I first met Rev. Dan Lewis when I did a Television interview in Portland, Oregon. His wife, Marta, was the program director for TBN Portland at that time. today the Lewis family is in Mongolia, as missionaries. Dan's testimony so intrigued me when I first heard it, I wanted to be sure to get it into as many hands as possible. The events in his testimony took place in Logan, Utah.
Testimony of Dan Lewis, former Mormon Elder
I was born and raised in a small town in Northern Utah. Growing up in the fifties and sixties, I knew I was different from others my age in the rest of the world, but it was a difference I was proud of! After all, I was a member of the only true church on the face of the earth! At least, this is what I had been taught.
We had a living prophet! We had the "restored gospel"-just the way is was when Jesus walked the earth! We were the only ones who knew that all the other churches had perverted the true and perfect gospel to the point there was no truth in them, and the Lord had to use a 14-year-old boy to restore His church to the earth because of the apostasy of all the others. We had Joseph Smith, the martyr.
We had Brigham Young and the persecuted pioneers. We had secret, sacred temple ceremonies, with secret, sacred signs, sacred work for the dead, sacred marriage for "time and all eternity." Why, we even had (assuming you were found worthy of going to the sacred temple) our own secret, sacred underwear with secret, sacred markings on them!
We had everything we needed to be the "only true church on the face of the earth," including revelation that all the other churches on earth were not only wrong, they were an abomination to God! I at least knew enough that I didn't want anything to do with abominations!
Probably the most reassuring thing to me, however, was that we had the Book of Mormon. Translated from gold plates by the Prophet, Seer and Revelator Joseph Smith, into what he proclaimed to be the most perfect book ever written! Even more perfect than the Holy Bible!
The eighth article of faith of the Mormon church says:
We believe the Bible to be the Word of God, AS FAR AS IT IS TRANSLATED CORRECTLY. We also believe the Book of Mormon to be the Word of God.
So there you have it: You can't very well trust anything that is not translated correctly (the Bible), but you can surely trust the most perfect book ever written (the Book of Mormon).
For 32 years, I lived under the assumption that the church I was a member of was the one and only true church. I had been a "good boy," trying to accumulate enough "works points" to get myself into the Celestial Kingdom, and eventually become a god, just as the Father and Jesus had done.* Unfortunately, the unthinkable happened in my life: divorce! Divorce is devastating no matter what religion you profess, but if you are a Mormon, divorce means you are an utter failure. All I had hoped for, all the church had taught me was gone, because I had failed at the most important thing, my marriage. (Failure is just not acceptable in Mormonism. We even sang a song that asked us "have I done any good in the world today?...have I cheered up the sad, and made someone feel glad? If not, I have FAILED, indeed!")
Not only had I ruined my chance of getting into the Celestial kingdom, but also any hope for my ex-wife, because a woman can only get into the Celestial kingdom if her husband makes it. The weight of such failure was too much for me. I could only see one way out, and that was to take my life. It is amazing how warped your thinking can become, especially if you don't know the reality of God's love, grace and mercy.
As I look back at how God had His hand on me, even in the midst of an attempt to end my life, I am in such awe of His mercy and grace. How He moved a little six-year-old boy to go looking for his daddy just seconds before his daddy was going to blow his own head off with a shotgun! I believe that right then, even though I didn't understand it, somehow God had a plan for my life, and my heart started to soften and I began to seek Him.
It's not easy seeking God as a Mormon because all the thinking has been done for you. However, if there is one "positive" thing that came from my divorce, it was that I was living alone, and had no TV. I had time to read, time to think, and time to question.
There were a lot of questions I had about the Mormon church, but there was never anyone I could ask. Fellow Mormons would tell me I didn't have to worry, just accept it. I considered anyone who was not LDS. (Latter Day Saint) to be an "anti-Mormon" and I could not trust their opinion. For the first time in my life I had to find out for myself about Mormonism.
I had been taught that the answers were there, I just had to dig in and find them. If God really had appeared to a 14-year-old boy and restored the gospel to the earth through him, maybe He would at least guide a 32 year-year-old man to the answers I needed. It was during this time that I met a beautiful Christian lady who worked at a sporting goods store I visited often. We started dating, and I started attending her church. Secretly, I hoped to convert her and her friends to Mormonism.
In that small church, I picked up some "anti-Mormon" tracts. I sincerely believed that the Mormon church was true, but these tracts were not only asking some of the same question I was asking, but raised more questions about the claims of the Mormon church. Any hope I had of converting these people to REAL Christianity (Mormonism) depended on finding answers to these questions, these charges brought against the LDS church.
What started as a search of the scriptures to prove to my Christian friends that Mormonism was their only hope, ended in my invitation to Jesus to come into my heart.
When I opened my mind to studying the truth about Mormonism I learned many starling things. I learned that the "most perfect book ever written" has had thousands of changes since it was first written in 1830. I learned that this same perfect book contains almost no Mormon doctrine: It contains nothing about eternal progression, or men becoming gods, nothing about baptism for the dead, three degrees of glory, the word of wisdom, polygamy or many other essential doctrines of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
In all my years of being taught in Sunday schools, priesthood meetings, as well as four years of LDS seminary, I had never feared "looking into" the teachings of the Mormon church. Brigham Young said: "Take up the Bible, compare the religion of the Latter-Day Saints with it and see if it will stand the test." So when I started to dig around to find out the truth for the sake of my friends who were attending that sincere but "misguided" Christian church, I fully expected to find answers to the "lies" I had seen in the anti-Mormon tracts they had in their church foyer. Instead, I was faced with the dilemma of realizing that things were not as I had supposed.
Joseph Smith had a past that was not becoming to a Prophet, Seer and Revelator of the only true church. His prophecies not only did not come true, some were outlandish, such as his description of the people who live on the moon! His reputation as a translator was damaged severely when it was demonstrated that his so-called translation of certain Egyptian papyri was no translation at all! The actual document that Joseph Smith supposedly translated turned up in a New York museum in the 1960's, with his handwritten notes still legible on it. When Egyptologists really translated the document it turned out that what Joseph Smith thought was The Book of Abraham, was actually an Egyptian funeral text. After taking up Brigham Young's challenge, the Mormonism did not stand the test. Thank God, that at such a critical time of my life, several believers were praying for me, and reaching out to me and believing that I could break free from Mormonism. These prayer warriors were led by that same lady from the sporting goods store, Marta, who led me to the real Jesus , and later married me! I cannot express the depth of my gratitude and appreciation for those who wouldn't give up on me, and "prayed me in" to the Kingdom of God. Sadly, many who discover the truth about Mormonism assume that if the only true church isn't true, there must not be a true church at all, and they go from Mormonism to nothing. What a tragedy!
To those who have friends or relatives in the Mormon church, there is hope! If God can get me out, He can get anyone out! It has to start with prayer, however, not confrontation and argument. The most damaging evidence against the Mormon church is within their own writings.
The Mormon will not see it, however, until the Holy Spirit is able to soften their heart, and open their eyes so that they can see. Pray that the Holy Spirit would create in them a hunger for the truth.
*I'm not sure what happened with the Holy Ghost, because Mormon doctrine says that, under the law of eternal progression, you go through an earth life, live good, become a god and continue to change and grow and gain intelligence - seeking "further light and knowledge" (like God the Father and Jesus had done) and both the Father and the Son have bodies of FLESH AND BONE, while the Holy Ghost does not. Hmmmm.