Monday, February 11, 2008

Our journey out of mormonism: Saved by His sovereign grace


Our journey out of mormonism: Saved by His sovereign grace

I have long felt compelled to put down my thoughts and our experiences as we found ourselves first investigators, and then members and finally apostates of the mormon religion, and how God’s gracious hand was ever-present along the way. At the time when we left mormonism, we initially felt lost and confused. How could everything we knew to be true suddenly be shown conclusively to be false, how could God have allowed us to be taken in by a lie all those years? But as the years have passed, more and more we have recognized the hand of God even as we were deepest in mormonism.

Neither my wife nor I grew up in what would generally be considered a “Christian home”. Our homes were good homes to grow up, for different reasons, but faith was not a priority. Eva was a “good” Catholic growing up, weekly going to Mass, completing catechism on Mondays, serving as an altar girl. In her teens she really began seeking the face of God, with a growing desire to know Him more, a desire I did everything I could to quash as a youth. A Baptist friend at work really tried to share the Gospel with Eva, and we still own that white King James Bible that she gave her. My home was agnostic at best, and in my youth I wore my atheism like a badge, assured that my own intelligence was adequate to explain anything. Religion for me was a means to control weaker minded people, rubes who needed a crutch to get through the day (to paraphrase that great philosopher Jesse “The Body” Ventura!). My first exposure to church came when Eva and I were married and we went through the pre-marriage classes mandated by the Roman Catholic church where we were wed. I am afraid that I came out of that experience with an even lower opinion of religion and religious people than I harbored before (which is saying quite a lot!)

In my college years, we had the first two of our eight children and that experience of holding a tiny child, a new life had a profound impact on my thinking. No longer did I assume, could I assume, that life was just a random act explainable away by science and reason. In my last few semesters at Bowling Green State University, I took two courses that gave me my first exposure to the Word of God, an English course “The Bible as Literature” and a history class on the New Testament. Both were completely secular classes and neither approached the Bible as the literal Word of God. In fact in my literature class the instructor was a more than slightly kooky former Roman priest, who needless to say didn’t have a high view of the Bible. In the months leading up to graduation, as I sought employment, I was offered a management position with a retailer in Cheyenne, Wyoming. As we prepared to move “Out West” after graduation, we got advice from quite a few people to find a church when we settled in to give us a sense of community. A few months after arriving in Cheyenne, my wife called me at work to let me know we had company coming over, a couple of missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Now, being relatively ignorant of all things religious I knew very little about the mormons. I knew that they were highly regarded as being industrious, faithful, family oriented, conservative folks. I knew about the prohibition on drinking and of course the ever present issue of polygamy, but that was about it. Like so many people who are ensnared by false teachings, I didn’t know what the truth was and so was unable to recognize a lie for what it was.

The two missionaries who came over that night were great guys, Noah McDaniel and Henk Fisher. They were polite and patient. The first night they came we got a lesson in how not to deal with mormons and other cultists. The maintenance guy who lived in our apartment saw the missionaries coming in, got in their faces and threatened to call the police. Right away, we were given two contrasting images: the nice, clean-cut mormons and the angry, intolerant Christian. The two missionaries hit it off with us right away, they were a lot more relaxed than most missionaries we would meet in the years that followed. They were earnest but not self-righteous, and they presented the message of mormonism as well as anyone I have ever seen. We still have some of the hand drawn diagrams they used to illustrate their points. We were like sponges, and having virtually no knowledge of the Bible, we didn’t know where to question what we were being told. After completing the investigators lessons, we decided to get baptized as members of the church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. In November of 1995, around Thanksgiving, we were both baptized and began attending as regularly as my schedule working in retail permitted. Noah McDaniel and Henk Fisher eventually moved on to new assignments, but our fondness for missionaries would remain for the rest of our time in mormonism. We even named our fourth child Noah, after Noah McDaniel.

Life in mormonism was kind of a blur for the first year. We moved back home to Ohio shortly after converting, and then to Auburn Hills, Michigan. We never really got as connected as we should have. It took way longer than normal for me to receive Melchizedek priesthood as an adult male. Because we moved around so much, it was more than a year before we really got hooked in. In Ohio, we lived on the East side of Toledo and the ward was pretty far away in an affluent part of town and we never were really comfortable there. Just the opposite was true when we lived in Michigan, the church was pretty small in the area, so rather than a full ward we were part of the Pontiac branch. We met in a non-church owned building, and the group was pretty small. Pontiac is a pretty rough town, and again working in retail we didn’t make it very often to church. The one constant was that we had the missionaries over on a regular basis, and they formed the main connection with the church at that time. It wasn’t until we moved to New Hampshire that we really got comfortable in the church. In New Hampshire, I went from retail to working at Fidelity Investment, my first Monday through Friday job, and because Fidelity had relocated a number of employees from Salt Lake City I worked with and knew a lot of other mormons. We shared a corporate culture as well as a church culture, and I felt more involved in the goings on because our local Bishop was a mid-level manager at Fidelity. We still had the missionaries over for dinner all the time, and I began going out and accompanying them on home visits. We liked it a lot better in New Hampshire, when we joined in Wyoming most of the people were very intimidating. Keeping up with the Mormon Joneses was hard, and it seemed like we would never be able to live up to the standards of righteousness that was in our faces all the time. In New Hampshire it was different, we were friends with lots of other mormons, we really got into the new member classes (over a year after we were baptized). We made a few really good friends, people we and our kids hung out with even outside of church. It was after a few years in New Hampshire that we finally went to the temple. More on that later, as that whole experience deserves separate treatment. Life was good church-wise in New Hampshire, but it was so incredibly expensive to live in New England that we decided to move back to the Midwest, and I ended up with an ill-fated and short lived job in Wisconsin.

After a short stay in Wisconsin, we moved to Northern Kentucky and back to Fidelity Investments. Like every move, the first contact we made was with the local mormon church. They helped you move in, get acclimated to the area and get integrated into the local church. Moving is jarring, and by keeping in touch every step of the way, the mormon church ensures that people don’t stray or fall away when they change wards. In Northern Kentucky, we settled back into church. As usual, the missionaries were very important to us. We had them over at least once a week, often times several nights a week to feed them. I went out with them almost every week on visits and to drive them around, since they covered a pretty big geographical area and had limited mileage on their car. It was during this time that I was called as a membership clerk in the Bishopric. That is a pretty minor calling, but it gave me insight into the inner workings of the local church leadership as I attended most of the Bishopric meetings. It was a rude awakening how people were called into their church callings, the process being a lot more pragmatic than inspired. It was also disturbing how many people who were listed as members never attended and of those how many either wanted no contact with the church or were outright hostile towards it. Most mormons outside of the bishopric would be shocked to learn what a high percentage of “members” are openly hostile toward the church that claims them as members. It is true of many Christian churches that members on the rolls often are not attenders, but you don’t see the same level of hostility towards the institution.

Life was pretty well set, laid out in front of us for the rest of our days. Raise our children up, send them to BYU and on their missions, retire and perhaps become retiree missionaries for the church. Our kids would marry other mormons, and raise good mormon kids. We were in a very comfortable groove, temple worthy mormons fulfilling our callings and generally doing what good mormons were supposed to do. We had it all figured out.

But that was not what God had planned for us…

As I look back, the beginning of the real questions came when we finally went to the temple. After a few false starts in New Hampshire, including a whole cancellation of a trip (it was a big deal, this was before the Boston temple, so the nearest temple was in Washington, D.C. a trip of some 450 miles), we finally completed the temple preparation classes and made the journey to the D.C. temple in February of 2000 with our four oldest children. The trip itself was exhausting, driving through the night, stopping to sleep for a few hours in Delaware. I still remember the stench of the garbage barges in New Jersey! We stayed with my sister who lives in the area, and went in early with some people from church who were also co-workers of mine at Fidelity. The day is kind of a blur, but some things stand out for us. As we sat in a brief meeting, a greeting from the temple president, I remember looking out in the hallway and seeing guys in all white walking by with funny hats on. We thought they were chefs, because no one told us what to expect. The whole lead-up is pretty mysterious, you know very little of what is to go one in the temple before you go (and for good reason, as the whole thing is pretty freaky!) As we went through the ceremonies, including the “take of your clothes and put on this sheet so an old guy can dab oil on you” part, it became increasingly weird. This was the high point of mormonism? This is what we had looked forward to for all of that time? The only thing that redeemed the trio at all was as we were entering the room to watch the video and take out our endowments, we walked past a young couple. I thought he looked familiar and sure enough it was Noah McDaniel, one of the missionaries who had baptized us and that we hadn’t talked to since. We were able to catch up with him later and introduce to the little blonde boy who we named after him. If we had not met up with Noah and his wife, I am not sure what we would have done afterward as we were more than a little freaked out. We got our new temple names, Heber for me and Lydia for Eva (sharing those names is a big deal, as that is highly secretive. Eva never knew my temple name until some time after we left mormonism. I knew hers of course so I could call her through the veil and she wouldn’t get left outside of the celestial kingdom. But I digress…) We learned the secret handshakes, watched the cheesy video, spoke the sacred oaths and acted out calling our wives through the veil and entered the celestial room. That was hardly the pinnacle of spirituality on earth, we were mostly just tired and feeling anything BUT close to God. Finally we went to the sealing room, with it’s altar and double mirrors to give the image of eternity. By that time we were exhausted, and for me the sealing ceremony where we were joined as a family for time and eternity was just annoying. Noah wouldn’t behave (a sign of things to come!), and it was for me a pretty non-spiritual event, in fact anticlimactic might be the best way to describe it. It is hard to take things seriously wearing a goofy get-up like that. We drove away with our packet of stuff, including the obligatory temple certificate and picture of the temple and I remember looking at each other, sworn not to speak of the events of the temple but with a clear question in each of our eyes: “What the heck was that!”. Mormons are encouraged to go back early and often to the temple, I believe to lessen the strangeness of it all through familiarity. But although we carried our temple recommends until the day I mailed them back to our local Bishop and we always spoke highly of the temple, we never went into a temple again. The temple to me was hardly this little slice of heaven on earth. They are beautiful on the outside but what goes on inside is not the work of Christ, but the work of the Devil. It brings to mind what Christ said about the scribes and Pharisees in Matthew 23:27: “"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people's bones and all uncleanness.”. Beautiful and clean on the outside, but full of spiritual death on the inside is an apt description of the mormon temple.

In the summer of 2001, our oldest daughter was turning eight, the age when most mormon children are baptized into the church. We had it all planned out, she had been in to meet with the Bishop to make sure she understood what was going on and was “worthy”, we had special dispensation to baptize her in Northern Michigan. Things were proceeding as they were supposed to. I remember distinctly that at that time I was reading that old mormon faith affirming standby, The Work and the Glory series. It was designed to reaffirm your faith, while giving you a sanitized history of the church that was also faith affirming, but it didn’t have that impact on me. The more I read, the more I started to realize how poorly the Book of Mormon was written, and that when I was the same age as Joseph Smith, I could have crafted a similar tale. One afternoon, after reading I knelt down to pray. I never imagined what would happen after my knees hit the ground.

It was very sudden. I knelt down as a mormon, and when I stood up I no longer was. It wasn’t because I was offended by someone in the church. It wasn’t because I had an un-confessed sin in my life. It wasn’t because I had fallen under the influence of apostates or read anti-mormon material. I can only attribute it to God breaking my heart, breaking the pride that made me think that I could be saved through my own righteousness, that by obedience and works I could become like God Himself, either dragging Him down to me or lifting myself to His level. Semantics in mormonism suggest that we never become the equal of our Heavenly Father, but the reality is that mormonism teaches that God was once a human, no different than us, and that He became a god and by following the tenets of mormonism we could do the same and become like Him. I was not looking to get out, I was not seeking Him. He came seeking me. The Great Shepherd who searches for one lost sheep found one, kneeling down next to his bed in Kentucky, worshipping the image of a false god. If there was ever a more unlikely candidate to be saved than me, I can’t imagine who that person might be. Maybe Saul. Like Saul I sought to persecute Him by spreading lies about Him and seeking to lead people away from Him, and like Saul I thought I was doing His work because I was so earnest about it. I see no similarities between myself and Paul, post-Damascus Road conversion but I see a lot of similarities between myself and Saul the persecutor of the church. In that moment I knew a few things. I knew that no matter how hard I had tried to convince myself, the Book of Mormon was not Scripture, that it was not the Word of God. Joseph Smith was a shyster and a liar, and had made up the whole thing. And I knew that I would never again worship a false god in a mormon church.

I walked into the living room and told Eva I didn’t want to baptize Caitlin. At first she assumed that I meant that I didn’t want to do it myself, but then she came to realize that I meant not that I didn’t want to baptize Caitlin but instead that I didn’t want Caitlin to be baptized as a mormon at all. Things started happening pretty quickly. The missionaries came over, and I had a curt but cordial conversation with them. We got an anonymous letter in the mail that I kept, along with a book warning us about staying clear of those evil anti-mormons like Sandra Tanner and that apostate mormons are one of the few categories of people who go to hell in mormon theology (murderers are the other group). The local Bishop called Eva when he knew I would be at work, and I recall leaving him a fairly ugly message telling him to not call my house anymore. It was about that point that I started to read “anti” mormon material, and what I read was stunning and confirmed what I had come to believe about mormonism. The changes and inconsistencies in the story of the “First Vision” and the Book of Mormon, the fact that Joseph Smith was hoodwinked into buying Egyptian documents and then “translating” them into what is now known as the Book of Abraham which contains much of what makes up distinctive mormon theology. That “translation” has now been shown categorical to be false, and laughably so. As I read the Bible without looking at it through the lens of mormonism, I began to see how deviant mormonism is from Biblical Christianity. Rather than regretting my decision to leave, I began to praise God for saving me from a lie and from myself.

One momentous (for me) occasion still sticks out in my mind right after we left. A young woman I worked with had a boyfriend who was a lapsed mormon, and she knew that we were mormons so when I told her we left mormonism, she challenged me to get a cup of coffee and then wanted to watch me drink it! It was a liberating moment for me, that first cup of coffee and I have been making up for lost (coffee) time ever since. Another time that I remember was a business trip back to Massachusetts. I had lunch with a couple of buddies from my old job, one a mormon and one a Catholic who knew I had left. My Catholic friend asked how things are going since we left mormonism, and the look of horror on my mormon friend’s face was telling. He later emailed me and said something pretty typical, in talking to some other mormons who knew me the assumption was that someone had offended us. It had to be something like that, right? For mormons it is, because the alternative that someone had earnestly come to the conclusion that mormonism is false topples the whole house of cards. I rarely heard from him after that and finally not at all.

It was a hard time in our marriage. When I stood up from my knees that day, I was done. I was utterly convinced that mormonism was a lie, and I walked and never looked back. It was much harder on my wife. Eva went with me at first because of her loyalty to me, but for years afterwards still clung to many of the positives of mormonism. As her husband, the one called to be the spiritual head of the family I had let her down and let us be led astray (not the first and certainly not the last time that I failed in my role as husband). Those who were out friends stopped speaking to us, shunning us in fact as apostates. A particular event stands out in my mind shortly after we left mormonism. One of our favorite missionaries, David Card, came over after we left, along with two other missionaries. We had a nice dinner and then they started looking at my Book of Mormon and all the pages I had tabbed with various inconsistencies and heresies. Rather than confidently refuting what we had come to believe as they planned, they retreated back into the “I have a testimony” defense. I could see in their eyes as they were backed into corners that they were shutting down, and eventually they completely shut me out. I always took offense at mormonism being called a cult, but when we left the actions of other mormons, and especially those missionaries that night, showed me pretty clearly that so much of the way mormons structure their church is designed to work like cults do: shunning apostates, quashing dissent, discouraging investigating, reliance on a modern prophetic voice.

The whole event solidifies for me the sovereign grace of God. I was not seeking Him, in fact I was quite sure that I was already in His church and doing His will. I suspect that is true of virtually everyone who comes to Christ. In our natural state, we are not seeking Him. Ask the average unbeliever, at least those who are not militant atheists, and chances are that they are in another faith tradition and believe they are following God or are relying on good works (I am living well, I am generally a good person, etc.) for their salvation. We want to have a hand in our salvation. Mormonism takes that to another level: not only can you help to save yourself by your works, if you work diligently and faithfully enough you can become a god too! But in spite of my arrogance and blasphemy of assuming that God was merely a partner in my salvation and that I would one day climb to godhood myself, God worked that miracle that only He can do, quickening my dead sinners heart through the power of the Holy Spirit. If He had not worked in my heart, I would likely have stayed in mormonism and be as lost as the most vitriolic atheist. Therefore all the praise and glory for my salvation belongs with Him, and Him alone, and that is the way it should be.

UPDATE: I have started recording my thoughts about mormonism on a different blog, The Fo-Mo Chronicles. I encourage interested readers to check it out.

35 comments:

falcon said...

I am wondering what put you on your knees? What motivated it? Did you have sudden doubts about Mormonism and were seeking God for some answers? It's a marvelous story. Quite a miracle. I wonder if you've ever read "Beyond Mormonism" by Jim Spencer. I've probably read it about eight times. God spoke to him also and led him out of Mormonism.

Arthur Sido said...

Ironically I was kneeling down to pray in daily prayers as a mormon. God didn't drive me to my knees, but He did pull me off of them. I liken it to God intervening when I was in prayer to a false god.

Noldorin_Calvinist said...

We truly have a gracious God. Thank you for sharing that on your blog. It was very encouraging.

Would you mind if I posted a link on my blog to this post so that others may read it?

Arthur Sido said...

Feel free, it is not really my testimony about myself but more about my testimony of God's sovereign grace.

Noldorin_Calvinist said...

Thanks

Jordan Harris said...

What an encouraging testimony. The story of God's sovereign grace in your effectual call was truly a blessing to my soul. I almost feel like your particular testimony is something of a modern-day version of Saul confronted by Christ on the road to Damascus. Thank you for your testimony brother.

Sharon said...

Arthur, God is good. Thanks for the testimony of His merciful grace.

goldibug said...

I fell away from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints when I was around the age of sixteen. I didn't see what the big deal about sex and alcohol was as long as I was smart about it. You know, no binge drinking and then sleeping with anyone available kind of thing. I felt that as long as I lived my life contributing good to society I was going to be just fine. Maybe I misunderstood but to me it sounds you feel a similar way. Anyways, I was at a point in my life years later where I wasn't sure if I should find a religion to belong to or not. I decided to pray to God and ask him if there was a true religion on this earth or if they had all fallen away from the truth in one way or another. I asked him to let me know when I found the truth if there was one. God has always answered my prayers for as long as I've had faith in him. He answered in a way of absolutly no denying it that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is definitly a true church and that it is only Satan and his unbelivably smart and cunning ways that he is able to stray us from what we once KNEW to be the truth. Many people within this church do things that are not Christian. Many of them play the holier than thou role all week long and then go to church pretending we are all equals. It is not the church that is wrong but some of its members are. Listen to what God tells you about the church. Not what the members of the church tell you. This comment is obviously left to your discretion to post or not but my main purpose in such a comment is only for you to ponder once more if what you are doing is right for you. If it is please continue doing what you are. If it isn't than pray to God and let him help guide you to what you know to be right. Listen to God not to your mind.

Arthur Sido said...

goldibug,

Thanks for stopping by. Of course I will post your comment, and believe me that as I have explored the Word of God and studied what I once believed and what is taught by mormonism, I have become steadily more convinced that mormonism is a false gospel. The same sort of false gospel that we are called to beware of and oppose when they appear.

As far as asking God about the church,He speaks to us today not by prophets or vague feelings but through His Word:

Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. Hebrews 1:1-2

I have read His Word, and what it says is in opposition with what mormonism teaches. That is the only standard we can use, and if whaat mormonism teaches opposes what the Bible teaches, than one or the other is true. They cannot both be true if they teach different doctrines. I do not rely on what my mind tells me, but I also don't check my mind at the door. God has spoken finally and authoritatively, and I need no modern self-declared prophet to tell me what to think.

What is your basis for your faith other than praying about something that some people say is true and some say is false?

jackg said...

Arthur,

What a beautiful story of miracle. Praise the LORD that you responded to His love and grace in your life. Also, your response to goldibug was spot-on. God reveals through His word, and we as humans believe He reveals through our feelings, which we cannot trust, but His word is faithful because God is powerful and wise enough to protect it. Again, thanks for sharing your story of liberation!

Anonymous said...

Arthur,
With all due respect, and I mean that, I am really confused. In your original story you relate your "experience" of praying and getting an answer, a vision or revelation, that the church isn't true. It was an event that occured while praying. Yet, in response to Goldbug you said: "He speaks to us today not by prophets or vague feelings but through His Word". Then jackg commends you for your testimony and rejects the very foundation of your "conversion"
I quote, "God reveals through His word, and we as humans believe He reveals through our feelings, which we cannot trust" He would then have to reject your initial awakening because you were not taking in the word but down on your knees.

DOF

Arthur Sido said...

DOF,

Thanks for the sincere tone, no offense taken. I appreciate you taken the time to read my testimony.

I would relate them as seperate events. Perhaps I was unclear, which has been mentioned before by other who have read my testimony.

When I was in prayer, it became clear to me that mormonism was not true and that Smith was not a prophet. At that point I didn't know what the truth was, but I knew that the BoM was false. I kind of describe it as getting down on my knees as a mormon and when I rose up I wasn't.

We quickly started attending a local Baptist church and sat under the ministry of the Word of God. It was in that church that I was "saved", born-again. I was not saved when praying, but rather under the preaching of the Word of God. The events are tightly interconnected, but did not occur simultaneously.

I hesistate to compare myself or my experience to Paul, but when he encountered the risen Christ on the road to Damascus, he wasn't sure what was happening: "But Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. Now as he went on his way, he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. And falling to the ground he heard a voice saying to him, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?" And he said, "Who are you, Lord?" And he said, "I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. But rise and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do." (Acts 9:1-6 ESV)

All he knew was that it was Christ speaking to him and that he was to enter the city, and then hee would be told what to do. It was later that he came to a full understanding of the Gospel. I am still growing in that understanding of the Gospel, but what I am sure of is that Christ died for my sins, He rose again and sits enthroned on high until He calls us home. I know that on my own, I am not only not worthy or righteous, but just the opposite. There is nothing about me that would cause God to accept me. I was saved in spite of, not because of, my righteousness and my works. The more I read God's Word, the more I wonder how I ever could have believed in mormonism. But above all I am eternally grateful that He chose me, He saved me and He will one day bring me to Him and glorify me, all based on Him not on me.

Does that help?

Carol V. said...

My comments here are for goldibug – the former LDS who prayed that the Lord show him/her the most true church and they said that the Lord answered their prayer and showed them that the LDS Church was the one true church. Mr. Sido’s answer was excellent – and I’d just like to add to that as this was a very powerful comment and I’ve had personal experience very similar to this.
A number of years ago, I had left the organization I was in. However, I too doubted my decision and wondered if I should go back. Also – as I was told would happen, my life would fall apart if I left that organization. And it was definitely falling apart at the seams. I was miserable, still believed in the teachings of the organization (to a large degree) and thought perhaps I should venture back into the fellowship I had extracted myself from.
So I prayed to the Lord. I asked God to show me if I was wrong. I asked the Lord to show me if what a new Pastor of a new church I had been attending was telling me was the truth. Others – friends and relatives also concurred with this new Pastor, but I doubted their knowledge and ability to deny what I had come to know not only was the truth, but the only truth known about the Bible that I had garnered through this organization I now was no longer a part of. I needed to know – so I kept praying that the Lord would show me. I prayed EVEN IF I’VE BEEN WRONG – Please Lord – show me the truth.
One day – while driving in my car on a lonely country road and listening to Christian music – I received a vision. It happened in an instant – which was a good thing given I was driving – but in another type of time and space – it took a nice long time for me to really see, read and absorb what I believed to be a vision from God.
As if I had suddenly been transported to a dark movie theatre – my peripheral vision went black and directly in front of me was a scroll. The scroll unfurled and written on that scroll – read in half an instant - were all the reasons why the Pastor and friends and family were wrong – and that what I had learned from this organization was right. I knew THEN AND THERE – that all the other churches and all the other so-called Christians in the world were wrong – but the teachings of Victor Paul Wierwille – prophet/teacher/holy man of God -- who was contacted directly by God with new teachings never heard of since the apostles – WAS RIGHT. The Way International was the ONE AND ONLY TRUE CHURCH.
Praise the LORD it was long after that I realized – just because you receive “an answer to prayer” or just because you experience something supernatural – doesn’t mean it’s from GOD. Satan does supernatural “wonders” and Satan can and DOES warp the truth – because he is the father of lies.
That vision – that very vision I was ABSOLUTELY convinced was directly from God was directly from hell. How do we know this? We must hold everything up to the Bible. Everything. The Bible is the standard.
But just like the LDS Church – I was taught by Wierwille that the Bible is flawed, missing parts, translated improperly. That too is a lie. Actually – as John tells us in chapter 1 – in the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and GOD WAS THE WORD. Then in verse 14 it says THE WORD BECAME FLESH. If you think for one single moment that mere men can usurp a part of God Himself – His Holy Word – then think again. God’s Word is Holy and while we KNOW it does not contain ALL knowledge because the Bible tells us it doesn’t – we KNOW that it contains ALL THAT WE NEED TO KNOW FOR LIFE AND OUR ETERNAL SALVATION.
So to go back to what goldibug said – we need to take the answer received and hold it up to God’s Word. We KNOW immediately – that the answer was false because there isn’t one bit of scripture – not a word in God’s Word – not a single passage that tells us ANY organization is the Way the Truth the LIFE. ONLY JESUS CHRIST IS. So the answer couldn’t be correct – it contradicts God’s Word. An organization can’t save any soul – there isn’t any ONE organization or group or body of people who can lead you to the salvation. ONLY Jesus Christ can save us and ONLY the truth of God’s Word can lead us to God’s truth. There isn’t an organization ever on the planet that can do this. Only the Jesus Christ and His Holy Spirit can.
It’s like asking God – as a married woman – “May I sleep with that guy I think is so cute over there?” When I wake up, I STILL have that burning desire to sleep with that guy I met in my Bible class – SO THAT MUST MEAN GOD ANSWERED MY PRAYER. I’m going to sleep with the guy!”

WRONG! Why? Because we know from the Bible THAT THIS IS WRONG no matter BUT THAT’S HOW I FEEL! Feelings are not a litmus test for God’s truth – THE BIBLE IS.
IF the Bible IS missing parts and missing books and so forth – and “another” testament was needed – then why didn’t that other testament – i.e. – The Book of Mormon – contain all – with ALL being a very key word here – those supposedly missing parts from the Bible? Why didn’t the BOM COMPLETE the supposedly incomplete Bible? Why? Because it’s a false testament – and the only thing we need is the Bible and Jesus – that’s ALL we need. We don’t NEED an organization to save our souls because it can’t save our soul. It’s a lie of Satan to believe otherwise. We just need the Jesus of the Bible – and a heart-felt belief in Him – and we’re saved. Romans 10:9-10 tells us so – and that’s ALL we need to have eternal life.
I will pose this to goldibug – IF she’s wrong – she’ll go to hell – because unlike what Mormonism teaches her – one of their greatest lies –there is hell – it’s Satan’s home – and you’ll go to it if YOU’RE WRONG. If I’m wrong – and I missed the boat on the LDS Church and I didn’t believe Joseph Smith – I simply won’t advance to the Mormon higher heaven. No big deal – it’s just a smaller mansion – in a less expensive neighborhood – so to speak. BUT goldibug – IF YOU’RE WRONG – and you ONLY know the Jesus of Mormonism (which is NOT the same Jesus Christ of the Bible who can save your soul) and you take your last breath never knowing the TRUE Living Lord and Savior of your soul – you have a HECK of a lot more to lose than I do. Think about that.

Jesus is the ONLY WAY – He is TRUTH and He is LIFE - not The Way International and not the LDS Church. Your very soul depends on knowing that!

your wife said...

Arthur,

Thank you for sharing your journey with all of us. God is good and it is amazing what He has done in your life and in mine and my husband's life this year. We left in jan and have never turned back.

Your one line of kneeling down as a mormon and getting up as a non mormon was such a strong visual for me.

Wow! I am speechless!

D. Rolling Kearney said...

I am so sad for all of you that you had such lack of understanding of the church and its teachings that you felt you had to leave.

Arthur Sido: I look forward to some heartfelt Gospel conversations with you sometime in the near future, as it is apparent that there are some gross misstatements in your experience above. My reply will be lengthy, so I will return here with a link to it when I get the time to write it up.

May God bless all of you in your search for truth!

Arthur Sido said...

Your comments are welcome, but did you read our testimony at all? I know full well what mormonism is all about, and the glorious truth of Jesus Christ found in the Bible. I was not confused or lacking in understanding, that is not why we left. We left because what I found was that mormonism is a lie.

I look forward to your reply.

Carol V. said...

Mr. Kearney,

Gee, if you've read the Book of Mormon (BOM) like you read my comment, it's no wonder you think that the BOM was inspired. It's not. And judging by this quote from you, bless your heart, you do not know the truth at all: "I am so sad for all of you that you had such lack of understanding of the church and its teachings that you felt you had to leave."

Since you used the word "all" that would include me. If you had actually read what I wrote, you would have understood that I was never a member of the Mormon Church--I was in another cult altogether.

Which then leads me to believe you did not, as the Sido's discerned, read their testimony. So for you to make such accusations about the Sido's testimony: "...it is apparent that there are some gross misstatements in your experience above." would make you far less of an expert than you pridefully pass yourself off to be.

Unfortunately, if you've tried to read the Bible the way you have read the testimonies here of Mr. Sido and his wife, and myself, it is no wonder you think that the LDS Church is "the one true church." It is not. Why, it's not even a Christian church.

If you look up the actual meaning of the word "church" in Aramaic you would find the essential meaning of that word means "called out" or "body of believers". Nowhere in the Bible does it ever say, "The Latter Day Saints is the only true church."

So Mr. Kearney, I am already a member of "the church." The real one. I am a Bible believing, tongues talking, scantified follower of the Lord Jesus Christ the only God and Savior of the world and universe.

There is only one God, and if you did read the Bible and not just assume things about it or read Mormon materials and make up your mind about the Bible filtered through Mormon dogma, you would know this. Holding Mormon doctrine up to the truths of teh Bible we know the doctrine of Mormonism --- that there are many gods ---- is utterly false. Thus making the LDS Church a false church.

Read Isaiah and Deut. Even if you believe that the Bible is missing parts, (another false teaching of the LDS Church) attempt to read what IS there, in context, as whole chapters. Next go to the Book of Revelation. In Isaiah God repeats that He is the only Savior, there are no other gods before him, He knows of no other gods AND He says He is the FIRST AND THE LAST. In Chapter 1 of the Book of Revelation, Jesus tells John who is imprisoned on the island of Patmos, through a vision He is the ALPHA AND OMEGA. Jesus in His glorified state tells John He is THE FIRST AND THE LAST. Jesus Christ IS God. John Chapter 1 verse 1 tells us that in the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and GOD WAS THE WORD. Then in that same chapter verse 14 it tells us AND THE WORD BECAME FLESH.

For the LDS Church to teach that Jesus Christ is ANYONE ELSE other than the One True God manifested on earth as the Living Breathing Word of God is a lie.

Just that teaching alone makes the LDS Church utterly and totally false. But the LDS Church has many, many teachings that prove it not only to be a false church but it's not even Christian.

Orthodox Historical Christianity has always believed in ONE and ONLY ONE God. Mormonism teaches there are many gods. Therefore it is impossible that it is Christian no matter what it names itself.

As I said, bless your heart if your knowledge of the Bible is based on the way you read, because it would appear that you lack the tools for reading comprehension. Or worse, you risk your very soul on skimming materials and then making up your mind based on faulty reading and repeating your falsehoods here in forums like these.

But like Saul who later became known as Paul, the scales can be removed from your eyes, and I sincerely pray someday that will happen for you. There is no other joy like the joy of truly knowing the Lord God of the Bible, the ONLY Christ who can save you, the ONE TRUE LIVING GOD. It's not too late, do it today.

Hell is real, it's horrible beyond any of our imaginations. Do not be left behind in eternal torment as your soul suffers for all time in the pits of hell fire. I wouldn't want that even for an enemy. Come to know the true Living Lord and Savior. He can't be found in the Book of Mormon or the Mormon Church. His truths can only be found in His Holy Word. Come and find Him today before it's too late!

Arthur Sido said...

D. Rolling Kearney still waiting for you to educate me. Take your time, but please don't forget.

gloria said...

Hello! I am so glad I fell upon your blog tonight! Praise God for what He has done in your life!!!

I joined the LDS church at the age of 20 yrs. I was raised Roman Catholic, and although I was taught about Jesus and His sacrifice on Calvary, I was biblically illterate and perfect prey for the LDS missionaries who knocked on my door in 1989.

I joined the LDS church 3 weeks after the elders came by... I felt pressured, but went thru with it anyways.....

I served an LDS mission 1 yr later... had some frighening expierences on my mission.. but still stuck with it.. and then came home and was pressured to get married and find a worthy priesthood holder.... I did just that and met my husband and was engaged 4 days later and married 3 mos later. ( way too fast!)

16 yrs later and 10 kids later .. God did a great thing ... He too called me out of mormonism... I too was not seeking to leave.....On the last Sunday of Nov 2007 ,I came home from teaching Relief Society and I looked at my husband and told him I was not going back, that Jesus was the WAY and that the LDS church was a false church!

Wow -- God did an amazing work!

I began to read the Bible in 2005 and in 2007 I finished. After reading the Bible I realized the Biblical Jesus is nothing like the Jesus taught by the mormons. I realized it is by grace we are saved not of works , lest we boast it is a gift from God. Eph. 2:8 &9

Praise God for what he has done in our lives!!!!

We too are a homeschooling family!

My children also have come to the Lord Jesus and have been saved!

Please pray for my husband -- he continues to remain blinded by false teachings and we pray daily that God will give him eyes to see and ears to hear. He is also very angry at me for leaving the LDS church. I pray and pray that God will redeem him like He did me and my children.

Thank you for sharing your journey to Christ here.

I know of many mormons who are leaving and embracing the truth in Jesus! Praise God!
My heart aches for my friends who are left in the bondage of falseness and rituals and rules......I pray that I may be a witness to them of the grace and mercy of our precious Lord Jesus Christ!

I am so glad I found your blog!

God bless you & your family!

Gloria

ps. did Eva your wife finally come to the Lord?

Arthur Sido said...

Gloria, your testimony sounds a lot like ours. Biblical illiteracy made us easy targets for cultists, and we had no answers when the mormons came calling. It was God's sovereign grace that drew us out. My wife Eva did indeed come to Christ, I have gotten that question a couple of times so I think I may be unclear in what I wrote. You may be interested to check out some of the other frequent commenters on the blog, a couple of them are also from Mo.

We will be praying for your husband, that God will intervene in his life and change his heart in the same way that He changed yours and mine.

Barb said...

Arthur, I'm thrilled about your quest for God --for righteousness. I pray all goes well for you and those 8 children of yours. I am Stephanie and Chrissy and John and Rob's mother --school board member --remember me? B.R.

Visit my blogspot blog sometime --as though you have any time!

I noticed you at Steph's website.

lrzizhiz said...

I have family members who are mormon... I am a Spirit-led, Bible believing Jesus freak :)... right now, we just either pretend that we believe the same or ignore the "big white elephant" in the room... We have been praying that God would deliver them from the deception that they are in... I "just happened" to come upon your blog... Do you have any other suggestions for us in evangelizing our loved ones?
Thank you so much for faithfully speaking out!

Pierro said...

I just happened upon this blog of yours.
we have a mormon church in our neighborhood. we have never been interested in that church.
My youngest daughter when she was in 9th or 10th grade knew a few mormon kids in the area that went to her public school. She started researching and found a lot of craziness. That started a quest for all of us to really learn about this cult.
Yeah, the missionaries come around
and they are nice boys, quite handsome, but I ask the prying questions. Where are the golden tablets? Why is "God" living on Kolob? Why must they wear that funny underwear?

Your writing here was very very interesting, certainly I have learned all of this via my daughter's teen-age curiosity and research. She found reading exmormon . com a very interesting place. That was pretty much were we learned about the undressing and anointing with the oils, and what about the baptizing the dead?
My daughter has a few old mormon aquaintences from the high school days and one boy is always interested in her.
She finds it all quite humorous.
I dare say, I learned a lot too.

Now, I have a silly blog so please do not feel you have to respond at my blog, it is excessively silly

I wish you and your wife all of the best and your wonderful children too.
I do believe God was working in your life, just as you believe, long before you were aware.

I am so glad I found your blog :-)

Anonymous said...

Hello.
I came across your blog when I was reading about Glen Beck on another blog...
Thank you so much for sharing your story.
May God continue to bless you and use you for His glory!

Mrs. Jane E.
a wife, mother and grandmother
from Brazil

Mark said...

Arthur,

You said:
"At the time when we left mormonism, we initially felt lost and confused. How could everything we knew to be true suddenly be shown conclusively to be false, how could God have allowed us to be taken in by a lie all those years?"

It is ironic that I felt that same way when I left the organized church. In fact, I questioned EVERYTHING I previously believed, even the very existence of God and Jesus, and it was the best thing I ever did. My faith is now my own, built on a solid foundation, which will never again be shaken. I appreciate your testimony. I have wondered about your testimony, and am not sure how I never found it as I'm sure the link was there all along.

Mark

Roland, Cindy, Justin or Caleb said...

What an encouraging testimony! Praise God! I met some very nice Mormon missionaries years ago and often prayed for them that God would open their eyes. I've totally lost touch with them, but your story reminds me that God can and does reveal Truth, even to people who are steeped in religion (like I was too!) BTW, my husband is the one you met in Roanoke a week ago. Hope to get to meet you one of these days. ~Cindy Stuckey

Arthur Sido said...

Thanks Cindy!

I am looking forward to meeting you and the rest of your family as well!

( Mike Jones ) said...

Arthur,

Thank you for writing such a heartfelt account. God uses many ways to reveal Himself to people, but as Carol V. said, one's vision or revelation must always square with the Word revealed in the Bible. Jesus Christ, the Word become flesh, is the finest, greatest, most perfect revelation of God for us. Following in the footsteps and teachings of the Biblical Jesus is where we will find the true church on earth - believers bound by the Holy Spirit, loving one another and showing God grace and love to the entire world.

Salvation is by God's grace alone, by the atonement provided by God himself, through the loving sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, AND his victorious Resurrection!

What a wonderful gift of love from the ultimate, one and only creator of the universe and all things that exist.

Thank you for your thoughts, thank God for your heart, and thank Jesus Christ for giving us His all!

Elder's Wife said...

It's been ages since I read your blog, but came across it again tonight. Thank you for sharing your testimony of salvation in Christ alone and of the importance of measuring experience against Scripture.
God's grace is overwhelming, isn't it?

God'sChild09 said...

I am SO happy I found this blog! My aunt actually sent me a link to you through your post about Mitt Romney calling himself a pastor. I am so happy that you have found the truth! It is my prayer that my family members who currently are mormon will have the same revelation of truth! Thank you for your openness and for demystifying some of the more secret things about their "temple traditions" :)

God'sChild09 said...

Not sure if you got my comment the first time, lol. My aunt sent me a link to your blog post regarding Romney's recent claim to being a "pastor". Thank you for being so honest about your testimony, and I'll ask you to be praying for my mormon family members to come to true faith in Christ as well!

Arthur Sido said...

God'sChild09,

Thanks for the encouraging words! I likewise pray for your family member that are trapped in mormonism.

Anonymous said...

Interesting, the same God that lead you to Mormonist led you out of it. That god either doens't know what he is doing or someone doesn't know what is hearing.

Anonymous said...

Interesting, the same god that lead you to mormonism led you out of it... maybe that god doens't know what he is saying or someone doens't know what is hearing.

Arthur Sido said...

Hi anonymous,

God had nothing to do with leading me into mormonism. I certainly did not know Him when we became mormons. God does not deceive.