Testimony of "Tony,"

former L.D.S. (Mormon) Bishop

 

"In the mid 1970's we moved for business purposes to a new town, and we were basically loved into the Mormon Church. Our next door neighbour was a very outgoing person, and he used to visit us and I would notice he wouldn't eat anything on certain days of the month and he wouldn't drink alcohol with me and things like that. This generated a natural curiosity; he never actually promoted his faith or anything like that. But over a period of two or three months we got to understand he was a Mormon, and we were invited out on car rallies, picnics with their family and other members of their church, and eventually it developed they sent some missionaries around to teach us, and we were asked to read the Book of Mormon and things like that. I remember quite distinctly one night in bed, I was thinking about it and a voice said quite clearly, "You've got no need to read this, you know that it's true." It was at that point I made a commitment to join the Latter Day Saints.

With hindsight now, this is the trap and the danger of depending on feelings rather than scriptural content. We fell into a counterfeit church, and it wiped us out for a period of five or six years until we managed to come out again. Our whole family went in. There are lots of stories of splitting of families in the Mormon Church, but this didn't happen to us. We met lots of lovely kind people in the Mormon church, and we have got no argument with any of them at all. Our argument has ultimately come down to doctrine.

I was brought up in the Methodist church and attended Sunday School and Bible School until my late teens when we drifted away as we went into business and overseas. So when we came into the Latter-day Saints we came in without knowing much about it. My mother as well as all of our children joined and were taught the LDS doctrines. I eventually became appointed as a branch President in another town and served there for four years. I went through the various Temple ceremonies for time and eternity at the Mormon temple with our children and so on. Every so often I would come across a little bit which was a bit strange or unusual, and think "that's funny," Still you would sort of accept it. Then a couple of weeks later you would be taught something else, and think again "that's funny," and you would accept that. Over the years you accept degree by degree some things which you look back at the over all picture and it is absolutely absurd. But not knowing any better, and not knowing the Scriptures well we accepted these things, and so did our family.

During that time there was an Ex-Mormons for Jesus bookshop operating in Auckland, and they were sending lots of material out, and we received some. They were obviously mailing it to branch presidents and things like that, and we received it and I threw it into a draw, and never even opened it. It sat there for at least two years I suppose. One day, during the time we were in the LDS church, my mother became a temple worker in Hamilton and used to go there quite regularly and help with the temple ceremonies. I recall when we came out. It was one Saturday afternoon, and I suddenly thought to myself, "I wonder what was in that material?"

So I hunted it out from my bedroom draw, opened it up, and we decided to leave the church within about ten minutes of reading it, it was just like that. It was very dramatic. We saw material there where what affected me from an intellectual point of view was the letter from the chap Brown, who was a librarian in the LDS headquarters in Salt Lake, saying that some of the early revelations given to Joseph Smith had been changed. It was quite obvious as there were photocopies there to show the changes. There was another letter from one of the senior apostles in the LDS church saying the revelations of Joseph Smith had not been changed and that they stood forever. That was immediately and absolutely incontrovertible - you just couldn't deny the written evidence. So we had an immediate problem. Our teenage daughter had been studying the Book of Mormon for four years, along with seminary classes and things like this. My wife, and my five children, as well as my mother were all involved.

My mother was due to visit us on the way back from the temple that Saturday afternoon, and in fact while we were reading the material she actually knocked at the door, and it was quite spectacular as we were busy hiding it under the cushions and places like this, and my mother came and sat down on the couch, not knowing that underneath her was all this anti-Mormon material. However we had to do something about it. That Saturday night we had a meeting with all the Mormon folk in the town, so after about an hour of plucking up enough courage I said to Mum, "I don't believe the church is true - I have just seen evidence that it is not true." At the back of out mind was this fracture of families, it is just as hard to come out of the Mormon church as it is to get in. My mother just turned around and said, "Look, Anthony, if you don't believe it's true then that's it, finish!" And she was prepared to walk away, which absolutely amazed me.

We were a right mess that night. We told the children, and they were in tears. It was really quite a disastrous scene, there were tears everywhere, there was a complete and utter loss of faith, and so I knew we had to do something. There was one particular minister in the town that I had particular respect for from my business dealings with him, so we rang him up and he said later on he was as nervous as could be and didn't know what he was getting into to, but initially he said he had a meeting that night and couldn't make it, but he rang back about ten minutes later and said he would be happy to come out and see us. He came out to our house, about ten miles out in the country, it was really just a comforting exercise, because in the Mormon scene you are taught that the Book of Mormon is true and it is the only true religion on the earth. So when folk come out you tend to be completely disillusioned and say, well, if Mormonism isn't true then none of the churches are true, because that is the basis it exists on.

So we had to be convinced again that there was life after Mormonism, and he was there from about seven in the evening until about half- past eleven, and we were firing questions at him, and he was very politely saying, "Well, I don't think it quite says that in the Bible." We were very very confused, but from there we went on and we never for a moment considered not joining a mainstream church. We went to the Baptist Fellowship and I eventually became treasurer there for a number of years. So, we have had an exciting time I suppose, and I do look back on there Mormon era of our lives and it seems to be a time where we stagnated really, and it has taken a long time to overcome that. Our family is still together and they are all Christians and it is great.

When I look back in retrospect, although the Holy Spirit is acknowledged in Mormonism, I never actually saw him active, and I don't just say that in hindsight. In the Mormon church you sit down to sing your hymns, and little things like that which seems to strangle the outpouring of the Spirit, and you can't even talk about it in the same breath, because Mormonism is a counterfeit, so any spirit that is there has got to be a counterfeit spirit as well. Now when I talk to folk I really just want to see children injected with a degree of knowledge so they are aware of the counterfeit religions around, and the parents need to be able to teach their children."


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