After faithfully attending the LDS church throughout my childhood, I was inactive from the age of fifteen to nineteen. At nineteen I had a powerful spiritual experience. I realized that I should find out for myself if god exists. I began to read the Book of Mormon daily, to study it. I began to keep the commandments. I began to study the gospel. But I still didn’t feel like I ‘knew’ that the Church was true. I remember praying for over two months to get an answer. Finally, one day as I knelt down beside my bed I heard the thought within my own mind, ‘You already know it’s true.’ I was so happy, and overjoyed, I had my answer. I began to prepare to go on a mission. Before my mission I had several other strong spiritual, confirmatory experiences.
I served in Arkansas and Tennessee. Three major things became clear as I served.
One, I was really good at finding answers to Christian “anti-Mormon” arguments. I still argue to this day about what is good evidence that the church is not true. I am regularly on the side of the church in these conversations. It is not that I believe, but I am not willing to allow bad arguments to stand. I would do the same to anyone who had bad reasons for not believing the church. I have also thought many times that if someone believed that the bible was true they should become a Mormon, and I would tell them that. If the bible is true, then Mormonism is the best version of Christianity, as far as I have been able to tell. I was the generally accepted missionary one would ask about resolving doctrinal, or logical concerns.
Two, I became very bitter against people who were not open-minded. “No thanks, I already know the truth” when I knocked on the door would drive me nuts. I developed a response that I thought should get their attention. I would say “But wouldn’t 2500 people on a different continent claiming that they felt the risen Lord’s body be something important for everyone to know?” They would respond along the lines of “Not interested” or “I don’t need more information, I already know” or “I already have enough info”. This drove me nuts.
Third, I became very frustrated with people who could not accept or see clear, well reasoned, well evidenced arguments. One good example that I think most committed LDS understand, if they have served a mission or tried to share the gospel with other Christians, is the idea that one cannot add to or take away from the bible. The arguments the Church has against such a position are fool proof to anyone who believes in the bible. It would blow my mind, and I think many LDS’ minds, when people would blatantly ignore arguments that were so persuasive and compelling.
There is something else important to this story as well. I have an incredibly powerful aversion to hypocrisy. This aversion led me to several conclusions. I would never let myself be like those people who were not open-minded and ‘knew’ they had the truth. I would always be open to new information, and to the possibility I was wrong. If I was not open to the possibility that I was wrong, I could not expect someone else to be open to that same possibility without being a hypocrite. How could I expect anyone to admit that I could possibly be right, if I could not admit the possibility that they could be right. How could I expect anyone to take a serious look at my beliefs, and allow a possibility for those beliefs to be right, if I could not do the same for them?
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