Learning from Academics Who Left Mormonism

Most of my readers know my personal connection to Mormonism; I have six half-brothers and sisters who were raised in the Mormon faith. When I first become interested in Christianity, I investigated the claims of the gospels simultaneous to my investigation of the Book of Mormon. While the gospels passed the test I typically apply to eyewitnesses, the Book of Mormon did not. My journey led me to trust the Jesus of Christianity but reject the Jesus of Mormonism. As a result, I’m interested in the stories of others who have become similarly convinced Mormonism is evidentially false. That’s why a recent book, Leaving Mormonism: Why Four Scholars Changed Their Minds, caught my attention. I had the chance to interview one of it’s authors, Corey Miller, to see what motivated him to write the book.

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My Goal in Every Conversation with Mormons

The following post first appeared on Stand to Reason.

Last week some Mormon missionaries showed up at my door. I was unavailable at that moment, so we set up an appointment for them to come back next week. I’m looking forward to the conversation, but I don’t anticipate much impact…in that single conversation. After years of dialoguing with Mormons, I’ve learned to take it slow. Indeed, ex-Mormons will tell you that a patient approach is the best one. 

Think about the Mormons you know. Most of them probably grew up in the LDS Church. Their parents are Mormons. Their family members are Mormons. Most of their close friends are Mormon. The LDS church plays a preeminent role in their life, touching every area. With this in mind, is it realistic to expect Mormons to abandon their faith after one or two conversations? Probably not. That’s an unrealistic goal. 

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Latter Day Uneasiness

Let me just put it out there and take the wacks for being intolerant; I would be very uneasy having a devout Mormon in the Oval office.

Watching the political wrangling of the pachyderm party and the various missteps of those hopefuls for nomination to lead the nation, it is quite obvious that the “religious affiliation” question is a minefield not to be crossed.

So let me attempt to bravely venture out where one is forbidden to go and explain my queasiness.

Some religions are nutty.

Scientology comes to mind as a loopy scam. 

Some religions are deceptive, cloaking their real ideas and agenda in the guise and language of an already accepted faith.

The Gnostics were pretty good at this as I recall. 

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Is "Cult" a Four-Letter Word?

Mormonism is in the news these days, thanks to Glenn Beck, the highest profile Mormon since American Idol runner-up David Archuleta. Beck's rise to fame has come as a conservative radio and television talk show host and best-selling author, and most recently as a speechmaker for the Tea Party.

His call at a rally on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial for America to turn to God has conservatives and Christians in a lather. Does Glenn Beck speak for America? More crucially, does Glenn Beck speak for God and Christians?

In the interest of bringing clarity to the conversation, we thought it would be useful to do a couple of things. First, since Mormonism is often referred to as a "cult" (a word that sounds pejorative and mean-spirited), we want to explore with you just exactly what a cult is. In a subsequent post, we will outline some of the distinctives of Mormonism so you can answer the "Is Mormonism a cult?" question for yourself.

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