What Mormons Should Look For in a New Church

This post is provided by David Clark. Look for Tim’s additions in the comment section.

In another thread Steve EM asked:

Maybe someone on the Evangelical side could do a future post on denominations that might make sense for a Mormon seeking another church closer to the truth without the erroneous Mormon baggage, but doesn’t want to hear anti-Mormon diatribe (just seeks to move on). Personally I can’t handle a liturgical church or anything Fundamentalist (the earth is ancient, evolution doesn’t conflict with the Gospel), but am clueless where to start in Northwest Houston?

After visiting a number of churches and learning about different theologies and doctrines in a wide variety of Christian denominations, I think the best fit for Mormons looking to make a move towards orthodox Christianity, is a church in the Weslyan tradition. The theology/doctrine is going to be the most familiar to Mormons and the worship styles will also probably be a good fit.

First, what do I mean by the Wesleyan tradition? John and Charles Wesley were Anglican preachers in the 18th century, for a short time in America, but mostly in England. They became dissatisfied with some of the practices in the Church of England and helped fuel the revival movement started by George Whitefield. However, unlike Whitefield, the Wesleys were not Calvinists, but rather Arminians. Their preaching emphasized both justification by faith and a call for personal holiness. Neither ever broke with the Church of England and always encouraged their followers to work within the Anglican communion. Thus, they didn’t start a church, but rather they started a movement/tradition. After their deaths, Methodist churches were started by their followers which continued the Wesleyan tradition.

Currenly there are many churches, both denominational and non-denominational, with are in the Wesleyan tradition. The two biggest denominations in the US which are Wesleyan are (I think) the United Methodist Church (UMC) and the Church of the Nazarene. The UMC tends to lean more liberal, while the Nazarenes lean more conservative.

Why are Wesleyan churches good fits for Mormons? There are several reasons.

  • Arminian Theology – In my experience, rightly or wrongly, most Mormons recoil at a Calvinist theology. They tend to be more comfortable with the Arminian position, that though we are saved by grace, there must be a choice made by the believer for that grace to be effective. The Mormon doctrine on grace, that we are saved by grace after all we can do, is closest to the Arminian position
  • Sermons emphasize holiness and works – Weslyanism encourages people to live holy lives and to do a lot. While other traditions also encourage this, they tend to go about it in different ways. Mormons who have been fed a steady diet of lists of things to do will find the Weslyan approach to this familiar.
  • More subdued worship services – At my local UMC church, services tend to be more subdued. There are both contemporary and traditional services. However, the contemporary ones still tend to be more subdued, the music has a beat but it’s not a rock concert. The traditional services, other than applause, look and feel very much like a Mormon worship service.
  • Similar attitudes towards alcohol consumption- John Wesley encouraged people to stay away from alcohol and Weslyan churches will almost always use grape juice instead of wine for communion (the sacrament). Even the more liberal UMC continues to encourage people to stay away from alcohol, though it’s not a point of emphasis like it is in the Mormon church
  • Light use of liturgy – Weslyans come from a liturgical tradition (Anglicans), but they are much more subdued about it than are contemporary Anglicans. At my local UMC church the traditional service tends to be a bit more liturgical, but compared to high Anglican services it’s VERY light. Liturgy is barely present in the contemporary services.
  • Music – The music at the traditional service at my UMC congregation is virtually identical to Mormon hymns. As I already said, contemporary services do use electric guitars and drums, but it’s still pretty mellow.
  • Involvement – Because of the focus on personal holiness and doing stuff, Wesleyans tend to provide lots of chances for Sunday School, weekday Bible study, fellowship groups, sports groups, scouting, etc. Mormons used to immersing themselves in their churches will find plenty to do.

As for being fundamentalists, the UMC is a pretty moderate church. They are definitely not fundamentalists. They don’t go out of their way to address hot button political issues. My local church tends to focus on Bible study, fellowship, community involvement, and church planting.

There are lots of intangibles in the Weslyan tradition that will seem familiar and comfortable to Mormons. As just one example, I am currently reading a collection of sermons by John and Charles Wesley. When you read it, both the content and the presentation are very much like many passages in the Book of Mormon, such as King Benjamin’s address and Alma 5. Actually, the whole Book of Mormon is vaguely Wesleyan in its outlook. Since the Book of Mormon was what I treasured most when I was a Mormon, finding familiar echoes in the Wesley’s sermons was very nice for me.

Finally, I will say that when I started out to find a new church, I didn’t really expect to join the UMC. I visited a half dozen or so churches over a period of several months in 2010, with the idea that I would join a Lutheran church. I had studied Luther’s ideas and life, and I liked what I heard (I still do). I visited a UMC congregation mainly because my kids went to pre-school there, not expecting to join. However, it felt the most natural and the sermons resonated with me. There wasn’t any real reason why this was the case, something just clicked. Most of the above reasons came about as I thought about why it felt the most natural. That’s probably the best reason I can give for Mormons seeking out something in the Wesleyan tradition, it just feels the most natural.

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110 thoughts on “What Mormons Should Look For in a New Church

  1. I think David is correct that former Mormons will find themselves most comfortable in a church from a Wesleyan tradition. My first exposure to a Mormon Sunday service made me think of a 19th Century Methodist style service. A similar worship style will more than likely put the investigator at ease. My first exposures to contemporary worship styles were off-putting and foreign so I can understand why they would be a turnoff to Mormons.

    Many Methodist and Nazarene churches ordain women as pastors, this may be a turn off or an unnecessary distraction to Mormons who are used to a patriarchal system. I think a female pastor may be just what the doctor ordered for many who are dealing with burnout and disappointment, but it may not be an easy thing to accept when you’re wading into a new religious tradition.

    A concern I have with Wesleyan churches is that it is easy to find a strain of legalism running through many of them. This is not true of all Methodist, Wesleyan or Nazarene churches, but it can be found in many of them. So I would advise keeping an open ear to those sorts of sentiments.

    Even more than a particular worship style or doctrinal positions, I think former Mormons should seek a place where they can heal. My own church has garnered a reputation as a place where washed-out and burnt-out Christians can find a renewed faith and healing. I’ve given some thought to what sorts of similar characteristics someone coming out of Mormonism should look for.

    1) Not program driven. They’re should be active programs going on, but there shouldn’t be an attitude of making the program work at all costs. Try to find a church that might scrap a large well-planned ministry simply because it’s not working or it’s evident that the Spirit of God is working elsewhere.

    2) Active and healthy leadership in place. If you’ve been serving in a high level of leadership in the LDS church avoid a church that has immediate leadership needs. Take at least a year to sit in the pews and decompress. You should seek to actively participate but don’t be a leader and don’t go somewhere that needs leaders. There may be a time in the future for you to help reinvigorate a smaller community, but now is not the time. You need time and space to heal.

    3) The Holy Spirit is at work. If the Spirit is evident, the more time you spend in that community the more spiritual healing will occur.

    One other thing I would add is to avoid telling people that you used to be a Mormon for at least a year. If Mormonism is brought up or misconstrued in that time, keep your mouth shut and don’t attempt to correct anyone about it. You’re mileage may vary on this one but I’ll be the first to admit that there is a lot of folk-myths about Mormonism in Evangelical churches. Most of it is generated by ignorance. Unfortunately people think it’s accurate and don’t properly gauge their ignorance. Let it all go for a year and keep that part of your story quiet. If people ask where you came from just tell them that God made it clear it was time to move on from your previous church. People will want to learn more about your journey and see how it measures up to their misconceptions. There is no need to unscramble those eggs. After you’ve given yourself some time to get comfortable in your new church and have built up strong relationships I think you absolutely should let people know where you came from, but not at first. This may be an unnecessary suggestion in Utah.

  2. As someone who made the switch in the opposite direction — from growing up in a church in the Wesleyan tradition (in this case, an offshoot of Methodism) — I agree with many of the observations that David Clark made (although I emphatically am not encouraging anyone to leave the LDS church!).

    There’s a lot about the LDS church that’s similar to what I grew up with (although, perhaps surprisingly, the LDS church is less legalistic/judgmental than what I experienced as a teen and young adult, although that’s probably partly a product of the times, since evangelicals were more like that a generation ago than they are today). I even grew up with regular testimony meetings, although they were usually held Sunday evenings rather than at the main worship service.

    Joseph Smith said that at one time he was “somewhat partial to the Methodist sect,” so I don’t think it’s much of coincidence that there are some strong similarities between Wesleyan and LDS views of matters such as the relationship between faith and works.

    And I agree with D.C. that the Book of Mormon is vaguely Wesleyan in outlook.

    One thing I would say to supplement what D.C. said is that there is a wide variety within denominations. For better or worse, your Sunday morning experience in an LDS church in Portland, Ore., isn’t going to be much difference than in an LDS church in Mexico City. But there can be a huge difference among Protestant churches even if they have the same denominational label, differences not only in worship style but also sometimes in theology. While the United Methodist Church is probably the most conservative or evangelical-oriented of the major mainline denominations, you’ll find some pastors who are quite liberal (for example, opposing the church’s position on not ordaining noncelibate gays). And you’ll find Methodist/Nazarene/Wesleyan/whatever churches that have traditional worship services and others that use rock bands, multimedia and other modern approaches. You just don’t find cookie-cutter churches in most Protestant denominations, an obvious contrast with the LDS system.

  3. Instead of window shopping through all of the various denominations to find doctrine that satisfies you, woudn’t it be better to find the true denomination (if there is one)? Do people really believe that it does not matter what is taught as long as it fits a very broad criteria? What happened to the strait and narrow path?

  4. David Clark: thanks for writing this up. Very interesting. I thought you’d go for something along the lines of Arminianism just because that vein of doctrines within Mormonism seem the most…”core” (not the right word) and therefore less easy to give up. I was actually talking today with a friend who left Mormonism for a Presbyterian church—and that she made that jump is just surprising to me.

    Tim: I think some of your advice assumes that the person leaving Mormonism is leaving because they are tired of the LDS Church; i.e., the way the church operates, but not the doctrine per se. But someone who leaves because they become disenchanted by some piece of doctrine—e.g., Joseph Smith as a prophet—well, I think they are less likely to feel the “burnout” that your point #1 and #2 address. (That’s not a criticism of your point, just an observation.)

    Peter: You should re-read the purpose of the post. If you do, you will realize how inappropriate your comment/question is.

  5. Re: ordination of women in UMC and Church of the Nazarene . . .

    The UMC does have a healthy level of female ministers, something like 33%. You’re likely to run into a female senior pastor, associate pastor, or assistant or youth pastor there.

    The Church of the Nazarene has technically ordained women since its inception in 1908. However, its numbers for ordained women have always remained low (something like 9% – 14%), and “ordained” ≠ “serving as a pastor. Some have expressed concern that a lot of people in the denomination are quietly promoting traditional gender roles and values while holding to an official egalitarian creed.

    My grandfather was a devout Nazarene. He had me baptized into the Church of the Nazarene as a baby, I got re-baptized by choice when I was 12, and I attended a Nazarene church off-and-on for six years from ages 10 to 16. During this time, the church cycled rather rapidly through youth pastors, the senior pastor retired and was replaced, and I think we saw some other staff member changes. Never had a female pastor.

    Speaking of infant baptism, David, how common is infant baptism in the UMC? I know the Church of the Nazarene allows members to choose for themselves and dedication ceremonies are becoming more common.

  6. Peter ~ I don’t think it’s very polite to compare prayerful and thoughtful selection of a denominational church to something as superficial as window-shopping.

    “Which of these churches is the true one?” isn’t a question that Protestants are asking, and if an ex-Mormon is considering attending a Protestant church, I assume s/he isn’t asking the question anymore, either. The idea that only one fallible human organization can be the right one and all others are necessarily wrong is a very foreign one to our paradigm. Instead, our slogan is, “In essentials unity, in non-essentials freedom, in all things love.” We’re certainly passionate about those non-essentials, and in other ways they can be very important, but we don’t believe they’re worth separating from one another over.

    Or in other words, we’re not interested in regulating the small details in believers’ lives like how long their sleeves are or how many earrings they can have. We allow for freedom whenever possible.

  7. I agree, David. I’ve often said that if I wasn’t a Mormon I’d be a Methodist. I even went a time or two to services here and the pastor (a woman!) was warm and welcoming. I went to the contemporary service and thought the music was more like “in the coffeehouse with Jesus” than “rock out with Jesus,” which I appreciated. Also, Whitney is a Methodist and I like Whitney. 😉

    Jack, about how long has “in essentials unity, in non-essentials freedom, in all things love” been the order of the day for protestants? I know most Mormons don’t understand this about protestantism because we think all y’all are still stuck in the denominationalism of 1830. Do you know about when the shift occurred? I’ve never looked into it and I’m just curious.

  8. I agree that Wesleyan church services (according to my experience) would provide a comfortable atmosphere for a Mormon visitor or an ex-Mormon.

    But Mormons should definitely visit a charismatic church before making a final decision on what to switch to, if they are switching.

    Mormons are already somewhat charismatic. They believe in divine healing in the name of Jesus—sometimes miraculous; they already believe in a limited version of the gift of supernatural languages; they already believe in the gift of prophecy. It would be a shame if a Mormon went backwards in these departments.

    Charismatics are also mostly Arminian.

    Charismatics are also slightly less apt to speak about Mormon falsehoods.

    The exuberance of worship—the way charismatics sing praise songs with hands raised, etc.—would necessitate more of an adjustment. But, hey, what’s best? A step up or a step sideways?

  9. Katie L said, “I know most Mormons . . . think all y’all are still stuck in the denominationalism of 1830. Do you know about when the shift occurred?”

    It’s been gradual and we still have a long ways to go. . . . which reminds me—charismatics are all y-all less denominational!

  10. Instead of window shopping through all of the various denominations to find doctrine that satisfies you, woudn’t it be better to find the true denomination (if there is one)?

    For a variety of reasons, theological, historical, and practical, I don’t see the need to search for a one true denomination. Nor do I think such a thing exists.

    Do people really believe that it does not matter what is taught as long as it fits a very broad criteria? What happened to the strait and narrow path?

    Well of course everyone should agree with me, I mean that’s obvious, right? Joking aside, in practical terms I see no possibility of agreement except on the essentials, and I’m happy to live with that.

    Also, if you hang around the bloggernacle for any length of time you will be treated to round after round of claims that Mormons themselves hold a broad range of opinions on a diversity of subjects, some of which I would consider essential to any definition of Mormonism. In that sense, Mormons themselves don’t agree on much, but because of authority claims and familial demands all meet in the same churches, but their minds rarely meet each other in agreement.

  11. In that sense, Mormons themselves don’t agree on much, but because of authority claims and familial demands all meet in the same churches, but their minds rarely meet each other in agreement.

    Indeed. And this is one reason that Mormonism is so fascinating to me.

  12. I have been on my journey out of Mormonism for the last six months at a Methodist church in Tennessee. Not only was the style of worship similar to what I was familiar with as a Mormon, but I found the focus on faith and doing actual service for the Lord very refreshing. The Methodist Church was what I always wanted the LDS to church to be!

    My first Sunday I was a little nervous having never been to a non-LDS church before, but the Spirit was so strong that Sunday that I just had to keep going back. I decided to let the Lord guide my actions. I wasn’t sure if “the Church” was or wasn’t true, but I did know I was where the Lord wanted me to be.

    I had grown up around evangelical baptists in Alabama, so I was a little afraid of coming out to people in my bible study group or the the pastor that I was Mormon. When I finally did after about a month I learned that no one seemed to care. They found Mormonism interesting and were simply happy that I was there praising and learning about the Lord with them.

    In my six months in a Methodist church I have never been pressured or felt uncomfortable because of my background. They let me take my own path out of Mormonism at my own pace and they were always there to help me along the way as I had questions and concerns.

    Sixth months down the road I’ve realized that I’ve always been a Christian in my heart and that I was only a Mormon because it was the only thing I knew. The people at my church have a true spirit of serving the Lord and praising His name! Never in my life have I felt so close to the Lord and so joyous about studying His word!

    The United Methodist Church is a great place for Mormons on their journey to becoming ex-Mormons!

  13. Jack,

    Speaking of infant baptism, David, how common is infant baptism in the UMC? I know the Church of the Nazarene allows members to choose for themselves and dedication ceremonies are becoming more common.

    It’s very common. UMC definitely shows its Anglican heritage with regard to baptism.

    As for female pastors, at my local UMC congregation the program minister is a women, as is the assistant youth minister. There’s also a female student studying for her M.Div at SMU and is doing internship type stuff. My guess is that when she finishes she will probably start or participate in one of the local church plants.

  14. Cal — I find charismatic churches quite uncomfortable to be in. I have often felt pressured to do things I don’t feel like doing (e.g., raising my arms). And if I feel uncomfortable — I have relatives who are charismatics of various kinds and have a broad range of personal experience with various flavors of Protestantism — you can bet that the typical lifelong Mormon would find the experience quite unsettling.

    I agree with D.C.: Most Mormons would feel much more at home with a nonliturgical, noncharismatic style of worship.

    Ironically, though, the type of emotional displays for which Pentecostalism is famous for were welcome, at least at times, in the early days of the LDS church. Read about the dedication of the Kirtand temple, for example — some pretty wild stuff went on.

  15. Brian said
    But someone who leaves because they become disenchanted by some piece of doctrine—e.g., Joseph Smith as a prophet—well, I think they are less likely to feel the “burnout” that your point #1 and #2 address. (That’s not a criticism of your point, just an observation.)

    My comments about burnout were meant to encompass anyone who’s felt spiritually disenfranchised for any reason.

    I know an ex-Mormon who after reading the Bible felt quite in tune with Calvinism though he had never heard of it. Another Mormon said “you sound like those Reformed guys” and he ended up at Mars Hill Church in Seattle. So I know that some ex-Mormons find their way into Calvinism. Aaron probably knows quite a few.

    Jack,
    Your numbers for ordained women in the Nazarene church match my experience. But I have seen a number of female senior pastors. Usually in places where there is a lack of male leadership though. I agree that Nazarenes typically default to typical gender roles but it’s not all that uncommon to have a woman deliver the sermon. My mom does so on a regular basis at their church.

  16. Cal said
    Mormons are already somewhat charismatic. They believe in divine healing in the name of Jesus—sometimes miraculous; they already believe in a limited version of the gift of supernatural languages; they already believe in the gift of prophecy.

    As do the Nazarenes (except for the speaking in tongues part which Mormons don’t really practice either).

    Do you know about when the shift occurred?”

    I think it’s been over the last 30 years as para-church organizations have grown in size and influence and as the post-Christian landscape of America has developed. There are still many places in the world where Protestants are sadly still quite at odds with one another.

  17. I think three other factors have led to a reduction in “turf wars” among Protestants: 1) The graying and subsequent loss of influence of the mainline denominations. 2) The development of a religious-right political movement that united many Christians around issues mostly irrelevant to theological differences. 3) The growth of nondenominational megachurches (or megachurches that have obscured their denominational identities) that have placed their emphasis on a bland, nonthreatening, one-size-fits-all gospel.

  18. I very much liked the Methodist church when we left Mormonism. Our experience with the Methodist church we attended, however, was less than positive. The (female) pastor was incredibly nice, but there were some older people in the service who were very offended that we dared to bring our (then) 8 month old son into service with us instead of availing ourselves of the childcare available.

    Since then, we have attended many churches (and in fact, it’s one of the things that I miss about the LDS church–every time we move, we have to start over with looking for a church that meets the things that we find most important in a worship service).

    Since then, the things that we have focused on in looking for churches include a good children’s program. If the childcare is inadequate or seems unsafe (we attended a church where the room where the kids were in class was open and once a homeless guy wandered in there… that was the end of that church for us), then the church is out of the question for us. I also want to attend a church that is gay-friendly, but ideally not gay-activists. What I mean by that is that I don’t want to hear a sermon every week on why we should accept gay people–I already do. And I realize that it’s something that needs to be brought up in some denominations, but I much prefer churches that just accept gays and where it’s just normal life. (I realize that many people here will not care about this point, or will strongly disagree.)

    Depending on whether a person who is leaving Mormonism for another church is still passionate for Jesus, or if they lost Christ when they lost their testimony I think will also make a difference on the church they choose. For someone who isn’t so sure about Jesus anymore, I think a UCC church might be a good, mild way to bring them back to the fold. My understanding of UCC churches is that Jesus can be as much or as little of your worship as you like. It’s a good way to re-introduce Jesus to people.

  19. I have a question. What is non-liturgical? Mormons are liturgical so I must be confusing what people mean by liturgical. One of the points that David seems to be making is that the liturgy found in Wesleyan worship is similar to that found in Mormon worship this doesn’t make it non-liturgical it just makes it familiar.

    I also don’t quite comprehend the advice to conceal Mormonism from a new church. It seems an odd way to begin a relationship. I am not even sure how you would join a church without telling them where you are coming from.

    Rather than tell someone the denomination to join I tell you the mistakes I made looking for a church.

    First,pray and take your time. Any congregation worth joining should be willing to help you along answering questions praying with you and for you. If they put on the hard sell, ask them to respect the sincerity of you enquiry. If they won’t move on.

    Second, make sure that everybody in the family is comfortable with the congregation.

    Third, don’t ignore church government in both the congregation and denomination you are looking at. Polity and how you work within the denomination is the difference between denominationalism at its best and personality worship at it worst.

    Fourth, understand the theological and political trends of your congregation. It is better to know up front that your church will boycott Taco Bell for migrant workers or do anything for Israel than to find out latter that they are trying to bind your conscience on every political matter that comes along.

    Finally pray and take your time.

  20. Gundek — Well, in the broadest sense, nearly all churches are liturgical to some degree. But as I’m using the term (and I think others as well), it refers to a type of worship that is fixed, ritualistic, formal and/or ceremonial as well. Catholic and Orthodox churches would be seen as quite liturgical; at the other extreme might be some Pentecostal churches where even the order of worship changes from service to service. Episcopal and Lutheran churches also tend to be liturgical in this sense.

    The LDS sacrament would be an example of where we indeed are quite liturgical in the sense I’m using the term. But aside from that, and the fact that nearly all worship services follow the same “outline,” we’re not: There’s no prescribed scripture reading for each Sunday that follows a calendar, there are no rote prayers (not even the Lord’s Prayer), there are no responsive readings (which I like doing, by the way), and there is even an almost total lack of visible symbolism in the sanctuary.

  21. I might add that worship in LDS temples is extremely liturgical by the definition I’m using. So the concept isn’t completely foreign to us.

  22. I have a question. What is non-liturgical? Mormons are liturgical so I must be confusing what people mean by liturgical. One of the points that David seems to be making is that the liturgy found in Wesleyan worship is similar to that found in Mormon worship this doesn’t make it non-liturgical it just makes it familiar.

    In a sense you are correct, everyone has a liturgy. In the sense I was using it, it means something like what you see at an Anglican, conservative Lutheran, Catholic, or Eastern Orthodox church. It usually means formal vestments for the priest, entrance and exit of the cross/crucifix, a fixed set of lectionary readings, a sermon based on at least one of the lectionary readings, a formal collection, culminating in an elaborate and lengthy Eucharist service.

    I also don’t quite comprehend the advice to conceal Mormonism from a new church.

    I think it’s good advice and it’s there to protect the Mormon. Sometimes well meaning people upon hearing you are a Mormon will send you off to their resident “cults” expert for detoxification. I think Steve EM wants to avoid this, and I’m sure 99.9% of exiting Mormons would also like to avoid this.

  23. David and Tim,

    Very thoughtful. Thanks. Thanks to all the commenters too.

    I really appreciate this because as a long born again closet Evangelical Mormon, I could probably be very comfortable in a much more radical step than you’re suggesting, but there’s my family to consider and I’ll remain closet EM if they can’t/won’t be lead out of the LDS. In other words a small step is more likely to bear fruit. But here are some concerns, and I’m thinking I should perhaps pursue Cal’s suggestion:
    In a former ward of mine, one of my favorite families went “apostate” and joined a UMC. From my discussions with those friends, I recall the UMC requires former Mormons to be re-baptized as proper Christians? I see this as a deal killer if my family is to accept baptism as a public manifestation of faith, not a saving ordinance, with no authority beyond faith needed to baptize. Then there’s the pedo-baptism already mentioned; even as a closet lapsed Mormon, I can only handle a believer’s baptism.

    Back to Cal’s suggestion, the LDS have walked away from many gifts of the sprit practiced by past generations. So Cal’s route might be more restorationist for a Mormon seeking something better? In short, I’m still not sure what to do.

  24. David,

    I think the term non-liturgical can create confusion about the theology behind an order of worship even in Weslyan circles where a regulative principle of worship can still be found in conservative circles.

    If a congregation feels the need to go into counter-cult mode with a Mormon enquirer then that may not be the congregation for a Mormon. To be honest I think that this fear has more to do with the way American evangelicalism has passed off dealing with Mormons to counter-cult para-church organisations rather than thoughtfully considering a path of catechises and doctrinal education for new members.

    Steve EM’s remarks concerning baptism demonstrates how keeping past Mormonism secret just doesn’t fit with a life in the church. I am not saying that an ex-Mormon should be held up as an notch in the belt as a distinct class of convert or that they should show up on day one and preform an alter call declaring themselves an ex-Mormon. Quite the contrary I think that they should be treated in a like manner as any convert, taking into account each unique circumstance that leads them into a life in the Church.

    Should he attend a UMC congregation, how is Steve EM to have the theology behind the sacrament of baptism explained to him if he keeps his Mormonism secret? He has valid concerns given his understanding of Baptism. Does the UMC believe that baptism is a “public manifestation of faith, not a saving ordinance, with no authority beyond faith needed to baptize”? I don’t think so. How is the UMC pastor to explain that as a sacrament Baptism has more to do with God’s promise to the person being Baptised than the persons promise to God.

    I think that I understand Tim’s concern, I just don’t think his solution is practical.

  25. Michael Arnold, thanks for your comments. I wouldn’t mind you elaborating on your statement that you’ve “always been a Christian.” I don’t think that’s really possible.

    I agree with Gundek’s advice to “pray and take your time.”

    Steve EM, I’m going to put you on my prayer list for a while for God to guide you.

  26. Gundek said:
    I also don’t quite comprehend the advice to conceal Mormonism from a new church. It seems an odd way to begin a relationship. I am not even sure how you would join a church without telling them where you are coming from.

    I appreciate your concern with this suggestion. Thanks for commenting on it.

    I don’t by any means think that it should never be brought up. It absolutely should. It’s just not a great way to introduce your in a new relationship especially if you’re hoping to just move on.

    It’s a bit like {BAD ANALOGY ALERT} switching to a new High School where your ex-boyfriend had a reputation for “lovin-em and leavin-em”. Your new friends might be a great support to you as you get over that relationship. But if that’s the first thing they learn about you they might be inclined to dig into you for more gossip about him. All you might want to do is get a fresh start where that relationship isn’t the thing that defines you.

    If I left a church because the pastor was constantly propositioning my wife, the last thing I would want to do is let everyone know that’s why I was now at this new church (though it might be something they really need to know in time).

    I think Mormonism in its psuedo-Christianity provides a frame work for most ex-Mormons to understand what’s going on and why for general purposes. Some re-education will be necessary but there’s no need to walk in with your temple garments and place them at the altar (as you already clarified).

    To be honest I think that this fear has more to do with the way American evangelicalism has passed off dealing with Mormons to counter-cult para-church organisations rather than thoughtfully considering a path of catechises and doctrinal education for new members.

    I think you’re absolutely correct. But until this problem is solved it doesn’t help a Mormon seeking a new spiritual life.

    In regards to Steve’s comments about baptism and membership. I’d throw in an additional suggestion to just relax about all of that stuff. Enjoy the spiritual community life however you can and conquer the membership steps as you feel prepared and excited to pursue them.

  27. Steve (and Katie) I understand that there may be a good many number of reasons for you to remain in the LDS church for the time being. I would STRONGLY suggest you find some outside ways to be part of another spiritual community in the mean-time. Join a mid-week bible study or prayer group offered at another church. Do it on your own without your spouse and children if need be. But don’t expect to be fed in the ways you are hungering by the LDS church.

  28. gundek,

    Should he attend a UMC congregation, how is Steve EM to have the theology behind the sacrament of baptism explained to him if he keeps his Mormonism secret?

    From the UMC website:

    The table of Holy Communion is Christ’s table, not the table of The United Methodist Church or of the local congregation. The table is open to anyone who seeks to respond to Christ’s love and seeks to lead a new life of peace and love, as the invitation to the table says.

    The United Methodist Book of Worship says, “All who intend to lead a Christian life, together with their children, are invited to receive the bread and cup. We have no tradition of refusing any who present themselves desiring to receive” (page 29). This statement means that in practice there are few, if any, circumstances in which a United Methodist pastor would refuse to serve the elements of Holy Communion to a person who comes forward to receive.

    He has valid concerns given his understanding of Baptism. Does the UMC believe that baptism is a “public manifestation of faith, not a saving ordinance, with no authority beyond faith needed to baptize”?

    UMC does not believe that there is any specific authority needed to baptize. It is true that the UMC will want you to eventually be baptized. However, the issue at stake for the UMC is not authority, or belief, or form of baptism. The question for the UMC is, “When you were baptized in the LDS church, were you baptized to become a member of the LDS church, or were you baptized to become part of the catholic (universal) church?” The answer for Mormons is obvious, baptism in the LDS church is only to be LDS, there is no concept of becoming part of the universal church and being a Christian.

    In any case, baptism for the UMC is not a saving ordinance. Again from the UMC website:

    Question: Do I have to be baptized in order to be saved?

    Answer: No, but baptism is a gift of God’s grace to be received as part of the journey of salvation. To refuse to accept baptism is to reject one of the means of grace that God offers us.

  29. Steve and Katie,

    I just want to emphasize that from my experience, Tim’s advice about seeking to be part of another spiritual community. I understand the need and desire for family unity, but I think over the long term the desire for unity can create the more problems than it solves. Speaking from my own experience, I saw this happening in many ways.

    First, Mormonism was making me miserable, and having a miserable father is simply not good for family relations. Misery in unity simply doesn’t work.

    Second, even by staying Mormon there was never going to be the kind of unity as there was then I was a true believer. I wasn’t going to lie on the temple recommend, as I wasn’t going to affirm that I believed in the restoration or that the church is lead by a prophet. This means that I was forever going to be a second class Mormon, seen as somehow less faithful than Mormons that have a temple recommend. That is not the impression I wanted to give my kids. While I could explain to them why I wasn’t really a second class Mormon, by continually reaffirming that the LDS church was where I should be, I would be implicitly conceding that my status as a second class Mormon was in some sense valid.

    Third, I want to pass on to my kids what I am for, not what I am against. By only doing Mormon things I didn’t have much opportunity to do this.

    Fourth, I think my situation is more healthy for my kids. At some point I am going to sit my kids down and spill the beans on Mormonism. I want to be able to offer them a choice between Mormonism and something else. They can make the choice they want. However, if I don’t have something else to offer I am only offering them a choice between Mormonism and not-Mormonism, which all too often reduces to a choice between Mormonism and atheism. That’s not the choice I want to offer.

  30. So I’m a little late to the party, and unfortunately I can’t link to my own post on being a United Methodist from my work computer, but, uh, I support checking out the United Methodist Church.

    I was raised in Idahoan congregations that are more conservative, but I attended church camp on the Oregon coast (way more liberal), and I’ve made my church home in DC among more liberal congregations. But they have ALL been very service-oriented, very intellectual, and very good about providing sanctuary and spiritual growth.

    On the paedobaptism question, I was baptized as a baby and “confirmed” in the church in 8th grade (after a series of classes and mentoring sessions with an adult member of the church). From a personal perspective, I’ve found the UMC statement on baptizing babies to be satisfying, and I will probably do the same for my children someday (assuming their father is okay with it).

    Also, even for Mormons who aren’t looking to leave their own faith, I cannot recommend John Wesley’s writings enough. He has amazing things to say about grace.

    And finally, I’d just like to say that it’s nice to know I’m not the only Methodist who actually comments on blogs. UM blogs are very few and very far between.

  31. I agree with Peter. I joined the LDS church five years ago after going through the mainstream church and even the Catholic church and found all to be lacking. Window shopping brings about little progress and too much disappointment which can take people away from God.

  32. What is with this “window shopping” term? Looking for an alternate place to worship–where one feels more in tune with God–is not the equivalent of looking for a Coach bag!

  33. Tim,

    I thiknk that we are basically in agreement, I may recomend that someone be a little more open with their spiritual history, at least to the ministerial staff, but someone leaving the LDS Church should do what is comfortable while learning about a new congrigation. Finding a new church is hard enough, so I am not sure there is a “right” way.

    David,

    While I think that you may want to check your source about the authority to baptise in the UMC, I think that you made my point. There are distinct theological differences between Mormonism and and any Protestant Church, when a person is not open with a minister it is difficult for them to know exactly how to minister.

  34. I would STRONGLY suggest you find some outside ways to be part of another spiritual community in the mean-time. Join a mid-week bible study or prayer group offered at another church. Do it on your own without your spouse and children if need be. But don’t expect to be fed in the ways you are hungering by the LDS church.

    In fact, I do this. I attend two Bible studies a week. My evangelical friends frankly have no idea what on earth to do with me (neither do my Mormon friends, with whom I am very open about the fact that I go to these Bible studies) but they love me anyway (my Mormon friends do too). Raised eyebrows notwithstanding, I’ve learned a lot and met some lovely people along the way.

    David, I know I write enough things that are critical of Mormonism that it might seem as though family unity is the only reason why I stay. In fact, there are many reasons why I stay and family unity is just one of them. I don’t believe that Mormonism is God’s One True Church (I don’t believe God has such a thing), but I do believe that God has a special purpose and mission for Mormonism and that, despite its problems, it is a wonderful faith community where I frequently feel edified and uplifted spiritually.

    I’m going to write a post soon about that, to counteract some of the more critical positions I’ve taken lately. I know that I am lucky, and may even be a rare case, but I am fairly open with my friends and priesthood leaders about my unorthodox views and I don’t feel marginalized in any way whatsoever. (I’m certain there are some in my ward who are uncomfortable with me, but I figure I just give them practice at being patient and charitable.) 😉

    Anyway, I appreciate and respect the path you’ve taken, and always enjoy what you write. I’m sorry that Mormonism was such a miserable place for you and I’m so happy that you’ve found a place that fits your soul better. I just wanted to clarify my situation, though, because I think sometimes I might come across as though I’m hanging on by the fingernails, when in fact I feel, for the most part, pretty good about where I am right now (I usually turn to the internet to complain, not encourage, after all).

    In case you’re interested, I wrote a couple of posts about how I feel about being Mormon here and here. It might help you understand my situation a bit better.

  35. “Looking for an alternate place to worship–where one feels more in tune with God–is not the equivalent of looking for a Coach bag!”

    Whitney–maybe you just haven’t found the right bag.

    While I think there are problems with the term ‘window shopping’ myself, I think it’s not inadequate. You don’t really get to understand a church community unless you go there for awhile. At the beginning, all you have are the look of it and the people, your impressions based on surface features. In some ways, it really is just window shopping.

    It’s not until you get in there and get your hands in it that you realize the complexity and beauty and problems and grace and all that goes with a church community.

  36. David – That’s fascinating! I wouldn’t say I feel “second class Mormon” yet, but this past year I definitely became an open cafeteria Mormon who very selectivity partakes from the offerings. First I gave up my intellectual dishonesty of sustaining all GAs, when I’ve known for years many are uninspired at best and some are false prophets at worst. Of course, that made me not Temple worthy, which I didn’t miss much, and my wife was/is ok with it knowing my past discomfort with much of the Temple liturgy that IMO has no meaning to most modern LDS (Emperor’s New Clothes phenomenon). Next step was ditching the Gs 100% (why fake it at home?), and my wife was ok. But it was that last move that tipped off the kids still at home that Dad wasn’t even close to being with the program anymore and they put me on the spot on why I didn’t have any callings anymore. So things are difficult at home and I appreciate your warnings and about providing better alternatives than just dropping out and wrongly conveying non-belief.

  37. I want to clarify something for the non/never LDS. The LDS church claims to be the one true church having restored priesthood authority that was lost after the early church post NT era. So in LDS dogma, no other modern church has true authority to operate as G-d’s church on earth. Hence why they don’t accept the Sacraments of other churches. Mormons believe baptism is a saving ordinance. So from the LDS perspective, only the LDS baptism is valid to G-d. On a side note, that’s why they baptism by proxy for those who died w/o a “true” baptism.

    So in my case as an ex-LDS wannabe seeking another church, I’ve made a mental transition from “one true church” to “many true churches” or more likely a “spectrum of truer and falser churches”. The LDS have a Christian core and is not 100% false, but I grew tired of sorting through the false stuff to get to the good. I just know there’s better out there and want to find it. So if I confront another church in my journey claiming to have true baptism vs. a false Mormon baptism, it’s just not a path I’m inclined to pursue further, having already transitioned away from that kind of dogma.

  38. Katy, I agree with you and the concerns you’ve raised.

    However, it’s very apparent from the tone and phrasing of the two comments referenced that the way they’re using the term reflects their belief that genuine efforts to explore nuances in thought, approach, and experience are just a glorified social networking strategy.

    I suppose if I were assigned a congregation based on my address and marital status it might be easy to do so (although plenty of my Mormon friends don’t fall into the same trap–or are tactful enough not to say so), but I get irritated when my own efforts to find a congregation and belief system are so easily cast as a shopping excursion rather than the sincere search for spiritual connection that they were.

    Believe me, Kristyn and Peter. I gave your church a very fair chance. And God was very clear that it is not the place for me.

    And as Brian pointed out, using such a loaded term in the context of this discussion is disrespectful and completely off-topic.

  39. I should note that I’m not trying to insult the organizational structure of LDS wards. I think it makes total sense. It’s just different, and I think that can contribute to misconceptions.

  40. The question for the UMC is, “When you were baptized in the LDS church, were you baptized to become a member of the LDS church, or were you baptized to become part of the catholic (universal) church?” The answer for Mormons is obvious, baptism in the LDS church is only to be LDS, there is no concept of becoming part of the universal church and being a Christian.

    I’ve come to accept that my experiences with Mormonism are completely different from yours, David, but I am going to share it anyway: when I was a child and was learning about baptism, we learned that baptism was an outward ordinance to show our inward conversion to following Christ. We learned that baptism was an ordinance to show that we had accepted the covenant relationship with Christ to become His followers. If being a follower of Christ isn’t what makes one Christian, I don’t know what does.

    I was also taught that it is the ordinance of confirmation that makes us members of the LDS church. Baptism and confirmation go hand-in-hand and one without the other is pointless, at least according to LDS teachings.

    This is what I have continued to be taught as I have spent the past 20 years as a baptised and confirmed member of the LDS church, and it is what I have taught when the topic has come up, whether in Sunday School, Priesthood lessons, or while on my mission.

    So to say that “baptism in the LDS church is only to be LDS” amd that “there is no concept of… being a Christian” is, to my understanding and my experiences, simply incorrect. True, the LDS church doesn’t consider baptism to be how one becomes a member of the “catholic (universal) church”, but that makes sense, as such a concept isn’t a part of LDS theology (i.e., it isn’t going to be found in any of the lesson materials).

  41. Please don’t assume that your experiences as a Mormon were all that different from mine. On what would you base such an assumption? In any case, I don’t think it’s a very nice thing to say. The correlation committee has worked really hard to make sure that the Mormon experience is a uniform one. To suggest otherwise might make them feel bad.

    I don’t really know how to respond to the rest of your comment. I guess you are saying that you are a Christian? I’ll just say good for you, I don’t really feel like hashing out the whole “Are Mormons Christians” debate.

  42. “Believe me, Kristyn and Peter. I gave your church a very fair chance…. And as Brian pointed out, using such a loaded term in the context of this discussion is disrespectful and completely off-topic.”

    Perhaps Kristyn and Peter would like to return and comment as a way of proving that they’re not internet trolls.

    Alex: I wonder if you didn’t mis-read David Clark. To Mormons, “church” = the religious organization one identifies with. But to most other Christian denominations, “church” = the body of Christ; i.e., all Christians everywhere. Because the LDS Church does not recognize baptism performed by any other denomination, then what David Clark said is correct: “The answer for Mormons is obvious, baptism in the LDS church is only to be LDS, there is no concept of becoming part of the universal church and being a Christian.” I don’t like how it’s worded—I think the special usage of the term “Christian” at the end is a distraction—but it is correct.

  43. D.C. complained to A.T.V.:

    Please don’t assume that your experiences as a Mormon were all that different from mine. On what would you base such an assumption?

    Perhaps because you’re two different people?

    I have two siblings who grew up in the same church as I did, and we weren’t born all that far apart. Yet they had different experiences than I did. Both of them are still evangelicals, and one of them is still in a church from the same wing of evangelicalism, having never left. In many ways, our experiences were quite different.

    D.C. added to the above:

    In any case, I don’t think it’s a very nice thing to say.

    I didn’t see anything not nice in his comment. I thought Alex was merely stating the obvious (or perhaps I’m misunderstanding your point).

    D.C. also said:

    The correlation committee has worked really hard to make sure that the Mormon experience is a uniform one.

    Perhaps it has; I don’t know. But I’m not convinced it has the power to ensure that result, even if it wanted it to.

  44. Steve,

    If what your family wants is the Mormon church, they aren’t going to find it in any other congregation. There will always be something that discredits any other place of worship.

    As far as getting re-baptized. . . Mormons typically view baptism as the front door into a church. Most Protestants view baptism as important but not by any means a first step. It’s typically expressed later in a person’s faith journey. So don’t sweat it. You can get baptized when you’re ready and excited about it. As far as I’m concerned, if you view your LDS baptism as a valid expression of your desire to follow Jesus, great! Don’t get re-baptized.

    But to help you understand why other church’s don’t accept LDS baptism think of it this way: The LDS church views its baptism as an exclusive baptism. It is a baptism not into Christianity (as a whole) but into the LDS church. Every Mormon convert must be re-baptized. So in turn, all Christian denominations are playing by LDS rules.

    The LDS don’t want their baptism to be viewed as inclusive and won’t accept any other baptism. The orthodox Christian world is generally happy to accept each other’s baptisms as valid. They draw the line at churches who set themselves apart and separate (through practice and doctrine) from the rest of the Christian community.

  45. Eric,

    The first paragraph in my comment to Alex was completely sarcastic. I started to write a reply to him but I realized I didn’t have the motivation or the time to reply in full, so I just threw out something sarcastic to hopefully get a laugh. It failed miserably.

    Suffice it to say I think arguing the his individual experiences produced in him a superior understanding of LDS doctrine (whatever doctrine means to the average Internet Mormon) is completely misguided. Perhaps I’ll address that some other time, but it’s too off topic and too involved to put here.

  46. I think this reason is valid:

    other church’s don’t accept LDS baptism [because] The LDS church views its baptism as an exclusive baptism. It is a baptism not into Christianity (as a whole) but into the LDS church.

    and this one is petty:

    Every Mormon convert must be re-baptized. So in turn, all Christian denominations are playing by LDS rules.

  47. D.C. said:

    The first paragraph in my comment to Alex was completely sarcastic.

    Sorry I took you seriously. 🙂

  48. If what your family wants is the Mormon church, they aren’t going to find it in any other congregation. There will always be something that discredits any other place of worship.

    Bingo.

  49. DC – I was not trying to imply that my experiences were superior in any way. Rather, I have heard similar complaints from people who have become disaffected and/or left the LDS church. My experiences have never been like those (think of the disagreements we’ve had on the nature of callings to serve in Scouts, for example). Nor was I trying to imply that your comment was part of the over-used “are Mormons Christian” debate.

    Rather, I read your first statement as saying that Mormons consider baptism to be solely for LDS membership and having nothing to do with the covenant to follow Christ. If I misread or misinterpreted, I apologise. That was not my intent. My intent was to share that my own experiences have very much emphasised the idea that baptism is a sign of becoming a follower of Christ as well as a part of becoming a member of the LDS church.

  50. Whitney ~ I don’t know what PC was talking about when he said on my blog the other day that you never say anything insightful, because you’re on fire here.

    Steve EM ~ So in my case as an ex-LDS wannabe seeking another church, I’ve made a mental transition from “one true church” to “many true churches” or more likely a “spectrum of truer and falser churches”.

    For the record, this is what I believe and have believed for a long time. Certainly I have subjective, personal, relativistic reasons for being an evangelical Christian, but I’m also an evangelical Christian and a Protestant because I’ve found more truth here than anywhere else. There are still things that I think evangelicals and Protestants are getting very wrong though, and I don’t view other Christian religions as being “not true” so much as I view them as teaching less truth. I see all Christian denominations and even all religions as existing on a scale of “most true” to “least true.”

    Because of this, I honestly believe that the LDS church could potentially become just as “true” as my own church. I don’t think that it is right now, but someday, that could change.

  51. Because of this, I honestly believe that the LDS church could potentially become just as “true” as my own church. I don’t think that it is right now, but someday, that could change.

    I’m not trying to get on your case, BFF, but I don’t find that statement meaningful. In order for you to accept the LDS Church as “just as true” it would have to change so dramatically that it would no longer be the LDS Church—at least, I certainly wouldn’t recognize it. “X can be just like Y as soon as it stops being X.”

  52. I understand if you feel that way, Brian, and I respect it.

    In my mind though, the LDS church has already changed radically from the church that Joseph Smith started in 1830. I could just as easily argue that the two are not the same—and yet, you and plenty of others still accept it as the same church.

    Likewise, I don’t see it as a big deal that I want it to undergo more transformations and would still consider it the same church. I think Mormons will always have a distinctive identity on the religious landscape regardless of how the movement’s theology changes.

  53. Brian, are you suggesting that the LDS church has to maintain a specific orthodoxy to remain the COJCOLDS? If so I’m very interested to know what those doctrines would be.

  54. Thanks, Jack!

    And for those who may be interested in hearing me rave about the UMC, please see my full post (including other random musings) here.

  55. Jack: I don’t think it’s right to compare the LDS Church with what Joseph started in 1830 because that early edition didn’t haven’t major portions of our canon. Perhaps we should compare to the 1840s church in Nauvoo. And by then there were many doctrines that Mormonism has not abandoned and that are dealbreakers for other Christians: creation ex materia, exaltation to godhood, God has a body, etc. I don’t see those ever going away, and I find them essential/foundational to my “religious point of view.”

    Tim: Yes. All of the doctrines that make us non-Christian to all the other Christians 😉

    To be serious, I think I would have to reword your question. The way it’s phrased assumes an LDS Church that is trying to shed excess baggage so that it can blend in with mainstream Christianity. So let’s look at it another way: let’s say that the LDS Church lightens up a bit on the exclusivity rhetoric (something not soooo far-fetched), and begins to ask the reverse of your question: “What orthodoxy must Rock Harbor et al adopt in order to be viewed as ‘true and living’?” In this (im?)possible scenario, I can envision an LDS Church that lets you get away with sprinkled baptisms, wine and beer, and even female priests, but I don’t see that leniency on the type of doctrines I mentioned above to Jack.

  56. On both sides of this I just have so little patience for indefensible dogma such as mere mortals trying to pigeon hole the nature G-d. And it’s something that’s bothered me for decades with the LDS. If G-d’s sub-atomic particles can have both wave and particle character at different times depending on the nature of the observation, I think the Almighty can manage to switch between physical form and spiritual form and other forms we can’t imagine whenever He wishes. He is Almighty after all. Even time is part of His creation, so He must be independent of that too.

    And don’t get me started on Nibleyisms such as bogus claims JS preached against creation ex nihilo. D&C lectures on the reality of a physical resurrection do not a physics lesson make. That is such a misreading of JS I just want to vomit on Nibley’s grave. Yeah Fellow Mormons, the Big Bang was creation ex nihilo and only G-d could have done it. Now the earth was later created from recycled matter as our solar system is likely a third generation one, but that’s a separate issue from creation ex nihilo. In short, IMHO future LDS could dump much is what is today viewed as core, because it really isn’t core at all.

  57. I hate to burst your bubble (actually, I don’t), but the Big Bang theory doesn’t posit creation ex nihilo at all.

  58. Eric,

    Before the Big Bang, there was no space, time, energy or matter. Creation ex nihilo says it all. But here to, I prefer to avoid dogma and not stake out a firm claim, especially on something irrelevant to the saving gospel of JC. My point is, contrary to Nibley’s musings, it’s not a subject JS claimed to have revelation on, and it seems many modern Mormons have staked out a contrarian position just to be contrarian to Christian orthodoxy. Future Mormons will be free to dump that nonsense should they wish to.

  59. “Even time is part of His creation….”

    Take heart, Steve EM: I reject that notion too!

    I’m not interested in a tangent about creatio ex nihilo, but I’ll just say for those interested: the claim that Joseph Smith never taught against it requires that one ignore the King Follet sermon.

  60. David, I haven’t read all the comments here, but…

    What about the Mormons who are leaving Mormonism precisely because they want something different? In your experience, are they going to want to simply move on to the flavor of Protestantism that most closely matches what they just left?

    For instance, I’ve encountered more than a few ex-Mormon who burned out in the LDS Church because they found it taxing, oppressive, judgmental, not-fun, etc. and went Berean Baptist for instance. A quite different theology – but a theology they found some relief in.

    Just curious.

  61. Seth,

    What about the Mormons who are leaving Mormonism precisely because they want something different?

    I can definitely see that. In that case I would recommend that they do some investigating into the various churches and theologies, and follow that up with visits to churches that fit what they are looking for. I would also tell them to go slowly and not feel like they have to make a commitment right away. Other churches simply are not looking for quick converts. They’ll take them, but there is no rush to baptize/convert. I visited several congregations several times before settling down at the UMC.

    As I said in my case, I wasn’t looking to join the UMC. My initial attraction was to something more liturgical, but Protestant. If you had asked me which church I was going to join when I first set out, I would have told you Lutheran, with the Episcopal church as a fallback. I can see people wanting something way more laid back than the LDS church and going that direction as well.

    I only have my experiences to go on, so I shared what worked for me. The problem with writing a blog post like this is that it can sound like I’m saying it will work for anyone else. I do think a big chunk of Mormons will feel comfortable in a Wesleyan church, but I’m sure there are plenty of others who would feel more comfortable somewhere else.

    In your experience, are they going to want to simply move on to the flavor of Protestantism that most closely matches what they just left?

    For me this was a big factor. I’m doing this alone, at least for right now. I wanted a church where my family would also feel comfortable to visit as well. I invited my family to Christmas Eve service and they seemed comfortable when they attended. If someone leaves with their whole family, they don’t have this to worry about, and they can be a little more adventurous in choosing a new church.

    A quite different theology – but a theology they found some relief in.

    I’m sure this happens, and I’m glad they found some relief. The Wesleyan tradition was a relief to me, but I can see people finding comfort in Orthodoxy, Lutheranism, Calvinism, Catholicism, etc..

    In some sense, joining a Methodist church was for me a coming home of sorts. I think it’s the closest you can get to the theology and practice of early Mormonism (with the possible exception of the CoC). That might sound paradoxical because in a comment I said Mormonism was making me miserable. However, that’s not quite right, modern Mormonism was making me miserable. When you strip away the later Kirtland accretions and especially the Nauvoo accretions to Mormonism, you are left with something that looks much more like Methodism than modern Mormonism. I always treasured the Book of Mormon as a Mormon. Even when I had concluded that it wasn’t what it claimed to be, I couldn’t deny that it’s contents had spoken to me and testified of Christ.

    Methodism was a way for me to not throw out the baby with the bathwater. Reading John Wesley’s sermons has convinced me that the most powerful parts of the Book of Mormon (such as King Benjamin’s address and Alma 5) are strong echoes of the Wesleyan tradition, which had preceded it.

  62. The KFD just further makes my point how fluid Mormonism is to be molded anew by future Mormons. Mormons have long been free to ignore the KFD, even before GBH hammered the nails and re-buried that coffin, because it never made it in the LDS cannon. So much of what modern LDS claim as core foundation stuff just seems to evaporate on closer inspection. But my life is more than half over and I’m done waiting for the inevitable reform of a church stuck on stupid.

  63. David,
    Again, thank you for sharing these details of your experience. Seth makes a good point there many reasons an exLDS wannabe may seek another church. I don’t know how this journey will end for me, but I’m finding the details of your experience very helpful, albeit unique to you.

  64. Steve EM: “The KFD just further makes my point…”

    I’m ready to admit that I misunderstood your point, but
    I thought your point was, “[creatio ex nihilo is] not a subject JS claimed to have revelation on.” Which you emphatically introduced as “bogus claims JS preached against creation ex nihilo. D&C lectures on the reality of a physical resurrection do not a physics lesson make. That is such a misreading of JS I just want to vomit on Nibley’s grave.”

    Maybe now your point is that while JS in fact did preach explicitly against creatio ex nihilo, modern Mormons are nevertheless free to reject his teachings?

    “…waiting for the inevitable reform of a church stuck on stupid.”

    You’re so cute!! ❤

  65. For anyone interested in something new, I suggest the International Peace Mission. There is nothing that is not awesome about that church.

  66. Steve EM said, “So in my case as an ex-LDS wannabe seeking another church, I’ve made a mental transition from ‘one true church’ to ‘many true churches’ or more likely a ‘spectrum of truer and falser churches’.”

    Good transition.
    I would like to add Luke 11:23 as a bedrock truth (Jesus speaking): “He who is not with me is against me. . . .”

    Neutrality is impossible. Those who are with Jesus go to heaven (where rewards vary), and those who are against Jesus go to hell (where punishments vary).

  67. Hey, I remember Les Enfants de Dieu from mission. I had a gf of sorts for a while in one town until finding out she was with them. Did HIV decimate their ranks?

    I had to google International Peace Mission. I think BY’s Mormon Reformation Utah with blood atonements and castrations was considerably weirder.

  68. Brian,

    From the LDS canon, I think it’s D&C 93 where JS says the “elements are eternal” that Mormon often like to cite. Unfortunately, the context is JS preaching about the reality of a physical resurrection. To use it as a physics lesson is a misreading at best and just deceptive at worst.

  69. Well, I certainly agree with you that reading a physics lesson out of D&C 93 (or any scripture, for that matter) is just prooftexting.

  70. Shrug.

    Seems like D&C 93 has an easier time with physics than the creation ex nihilo crowd.

  71. First of all, no I am not trolling. Second of all, if anyone has given the church a fair chance and it didn’t work out, I have nothing against them. I’m merely pointing out that I took the opposite direction and it worked better for me.

  72. Actually, scratch that last comment. Until I looked back through some of the other comments just now and talked to my Evangelical friend JB about it, I honestly hadn’t realized that “window shopping” was a phrase that can be offensive. I didn’t mean it that way, and I apologize. I meant no disrespect. What I was trying to say earlier is that for my part, my journey took me through several brands of Protestantism as well as Catholicism, and nothing really satisfied me until I became LDS. I know this thread isn’t really about that, but with all the stories of people finding better fulfillment after leaving the Church, I just wanted to make sure that the voices of the rest of us aren’t forgotten. As for the original post, I found it interesting. David’s points were clear and I thought he backed them up quite well.

  73. Kristyn: I’m glad to hear that you’re not a troll. I think I can now understand your first comment in a different light. Just as you now have seen that the term “window shopping” sounds like an accusation to many people, I can see how you most likely used the term differently. I think what you were trying to convey is the idea that “constantly floating from one congregation to another but never settling down” is detrimental to one’s spiritual progress.

    I’m glad you made it back here to comment.

  74. I really enjoyed this post. I am a regular reader of this blog, but I have never commented.

    Since I am a former Mormon (been out for 2 years with my whole family), and we have done quite a bit of church exploring, I thought I would throw in my 2 cents.

    We visited many churches after our exit. Our Mormon background did not come up unless we brought it up. We did once we got more comfortable in a couple of churches we wanted to visit more regularly with no negative results.

    Currently, we are regular visitors at a UCC (United Church of Christ) and a Foursquare Pentecostal church. My 8 yr old son calls them “Dessert Church” and the “Big Screen TV Church” respectively. The UCC has good treats after service every week. The Pentecostal has a really high-energy worship time that my kids enjoy.

    We have not joined either church in any official capacity and we’ve been visiting at both for quite a while now. We’ve never felt any pressure to take steps toward membership, but we do feel welcome and appreciated at both.

    The bottom line is that my husband prefers the more conservative Foursquare and I prefer the more liberal UCC. But we were united in our exit from the LDS. (We were lifelong members. I am a BYU grad and he is RM.)

    By the way, this website has really been very helpful to me to begin understanding the Christian religious terminology better. I did not even know the difference between egalitarian and complementarian. Or Arminian and Calvinist. And now I have some Wesleyan stuff to look up. 🙂

    Thanks for all you do, Tim. I think you do a great job of maintaining a respectful approach to a very polarizing topic.

  75. When I first saw the term used above, it never struck me that “window-shopping” or “church-shopping” was a derogatory term. I used to use it myself when referring to what I was doing back in my Protestant days whenever I moved or, in one case, became dissatisfied with the church I was in and felt the need to go to another.

    Currently, we are regular visitors at a UCC (United Church of Christ) and a Foursquare Pentecostal church.

    Talk about a contrast! If they’re the typical UCC and Foursquare churches, they’re as different from each other as the LDS church would be from either one, both theologically and in terms of worship styles. In fact, if those evangelicals who consider the LDS church to be non-Christian would probably apply the same label to the UCC if it were on their radar at all.

  76. Kristyn Dodge said, “my journey took me through several brands of Protestantism as well as Catholicism, and nothing really satisfied me until I became LDS.”

    Please give us more specifics. Why are you more satisfied now?

  77. Diane,

    So glad to know you’ve been reading and that you’ve found it helpful.

    I hope you and your family are able to settle down some where and invest (and be invested in).

  78. I recently had the opportunity to do so church ‘window shopping’ of sorts when I came to seminary. My own denomination (the Evangelical Congregational Church – which has a Wesleyan background as a descendant of Jacob Albrecht’s Evangelical Association) has no congregations in the area, so for several months I visited a different local congregation each week as a chance to get broader experiences of liturgical diversity and to look around for a congregation that I could invest the most into. That journey finished, I find that I’m mostly splitting my time between a Church of the Nazarene congregation (which is served by a husband-and-wife pastoral team who share pastoral responsibilities equally – I love it) and an Orthodox Church in America parish. Both are smaller worshipping communities perhaps a third to a fifth the size of my home congregation.

  79. I suppose because we made the exit from LDS together, we did not feel the need to play it safe and find one close to LDS worship style. In fact the experience of the Holy Spirit attending strongly at such a wide variety of worship settings has done more to deter my kids from the “one true church” worldview that any other thing.

    Our first church experience after LDS was the UU Church. I enjoyed it. But after the 2nd week when the sermon was on libraries…. we both felt there really wasn’t enough Jesus/God for either of us. For some reason, it did not really feel like worship. I mean no offense. My grandfather attended the UU for years after his departure from LDS. But it was not a good fit for us.

    Next we tagged along with every non-Mormon church-going friend we knew. That took us to a traditional black Baptist Church, the Foursquare Church, a UMC Church, a UCC Church, an Episcopalian and a Catholic. We got a pretty good taste of a range of worship styles. I think the Catholic and Episcopalian were the most uncomfortable for me. The formality of it all… really quiet. LDS is like that, but with no participation requirement, unless you choose to sing. With Catholics, there is alot of moving back and forth between kneeling and sitting. So if you aren’t anticipating what is going on, you tend to stand out as a newbie throughout.

    With the UMC, UCC, Catholic and Episcopalian, they gave a program that had scriptures or phrases where the congregation spoke together in response to a cue from the preacher. Is this what liturgy is? (See, still learning terminology.) My husband still does not get this. He says it feels forced… like they are just checking in the middle to make sure you are not sleeping or something.

    The Foursquare Church we attend is one of the largest churches in the area. The sanctuary seats over 500 people and is filled to about ¾ capacity at 3 Sunday morning services. They ordain women and seem to encourage full development of women’s spiritual gifts. We’ve heard a woman pastor preach the main sermon on Sunday at least 4 times. And I’ve never heard anything about headship/submission, traditional man/woman marriage or fear-inducing hellfire in the Sunday sermon. I think there is definitely some things I would disagree with there. But it does not seem to be pushed front and center and made a litmus test. The subject matter is very Jesus-centric. And, of course the “hymns” are contemporary Christian songs played but the full band at high volume. Everyone stands and about half the congregation raises hand to praise while singing. My teen boys seem to enjoy how this flips “LDS style reverence” on its head. And singing Amazing Grace this way was a beautiful spiritual experience for all of us.

    The UCC sermon is definitely more liberal. There are openly gay families in attendance. I personally like this. The head pastor is female. However, the sermons are not as different as you might think. They are very bible-based. There is a strong thread of biblical story that supports each sermon. The subjects are much the same as the Foursquare Church…. communing and communication with God, loving and serving your families, fellowmen and the world, becoming vibrant Christians, etc…

    If there is a strong theological difference between UCC and Foursquare, it does not come through on Sunday. My husband and I have met and lunched with both pastors and asked many questions. The differences don’t seem that glaring between UCC and Foursquare when contrasted to the LDS. If you know where I can find out more, I would love to have more resources.

    I think that every denomination probably puts the most rosy and acceptable parts of their theology fron and canter… just like the LDS. Maybe they don’t want you to know the other stuff until you are more entrenched and less likely to leave over it. And I accept that feeling might be some of my baggage talking from feeling deceived by the LDS, and may be part of why I am happy just visiting.

    I do realize my family might benefit from a deeper sense of community since we left the LDS group. My teenage daughter (who had the hardest time leaving LDS) is participating with a teen community group at the Foursquare Church. She has now served at Loaves and Fishes, Samaritan’s Feet and has been invited to go on a youth mission service trip to Nicaragua this summer.
    So, the journey continues…

  80. I think the heresy that Eric was referring to in regards to the UCC is that many of their pastors preach that Jesus wasn’t physically raised from the dead and a general attitude that supernatural miracles don’t happen. I don’t know if that’s congregation to congregation or if it’s denomination-wide.

    The UCC church that is local to me seems to delight in proclaiming that the Bible is nice but false.

    In regards to denying the resurrection I would have to agree that this probably puts anyone who believes that further outside the field of orthodox Christianity than anything currently taught in Mormonism.

  81. With the UMC, UCC, Catholic and Episcopalian, they gave a program that had scriptures or phrases where the congregation spoke together in response to a cue from the preacher. Is this what liturgy is? (See, still learning terminology.) My husband still does not get this. He says it feels forced… like they are just checking in the middle to make sure you are not sleeping or something.

    It’s actually quite ancient. “Liturgy” comes from a Greek word which originally meant service one does on behalf of the state or polis. This connotation is somewhat brought over into the Christian use of the word in that liturgy is the service one now does on behalf of God or the church. However, in ancient times liturgies were the prerogatives of the very wealthy. When the word came into the Christian lexicon there was a democratization of the term in that the liturgy was that done by all the people (priests + laity), not just the wealthy.

    In modern parlance it has come to just mean fancy and fixed form religious services. A slang term would be a “smells and bells” in contrast to more evangelical “happy clappy” services. Though even the word “fixed” can give a false impression, even “non-liturgical” churches tend to follow a fixed form for services. Just take the LDS church, sacrament meetings are heavily scripted, but they would still be considered non-liturgical.

    As for the recitation/response type of worship, it’s actually a very ancient form of worship. For an ex-Mormon it might be best to think of it as communal testimony meetings. It’s a chance for the congregation to express it’s beliefs as a community. To do this it has to be at least somewhat scripted. The only other option is to make it free form like an LDS testimony meeting, which has a less scripted feel. However, you lose the sense of community, as the community just becomes a string of people talking about themselves individually. Plus you have to listen to 5 year olds say they know “Joseph Smith was a pwawphet of God” followed by Sister Elephant’s 15 minute dialogue monologue on the spirituality she finds in kidney dialysis. Everything is a trade off.

  82. to illustrate David’s point that “it’s all liturgy” watch this video. The thing that makes it funny is that all these things this non-liturgical church is doing are just as formulaic as anything the Catholic church might be doing.

  83. Tim – I did not know that about different views of Christ within the UCC. I thought that was a UU thing to view Jesus as a great teacher but not divine. It got me to wondering. So I just took a minute and reviewed the Easter sermon (the church posts podcasts) of this UCC congregation. She definitely speaks to the resurrection and divinity of the risen Christ quite beautifully.

    If this pastor spent time proclaiming the Bible to be nice, but false… that would not work too well for us. But, do you think there is a difference between “false” and just more metaphorical, but very true on eternal principles? I am not a creationist, for example.

    Great video…. its exaggerated (or maybe not for some?)… but the point being that even non-liturgical has a standard flow and feel. It is probably a key part of the congregation’s rhythm and comfort.

  84. “Plus you have to listen to 5 year olds say they know “Joseph Smith was a pwawphet of God” followed by Sister Elephant’s 15 minute dialogue monologue on the spirituality she finds in kidney dialysis. Everything is a trade off.”

    … Ten years ago in Utah, this was totally me. I was Sister Elephant. My husband was definitely Brother Elephant… and my 3 older kids were regular contributers with the whisper in the ear repeat-a-thon. Thanks for the flashback, David!

    **PS – How do you do the “quote in italics thing”?

  85. I think some passages of the Bible should be taken metaphorically and it’s well within Christian orthodoxy to view the Creation story as metaphorical. But when churches start saying things like “Jesus is alive in our hearts and minds,” they are distorting our founding miracle. (that was the title of my local UCC’s Easter sermon)

    As Paul says in I Corinthians 15, if Jesus didn’t really rise from the dead, and he’s just alive in our hearts and minds, then we are the biggest fools in the world.

    I have no idea if that kind of thing is just congregation specific or if it runs throughout the denomination. Perhaps you should ask the pastor if she believes Jesus bodily rose from the grave. That will be the quickest path to an answer for you.

  86. Tim, I will definitely have that conversation with her.

    I have no idea if that kind of thing is just congregation specific or if it runs throughout the denomination.

    That brings up another aspect to the finding of a church home outside of Mormonism.

    How much do you weigh congregation vs. denomination?

    I honestly don’t know the answer, but ideally you would have both. But, realistically?

  87. Diane,

    As always, it depends. I did a lot of thinking about this too in investigating churches.

    For the most part I think the congregation is much more important than the denomination is. Denominations are not like the LDS church, individual congregations have a very wide latitude in their programs, sermons, style, finance, etc. Even the Catholic church allows for more latitude in how individual parishes handle things than does the LDS church.

    What I think you should do is ask yourself two questions.

    First, Is the congregation really off the beaten path as far as the denomination is concerned? If so, then it will likely be pulled back to the denominational norms (such as when a new pastor gets hired), or the congregation will leave the denomination. I.e. if there is a conservative congregation in a liberal denomination it will likely either turn liberal or leave the denomination. The opposite holds as well.

    Second, Is the denomination consumed with denominational politics? You don’t want to be part of a congregation that is being used as a bargaining chip in denominational warfare. A lot of times significant money and/or property is at stake, so the congregation could end up losing big time.

    In my opinion both of these hold for the Episcopal church in the US right now. It contributed to my decision to not attend there, though I really enjoyed the local Episcopal congregation. Right now the Episcopal church is in the process of self destructing and there is a lot of hard ball politics inside the denomination right now. I’d hate to get comfortable there only to find out that after a year my local congregation had become the latest battleground.

  88. What David said.

    Depending on the denominational structure, a congregation that wanted to leave a denomination might have to lose all of their property to do so. (Imagine a LDS bishop calling his ward to form a new congregation or join the CoC).

    I don’t think that kind of thing is really happening in UCC though.

  89. Oh, I think there’s no question that a bishop who tried to have his entire congregation leave the oversight of the LDS Church would lose access to the building and funds.

    Honestly, I have a hard time visualizing any local bishop or stake president having enough clout to lead away an entire congregation today though.

    We LDS are administered to by our peers. Thus a bishop rarely has as much inherent respect and authority apart from his calling. We respect the calling more than the man. And we are all quite aware that there are a dozen or so men sitting in the pews each Sacrament Meeting that could easily take the place of the man currently sitting in the bishop’s seat.

  90. David and Tim,
    Those are very good points to keep in mind. Thanks for your insight.

    Steve,
    Our exit story is a long-multi-faceted one. I think God was preparing us to leave long before the courage and circumstance for departure finally happened. There are many things I see in hindsight that prepared us. But, I’ll just share the critical events of the actual exit.

    At the beginning of the summer of 09, after a slow build of more frustration with the rigid orthodoxy members.. who at this point are teaching and influencing my teenage boys and my daughter in a way I feel is unhealthy and will create twisted views of sexuality and gender…. I am really needing a break. So, at this point I am tiring of the constant deprogramming.

    And I am asking myself, at what point can you call yourself a true Mormon? When you only believe 90%? 50%? 10%? I was probably at 10%.

    Anyway, we were in the process of buying a house. The move would take us barely across a ward boundary. I got the idea to just not show up at the new ward and embark on a “Summer of Exploration”. I talked to my husband…. who is still very much a TBM at this point. He agreed. He knew I was having serious doubts and that I would probably not be coming back after the summer. But he gave it a shot.**

    So we all went together and attended alot of different churches. We stuck together every week. Being the summer, we also spent a number of Sundays at the “Church of the Big, Blue Sky”. We had our own Sunday school lessons in the mountains or at the lake. Those were great Sundays too. And I think they helped emotionally bond us together. We have 4 kids (ages 15,14,14,6 at the time)

    In the meantime, I checked two books out of the library that I had heard about on Feminist Mormon Housewives. One was Mormon Enigma and the other was Rough Stone Rolling. My husband and I read these together. So that took my 10% down to 0%. It really got my husband thinking too.

    But at the same time, I was learning about God and worshipping in a whole new way that I loved. God’s unconditional love, Jesus’s truly amazing grace and feeling a deep peace in my heart. I never felt like this before. I was converted to Jesus, not a church, but Jesus, my Savior.

    So after the summer, we never went back.

    ** I just asked DH why he was OK with this in spite of his faith at the time. He said it was because he just could not see putting any church above our marriage. I remember at the time thinking that we were going to find a church for me and we would work out some kind of long-term arrangement where we rotated attendance at both. But, in the process, he was converted to grace-based Christianity too.

    So, in short. We went cold-turkey and have not been to a Sunday service in the LDS Church in nearly 2 years. But the teenagers still attend LDS social activities as they choose. The boys are still in the LDS Scout troop. They attend the dances and, right now, they are all playing basketball on the YMYW teams. And I attend to watch them play.

  91. Seth said:

    Honestly, I have a hard time visualizing any local bishop or stake president having enough clout to lead away an entire congregation today though.

    Not in the US, but perhaps in other places. My dad had to excommunicate a church leader who attempted to this in Guatemala. He said it was one of the tougher things he did as a MP. The guy got a substantial group to join him, i think only the leader was ex-ed. He even asked if he could continue using the chapel on off hours. Needless to say that didn’t work out.

  92. God’s unconditional love, Jesus’s truly amazing grace and feeling a deep peace in my heart. I never felt like this before. I was converted to Jesus, not a church, but Jesus, my Savior.

    I LOVE IT. Not because it might be a barb against the LDS church but because I needed to be converted to Jesus too. And I think everyone needs to be converted to Jesus. Glad you found him.

  93. I did not mean it as a barb against the LDS Church. Upon re-reading my story, I hope it is not offensive. It is not meant that way. It is just my path, my family’s journey.

    I do not believe it to be impossible to find deep faith in Jesus within the LDS Church. Clearly many wonderful people do it… including many on this site.

    For me….. I needed to leave to find my faith. That is all.

  94. I didn’t find your story offensive in the least. I did find it sad, however, that the legalism that pervades parts of the Church subculture put you in a position where you had to go elsewhere to understand the grace and joy that Jesus made available to us through the Atonement.

  95. BFF ~ Sorry for taking so long to respond.

    You said:

    Perhaps we should compare to the 1840s church in Nauvoo. And by then there were many doctrines that Mormonism has not abandoned and that are dealbreakers for other Christians: creation ex materia, exaltation to godhood, God has a body, etc. I don’t see those ever going away, and I find them essential/foundational to my “religious point of view.”

    Okay. We can compare to the 1840s Nauvoo church instead, and you’re correct that if we do so, the modern LDS church certainly has more things in common with its 1840s predecessor.

    But there are still so many things that were added, changed, or taken away since the 1840s. Polygamy, Adam-God, giving the priesthood to blacks (and to be fair, it may have been given, then taken, then given again), etc. Arguably there hasn’t been a revelation added to the D&C since 1918 (OD2 is an announcement of the revelation Kimball received, not the text of a revelation itself).

    Those things obviously aren’t deal-breakers to you, or else you might not be a member of the church today. But they were deal-breakers to other people, as evidenced by the fundamentalist groups that broke off and continued to practice polygamy and teach Adam-God. I don’t think there were any splinters over blacks and the priesthood, but I know some of the fundamentalist groups viewed that as further evidence of the church’s apostasy. Still others criticize the church because they argue that the actual revelation has ceased.

    You say that if the church gave up things like creation ex materia and exaltation, then it wouldn’t be the same church to you anymore, and you’re not wrong. But my point is, that changes from person to person. The people who say giving up polygamy and Adam-God was enough to make them jump ship aren’t wrong, either. And I’m not wrong for thinking Mormons could abandon things like creation ex materia and exaltation and still retain their Mormon identity. It’s all relative.

  96. BFF: any response from you is worth waiting for 🙂

    I agree with what you’ve written. I might make just a few comments on it though:

    1) My first point is very minor point and I’ve tried rewriting several times but I still think I’m presenting it very poorly; please use patience:

    Part of my point for suggesting that we consider 1840s Mormonism and not 1830s is that I think that by the 1840s we clearly have a church that does not see itself as part of the mainstream Christian religion—and has no desire to. Actually, that’s not the correct perspective. More correctly, I should say that 1840s Mormonism viewed all the rest of Christianity as so totally flawed that there simply could be no comparison.

    2) I completely agree with your point that it “changes from person to person.” And I’ll highlight that I wrote I find them essential/foundational to my “religious point of view.””

    Yet, certainly some changes would rattle more Mormons than other changes. And what constitutes “easy” versus “difficult” changes are what I think we’re disagreeing about.

    I think the least challenging changes are those that involve orthopraxy—and I would include the change in practice of including blacks in priesthood and temple ordinances because there was no truly solid doctrine to back it up (i.e., even as far as there was a pseudo-doctrine justifying the restriction, it was openly admitted in 1978 that that was pseudo-doctrine and therefore there was no change in any doctrine, only a change in practice). Polygamy falls pretty much along the same lines: Woodruff changed the practice, but not the doctrine. The Church could even one day ordain women to the priesthood and I think it would go over almost entirely as just a change in practice. (I mean, we’ve already discussed how little meaning there is to the words like ‘preside’ that are used to distinguish men and women in the Church, so doing away with those non-distinct distinctions would be—for the most part—like chalk on a chalkboard.)

    So I can see the Church making all sorts of changes in how we worship…but none of those changes are going to satisfy you (or other Christians). Changes to the priesthood structure or temple ordinances can be explained to Mormons as “God changed his mind,” but changes to our doctrines that touch upon the very nature of God—well, that’s not “God changed his mind,” that’s “God changed.”

    Along these lines, you say, “And I’m not wrong for thinking Mormons could abandon things like creation ex materia and exaltation and still retain their Mormon identity.” Now, I admit that we’re both just speculating here. I just wanted to present why I think it’s highly improbable that Mormonism will ever give up those things.

    A serious question: could you imagine Evangelicalism giving up its views on the nature of God? Do you think that question is different for Evangelicals than it is for Mormons?

  97. Intersting. I am actually going from Wesleyan to LDS!!! Love it so far. Feel the holy spirit. Feel more connected!!!

  98. Joanne, that’s fascinating— Wesleyan to LDS? How did that happen? 🙂

    I actually started out my journey going from LDS to atheism and then Pentacostalism. I’ve come somewhat full circle and am now a Calvinist who supports reformed theology. Not all who leave Mormonism become Armenians.

  99. I once had a missionary companion who was Armenian, from Kuwait no less. He was totally into the writings of Manly P. Hall and esoteric religion.

  100. Yeah, he was a cool kid, had a copy of “Secret Teachings of All Ages”, which was fascinating. It’s surprising how all that can dovetail into Mormonism for some. If Joseph Smith would have had a copy of that book or its like Mormonism would have a different face today.

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