Articles by Doug:
Knowing the Real Jesus
Why I Left the Mormon Church
By Pastor Doug Cox
Pastor, Crossroads New Life Fellowship
It wasn’t as if I was looking for an excuse to leave the church that I was born and raised in. As a fourth generation Mormon I grew up believing like so many others that it was the only true church on the face of the earth. I believed that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God and that God had used him to give us the Book of Mormon, another testament of Jesus Christ.
My parents were faithful Mormons teaching us the importance of church attendance and living according to church standards. I was baptized and confirmed at age 8 and advanced in the Mormon priesthood being ordained a deacon, then a teacher and then a priest. At age 16 I began to be drawn away from the church. I got a car and a job and was happy to indulge in the ways of the world, leaving behind the strict moral code of the church. It seemed like a breath of freedom to me.
I married the same year I graduated and carried the party attitude into the marriage. Neither of us was interested in religion. We didn’t want a church to dominate our time or our life. But after some time passed and we started having children our attitude began to change. I personally knew I was not living the way I should. I was bothered by the poor example I was setting for my children. Then a dramatic event took place. A cousin of mine under the influence of alcohol was killed in a car accident. The same morning of his death I was on my way in to the mountains to cut firewood and fish. I had no idea that anything had happened to him. I felt a presence in my truck and a voice said to me “Don’t let it happen to you”. It was a strange feeling and I shook it off and went about my day. After getting home I was in the process of unloading the firewood and Jana my wife came out to tell me that my cousin was dead. I couldn’t believe it. I really liked him and had a lot of fun partying with him. At his funeral I heard the voice saying again “Don’t let it happen to you.” It was from that point I began to re-open my life to the Mormon Church.
Jana and I took some classes together and Jana ended up getting baptized into the church. Things went fast from there. I was ordained an Elder and began working in the Elders quorum as a counselor. Next Jana and I and our children were sealed in the Salt Lake Temple. Not long after that it was time for our ward to have a new Bishop. I was called to work with him as Second Counselor. At that point I thought everything was how it was supposed to be but then things began to change.
My wife’s family began to change. Her brother once heavy into alcohol and drugs was different. Moving from California to Oklahoma to be with his parents they were now all going to a church called Word of Life. It was strange to me and I was sure they were being led astray. They had all now developed a strong interest in the Bible and in Jesus. Next my sister in law, a converted Mormon, had gone out to visit them. She came home a different person. She was now talking to me about being born again and the Holy Spirit and I didn’t understand it or like it. Up until this time I couldn’t ask for a better life. I thought my kids were getting what they needed. The pressure of not belonging was gone. I felt very blessed in life. But now things started getting confusing. Jana and I began fighting a lot and I was in the middle of a battle for my faith.
In the process of all this I had also developed a deep interest in Jesus. Out of all the religious people we learned about in Mormonism He was the most important to me. I remember while watching Monday night football I noticed someone holding a John 3:16 sign up. I didn’t know what it was so I looked it up. I believed what it said and remember getting on my knees for my bedtime prayers and saying to Heavenly Father that I believed in His Son and that I wanted eternal life. Of course our Mormon doctrine says that everyone has eternal life but I just wanted to make sure. I remember giving a talk in church one Sunday and encouraging the people that we need to focus on Jesus. The Bishop told me after church that day that he liked my talk and that we need to talk about Jesus a little more often. Unfortunately in Mormonism Jesus seldom is the center of attention.
This leads me to talk about why I left the Mormon Church. Many people were now praying for us. Jana had found something out that convinced her she couldn’t live as a Mormon and we were still fighting. Finally everything came to a head one night. After getting so angry and going outside to shovel snow I came back into the house so we could talk. It was late and she had her temple garments off again and I just couldn’t take it any more. “What is going on?” I asked her. She didn’t want to talk but I kept after her until she finally showed me what she had found, a little book called “What Is Going On In There” by Chuck Sackett.
The book was a word for word copy of the Mormon temple ceremony at that time. It had everything in it from the secret handshakes to the drawing of thumbs across throats and death oaths. I was shocked with the book’s take on the prayer ritual we performed in the temple ceremony. Around a prayer alter all participants were asked to repeat three words, “pay lay ale”. We were told the words meant “O God hear the words of my mouth”. The book however gave us a totally different meaning which sent cold chills through me. If a Hebrew heard us say those words they wouldn’t hear us say “O God hear the words of my mouth” but rather “O wonderful Lucifer”. I realized this was only speculation but it put me to my knees. I realized I had been deceived and in my bedroom that night I also became convicted that I was a sinner and gave my heart to the real Jesus to be my Savior and Lord.
From that point I began studying the very dark and secret past of Mormonism. I found its doctrines inconsistent, conflicting and confusing. The thing about Mormonism that upset me most is that it teaches “another Jesus.” The Jesus of the Bible and the Jesus of Mormonism are different. The Book of Mormon isn’t another testimony of Jesus, but rather a testimony of another Jesus. In the next issue I will compare the differences between the two