter 8 is a place where Latter Day Saints Micah a little bit uncomfortable and that's the chapter where you kinda start going into where where you were believing Mormonism started to crumbling them and what what the things were that the cause that was hard to write about in a positive way and I know I've had difficulty conveying to Latter Day Saints that kind of process of deconstruction that I went through in a way that resonates with them. It was extremely difficult. One of the things that I was really trying to do with falling into grace is like, and I mentioned this in the prologue to. I said this is a story about leaving Mormonism. It's a story about grace. It's a story about trading something good for something better. And so I've really been trying to keep a positive tone throughout the entire book. That said, there are two chapters that I'm expecting to get some pushback on one from fellow evangelicals and one from Latter Day Saints.
So I felt like chapter 5 was almost going over the line with being pro-Mormon. This is back in my you know writing from my perspective at the time but I just writing about all the spiritual experiences that were happening. I think it's enough to probably make some some evangelicals you know question things are or scratch their heads a little like will have. How do you explain this you know then chapter 8 I think if you look at it in the context of all the other chapters before it softens the blow of that chapter and you will get us trying to be authentic so I could really leave that chapter out it is a part of the story.
And so I had to talk about some of the things that cause me to deconstruct my faith and some of the things I saw on some of the events in history that I learned about if I had left them out. I would've been inauthentic so I felt like I didn't really have a choice, but I was able to really type down to mostly just one chapter and then regain the tone of the book.
Afterwards you looking back at chapter 5 the consumer to talk about their their doctor to reading through the chapter last week only see where you really think you might some pushback from evangelicals there, but there are real experiences that you have as a latter-day St., and you feel compelled to associate those experiences of God drawing you of God working in your life to equating to Latter Day Saints or the other strictly untrue and you don't necessarily have to do that because a lot of times there experiences that are not in that context because you were culturally in the context you make that take that step of associating them but there's there's some experiences that are not in and of themselves don't have any anything to do with the LDS church. But the real balance spiritual experiences, absolutely. And I really thought it was important for an evangelical reader to look you look at chapter 5 and realized what they're fighting against the spiritual warfare is as real to you and that there's so many experiences that Latter Day Saints have that they might not see these things on the surface when you're discussing with a latter-day St., but there there and working to talk about that you know in a future episode here pretty soon. But you know there are all these things under the servicing think it's better to know that there there then tend to not realize what is going on in a Latter Day Saints heart. I do like the way that you've written with both audiences in mind and you and I talked about as you went through the planning stages for the book how difficult I would be looking again. I think you really came in on the balance there. So excellent job so I had a question again my mind and maybe it's jumping the gun a little bit but I was just thinking about the next episode I will be recording about the three converts or conversions to Mormonism so you see, talk, and that's in that article that you wrote about three different types of markets are two different types of conversions, one that is if I'm wrong, but it's doctrinal, social, and spiritual correct.
So do you feel like the book is written would appeal to Mormons of all these three different order and we've also discussed to like 1/4 fourth one that will discuss next episode about identity so you feel like this book could speak to all four types of Latter Day Saints or do you feel like it's focused based on your experiences as a focus on one specific aspect or you think you can appeal to basically all kinds actually typically have a really hard time talking to anymore money is not a doctrinal Mormon because that's what I was when I was in the church.
So that's what I'm used to speaking, but in this book, I really did try to hit all of the bases so that no matter what what position or what mindset they're coming from.
There's something in there for them. I talked a lot about the culture and just the experiences of family and the turmoil of what it felt like to leave and that was definitely geared towards a social or cultural Mormon and then you Michael chapter 5 talking about all the experiences that I had that was really there to relate to ace just to a spiritual Mormon and then all the all the right chapter of the possible gospel right talk about imputation and how I discovered it in the book of Mormon, and in the temple.
All of that was to appeal to a doctrinal Mormon so yeah I did try to hit all of those audiences.
In this book okay and so if there let's see what we can ready discussed about who we might get some some negative feedback was what I want to say maybe some resistance so so good so maybe right talk about this if it is just just say can pass but thinking about so you know trying to interact with those people who might have resistance to reading it, or you might read it be off put you have a message for someone who wants to read this book wants to know by your experience and he wants to know about your experience in and trusting in Christ and impute righteousness, etc. but maybe who might be off put by the content of the book or the way it's written.
Do you have any kind of message for them again say that it's worth giving a look into because you're not, you find a more positively written book about the church from somebody who is left than this one and if nothing else, even if if your mind is unchanged.
It's good to do two things. One, it's going to help you understand the evangelical mindset and you're gonna gain some understanding but also you cannot have an idea of why somebody might leave the church aside from what the typical answers or assumptions might be to that. So I do think that it's still something that's that's a valuable read. Regardless, I think the most offensive part of the book is probably the subtitle, but if not Latter Day Saints get through that they can make it to the entire thing. I think the whole thing is pretty LDS friendly actually okay awesome Jimmy anything related to that ball before we go on just some thoughts that were discussing at the might be useful because some people you know a lot of a lot of Latter Day Saints are hesitant to read anything that's not Pro Latter Day Saints and also it's sometimes hard just to get them to want to read something outside of their comfort zone so I thought that would be helpful to encourage them to want to read it hard to really stick out.
You know sometimes I read a book and I and I get a chapter 2 into my car at this for me. But at least try to give you a chance, sure, in your opinion, what does success for this book look like.
I think that success for this would really just be people being out a look at this book. Both Latter Day Saints and evangelicals and take some of the blinders off and be able to open their minds and accept each other a little better understand where they're coming from. At least I had like to see, not of acceptance is the right word, but I'd like to see a lot more understanding and I like to see more friendships come out of those two groups because a lot of times that there's a lot of tension there and I'd like to relieve the tension, but ultimately I think what success looks like is is you may be a questioning latter-day St. picking this book up someday and just using that an and coming to the Lord. I think that's what what I think of the success right awesome RA Michael so this is where you can plug it now officially working listeners pick up a copy of falling into grace. I guess on amazon.com publishing are doing are you doing like you did before were publishing hardcopy and electronic are you just doing electronic yet I think I am to do it the same way that I did last time, or just put it on Amazon. I had a hard copy and also on Kindle so you could do either way that worked as does Amazon do the publishing for that or you go for a publisher first, and the name on Amazon yes others.
There used to be a site use for my other book called Crete space. I guess he got bought by Amazon or something, but I think there's an Amazon publishing that I'm to use and basically just connected Amazon already, so what. What happens is they they sell the books for me and they just get a cut of it and then I get a cut but it's still better than traditional publishing. For me, the difference is that it's not being publicized so it's really just it's up to me to sing, get myself out there and talk about the book so that people know it exists basically okay gotcha great wallet I'm I'm read any of it that's mostly just been Paul.
It's been reading some of the chapter, so I should be excited to check it out myself.
Hopefully chapter 4 will be there right yeah I try really hard to put chapter 4 in the in the finished product, but if not it will definitely be in like the second edition you like to find out what happened. You know, in my mission to do that. I'm just kidding can be like all you guys are really gamers are you gonna say that the book is the main game and then if you want to read about your mission that's like a DLC coming on.
I'm a laugh and pretend like I'm think I think even better would just be like to like cut it off like right before I come to Christ.
Just be like if you enjoyed this book, get part 20 what you know you could do that you could set up like a patriotic count to be like the rest of the book is unpatriotic. Okay, patriot is threats or people can sign up and basically just donate money to people that can do it like a one time thing like a monthly thing that gives you can give money to your favorite content creator so that you make new content and then usually have a different tears you know like bronze gold platinum except I could call it like to last you all and the terrestrial and slow accounts for podcasts. I have a friend who does it for his writing.
He has a patriotic count on publishes a story every month and if your subscriber, your patron, then you get to listen to the story.*I guess that's cool. I think we should do like something like that for the podcasts like people can become members and if there like premium gold, and they can my commute me thinking, just like you get filters for each one of the podcasts you I was get a St. Matthew, but I didn't want to be rude so you like halfway between the Dr Pepper. Mr. pit at this point. Yeah, I'm leaning towards Dr Pepper though because I had that Dr Pepper today to try to quell Mr. pit but I didn't want them coming out too much today but if they advertise it. There was Dr Pepper and it actually was. Mr. Bibb, oh my gosh were hope to write well.
The point is the point at which I say thanks fireflies for listening to the sex of the brightness podcasts were regrown Michael about his new book run out and get it from Amazon.com and thanks Michael for coming out next week on talking about trade as it is unlike that will thanks for nothing else.
Kidding. Thanks for letting me come on my own time next week wouldn't be talking to Michael again about an article he wrote called the three LBS conversions. A primer for the befuddled, so look forward to that. We thank you for tuning into this episode of the brightness podcast. We like to hear from you. You're invited to visit the other brightness podcast page on Facebook.
Feel free to send a message there with comments or suggestions by clicking send a message at the top of the page and we would appreciate it if you give the page alike. We also have an outer brightness podcast group on Facebook you can join and interact with us and others.
As we discussed the podcasts past episodes. Suggestions for future episodes, etc. we would love to hear from you and hope to speak with you soon, Steve. Right fireflies. You can subscribe to the other brightness podcast on Apple podcast Google podcasts Google play past box pod modify and stitcher if you like what you hear, give us a rating or review wherever you listen, thank you fireflies can also connect with Mike, just from water to wine, not work, working, blogs, and sometimes pulling Matthew do as well. Music for the outer brightness podcast is graciously provided by the talented Breanna Flournoy and by Adams road. Learn more about Adams road at www.adamsroad.com disease, cheese now all she she is