Excerpts from The Changing World of Mormonism

by Jerald and Sandra Tanner


    The Mormon Church, which professes to teach the true way of salvation, teaches many things that are not compatible with the teachings of Christ. Mormon leaders have made the tragic mistake of pointing their people toward a church instead of toward the Saviour. They claim that their church is the only true church and that all others are false and have no authority. This tends to make the people more concerned about the organization than about their relationship with Christ.

    Mormonism teaches that shortly after the death of Christ, the whole Christian world fell into a state of apostasy. In the Bible, however, Jesus said ". . . upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it" (Matt. 16:18). Orson Pratt [early Mormon apostle] did not seem to believe the words of Jesus for he claimed: "Jesus . . . established his kingdom on the earth. . . . the kingdoms of this world made war against the kingdom of God, established eighteen centuries ago, and they prevailed against it, and the kingdom ceased to exist" (Journal of Discourses, vol. 13, page 125). ". . . the former-day kingdom no where exists on the earth, but has been prevailed against and overcome, and nothing is left but man-made churches and governments . . ." (Pamphlets by Orson Pratt, p. 116). Apostle Pratt's words are in direct contradiction to Jesus' statement that "the gates of hell shall not prevail" against His Church. While it is true that there was a great apostasy throughout the Christian world, there is no evidence that there was ever a time when there were not true Christians upon the earth. In John 1:12 we read: "But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name." We believe that in all ages some people have believed in Jesus and have "become the sons of God," and these people were members of His Church. Although at times the numbers may have been small, Jesus promised that "where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them" (Matt. 18:20).

Statement by Jerald Tanner.   I was born and raised in the Mormon Church, and before I was eight years old I felt that it was the only true church. I remember being told that a certain man who was excommunicated from the church was possessed with the devil. I can recall walking past this man's house and being afraid of him because I firmly believed that he was possessed of the devil. I believed that a person would almost have to be possessed of the devil to leave "the true church." My conviction was so strong that I was shocked to hear a boy in Sunday school say that he didn't know for certain that the church was true. I felt that it was strange indeed for a person to be a member of the Mormon church and yet not know it was the only true church. I believed very strongly that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God and that I belonged to the only true church. When I was about eighteen years old I had to face reality. I can remember that the first time I saw David Whitmer's pamphlet, An Address to All Believers in Christ, I threw it down in disgust. After throwing it down, however, I began to think that perhaps that was not the right way to face the problem. If David Whitmer was wrong in his criticism of Joseph Smith, surely I could prove him wrong. So I picked up the pamphlet and read it through. I found that I could not prove David Whitmer wrong, and that the revelations Joseph Smith gave had been changed. I later went to Independence, Missouri, and saw a copy of the original Book of Commandments, which confirmed David Whitmer's statement that the revelations had been changed. Since that time I have found more and more proof that the church in which I was raised is in error. The most important thing that I found, however, was not that the church was in error, but that I myself was in error. I found that I was a sinner in need of a Saviour. The Mormon church had taught me good morals, but they had not taught me much concerning the power of Christ that could change my life. There was much talk about Joseph Smith, but very little talk about Christ. Consequently, I began to think I had the power within myself to overcome sin. I didn't see how much I needed the help of God to overcome it. So I turned from one sin to another until I was deeply in bondage to sin. I found no help in the Mormon church; they were too busy preaching about the glory of the church, Joseph Smith, etc. They were too busy singing "praise to the man who communed with Jehovah" and "We thank thee O God for a prophet" to tell me about the Saviour I needed so badly. They were too busy talking about missions, tithing, the welfare plan, etc., to talk about the Christ. Consequently, there was almost nothing in the services that could give life and peace to my dying soul. Perhaps I should mention, however, that there was one thing that really touched my heart, and that was when we sang the song, "Oh, It Is Wonderful!" by Charles H. Gabriel.

        I stand all amazed at the love Jesus offers me,
        Confused at the grace that so fully he proffers me;
        I tremble to know that for me He was crucified—
        That for me, a sinner, He suffered, He bled, and died.

                Oh, it is wonderful that He should care for me!
                Enough to die for me!
                Oh, it is wonderful, wonderful to me!

I marvel that He would descend from His throne divine,
To rescue a soul so rebellious and proud as mine;
That He should extend His great love unto such as I;
Sufficient to own, to redeem, and to justify.

    When we sang this song my heart burned within me. I have since learned, however, that even this song was borrowed from the Protestant faith. But regardless of where it came from, it touched me very deeply. It made me think of my Saviour and the great debt I owed to Him. If there had been more songs like this in the Mormon church and if Christ had been preached instead of Joseph Smith, I would, perhaps, have received Christ into my life in the Mormon church. As it was, however, I was nineteen years old before I heard the true message of Christ preached, and that was in another church. A short time later, I received Christ into my life and found peace, joy, and deliverance from sin. As the Apostle Paul expressed it: "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature; old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new" (2 Cor. 5:17). Jerald Tanner

Statement by Sandra Tanner.  Since I was born and raised in the Mormon church, and am a great-great-grandchild of Brigham Young, I had very strong ties to the Mormon faith. I was about seventeen before I ever attended another church. As a teenager my life centered around the Mormon church. Because I was active and paying my tithing I thought I was in pretty good standing with God. I knew I sinned but I felt my activity in church would somehow outweigh what I did wrong. I believed (as the Mormons teach) that I was inherently good. I had no fear of God's judgment. Besides the things that were wrong in my own life, I began to have doubts about my church. Could it really be the only true church? Was polygamy really right? Why couldn't the Negro hold the priesthood? Was temple marriage really so important? Why were its rites kept such a secret? Did God actually command Mormons to wear special under-garments? I had many questions going through my mind.

    When I started college I enrolled in the Mormon Institute of Religion class. I started asking questions in class, trying to find answers to my doubts. But one day my institute teacher took me aside and told me to please stop asking questions in class. There was a girl attending the class who was thinking of joining the church and I was disturbing her with my questions. What a surprise! I had hoped to find answers to the many things that were bothering me and now I had been silenced.

    Shortly after this I met Jerald and we began studying the Bible and Mormonism together. As we studied I began to see the contradictions between the Bible and the teaching of the Mormon church. I had grown up thinking that Brigham Young was one of the greatest men that ever lived. He was always presented to me as such a holy man—God's prophet, seer, and revelator. Then Jerald had me read some of Brigham Young's sermons in the Journal of Discourses on blood atonement. I was shocked! I knew what Brigham Young was saying was wrong but I couldn't reconcile these sermons with the things I had always been taught concerning him. I knew these were not the words of a prophet of God.

    Jerald also showed me the changes that had been made in Joseph Smith's revelations. The thought kept coming to me that if God had actually given those revelations to Joseph Smith why would they need rewriting? Surely the Creator of the universe could say it right the first time!

    As I studied I not only found errors in Mormonism, I also began to comprehend there was something wrong in my own life. As I studied God's Word I realized I was a sinful hypocrite. In spite of my sins I had thought I was right with God. Yet the Bible says: "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life, through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Rom. 6:23).

    After Jerald and I were married we started visiting the different Protestant churches. As I listened to the sermons I began to realize that God was not concerned with peoples' church affiliations, but with a personal relationship. Christ taught a way of love, not a religious system. He stated: "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another" (John 13:35). Paul taught that we should "walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us . . ." (Eph. 5:2).

    God reaches out to man, not because he deserves it, but because God loves him. John wrote: "Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins" (1 John 4:10). Paul wrote: "But God, who is rich in mercy, . . . even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ . . . For by grace are ye save through faith; and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast" (Eph. 2:4, 5, 8, 9).

    I now want to share with you the particular events of the day I surrendered my heart and life to Jesus Christ: Early one morning (October 24, 1959) I decided to listen to the radio for a while. I turned to the Christian radio station and listened to a sermon. The minister was preaching on the great love of God and the mercy offered to us through Jesus Christ. Nothing ever struck me with such force. I opened my heart to God and accepted Christ as my own personal Saviour. The Holy Spirit flooded my soul with such joy that I wept for over an hour. After the sermon the station played this song written by Elton M. Roth—

I love the Christ who died on Calv'ry,
For He washed my sins away;
He put within my heart a melody,
And I know it's there to stay.

In my heart there rings a melody,
There rings a melody with heaven's harmony;
In my heart there rings a melody,
There rings a melody of love.

    This song fully describes the way I felt. How glorious to know Christ died for my sins so I could have a new life in Him. Our lives testify to all we meet whether or not we are truly Christians. Paul wrote: "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance; against such there is no law" (Gal. 5:22-23). Sandra Tanner

    Today converts are swarming into the Mormon church, but very few of them really know much about Mormonism. We feel safe in saying that many of them are converted to the social program of the church rather than to its doctrines. Those who were born in the church in many cases "know" it is true but don't know why it is true. Many Mormons will stand up in testimony meeting and dogmatically assert that Joseph Smith was a prophet and that they belong to "the only true church," but very few of them check to make sure that their faith is based on reality. Many members of the Mormon church prefer to let their leaders do their thinking ("when our leaders speak, the thinking has been done"); it is so easy to let someone else do our thinking. The Bible warns: "Thus saith the Lord; Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the Lord" (Jer. 17:5). We sincerely hope and pray that the Mormon people will begin to awaken to the true message of Christ, realizing that in Him, and Him alone, can we have salvation—salvation that brings genuine deliverance from sin and real fellowship with the God who loved us enough to die for us.


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