I recently received an e-mail from one of my colleagues, Aaron Shafovaloff of Mormonism Research Ministry, about a former Mormon who apologized to him via email. Aaron forwarded this email to others in the ministry as an encouragement for us. I asked the original writer if I could share it here and other places. He gave me permission as along as I keep his name confidential. We’ll call him “Chuck.” Here is Chuck’s letter to Aaron as is and in its entirety.
Dear Aaron, I remember (under a former YouTube name) mocking or criticizing several of your videos on Mormonism. I was a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and felt that your videos created false accusations against the Church and my faith. I thought of you as a hateful and spiteful person. As the times have turned, I realized that I was wrong. I was the one who was hateful and spiteful and I would like to as for your forgiveness. The reason why I have changed my opinions came when I was reading scripture and came across Matthew 7:22-23 : On that day many will say to me ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in Your name, drive out demons in Your name, and do many miracles in Your name?’ Then I will announce to them, ‘I never knew you! Depart from Me, you law-breakers!’ I was frozen on these two verses and all I could feel was fear. I couldn’t explain it at first, but all I felt was a paralyzing fear from the words of Jesus. Then the thought came across my mind, “What if I am one who Jesus Christ will turn away from the kingdom of God?”
I since then started to conduct serious research into Mormonism, its histories and claims, if they were compatible with the Bible (also did the same for Evangelical Christian beliefs), and if the Church projected an accurate and fair picture of its history. First, I found that many parts of our history are not talked about too often. I found some of our contreversal beliefs are never explained, nor taught by missionaries until well after baptism. I also discovered that many of these things never make it into our LDS videos because they, “Are not necessary and ideal in promoting the spiritual aspects and faith promoting material of Joseph Smith.” I quickly realized that we, as a Church, were deliberately deceptive of our faith and hid or destorted facts on plural marriage, views on race, exaltation of humans into godhood, and many other things.
After looking how our doctrine compared to the Bible, it made clear sense as to why we needed additional scripture. Either the doctrine unique to Mormonism needed the Book of Mormon, Doctrine & Covenants, or the Pearl of Great Price to back it up or scripture from the Bible needed to be distorted beyond its meaning. When I e-mailed FAIR LDS about how certain passages were met to be read versus how they translated them, the response I got was, “That is one way you could translate it. Unfortunately, there was just so much confusion that we needed as restoration to understand these things.” However, when examining these “Abomamable Creeds of Christendom” I realized that all their statements come straight out of the Bible! They were just formulated to give names to Biblically accepted beliefs such as Holy Trinity. I was more in shock to realize that all Protestants, Catholics, and Eastern Orthodox Churches were in mutual agreement with these creeds which were (as a learned later on) were very historical to the early Christian views.
So, I have left the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints after having to be force to conclude that it was not of God nor Christ. So, I choose to accept Jesus Christ as my savior and worship him always and not the Jesus of Joseph Smith. I want to thank you for your ministries (especially Mormonism Research Ministry which I obtain valuable information concerning Mormonism) and hope that you continue to serve Christ in your every day life. Once again, I am deeply sorry for comments I left on your videos because those statements were the real lies and deceptions.
What an encouraging letter! I frequently get posts from Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses who claim that I am wasting my time on YouTube or with our ministry in general. My response is 1) I do not think pursuing the souls of men is a waste of time and 2) they do not receive the private correspondence we receive. It is these kinds of letters that encourage us to keep doing what we do. As you can imagine, the majority of the responses we receive are not this encouraging. Meet Larry. If you have been following our blog for awhile, you may remember Larry.
Last year, I posted a blog about a Mormon man who challenged me on Topix. You can read that post here if you are interested. To make a long story short, things did not go well with Larry. He eventually became even more unreasonable and likened me to a murderer and a rapist for engaging in our ministry. At that point, I thought it was best to ignore Larry’s comments until I received an apology. I have done so until recently.
Once I remembered that Larry lives near the city in which I will be attending an apologetics conference, I decided to post to Larry in hopes that we could meet in person and settle our differences. The Topix post is titled An attempt at peace with Larry. For the sake of time, I will reproduce just my original post to him and his answer.
You and I have a misunderstanding that I would like to clear up. You also owe me an apology for likening me to a murderer and rapist for simply being a critic of your religion. I would like to resolve our differences and clear up your misunderstanding and we have an opportunity to do so face to face. I will be in Kansas City for a conference in March (http://www.emnr.org/conference.html ) and would like to meet you.
I look forward to meeting you and resolving our issues so we can get on to the positive discussions we use to have. If you aren’t careful, we might even become friends.
Let me first say Keith I am not avoiding you. I have spent the last three days in the hospital. As for you offer you can put it and your demand for an appology were the sun dont shine. You claim I compaired you to a murderer and rapest, what I did was to point out that you are no different than the ministers who through their words led people into mob action that led to those crimes. I pointed out that you called LDS foreigners in Chrsitian America including those LDS who have spilt their own blood for this country. Just like those ministers of old you have a ministry that has no other purpose than to attack religions you do not like. Just like those ministers you feel people with lies and half truths to stire up problems for the LDS CHurch. You do not go out and commit acts of violence against the LDS neither did the ministers of old. YOu do however through your lies lead people to actions that you can the deny any aprt of. Why then would I want to wast my time on you?
Is it me or are some Mormons not anywhere near as nice as the Mormons on those TV commercials? I must admit that I was disappointed with Larry’s response. I offer peace, but he would rather hang on to hatred. This guy is really one tough nut to crack and regardless of how nice I try to be to him, he simply does not see the need to respond in kind.
After I read his response, I was quickly reminded of “Chuck’s” encouraging words to Aaron and his kind email to me. In it he stated, “While I was in Mormonism and was blinded from truth… anybody who showed me the truth out of love felt hateful in my eyes. A ministry like yours, to me, was nothing more than a hate group who persecuted me for my beliefs. I now realize that yours (and several others) ministries is to help the LDS people obtain true salvation for we are all blinded by a false gospel administered by a false prophet. I think when my eyes was opened to Christ’s love and grace, that my heart was more recieving of the love of others and the need to right my wrongs with the followers of Christ. I look at what you guys do and it is tough love… the fact that you do have to speak against Mormonism, but the love of someone who cares about a complete stranger’s ability to one day be in heaven. Thanks for what you do!”
Chuck is right. This kind of love is tough, but it is worth it. I share this contrast, not in an attempt to make Larry look bad, but for the purpose of encouraging the Christian reader that God does indeed save the lost. If you are discouraged because of someone in your life who is giving you a hard time about Christianity, just remember “Chuck.” God is still in the business of doing miracles. I hope that one day Larry will come to his senses having escaped the snare of the Devil (2nd Timothy 2:24-26) and will one day be able to write a letter like Chuck’s. Please join me in prayer for Larry.