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