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Marv Cowan Interview Part 1

Viewpoint on Mormonism / Bill McKeever
The Truth Network Radio
November 29, 2020 8:18 pm

Marv Cowan Interview Part 1

Viewpoint on Mormonism / Bill McKeever

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November 29, 2020 8:18 pm

Bill McKeever interviews Marv Cowan, who has researched Mormonism for many decades.

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Viewpoint on Mormonism, the program that examines the teachings of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from a biblical perspective. Viewpoint on Mormonism is sponsored by Mormonism Research Ministry. Since 1979, Mormonism Research Ministry has been dedicated to equipping the body of Christ with answers regarding the Christian faith in a manner that expresses gentleness and respect. And now your host for today's Viewpoint on Mormonism. Welcome to this edition of Viewpoint on Mormonism. I'm your host, Bill McKeever, founder and director of Mormonism Research Ministry, and with me today is a good friend of mine, Marv Cowen. Marv, welcome to the show.

It is great to have you. And I was telling Eric many, many times, we've got to have Marv on the show because you and your book, Mormon Claims Answered, and of course the research of Sander Tanner, was very influential in my early years of study in Mormonism. I still remember this picture I have of me while I was on vacation with my wife and my very young family at the time. There's a picture of me sitting by the pool reading your book, Mormon Claims Answered, not the 1989 edition.

The early one, the white one with the green and the brown ink on it, and there I am. Well, one of our first vacations as a husband and wife was Salt Lake City. So it's great to have a wife that's behind you in this kind of work, and putting up with all the stuff that I was doing in those early years. But welcome to Viewpoint on Mormonism, Marv. And I want to introduce you to a lot of our listeners because I'm sure there are a lot of people out there that are not familiar with your background, and you've been a part of the missionary effort to the Mormon people for decades. You have so much in the way of helping Christians better understand what Mormonism is all about. And I've always respected, well, your encouragement to me personally, but also your integrity, not to go off into the sensational, but just dealing with the facts as they really are. And certainly that's always important when we're talking to Mormons. There's no need to go off into all this gray area and sensationalism. We have too much of it as written down that we can glean from. And I think your book, though it wasn't a huge book, it was very concise.

But I think because of it being so concise, it became such a help. But your background in Mormonism, we were talking before we started recording and you mentioned it goes back to the time of Brigham Young. Why don't you talk about that? Well, my great grandparents were pioneers here in the Salt Lake Valley. And my grandparents were involved in Mormonism, my parents were, and so I grew up in it. My parents were married in the temple and my brother and sister and I were sealed in the Logan Temple to them. And I was an avid believer in Mormonism growing up. When my first convert, when I was in the seventh grade, I really believed that we had the truth. We had a living prophet in touch with God. And all that was very important to me.

And I thought, this is something I need to share with my friends. That's why I was doing it even in junior high school. Wow. A young missionary without even being on a mission officially. Right.

Yes. In the early years of my growing up, I got a hold of this little book, I think I mentioned it to you when we were talking, by Biederwulf, that raised some questions and that made me want to study. And then I met some Christian young people and in talking with them, they raised some questions. We were talking one time and particularly about what happens after this life. And when I mentioned I'd like to be a God, they want to know where I got that idea. Not exactly something most Christians would say among themselves. So when you mentioned that, I can imagine, what?

What are you talking about? To me, it was normal, but it wasn't to them. And so they asked where I got that and I said, well you know the Bible says, as man is, God once was, and as God as man may be. And no, they didn't know the Bible said that, so they asked where it was. And then I was in trouble because I didn't know where it came from.

I just had heard it over and over. And usually we said things were in the Bible. And in fact, oftentimes they were in the Book of Mormon or the Doctrine and Covenants or the Pearl of Great Price or somewhere else. And of course that goes back to Lorenzo Snow, which it's not really found in any of their standard works.

No, it's not. And I remember one time I was down in Temple Square and somebody asked about that particular belief. There was a large group, this was back in the days when they still had men who were doctors, lawyers doing the tour work. And this guy said, I went to a Nazarene college and we were taught that Mormons believed that God was once a man and men could become gods. And he said, is that true? And the guy said, no. So I walked up to him and I said, did I understand you correctly?

That that isn't what Mormonism teaches? And he said, yeah. And I said, do you have a copy of, tell me there's articles of faith here? And another Mormon elder standing there said, yes. And I said, would you get it for me please? So he went and got it and I flipped it open to page 430. And I said, what does that say?

As man is, God once was, God is man maybe. And he said, I didn't know that was there. And I said, well, you may not know that it was on this particular page, but that doctrine is pretty well ingrained in Mormonism. And I said, I just can't believe you didn't know it. And he said, well, of course I knew it, but these people wouldn't understand that you got to give them milk before you give them meat.

How many times have I heard that? And you know, I think that alone, Marv, should really wake up a lot of Christians who just naturally assume that sometimes they're hearing nothing but the unadulterated truth as to what Mormons believe when they go on some of these tours. Because I've been on a lot of these tours, not only through temples during open houses, and I've heard the tour guides say things that you know are not accurate, and I've challenged them privately afterwards, sometimes publicly, depending on the infraction. And I've had them admit, well, we have to stick to the script, you know, and we're doing only what we're told. I think that should wake up a lot of people to be very cautious as to what they believe when they go on a lot of these tours and when they go downtown to Temple Square. Because just as your Christian friends saw something wrong when you said you hope to become a god, I don't think on Temple Square they want visitors having raised eyebrows.

They're trying to get them to think that they're more mainstream. Wouldn't you agree? Oh, absolutely.

Yeah. And of course today, and I'm sure you've seen that, they talk a lot more about Jesus Christ than they used to. I had some missionaries a few years back come and they wanted to teach me, and I said, just summarize for me the most important thing that I must know if I'm going to die within the next month or whatever. What is the most important? I'm familiar with Mormonism, but I want to hear from you what you think is the most important. Well, they gave me the story of Joseph Smith, and they talked for 15, 20 minutes, and then I stopped them and I said, in all this time you've mentioned Jesus Christ twice, once in the name of your church and once that Joseph Smith saw him. But isn't Jesus Christ supposed to be the Savior?

Isn't he what I really need if I'm going to be prepared for eternity? Oh, well, we take that for granted. I said, that's what I was asking. What's the most important?

Yeah, you would think they would mention it if they really thought that that was all that important. And you're right, you know, I remember you teaching that one time years ago, and that always stuck with me, and I've used that approach several times. If I was to die tomorrow, what would be the message you would have for me today?

What do I need to know? Because when a person is in that kind of a situation, a long-term plan is probably not going to be the best solution if you don't have a long time to carry it out. So what is the most important? And of course, faith in Jesus Christ and what he did on the cross for his people is certainly going to be number one, and that's often overlooked. And I've had many missionaries, when I asked that very question, and I learned it from you, Mark, I learned it from you, because I've asked that question many times of missionaries, and you're right, they often want to go into this whole long plan, first you have to be baptized in the Mormon Church, and then you have to do this, and you have to do that. And there is a long list of things that people have to do, which of course I think leads to why there's so much of a question mark in the hearts of a lot of Latter-day Saints as to whether or not they've done enough.

And what about you? You're hearing from these Christians, they're questioning you on this, and I'm amazed that they are challenging you, which is good, because there's some Christians who think, well, we shouldn't challenge Mormons, we should just love them. And my response to that is, well, isn't challenging them a way of loving them? I mean, I'm glad someone challenged me when I was a young person about where I was in light of eternity. I look back to those times, and I cherish them, that my Christian friends were bold enough to challenge me, knowing that I did not at that time agree with a lot of their positions regarding Christianity. And I'm glad they brought it up to me.

And in my case, all they did is just ask some questions, and it was enough to spur me to start doing a little more research for myself. And I determined then, I was getting old enough, I thought, I'll be going on a mission before too long. And I'd never really read the standard works all the way through, and I thought, I better do that.

Yep, I would think so. Of course, I started with what I thought was the most important book, the Book of Mormon. And I was actually dumbfounded to read that thing through and not find much of anything I had been taught growing up in the church.

So then I read the Doctrine and Covenants, I found a lot more of the stuff that was being taught, and for a great price. And I finally got to the Bible. And actually, through that whole process, which took quite a while, I hadn't fully read the Bible. So I thought, I better read it too. I almost bogged down through Leviticus and some of that. I wasn't sure what it was all about, but I waited on through it all.

I had some questions as I went through it. But by the time I got to the New Testament, I really was beginning to see there's something different about this. And one of the things that I noticed when I got to the book of Acts was the emphasis on what they were preaching.

It was always Jesus. It wasn't talking about the prophets or other scripture or something else. For example, in Acts 5 42, in the temple in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ. Acts 8 verse 5, Philip went down to the city of Samaria to preach Christ unto them. Acts 8 and verse 35, he's dealing with the Ethiopian eunuch out out in the desert who's reading Isaiah 53.

He doesn't understand it. And Philip began the same scripture and preached it on Jesus and so forth. And I thought, this is really interesting. Quite a different message, huh?

Yes. And that was getting me to think more. And then when I got into Romans and some of the others, it really raised my eyebrows as far as I was concerned.

I was seeing something very different than what I thought it was. Now you're with an organization titled Missions Door. You have a website. It's Utah Christian Pub.

And the pub is short for publications, if I'm not mistaken. But if people wanted to write you personally, had any questions, you're very open to responding to any questions that they might have. And your email address is PastorMarv80, the number 80, PastorMarv80 at And if you have any questions to ask Marv, I'm sure by all means he would be glad to answer them. And I want to continue this conversation in tomorrow's broadcast because as I've said, I think Marv, you've got a lot that is so worthy of sharing with people your experiences and such. And again, you had such a big impact on me as I was studying Mormonism in my early years in the 1970s. So I'm really outing us both when it comes to our age.

But Marv's in his 80s and still going strong. And I'm blessed by that. And so we're going to continue this in tomorrow's show. Thank you for listening. If you would like more information regarding Mormonism Research Ministry, we encourage you to visit our website at, where you can request our free newsletter, Mormonism Researched. We hope you will join us again as we look at another viewpoint on Mormonism.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-01-21 05:10:29 / 2024-01-21 05:16:13 / 6

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