Leaving Mormonism: Why Four Scholars Changed Their Minds

A review by Jack Kettler

Grand Rapids, MI, Kregel Publications and RatioChriti Books, 2017

Author, Editor, and Contributor Bios:

(Author), Corey Miller; (Author and Editor), Lynn K. Wilder; (Contributors), Latayne C. Scott, and Vince Eccles;

Corey Miller is Adjunct Professor of Philosophy and Comparative Religions at Indiana University-Kokomo. His Ph.D. is from the University of Aberdeen in Scotland.

Lynn K. Wilder is a wife, mother, grandmother, scholar and author with a doctorate in education. She has 50 scholarly publications, including two books on positive behavior support and a book comparing Mormon and Bible doctrines. Once a tenured faculty member at Brigham Young University. Dr. Wilder left Mormonism in 2008 when she experienced a crisis of faith.

Dr. Latayne C. Scott has a Distinguished Christian Service Award, from Pepperdine University and is the author of hundreds of articles and 20 published books.

Dr. Vince Eccles (Utah State University; USU Department of Physics)

What others are Saying:

“This is truly a great book. In fact, I have never seen anything like it. Miller and Wilder have brought together a team of very knowledgeable ex-Mormon scholars to share from various perspectives why they could no longer stay Mormons. And while many who leave Mormonism simply fall off the grid, the good news presented by author after author is that there is an intellectually and spiritually vibrant alternative: moving from Mormonism to historical Evangelical Christianity. The book is fair, irenic, and inviting. This is now the first place to go for anyone who wants an honest, serious critique of Mormonism, along with an alternative to consider. I give it my top recommendation.” - J. P. Moreland, Ph.D., Distinguished Professor of Philosophy, Talbot School of Theology, Biola University

“'Leaving Mormonism' today all too often means rejecting Christianity entirely in the mistaken belief that if Mormonism isn't true then no form of Christian faith is true. In Leaving Mormonism, four Christian scholars, each of whom also happens to be a former Mormon, show that faith in Jesus Christ as he is revealed in the Bible is intellectually and spiritually viable for disillusioned Latter-day Saints. The authors combine their authentic personal stories with scholarly analysis of critical issues and are not afraid to point out how evangelicals have sometimes failed to engage Mormons in a constructive manner. There is much for everyone to learn from this book.” - Robert M. Bowman Jr., Ph.D., Executive Director, Institute for Religious Research

“A one-of-a-kind book blending powerful personal testimonies with persuasive reasons for the truth and goodness of Christianity and the falsity of the Mormon faith. Written with compassion, charity, and courage, this will be the go-to book for those interested in Christian-Mormon dialogue for years to come.” - Paul M. Gould, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Philosophy and Christian Apologetics, Southwestern Baptist

“Leaving Mormonism is a unique book that combines both personal stories and first-rate scholarship. Regardless of where you are on your spiritual journey, you will be challenged and equipped by reading and studying this book.” - Sean McDowell, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Christian Apologetics, Biola University

My thoughts:

Books like this do not come along very often. It is a rare gem. Each contributor to this work presents their stories with genuine heartfelt compassion in addition to intellectual rigor. For those struggling with doubts about their Mormon faith, this book is a must read. As a combined effort by these contributors, a Mormon that is entertaining doubts, can find many helpful shared experiences and insights to help them in their own struggles. In this respect, this book is invaluable.

Layout of the book:     

Forward by Dr. Richard Land, the President of Southern Evangelical Seminary

A thoughtful forward from a recognized scholar and theologian. 

Part 1. Introduction: Contemplating Mormonism Lovingly, Credibly, and Truthfully by Dr. Corey Miller.

The introduction is well laid out and sets the stage for the chapters that follow.

Part 2. In Search of the Good Life: by Dr. Corey Miller.

Dr. Miller has some succinct insights regarding the finite corporeal deity of Mormonism. One in particular, is the dispute between the early leaders of Mormonism and the present-day leaders in regards to the Mormon deity gaining knowledge forever or at some point gaining complete knowledge. The absurdity of the deity of early Mormonism, who forever progressing in knowledge is much like unanswerable mathematical numbers and the infinity problem.

Considering the endless amount of facts, how could the Mormon deity ever know all of the infinite number of propositions, premises, conclusions and fallacies? You can always count one more number, you can also learn one more piece of information.

Miller advances this problematic dilemma of Mormonism by asking:

“Since one more can always be added, it is clear that inasmuch as one cannot begin counting from a finite number and ever reach the infinite, so likewise, one cannot begin as a man with finite knowledge and ever hope to become to acquire omniscience.  It seems dubious that one can ever possess infinite knowledge by acquiring bits of knowledge via successive addition.” (65)

This is one reason why the finite gods of Mormonism have never been taken seriously on the world stage of philosophical debates.    

Part 3. I Was There. I Believed: by Dr. Latayne C. Scott.

Dr. Scott’s chapter is extremely helpful in understanding Mormonism’s concept of truth. After dealing with truth certainty problems in Mormonism, a positive case is put forward for determining truth via “Language: A God Created Ability” (117, 118), “Linguistic Representation” (121-127), and concluding with “True Narrative Representations” (135-142). Dr. Scott’s chapter covers new ground from what has been seen in others works on Mormonism to date.    

Part 4. Social Consequences of Mormon Teachings; Finding Post-Mormon Mental Health: by Dr. Lynn K. Wilder

Dr. Wilder’s chapter is unique from the perspective of her being a Mormon convert and former tenured BYU professor. Dr. Wilder deals with ongoing theological problems in Mormonism such as “According to Mormonism, Dark Skin is a Curse” (157-159), “Modern-Day Polygamy” (159-162), and “Salvation Requires Obedience to LDS Laws and Ordinances” (186-188). The story of Dr. Wilder’s third son Micah, and his coming to Christ while on his LDS mission in Florida is very moving and encouraging. If God can open the eyes of a BYU professor, surrounded by a seemingly impregnatable wall of group think, never lose hope for your Mormon relatives and friends.       

Part 5. Wrestling with Nature and God: by Dr. James Vincent Eccles.

Dr. Eccles’ story is unique in this book in that he does not end up with strong evangelical convictions. With that said, his contribution should not be dismissed. It is a powerful story of an intellectual battle with truth claims. Dr. Eccles is extremely well read and this makes his survey of literature rewarding to anyone reading his contribution. If by chance he should read this review, I would encourage him, if he has not, to read the many theological and philosophical titles by Gordon H. Clark, the former head of the Philosophy department at Butler University and R. J. Rushdoony’s “The One and the Many,” a solution to this philosophical problem that a apart from trinitarian theology, has no solution.      

Part 6. Why Believe in God? Objections to Faith by the New Atheism: by Dr. Corey Miller and Dr. Lynn K. Wilder.

The concluding chapter in this book in some respects is book all by itself. This chapter concludes with “So You Still Want to Be Your Own God Yet Reject God?” (302-304) is a apropos conclusion summarizing the indisputable strength of the Christian World View.

Mr. Kettler has previously published articles in the Chalcedon Report and Contra Mundum. He and his wife Marea attend the Westminster, CO, RPCNA Church. Mr. Kettler is the author of the book defending the Reformed Faith against attacks. Available at: www.TheReligionThatStartedInAHat.com