Former LDS Bishop Earl Erskine Mormon Testimony…. The Truth Revealed Part 2

It is interesting that I feel closer to Jesus and the Bible but I’m considered deceived. Maybe some of you can put these facts on a shelf and ignore them but I couldn’t and gratefully my wife couldn’t either. And yes, we believe we will have a glorious relationship with God after this life. I’ve given some very special blessings over the years but I’ve come to realize that they were between me, that person and God. My journey fell into three stages. First it was to defend the church with all my heart and to make sense of these discrepancies. I assume defending the church will also be your first reaction to what I’m saying. I began watching Sean in 2007. He made me angry and defensive, especially about me not being a true Christian. Stage 2 was to learn more about these church history problems and to determine what the truth really was. I’ve had many sleepless nights over the past few years. Please notice that I haven’t said anything about these peculiarities – Masonic rituals in the temple, the 1990 changes in the temple ceremony, Joseph practicing polygamy before the revelation was made public. No mention anywhere of Aaronic or Melchizedek Priesthood before about 1834, the 1829 dates in the D&C were added later,  that the Dead Sea Scrolls support the accuracy of the Old Testament and do not support the revisions Joseph made to the Bible, that God had a physical relationship with Mary, the cross or that there is a lack of archaeological evidence, metal DNA or linguistic support for the Book of Mormon.

I read a book by church historian B.H. Roberts. He couldn’t find support for the Book of Mormon either. We teach that even the very elect will be deceived. I wonder whose elect and who’s deceived. I almost wish the church could separate itself from its history. The church does a good job in humanitarian aid, family and personal values, culture and its social organization. But it can’t avoid its history. Paraphrasing President Hinckley’s quote from his book, he said “the validity of this work finds its roots in the first vision. If the first vision did not occur, then we are involved in a great sham. It’s that simple.” Again, what does all this really tell us? I will leave it to you to draw your own conclusions but I know the church makes it very difficult to have one foot in and the other foot out. So now I’ve entered stage three. What do I believe now? What do I do now? I prayed and felt prompted to read the words of Jesus in a red-letter Bible. Listen to these words of hope. Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life. Heaven and earth shall pass away but my words shall not pass away. These verses and others in the Bible are simple and give us hope that we can have eternal life. See God and trust the words in the Bible. Isn’t it remarkable that Jesus never said anything about the Aaronic or Melchizedek priesthood, the new and everlasting covenant of marriage, tithing, family history, temple ceremonies or other works in order to gain eternal life? 

Now let me ask you Latter-day saints this question. Was Jesus a god before he came to the earth? The LDS teach that he helped organize the earth and that he’s the Jehovah of the Old Testament. So he is a god but since he hadn’t received his physical body, he was a spirit. They also teach Jesus was the firstborn of Heavenly Father. Did that make him a god? Had he earlier been baptized or gone through a temple and been married for time and all eternity? Did he have wives? Could he stay a god without coming to the earth? If nothing else, this LDS Jesus is a different Jesus than the one in the Bible. In Matthew 24 it says then if any man shall say unto you “Lo here is Christ or there, believe it not.” You’ll recall President Hinckley’s comment about believing in a different Jesus. How much more it should mean to us to know that Jesus would be willing to come to earth to suffer and pay for our sins when he didn’t have to. Listen to these words of Paul in Galatians and Ephesians: “And I do not frustrate the grace of God for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain” and “for by grace are you saved through faith and that not of yourselves, it is a gift of God, not of works lest any man should boast.” We cannot put God in our debt. We all know faith without works is dead but faith first. We do works out of love. And faith is good but blind faith is not. 

I wish Joseph had written in his handwritten account in 1832 that he saw the Father and the Son. I wish he hadn’t changed the nature of God in the Book of Mormon. I wish for the LDS that the lectures of faith said the father had a body of flesh and bones. I wish the changes in Luke 10:22 made sense. I wish the papyri were written by Abraham, like Joseph said it was and really told his story. And I’ll bet the church wishes these things too. But wishing doesn’t change the truth. I didn’t start out my study with the idea of challenging my belief in the church or questioning Joseph as a prophet of God. Paul foresaw something though when he wrote to the Galatians “but though we or an angel from heaven preach any other gospel unto you than that we have preached unto you let him be accursed.” I’ve been so disappointed, I feel betrayed and deceived and it’s turned my family and my life upside down. I’ve lost the respect of a dear daughter-in-law. Believe me, this new look at things has been gut-wrenching. Last Christmas, my children asked their mom “what’s the matter with dad?”. In February 2011 she finally cornered me and said “All right. What’s up? You’ve got to tell me.” and for the first time I reluctantly verbalized my findings. I couldn’t deny or walk away from the words I finally shared with her. In conclusion, would you please, every once in a while, consider the possibility that there is only one Almighty God; he’s always been God. He can do anything he wants any time and that he is not a previously sinful man who developed into a god. I know there are those of you out there watching who are in as much turmoil as I was. I also know some of you may be too comfortable to check things out. But I hope that God will lead you to the truth. Sean won’t like this credit that his show has been a bright light in my storm. Please let God help you with your questions and concerns. I give credit to God for every word you’ve heard from me tonight. I’ve turned my life to Christ, open the Bible and I feel a great burden lifted off my shoulders through His grace and not by my works, like the little boy with outstretched arms looking up to his loving father. I also have nothing of value to offer my Heavenly Father but my love. And this is the true heart of the matter. May God bless you in your journey. Thanks.