Deeper Waters Podcast 3/10/2018: Corey Miller

What’s coming up? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Imagine driving around your town checking out area churches one day. You go through and you see all kinds. There’s Methodist, Baptist, Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Messianic, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Episcopalian, Nazarene, etc. You go through your town noticing all these many churches.

You also notice another church. It refers to itself as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. This is the Mormon church. Well that’s just another denomination isn’t it? Right? It’s just like all the others. It’s still a church and the differences between it and the other churches would be minor. Right?

Maybe.

Maybe not.

On my next episode, I am going to be discussing Mormonism and doing so covering a book that talks about why four different people who are now scholars left Mormonism. Was it just changing denominations? Is it anything like a Methodist becoming a Baptist or a Protestant becoming a Catholic? Could it actually be something more?

One of the main editors of this book will be joining me. It is possible his co-editor Lynn Wilder, who has been on before, could be joining us as well. My guest is one who left Mormonism and went on to study Christianity seriously. He studied it so seriously he is now president and CEO of a Christian apologetics organization. That organization is Ratio Christi which many of you who do college work know about and that person is Corey Miller and the book is Leaving Mormonism.

So who is he?

According to his bio:

Corey Miller, PhD, is president and CEO of Ratio Christi: Campus Apologetics Alliance (www.ratiochristi.org). He currently teaches philosophy and comparative religions at Indiana University-Kokomo, and has taught at Purdue U, Multnomah University, and Ecola Bible College. He possesses graduate degrees in biblical studies (Multnomah Biblical Seminary), philosophy of religion and ethics (Biola/Talbot School of Theology), and philosophy (Purdue U), as well as a doctorate in philosophical theology from the University of Aberdeen, Scotland. He is co-editor of Is Faith in God Reasonable? Debates in Philosophy, Science, and Rhetoric (Routledge, 2014) and co-author of Leaving Mormonism: Why Four Scholars Changed their Minds (Ratio Christi/Kregel, 2017)

So why would Corey and other scholars leave Mormonism? What’s wrong with it? Would it be seen as the same as leaving another denomination? What do Mormons really believe and should a Christian be concerned about going to a Mormon church? What is it that a Christian should say when they encounter someone who is a Mormon or has them come and knock on their door?

Also, on another note, I want you all to know that we have been praying for help with the sound. My former sound guy did a great job, but he had to move on. It is not a problem of bad blood between us. We are still friends and he was very generous to us. Fortunately, I had someone message me out of the blue yesterday volunteering if I ever needed audio help so that position has been filled. Of course, I still encourage you to be listening and please leave a positive review on iTunes.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Leaving Mormonism

What do I think of Corey Miller and Lynn Wilder’s book published by Kregel publishing? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Leaving Mormonism is a unique work in that four now scholars take a look at Mormonism and why they not only left it, but they came to Christianity. Not all of these people were scholars in the field when they left Mormonism, but they all had a part in it and have now become the scholars. Each one has a chapter about their story and then there is a bonus chapter by Miller and Wilder on why someone should be a Christian theist since many people who abandon Mormonism can abandon theism altogether.

Corey Miller starts out first. His chapter is indeed very philosophical and relies on a lot of the approach one can see from William Lane Craig. There’s a lot of good material in there on the problems also on relying on the inner witness that Mormons speak about. On the other hand, if you’re much more into the Thomist approach and not into the approach from Craig, the other side is good, but not nearly as convincing to you as it could be.

Latayne Scott had the next chapter and this was a fascinating story about being convinced of Mormonism as a child by the missionaries and taking it very seriously. She was a passionate Mormon and then she started dating some guy who wasn’t a Mormon but a Christian and not only that, had read the Book of Mormon before. (Which if you want to evangelize to someone in another religious system, it’s always good to read their holy book.) Normally, I wouldn’t encourage missionary dating, but this time it did work out. Eventually, Scott started seeing problems with Mormonism and those beyond the counter-Mormonism books.

Scott’s story is good and helpful, but after it she goes off into what is a long talk that I really found myself wondering where she was going. There were times also she spoke of a triadic system of reality to show the Trinity, which I did not really get into that part as much. I prefer to always speak of a Trinitarian display instead of a triadic as a triadic system could be polytheistic.

Lynn Wilder had my favorite chapter in the book next, but that could be because of a bias on my part. I’ve known Wilder since her book Unveiling Grace and I got to interview her on my podcast. Wilder’s story in this chapter is a highly abbreviated account of that book and goes into several of the problems in the system of Mormonism and how she has been used to help others get out of Mormonism.

Vince Eccles has the final story. His was different in that he grew up in Mormonism, but a love of science caused him to never really think it was the true path and was a skeptic until becoming a Christian. While some aspects of his chapter are interesting, it doesn’t seem to have as much to do with Mormonism and many times he comes across as if he’s iffy in some ways on major doctrines like the Trinity. I would actually have no problem with anything scientific said in the chapter and there are some good theological insights in it, but I was wondering why much of the material was even there.

Finally, Miller and Wilder come together at the end to give an apologetic for Christian theism. This is an interesting chapter, but if you have read a lot of apologetics material, you won’t find anything new. The chapter is meant to give a basic introduction to the idea. I would have liked to have seen a few more theistic arguments, especially the Thomistic ones, but it was a good one.

I also think I should point out that one problem is every now and then, you would find some typos and grammatical problems in the book. These I think could have been edited out easily. Still, there is a lot of good material and really helps the reader to understand Mormonism and that this isn’t just another form of Christianity.

I would have liked to have seen more on the problems of Mormonism beyond moral ones, such as problems with the Book of Mormon. These show up from time to time, but there is not much investment put to them. It is also pointed out in the book that the internet is causing many to leave Mormonism, but I would have liked to have seen an apologetic for Christianity along those lines since many could say the same about Christianity and as well an idea of what this could mean for the future of the Mormon church.

This is still a very good book and it can be a very gripping one. Chances are you won’t like all the chapters equally, but one account will surely stand out to you. If you want to understand Mormonism and how to reach Mormons, this is a book to get.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Deeper Waters Podcast 11/15/2014: Lynn Wilder

What’s coming up on this Saturday’s episode of the Deeper Waters Podcast? Let’s dive into the Deeper Waters and find out!

Many of us have encountered Mormons. They’re those nice people with the white shirts, black ties, and name badges that identify themselves as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. We often might see them as odd but not as non-Christians. This is such that even Glenn Beck’s material is carried in Christian book stores. But is this group really teaching the Jesus of the Bible?

My guest this week says no, and she’s in a position to know. She lived several years in the Mormon culture even having a position at BYU and her life changed forever when her son sent him a message while out on his mission one day. Who is she? She’s Lynn Wilder and she’s the author of Unveiling Grace which has a film out now as well and a web site. I have also reviewed Unveiling Grace here.

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Lynn’s story has already attracted national attention. She has been interviewed on the 700 Club. She has had stories shared in the Christian Post as well as Christianity Today. She’s done interviews for Janet Parshall, Michael Brown, a couple on Dove TV, plus interviews on the John Ankerberg show. She’s got several written testimonies about her and is the author of another book on seven reasons why she and her family left Mormonism.

My introduction to the work of Lynn came when I heard her on Unbelievable? I wasn’t sure what to expect and was for some reason I do not recall, somewhat skeptical. I was until I heard Lynn speak and realized this lady knew Mormonism backwards and forwards and she knew what to say to show that it does not line up with the message of Jesus. I was immediately in touch trying to get her on my show. (We had planned for earlier this year, but her father passed away and she had to cancel.)

I’ve also found Lynn to be a good friend as well with her being willing to talk on the phone with us when we’ve had a situation that we thought she could help with, and she did indeed help. Lynn is a scholar with her heart in the right place, something that is lacking in many, and in fact, to be personal, something I seek to improve on myself constantly.

Her book is the best book I have read on Mormonism as it gives you an inside-out view and as you read about her family in the book, you come to really know them as people and really learn to empathize with them, which is something rare for me to have happen being an aspie who just isn’t that good at empathy.

I’m excited to have Lynn Wilder be my guest this Saturday on the Deeper Waters Podcast and to let you all know about something else coming, next week, a band with some of her sons in it, Adam’s Road will be our guests so you’re going to get part one of a story this week and the rest next week. I hope you’ll be listening!

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Unveiling Grace

What do I think of Lynn Wilder’s book? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

UnveilingGrace

My first hearing of Lynn Wilder came with her appearance on the Unbelievable? show with Justin Brierley. Sometimes apologetics is a hit and a miss. There are people who do great, people who do so-so, and people who are just embarrassments to the cause. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I heard Lynn Wilder was an ex-Mormon who would be speaking about coming out.

After hearing her, I was convinced that that she belongs without a doubt in the first category. That led to my getting a copy of her book. (And thanks to Justin Brierley for supplying one) Unveiling Grace is her account of how she and her family got started in Mormonism and how they escaped.

The book is entirely gripping. As readers know, I am an Aspie and that makes it difficult for me to connect with people on an emotional level, but I was somehow able to with the family presented in this book. I started knowing them and as Wilder would write about one kid I’d be thinking “Okay. What about this one?” or “Oh. Talking to that person? I know where this is going!”

The book begins with her talking about her son Micah going on a mission and one night, she gets a phone call and Micah says “It’s over.” There is a sense of finality and if you don’t know the story, you’re left wondering what exactly is going on.

She takes an interesting turn at this point. Picture it like an episode of a TV show where they show you a dramatic event and then they give a flashback so you can see what led up to that point. As in most cases, most of the episode is a flash back and a lengthy portion of the book is just that.

This flashback is incredibly helpful. Wilder shows you how she and her husband got caught in Mormonism and gives an insider look from her perspective as a former BYU professor on how the Mormon world operates. Readers wanting to know about Mormonism will have their eyes opened by reading this book.

Wilder also refers regularly throughout the book to the Dancer of Grace. This is the term she uses to refer to God being at work in her life in various places to protect her and this even includes when she was in Mormonism and how some events took place that seemed strange at the time, but later on were used for the glory of God.

The book chronicles how her doubt began and the key to freeing her from Mormonism was quite simple. Read the New Testament. As she read it, she came to see more and more the conflict between Mormonism and Christianity. When she looked at the Bible without Mormon glasses she saw the Jesus of Scripture shine through and saw the incredible contrast with Mormonism and the Mormon culture around her.

The story also ends happily as she talks about how all of her family escaped and what happened with her four children. Many of them are involved with a musical band today they formed called “Adam’s Road.” They have even gone throughout Utah performing and sharing the true Gospel.

Some points to learn from the book.

First, there is a price to Biblical ignorance and if the church doesn’t learn this soon, the church will be paying that price. What could have prevented the Wilders from getting caught in Mormonism? Biblical knowledge could have. Wilder regularly states that at the time, she did not know enough about the Bible to recognize a counterfeit.

Second, grace is something absolutely essential to talk about with Mormons. Wilder shows in her work the lack of grace that exists in the Mormon community. There are many indications that sin is a problem for the Mormons, but the problem should never be greater than the solution is.

Third, knowledge of the New Testament as it is has a powerful effect on the Mormons. After seeing the focus of the New Testament, Wilder’s family started talking less and less about Joseph Smith and more and more about Jesus Christ.

Also, Wilder is very careful I find about experiences. While she talks about dreams that seemed to be revelatory to her, at one point on page 321 she says that maybe it wasn’t the Holy Spirit causing her experiences. This is an excellent point! Of course the Spirit can cause us to dream dreams if He wants to, but too often we are prone to see every “spiritual” experience as coming from God if it produces some positive result.

Wilder is quite right to say that those could be from God, but they could just be dreams as well, but even if they are just dreams, they are dreams that are still used by God for His glory. Ultimately, I find in most cases we will never know for sure, and if we keep assuming that they are from God, we give divine authority to something that might not deserve it. This is in fact what Mormons do with the burning in the bosom.

Without a doubt, to date, this is the best book on Mormonism that I have ever read. Wilder’s still is engaging and one that will draw you in. She brings her story vividly to life letting you get to really know the family that she presents. Fortunately also, this story does end with a happy ending. If you want to understand Mormonism and learn how Mormons see the world and ways to witness to Mormons, get this book. You’ll be glad you did.

In Christ,
Nick Peters