Sandra and the late Jerald Tanner were raised in the LDS faith, both with a strong Mormon family history. Jerald was the great-great-grandson of John Tanner, well known for his sizable financial contributions to Joseph Smith and the LDS church in 1835 when the church was deeply in debt. Sandra Tanner is a great-great-granddaughter of Brigham Young, the second president of the Mormon Church.
As teenagers, before they met, Jerald and Sandra were challenged by different people and events to examine the origins of Mormonism. Soon after their introduction, they jointly began researching Mormonism and became engaged. Both accepted Christ during these early years of study and consequently left the Mormon church.
Episode 1 explores Sandra and Jerald’s early years before forming Utah Lighthouse Ministries.
In part 2, Sandra discusses challenges that she and her late husband had with Joseph Smith’s First Vision, the Book of Mormon, the Book of Abraham, along with her interactions with Joseph Fielding Smith, Legrand Richard, and famous Mormon forger and murderer Mark Hofmann.
In part 3, Sandra discusses several issues including Joseph Smith’s treasure digging, connections between the Masonic Lodge temple ceremony and the LDS Church temple ceremony, polygamy, the Mountain Meadows Massacre, blacks and the LDS priesthood, the Thomas Ferguson story, the Eugene England/Bruce R. McConkie letter exchange, the LDS church’s law suit against UTLM, and the Godmakers film.
In part 4, Sandra discusses her views on being called an “anti-Mormon,” her Christian beliefs, her views on the recent candor/openness and future of the LDS church, the passing of her husband (Jerald — Alzheimer’s), and shares her final testimony.
In your intro, please acknowledge that Jerald Tanner is now deceased. When you say “Both accepted Christ during these early years of study and have left the Mormon church. They are both active members of a local Christian church in Salt Lake City”, you imply that Jerald is still alive.
What a delightful lady, Sandra is.I went to the original bookstore in Salt Lake many many decades ago. I identified myself as a California Mormon and was warmly received. For several years, I repeated that visit, when attending General Conference.
This sounds so typical. Someone discovers information about the Church that doesn’t maintain the current version of the story crafted by the PR department and if you share that information you’re branded as an anti-Mormon. The general membership deliberately avoids knowing anything beyond the whitewashed version that’s presented in every Church manual and every class. In Church publications the questions from which direct you away from learning any of the complete details of Church history. The more you study, the more questions you discover that go unanswered (because that would be an admission of guilt) until your level of cognitive dissonance explodes your brain and your heart as you discover those you have trusted for years have been misrepresenting the truth for decades in their attempt to keep the plates spinning in the air.
Bob’s comment sounds so typical. Someone does their homework and discovers counter arguments, positive possibilities, and reasonable interpretations to the criticisms and accusations by critics of the Church of Jesus Christ, and he or she is branded as a person who “deliberately avoids knowing anything beyond the whitewashed version that’s presented in every Church manual and every class.” If you share counterarguments, positive possibilities, and reasonable interpretations with critics of the Church, you are criticized and sometimes ridiculed because you failed to accept the negative, blackwashing interpretations of Church history that are presented in most every anti-Mormon publication crafted by critics (such as the Tanners) and in every gathering of like-minded skeptics. The more you open your mind and objectively study the counter arguments, the positive possibilities, and reasonable faith-promoting interpretations with critics, the more you are ignored and scoffed at.
For some sincere truthseekers, their level of cognitive dissonance explodes their brain and their heart as they discover that those whom they trusted for years to tell them the truth about Church history have been misinterpreting and misrepresenting the truth for decades in their attempt to keep the plates of their disbelief spinning in the air.
Quick comment on WhyNot’s final paragraph… My experience has been that 90% of the active Mormons I speak with are not misinterpreting or misrepresenting the truth about church history. They are however ignorant. They have no idea of the true history or foundational doctrines of their own church.
The tight controls and decades of scare tactics of the LDS church against individuals like Sandra Tanner worked on approximately 40% to 50% of the members. I use those percentages because of the 15 million members the church claims only 40% to 50% even bother to show up.
The Internet has taken the Tanner message to masses and gone viral. Sandra and her husband deserve a lot of credit for advancing the truth. The God I believe in, stands with people like Sandra.
Most members I know truly are ignorant–not misinterpreting, and only misrepresent the truth because they have been taught untruths and half-truths.
In response to Doubting Thomas: My experience has been that 99% of the people who leave the Church leave it because they have fallen victim to misinterpretations and misrepresentations of Church history. They are apparently ignorant of, or have no idea of, the counter-arguments, positive possibilities, and reasonable alternate interpretations of the same words, actions, and events which critics (like the Tanners) use, i.e. which they give negative interpretations to, in order to justify their disbelief and their rejection of and withdrawal from the Church.
The Tanners could have used their same critical, negative, worse-case-interpretation approach to destroy faith in Jesus Christ and the Bible and in all other Christian churches. And Doubting Thomas could accuse all good organizations, including all Christian churches of using “tight controls and decades of scare tactics” to keep their believers in line, accusing them (Christian churches and other good organizations) of preaching or promoting “untruths and half-truths” and covering up controversial words, events, and actions.
The Internet has taken the message of critics of Christ and the Bible to masses and gone viral. Sandra Tanner and her husband deserve severe criticism for driving people away from the truth. For example, they have driven many people into atheism because ex-LDS people know that if the LDS Christian church is not true, there is no true church of Jesus Christ on Earth today because the LDS Church has so much more evidence to support it. Evidence includes the fact that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the church which most closely resembles the original church which Christ established while he lived on Earth with the same doctrines, ordinances, and organization including twelve apostles.
I think the Catholic or Baptist Church or most any other Christian Church out there has tons more evidence of being closer to ‘the true church’ then the LDS Church ever has since BY took over.
The LDS Church is so anti-Christ and those who truly follow Christ realize how it teaches completely contrary to Christ’s pure doctrines and thus leads good people astray to support and do evil without them even realizing it, all the while they think they are righteous and doing what’s right.
At least most Christian Churches out there preach and practice Christ’s Gospel alot better then the LDS Church does.
Even Joseph Smith (assuming he didn’t lie and he really was innocent of polygamy) preached and practiced the Gospel to a great degree, for BY & JS preached opposite each other.
I don’t believe BY or any of the leaders of the Church in his day or today even believe in Christ and his teachings, let alone live them.
I don’t believe anyone can truly believe in the Church and Christ at the same time, for they are opposites.
The more LDS members really start living the Gospel the more they start to wake up and see huge errors, problems, falsehoods, and false prophets in the Church til they finally go study things out for themselves and realize they have been duped the whole time.
I applaud the Tanners, though I woke up to the falseness of the LDS Church a few years ago, I really wish I had heard about the Tanner’s publications many years ago and saved myself and my family alot of deception and wasted time, money and energy that was used for evil and not for good.
It is so sad to think of how duped we were to let our sacred tithing go to supporting deceiving men to grow their evil empire instead of giving it out ourselves directly to the fatherless where is all should go, but who are so neglected and ignored by the Church.
It would be so easy for the Church to follow Christ and end poverty in the Church so that there would be no more poor among them and then start helping non-lds poor also. But instead of following Christ they use sacred tithing on their own salaries and their big and spacious buildings so they can get gain and the praise of the world.
99% of those who leave the church understand the history, sometimes very succinctly. I think Whynot would better apply that 99% figure to active Mormons, Mormons who are not aware of the history, and problems that underlie what is becoming a not so firm foundation. How many members are aware of the full extent of Joseph’s polygamy? How many are aware of the problems of the Book of Abraham, or even know that the church has in its possession the original papyri? How many know of the new approach and interpretations of the Book of Mormon problems of DNA and geography? The average member would be shocked at confused at the explanations of limited geography, two cumorahs, no identifiable Lamanites for whom the BoM was written. The fact that most don’t know seems to play against Whynot’s comments puts into question a church led by a coherent loving God. Why do we need to have counter arguments, positive possibilities or reasonable alternative interpretations in the first place? Seems like the church agrees and is clumsily scrambling through short essays to explain.
Whynot’s use of the word “ignorant” is rather insulting to most who have struggled with these issues and chosen not to accept the absurdity of modern apologetics, which is as foreign and apostate to Sunday morning Gospel Doctrines class as my disbelief. Listen, I respect your right to believe, to swallow the apologetics, and to exercise your faith, but don’t employ annoying and insulting assumptions of people and reality that are not borne out by evidence nor current knowledge. Your approach towards “knowing”, as in “I know” is like a child, as if you don’t grasp how we come to understand our world, and that our understanding as a species is at best tentative even using our best tools of data gathering (the scientific method, not the burning bosom method). Call it faith, call it belief, but if you call it knowledge, you lose credibility with everyone but the gullible.
Sandra T is one of my heroes. I can’t imagine the courage it must have taken to stand up to the church – practically as a lone voice at the time – while remaining in the “heart of zion.” On the other hand, I could never understand how she could so easily see the absurdities and inconsistencies of the LDS church, yet embrace biblical Christianity hook, line and sinker. Has she never heard of Bart Ehrman? Richard Carrier? The evidence against the historicity of the bible is as strong as the evidence against Mormonism, if not stronger.
Jake, you are overstating the case. Bart Ehrman was the last doctoral student of Bruce Metzger. He doesn’t know anything about the text of the Bible that Metzger didn’t know. How is it that he came to different conclusions? They both had the same data, and came to different conclusions. The answer? Presuppositions. The assumptions that they both started with. For a good analysis of Ehrman’s arguments, see James White’s debate with him on youtube, or White’s analyses on aomin.org. These are perennial questions, and no, the case against the Bible is not stronger than the case against the BoM. Seek and ye shall find.
You are grossly mis-representing Ehrman – please stop.
For all intents and purposes he and Metzger agree in most respects. AND, more important, it was NOT his view of the Biblical mss that caused him to become an atheist – you only need to do the smallest homework to become aware of this – he has repeated his testimony countless times.
Jake, Bart Ehrman was the last doctoral student of Bruce Metzger’s at Princeton. There wasn’t anything that he knew about the texts of the scriptures that Metzger didn’t know. They both had the same facts. And yet one became and atheist and the other did not. How do you account for that fact? The answer is presuppositions. The starting point. Check out James White’s debate with Ehrman online for details. Assumptions are not naïve.
Charles, it is the same with Mormonism, the Tanners don’t have any special knowledge that Richard Bushman, Leonard Arrington, or Daniel Peterson do not have and yet they still believe. I listened to the White and Ehrman debate, White was most certainly out of his league like a college football team playing in the NFL, but certainly where one starts from is a good point. White wanted to find confirmation of his beliefs and ended up same place he started whereas Ehrman started his quest as a born-again Christian and lost his faith once reality hit him in the face, unlike others who have same information he did not begin the excuse game and mental gymnastics to maintain belief in Christian and Biblical mythology.
Ryan, I can’t speak to Bushman, Arrington, and Peterson because I don’t know the details. But thank you for illustrating my point by equating naturalism with reality. You see the world through the presupositions that suit you and equate that with reality. Never mind the atheist who, confronted with reality, becomes a believer, or a Bruce Metzger who doesn’t share Ehrman’s starting point. On the subject of White, the issue isn’t whether he was out of his league, the issue is whether he was right. It’s a question of truth. And please, spare us the talk of ‘mental gymnastics’; atheists and naturalists have their cake and eat it too all the time when they speak of love, justice, etc. with no sufficient epistomological ground for those categories in a cold impersonal universe that is the product of chance. Unfortunately Sandra got sidetracked and never returned to the question of how the problems in Christianity and Mormonism are of a different order. That’s too bad. I would have liked to hear that conversation. That is my impression too.
No Charles, like Ehrman I did not start with a natural presupposition, that is the conclusion I reached after testing supernaturalism, like prayer, it is easy to submit it to a quantifiable test and we both know it will fail. I find the parallels of the problems of all religions mostly identical including Mormonism and Christianity. Both conflict with science, both suffer from massive internal contradictions in their holy books, both lack any real measurable evidence, prayer to the Mormon Jesus vs Christian Jesus accomplishes the same thing, conversion stories are generally always emotion based, etc. This is exactly why few Mormons that leave Mormonism become Christians, because they use the same standards to evaluate both.
You can take the whole New Testament away (for most of it is errors or untrue anyway) and even most of the New Testament and just keep the simple words of Christ and that is all anyone really needs to live a righteous life. The words of Christ prove they are all true, once you really live and experiment on them. But all prophet’s words in the scriptures are hit and miss, some truth some errors. So all we really need to live by is Christ’s Golden Rule and True Unconditional Love, if we live by those 2 law all else will fall into place.
Sorry, I mean’t to say “You can take away the whole ‘Old Testament’.
For we see it and it’s prophets are all mostly untrue anyway when you hold it up to Christ’s teachings
Bart Ehrman’s problem was that he bought into the idea of inerrancy when he became a Christian. As a top notch biblical scholar, he saw the many inconsistencies in the scriptures. He lost his faith. So sad. Expecting any ancient documents to be without inconsistencies leads to all kinds of odd thinking (like a 6,000 year old earth). I love the word. I study it. I worship regularly. I base my faith on a simple belief in the living Christ. Those who wrote about Him and His Father were from very different societies than the one I live in. They understood creation differently. The battles over who has the “authentic” belief in the Christ have always gone on (stuff like warping the faith to make it legitimize various powers both political and ecclesiastical).
So how much energy do professing Mormons put into legitimizing the Joseph Smith stories and writings and how much do they just put into being grateful Christ chose to become human like us for a while, teach us, suffer for us, love us and save us?
Sandra is a very delightful and overall good person. I have always enjoyed talking with her at her bookstore. That said she revealed in this interview, as she has in other places as well, that her Christian conversion was emotion based that is really no different than a multitude of Mormon conversion stories. For Mormon faithful they are moved by the Book of Mormon or Joseph Smith story and are emotionally converted and interpret their emotions as the spirit. Others are not as touched by Mormonism but are by the more simple story of Jesus and they are emotionally converted and like the Mormon they interpret it as God or his spirit working on their heart. Then some, after having reached a conclusion based on an emotional experience then work backwards from the conclusion and seek empirical evidence. Naturally they find what they are looking for, Mormons with FAIR or FARMS and Christians with Josh McDowell, CS Lewis, and Lee Strobel. But the so-called “evidence” is generally only convincing to those already emotionally converted. Almost without exception I find Mormon and Christian conversion stories nearly identical and find their apologetic attempts as identically unconvincing. But I still like Sandra and even like Daniel Peterson who I have also enjoyed conversations with.
Ryan, I enjoy the way you write. That means you are teaching the “truth.” No I didn’t get any goose bumps or burning in my bosom, but your writing explains what happens that make people believe. If you examine the ways the Mormon church or any other church convinces you to to believe it is all based on emotion, hypnotic suggestion and especially repetition and reinforcement.
Research shows that when a religious stimuli is presented, you will more likely accept it as a spiritual if your brain has a low serotonin level (a brain chemical). Thus you are more likely to believe if you are depressed, feel a sense of guilt and a strong sense of responsibility to others, as especially mothers do. And also if you are a creative person, a writer, or an artist and you spend a lot of time in your dream world. On average we all spend about half our waking time in our dream world. And usually we experience no boundary between our dream world and the real world. The brain makes no distinction between dream world and real world experiences.
This is why Joseph and many others like him believe they are prophets.
But being in your dream world is not bad. This is how we invent, create, compose. Take Nicoli Tesla. He invented useful electronic devices, especially his development of the AC motor and the TV remote. But on the other hand many of Tesla’s dream world experiences were not valid, went nowhere and provided nothing useful. But the point is, dream world experiences which proved to be factual and useful were submitted to real world testing and thus proven to be valid. The same with Joseph Smith, I don’t believe for one moment that the Book of Mormon, the Book of Abraham or the Kinderhook plates are factual and valid. Nor do I believe that Jesus was divine. Jesus is a classic textbook example of a paranoid schizophrenic. And Mary, the mother of Jesus, if we want to accept a story that far back, was no different than any other pregnant unwed girl,except that under Jewish law she could have been stoned. However, the Jews at the time were subjects of Rome. But it worked out OK, because Joseph had a DREAM in which an angel told him that Mary’s pregnancy was a spiritual pregnancy. So not to worry. Everything was OK. But because I don’t
accept the divinity of Jesus, does not mean that I don’t believe the principles Jesus taught–love, forgiveness, equality. These principles I think can be demonstrated to be valid. Further, because
Joseph produced the Book of Mormon from his trance state experiences
induced by his stone in a hat, does not mean that everything Joseph
came up with is false. For example, I believe strongly in the SMALL loving Mormon community. Like indigenous tribal groups, I think for some people, the Ward can be a good habitat for finding and experiencing loving people and for raising kids. BUT . . . this grandiose Plan of Salvation is very abusive and destructive and can goes terribly wrong when . . . it finally dawns on a responsible brainwashed developing youngster that he or she is gay. Because, at this point he or she experiences overwhelming anguish. This creates a huge anguishing conflict and he or she is totally and completely alone with no one to help resolve this huge conflict. This my dear friends is very serious and catastrophic abuse.
Changing the subject to spiritual experiences. Here’s something you can try. Turn your TV to a religious channel where a charismatic leader is speaking. Wait till the speaker reaches a high point and the camera pans to the audience. Notice that the eyelids of many in the audience are closed, half closed or blinking. This tells you they are in a trance state and therefore highly susceptible to the influence of the speaker.
Love you friends. If I see you in church . . .
Good thoughts and good info tropical animal.
I know what she means about going back to church and it just not fitting any more because she knew too many new things she would never hear at church.
Curious, have the Tanners or someone else published a “blacklined” copy of the 1833 Book of Commandments against the 1835 (or later) D&C? I have looked for something like this before without success, and unfortunately I do not have an ambiguously-garment-wearing grandmother to help me compare the two line by line!
Great podcast, by the way.
Try https://mit.irr.org/scanned-images-of-entire-1833-book-of-commandments-and-1835-doctrine-and-covenants for online comparisons.
Thanks, Jenn. I like your blog!
Great podcast. Sandra and Jerald are true Mormon heroes —- truth seekers to the end. If truth seekers had a humanistic church we would sing hymns of praise to people like the Tanners and John for his efforts in helping truth seekers.
I just love this interview. Sandra is so lively and engaging. I really like her and totally identify with the way she thinks and rationalizes things. Her story is so very like mine. Deeply spiritual, so completely committed to trying to find out what is right, what is true. She tried to convince her family using examples from their own D&C and Book of Mormon She felt panicked by other protestant religions… She reminds me so much of myself. It is remarkable that she had this experience in the 1960s. I wish I had known about her when I was making my transition out of the church. What a long three years that was.
We can’t “leave it alone” because we do have to defend ourselves. We are expected to allow the mormons pontificate for hours and say nothing. It is true.
John, thank you. I am dying to have you answer some of the questions you asked her:
Why are you still in, you know it is not true?
(she stayed for her family because of pressure- familiar, eh?) WHY?!
Does one really have to defend oneself for not believing? Maybe it is “easier said than done”, but I don’t think one has to. Spirituality is personal and should be respected…doesn’t have to be explained, IMHO.
I am not a TBM anymore but I don’t really understand the need to prove why the church is not true to those who do believe. I’ve been angry, sad, lonely and frustrated over recent years and I sometimes wish I could be that person that believes and doesn’t yet. Everyone has their own spiritual journey and I don’t feel the need to redirect anyone on that path. Things I read and learned about the church where not aimed at disaffecting me, but were available through LDS sources. I also don’t agree with exploiting those things that are “sacred” to someone, regardless of their religion (ie: temple).
I am so grateful for Mormon Stories, as it has helped me to feel less alone in this journey I am on.
Listening to this interview provoked a mixture of emotions for me.
I joined the LDS Church at age 15, loved the Church, and then left the Church, partly due to the influence of the Tanner’s literature. I entered their world of evangelicalism, experienced a traumatic crisis of faith when studying for the ministry, abandoned faith all together, and eventually found my way back into Mormonism.
I could perceive Sandra’s sincerity and courage in this interview. I could also perceive her genuine faith in Christ. Yet, my return to Mormonism has rekindled my faith in Christ, much as her leaving Mormonism coincided with her conversion experience to Christ.
It would be easy for me to simply relegate both of our religious experiences to a psychological need for love and acceptance by someone greater than ourselves, but I can’t quite leave it there. I don’t understand the workings of the Spirit, but I have experienced that unconditional love and acceptance through many people in Mormonism, through many people in evangelicalism, through the Jesus of evangelicalism, and now through the Christ of Mormonism.
I believe Sandra and her late husband were certainly striving to follow the Shepherd in their lives and ministry. I would hope that Sandra, even to some small degree, acknowledges the presence of that Shepherd even in the faith tradition of her youth and ancestors.
John Dehlin, thank you for sharing this valuable interview.
There is a sense of panic and a need to prove what is true or not true. I totally understand and relate to Sandra. The loss of what is perceived as true in your life causes panic, self doubt, and a real need to feel right again. In addition, when you doubt or leave Mormonism it’s not like leaving another church. Although you still may believe in Christ; your family and friends consider you a total apostate and as having denied all truth. Like Sandra, you feel a need to prove yourself in all things, both for those that accuse and your own peace of mind. This is a long and difficult struggle for me in leaving the church that seems to be founded on untruths yet dealing with the conditioned fear of being wrong.
I hear and appreciate what you are saying. However, I take issue with your comment that “when you doubt or leave Mormonism it’s not like leaving another church.” While leaving Mormonism might be your only experience of leaving a fervent religious group (I could be wrong), it is simply not true that the agony of extrication is limited to Mormonism. Persons abandoning any rigid ideology are often ostracized by friends and family. I experienced the ostracizing effects of this tribal dynamic to a far greater degree when leaving the religious tradition (non-Mormon)in which I was raised than when I initially left the LDS Church (I have since returned as a Hugh B. Brown-type, liberal thinking believer).
I empathize with your comment that this is a “long and difficult struggle.” Yet, is it possible that your struggle (and Sandra’s struggle) was/is more against rigid, merciless ideology held by some individuals, leaders, and families (not all) within Mormonism than it is a struggle against the religion itself?
I really don’t think Mormonism (or any religion) is the ultimate issue in Sandra’s story, your story, or my story. I believe that there are far greater factors at play. This is a discussion about the natural human reaction and fight against coercion. It is a fight for the exercise of agency. This quest for liberation and self-sufficiency is a very healthy, Mormon notion. Ironically, it is a notion that is far too often discredited by the actions of some (not all) in the Mormon community.
Sandra Tanner is one of my favorites. She is a tough one to interview though, because she has done so many interviews that are already out there. I didn’t get much NEW INFORMATION in part I, but look forward to hearing the other installments and seeing where this goes.
I liked how JD told her that her conversion story sounded a lot like other Mormon testimonies and even Joseph Smith’s first vision.
While I am still a member of the LDS church (mainly for family reasons) I still believe in God and the Jesus of the New Testament. This is how I would have answered the hard question about how there are some of the same issues in Christianity as there are in Mormonism:
“In the end, believing in God does require faith, but my beliefs now are very different. Before as a TBM I just believed whatever Mormon leaders taught as from God. Now I question everything and if it doesn’t stand up then I discard it. For example, maybe the Bible sees homosexuality as a sin. However I do not see it that way. I do not judge gays (or anyone) and believe they should have all the right to marry and be happy as I do. I am also not giving 10% of my income to a church. I donate to charities when I feel moved only. I can also critically examin a churches teachings and decide for myself when they are the “teachings of man or from God.” I believe temple rituals are unnecessary and the teachings of man, as is the strict word of wisdom (even tough I still keep it). My journey had changed from doing what a church tells me to do, to developing my own relationship with God, independent of any one church. I recognize there are issues with believing in God, but if I am wrong, in the end I don’t feel like I have lost anything for believing. How does following the teachings of Jesus hurt me even if he never existed or was just an ordinary man? It brings peace and happiness to my life.”
You can sing “PRAISE TO THE MAN,” but I will sing my praises to GOD and let the chips fall where they may…
Sandra and Jarald remind me of Lenin and his wife Nadezhda, and I don’t mean that in a negative way at all.
Sandra and Jared moved from Southern California to have access to the documents stored in the University of Utah library, and to begin their ministry. Then, a few years later, Jerald quit his job as a machinist in order to devote his full attention to the Modern Microfilm Company, which sold copies of early church documents. As a teenager, Sandra sat with her grandmother and did a line-by-line comparison of the Book of Commandments and the Doctrine and Covenants. Jerald, as a young man, drove his old “jalopy” to Independence, Missouri in order to confer with the faithful at the Reorganized, Temple Lot, and other breakaway Mormon sects.
Lenin and his wife, by comparison, spent their honeymoon translating Karl Marx’s writings into Russian. In fact, Nadezhda took up the study of German so that she could read the words of Marx. Nadezhda didn’t seem to mind when Lenin took up a mistress, as she was indeed faithful to the cause–the bigger cause. Talk about dedication!
So, Sandra, if you’re reading this, I’m not accusing you of being a communist. But you and Jarald were indeed true revolutionaries. I admire you for doing that in the pre-internet era, when disseminating unpopular ideas required courage, financial risk, and shoe leather.
I was engaged to an LDS woman in the late 1980s. (I was not LDS at the time.) The Tanners’ book, “The Changing World of Mormonism,” was the key reason I rejected the LDS Church then. I read that book five or six times and remember being astonished that anyone could become or remain LDS.
Ten years later, I converted to Mormonism, and am quite happy now. I finally decided that the Tanners’ work was mostly scientific and rigorous, but that it blundered badly by assuming religion was a scientific enterprise that could be tested and falsified by formal logic and careful scrutiny of historical acts and human mistakes. I don’t accept that as a premise any longer.
Religion to me is more a work of art and a source of inspiration to draw closer to God. The stories of the prodigal son, the Good Samaritan, and the woman caught in adultery are parables that never occurred in real history, but they are the most life-changing parts of Jesus’ teachings, at least to me. It doesn’t matter to me in the least that these stories are not factual history, or even that Jesus was the original source. It’s their ideas that energize me.
Many atheists put all their eggs in one basket and reject religion because religion makes claims about the physical universe that modern science cannot prove, and religious people believe these claims. That’s an awful way to frame the question, and I bet 100 years from now historians will look back at our age and describe it with much exasperation and contempt.
I think “believe” is a metaphor for “choose.” When I say I believe the Book of Mormon and the Bible, I simply mean that I willfully choose to follow its ideas, whatever their origin. As someone else said (I don’t know who), “Don’t tell me what you believe. Show me what you do, and I will tell YOU what you believe.” Bull’s eye.
The LDS church, for all its warts and flaws and 19th-century silliness, calls people to draw closer to Christ’s teachings. I respect the Tanners’ work, but their work is sort of like saying I should reject Einstein’s theory of relativity because Einstein made mistakes (some of them whoppers, by the way) and had moral failings (also some whoppers).
But thanks to John and Sandra for a fascinating interview. Wishing you both peace.
Great thoughts, Dan!
“calls people to draw closer to Christ’s teachings”!!!! Which ward do you go to? They rarely talk about Christ, rarely bare testimony of Christ (a lot more JS prophet, Monson, BoM …) I attended for over 50 years and never heard someone bear testimony of a “relationship with Christ” and rarely heard they believed Christ was the Savior. Mormons also have no idea of being Born Again which Christ said was essential!!! Only one Mormon said he was Born Again in his testimony. Based on my questioning he said it was by definition he was Born Again because he is willing to serve where/whenever called. Believe me being Born Again (based on my and many Christians experience) is definitely not by definition only! God bless you for trying to serve Him —– would be a real shame to not know Him in all your serving!
@ Stormin, Sorry your so upset. Your experience is not my experience. I was taught in the Mormon faith to have a personal relationship with Christ. Jesus Christ is my personal savior. I have been born again. Saved by his grace, not by my works. I am sorry you had a bad experience.
Kinglamoni, I was taught you shouldn’t have a personal relationship with Christ. This new doctrine or policy or teaching or whatever you want to call it really took hold with Bruce R McConkie’s talk in 1982 which rebuked having a personal relationship with Christ.
This is in direct contradiction with a talk Elder Faust gave in 1976 entitled, ‘A personal relationship with the Savior.” If you want to see lengths for which the LDS church goes to change its history, then the link below has a few examples, including this infamous contradiction between Faust and McConkie and the “cover-up” when Faust’s talk was reprinted in the 1999 Ensign.
Can anyone explain to me why none of the LDS chapels display any pictures of Christ?
Not ever ones experience is the same.
@kinglamoni, yeah, but read the article about McConkie’s talk against having a personal relationship with Christ. The leadership may be evolving into a more Chirst centered “Christian” stance now but it doesn’t negate the fact that it is true the leadership was against having a personal relationship with Christ during the ’80s and ’90s
Thanks for the link Lance. I am not saying those things didn’t happen. I am just stating that my experience was different. I felt I did have a personal relationship with Jesus and I was raised in the LDS church. In part my relationship with Christ had something to do with the church, who my parents where, my own personal study of the scriptures and where I served my mission.
I agree with Srormin. In 40 years and 6 different wards, I never heard about being born again. I heard a lot about Joseph Smith and whoever the current prophet was. All I heard about Christ was testimony bearing, “In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen”, and often hurried together from youth, such than you couldn’t hear the Christ part.
In one ward it was expressed that one had to talk with Christ personally, face to face), in order to get to the CK, but those who expressed that were considered “on the edge” doctrinally.
“The LDS church, for all its warts and flaws and 19th-century silliness, calls people to draw closer to Christ’s teachings.”
But only as long as it’s translated correctly right?
I find it interesting when people like Dan explain the mental gymnastics they’ve performed in order to believe.
My disbelief can be circumscribed down into one great whole, that “the LDS church is not what it claims to be.” I don’t need to know the whys and hows, or develop alternate explanations for belief when the official LDS one clearly falls short… enough so that even people like yourself need to “choose” what ideas to keep and what ideas to throw by the wayside.
The official LDS claim has always been that the Book of Mormon and Bible are “factual history.” Knowing they are not discredits the faith plenty enough for me without construing my own religion in my head in order to still “choose” to remain.
Good luck with that.
Hey Dan, I’m atheist and I enjoyed your comments. I hope all my eggs are not in one basket as I do reject the basic premises of religion however embrace enthusiastically those parts of Jesus, the Buddha, and others whose parts are of value to us as a primate just a few chromosomes away from the chimpanzee. I even think aspects of Joseph Smith’s later teachings, especially the nature of God is transfixing, and perhaps the only bridge between prophets and physicists, the idea of given enough time man could become something unimaginable. That makes sense to us all.
We atheists are open to the transcendent, the spiritual, the numinous. We are open to the teachings of Jesus, and actually find great strength in many aspects of His message. I love your comments on choosing to believe and belonging for the edification. We may refer to it as a beautiful humanism, but it doesn’t need to be labeled as long as it contributes to our well being, and we can peaceably live together.
I am a huge believer in the literal historicity of the Book of Mormon and the mission of Joseph Smith, although I am not a member of any of the restoration churches.
During the 30 plus years that I have been intensely studying the LDS restoration movement, I would have to say that the research that Sandra and her beloved husband have done, ranks among the top five resources that have helped me to parse through all of the history and doctrine to arrive where I am. I have countless reprints, articles, books and newsletters from their ministry in my book shelf and I value all of them.
In my opinion, their research ranks up there as a valuable resource, with the church historical library, not in volume of course, but in substance and accessibility.
They have extracted wonderful nuggets of truth, some very painful, about the early and modern LDS church.
I say this to point out that people process information and connect the dots differently. Much of the stuff that Sandra and her husband considered to be proof that the origins of Mormonism were not valid and true, confirmed my belief that a higher intelligence was directing the work.
Although we have arrived at quite different conclusions, Sandra, I want to thank you for the thousands of hours of research that you and Jerald have done. I know you are sincere people that have been seeking the truth and wanting to share it with others. I know that your hearts are good and I am in your debt for the research you have done and shared.
I agree with Sandra that many ‘can’t leave the church & it’s members alone’ because we are so concerned for our family and friend’s eternal welfare, just like the Church can’t leave non-members alone and continually sends missionaries out to convert and save them.
Christ warned us against falling for false prophets and thus losing our eternal life, so for those who believe the LDS Church is lead by false prophets then it’s an act of love to try to awake members to their awful situation of being deceived by the craftiness of the leaders of the Church to support and do evil.
The LDS leaders may draw near to God with their lips but it’s very clear their hearts and works are far from God & Christ.
Joseph Smith was right when he taught that no one ever thinks they
are following a false prophet, they are always sure they are following a true prophet and are righteous, when in fact everyone does fall for false prophets, thinking they are true prophets.
Only the few humble followers of Christ catch themselves and repent and realize how much they have been deceived in the past by false prophets and thus continually question everything and everyone and compare it to what Christ said, before they believe anything or anyone.
Lilly, who really needs to watch out for false prophets is the chosen Israelites. Listed below is a list of the many laws that Yahweh gave that he said would be an everlasting covenant that is to never end. Then these false prophets and teachers came along such as Jesus, Paul and other New Testament writers that attempted change or “fulfill” these laws that Yahweh said would be everlasting. Then these false teachers invented a suffering Messiah in the person of Jesus, luckily most the Hebrews then and now know the their holy scriptures well enough to not be fooled by silly attempts to show there are prophecies of a suffering messiah, Jesus clearly did not fit the bill for the promised Jewish messiah. Then the Christians went even further some centuries after the writing of the New Testament to turn the one true god Yahweh into some sort of triune God of substance that suffers from multiple personality syndrome. The Israelites is who need to be careful of false teachings especially considering how large the Christian movement has become.
Gen 17:7-14 Circumcision is an “everlasting covenant… between me and you and
thy seed after thee.”
Ex 12:14,24 Passover to be kept “throughout your generations… forever.”
Ex 12:17 Feast of unleavened bread “observe… in your generations… forever.”
Ex 27:20,21 “…a statute forever” for Aaron’s descendants to keep a lamp burning from evening to morning in the tabernacle.
Ex 29:9 Aaron’s descendants by “perpetual statute” are to hold the priest’s office, “to serve me as priests forever”.
Ex 29:38 Two lambs to be sacrificed “day by day continually,” “every day for all time to come.”
Ex 30:8 “perpetual incense” to be burned “without interruption for all time to come.
Ex 31:12-17 Sabbath to be kept “throughout your generations,” “for all time to come” as a perpetual covenant,” “permanent sign.” Those who work on the sabbath are to be put to death.
Ex 30:10 Atonement on the altar once a year “throughout your generations,” “every year for all time to come.”
Ex 40:15 Anointing of Aaron’s descendants to be an “everlasting priesthood throughout their generations.” “This anointing will make them priests for all time to come.”
Lev 6:18-22 Offerings by the descendants of Aaron a “statute forever,” “for all time to come.”
Lev 7:36-37 “…a statute for ever throughout their generations” “that the people must obey for all time to come” regarding the law of various offerings.
Lev 10:15 Parts of offerings which belong to the descendants of Aaron “by a statute forever.”
Lev 16:29-34 Day of Atonement to be observed “a statute for ever” “for all time to come.”
Lev 17:7 Not to offer sacrifices to devils is a “statute for ever unto them throughout their generations.”
Lev 21:16-21 No descendants of Aaron “in their generations,” “for all time to come”
with a physical defect are to make an offering.
Lev 22:3 Descendants of Aaron “among your generations,” “for all time to come” if unclean they go near the sacred offerings, they are to be cut off. (Num 19:20, 21)
Lev 23:5-14 Feast of the passover and unleavened bread “to be observed by all your
descendants for all time to come.”
Lev 23:15-22 Harvest festival regulations are to be “a statute for ever in all your dwellings throughout your generations” “for all time to come no matter where
Lev 23:26-32 Regulations for the day of atonement are to be observed as “a statute forever throughout your generations in all your dwellings.” He who works or does not fast is to be cut off from God’s people.
Lev 23:33-44 Regulations for the feat of tabernacles are to be “a statute for ever in your generations,” “to be kept by your descendants for all time to come.”
Lev 24:3 Lamps are to be kept burning in the tabernacle “a statute forever in your generations.” “This regulation is to be observed for all time to come.”
Lev 24:8,9 Children of Israel are to bring bread “every sabbath… continually… an everlasting covenant… a perpetual statute,” “ for all time to come” to be placed on the table before the Lord.
Num 10:8-10 Rules for blowing horns “an ordinance for ever throughout your generations,”
a rule “to be observed for all time to come.”
Num 15:1-31 Rules pertaining to sacrifice “forever in your generations” (v. 15), “for all time to come.” Those who deliberately disobey are to be put to death (v.30).
Nu 15:37-41 Children of Israel are to make fringes on the borders of their garments “throughout all their generations” “for all time to come.”
Nu 18:8-24 Rules of inheritance for priests established “by statute for ever” (v.11, 19, 23), “…a permanent rule that applies also to your descendants.”
Deu 29:29 Children of Israel are to obey the revealed Law “for e
The beginning of the end for me was several years ago we were at my daughter’s house in Utah for Easter. It was Stake Conf. She had an old school visiting also that weekend, who was not religious. At Stake Conf Easter was briefly acknowledged by the person conducting by saying something about today being Easter. That was it; no one talk or speaker commented on the day.
I left, as a true believing Mormon, upset and wondering why we couldn’t celebrate typical Christian holidays like the rest of Christianity did. I wondered what her friend thought, Mormons don’t celebrate Easter?
It took another 2 years until I finally started researching. I had been telling my husband all the things I was learning; finally one night I said, You know, its not true. He couldn’t believe I was saying that because I had always been such a strong believing Mormon.
I agree with Sandra’s opinion of “Anti-Mormon.” Of course the church says that to keep us from research. I told my husband to not pay another cent in tithing until we had decided what we would do.
And I forgot to mention it seems as if the Mormons worship their prophets, not Jesus. We spend every RS/Priesthood discussing one of the prophets (which, by the way, they don’t tell the truth about what they really said or were really like as men). Every four years do they actually get around to learning about Jesus, and that for only the first four books of the New Testament. They had a bigger celebration on Joseph Smith’s 200th birthday and than they do with the birth of Jesus.
I have a lot of respect for Sandra, though I am neither a mormon or a christian in the sense that Sandra is. I do think Jesus is high in the heavens. I really respect Sandra for finding truth and helping people see the errors that mormons are causing. Such as the incredible identifications of the book of mormon not having artifacts in North or South America and after 180 years it should have, serious DNA issue.
I really think that Sandra and her husband were very inspired to delve into the mormon literature and help people see many very serious errors that are vital to whether a person even wants to be in that church or not. Truth needs to come out. I think it should of started to come out when B.H. Roberts told truth about the Book of Mormon etc. But it didn’t sadly!
I wish John would interview various religions that mormons join and why they go into that religion. And why they think it is better or more solid spiritually than their past relationship with mormonism etc.
John has interviewed Shawn McCraney who became a born-again Christian while still in the Church.
I realize this is a 4 year old thread but I just had to speak up regarding Sandra’s use of the “n word” in part 4. Call me the PC Police or whatever, that word is inexcusable and harmful. There needs to be a small warning or flag at the beginning or even a beep over the word.
I was really enjoying Sandra’s spunky spirit and learning of her accomplishments until that moment. There was no hesitation on her part and the word just rolled off her tongue … almost as if—I truly hope not—she uses it often.
I truly do respect what Sandra and Jerald did and have done to expose the history of the Mormon church but I simply cannot understand how she is so pugilistic when it comes to their teachings but so eagerly embraces the teachings of Christianity and rationalizes whatever she deems important in the Bible. Humans are remarkable in their abilities to see and believe what they want to while disregarding what they don’t, even if they are incredibly intelligent and able to seek out and reveal uncomfortable truths.
Comparing the truth of Mormon teachings and Christianity is not, as Sandra said, “apples and oranges.” They are both based on the writings of human men. One is just a lot older and more accepted than the other. This does not mean that one is true and one is false. And basing a belief on feeling is no more valid in one religion than another.
I found myself shouting out loud in the beginning of episode 3. When Sandra (rightly) dismissed Mormons, Muslims, and other religious groups knowing their religion is true by feeling good about it, Dehlin responded “like you and Jerald woth Christianity” I shouted “YES, thank you John!” Then immediately Sandra begins hemming and hawing about how for HER it’s different. That’s when I shouted “O COME ON, LADY, give me a break!”
Does she not see the hypocrisy of that position? That her feelings mean her religion is true but the other people are conned by the feelings they have for her religion?