I am a convert to Mormonism. I grew up attending a mainline Protestant church where both my parents served in leadership positions. We were close to our ministers, and we participated in many activities in our church. I also attended numerous worship services in the Catholic Church and in the Jewish faith as well. As I left for college, my mother became more attracted to Eastern philosophies. So over the years I have read numerous sacred works in Buddhism, Hinduism, and Taoism. All of these faiths have a great deal to offer, and I value my exposure to them.
However, as a student at Dartmouth College, I came in contact with Latter-day Saints. They were bright, happy, energetic, involved, kind, caring, and sincerely spiritual. I was very drawn to them. When I was with them, I felt things that I had not felt much—if at all—before. I began to learn that there is much more to life than meets the eye. There is much that is non-physical, but spiritual. There is a grand dimension to us that is beyond biology, chemistry, or physics.
The feelings that grew within me were discernibly distinct, too, from physical and emotional feelings that I knew. They were not of my mind—I did not seek them; I did not want them, and I resisted them. I had every reason to not give in to these promptings from the Holy Ghost.
Yet I had to be intellectually honest. I had had questions about the nature of God, and the authority to represent Him, for years. In my prior religious exposures, I did not get answers that made sense. I had been told that God was everywhere, but nowhere, and I was taught repeatedly that God had no resemblance to us. Yet clearly those precepts had no relation to the God of the Old and New Testaments.
I also had been told that men could represent God due to their scholarship, or they could represent God because councils authorized them to do so, or they had authority from God through the Bible. But again, these things had no validity in the Bible itself.
On the other hand, the experiences of Joseph Smith receiving divine revelation, authority, and ongoing direction surely were aligned with Biblical patterns and prophecies. The universal apostasy, the restoration of the Priesthood, the coming forth of the Book of Mormon, the doctrine of the Godhead and Mankind, the doctrines of life, salvation, and exaltation, the commandments, the ordinances, temples and redemption for the dead, missionary work, ongoing revelation, and more—all were perfectly Biblical and sensible.
My mind reasoned, and the Bible confirmed: If there is indeed more to us than mere chemistry and physics, this spiritual dimension must have come from something other than the physical. It is reasonable then that there is a living God, Father of our Spirits. If He is our Father, then He loves us. If He loves us, then He wants us to be happy, and to have all that He enjoys.
Surely, a loving Father would teach us how to become like him; He would give us commandments, ordinances, and divine helps that likely run counter to our limited reason—surely His ways are much higher than, and different from ours. Because we are far from godly, we must need help beyond that which is human. We must need a divine Redeemer. Jesus of Nazareth fits that role of Messiah (Christ) perfectly. He taught the perfect way. He offered the perfect sacrifice.
Surely He would have mankind record His perfect way. The Bible is a much better guide to God’s ways than man’s feeble intellect. Scripture is always preferred to human intellect.
However, human interference corrupted Christ’s perfect truths. Doctrines and ordinances were changed and perverted. God’s authority was lost. Religions retained parts of the truth, and semblances of ordinances and authority, but they were not fully as God knows we need in order to inherit all that He wants for us.
With the fullness of Christ’s pure Gospel corrupted, perverted, and lost, mankind could not construct a living Heavenly tree of life from a dead branch. God would have to restore it directly. I saw that a reformation would have been insufficient; a restoration was clearly called for.
The coming of God and His Son to a boy made sense too. How could the great ones receive a fullness that they had a vested interest in holding back?
And of course it made perfect sense to me that because Jesus is the Savior of the (entire) world, then He must have offered salvation to more than just the people of Palestine. Would not God have sent the Gospel to all His children able and willing to receive it? Would they not record it too? Would not the stories of ancient Americans make sense vis-à-vis the Book of Mormon?
Now came the important part. My mind was satisfied, but that alone was not sufficient. My spirit, my heart, my will, my very nature had to be converted. As my reason became satisfied, I grew willing to humble my will, and then to be touched by God’s Holy Spirit. I felt the power of the Holy Ghost changing me deeply. I was being reborn through faith in Jesus Christ.
In all my pursuits of various other faiths, I have never been saved, converted, and brought to Father in Heaven as I have been through my Mormon faith. It is singular in its origin, its truth, and its saving, redeeming power. It is true—wholly and completely. I know that better than I know anything else.
To know that I am a son of a real Heavenly Father who has a plan of happiness and salvation for me is the rock-solid foundation of my life. To know that we have a Savior from death and the bondage of sin brings such great relief. To understand Jesus’ example and to strive to follow it brings me closer to my family, friends, neighbors, and all mankind. To love the scriptures and to feast upon them feeds me with delicious nourishment unavailable anywhere else. And they are an iron rod through all mists of darkness, doubt, and despair. To serve within, and to be led and served by, the authentic priesthood of God warms me and keeps me in balance. To know of the restoration of the fullness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ through the Prophet Joseph Smith is exciting to me; I thrill at his example. To be able to walk in the House of the Lord, his holy temple, and to be sealed to past and future generations, allows me to touch a bit of Heaven. To have full faith in prayer, to see prayers answered miraculously, and to have access to personal revelation, is true happiness. And to share this knowledge, these gifts and these blessings with others is not only my duty, but my joy.
Gordon F. Holbein is a Senior Lecturer in Strategy and Leadership at the University of Kentucky. He earned his Bachelor of Arts in Geography from Dartmouth College (1978), his Master of Business Administration in Organization and Management from Syracuse University (1983), and his Ph.D. in Business Administration from The Pennsylvania State University (1996).
Posted May 2012