My Mormon credentials are extensive. I was baptized at age eight, went on a two-year mission to Buenos Aires, graduated Magna Cum Laude from Brigham Young, and read the Book of Mormon at least ten times. In the Salt Lake temple I was sealed and became Elders Quorum President in virtually every ward I attended after my mission. Even after leaving the Mormon faith, I never really stopped studying its doctrines and history. John Wallace
Starting at the Finish Line defends the gospel that Christ died on the cross, paying the penalty for our sins, and that by trusting in His sacrifice alone, we can be saved. That’s not what Mormons are taught, but it is the main teaching of the Bible. Mormons believe the Bible to be the Word of God “as far as it is translated correctly….” Wallace shows readers that the Bible has been translated correctly and that it points to the cross of Christ Jesus.
- Why take time to defend the Bible? You said the LDS church already accepts it.
A. That’s the question. The Holy Bible (KJV) is still canonized scripture for Latter-day Saints, and yet the church has taught that it is a corrupt instrument of Satan. Is the Bible the word of God or a corruption of Satan? If we can trust it at all, let’s trust Matthew 24:25. “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my word will not pass away.” I am supremely confident that the serious seeker of truth will come to know that the Bible has been accurately translated as it was originally written. Interestingly, even atheistic historians do not necessarily doubt the accuracy of the biblical text. Their worldview simply doesn’t allow them to believe what it says. In the book, I delve into some of the archaeological and paleographic evidence we have that proves convincingly that the Bible has, in fact, been accurately passed down to us.
The Dead Sea Scrolls alone prove that the Old Testament is accurate! I quote one of the world’s most preeminent experts on ancient writings as saying, referring to the Old Testament text: “No work of antiquity has been so accurately transmitted.” This calls into question Joseph Smith’s assertion that “ignorant translators, careless transcribers, or designing and corrupt priests have committed many errors.” When exactly did these distortions take place? We have proof that the Hebrew text was essentially the same in B.C. 125 as it was in A.D. 895 as it is in present day. Furthermore, the Dead Sea Scrolls validate the text of the book of Isaiah in the Bible, not the altered copy found in the Book of Mormon. Moreover, Isaiah contradicts Mormon doctrine. Just look at Isaiah 43:10.
Do you touch on biblical prophecies too?
A. Yes. The Old Testament proves its own divine origin through its audacious and accurate predictions. Daniel prophesies the rise and fall of four consecutive world empires. He foretells the rebuilding of Jerusalem and the arrival and death of the Messiah. He even predicts the very day of Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem. I touch on this and some other Old Testament prophesies in an early chapter.
Would you mind briefly describing the gospel of grace that you lay out in your book?
A. Back in the Garden of Eden, Adam chose to sin and brought the curse down on everyone. By default we stand condemned before God the Father. Look at Isaiah 6 and you’ll see God is so holy it’s scary. So if we are born with a sin nature and we want to live with God in eternity, then we have to get rid of our sin. However there is no way we can do that ourselves. When I was a Mormon, I believed I was going to prove my worthiness to return to live with my Heavenly Father. But I never could! I needed God to make me right with Him. That’s what Jesus did on the cross.
Now the Bible describes Jesus differently than LDS doctrine does. In the first chapter of the Gospel of John and in Philippians 2, we read that Jesus is clearly called an eternal being, in fact, God Himself. He is not a created being or one of Elohim’s spirit children. He is God. Jesus says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father but through me” (John 14:6). This way is only possible if He is a perfect, eternal being. “The image of the invisible God,” as Paul says in Colossians.
Jesus Christ had to suffer and die to pay the penalty for our sins. He made himself the sacrifice we needed and by doing so became our sin. He did this out of incredible love for us, which was not a response to our loving Him first. If we believe this is true, we can know and really love God the Father and have the eternal life he offers.
Through rules, religion seeks to add to Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. The gospel, however, says what Christ did there is complete. Our sin died with Christ and now we can live because He lives.
When did you first question your Mormon upbringing?
A. During my junior year of high school, I asked my beloved bishop, who was also my history teacher, about an idea I’d heard through the grapevine. I’d heard that we believe God (Elohim) was not always God, that he was once a man like us, and that if we were faithful to all the commandments and ordinances taught by the LDS church, we could become gods ourselves and rule over our own world. My bishop forced a smile and told me it was true. I couldn’t wrap my mind around that. How could my God have once been a regular guy? How could I become a god like Him? That was the first seed of my doubts in LDS doctrine.
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