You're entering outer brightness.
Hey, fireflies. Recently, Matthew the Nuclear Calvinist and I went on the Do Theology podcast where our friend Jeremy Howard interviewed us. The way he put it to us was that he wanted to ask us some blunt questions and indeed he did. He shared with us the recording so that we can also publish it to our podcast. And so here comes part two.
Hope you enjoy. How much did you guys understand of your baptism when you got baptized? Matthew, I know you weren't baptized at eight. It was later and you talked to that point a little bit, but I don't know. So often when I hear stories of when Latter-day Saints got baptized when they were kids, it's like they just knew there was cake and ice cream afterwards. And that's about all that they knew.
Did you guys actually know what was going on or was it just, here's what we're doing? Yeah. So I don't know what you said. So I kind of mentioned my story a little bit that I felt like, well, if this is a requirement to get to heaven, I want to get to heaven.
So I've got to do it. And I kind of had some kind of level understanding that LDS believe that your sins are washed away. Like when you go into the bathtub and they talk about this, it's like a cleansing of your sins. But I don't think I quite understood the gravity of like this idea in the Bible, you know, when Christ, you know, it being with John's baptism and, you know, with the Christian baptism is, it was, it was dying to Christ, you know, and rising with Christ. And it's like, you're, you're really committing, you're, you know, you're, you're witnessing that Christ has already done something for you and to you and that you're willing to sacrifice even, you know, all of yourself to, to, for him. So I didn't really understand the gravity of what it meant to, to, you know, to at least under the LDS belief, they still believe that it's something you should commit your entire life to at the time.
So it's something that came to an understanding later. And as you talked about in one of our episodes, I read later in teachings of the prophet Joseph Smith, that he believed that when you're baptized as a Latter-day Saint, that if you're not already a literal descendant of a tribe of Israel, that your blood is changed the moment you're baptized into Israelite blood. And I was like, Hmm. And I was like, that's kind of cool, but that's a, can we test that scientifically? That's like, that's like one of the key ways to show that Mormonism is very different from Jehovah's Witnesses.
They, they nix blood transfusions automatic blood transfusion when you go into the water. And does that play into the, cause isn't it at the patriarchal blessing? You find out if you're Ephraim or Manasseh, is that kind of where that comes from too? Yeah. Yeah. That's part of it. For the most part, most Latter-day Saints particularly, you know, lighter skin, Latter-day Saints are going to most people who are native American or, you know, South American or Hispanic are going to be Manasseh.
I would say the majority. There's one person on my mission who was Jewish, who was from the tribe of Judah. Those are the weirdest, you know, that's the only case I've heard of that. I would say at eight, I did not understand what I was doing. I, I have some vague memories of going to the Bishop's interview prior to my baptism and my parents being there and feeling anxious because I wasn't able to answer the questions that I was being asked with the right answers that they were looking for.
But somehow I made it through anyway. And you know, my dad baptized me and when, so around that age, we had a membership to, I don't think it's probably there anymore, but it was the Northwest Multipurpose Center over near Rose Park. And it was like a, you know, there was a swim pool there and it was like a gym and we would go there and swim.
And my sister and I took swimming lessons there. So I remember going there with my dad and swimming and then we would change and we'd go sit in the sauna and there'd be other, you know, old LDS men sitting in the sauna. And it was kind of like a, I don't know, it made me feel like part of the men's club, I guess, you know, sitting there with the guys, you know, and I felt like when I went to the tabernacle to be baptized, it was sort of like that. We went into, you know, into a locker room and changed and came out and there were a bunch of people from a bunch of kids from my school there, you know, cause it was like a stake baptism.
It wasn't just our ward. So I saw kids that I didn't go to church with, but that I went to school with and some kid, you know, one kid that I remember in, in particular, I won't mention his name, but I didn't know he was LDS and he was there getting baptized and he was kind of a jerk at school. So I was kind of surprised, like, but I was like, oh, I guess that's what baptism is about, but I didn't have any kind of concept of, of sin. I knew that I was being told that this was the age of accountability. This was the age at which I would start to be accountable for my sins. And that didn't really make sense to me like, okay, so why am I being baptized? If there's really nothing yet to wash away. But again, I kind of conceived of it as like, like joining the men's club, right?
It's, it's what we all do. And what I've read on baptisms, which I don't know if it's if there's a section in doctrine and covenants that talks about that. I can't, I don't know. I can't remember where I read that, but it, it basically, the way it's presented is kind of like, okay, parents, if you don't get your kids baptized at eight, you're responsible for their sins that they go on to commit from that point forward is kind of how I've understood that. Is it from a section in doctrine and covenants that talks about when to be baptized or where's the, where's the original source work on that? It's in the book of Mormon, right?
Matthew, that, that talks about the age of aid being the account of the age of accountability. I believe so. Yeah. It's yeah. It's in the same area of the book of Mormon. It seems like it's, it's either in Mormon or Moroni.
I can't remember which. But it, it talks about you know, that, that Michael has called this out on our podcast a few times that even thinking about infant baptism you're worthy of hell. If you, if you think about that and then it kind of lays out the age for the age of accountability.
Okay. I guess, yeah, what I was reading was before it must have been D&C 68. Their children shall be baptized for the remission of their sins when eight years old and receive the laying on of hands. And they should also teach their children to pray and to walk uprightly before the Lord.
But there was something I had read. Oh, here it is. It's in verse 25 of that same section. And as much as parents have children in Zion or in any of her stakes, which are organized that teach them not to understand the doctrine of repentance, faith in Christ, the son of the living God and of baptism and the gift of the Holy ghost by the laying on of hands. When eight years old, the sin be upon the head of the parents. I just remember reading that thinking, well, that makes bad baptizing your kids pretty selfish.
It's like, okay, well, uh, I'm getting this off of my account and I'm throwing you in the water real quick, you know, uh, like that's, that's kind of rough. So, uh, yeah. And you said you were baptized at the tabernacle at temple square, right?
Paul. That's right. So is that like the tabernacle? Is that the place with a huge Oregon or which, which parts?
Okay. Yeah, it is. It's a big dome to building. And at least, uh, back then in the Southwest corner, um, there's kind of a basement door. You can go down into the baptistry that's down there. I was going to say, I've been in there several times. I was just in there a few weeks ago, listening to a Oregon recital actually.
And, um, okay. Didn't know there was a secret basement section. So I'll have to ask about that. And one of the sister missionaries next time I'm there, um, obviously baptism is just one of the many ways within the latter day Saint religion that people are earning their righteousness.
It's a works righteousness religion, uh, in that sense, it's anti-Christian. And I'm just wondering again, going back, thinking of your mindset back then, were you consciously aware of earning your righteousness? Was that something that you were consciously doing when you were living that life? Oh, absolutely.
Yeah. My mom, especially with someone who, uh, struggled for all of her life, uh, to feel like she had done enough to merit, uh, the celestial kingdom. And it's something that, that bothered her to the very end. Um, so, you know, growing up in, in, you know, my parents' house with her expressing that feeling, um, whenever she felt like she had done something or, or failed to do something that she should have done. Um, yeah, I grew up with the, with the sense that had to earn it, um, for sure. And, and that included, um, you know, making sure that you repented properly for every sin that you committed, you know, on a daily basis, you're thinking back when you kneel at night to what did I do today? What did I not do that I should have done? And you're trying to make sure you're, uh, asking God for forgiveness for every one of those things.
And if there's something that you've done, that's so serious that, that, you know, requires a confession to the Bishop, you're making sure you're doing that, uh, on a regular basis as well. So definitely felt that way. Yeah.
Similar. Well, yeah, I just remember really struggling, especially on my mission, because I felt like in, in kind of baked into the LDS mindset is this idea that if you obey, God will bless you kind of, I think. Um, and, uh, so, you know, I felt like I saw all these missionaries are having success and, you know, baptisms. And I felt like I wasn't, that wasn't happening for me. And I thought it was because I wasn't righteous enough, you know, I wasn't obeying enough. And, uh, I just felt like I was on a constant, a hamster wheel of trying to reach this level of righteousness and just falling off the hamster wheel completely, and then having to drag myself back into it and feeling like I just couldn't do it anymore. And there were always passages of the book of Mormon and the Bible, not so much the Bible, because I didn't really know the Bible very well, but passages in the book of Mormon that are, that sound very biblical to a lot of Protestants.
Um, like the, I think it was the people of, uh, King Benjamin, like he gives them this really long discourse and was I a three through five ish somewhere around there. And at the end of it, they kind of all bow before him and, you know, they like, they, they make a covenant with God and they're, you know, they, they plead for forgiveness and the, you know, and then they're, they all have this kind of like born again experience and, um, forgiving of their sins. And that always just like, really, uh, that always really attracted me because, you know, it's like, man, I wish, I wish you could have that experience all the time, you know, like, because as soon as you have that experience, you're going to go off and sin again in your back at square one, it feels like.
And so it just always felt like you were never going to be quite good enough. And, and, you know, a lot of Latter-day Saints, we've talked about this in some of our, some of our episodes. It's like some, a lot of the way that LDS kind of like, you know, kind of like try to not worry about it as they say, well, God just asked you to do your best, you know, you don't have to be perfect to your best. And that's, that's the way they get over the idea that you have to be perfect, but in reality, you can't just do your best when it comes to work, righteous, righteousness. And I think they know that, but they don't want to admit it to themselves.
So they just, it's another shelf item. It's like, well, I don't have to be perfect. I'll just keep trying, you know, that's good enough.
And, but there's no real assurance, you know, it's kind of just themselves trying to assuage those, that guilt that you're constantly trying to get rid of. And what is it? The Moroni 1032, deny yourself of all ungodliness. That's more than do your best.
That's that's be perfect. Yeah. And it's, it's some people interpret that passage differently.
I think I tried to look in previous LDS talks about that, uh, where they've talked about it and the only one I could find, and I can't remember who said it, but they're basically saying it's, it's basically submit yourself to the entire LDS system, you know, baptism, endowments, priesthood, obey the commandments, follow your leaders, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. And I'm like, there's no way I can do this. You know, this was already when I was doubting. So I was like, how am I going to reach that?
It's impossible. So, yeah, yeah, we had Jackson Washburn on to talk about that passage in particular. He had written on an article, uh, on that passage. So if, if listeners want to hear us discuss that in depth, um, you can listen to that episode on the outer brightness podcast, but, um, you know, he, he points out that, you know, um, that the second part of that passage, uh, I'm going to paraphrase, it kind of points out that it, you know, if, if you become perfected in Christ, you can in no wise deny the power of God, right.
Something like that. So, um, it, he, he tried to make the case that, well, it's, it's ultimately, you know, Christ and his merits that you're relying on fully, uh, through that, you know, deny yourself as well on godliness process, which you would say is sanctification. Um, but the, you know, the problem with that is that you have other passages in, uh, LDS scripture, like DNC one 30, uh, I'm not sure the verse, but it, you know, there's a lot irrevocably to create in heaven, uh, upon which all blessings are predicated that, you know, whatever you receive as a blessing from God comes from obedience to a law that's tied to that blessing. Um, so obedience and perfect obedience is the only thing that possibly could result in exaltation in the celestial kingdom.
If you take that, that passage and document of covenants one 30 seriously. Yeah. And we would agree, uh, it's just not our own obedience that gets us there. Uh, so yeah. Yeah.
That's, it's just so wild to think about the pressure that's on a Latter-day Saint to like, you know, like the phrase you use Paul to earn it, uh, cause you just can't. Uh, yeah. Um, you know, this, we want this to be a blunt conversation.
So now we're going to put the blunt and blunt conversation because I've never heard this question asked. So go back to your peak self peak Mormon. Did you envision your celestial future? And if so, what did that look like?
Uh, no. So I never pictured myself having a planet or multiple wives or, or anything like that. That's like to me, you know, it's one of the most unique parts of Mormonism. How did you not let your mind go there? I was too focused on, uh, on trying to be perfectly obedient.
Um, I didn't have time to imagine that I actually would reach it because I was too, too, uh, just to have mentioned despair that I couldn't. Um, but I will say this, uh, I did have a very strange conversation, uh, with my wife who at the time was my fiance. And I'm, I'm surprised that she married me after that conversation. So, um, uh, after my mission and, uh, we were, we were meeting at a different building for our, our ward meetings than we typically met in because they were remodeling ours. So we were sharing a building.
Normally you share a word building with, with two or three other words anyway, but we were sharing, uh, we were moved into a word building that was already full. So, um, our elders quorum and our high priest quorum would meet together on Sundays rather than separately because we had limited space. And so I found out pretty quickly that in elders core or in high priest quorum, they speculate a lot. And, uh, they used to speculate about, you know, when are we going back to Jackson County, Missouri, uh, to form Zion? When are we, when are, when are they going to bring back polygamy as a requirement? Um, those types of speculative questions were always, were often asked. And so, um, in, in my young mind, uh, I thought, well, I guess, I guess polygamy is something that's expected to come back at some point, you know? Uh, so I was on a drive with my, my wife, my fiance at the time, uh, out by, uh, Harriman Utah, which back then was farmland, but now it's all built up with houses.
Um, and we were kind of out in the middle of nowhere and stopped and we're looking at the stars and the moon and whatnot, and having a conversation. And, you know, she's a convert to Mormonism of, you know, maybe five or six months at that time. And I, I just asked her, you know, what, what would you do if they ever brought it back, you know, brought back polygamy. And she's like, well, you better not even think about it. So that's part of the rule, right?
She has to give you permission. So it is, you know, I had, I had to know, right. So, but I am surprised that she, she married me after that conversation. Not that I was interested in, I was just curious, like, how would that play out if they brought it back, you know? Yeah, for sure. Matthew, did you ever envision yourself as the sovereign?
Well, I saw, I mean, you know, a lot of LDS and I think I would have felt that way too. You never feel like you're going to ever, you know, you're never not, you're, you're never going to supersede or be independent of God, the Father, in some sense, you know, even though you will be, you know, inheriting all of his power and kind of like his glory and perfections and attributes and things like that as, as an exalted being, it's not like you can say, you know, because he's the one who got you there. So how are you going to, you know, say, well, I don't need you anymore. I'm better than, you know, you always felt like, it's kind of like if you have a business partner when you're starting out, you know, how does it go? Paul, you're, you're a business guy and the red is bad, right? Being in the red is bad.
I think the black is good. Right. Yep.
Okay. So you're, you know, you're in the red and someone comes along and says, okay, I'll pay off all your debts and, you know, and I'll help you out. You know, how can you ever say if your business somehow makes more money than his, you could be like, oh, well, I'm better than that guy, even if that were possible. So I felt, I felt like, you know, I was always going to be submit, you know, submit to God in some sense somehow. And, uh, we just recorded an episode with Aaron Shafuwala about that, how that causes a dilemma with this hierarchical structure of God's. Uh, so that'll be an interesting episode, but yeah, I just, I just longed for this idea of the, and I still do, you know, but it's a, I'm at a different perspective now, but I just long to just be done with the world, you know, with sin, with my own, you know, shortcomings and with feeling like I fail all the time and, um, just wanting a family, you know, I always kind of wanted a family, you know, wife. And so the prospect of having a wife in heaven and children in heaven was really, you know, what I really liked, but, but I also just liked the fact of, you know, the more we learned about God, the more I learned about what I would become kind of a thing.
Uh, so yeah, I did, I didn't think about it a lot. Uh, but at the same time, I felt like Paul, where you just feel so bogged down in the quagmire of sins and your failures. And it's like, well, that's a nice pipe dream, but I don't know if I'll ever get there. You know, uh, I always thought like, well, after, even after I learned about the second anointing, you know, I was like, well, maybe, maybe if I can become a general authority, maybe I can get that second anointing, you know, and then maybe then I'll have the assurance that I can, you know, so. Yeah, I think there were, there were times when we would sing in sacrament, like if you could hide to Colab, you know, which is a song that, that kind of touches on that, that idea where I would have momentary thoughts of, man, I guess that would be great, but it would immediately be followed by, but man, I'm so far from perfect.
I'll never get there. Now, because you mentioned polygamy and got to ask this too. Did you, did you think that those who are in the celestial kingdom are going to be half, they would have to practice polygamy to populate the planet that they inherit. Did you ever go that far in your thinking at that time? Because that's, that's something that I've always thought about is like, okay, well they talk about heavenly father and heavenly mother, but there's more than one heavenly mother. Uh, did you ever think through that as a latter-day Saint?
Yeah, I think I thought about it. Um, I didn't and really my, my family in general, didn't have a very positive view of, of polygamy. Um, I mentioned my, uh, my great, great grandmother who crossed the Plains with a handcart. Her, her daughter had a very negative, uh, experience with polygamy in the late 1800s, um, abandonment and, uh, and, uh, domestic abuse and that kind of thing. And so, um, polygamy and my family was not very well looked upon. Um, and I, you know, I grew up around, uh, you know, when I was up until the time I was nine, we lived down the street from a, from a duplex where some of the Kingston wives lived, um, one of the big polygamists, uh, families there in Utah. And, and, you know, even when we moved to the suburbs, we would see, uh, polygamous families at the grocery store and that kind of thing. So it was kind of all around us. Um, but my sense of growing up a latter-day Saint, uh, tied to the mainstream LDS church in Utah was that, um, most people looked upon polygamy as kind of like a, uh, maybe, maybe kind of the way, uh, Christians sometimes look at, look at Mormonism as, as a cult.
Right. Um, I remember my, my mom's cousin would come over and she, she did get, uh, kind of swept in occasionally she was, she was a single woman. And so she would get swept into, um, you know, going to meetings with, with some of the polygamous sects and she would come and talk to my parents about it. And I remember they would have, you know, very strenuous, uh, debates and, and kind of arguments with her about, uh, the doctrine and, and, and practice related or, you know, religious polygamy. And I remember overhearing those conversations in our home.
And so we didn't really have a very, very positive view of polygamy. Um, you mentioned the, the him, the high to Colab him, what I like to break out from my Mormon library in my basement, tucked away in my storage room, I like to break out the Mormon hymnal when we have guests over who aren't familiar with Mormonism. And, uh, one of the hymns I like to show them is praise to the man. Did you all worship Joseph Smith? I have said, um, that for me, Joseph Smith became an idol. And, and I mean that in every sense, um, because my religion was all tied up with whether or not he actually experienced and did the things that he claimed to do. Um, and so there was a time in my life, even after my first faith crisis, uh, where I spent a majority of my time trying to run down answers to questions I had around him and his teachings. And there came a point where I just realized, you know what, I, I am focusing far more on Joseph Smith than I am on Jesus Christ and recognize that, that he was an idol in my life.
Yeah. Go ahead. Go ahead, Paul. I just w w with relation to the song, I wouldn't have said, I would have argued like most do that we weren't worshiping and singing that song, but, but he did become an idol in my life. Hard to get away from the words on that page. Uh, cause yeah, you read through that and it's like, how is this not worship? But well, it's funny because even on my, like, so it never really bothered me because, you know, you can just say praise, like you praise someone for doing well on a good job, but in, uh, in the French version on my mission, it was, it was even more evident to me that it kind of got on my nerves a little bit because the first line, you know, roughly translated isn't praise to the man who came in with Jehovah. It's glory to him who saw God, the father.
So I remember reading that or singing that and I was like, that's all like, it's a little bit intense, isn't it? Like, uh, glory to him. Like, isn't God the one that gets glory?
I don't know. That was kind of rubbed me the wrong way, but, uh, yeah, I never, I mean, obviously an LDS is going to be offended. So they pray to Joseph Smith or that they worship him as their God. But, uh, but yeah, I kind of agree with Paul is that his, his Joseph Smith's experience and his teachings are so foundational to your faith is a lot already saying that it's, it's as crucial to accept Joseph's testimony and his teachings as it is to accept the Bible and to accept Jesus as your savior, you know, like it's, it's, it's, it's all part of the deal. So if you reject what Joseph Smith said, you're basically rejecting salvation. So he's just as crucial and, you know, and a lot of times former Latter-day Saints will bring up the fact that there are fast and testimony meetings where people just testify about how they love Joseph Smith and his faithfulness. It's a small 14 year old boy who, you know, who had this vision and then, you know, they'll tack on Jesus at the end. And I feel like that's, I mean, you can get hyperbolic with that, but there were instances where, you know, there would be entire sacrament meeting lessons about Joseph Smith and like, there was hardly any mention of Jesus or, you know, the atonement or anything like that.
So it's, yeah, it's a little bit unfortunate. I think a lot of Latter-day Saints recognize that themselves. And so a lot of their more recent, uh, you know, general conferences have been focusing a lot on grace. What does grace mean?
How to attain grace and atonement? So I think they're trying to, to, to turn ship, but I don't know how they can really become an Orthodox Christian church with all of the temple ordinances for the dead and all, all those other things. I just don't see them becoming. No matter how big the font size for Jesus Christ becomes in the logo or, uh, how much they put, you know, the Christus or whatever the name of that statue is on their app. Yeah. There's still obviously a major, major conflict there. And it surprised me, Matthew, in your story, when you said that you liked McConkie, um, you know, McConkie is kind of a firebrand depending on what circles you're in. I mean, he, he was very bold and a lot of the things he said, and he's pretty polarizing. I think in the Mormon community, you're either all in like, yes, he was, he was going for it. And I agree or, uh, he crossed some lines, uh, kind of more like a, like a modern Brigham Young in a lot of ways, you start talking to some missionaries or something about Brigham Young and the crazy things that he said. And missionaries are kind of in a weird spot because they, on the one hand, they needed to defend these guys who were supposedly speaking from God and with authority. And on the other hand, they said things that clearly disagree with what they believe. So can you kind of put yourself back in that missionary name tag and explain to me how you process that with Brigham or McConkie or whoever it may have been where you're in a situation of having to defend, but also speaking against. Yeah. So, well, it's, you know what, to be honest, like on my mission and things like that, I didn't really deal with a lot of con what I felt like was contradictions or trying to reconcile contradictory statements. You know what I mean? Like I felt like, uh, come across me on your mission, man.
That would have been great. It's true. Yeah. Like, uh, you know, back then I still felt like the church was still very clearly saying we're the true living church. And I think there were talks even around in the general conferences in that time where they're still saying that because we have the priesthood authority, that's why we're the Truman church. And if you're, if you don't have this priesthood authority, you don't have proper ordinances, you know, baptism, dominance, confirmation that you need for eternal life.
So like that's, that's a clear demarcation, you know, have it or you don't. And so I felt like, you know, maybe McConkie used various old language on certain things and some things I disagreed with him on a little bit, like in his Mormon doctrine, he said that, uh, basically the practice of psychology is part of the church of the devil. And so I was kind of like, well, I don't really quite agree with that because I feel like some people do have disorders that do need help. Um, but yeah, um, in terms of like Brigham young, I remember reading things about him before my mission, you know, things that he'd said about throwing, throwing a javelin through an adulterous wife's chest and all this other weird stuff, uh, blood atonement, but I kind of just chalked it up to like, well, we learned line upon line and precept on precept. That's one thing that I think a lot of latterity since still rely upon. And they say, well, you know, sometimes they're, they're seeking after knowledge.
It's kind of like feeling around in a dark room and you might get a flicker of light here and there, and they latch onto it and they're still trying to feel around. And so they'll make, they'll, they'll say things that aren't necessarily true, but, you know, that's why over time the church will become kind of more true, I guess, you know, in theory. So, you know, any of those, those ideas that came from themselves as men and not as prophets would kind of get filtered out, hopefully. Um, so that's maybe kind of how I would have looked at it. Yeah. And where my, where my questioning mind went, Matthew, after my mission, when discussing contradictions online with other latter day saints and somebody would throw out that line upon line, or they're kind of fumbling around in the dark, you know, my mind went, okay, so how are they different than me?
You know, why, why should I follow them if that, if they're doing the same thing I'm doing? Um, but on my mission, Jeremy, to your question, uh, I, I remember a specific instance sitting on my bed and, and, and again, working through my goal to read all of the standard works that included the official declarations at the end of the Pearl of great price, right. With the end of, are they at the end of the doctrine of covenants or Pearl of great price?
I can't remember. Um, but they're considered part of the standard works part of LDS canon. And I remember reading through them and of course I had read through official declaration one, you know, uh, where polygamy was done away with as a, as a practice within the LDS church before, um, had studied it through in, in, in seminary. Um, but I remember kind of reading through that and thinking, you know, just having the question, like, why, if it's not something we need to practice today, but it was once taught as something that was essential for exaltation, then why isn't it practiced today? You know, um, why would there be something withheld that isn't, isn't essential?
Um, because then, then you, you, if you run down that line of thinking too far, you, you end up with, well, isn't the LDS church then in some sense, um, placing its members within a state of apostasy because they're not practicing something that is supposed to have been practiced. Um, so yeah, I remember that, that experience, uh, specifically, um, and you know, other contradictions. I remember when I came home from my mission and moved out here and got married, uh, I was working at, uh, the insurance company I work for now, uh, in a, in a clerk capacity. And, um, I would have to go down each day and get the mail from the mail room for our appeals department. And I would spend some time talking to our security guards.
We had several different security guards that worked that day shift during the week. And one of them was named Charlotte, a really kind, uh, older African-American woman. And we became friends and talked a lot. And, um, we started talking about religion and I gave her a book of Mormon and I sent the missionaries her way. And she was, she looked to be progressing towards, uh, being baptized, uh, but then had a conversation with her, uh, pastor about it. And he gave her a bunch of, uh, what I would have termed at the time was anti Mormon material that he printed off of the internet. And she brought in that stack of materials and gave it to me with the book of Mormon back. And, you know, told me that she, she couldn't, uh, follow the road that I was asking her to follow. Um, and I tried to make the case to her, you know, that, uh, just because something's on the internet, doesn't make it true.
Anybody can put anything on the internet and the anti Mormons are going to put all kinds of stuff out there. Um, but I took the stack and started looking through it and started reading what was claimed within the various printouts and articles and, um, started to run things down. And a lot of it was related to the blacks and the priesthood issue, which is the other, the other official declaration, which I never was comfortable with. Um, and, you know, just started trying to think about that through her eyes, how that would have been received by her. I didn't tell her about it in our conversations. Um, I knew about it. Did I specifically withhold it? Uh, I think I probably was aware that that would probably be something she would want to know, but I did not tell her about it or whatever, not discussion one.
Right. So I didn't tell her about it. And so I started to try to think about like, well, what must that have been like from her perspective to, you know, I've had these conversations with me and, and, and trusted me and we kind of became friends and, and then she finds out that what I'm trying to teach her, you know, the church that I'm trying to bring her into one time viewed her as less worthy. And, um, that really bothered me. And so I started to run down, like some of the things that Brigham Young said about that, because they were contained in that, that packet of materials. And at first I thought there's no way he really said these, but I went home and, and pulled out my, uh, my copy of the discourses of Brigham Young and found that he did in fact say these things. So, um, yeah, very challenging.
Um, I don't know. And then this gets to, I don't know, maybe, maybe a difficult thing to talk about, but the people that you ran into when you were Latter-day Saints, uh, who you influenced. So not just the Charlottes that you ran into, who you had a conversation with and they didn't convert, but those who either did convert or were because of your influence, they deepened their allegiance to the church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. How do you process that now, knowing that you were influential in their lives to submerge them deeper into a false religion?
How, how do you think through that now? I think about it pretty often because I'm, I'm Facebook friends with a lot of people from my mission. Um, and you know, none of them have specifically reached out to me. Uh, well, a couple of, a couple of missionaries I served with have reached out and talked to me about the podcast, um, because I'm not, uh, I'm not shy about sharing our episodes on my own wall. Um, but none of the Hungarian people that I know have reached out and talked to me about the podcast. Um, so don't know if they see it, but I, I hope that they do. Um, I don't try to push it on them. Um, but if somebody, if one of them will reach out to me, I would, I would definitely have a conversation with them.
Yeah. So in terms of my mission, it was really rough all tested, like, you know, just in Europe in general, people are very unbelieving general. So I really struggled to even just get, get into people's doors. So I'm kinda, you know, looking back on my mission, you know, at the end of it, I felt really discouraged. I felt like I didn't, you know, in some sense, I felt like I, I let God down, you know, as when I was still believing Latter-day Saint, but I still, I remember as experience where I felt like I prayed and, and asked God if my mission was okay. And I felt like he was, you know, like I felt that warm buzzing again, saying that my mission was okay.
So, so I kind of wrestled between those things, but looking back now. Um, so there was one man who we baptized, but he was kind of already set for baptism. And so we were kind of just teaching him the new member lessons. He was really old.
And, uh, I felt, I do think about him a lot, like where he, like where he is now, I'm pretty sure he's passed away because he was quite old and frail at the time. Um, there's another girl that we taught and I, I think I left before she was actually baptized. Uh, it was my first area and had a really, I was, my companion played a prank on me, my trainer, and told me to teach her about the law of chastity and my very broken French to a girl that was basically our age. And, and, uh, it was very embarrassing. Yeah. I think she was baptized at some point, but at some point she had health issues and we kind of just lost track of her.
So, uh, nobody knew where she went and, um, uh, yeah. So there was one other person that we basically taught from scratch and baptized in my last area. And I've been wanting to contact him and talk to him too, to kind of let him know about my faith journey, but yeah, it doesn't, so it doesn't really bother me partially. Like I said, I didn't have much success, but I do think about in general, just all the times I bore that testimony on the streets to people and maybe they don't remember my name or my face or whatever, but like, you know, just putting it out in the world, something that, you know, now is, is not correct. Um, I mean, in one sense it's as, as fallen, unregenerate people, we sin in all kinds of ways.
So you can't beat yourself up too much. I think in the sense of being, you know, like saying, well, why did I do that? Why, you know, trying to always go back, you know, I just have to remember that, you know, I did what I did because I thought that's what that's, I thought that's what God wanted me to do. And I just praise God and thank Him that He brought me out of it, you know, that He showed me the truth. And, and thankfully I have talked to when I came out and said that I left the church and a couple of my companions, um, on my mission have told me that they've also left the church. Uh, and I've really, you know, I was like, you know, that's great, but I really want you to, to cling to Jesus, you know, like, don't, you know, don't give up religion altogether. And that's what I really am afraid of.
And, and same similar thing happened to people in high school that I wasn't really super friends with, but I knew since we were kids, you know, like five, six years old, came out and told me that they had also left the church. And so, yeah, that's why I'm just, I'm hoping also that they'll listen to our testimonies or Facebook posts, whatever. And I have lots of friends that still haven't blocked me yet, uh, you know, with all the stuff I posted.
So I don't know if they just don't see it or they just, you know, uh, mute my, my posts or whatever, but I think I posted once I was like, Hey, uh, for all of you haven't blocked me yet. Thanks. You're cool. So, yeah.
Yeah. So I, uh, just to kind of play off of what Matthew was saying, I, I have taken a lot of comfort as, as a former Latter-day Saint in, in Paul's words that he writes at the beginning of chapter nine, uh, of Romans, he says, I'm speaking the truth in Christ. I am not lying. My conscience spares me witness in the Holy Spirit that I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart for I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen, according to the flesh. I have similar feelings towards my Latter-day Saint friends and family that I know. And, um, you know, that's why I do what I do with the podcast. Um, and I, I hope that it, that it lands for, for people. Um, I hope that, that God uses it to draw people to, to his son. Um, but I also trust in the sovereignty of God. You know, I recognize that there were many people that I met on my mission who, uh, even, even though some of them were LDS helped move me further in the direction of accepting Christ alone, uh, for my salvation and understanding, um, that that's, that's where our salvation lies is in Christ alone. And so, um, you know, I trust that God is sovereign and, and, uh, knows what he is doing.
Yeah. Amen. Well, as we wrap up, uh, again, imagine tonight after dinner, um, you could sit down with your former peak Mormon self. What would you say to that person? How would you go about having a conversation with that person? What would be your tactics?
Uh, at least for me being in Utah, so many of my conversations are with people who are all in, and those are really difficult conversations for me. So if for no one else's help, but my own, how would you go about that conversation with your former self? Well, for, for my case, it's kind of cheating because, you know, we know, I know what my thoughts were and my feelings were at the time, but I think, I think that's fine. Customize it to yourself. That's fine.
Sure. I would kind of appeal to the doubts and the guilt and the, the feeling that I felt like I was never going to live up to what I believed and what I wanted to achieve. I would ask myself, my former believing self, I would say, what if you could have peace, like lasting peace? What if you could truly feel forgiven, even though you sin every day and you're still going to mess up, what if you could have that feeling and assurance that, you know, that Christ has secured your eternal life? What would that mean? Because that's what I, that's what I desire.
And I felt like I never really had it. So I would kind of appeal to that. And I would also ask myself questions about like, how do I know, how do I know who Jesus really is?
What kind of a person he is and why it's important that he is who he is? Because I, as a Latter-day Saint, you talk about how Jesus is God. Okay. Well, what does that mean? And we talked about that.
I forget if it was with Aaron or with Jackson, but we talked about that. And a lot of times LDS just say those words, but they don't really ponder what that really means. They just say, Oh, Jesus is the son of God or that he is God, but they don't like think about what that means or why it's really that important because we think of just God as just something super natural, something great.
That's about it. But we don't think of him as like, is he, is he a changing God or an unchanging God? If he changes, does that still make him God? You know, and LDS don't have a problem with a changing God, but when you really think about these issues, yeah, I want a God who doesn't change, who's eternally God, who's uncreated, who doesn't have a superior to him. He's accountable. The one who creates all things, the one who has all power and might and glory, and who has everything in the Palm of his hand, you know, he plans out everything, you know, as a Latter-day Saint, it feels like it kind of feels like you're, you're playing cosmic dice in terms of like, everything just seems to like, you know, we talk about God having a plan sometimes, but for the most part, it's like about obedience, you know, if you obey God will bless you. And it feels like you're just not really in control.
And so like Paul is saying, I would just, I would just talk to myself about how you can have a true peace and assurance of your salvation by trusting in Christ and what he did alone. And also that God has got everything in his hands, you know, that God is completely sovereign. And that's why we can trust him. He doesn't change. He doesn't, from moment to moment, he doesn't learn. He doesn't grow. He doesn't regress or progress or digress.
He's, he's constant. He's a complete and sure rock that we can rest our faith and our trust in. And that's the God who you should trust in. And I think that's, that's kind of the route I would go with myself because I wanted something like that, something I could really grasp onto and say, you know, even my shortcomings and I spend, you know, weeks, better weeks, worse weeks, something I could grasp onto to say, yes, that's, that's what I can at least hold onto as my assurance.
Yeah. With Matthew a hundred percent, when I first came out of the LDS church, I started to ask and really started to understand the gospel of grace. I started to ask myself, what would I, what would I share with my younger self? And it was a question that was a difficult one to tackle because I went through a lot of years of study and trying to work things out from a Mormon perspective. And, you know, there's a lot of ground you can cover.
You can, you can really go into LDS history or, or go deep into doctrine. And I, I just kind of landed at the place where it was like, you know, if I had a chance to speak with herself and the question was real because I wanted to know, okay, what am I going to say? If the LDS missionaries knock on my door?
It wasn't just a hypothetical. What if I talked to a younger me because if they knocked on my door, I would be talking to the younger me. So I landed where I would share the gospel of grace because that's so critical for Latter-day Saints to understand. It's something that their teachings don't allow them to understand. I heard many times in fast and testimony meetings growing up from both my peers as teenagers and adults, the statement, you know, I don't know where I would be without the restored gospel. I would probably be, you know, drunk somewhere, or they would, they would, you know, put themselves in some scenario that involved sin. And, you know, Latter-day Saints often say things that are very similar to the rhetorical interlocutors that Paul responds to in in the chapters of Romans.
You know, what shall we say? Shall we sin all we want, you know, that kind of thing. And that's the way Latter-day Saints view it. You know, if you, if you believe in grace, that it's just a free gift what's going to stop you from just sinning all you want, because that comes from a place where in their heart they believe that their attempts at obedience are getting them there and are keeping them from sin. And it comes, it also comes from a place of frustration as Matthew and I both know, because also deep in their hearts, they know that their attempts at obedience and at living without sin are not coming to fruition.
They're not getting there. And so I would share the gospel of grace with my younger self. That's good. Because it can be overwhelming because of all the differences. I mean, there's, you could talk about how God doesn't have a body. You could talk about how we didn't actually exist in some pre-existence, that families aren't forever, how we don't need temples. I mean, there's just like an endless list of things that could be talked about. And I love how you both highlighted really some core issues of the here and now, because all that other stuff will just come later, right? I mean, it's not like you have to teach them systematic theology from the get-go, even though that's really tempting, especially for someone like me, because it's like, ah, there's so much wrong here.
But I think, yeah, getting to the heart of the issue probably seems to be wise and let everything else happen in time. And that's probably how it happened for you guys, when you were drawn by the Lord to believe, is that just one by one over the course of years, that stuff changed, huh? Yeah. It all kind of falls away one by one, but that understanding of, I can trust in what Jesus Christ did on my behalf and understanding the cross and what was done there and what was accomplished once and for all, that was the greatest change that took place in my heart was understanding, okay, it's not dependent on me.
God is going to ultimately make me perfect and sanctify me, but that's not, it's not on me to make that happen. Yeah. Amen.
Yeah. It's something I need to work on because I feel like, yeah, if you just present LDS with these set of logical arguments, you know, they'll obviously see the truth. And, you know, I think God used logical arguments to help me come out of the church, you know, the contradictions, the historical issues, but that doesn't bring you to faith in Christ.
You know, that, you know, just, just showing the church has issues and contradictions is not enough. And that's why so many LDS leave and don't have faith in Christ, but I was still yearning. I was still thirst for, you know, for peace. I was searching to know who God was and like who I was in relation to him. And so that's why I felt like I was just dragged down to my knees and I was just like, God, I don't know. Like if you're, I remember praying and I was like, God, you know, I don't know if you're a Trinity or not. I don't even know what that means really, but I'm willing to believe whatever you want me to, you know, and I just want you to rescue. I just want you to save me because I'm so confused and so much in doubt. And I know that I'm a sinner and I need help and I'm not going to trust anything I do. And I felt like it was at that moment that, you know, the God that God rescued me. And, and that's, and, but that's hard, you know, it's hard to really share that with Latter-day Saints just because how do you share something so personal that they feel that they've already had to, they're like, well, I've had that experience too. And it's like, no, you don't understand. Like it's, it's like a life.
It's like you're, it feels like your old self is being ripped out of. Yeah. Well, and complete forgiveness is a concept that's not even an option in the Mormon worldview. So trying to explain to them that some, that something is available to them that they've, their whole life considered just isn't even an option is wild. Now you mentioned missionaries coming to your door. I'm curious when you run into missionaries or whoever you end up talking to as Latter-day Saints, do current Latter-day Saints, do you find that you have more credibility or less credibility since you're ex-mos, uh, do they, do they see, oh, well, you know what you're talking about?
Cause he used to be in it or is it like, oh, well, you're a son of perdition. So I'm not going to trust anything you have to say. I think less credibility. Yeah. It's, it's a challenge because, um, there's the view that, well, he wouldn't have left if you really understood what our teachings are. Um, I see that on like Michael Wilder stuff all the time. Like when he has an interview or something, he was obviously very much in it and very legitimately in it, but people will still comment and say, oh, you just, you never, you never got it.
His mom taught at BYU. What are you talking about? Right? Yeah. I would agree with that. And like, maybe you could make the case that maybe they were just never, their heart was never really in it. You know, I could, I could see that, you know, because a lot of times, you know, Christians fall away from the faith.
And so, you know, I'm a firm believer that those that God gives saving grace to will remain in the faith. But, but to just say that we don't understand the faith at all, or we don't really know the history or the beliefs, the doctrines, it's like, well, what, what do you want me to read? Cause I'll read it. I mean, I've read so much stuff, you know, I mean, I taught my gospel, you know, I read, I taught from gospel principles to new members and, you know, it's like, so what do you want me to read? You know, if it's just an understanding thing, I'll read it. But yeah, that, that, that never really made sense to me.
Yeah. And speaking from experience, you know, when I was newly married I think, I think my dad gave me the book. It was a book written by someone who had converted to Mormonism from a Christian family and then ended up leaving Mormonism and wrote kind of an expose type book. And my dad gave it to me, wanted to know what I think, what I thought about it.
And I remember reading through it and you know, just kind of having those same kind of thoughts. Well, he's, he's wrong here. He's wrong there. He never, he didn't understand this, you know what I mean? But where I was saying, he's wrong here and he's wrong there.
I was probably the one who was wrong. You know what I mean? In terms of understanding what had been taught in the past and being, having had access to what was taught in the past fully. And so it's kind of like, you know, it's almost cliche now too with once, you know, once the LDS church published the gospel topics essays for, you know, people to say, well, you know, all of that was the anti-Mormon material of the late seventies and 1980s. You know what I mean?
That's now being acknowledged as true. So it comes from a place of, it comes from a place of putting up defensive walls, right? When you, when you read something from somebody who left, or you hear something from somebody who left, you put up a wall because you probably have that shelf, right? That is, is way down. And you can't, you can't allow yourself to think that this person who has left might have left for valid reasons.
Otherwise that shelf is going to crack for you. Yeah, for sure. Are Latter-day Saints the hardest people group to reach in America?
I don't think so. That's optimistic. That encourages me as someone who's immersed in it. I think, I think secular atheists are probably the hardest group to reach because at least with, at least with Latter-day Saints, your, your shared, you have a shared idea as theists that, that there's a God. And you can, you can talk about what is truth.
What is the truth about God that he has revealed to the world? So there's, there's at least that much of a shared understanding and a shared worldview that you can, you can kind of start talking about truth, but with, with secular atheists who have taken, you know, the idea that there's no absolute truth to heart. I think that's probably the hardest group to reach.
Yeah. I don't know if it's the hardest group, but amongst religious people, it can be very difficult because you've, you've noted, we've noted and the apologists have noted, as soon as you dip your toes, if you've never grown up in an LDS background, you dip your toes into LDS belief and thought and apologetics. There's a huge language barrier. There's a huge cultural barrier. And so a lot of times we just talk over each other, you know, it's just, you know, ships passing in the night.
It's not, you know, there's no connection there. And so it takes a lot of work just to understand where they're coming from and to be able to explain your terms and put all your cards on the table. And so there's a lot of work that goes into it probably. Then maybe like talking to someone who has a higher view of the authority of scripture, you know, like, I don't know, I'm just thinking off the top of my head, like I've talked to oneness Pentecostals on Facebook and they'll, they'll always reference scripture. And so it's like, okay, you know, we're on the same page, at least in terms of the Bible being the word of God, at least, you know, we don't have to talk about, you know, I don't have to show you evidence of, you know, the biblical manuscript traditions, you know, and the authority of scripture. I don't have to, you know, but there is still that, that issue of who God is. So I don't know, it's, it's, it is very much like a lot of work just to get over these hurdles. And, and we, there's just a different cultural mindset of what it is to be saved. You know, they, they don't, they don't grasp this idea of salvation being a one-time thing that continues on, you know, and your growth as a Christian, they see like, okay, well, if you're a one-time saved, you got, you got that assurance you need, then what else do you need? You know, that's it.
It's all you, it's all. So yeah, they, that's why they struggle to understand grace, because they feel like if you have that assurance of salvation and conversion you know, when you're saved, they're like, well, why wouldn't you just go sin and commit all kinds of, do whatever you want. You know, you have a license to sin. They don't understand the concept that God also will bring a believer to, to sanctification so that the power of sin is also, you know, taken from Him. So I think it's a, it's a truncated gospel to say that God will justify you from your sins, but then leave you in your sins and never change you. Yeah.
He breaks the power of canceled sin. One of my favorite lines from the hymn book. When are you guys moving back to the motherland here to help us out? When are you guys coming back to Utah?
That is a fun question. Yeah. I don't see that happening right now, but I'll visit. I'll visit.
I'll give you that. So many, so many people from Utah leave and don't come back. It's I don't know. Utah is a weird place, man. I'm not from here. I don't know how long I'll be here. I'm just here and we need more.
We need more Christians in Utah. What about you, Matthew? Well, I've got plans. I've got, assuming everything works out, you know, Lord willing, I don't know if it will, but I've got a job lined up in, uh, Idaho falls. So I'm still in that kind of area, you know, I won't be too close to you, but.
Oh yeah. Idaho falls, man. That's beautiful up there and definitely need more Christians in Idaho falls. So that's good. And Cincinnati needs Christians too, Paul. That's good. And the great thing is, the great thing is with the podcast and being on the radio out there, we can reach people. That's right.
You guys are on truth network, AM eight 20 out here. That's right. Isn't that right? Correct.
On Sundays at 2 PM. Cool. Yeah. That's great. So, uh, thank you guys so much for coming on. Just having a long conversation with questions that I've always wanted to ask. I appreciate that.
Um, hopefully this helps people think through stuff. Thanks for, thanks for joining me. Yeah.
Thanks for having us on. Appreciate it. Jeremy. God bless you, Jeremy. Yeah. Appreciate it.
That's it for this episode. Fireflies next week, Matthew and I will be back to discuss the Mormon view of testimony when compared with the reformed view of the internal witness of the Holy spirit. We thank you for tuning into this episode of the outer brightness podcast. We'd love to hear from you. Please visit the outer brightness podcast page on Facebook. Feel free to send us a message there with comments or questions by clicking send a message at the top of the page.
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You can also subscribe to our YouTube channel and hit that notification bell. Music for outer brightness is graciously provided by the talented Brianna Flournoy and Adams road. You can learn more about Adams road by visiting their ministry page at adamsroadministry.com. In the past, I believed in my own righteousness and hope that I was worthy of the blood that Jesus shed. But now I know that all the works I did were meaningless compared with Jesus' lonely death on the cross where he bore sin.
And now I have the righteousness that is by faith in Jesus' name. I consider everything a loss compared to knowing Jesus. For who's sake, I have lost all things, oh, because of the cross. On the cross, Jesus took away the written code, the law of words that stood opposed and nailed it there for me.
Through the cross, he put to death hostility, and in his body reconciled us to God and brought us peace. And I am crucified with Christ, and I no longer live, but he lives in me. I consider everything a loss compared to knowing Jesus. For who's sake, I have lost all things, oh, but when I gained Jesus, it was worth the cost. All my righteousness I count as a loss because of the cross.
Some demand a sign, and some seek to be wise, but we preach Christ crucified. A stumbling bottle of sun, the foolishness of God, but wiser than the wisest man, the power of the cross. May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord through which the world has been crucified to me. An eye to the world, so I take up my cross and follow where Jesus leads. Oh, I consider everything a loss compared to knowing Jesus. For who's sake, I have lost all things, oh, but when I gained Jesus, it was worth the cost. All my righteousness I count as a loss because of the cross. Because of the cross. Because of the cross.
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