Book Plunge: The God Virus Part 2

What does Ray think about religion in America? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

This chapter spends a lot of time talking about American Civil Religion. The problem is, Ray never defines it. Now it could be that I am supposed to know what that is, but I honestly don’t. If anyone else doesn’t know, they will be at a loss to wonder what Ray is talking about and it is his job to define it.

He starts off talking some about the history of religions and mentions how Judaism was affected by Zoroastrianism. Unfortunately, we don’t have any writings from Zoroastrianism at the time. Also, even a skeptical scholar like Bart Ehrman is skeptical of this.

More recently scholars have questioned a Persian derivation for the Jewish doctrine because of certain problems of dating.1 Some experts have undercut the entire thesis by pointing out that we actually do not have any Zoroastrian texts that support the idea of resurrection prior to its appearance in early Jewish writings. It is not clear who influenced whom. Even more significant, the timing does not make sense: Judah emerged from Persian rule in the fourth century BCE, when Alexander the Great (356–323 BCE) swept through the eastern Mediterranean and defeated the Persian Empire. But the idea of bodily resurrection does not appear in Jewish texts for well over a century after that. (Heaven and Hell. P. 104-105.

In talking about America next, Ray goes on to quote John Adams. “The government of the United States is in no sense founded on the Christian religion.” Well, I guess that settles it. Adams was the second president so surely he would know. Wait. What’s that? There’s no source for the quote. Hmmm. I wonder what would happen if we looked it up….

Well, good luck to Ray if he can find it. The closest is in the Treaty of Tripoli. Even skeptical atheists recommend that this not be used as an argument. See more information on that here.

Thomas Essel says you could take one quote from Adams and ignore all the others and easily make a doctrine. Let’s suppose I made one from another Adams quote.

“[T]he safety and prosperity of nations ultimately and essentially depend on the protection and the blessing of Almighty God, and the national acknowledgment of this truth is not only an indispensable duty which the people owe to Him, but a duty whose natural influence is favorable to the promotion of that morality and piety without which social happiness can not [sic] exist nor the blessings of a free government be enjoyed.”

Also, little difference with me and Ray. I can tell you where that quote is from.

Okay, well what about James Madison?

“What have been Christianity’s fruits? More or less in all places, pride and indolence in the clergy, ignorance and servility in the laity; in both, superstition, bigotry, and persecution.”

Again, this sounds really impressive, until you ask this person who goes on and on about evidence what his source is. It’s a good question, and sadly, Ray doesn’t give it. Some of us who actually do care about evidence looked it up.

As you can see here, Madison isn’t talking about Christianity. He’s talking about the marrying of Christianity to the state. He doesn’t want to see it, and rightly so. Both get damaged by that because both institutions use human beings who have a tendency to use both wrongly. Madison is not making an anti-Christian statement.

One has to ask how Ray got these quotes. Apparently, he got them and never bothered to look them up to make sure he was using them rightly or else they wouldn’t be in the book. I want to give him the benefit of the doubt that he did this without knowing the context. If he did it knowing the context doesn’t show it, then that is just plain immoral on his part.

Now for something incredible here. I’m actually doing to defend Mormonism from a misrepresentation. You all should know by now I care enough about truth that I don’t even want my opponents misrepresented. I am no fan of Mormonism. It is a false religion, though it is one that is fun to study. Ray though is shocked that Mormons and evangelicals can work closely together on social issues. He says even a cursory reading of the Book of Mormon will show you beliefs such as sacred underwear to people becoming gods of their own planets to Native Americans being from the diaspora to Joseph Smith as the last prophet.

Well, not exactly. The doctrine of eternal progression with people becoming gods wasn’t revealed until the 1844 King Follett Discourse of Joseph Smith. You’ll find beliefs like that more in the Doctrines and Covenants. The Book of Mormon is actually quite monotheistic. I also don’t think there’s any mention of sacred underwear in there. Mormons would also not say Joseph Smith is the last prophet since every Mormon president is said to be a prophet.

Finally, let’s look at verses which Ray says shows Christians shouldn’t be interested in ecomonic progress.

Luke 12:33 is about selling all that you have and giving to the poor for the Kingdom of Heaven. Ray still in his fundamentalist mindset reads this as if the apostles were to get naked and sell their clothes right there. (And then when the poor got everything, were they to do likewise?) Jewish teachers often spoke in hyperbole to make a point, this one about generosity.

In Mark 10:25, Jesus says it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God. This is because many rich people at the time were tied to their money and didn’t want to part from it. Their wealth came first. The problem isn’t the wealth, but the person.

Finally, 1 Tim. 6:10 is the well-known verse about the love of money being the root of all evil, except it doesn’t say that. The verse really says the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. Many great crimes are done even today and money is not a motive.

This chapter was thoroughly disappointing due to Ray’s lack of citing sources and doing fact-checking. It doesn’t help your case to say you’re evidence based and then don’t bother to do a basic search like that. Too many of Ray’s readers who think they are people of evidence will believe him as blindly as Christians often believe their pastors, and actually Ray blindly believed some source on this too. Let’s be better than that.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Deeper Waters Podcast 6/20/2020

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

Mormonism is a strange religious movement. While there are noted differences between it and Christianity, even those of us who know it is not Christian have some difficulties from it. Namely, there are many skeptics who like to point out supposed parallels between Christianity and Mormonism. Why is it you believe the former and not the latter? Isn’t that special pleading?

We wouldn’t want to be doing that would we? Paul claims to see Jesus appear on the Damascus Road. Joseph Smith claims to see the Father and the Son in a heavenly vision. 500 people are said to have seen the risen Jesus at one time. Several people also saw the golden plates of Joseph Smith didn’t they? Shouldn’t we be consistent? Shouldn’t we either accept both or reject both?

It’s really sad that this is a neglected area of apologetics. We have two accounts of claims of seeing something and both of them are foundational to the religion. No one has really done an in-depth look at both of these accounts as far as I know.

Until now.

Thankfully, someone stepped up to the plate and wrote an excellent book on the topic. I’ll be discussing with him this Saturday about it. I sometimes think of him as one of the best apologists you’ve never heard of. Some of you have, of course, but to many people, he’s not as well-known which is a shame. I find all of his material to be excellent. His name is Rob Bowman and he’ll be joining me Saturday.

So who is he?

According to his bio:

Robert M. Bowman Jr. is the president of Faith Thinkers, a Christian apologetics ministry (www.FaithThinkers.org/). He holds MA and PhD degrees in biblical studies from Fuller Theological Seminary and South African Theological Seminary. Rob has taught undergraduate and graduate students at Biola University, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, Southern Evangelical Seminary, and elsewhere. He is the author of some 60 periodical articles and the author or co-author of 15 books including Putting Jesus in His Place: The Case for the Deity of Christ (with J. Ed Komoszewski), Faith Thinkers: 30 Christian Apologists You Should Know, and Jesus’ Resurrection and Joseph’s Visions: Examining the Foundations of Christianity and Mormonism.

I hope you’ll be joining us this Saturday. We are again working on getting the shows done and uploaded. There has been a lot going on and I personally apologize for that.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Rough Stone Rolling

What do I think of Richard Lyman Bushman’s book published by Knopf? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Mormonism is certainly a fascinating movement to look at. It’s got a founder who had a reputation even in his time of being a con-man and grew up to knowingly have multiple wives and yet establish what is seen as a branch of Christianity if not a restoration of the ancient faith by millions of people. Today, the Mormon Church has at least 15,000,000 members.

It all started with Joseph Smith. This account of Joseph Smith is written by a Mormon. Still, I went through it thinking that this is important information that I wish more Mormons would read. Some of the problems that many missionaries try to deny are there stated. Joseph had multiple wives. He really did hold to divine exaltation. He was involved with the Masons. He did have an army of sorts called the Danites.

The story begins not with Smith but with his family. Bushman looks at who Smith’s parents were and how they got where they were. The story seems to start off slow as it seems to take awhile to get to the story of the plates and their translation. I do note that there isn’t much interaction with the problem of the date of the first vision in comparison to the revival in the area.

From here on there is a thoroughly detailed look at the life of this man. At some times, I could actually have sympathy for Joseph. Particularly at the start when I read about a leg injury he had as a boy.

A benefit though for this one is that though Bushman is, as I said, a Mormon, this book is not glowing with praise of Smith. There is some of that there, but it does not stand out. Bushman is trying to be as impartial as he can be.

Those who are not familiar with the history of Mormonism will see a lot more of how it was interacting with the culture of the time. These interactions were not just religious ones, but they were also political in nature. While our country may uphold separation of church and state, and properly understood I support that, there is a sense in which it is also unavoidable. There will always be interaction between the church and the state.

If anyone is left being someone I have great sympathy for in this book, it’s Joseph’s wife Emma. For some strange reason, she was never really happy with plural marriage. There are times of great anger and when she told her kids later about her husband after Joseph died, she tried to avoid anything about plural marriage.

Mormons need to read a book like this so they can get an account of Joseph Smith from a Mormon source. There can be no claims of anti-Mormon bias. They can read all about the Danites and about polygamy.

Christians need to read this to get a better understanding of Mormons they want to evangelize to. They can understand the history of Mormonism and also contrast it to the history of Christianity. When I have been told that the faiths were similar in their founding, it’s pretty clear that they were not.

I am thankful Bushman wrote this account. It is a long one, but it is a readable one. The only big hurdle for most readers will be the length, but it is worthwhile if you get through it.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Jesus’s Resurrection and Joseph’s Visions

What do I think of Rob Bowman’s book published by Deward Publishing? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

If there’s any area in the study of the resurrection we needed a great source on, it was comparing the resurrection to the visions of Joseph Smith. After all, aren’t what happened to Paul and Joseph comparable? Aren’t the witnesses to the golden plates and the witnesses to the resurrection comparable? If we accept one, are we not obligated to accept the other?

Thankfully, that niche has been filled. Rob Bowman has written an excellent book looking at the visions of Joseph Smith and comparing them to the resurrection. The bulk of the book is dedicated to Smith which isn’t a surprise since most Christians are familiar with the resurrection who read these kinds of books. Also, Smith came from a much more literary time so there are more writings to go through around his time.

However, even if you have read material defending the resurrection of Jesus, and I hope you have, you still need to go through what Bowman says about it. It’s really an excellent defense of the doctrine and very easy to understand. If you want a short defense of the resurrection of Jesus, this is an excellent one to go through.

When we get to Smith, Bowman truly shows his mastery of the information. There is hardly a stone left unturned here and Bowman interacts with the very best of Mormon apologetics. His familiarity with the material is simply astounding.

As he goes through Smith’s visions, he goes through piece by piece and points out in detail that could be painstaking if it wasn’t such an enjoyable read all that is questionable and why, always making sure to say it’s not because it’s miraculous. It gets down to the real historical claims such as when was the revival that Joseph Smith talked about and was he truly persecuted for claims of a vision.

He’ll also ask about the appearance of Moroni because even if you grant miraculous events and angelic encounters, there are reasons in the account itself to really question that the event happened. This is not the usual approach of using DNA testing or lacking archaeological evidence to go after Mormonism. This is striking at the heart. After all, Mormonism often is said to stand or fall on the first vision of Joseph Smith.

If you are someone who wants to interact with Mormons, you owe it to yourself to read this book. If you don’t interact with them, but you debate the resurrection of Jesus with skeptics, you need to read this book. This is a thorough and excellent reply to one common objection.

If I could recommend one book on dealing with Mormonism now, it would be this one. This is really one that any Mormon who is wanting to stay a strong Mormon needs to interact with. It will be a great reference for counter-cult apologetics for many years to come.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Deeper Waters Podcast 5/2/2020

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

What does it take to get you to change your mind? What if you were raised in a religion and everyone around you was in that and your whole life and culture were dominated by that? What would it take to get you to change your mind? What would it take to get you to at least wonder?

For my guest this Saturday, it all started with a simple question.

“How do you know Mormonism is true?”

My guest grew up in Mormonism and all her life she was sure it was true. Then one day a guy she was dating just asked her how she knew it was true. That got her started on a search and she came to the conclusion that it wasn’t true.

Her story then became one of learning from past mistakes and finding out what it meant to live a holy life. It became about how to deal with her parents who were still Mormons and would see her as apostasizing and going into outer darkness because of it. It became not making herself dependent on any man in her life and still getting married and finding true love as a result.

It was a story of how she came Out of Zion.

Which is the title of her book.

And she is Lisa Brockman, my guest this Saturday.

So who is she?

According to her bio:

Lisa Brockman is married to Dennis and is a mother of five passionate kids. She is a twenty-seven year missionary with Cru, a spiritual director, and a graduate of Renovaré Institute for Christian Spiritual Formation. She was raised in a devout Mormon family in Salt Lake City, Utah and adores them. She attended East High, the film site of High School Musical—a small claim to fame. 

Lisa loves journeying with people through their spiritual highs, lows and wanderings, and is passionate about people encountering the biblical God, who offers a love and freedom that has revolutionized her life. She loves to create tantalizing culinary creations for her family and friends, where they spend endless hours at the table sharing life and stories. The beach is her oasis.

While attending the University of Utah, Lisa began dating Gary, a baseball player who called himself a Christian. This relationship catapulted her into a search she had never envisioned for her life. In her determination to prove the truth of Mormonism, she was introduced to the love and grace of the biblical God, who radically changed the trajectory of her life.

——————————–

Graduate Coursework through Cru’s Institute of Biblical Studies and Reformed Theological Seminary

Obtained my Spiritual Direction Certificate through New Way Ministries

Graduate of Renovaré Institute for Christian Spiritual Formation

I hope you’ll be looking forward to this episode. I hope we have others up before too long as well. This May is all lined up with guests ready to get you equipped.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Deeper Waters Podcast 4/11/2020

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

One man lived around 2,000 years ago and claimed to be the Son of God and Messiah who rose from the dead. His followers were absolutely convinced of that. He established His church and it exists all over the world today. This man is normally seen as the most important figure in history. I, of course, refer to Jesus Christ.

Another man came about 1,800 years later. He claimed that Jesus did do that, but that the church got lost. Dangerous teachings came up in the church that undermined its teaching and Christ’s church had ceased to exist. This man claimed to restore the church and gave it new Scriptures that were supposed to be from God as well. His church is also around today. This man is Joseph Smith.

What can we know about them historically? If we don’t start off with the assumption that their Scriptures are inerrant and just use pure historical methodology, including what is in the texts that they gave us, what can be known about them? What would happen if we compared the two to one another?

My guest decided to do that. He wrote a book called The Historical Jesus and the Historical Joseph Smith. Both of these men made remarkable claims. Both of these men claimed their message was true. Both of them have churches today. Are they both right? Are they both wrong? Is one of them right?

My guest has been working for several years in the Utah area and has a great interest in reaching Mormons. His book is fair and treats both figures seriously and respectfully. His name is Tom Hobson.

So who is he?

According to his bio:

Tom Hobson holds a degree in social work from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, a Master of Divinity from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, and a Ph.D. in Biblical exegesis from Concordia Seminary St. Louis.  His dissertation was on the Mosaic law penalty “cut off from his people.”  He has written What’s on God’s Sin List for Today? (Wipf & Stock, 2011) and The Historical Jesus and the Historical Joseph Smith (Elm Hill, 2019).  He has also written journal articles including “Aselgeia in Mark 7:22,” which argues that Jesus did name homosexual behavior as a sin.  All of his academic work can be found on his website www.biblicalethic.org.    He was ordained as a Presbyterian pastor in 1983, has served churches in Missouri, Iowa, and Illinois, and taught as chair of Biblical studies and languages at Morthland College (2012-2016).  He is currently retired and lives in Belleville, Illinois.

Also, his book can be found at this site.

We did try some with livestreaming Saturday and it seemed to work well. We could try that again as well. I hope it does work, but we’re trying things now. Keep in mind we have a separate YouTube channel now. Please be watching for this episode.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Out of Zion

What do I think of Lisa Brockman’s book published by Harvest House? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Mormonism is really a fascinating belief to study as it has become its own culture. When it comes to dialogue, I really prefer Jehovah’s Witnesses because you get so much into the Scriptures more. Mormons tend to go with the burning in the bosom regularly. However, when it comes to what they believe and their history, Mormonism is much more interesting to study.

When I saw Lisa Brockman’s book then, I was interested in going through it. The book actually starts in the middle of the story with her with a non-Mormon guy named Gary she really liked who at one point just asked a simple question. How do you know Mormonism is true? It froze her. She had the burning in the bosom that she talked about, but what if that wasn’t enough? She proceeded to do a Bible study with Gary and in a little less than a year abandoned Mormonism for Christianity.

But that’s not where her story starts. Her story starts with her being a little girl in a Mormon family devoted to Mormonism and wanting to please Heavenly Father. At one point seemingly out of nowhere though, she really wants to fit into the crowd and thus starts drinking and making out with guys. Until that point though, you really see how controlling the Mormon lifestyle is on kids. Everything they do is not really to please their Father so much as to earn His approval. This especially is meant to culminate here in a temple marriage. That’s the only way you can enter the highest heaven and eventually be a god or goddess over your own planet.

The biggest insight out of this book really is family life. When reading it, I got shades of what Nabeel Qureshi’s book was like. In his book, when he left Islam for Christianity, he was happy to be a Christian, but a part of him wished that he could have converted and died immediately so that he would never have to shame his parents. Many of us today don’t understand this generational shame, but it’s a strong reality in families from the East and apparently fits into Mormon culture.

Brockman describes about how she told her parents about what happened. Some stories I would have liked to have more on. One was a story about what happened after where she met with her Dad and a leader of the Mormon Church and a friend who was an ex-Mormon who came to support her and when prayer was suggested the friend say, “We would prefer to pray ourselves since you pray to Satan.” I would have loved to have known how that turned out!

The last major chapter of the book describes her living in Orlando and someone moves in from Utah named Tiffani who is a struggling Mormon and about their relationship together as Tiffani comes to Jesus. It is a heartwarming story. Once again, the family dynamics of Mormonism come into play.

This book is more autobiographical than meant to be an apologetic. While there is some of that in place, you won’t come here finding the killer argument to refute Mormonism, and that’s okay. Brockman I think wants to introduce you more to the culture to extend your heart to these people. You really understand more about why it is so hard for Mormons to leave.

For that purpose, this is a great book. I sometimes did think some stories were a bit disjointed. For instance, she talks about an interest in a boy named Finn, but later on we don’t hear anything about that or what came of it. I would have liked to have parts like that explained more. I also wondered at the end where her parents are today.

Still, if you want to understand Mormonism from the inside-out and from the perspective of someone much more a layperson in the faith, this is a good one to read. I give it my full recommendation.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Some Thoughts On Mormonism

What’s it like when Mormons come to your door? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Recently for a couple of months or so, Allie and I had Mormons who agreed to come see us. I was quite impressed in some ways with these Mormons as they actually came back after the first visit even. Most of the time, they don’t. We had some sisters first visiting us, but then after that, we had guys as they were switched out as one sister’s mission came to an end and sometimes, they had a Mormon who lives in our apartment complex come with them.

Let’s say at the start that for the most part, Mormons are very nice people. They’re people that are kind and courteous and tend to be very likable. Of course, that is also a danger as when Christians meet someone like that, they tend to think that they’re Christians just like them. Warning. Being a Christian is about more than just being a nice person.

In some ways, Mormons sadly seem to have a lot in common also with atheists I meet. Many times, the same arguments atheists make about Christianity are made by Mormons. These include things like the Bible being changed and all the denominations. They do come with some twists such as unique Mormon doctrines such as God having a body of flesh and bones and the importance of the Book of Mormon and the burning in the bosom.

I also noticed that the Mormons were often asking if I was reading the Book of Mormon to find out what’s wrong with it. I had been challenged to read it again since I have read it before and so I did accept the challenge. I gave them a contrast by saying if they wanted to read the New Testament to pick it apart, be my guest. Try it on every area. Go ahead.

The burning in the bosom I find to be a weak argument. I can understand it’s very emotionally appealing and I do know ex-Mormons have said that there is nothing like the experience of the burning in the bosom. If you pray and you get the burning in the bosom, well that confirms that the Book of Mormon is true. If you don’t get it, well, you just weren’t sincere or something of that sort. The test is in essence unfalsifiable.

It’s also important to really know your own church history and doctrine. We got into a debate some on the Council of Nicea and how it was there decided that God didn’t have a body of flesh and bones. I had to ask them where they got that from. No specifics were given. I went on to tell them the debate was really about the nature of Jesus as were the next three councils at least. No one was debating if God the Father had a body.

Remember also with Mormons, try to always build up the Bible, which is something I was making it a point to consistently do. If you just try to destroy the Book of Mormon, you could get a Mormon to throw out the baby with the bathwater. They could abandon not just Mormonism but Christianity and theism altogether.

Still, Allie and I enjoyed meeting with the elders and the sisters. They’re all people we could enjoy their company with regularly. We’re also still praying for them. I didn’t expect a deconversion and an embrace of the gospel, but I do hope I put a rock in their shoe. The goal was to build up Jesus and the Bible. That should be our goal whenever we encounter them.

Please be remembering the Mormons that come to your door need the true Jesus and the true gospel. Be willing to give it to them. Don’t slam the door in their faces. If the present time isn’t convenient, arrange another time when you can get together. They’re worth it.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

 

Deeper Waters Podcast 3/9/2019: Adam Dommeyer

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

If we could take a scene from Acts and change it around, we could picture my guest this Saturday before Joseph Smith. Joseph Smith is reading the Book of Mormon and talking about the virtues and appeal of Mormonism. At the end comes the reply, “Almost do you persuade me to be a Mormon.”

My guest really wanted to be a Mormon. He had a great love and admiration of Joseph Smith and as a teenager was deeply interested in the Book of Mormon. Joseph Smith was like a best friend to him. Then upon one discovery, all of that came crashing down. Fortunately, he did not throw out the baby with the bathwater. Today, he has a ministry reaching Mormons.

His whole life story is fascinating and he has many encounters with Mormons to this day. His knowledge of Mormonism is incredible and I have got to talk with him on the phone even a number of times. I am looking forward to having him on my show. His name is Adam Dommeyer. We will be discussing his book Almost a Mormon.

So who is he?

According to his bio:

“Adam Dommeyer is the founder of Latter-day Sense Evangelism Ministry and is an ordained evangelist through Speak the Word Church International. He is currently pursuing his M.A. in Transformational Leadership at Bethel Seminary, received his B.S. in Pastoral Ministry from Lee University, and got his Certificate from The Perry Stone Mentoring Institute for Ministry.”
Adam’s book is a fascinating journey that grips you from the very start. In all honesty, my favorite part was the first half where you wondered how it would be that Adam would get away from Mormonism. Something else interesting about all of this was the many dreams that Adam was having, which is a warning to all of the Christians who seem to think that dreams are a message from God.
What is it that Mormons believe? What is the appeal to Mormonism? How is it that a young man raised in a solid church tradition can come so close to getting into such a false belief? Is there anything perhaps in the idea of family that the Mormon church emphasizes that makes it so appealing?
What can we say when we encounter Mormons today? How is it that we can not only answer their questions, but also share the love of Christ with them? What do we need to be aware of in dealing with Mormons today in our encounters? When Mormons show up at your door, what do you need to know to answer them? What should you try to do and are there any steps you should try to avoid when dealing with them?
I hope you’ll be looking forward to our next episode of the Deeper Waters Podcast. I am battling a bit of a cold right now, but the podcast is a few days away and I hope to be good enough to handle it by then. Please go on iTunes also and leave a positive review of the Deeper Waters Podcast.
In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Almost A Mormon

What do I think of Adam Dommeyer’s book published by Westbow Press? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I want to thank Adam Dommeyer for getting in touch with me about his book. I also want to thank Lynn Wilder for the recommendation. I was happy to read Adam’s book as I have had a history with Mormons as well. When I lived with a roommate in Charlotte while studying at Seminary, we had Mormons come over regularly. Generally, we would stop at Little Caesar’s and get some pizza for us to split and get some gatorades for everyone to drink.

Adam’s story is a fascinating one about how he went on a family road trip once out to the West and one of the places they went through was Utah. He notes that the Mormons there at the temple used one of the greatest evangelism techniques out there; pretty girls. I don’t know how many stories I heard in Bible College when we had to talk about how we came to Christ that began with a guy saying something like “Well, there was this cute blond girl and….”

Yet Adam is not that shallow. His family was going through turmoil that eventually led to a divorce, and the Mormons had something else going for them. They had an emphasis on family. Let’s be honest fellow Christians. We do need more of this today. I know the divorce rate among Christians is not as high as is often thought, but it is still high. I have no doubts that a religion that was emphasizing family to a boy whose family was in chaos was extremely appealing.

Adam talks about how the Book of Mormon was at the start a sort of forbidden fruit, which really made it all the more appealing. While other teenage boys might be hiding under their covers with a flashlight looking at porn magazines, Adam was reading the Book of Mormon. He was thinking more and more idealistically about Joseph Smith. Joseph was becoming his best friend.

This was also because of a Mormon girl he met at school. Once again, girls are very persuasive. Eventually, his family found out, and they weren’t happy. They had tried to send him anti-Mormonism literature, but it wasn’t having much effect. Deep down, he considered himself a Mormon and had dreams about Mormonism and everything else. He just wanted to be baptized and then tell everyone about the gospel that had been restored by Joseph Smith.

Yet eventually, he found problems with the Book of Mormon. Namely, it was plagiarism of the Bible that got to him. For Adam, this was devastating and he found himself in a pit of despair for awhile. Fortunately, he did find the real Jesus through this. All of this has led him to have great empathy for Mormons.

All of this makes up about the first half of the book. Much of it reads like a stream of consciousness reading where he describes his thoughts and feelings at various times in his journey. The same goes on some after that part, but there’s a lot more that goes into detail about various problems in Mormonism and the story does have many more gaps as the first half covers a period of around a year and the second covers all the rest.

So positives about the book? The book is an excellent and eye-opening experience. I couldn’t help but wonder at times if Adam looks back on his life as that teenager considering Mormonism seriously and asks “What on Earth was I thinking?”

Second, the book does have much information that is excellent on exposing the problems with Mormonism. Much of it is not new, but that’s okay. The format is what’s different. This one has the information as well as a sort of approach much like Greg Koukl’s Tactics. It’s not just about the information but how to reach them.

Third, Adam does show the importance of talking with Mormons and stressing that they hold on to Jesus no matter what. Many Mormons, and Jehovah’s Witnesses for that matter, can leave the group and leave Christianity altogether convinced that all theism is a bunch of nonsense. This is Adam taking preventative measures beforehand.

There are negatives, but many of these are small. As an orthodox Preterist, I don’t agree with Adam’s approach to prophecy. Fortunately for me, this did not pop up often. The overwhelming majority of arguments against Mormonism if not all do not depend on this prophetic viewpoint.

Second, I understand Adam is an individual who does have dreams that seem to come true, but I always get a concern that many other Christians will start thinking that this is what is supposed to be normative. I have a concern for that. My wife and I used to watch a lady who made videos about prophecy and every single dream she had she recorded and treated as a divine revelation that she tried to interpret with Scripture. Would that Christians spent as much time trying to understand Scripture which we know came from God as they do their dreams which could come from too much pizza the night before.

Third is a stylistic one. Sometimes Adam would begin talking about a dialogue with some Mormons he would have. Then there would be a long section about a problem with Mormonism. I didn’t know if this is something that was pointed to in the discussion or if Adam gave a briefer word and here is giving a more in-depth explanation. I would hope future editions would clarify this.

Finally, there is also some concern with a mention of the New Apostolic Reformation. I understand Adam is Pentecostal from the book, but I think all good Pentecostals should avoid this movement to no end. I recommend the work of Holly Pivec in this area.

Yet overall, the benefits far outweigh the negatives. Adam’s book is an enjoyable and powerful read. I hope it shows so many people the problems of Mormonism and gets many Mormons away from the Jesus of Joseph Smith to the Jesus of God the Father.

In Christ,
Nick Peters