Why Believers In Christ Should Defend Mormons

Written and presented by Shawn McCraney in Murray, UT.

In the first episode of Heart of the Matter Full Circle, host Shawn McCraney shares his journey from being raised in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS) to exploring various philosophies and ultimately experiencing a transformative spiritual awakening. He discusses his struggle with authenticity, his excommunication from the LDS Church, and his efforts to understand the Bible and Christian teachings outside of organized religion. McCraney emphasizes the importance of faith and love over doctrinal differences, critiquing both Evangelical and LDS practices while advocating for a more personal, direct relationship with God. He encourages viewers to remain true to their faith traditions if they foster genuine faith and love, and he calls for unity among all faith-based individuals in the face of a secular world.

Introduction to Defending Mormons

Opening Remarks

Live from Salt Lake City, Utah, this is Heart of the Matter Full Circle, and I’m your host Shawn McCraney. In this, our first show, I might go a bit longer than usual before we go to the phones. Thank you for your patience.

Personal Background

Most who have tuned in tonight are probably familiar with who I am and this very program we created almost twenty years ago.

Maybe you have seen our billboards along the I-15 here of late or are here from catching our YouTube stuff, but if none of that applies, we are probably a complete mystery to you.

To set the record straight for our first-time viewers, allow a short but important review of the facts.

Early Life and Church Influence

Early Life and Church Influence

Prior to my coming into this world, my parents joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Los Angeles, CA.

This affiliation gave me an early perspective of life from an early age where I was taught its particular take on “who I am,” “why I am here,” and “where I was going in the hereafter”– especially if I remained faithful to its teachings.

Rebellious Youth

I was a rebellious youth, a southern California punk in the most literal sense of the word but ironically I actually enjoyed cultural Mormonism (and I am going to use the term “Mormon” in this program not to be offensive but because that is what I was raised as and it is a much more convenient term than the full name that the current LDS prophet demands of the members).

Mission Experience

After some early church discipline, I served a full-time mission to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and enjoyed that experience too as I learned to engage with strangers at their doorsteps, to speak publicly, and it gave me a chance to become better acquainted with the LDS scriptures.

It was on this mission where I first actually learned (in more detail) what the LDS calls the “plan of salvation.”

Marriage and Family

I returned from the mission, in the parlance of the faith, “honorably,” and the night of my return, I secretly got engaged to my wife of now 40 years, Mary Marguerite.

The Living God blessed Mary and me with three gifted daughters who have all played a part in this ministry, two fantastic sons-in-law (to date), and three extremely unique and beautiful grandchildren (who we love so deeply).

Personal Struggles and Searching

By temperament, I cannot help but see the world through the eyes of a passionate artist and have, without apology, sought to discover personal authenticity from a very young age.

Ironically but not surprisingly, I embraced some very inauthentic behaviors and beliefs along the way.

Spiritual Journey

After the mission and marriage, I returned to my questioning spirit and desire to be real in all I said and did while Mary and I attempted to bring our family up in what looked like a “perfect LDS Southern California home.

It did not take long for me to start wondering about some of the doctrines and practices of the church which then opened me up to its history which in my life was not disclosed openly before, during, or after the mission.

Crisis of Faith

Learning the facts, I began to wander from “testimonial certainty” in the LDS proprietary plan of salvation and started to look outside the faith for truth that could sustain my drive for something real, something lasting, and something that had the power to change what I was not able to change about myself.

I did this privately – at first – all the while continuing to attend my church meetings and accept church callings including that of an Elders Quorum president, early Seminary Teacher, and member of a Bishopric and Stake High Council.

Exploration of Philosophy and Other Beliefs

Simultaneously, I began to make a silent but concerted audit of western philosophy in general, then narrowed in on existentialist thinkers like the faith-filled Soren Kierkegaard and the faithless Jean-Paul Sartre.

These did not bring any real inner resolution to my frustrations but did help give me some rational perspectives outside of my LDS upbringing.

Nihilism and Addiction

I continued to explore, looking into Eastern metaphysics, romped through Das Kapital and most of what Communism offered intellectually, but all of this information failed to sustain me in my drive for truth and freedom, and I ultimately landed alone in the vast wastelands of straight-up nihilism.

Mixing this state with bouts of secret alcohol consumption, painkiller abuse, and dalliances with other women, the conflict between my inner soul and my outer allegiance to the church took a grand toll on how I once prided myself in “punk-authenticity,” and by August of 1997, I was absolutely hollowed out by my extremely disparate and dichotomous life.

Turning Point

As James states in his epistle, “a double-minded man is unstable in all of his ways.” Instability was all I had left, and I found myself an inauthentic and unfaithful husband, an inauthentic Mormon, an inauthentic existentialist, and worst of all, I was inauthentic to who and how I thought God made me to be, think, and how I longed to live.

That person had slowly been destroyed by hooking my wagon to every false God, philosophy, and worldview imaginable – religion included, despite the promises proponents of religion offer.

Encounter with a Radio Preacher

One afternoon in August of 1997, I was driving to pick my daughters up from a gymnastics practice in an adjacent town and happened upon a radio preacher (who was unknown to me at the time).

He asked his audience a rhetorical question, saying,

“If you could get yourself right before God, why haven’t you done it?”

These words rocked my world because I had honestly tried to get myself right before God – but nothing worked – at least not for me, not from the heart.

Spiritual Awakening

No, neither Mormonism, existentialism, Marxism, humanism, drink, drugs, women, music, art, or violence did anything to open my heart to being right before God.

From this hollowed-out state, I pulled the family van over and listened to the question this man presented that day.

He then answered his own question, which was probably no more than a few seconds later, and said,

“The reason you haven’t got yourself right before God is because . . . you . . . can’t!”

In all of my life of religion, attending church, confessing to the Bishop, serving a Mission, attending the temple, doing home teaching, fulfilling my callings, and all the other venues I pursue thereafter, I had never heard this perspective – at least I don’t remember having ever heard it.

Realization and Transformation

All I remembered hearing was that I needed to “choose the right,“ that I needed to repent, I needed to do this or do that, or that “might makes right,” along with all the other Nietzschean catch-phrases about becoming an Uber Mench in a land of under-handed souls.

This pastor then went on to explain what he meant by those last words and said, (and I am paraphrasing here),

“And the reason you can’t get yourself right before God is because God is holy – and you aren’t.”

“Because God is loving – and you only really love yourself.”

“And because God is perfect – something you just can’t be – no matter how hard you try.”

Embracing a New Perspective

That is why God sent His Son into this world, to do what you can’t do, to be what you can’t be, and to love in ways that you cannot and will not from your natural-born condition.”

Where I had always thought it was all about me “doing,” me “being,” me “looking,” me “saying,” you know, “me, me, me doing everything by my own power, strength and self-will, this message was very different – it was truly all focused on . . . Him.

By the end of that day, I was radically born from above, spiritually changed in my overall worldview, and renewed with an otherworldly spiritual force that I could not ever deny nor have ever denied since.

New Journey

You see, on that fateful day, I started on a journey directly with my Maker in becoming an authentic individual according to His directives rather than through my own desires or according to anyone else’s opinions – living as He made me to be RATHER than being or becoming what everyone around me said I should be, said I should do, and said I should believe.

And what really blew me away was that this relationship was immediately direct, that it came from Him to me by His Spirit, and I experienced the reality that no religious intermediaries or authorities were required to intervene.

This insight has put me at war with every religionist I have ever encountered – ever since.

Continued LDS Membership

I continued being LDS for the next four years, knowing I was different inside but not knowing where to go or what to do with myself along the way.

The living God did put some dear Christian friends in my path to encourage and correct many of my beliefs, with Vanessa and Steve remaining family friends to this very day.

Excommunication

Four years after my roadside experience and after relocating to Park City, Utah, I asked to be officially excommunicated from the church and faced a high council tribunal with Mary by my side that granted my request.

People have asked me why I requested to be excommunicated instead of just walking away, and the truth of the matter was I deserved excommunication according to their rules at this point, but even more so, I honestly wanted the right to return to the church of my youth, the church of my parents, the church of my siblings, and then my wife and daughters if I was ever so inclined, but it would be only

be on my own terms, and according to the directives of My God – no one else – ever again.

New Life and Ministry

New Life and Ministry

After the excommunication was granted, I left my tepid thirteen-year career as a stockbroker, lost our home in Park City, moved into an apartment in Southern California, and I took employment as a parking lot attendant in Crystal Cove State Park where I started in on writing my first real attempt at a non-fiction book.

During that time, I also enrolled in the full-time (but non-accredited) Calvary Chapel School of Ministry where over two years I learned the Bible, Genesis to Revelation, from the insights of the late Chuck Smith, the revolutionary pastor/teacher who helped start the Jesus movement in the 1960s.

Education and Writing

Where the curriculum demanded my going through his verse-by-verse teachings by listening to hundreds of hours of MP3 recordings and to take exams on everything he said, I chose to go through the teachings twice so I could really hear and understand what was being said and why.

Chuck Smith was a salt-of-the-earth believer, the real deal in my estimation, but hearing his teachings through the Bible twice, I could not help but notice a few doctrinal inconsistencies I bet he wasn’t even aware existed.

Independent Study

Because of my direct experience with the Living God, however, I was not looking for doctrinal certainty from a man. I had been changed by the Living God while I was still under the LDS teaching that God was once a man who had wives and learned first-hand that it is the seeking heart of faith that matters in the personal quest for truth, not doctrinal or practical certainties.

This mindset allowed me to take all the biblical truth Chuck offered while peaceably discarding some ideas where he might have been a little off. He was a fantastic teacher in the faith.

Publishing and Promotion

I finished the book, titling it, Born-Again Mormon while in my second year at the school, and Mary and I self-published several thousand copies which sat on pallets wrapped in plastic in her parents’ garage for a couple of years untouched.

We created a rudimentary sort of template to try and promote the book on this thing called “the internet” in spite of my technical illiteracies and just waited.

Television Opportunity

In 2005 and against all odds, the wife of the manager of a full-power Christian television station located here in Salt Lake City heard about our book and this led to them inviting me to come up and meet them.

This meeting ultimately led him to offering me my own show, where I would write, produce, and host live every Tuesday night at 8 pm starting in March of 2006.

Heart of the Matter Show

We decided the show would be an hour long and we would use it to compare and contrast Mormonism with Biblical Christianity. We also thought it would be fun to field live calls.

We called the program, Heart of the Matter because the local Christian pastors the manager consulted protested against my wanting to call it, “the Born-Again Mormon hour,” and the manager could not get beyond their personal fears.

Balancing Family and Ministry

Again, not wanting to upset the lives of our children, I started flying into Salt Lake from Huntington Beach every week and continued to do this for the next fourteen years until our youngest daughter graduated college, and then we moved here.

Initially, I openly and repeatedly told members of the LDS church on the show to remain LDS if they wanted and not to make it an issue but to go to God and seek to have Him give them new life in and through spiritual rebirth He promises to all who ask in faith.

Evolution of Beliefs

After graduation, I was joined by two of my brothers from the school, one of whom is here tonight, steady in the faith as ever and also learning much about playing church over the years.

I stand by probably 90% of what I said on those shows in terms of content (relative to LDS practice, doctrine, history, and its basis in freemasonry).

I can say this with a clear conscience because we seriously vetted all the information we presented, and I do not apologize for any of that as even the LDS church today has publicly come forth today admitting to much of the same information it once tried to hide.

Reflection and Apology

The 10% that I no longer stand by relates to my tone (at times) toward some of the callers, but more so, I openly renounce many of the so-called orthodox views I blindly regurgitated as biblical “truths” which were nothing more than unsubstantiated claims filtered through nearly two millennia of Christianity which I had not vetted nor fully understood at that point in my walk.

See, while I worked through the Bible with Pastor Chuck, I blindly (even naively) accepted most of the traditional views that most Evangelicals perpetuate as biblical, especially relative to afterlife punishment, the being of Ha Satan, the Make-Up of God, the Nature of Christ, eschatology (especially relative to the second coming) sin, ecclesiology, and clerical authority.

Questioning Tradition

As the host of the show, I repeated these traditions every week as if they were biblically proven and did so from the zeal of a man changed in His heart by God and earnest to share Him with others.

I made the mistake of trusting that other religious leaders were also deeply committed to truth instead of vetting the text and doctrines that I was just starting to absorb.

This was a mistake, but no different than my going on a Mormon mission and repeating their version of the truth, again, without knowing all the facts.

Online Exposure

A man in Sweden wrote us through a thing called “email” and asked if he could put our shows on a thing called, “YouTube,” and we said, “why not,” and this exposed, “Heart of the Matter” to a much wider audience – even around the world.

Reevaluation and Break

After six full years of live, weekly call-in shows, we were blessed with a fairly large (and enthusiastic) audience but something was not right in my mind.

I told Mary that I was in need of a break.

So, we announced that we would be taking a month of December 2012 off and would return on Tuesday, January 1, 2013.

Before that break, we were bringing in close to a half million dollars in donations and even had the televangelist Paul Crouch try to recruit us to join his world-wide television network, TBN.

Observations of Evangelical Churches

But something within me was just not right . . . something the Living God was trying to get me to see. We declined the TBN offer and took the month off.

During that time Mary and I decided to go, unannounced, to the ten largest Evangelical churches in Utah to actually see for ourselves what they were doing with all of the seeking LDS people we helped drive into their congregations for six years straight.

Ironically, and up to this point, I had never really participated in an Evangelical church other than serving in the front office at Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa (which was part of my mandatory service hours) but even to this day I admit that I have not, outside of Chuck Smith’s recorded teachings, personally listened to more than maybe fifteen sermons from anyone else . . . ever – and I don’t think I have ever finished listening to any of those fifteen teachings – except that first radio sermon given by the man I later learned was named, Charles Stanley.

Critical Community Response

The critical Evangelical community familiar with this fact about me sees it as an embarrassing admission and a personal fault.

From the first day that I arrived in the state, they have unitedly and individually attempted to make me accountable to them and their views, open to their mentoring, and submitted to their authority.

When I would respond by saying that I was accountable to God, they laughed, mocked, and said that this would lead to my ruin.

Personal Convictions

In light of sound biblical exegesis, and the fact that Paul himself rejected to consult with even any of the original apostles but Peter, and in light of the fact that God sent His Holy Spirit to me directly and that He plainly says in Jeremiah that the day was coming when He would write His laws on the hearts and minds, and that no -man would say, know the Lord, know the Lord for all would know me,” I found their tepid, unauthorized demands wanting and have since seen firsthand that there is no better accountability partner for any believer to have than Him.

Authenticity in Faith

Authenticity in Faith

I recently read that the late great guitarist Eddie Van Halen once admitted that he was not able to sit down and create any type of acceptable modern song that would accord with the popular music of his day because he just could “not bear listening to what modern music had become.”

For him, hearing it “offended his musical sensibilities so much” that he turned from it altogether and created what came out from his musical sensibilities, from his heart and hands, according to His God-given gifts.

Relative to the faith I have a similar mindset as my soul is literally shut down internally by everything in the modern Christian scene, along with most of their traditional interpretations of scripture.

I am not unique in this as I have met other believers and have now joined with them who have also separately come to the very same conclusions in their diligent search for Him in spirit and truth.

Acknowledgment of Limitations

I am not a prophet. I have no authority. Nobody should ever follow me nor ever blindly accept any of my views.

I am not educated formally. I do not have more of the Spirit than any believer from any denominational walk on earth, Latter-Day Saints included, nor do I receive

revelation for anyone other than myself.

Contrary to a good deal of online rhetoric, I am not trying to be another Joseph Smith, or Chris Nemelka, or Denver Snuffer, nor am I seeking to reform, restore or start another denomination – please, hear me clearly on this, the last thing our world needs is another denomination.

Commitment to Biblical Principles

The reality is (and I am not being self-deprecating – I honestly mean this) I am personally a very damaged man by nature and struggle every day to die to self and rise up with Him in new life.

That said, I can honestly declare, without exception and before the very God in whom I trust and love, that the only thing I have sought for in life (and continue to seek) is to honor Him by diligently seeking and teaching “contextually derived biblical principles” to anyone of any denomination who is interested and to love and accept all people unconditionally whether they agree or disagree with me along the way.

Addressing Religious Hypocrisy

Our findings and points of view are all we offer – freely – to anyone anywhere and always. We ask for nothing more.

Having attended the ten largest churches in Utah in December of 2012, we were frankly appalled at what we saw and heard.

There was no genuine feeding of the sheep going on. Yes, there was entertainment. And yes, there were attempts at playing church. There were certainly attempts to fleece the flock of its money, that is for sure.

But the shepherds were not feeding the sheep what they needed then and what they need today – the scripture, in context, verse by verse, stripped of religious traditions, and freely open to all for confirmation from the spirit. Not dogma. Not demanded doctrine. Teaching . . . and allowing all people to accept what is taught or not.

Focus on Evangelical Critique

We returned to the airwaves on Tuesday, January 1st, 2013, and announced that we would be spending the whole year exposing modern Evangelicalism and its unbiblical approaches that put seeking people in bondage and that we would do this with the same fervor that we exposed the LDS faith over the previous six years.

Before going on the air that night, I took Mary aside and said,

“You know what this is going to mean, don’t you? It means we are literally biting the hand that feeds us. It will mean we will become persona non-grata overnight. It means loss – to what extent, I’m not sure.”

As usual, and as hard as this was for her to hear, she stood by me – again –

and within six days of airing these intentions, the cowardly local Evangelical leaders had us surreptitiously removed from the television airwaves fearing that the open criticism would harm their numbers and bottom line.

Blessing in Disguise

Being kicked off television turned out to be a blessing in disguise because even though we lost 90% of our support and live weekly fanbase, it allowed us to build out our own small studio and devote the last eleven years to diligently doing what I should have done in the first place – studying, teaching, and recording what the Bible really says without the influence of religious traditionalists or public kickback.

We will address these things with you over the course of this weekly show out into the future for anyone interested.

LDS Membership Decline

But during these past eleven years, we have also had a front-row seat to watch as the once “privately curated LDS membership” began to bleed, then hemorrhage, out in terms of faithful members.

My dear friend and brother, a former LDS Stake President and now ex-LDS, recently told me that 40% of LDS families today are not able to even keep their children in the faith anymore.

That is a HUGE number considering its high retention rates among families in decades past.

Crisis Across Faiths

But this hemorrhaging is not limited to Mormonism as many people from all institutions of faith are struggling with crises of faith, falling retention rates, and worst of all, having their faithful flocks abandoning God altogether.

Societal and Technological Factors

What is going on?

Of course, there are a number of factors at play with societal decay and technological advances, but we suggest that people are waking up to the game of religion (which God plainly says in the text was never meant to be) and its inept and fumbling traditions and for refusing to accept what God provided the world through the death, resurrection, ascension, and return of His Son . . .

Call for Unity in Faith

“A reconciled world, returned ostensibly to the garden scene spiritually, where everyone has the freedom to choose how to believe and live – all through the finished victorious work of the last Adam.”

I want to point out something to the critical evangelical community that they need to start seeing through the eyes of Grace in this day and age –

Faith and Love in LDS Practices

Within the active faith of Mormonism, don’t ignore the fact that in this wasted world the LDS continue to heartily sing,

“Redeemer of Israel our only delight on whom for a blessing we call.”

That they sing,

“Upon the cross of Calvary, they crucified our Lord.”

That they sing,

“Nearer my God to thee.”

and “Come thou font of every blessing,” among many readily recognized Christian hymns.

Do I personally agree with the specific LDS practices or doctrines? No more than I agree with the specific doctrines and practices of Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, Reformed Theology, Protestants, High Church, Low Church, frothing Pentecostals, or with almost any of the organized institutions on earth today.

Embracing All Faiths

But I do trust that the living God is aware of every earnest individual who is in private pursuit of Him and that He knows exactly where they are in their heart toward Him irrespective of the religious house that they frequent.

I trust that faith – some faith – any faith – all faith, is always a step in the right direction toward our loving God and that it is a far superior choice than to reject it altogether and “then do what thou wilt.”

Critique of Religious Zealots

Religious zealots purposely ignore these very personal intimate relationships people subjectively maintain with their Maker and make massive mountains out of “right praxis and right doctrine,” while the Living God calls for faith from people first, irrespective of their knowledge or opinions.

Show me anyone on earth that walks in the principles of faith and love, and I will show you someone I see as a sister or a brother in Christ, again, irrespective of their religious affiliation, odd-dogmas, and regardless of whether they know the source or ontological identity of His Son.

Call to the Phone Lines

Before going to the phone lines – btw, our number is . . .

220 222-HOTM

Let me conclude with this.

Conclusion

Conclusion

Standing outside of Mormonism today are hundreds of outstretched arms, most of them online but some of them are still archaically protesting outside LDS General Conferences, not realizing how hypocritically they present themselves.

How is the faith explained today in the Bible? It is a subjective, individual walk exclusively in the hands of the Spirit with the solitary command of faith and love.

Not “church faith and love” nor the rejection of church faith and love.

Faith and love.

Acknowledging LDS Faith

What has always been utterly illogical to me, especially in the case of Mormonism, is that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints IS, in fact, a religion, and as such it does, in fact, teach and promote faith and love to its members.

When examining what is being offered to the exiting LDS membership today, all I paradoxically see is

“bad-faith,”

“non-faith” and/or

“anti-faith!”

All of which are unfair replacements and are akin to taking a declawed house cat and dropping it deep into a wilderness full of wild dogs!

It’s highly irresponsible, extremely self-centered, and indirectly lends to creating personal misery and woe in the families and lives of people who, when they were active members of that organized religion, tried to live lives pleasing to the living God they sought and believed in.

Responsibility to Faithful Members

Like it or not, Mormonism is a “faith” and to offer “non-faith” “bad-faith” or “anti-faith,” as a replacement has proven to be an utter, even an unconscionable, fail.

I’ve painfully and personally watched my people, the LDS, abandon their religion and fall headlong into divorce, wife-swapping, addiction, and attitudes of selfishness that defy description in comparison to how they once lived.

What specifically are they offered today when they wander like infants from their spiritual moorings?

Well, there is more religion. Which means in most cases more bad exegesis of scripture, more tithes, more laws, and more church playing.

The majority of exiting LDS see right through that junk and in very short order walk. I’ve sadly witnessed far too many stories like these.

If we have learned anything about organized religion, it’s that they all have an agenda and they all fail to support what the living God directly states that He would do in our day –

Supply His Spirit and govern individuals by and through it.

Misguided Prophets and Humanists

There are also new “prophets” who claim to be receiving “new revelations” that offer bad-faith to exiting LDS folks.

In our estimation, they are just more of the same – men and women claiming to be intermediaries when God is directly calling to all people to come to Him and let Him be their intermediary.

Then we have our Humanist-talking-heads and their fleshly pontifications on how

to be “free,” or “spiritual without faith in God.”

They break my heart but I’ve seen it break the hearts of those who listen to their hollow insights.

I’m not against learning anything new and support testing everything under the sun but there is a biblical fact that cannot be ignored which runs beginning to end through the scriptural narrative –

Without faith, it is impossible to please Him.

Humanists don’t seem to care about this emphasis and seem to preach that with faith it is impossible to please oneself.

I see this as unconscionable – but as their right.

Addressing Atheists and Misotheists

Then we have the literally “anti-faith” voices – the so-called atheists, and misotheists, godless star-gazing souls proudly encouraging authenticity without admitting to or submitting to God in any way.

After forty solid years of searching, examining, testing, failing, and turning over every stone, I come to believe that . . .

“An authentic self, without allowing God and His influence to govern, is probably just an ego-centric, selfish ass who does little to actually bless the lives of others – family included –but will ultimately only serve themselves.”

Unity Among People of Faith

As a step in the right direction, and as a means to help support ALL FAITH-BASED approaches in this world, we suggest that it’s high time for Christian people (IN THE LEAST) to start to admit and embrace the LDS as a people who teach faith in God, who preach Jesus Christ born, crucified, buried, and raised, and to admit that they are a people who do teach their congregants to walk by faith and love.

Comparison to Biblical Examples

Don’t these things make them as much a Christian as the thief on the cross who lacked any and all doctrinal knowledge but was told that he would be with Christ in paradise that day?

Isn’t it time all people of faith around the world openly join with all other people of faith and create a united front against the onslaught of all non-faith, godless persuasions?

Never to war “against” them, but to gently, faithfully stand for faith and real selfless love relentlessly and without apology?

Addressing Criticisms

You may not agree whatsoever with the form of faith the respective LDS members profess – you may get angry at their approach, their system of sanctification, and the skeletons in their closets.

Yes, the LDS have alternative views and differences relative to most doctrinal and practical approaches – I know them very well – but they are a faith-based religion. And their faith begins with Christ who was and is foundational to them – again, whether you agree with their assessments or not.

Biblical Representation of Faith

After staring at all organized religion in the face for decades, let me tell you, here and now, that the biblical representation, from Genesis to Revelation, on what pleases God is clear.

“Without faith it is impossible to please Him. And His command is to love with agape selfless love.”

Why are the ex-LDS being recruited into systems and lifestyles antithetical to this message?

Evangelical Critique

And to the Evangelicals, of who I once fervently belonged, I’ve heard their fearful condemnations of things like

“But they don’t have the right faith!”

OR

“It’s not the right Jesus!”

OR

“It’s not the right God.”

AND/OR

“But they believe this, or they believe that, or they trust this extra-biblical book, or go to that temple or or or . . .”

Don’t you know that your cries and criticisms are utterly hypocritical because with the same mouth that you pick on them, you, also . . .

Don’t have “perfect faith,” or a perfect epistemological or ontological Jesus,” (you don’t even use His given name) and your “right view of God,” is highly suspect from all I’ve seen and heard.

But worst yet, you protest against the LDS without an understanding of the heart that God has who constantly reaches out to all – all the time, in love and through His Spirit – mercifully allowing all souls to amble forward in whatever faith they have as a means to find Him?

Observations on Faith and Doctrine

Looking around and over almost forty years of searching, observing and testing all things, we maintain here and now, that all people of faith, rightly or errantly aimed, are headed in the right direction, are on the right path, and that today, more than at any other time in human history, people of faith ought to unite in agape love one for another and set aside the doctrinal differences leaving such for God to judge.

The living God has a relationship directly with all of His Children through His Spirit.

Our faith is not predicated on perfect understanding, perfect doctrine, or perfect practice. He alone examines what is in the individual heart, the intention, and assesses and leads every individual accordingly and in what they are willing to receive.

Apology and Advice

I used to tell people to abandon the LDS faith in the years past, as a means to send a message to the leaders that change was needed.

I was uninformed and adhering to the zealous religious traditions I had wrapped myself in and I was wrong.

I’m sorry.

Encouragement for Faithful Living

When the choice becomes, “leave the LDS church and become faithless or “remain and be faithful,” I wholeheartedly promote the latter and publicly embrace you as my brother or sister in Christ in whatever path you choose.

Again – if abandoning the LDS church or any other religious organization means abandoning faith in God and His Son, or if that act causes you to become Godless, selfish or indifferent to others along the way – please stay – walk in the faith you presently possess and grow in the selfless love you are led to give.

I have come to see firsthand that in the human realm, to choose and acquiesce to faith – even when it is misguided as most faith is – lends so much more to living genuine fulfilled lives before our Maker than to reject it and to walk according to one’s own flesh or what some talking head suggests.

Our world needs unity among people of faith. All faiths. All expressions.

Clarification of Stance

Understand clearly, plainly, that I personally maintain very clear ideas of what God looks for from those who seek Him diligently. I have and will continue to teach these principles to anyone interested in them, but one thing remains clear to me – all people of faith should be free to believe as they are led and loved along the way. Latter-day Saints included.

On Universalism

I am not preaching universalism in the sense that all roads lead to God – not at all. I stand firm on the vicarious, victorious, finished work of His Son as the requisite for entrance to His kingdom here and beyond.

Faith in Different Contexts

But we plainly and openly suggest that today, having come full circle, that anyone and all who seek to live by faith – Latter-Day Saints included – are headed in the right direction and that they will be led as God sees fit and as they are willing to hear and follow His lead.

If you are fed through the Catholic, Protestant, LDS, Jehovah’s Witness, Seventh Day Adventist, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Orthodox, Hindu, or any other organized system of religion, and it keeps you, an American, an Israeli, a Palestinian, a European, a Canadian, an Australian, or a person from any other culture or country walking by faith in what is clearly an Invisible God, remain in your worldview until you are led to do otherwise.

If leaving these things means leaving faith – please reconsider this act – He knows your heart and He will lead you as far as you are willing to go.

Final Encouragement

In closing tonight’s FIRST full-circle broadcast and before going to the phones and some submitted questions, I want to encourage the LDS, who remain my people from birth, to take the good their religious leaders encourage them to possess and gently discard the rest as you are personally led of His Spirit.

I recommend this to all people of every religious institution, large or small – we all have that right.

We know the kick-back to this message. From the godless, faith is always mocked. From the religious zealots on any side, division and finger-pointing is always the demand.

From the religious charlatans, false unity, and liberty for the sake of likes and subscribers is what they seek, and from the Libertines, avarice, and pride in such, will forever be promoted while ironically calling it love.

We do not maintain that we have anything perfectly right or complete. But we do maintain, propose, and endorse, two points that contextual scriptural exegesis proves beginning to end:

Faith in God and agape love toward all is approved by Him. God, through His Spirit, will handle and govern the rest.

Opening the Phone Lines

Let’s open up the phone lines.

Conclusion and Final Thoughts

Before leaving you tonight, I want to share my perspective of things once everything has been said and done:

When it comes to honoring the crucified Christ, I’m a Catholic. When it comes to honoring the Risen Lord, I’m an Anabaptist. When it comes to organized religion, I’m a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, and when it comes to all that is in this world, I’m a dedicated Franciscan monk.

When it comes to the long-suffering of God here and hereafter, I’m a Universalist, and when it comes to loving my neighbor as myself, I’m a Quaker. When it comes to personal convictions, I’m a Southern Baptist, and when it comes to my daily worldview, I’m Amish.

When it comes to loving the poor and suffering, I’m from the Salvation Army, and when it comes to dedicated zeal to share, I’m a Jehovah’s Witness knocking on your door. When it comes to communion

Heart Of The Matter

Heart Of The Matter

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