Mormonism Revisited – Program 4
|By: Ed Decker; ©1984|
|What is it like for a Mormon who feels he is not living up to the standard the Mormon God demands?|
Blessings and Cursings
Tonight on The John Ankerberg Show we will compare the truth claims of Mormonism with the truth claims of Orthodox Christianity. The claims of each are different. Mormons believe there are many gods, Christians believe there is just one. Mormons believe men can become gods; Christians do not. Christians believe only the Bible is God’s Word. Mormons believe there are other books besides the Bible that are divinely inspired. Mormons believe Joseph Smith is a prophet of God. Christians deny this.
Tonight, we are revisiting Mormonism, as four years ago we interviewed Mormon representatives. A year later, we interviewed the great-great-granddaughter of Brigham Young who left the Mormon Church. For tonight’s program, we invited both Mormons and former Mormons to come and present their views. A formal letter was sent to the head of communications of the Mormon Church and a personal invitation was extended to Dr. Wilford Griggs and Dr. Hugh Nibley, two of the leading scholars in Mormonism. At first, Drs. Griggs and Nibley said they would come, but later they cancelled and declined our invitation to speak to you tonight. But via excerpts from the documentary film, The God Makers, you will hear Mormon leaders present their beliefs. You will also meet Mr. Ed Decker, a man who for 20 years was a Temple Mormon and whose son is currently a Mormon missionary. We will ask Mr. Decker why he changed his mind concerning Mormonism after 20 years. Both Mormons and Christians are hard working, highly respected people. Both are sincere and dedicated in the practice of their beliefs. Our purpose during this series is not to question anyone’s sincerity. Rather, we will attempt to examine the evidence for the religious truth claim being made for purposes of comparison and knowledge. Ultimately, only you can decide which position is true. We invite you to join us.
- Ankerberg: Welcome. Our guest is Mr. Ed Decker, and he was a Temple Mormon, a Mormon in theology for 20 years. He has been telling us about his experiences. Ed, as you look back on those years as being a Mormon, what is probably the most outstanding thing that comes to your mind?
- Decker: I guess the most outstanding thing is that the people in Mormonism are beautiful people; that they have a real zeal for God. They love God and they want to do everything they can to be not only for our God, but to actually become gods themselves. They are not evil people trying to lead you astray. They are spiritually blind. In 2 Corinthians 4 it says that if the gospel be hid, it is hid by the god of this world. [2 Cor. 4:3-4] And that’s the god of this world that we find in the Mormon Temple. Lucifer has actually blinded them to the truth. The Scriptures in Matthew 23:39 says that “I will turn my face from you until you say, ‘Blessed is He that comes in the name of the Lord.’” And so our attitudes have got to be brokenhearted attitudes. We have got to realize that Mormons are real people striving to be what God wants them to be. Their hearts are right but they are being misled. It says in Isaiah 9:16 that the leaders of them shall cause them to err. And those that are led of them are destroyed.
- Ankerberg: You’ve been involved in a film called The God Makers. You opened it in Salt Lake City. And we are showing excerpts of that film. We have for the last few weeks. It’s a documentary on Mormonism. And we are coming to the end of it, and it has to do with the personal stories of people that you have come in contact with and you have a large file on many, many such people and stories as we are going to hear.
- Decker: We have more than you can count.
- Ankerberg: Alright, let’s take a look at the film.
[Excerpt from The God Maker]
- Narrator: Dr. John L. Smith, author and expert on the vast wealth of the Mormon Church:
- Smith: The Mormon Church is the second largest financial institution west of the Mississippi River.
- Narrator: The Mormon Church wields economic power more effectively than any other organized religion in the world. They own the $2.6 billion Beneficial Life Insurance Company, the Deseret Management and Trust Corporation, hospitals, schools, apartment buildings, farms. They are a major stockholder in the LA Times. They own TV and radio stations, the ZCMI Department Store chain. They have vast land holdings with ownerships in all 50 American states, throughout Canada and Europe and on every continent. Two-thirds of their properties are tax-exempt. Billions of dollars are extracted from church members each year through their mandatory tithing program.
- Smith: It is very difficult to tell what the Mormon Church actually owns. Someone has said that even the president of the Mormon Church may not know because they might have bought something yesterday or sold something today.
- Decker: Mormons own a substantial portion of Hawaii. They own the major financial institutions of this area.
- Man’s Voice: When you go to the Polynesian Culture Center, they offer you a tour over to their Temple, and next to the Salt Lake Temple the Hawaiian Temple receives the second largest number of visitors. They give you a film presentation of the Mormon Church and have you sign in and then that name and address is forwarded to a missionary in the area that they are from. And soon after you return home from your visit to the Temple in Hawaii, you will receive a knock from the Mormon missionary asking you how you enjoyed your visit to the Temple; and would you like to know more about the church, using it as a way to get in, to share with people the doctrine of Mormonism.
- Narrator: The Mormons have many other ways of recruiting members: through door-to-door missionaries, visitor centers, through the thousands of church sponsored Boy Scout troops and educational institutions, and through the Mormon controlled Marriott Hotel chain which places Mormon literature in every room. And for all its talk of building an ideal society, Utah, which is 75 percent Mormon, leads the nation in bankruptcy and stock fraud and ranks among the highest in divorce, suicide, child abuse, teenage pregnancy, venereal disease and bigamy.
- Tanner: There are many people in the Mormon Church that are having trouble believing it. Many that are in it don’t really believe it at all.
- Man’s Voice: My son realized after about five or six months that he had made a mistake in joining the Mormon Church and one of the main things that made him realize that was the ridiculousness of the idea that the Mormons teach that you can become a god.
- Woman’s Voice: I remember going in to talk to the bishop just shortly before I decided to leave the church and I asked him, “Bishop, where is the love in this church?” And I sat with tears running down my eyes asking him, “I don’t feel loved. We hear all of these things about love and how we are taking care of everybody and Family Home Evening and all of that, but where is the love? Why don’t I feel love?” And he just sat there looking at me like he didn’t have a bit of feeling.
- Tanner: Mormonism undercuts the Bible; it undercuts all the other churches so that the Mormon that starts to lose faith in Mormonism will usually feel there is nothing out there to look into.
- Woman’s Voice: I, in fact, believed that if the Mormon Church wasn’t true, there was no true church. I had one of those burning testimonies of the Mormon Church.
- Woman’s Voice: When I was growing up, all through the years of my childhood, my sisters and my brother and I were all best of friends and had a beautiful relationship. Since I have come out of the Mormon Church, my sisters and I have had no relationship at all. One of the rules in the Mormon Church is that if you want to go to the Temple, you can’t associate with apostate members. And that’s what they call me.
- Young Teen’s Voice: After I left the Church, things weren’t the same with my friends. A lot of my friends wouldn’t talk to me.
- Mother’s Voice: Now even though I had left the Church on my own free will, because I knew it was no longer true, you are excommunicated in the Mormon Church and that excommunication is a dirty term.
- Man’s Voice: With a few rare exceptions, almost all of our Mormon friends just really wanted to have nothing to do with us.
- Young Woman’s Voice: I was totally alienated. My boyfriend that I had all the years at BYU just would have nothing to do with me. He was preparing for his mission. He wouldn’t talk to me. He just said flat out, “You know, you are not going to the Temple with me so that’s it.” My friends were told not to have anything to do with me.
- Mother’s Voice: These two kids of ours were on campus at the local college and they would bring some Mormon kids over to talk to me and somebody there at the institute told them we had been excommunicated for adultery. And that is the biggest lie there ever was.
- Tanner: In Utah it’s very hard for someone to leave the church and make it public. There is, first of all, the threat for your job. You may have a Mormon employer and this could seriously threaten your work position. Many of the people I see work for the Church itself and are afraid of losing their position. Some are afraid of divorce. I know people in high positions that do not believe Mormonism. I’ve talked to a Mormon bishop that told me he didn’t believe Mormonism at all.
- Ankerberg: There came a time, Ed, when you were a Mormon, married in the Temple. You had gone through all the rites. You had gone about as high as a Mormon could go, and you found yourself in that position. What was it like?
- Decker: Well, for me it was a double tragedy. I have to come back into a little bit of my own testimony of finding Christ, because it came at a time when we had a son who was born with a congenital deformity. I am the father of eight kids and that’s another thing we Mormons are well known for. And this was my third son. When Jason was born, I remember going into the delivery room and someone said, “What do you want, a boy or a girl?” And I said, “It doesn’t matter. I have got lots of all of them and just as long as he is healthy.” But he was born with serious problems. He was born without ears and ear canals, for example, as a problem.
- Ankerberg: Now, theologically, as a Mormon, why was that devastating?
- Decker: It was devastating to me because I was taught that the Mormon god will bless you when you are righteous and he will curse you unto the third and fourth generation if you are not righteous. And no man is righteous. I’ve got news for you, there isn’t a Mormon alive who believes he’s really righteous. And so when this happened to me, what happened was that I said, “Oh, God, I am not righteous enough and you have caused this to come down upon my son for my failure to be righteous enough.” And any Mormon who doubts that’s a doctrine, go read the doctrine. It is in Bruce R. McConkie’s book Mormon Doctrine. It’s under the section called “Cursing.” The Mormon god is a god of cursing and blessing, and this I received as a curse.
- I went home and sat on my family room floor all night shaking my fist at God and cursing him. I went back to the hospital the next morning and I said to my wife, I said, “I don’t know why God did this to us.” And she said, “Well, I praise the Lord.” And that was alien to me: “Praise the Lord” is not in our vocabulary. While I was home beating the floor and cursing God, Christians had gone up to my wife and talked to her about the love of Jesus and shared Jesus and she became a born again Christian. But I didn’t even know what her experience was. I couldn’t relate to it. She was walking around smiling all the time. I was down in the dumps.
- And then we made arrangements for a babysitter for my new son while my wife went back to her profession and what I didn’t realize was that the babysitter was the daughter-in-law of a pastor of a small non-denominational church in our neighborhood. And while we were at work, they were going over and laying hands on my son, believing that God was going to do a healing. And God healed him, gave him hearing without ears to hear; gave him a life of victory. Today my son is nine years old and God has given him an ear canal on one side, and he wears a hearing aid on that side, and now he is growing an ear on that side and I talked to my son the other day about having an operation, maybe having an ear built by plastic surgery. And he said, “Dad, I just want to be the way Jesus made me.” You see, God is doing miracles all the time.
- Ankerberg: What did you think when you found that out?
- Decker: I was mad.
- Ankerberg: Why were you mad?
- Decker: Well, first off I was upset at my wife and her friends. They were always walking around smiling and whispering and laughing and I would go home and try to get my wife mad. You know? I would just say, “Where’s my dinner! What are you doing! Get out of my house! I don’t want you in my house, you people! What are you doing in here!” And they would say, “It’s okay. Jesus loves you.” And I couldn’t get them mad. Though my wife went through this new experience and she had an inner joy and inner peace that I never understood. And then finally, one day we came out of a fast and testimony meeting. She had us every now and then going to this little Christian church. I mean, what a battle that was. And I could take two of your programs up on just that. But one day we came out of the Mormon fast and testimony meeting….
- Ankerberg: The Mormon meeting now?
- Decker: The Mormon meeting. And my wife turned to me and she said, “Ed, something is missing there. Can’t you see it?” And I said, “Everything is great. I like it.”
- Ankerberg: What did you do at those meetings?
- Decker: We got up and we would say, “I testify that Joseph Smith is a prophet of God, the Book of Mormon is the Word of God, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the only true church, that, you know, Spencer W. Kimball is a prophet of God.” I would talk about the welfare program, the priesthood meetings and those kinds of things. We would give testimony reinforcing our “burning in the bosom” position.
- Ankerberg: What would the next guy say?
- Decker: He would say the same thing.
- Ankerberg: So they all said the same thing?
- Decker: Pretty much. The core of it would be always the same thing.
- Ankerberg: And you came out of that.
- Decker: I came out of that and Carol said, “I don’t understand how you can go to that meeting and not see what is missing here.” And I said, “Nothing is missing here. It was fine. A couple of people even cried.” And she said, “Ed, nobody mentioned Jesus.” And it was like a knife stuck me in the middle of my forehead.
- Ankerberg: Is that true?
- Decker: That was true. Yes.
- Ankerberg: Nobody mentioned Jesus in their testimony?
- Decker: Well, they did. “I say this in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.” Boom! You know. But I knew I was in trouble with God and I went home that day and I struggled all afternoon. I stayed alone in the bedroom and I didn’t want to talk to her at all. And she said, “Ed, go to church with me tonight.” I said, “I don’t want to.” Boy, I know I didn’t want to. We went to church and they had Christian communion that night. And the people were getting up and talking about Jesus like they knew Him and I was looking around. I had been mocking these people; laughing at them and saying, you know, “They are religious fanatics.” And I was looking in their eyes and I knew. I knew that they knew Jesus. I knew that they had a relationship with God that I could never attain to. That their relationship to God wasn’t the Temple and it wasn’t a prophet, it was God lived in them! And then the next thing I knew, I had Gentile communion in my hand.
- Ankerberg: Why do you call it Gentile communion?
- Decker: Everything that is not Mormon is “Gentile.” Utah is the only place where the Jew is called a “Gentile.” I mean, if it’s not Mormon, it’s “Gentile.” So I had this Gentile communion in my hand and I looked at my wife and said, “What am I supposed to do with this?” She said, “You just take it.” I said, “This is Gentile communion. Are you crazy?” And she said, “Just take it.” And I said, “I can’t.” She said, “Look, do you want Jesus to be Lord of your life?” And I said, “I don’t know what I want.” She said, “Well, just close your mouth, be quiet, and take the communion.” I took the bread, but as I lifted up that red juice that was in that cup, and I look at it and I had been listening to this pastor preaching about Calvary and the shed blood and that Jesus was our sin offering for my sin….
- Ankerberg: Which you hadn’t heard before.
- Decker: Which I hadn’t heard before in the Mormons. And I taught doctrine in the Mormon Church. Suddenly, I knew that if I died, I was going to go to hell and I had to get on my face before God that night when they had the altar call and pray. And I pray that every Mormon listening tonight, today, wherever you are and listening to this program, I pray that you pray with me the same kind of prayer. You say, “Oh, God, if you are the Jesus that they are talking about, if you are the Jesus that my wife is trying to tell me about, if you are the Jesus that these people are saying died on Calvary for me and shed His blood at Calvary for me, then I confess that I am a sinner. I give up. I come to your altar and I confess not only the sin of my nature and my flesh, but the sin of self-exaltation. And I ask you to forgive me and I ask you to come into my life and set me free. Be Savior of my life. But more than that, be Lord of my life and take me and break me down to the clay that I once was and build me back to be a vessel to hold your living water. To be what you want me to be, not what these people want me to be, not what the bishop wants me to be or the prophet wants me to be, but oh, God, what you want me to be.”
- Ankerberg: Okay, Ed, and what we want to do is we want the folks to hang on to what you are saying right now, because there are other folks that have said something like that from different circumstances in the Mormon Church themselves. And we want to look at this in the film and then come right back to it. Let’s take a look at the film.
[Excerpt from The God Maker]
- Man’s Voice: Recently a Mormon family that we know, even the husband, began asking questions. He called one night and he said, “I know what you’re saying now is true. There is no doubt in my mind. I can’t punch any holes in it.” But he said, “I am scared to death I am going to lose my wife and my children and my business, because when I make this known, what I have discovered, I will lose it all.”
- Tanner: The motivation for many of them is that Mormonism is a nice place to raise your family. It is the easy road. If you are already here and you are already in it, then why upset things?
- Young Woman’s Voice: The biggest danger was that they took me in and I was thinking it was as Christian church. And it wasn’t a Christian church, it was as cult.
- Man’s Voice: Instead of going back to one of the standard works of the church, I went to the Bible and I started reading and made up my mind I was going to go from cover to cover. And in the second chapter of Genesis, I studied how Eve was convinced by Satan to eat the fruit, that she could become a god. And then in the 14th chapter of Isaiah, Lucifer was cast out of Heaven because he, too, wanted to be equal to or greater than God.
- Woman’s Voice: I began studying the Bible, became aware of the real Jesus, the real God, and began to understand that the god of Mormonism was not the God of the Bible.
- Woman’s Voice: We lived the word of wisdom. We attended our meetings. We paid our tithing. We had Family Home Evening. We did all those things we were supposed to do. And when I became a Christian, I suddenly was not the good person I thought I was, because God revealed to us our inner pride, our inner problems, the things that had not been in focus before because we were so concerned in the outward things. We were so happy with the outward things we were doing, that made us rest thinking we were okay.
- Woman’s Voice: I remembered that I should ask Jesus into my heart. I remembered hearing my Christian friends say that. So I got down on my knees one day, when I was all alone, and asked Jesus to come into my heart. I didn’t know what I was doing, but when I got up, I had been born again. I found out that Jesus was the way, the truth, and the life—not an organization.
- Young Woman’s Voice: I had been looking all my life for something in the Mormon Church and I couldn’t put my finger on what I was looking for. Now, when my mom accepted Christ in her life, she shared it with me. I saw a joy in her life that I had never seen before in all her activity in the Mormon Church. And this is what I needed.
- Man’s Voice: I feel very grateful to God that our whole family, my wife and myself and seven lovely children, have come out of the Mormon Church and know Jesus Christ in a very personal way.
- Ankerberg: Ed, we have through the weeks looked at the archaeological evidence. We have looked at the scriptural evidence. We have look at some of the things that the Mormon Church teaches. We have heard you talk about how you have gone through the Mormon Temple. We were shocked to find out what you were taught. Yet, you still kept on going. And then one day you came to know Jesus, the God of the Bible. I know there are some people out there probably just as mad as all get-out at us tonight for doing this program. We have to take that. We don’t do it to hurt people, but the Mormon Church and the Book of Mormon says that we are part of the….
- Decker: Great whore of Babylon.
- Ankerberg: …the great whore of Babylon. We are the ones that are dead wrong. They are the only ones that are right. So as Christians, out of love, we say the evidence doesn’t support that conclusion. But beyond that, there is good news that they have never heard, that Christ can actually change their life from the inside out, not from the outside in. And what would be the bottom line for folks that are saying, “Okay, I am open. What do I need to do? I am confused. I am desperate.” We have lots of people that call us like that and they are Mormons. They are on the fence. They have heard these things. They started to think about these things. All these folks that have left the Temple, folks that have been approached and learned some of these doctrines so they can’t believe it at all, what would you have them do?
- Decker: First off, you have got to know who your God is. And we are not talking about different views of God, but we are talking about views of different gods and that is the sad part of it. That’s the sad tragedy.
- I don’t know what I would say would be my favorite Scripture, but when it says in Romans 5:8, “But God commendeth His love toward us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” And we are also told that the “wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through our Lord Jesus Christ.” [Rom. 6:23] It is a free gift. And I have to go to 1 John 5:11, “And this is the record, that God hath given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.”
- It isn’t in going to the veil and standing there thinking that God is a six foot, blond, Norwegian type male with physical attributes that I can go up to and I can put my foot to his foot, and my knee to his knee and I speak into his ear, “Health in the navel, marrow in the bones, strength in the loins and sinew.”
- It said that Jesus Christ is our sin offering. He went behind the veil once and for all and that we have access to the holiest of holies through Christ. That is the only way. When He was on the cross of Calvary—that thing that we won’t allow in the Mormon Churches, that thing that we can’t talk about in Mormonism—but it was at the cross of Calvary when He said, “It is finished.” [John 19:30] The first thing that happened was that the veil was rent and the holiest of holy became available to us, as it says in Hebrews, “Through His broken body.”
- And so I say to you tonight, today, wherever you are, whatever circumstance you are doing, stop right now, Mormon friend, and just think on these things and pray. Pray to the great God of all the world, of all the universe, and come before Him and say, “Oh, God, I am a sinner. I have set myself up even as Lucifer has set himself up. I have leaned upon the strength and the power of our own mighty men, the same sin of Israel. And I have placed myself in the Savior’s place.” You Mormon husbands, you believe that the only way your wife is going to come out of the grave is if you call her forth by her secret name on the morning of the first resurrection. Jesus is Lord. Jesus is Christ. We are not saviors and we are not going to become gods. And I ask you to pray with us right now.
- Ankerberg: Let’s have a prayer together. Would you pray, and if folks out there that have not accepted Christ, if they would like to, if they would like to know God personally, they can repeat after you. Would you pray for us, Ed?
- Decker: Oh, Lord God, we just come before you right now as sinners, tied to the flesh and our sins. And without you there is no way to pay the price and the penalty for that sin. We confess that we are sinners and we ask you to forgive our sins right now. All of them, each of them. We lay them at your altar right now, oh, God. And, oh, Lord, come in and be Lord of my life. Come in and be Savior of my life and set me free. Bring me into the new birth. Let me stand up from this prayer right now and let me be set free from all those dark things that have held me down. I renounce these vows I have sworn in the Temple. I break these multi-generational vows that my parents or my grandparents swore about me in the Mormon Temple. I break them right now and I confess they are not of God but of Lucifer. And I stand, set free by the power of God through His Son, Jesus Christ, according to His holy Word. In Jesus’ holy name. Amen.”
- Ankerberg: Amen.