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April 5, 2020 4:22 pm
The Sons of Light (Paul Bunyan, Matthew the Nukular Calvinist, and Michael the Ex-Mormon Apologist) begin their discussion of the question: "What if Mormonism isn't true?"
Down to closely tie his way. Forcing in the beginning was the word and the Word was with God and the Word was God was in the beginning with God all things were made through him and without him was not anything made that was made in him was life and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, the darkness has not overcome it. This just means drawn by God, to walk with Jesus and turn away out of this mess. This is really nasty here, except when Michael's angry that is.
Welcome to the first episode of the brightness podcast where three guys who were previously members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, headquartered in Salt Lake City, Utah, were commonly referred to as the Mormon faith. All of us have left that religion had been dropped faith in Jesus Christ.
Some might consider a Sons of perdition. The inheritors of our darkness, who supposedly knew the truth and rejected it.
The name of our podcast power brightness reflects the gospel of John chapter 1 of the Bible specifically verse nine which calls Jesus, the true light which gives light to everyone, we found life beyond Mormonism to be brighter than we were told it would be in like we have is not our own. It comes to us from without vast power brightness making the transition from Mormonism to broader Christianity can be exciting, scary, confusing, challenging, invigorating 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 stop will have conversations about all aspects of that transition, but fears the challenges the new beliefs surprises enjoys glad you found us and we hope you'll stick around the zeitgeist of the moment is the idea that we are living in a post-truth world.
The idea that objective facts cannot be known, or less support than personal truth or feelings. Sometimes people refer to my truth or your truth to suggest that there is no objective reality, but rather only what each of us perceives to be true within Mormonism.
The idea of truth reigned supreme Mormons had wanted to share the rest of the world. While all others who were not Mormon have some portion of it, but not the fullness. I'm a Gen X or I'm in that group of people who were in their teens and early 20s when the Internet MetLife or the general public dialogue and slow downloads. When I first began discussing my religion online. Back in 1999 there was a lot of optimism about what this new medium to do for communication between people of different backgrounds.
Only a few doomsday prophets suggested that it could be detrimental to the very idea objective truth might fall down the rabbit hole began with an attempt to be a missionary for my faith. I have been a full-time Mormon missionary in Hungary for two years from 1997 to 1999 when I returned to the US I moved to greater Cincinnati area married and began working for an insurance company. I tried to share my Mormon beliefs with one of the security guards in the building where I worked. She was a kind older African-American meeting in Charlotte. We were talking discuss religion for a few minutes each day.
I gave her a copy of the book of Mormon and sent her a pair full-time missionaries to begin meeting with her as my missionary efforts are paying off. After several weeks of lessons she had been a copy of the book of Mormon that I could in her and a packet of printed pages from various websites. She told me that she spoken with her pastor and that he had told her that the Mormon religion was racist. I appeal to my own conduct with her. She asked me if I was aware that black people were not allowed to hold the others of this priesthood until 1978. I told her that I was aware that she asked. I was aware of any of the other things, church that were represented in the materials that should vanity.
I told her that I would have to look into them, but that anyone can post anything on the Internet and that doesn't make it true. In this episode, I am the other sons of light discuss what it's like to stare down the scary question.
What if Mormonism is true on Paul Bunyan. She's Matthew the nuclear And she's likely X Mormon apologists. Let's get into it.
So in the interim I have of myself as a Gen X or Michael which coworker do you volunteer what if anything you you ask is you I guess technically on the millennial, but I didn't know that until couple months ago so I think I spent in all this time making fun of millennial's and then look what happens.
I really really really self identify as a millennial. But that's kind of a millennial thing to do.
You, I guess so yeah I guess that's life.
All resume. Not so for the findings. Millennial is a millennial word or under design is self identifying as something that you're not is a millennial thing to do. That night I think of myself as like a generation X Irish even though I guess I'm not one Matthew yeah I'm a millennial let me know. Must've Dave change the decades or something. They keep shifting those that those years but yeah I'm a millennial as well cool cool Gen X Syrians to millennial's in the one didn't know he was once to pretend to be Gen X or millennial is a millennial before he knew he was a millennial is pretty hipster.
At that what was going to be about to say he was a Christian before noon. As a Christian I know so though next question. Do you think that that one status as a member of the tubular social core cohort might affect the way one reacts in the construction Mormonism. I think absolutely just the way that different generations view the Mormon church is so different like I remember active in and hearing. Baby boomers say things like oh you Wash dishes on Sunday and I don't wet wipes like where did that come from and regeneration at the different Mormonism that you're dealing with and for me you're going up truth is pretty static and so I feel like if somebody challenges me really hard on just one issue, it would be enough if they challenge me hard enough. It was a core belief they could actually make the whole thing crumble just from one point but if you like these days allow Mormons you have doctrinal walls made out of Jell-O and italic nearly pulled truth from anywhere they want to and you can't project the same way Northampton take down the whole thing at the same time, it's a lot harder to deconstructed now than it used to be… How I feel about it is not just a generational thing of think it's also will, of course, it's a cultural thing because we always make the distinction between in Ogunquit, Utah Mormons and Mormons from outside Utah and that you know I think I think you might both might agree that while in I think Michael really limits over from Utah right your you are from the from the terrible accident in the chain from taxes. I didn't really spend any time in Utah Manhattan flipped me in my memory.
But Pollock please Paul you probably had this experience between missionaries when they would sell your Utah Mormon. You know, amongst all the other missionaries and then visibly look at you differently so is there that aspect to but yeah absolutely think that there is a generational aspect to how you experience Mormonism and I was just thinking when when Michael is talking that just the fact that we call it Mormonism and that we call ourselves ex-Mormons and use the term Mormon is is a generational thing because there's so many Latter Day Saints now that say were not Mormons anymore stop using that word right because that's what their profit asked them to do so is the fact that we even use that terminology is just a sign that that we are from a different time. I guess it's true. So as the millennial are there ways in which you think you processed your deconstruction of Mormonism differently than say someone from Gen X or someone is a baby boomer. I would say that idea – I had a coming from this place.
You know crediting in the middle of two generations almost where the doctrine was super important to me and there were social aspects of the church that were beginning to become important to me as well. So it wasn't just finding out that there are parts of the doctrine that were wrong within kind of seeing things the church did was hurting people.
It really had an effect on me that I don't know if it would've done the same thing with an older generation.
Sorry only good a similar experience to you Michael.
So even though you're technically a millennial that I don't think there's too many years difference between us right so remind me how your 35 that's right similarly evidently six years between us so were fairly close in age and so it's not like 20 year difference in what you said about the of the doctrine the super important in our member, you know I was on my Mormon mission. People were still passing around numbers are McConkie seven deadly heresies taught definitely the doctrine was was such a focal point when I was growing up in my Utah words and just doesn't seem the same.
Now hands I think that I think that is similar to you.
Now, I don't think I hear what I look at those social cohorts. I'm howling right on the edge of that by the end of Gen X and so I may kinda straddle online as well. But you're right, there was. There were some social things going on with that in the church and within broader society within the United States and around the world that you know between the years 2000 and many like 2012 really shifted the way the church was was approaching some social issues and in the right do some things that that her people and yeah that was important to me as well and impacted the way I process things.
I think Matthew well it's interesting because you know five kind of not always been a Mormon, why was always a monumental life so I was kind of rediscovering Mormonism for myself and so I was kind of learning about it from books I was reading a lot of textbooks and are a lot of books members are McConkie from Joseph Smith from James Talmage and so is learning about these traditional doctrines and I think there's the older generations probably really held to those doctrines, as Michael is explaining they were there really kind clung to to those traditional Orthodox teachings, but as time has gone on its Mormonism has definitely evolved, especially after the prison guard. Hinckley was the leader of the LDS church is is really grew that church to be an international worldwide church and with that it's it's kind of morphed and into something more socially palatable.
I guess you could say where. Like you said like the traditional Orthodox Mormon doctrines are kind of hidden or there deemphasized in lieu of trying to appear more Christian. And so with with this change. It seems like with the social changes.
Like you said, it seems like millennial's are very open to acceptance are very open to new information. They're very interested in in having knowledge or asking questions and so and with the LDS church releasing all these articles and information that's all available to us now and end Latter Day Saints have to deal with that knowledge in some way so millennial's are really other really thirsty. I think for some kind of answers but the way that they deal with information and come to their own conclusion is is different for everyone of us so that answers your question. You know there's something that you maybe just kind of jumping in my mind that he when were talking and that is just like these days. There such a tendency for Latter Day Saints to just kind of a cafeteria. Mormons adjust kinda accept what they want to you and throw out the things that they don't want to believe in it almost seems like.
However, many members there are church right now. That's how many dominant denominations there are.
Each person holds to their own unique viewpoint and is just completely different from before, where you know it seems like when I was growing up we were emphasizing that the church was true and that's why it was so important to be a member of the church and now it's shifted to will the church does good things the church is a good social entity and a lot of those things are being deemphasized with the great apostasy and you know what God supposedly told Joe Smith about all the church is being an abomination in his side here that like you would've in the past. It's been interesting to me, seeing some of the ways that millennial Mormons engaged online because you don't want one thing that our listeners should know is that the three of us met online in various Facebook forms where where we discuss Mormonism and Christianity, and differences in basically work at an evangelism to Mormons online and one of the things that surprised me about some of the money Mormons is that although there's this there's been this social shift for them.
That is very prominent in the ways they approach their Mormonism. There's still dislike Raven clinging to the idea that it's true right that is the one true church, and they are part of it and they are a chosen generation, and it's important for them to have that identity as a Mormon and as part of the true religion that that that has been handed down from God. And so I thought that's interesting because they tend to have sort of a postmodern approach to truth in general, and yet among some night and I don't want to get into talking of an individual's I just think it's a good it's been interesting to me to watch that that happened among certain individuals not done. I think that clinging, at least for me. I can definitely relate to it as I went through my transit mission out of Mormonism finally redefine what Mormonism was for me in many ways and yet there was still a desire to cling to this idea that it was true. So that's really what we're talking about today so I can bring us to the next question what was what was your experience of reaching the realization Mormonism wasn't true Michael for me was a couple of things I remember this one defining moment where you came out with the was at the November policy, saying the children of gay parents can be baptized, and I really had an issue with that doctrinally because of the article of faith that we believe men will be punished for their own sins and not for Adam's transgression and really for me it was more of a in the realm of just you know mental thinking and abstract disagreement that I had with the church that then I realize that people work in the suicide over the policy that there been several young Latter Day Saints that had taken the lives and that really that really hit home for me. I felt like I could see something that I had been able to see before and that was that the plan of happiness wasn't making anybody happy that it's causing people to be miserable and I just felt like I could see some. It was so obvious, but nobody else around me could see the problems with with the church and the pain that was causing so really that slow when open my eyes and from there it just became more more obvious that it wasn't that it wasn't God's church.
Matthew would buy you what was your experience like so the moment that I realized that the church wasn't sure.
Well, it it was after this long struggle with many of the different facets of church history and doctrine changing and always different things in III thought this was going to just be a faith crisis that I could overcome. And it would be stronger my testimony but I bet there is a stub point where I just kept diving. I just kept diving into the teachings in the writings and I just was just finding answers, but they were opposite what I was hoping for and I can remember where I was approximately on campus. When I when I just wanted just I just couldn't believe it anymore and I just look at a mental breakdown. It's like everything that you thought you worked for and were fighting for and and you know Todd is a missionary for two years is a very disconcerting experiences is really painful but some it was it was just the culmination of a lot of different things that I had read and thought about and try to mull over and I to me if if this is God's church. It has to be logical. We know God. God is not going to act in an illogical way. And so when he teaches one thing to a previous profit in and contradicts it. The succeeding profit that just didn't make sense to me. So I was it was really difficult time, but but but I think it is far as experience goes, it was an experience that's that another God and that led me to, but as it was difficult because it was who can you talk to about that you feel like you feel like you. You're betraying your people you're betraying your family. That experience so it was a very lonely time as well. Definitely I can differently resonate with that. So the weekend that Angela, my wife and I decided that we were going to stop attending the LDS church and and actually go outside and start looking around our area for other churches. We might attend that weekend use the term mental breakdown. I can totally do that because that's what it was like a member not just going into her room and then laying on the bed and just having all of this emotion cannot flow out of me and one of her teenage daughters came in and laid down next names concerned and wondering what was going on is difficult to try to explain to her what the what that was like to have all of that pressure and it's kind of built up frustration of trying to believe in trying to force myself to believe. Even though like you Matthew on all the studies and instruction to LDS Church history and book of Mormon archaeology in book of Abraham and all that over more than a decade that that final point of saying okay it's not really into something else was still very, very difficult, very painful. So definitely feeling there is something else; yeah I just having sympathy pains for you now can I just reminds me of how that felt.
You know if it's just something completely completely different. He can't explain almost as much time just defending the church an online and arguing in support of it and then and I found out that it wasn't true and I would even within the last year from leaving. I wake up sometimes having almost a panic attack, you know, wondering you know what's real and what isn't, you know, am I still Mormon that I actually believed afflicted that really happened and the closest thing I can compare that to nothing.
I've experienced it. But I think it's like recovering from a drug addiction. It's just, you know, you lose your entire personality our identity. Ambien is tied up in this church and so when you leave everything it's called into question, and never just having crazy dreams of my left ear like I had this one where I was doing a presentation Mormon Ward and somebody asked me if the prospect could supersede Scripture and I thought that he couldn't and we needed to test what he said by the Scriptures and everybody stood up and he started calling me a heretic and basically drove me out.
It was it was really Kafkaesque. You still view them like they're my family think the same time of just become an outcast loss of relationships is tough for sure dude, did you experience any of that Matthew must relationships yeah well when I when I come to a realization that I felt that the church wasn't true. A you talk about your shelf collapsing in a bigger shelf up in you, you put the items on the shelf. They don't quite understand well that that mental breakdown is when your shelf collapses after that I kinda try to pick up the pieces and try to put it back together and try to make sense of everything and so I started kinda going back to church a few months after that to try to say well you know maybe I can just like you said become a cafeteria Mormon. Maybe I can just reject what I don't like and I can keep what I like and part of that was because at the time I when I moved out to New York for graduate studies. I was engaged so I was preparing for the wedding day in the summer of that year and when I am when I am I am I my mental breakdown.
The collapse I I just texted her summer as a my fiancé text message and I said I'm sorry I just can't do this anymore, and now is about all I could. That's about all I could type out because I was just so distraught and I turned my phone off for the next few days I think and just kind of went to mound little little corner and so after that I turn my phone back on and found out that the engagement was often, and that was a good workout in and but you know I'm I'm very thankful that that didn't work out because it would've been much more difficult if if we had gone through the marriage and that try to leave later but as far as other friendships enough out, I started attending the ward out here New York and so I did.
I don't really have any other friends or I have any family here so they were my only support network that I had really was my my word, and as you both know the LDS church is great at getting people integrated and feeling loved and needed so I was feeling very I felt a lot of communion on fellowship with the people here so when I stop, you know, when I finally came to the realization that I just don't want to attend the church anymore. You feel very cut off and you lose those friendships and those connections and and you know I died lost out on the on the marriage so I'm very grateful that my family has been relatively understanding so by I still have my family relationships, to an extent, some of them are might be a little bit strange but that yeah so I mean I think everybody has those those relationships are friendships that they that they that they fear they're going to lose when they when they come to a knowledge of the oldest churches in what it purports to be.
It's it's a very real fear. What other fears did you have Michael about life after Mormonism alone with fear the unknown.
I did, I didn't understand what Christian culture is going to be like, and so was definitely a step in the dark as far as that was concerned that the thing that I was afraid of the most was losing my wife and my child. I've seen or stories were people left the church and then it resulted in divorce and I was so afraid of that that I didn't tell my wife when I left the church initially seen that finding out because the sister missionaries came to my house and left a note while I was away and she read it and then I came home.
She said we needed to talk and first she was supportive, but eventually it did fall apart and that was something that I said it was my greatest fear about leaving the church and that I would lose my family relationships but luckily aside from the marriage. All my other friendships in my family relationships stayed intact, I was really scared to tell my family.
I did tell them for about six months after I left the church because I was just not horrified to tell them I thought that I was going to be disowned or they were going to hate me and ended up finding out on Christmas eve by watching a video on YouTube is really awkward but overall everything. Everything else was okay dental. Do this before Michael and were in contact throughout that time. Just how much I praise God for bringing you through that I know how difficult it was for you from the conversations that we had just kind how touching go.
It was just just going to evolve all praise and glory to God for his goodness is writing a place that you probably didn't see. A few years ago and I just think it's incredible how yeah there is a point there. Why didn't see any light at the end of the tunnel and I was literally asking God like why did you save me out of Mormonism like was it just to abandon me.
You know, I have kind of feeling that way and I think he just let me get all the way to the breaking point before he healed me just to show me that he was all I needed that he was sufficient and that he could take care of me no matter where I was and dominant great relationship. Now I'm married to a Christian woman and I couldn't be happier.
So that I never saw this coming cement. Praise God so fears that I have a nonleading Mormonism doesn't really resonate with you Michael and on the fear of losing your family, you know, part of my story on that Michael and just sharing more of our story and other episodes comes I will get too far into that now.
But I think one of them. His fears that I had was that I was wrong that somehow in all of my studies all all my efforts to understand Mormonism is teachings its history, whether or not it was true that somehow in my conclusions. I was wrong and that plagued me for a long time. In fact I would say that the first first realization that I had that Mormonism wasn't true was probably around 2001, maybe spring of 2001 after my son was born and we did leave as a family until May 2010 so there were a lot of years there were I I've dealt with crippling fear that that I was wrong and it led me to do more studying and more learning but course, I was working through schooling for a business degree and raising a family. So it wasn't all just focused on studying Mormonism, but I think there was was that fear of being wrong that kept me there longer than they do should have met many other fears you want to touch on before we move on to better things.
What you said Paul about feeling that you're wrong. I think that resonates really strongly with me because I like to think that I'm fairly logical person so just the thought that we were taught is Latter Day Saints and I'm not sure if they really emphasize anymore because like we said that such a doctrine is changing constantly that the only people who are eligible for outer darkness are former Latter Day Saints people have received sufficient light that they when they turn away from it that they'll be condemned.
So there's always I thought my mind what if I'm wrong you know if I'm wrong then it's possible have enough light that maybe I will go to outer darkness.
I don't know.
So that was that was probably outside of the fear of losing friends and family.
I think the fear of just being wrong and just standing before God and realizing that I was wrong that that just just terrified me and amen I was. I was afraid of being wrong that I didn't even know that I was afraid of being wrong because I couldn't acknowledge that that was a fear that I had to stand in with my eyes wide shot, so to speak, and I was just like I don't care even if it is wrong. Like I'm never going to leave the church under any circumstances. I was like, even if the prophet and the apostles like abandoning the church and there's only one congregation left on earth. I am going to be in that congregation.
I am not in a fall away and those were my famous last words diseased in my assistance. Jesus said now Jesus was in the