What a Former Brigham Young University Professor Wants Pastors to Know about Mormonism
Lynn K. Wilder, Ex-Mormon Christians United for Jesus
I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— (Galatians 1:6)
Having met the Jesus of the Bible through His Word, I knew I would be compelled to leave my LDS faith and my tenured professor position at Brigham Young University (BYU). In June of 2007 after that critical decision, my phone rang. It was a dean at a state university in Florida—a school to which I had not applied—offering me a one year visiting position beginning in August. I fell to my knees stunned this God of the Bible had brought me a job I did not even know was available. Weeks later, husband Michael and I moved to Florida and to biblical faith and never looked back. The next year, my professoriate in Florida became permanent.
Vulnerable in Late Teens and Early Twenties
As I settled into this peculiar new life of a born again Christian, I volunteered to be the faculty advisor for a Christian organization on campus. Sometimes I encouraged the campus pastors to alert the students to the false christs, false gospels, false apostles, and false teachers warned about in Scripture that I had succumbed to in joining the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in my early 20s. These Scriptures are ubiquitous. Perhaps within 20 years after the death of Jesus, Paul wrote the book of Galatians because believers in Jesus were already perverting and adding to the quite simple gospel. The pastors on campus, excellent leaders and good friends, did not see false gospels as a threat to their students at the time. Surely the Christian students knew better than to join the Mormons, Jehovah Witnesses, or any of the other out-of-the-Christian-body sects trying to operate within the body. Shockingly, according to the Pew Institute, 83% of individuals who join the Mormon Church come right out of biblical faith, like Michael and I did. Growing up, I had minimal knowledge of what God’s Word taught, although we attended church each week.
In 2013, Zondervan published the Wilder family’s story from the LDS Church to the biblical Jesus (Unveiling Grace: The Story of How We Found Our Way Our t of the Mormon Church). I took a semester’s leave of absence from the university to tell the story on a book tour. The once-very-active-LDS Wilders left the Mormon Church because we read the Bible. It began when our third son Micah read the New Testament a dozen times on his 2-year Mormon mission and became born again while still on his mission. Sent home in disgrace and called an antichrist for losing faith in the LDS Church but accepting Jesus alone for salvation, Micah challenged his family to read the Bible with the eyes of a child and the rest is history. Jesus saves by grace, not by works lest anyone should boast. According to the Third Article of Faith (Mormon scripture), one is saved by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the [LDS] gospel. But Paul says, “…a person is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ… for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!” (Gal 2:16, 21)
Safeguard the Sheep
When I returned to the university in January of 2014, one of the students in our on-campus Christian club had been baptized into the LDS Church over Christmas break! Now, the pastors were eager for me to address the group and to talk with this young woman. It was too late for her to listen to any of us and soon she was inviting her Christian student friends to attend Mormon seminary. Her mind was set and she was warned not talk with an “apostate” like me. The pastors had me speak to the Christian club with students who had known her. We read and discussed the false christs, false gospels, false prophets, false apostles, and false teachers Scriptures in the New Testament. Many students did not seem to be aware of these Scriptures or fully comprehend what they might mean, but they were eager to learn.
Please, I beg you, safeguard the sheep. It is imperative to teach the many innocent, sincere seekers of Jesus to understand what God says about false gospels and their dangers. Teach them who God is and who He is not. He does not have a body of flesh and bones and is not changeable as LDS scripture teaches. Teach them the way to be reconciled to God and the ways that do not reconcile. Temple works are not required to earn eternal life with God as LDS scripture teaches. Jesus said in Matthew 12:6, “One greater than the temple is here.” Teach them how to determine what is true and what is not. Truth is not found through a burning in the bosom as LDS scripture teaches. Get them into God’s Word. There is nothing more exhilarating.
Christians sometimes say to me, “How stupid were you for joining a false gospel? You seem like an intelligent person.” Know being turned to a false gospel can happen to anyone who does not know who God is or how one is saved or simply craves the LDS family environment. From our viewpoint in ministry, high school and college age youth are particularly vulnerable. We speak often with many broken-hearted Christian parents whose children join the LDS Church in their late teens or early 20s. Family relationships become strained and sometimes severed. The draw to a false faith is subtle and relentless and may initiate through a dating relationship. Persistent LDS members and missionaries reach out to and love on young people until they—line upon line, milk before meat, as Mormons say—accept a false gospel and join the close knit LDS family.
For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed [LDS Jesus], or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel [LDS gods and way to be reconciled to them] from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough… For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light [angel of light Moroni supposedly visited LDS founder Joseph Smith]. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. (2 Corinthians 11:4, 13-15)
Transitioning out of LDS teachings and being washed by the water of the Word to replace those false teachings with truth was a horrific 5 year process for me. I lost 30 years of LDS friends, yet God replaced them with members of the body. Please pray for those like me who would accept a different gospel. Teach God’s Word on this topic. Safeguard the sheep.
Michael and Lynn Wilder founded the ministry, Ex-Mormon Christians United for Jesus. They speak and give workshops in churches/Christian colleges on LDS people and teachings. Find them at: www.unveilingmormonism.com. Three of their children began the Adam’s Road Ministry found at www.adamsroadministry.com.
7 Reasons We Left Mormonism: Quick Doctrinal Guide (ATRI, 2012)
Unveiling Grace: The Story of How We Found Our Way Out of the Mormon Church (Zondervan, 2013)
Leaving Mormonism: Why Four Scholars Changed their Minds (Kregel, 2017)