Why Do Most People Who Leave the LDS Chruch Become Atheists?
I recently read an article titled: “The Alarming Truth Behind Anti-Mormonism” By Dustin Phelps
The author makes some good points, however I do not agree with many of his conclusions. He implies that the only alternative to being LDS is being Atheist. Here is the link to that article:
Now here is my response and thoughts as to why do so many people who leave the LDS Chruch become Atheist:
To start, I want to share a couple of stories or “parables” to illustrate some points:
There once was a religious man who was very devoted to his church and his religious beliefs. He never doubted his religion because he never would question it. He chose to believe in his church, true blue, through and through. He did everything that was expected by his church. In his teenage years he became an eagle scout, went to weekly youth activities and summer church camps, and was ordained to several offices of priesthood in his church system. He served a 2 year proselyting mission for his church, graduated from the church university, and was married in the temple. Throughout his life he continued to read his scriptures, say his prayers, fasted and attended to the temple with his ward once a month, gave tithes of all that he had, and performed his church callings. He served in several high position in the church and was always exactly obedient to his church leaders. He believed with all his heart that his church was the true church and that since he belonged to that church, he would be exalted. Believing this gave him much comfort and peace, so he would reinforce this belief by declaring to all that “I know the church is true!” Over time he became more and more complacent in his spirituality and in his search for light and truth, for he believed that since he was able to maintain a temple recommend, he therefore had done everything that was expected of him, and therefore would be saved. In troubling times, he believed he was safe in his church because the church president would always be there to tell the members what they needed to do. He was so grateful to have such great men to guide him in life. Near the end of his life he could not think of any sin that would keep from entering into the Kingdom of Heaven. He maintained his temple recommend therefore he felt ready to go!
On the day of judgment, much to this man’s surprise, he was unable to enter through the gates of the kingdom of heaven. Confused and shocked, he asked the Gatekeeper, “Lord… Lord… did I not go to church every Sunday? Did I not serve a mission and maintain a temple recommend? I served diligently in the church, did I not do many wonderful things in your name?”
Then the Gatekeeper replied, “You never knew me. Depart from me, you cannot enter in the kingdom of God for you are without law or covenant, and therefore cannot abide in my presence and glory for your body will not be able to stand the everlasting burnings of the Father.”
“What!? Lord, how did I not ever never know you? I was part of the true church. I felt good about it. Did I not live your gospel my whole life, did I not go through every saving ordinance?”
“I gave mankind the ordinances not as an end in itself, but as tool to teach mankind how to enter into my presence,” the Gatekeeper answered. “You went through the ordinances, but never gave them any deep thought. You were never baptized by fire and the Holy Ghost. You never received your endowments directly from me. You went through the ordinances in a church, but you were never ordained by me. I am the keeper of the gate, and I employee no servant here. Only I can save you and you must go through me. You said your prayers, but you never cried from the heart unto me. You read your scriptures, but you never searched and treasured them in an effort to draw near unto me. You were exactly obedient to your church, but that was obedience to the commandments of men - not to me. You never inquired directly of me to know if the life you were pursuing was in accordance with the will of the Father; instead, you relied in your church for direction. I actually had great plans in store for you, but ye never sought from me those commandments. The will of the Father was that ye receive the testimony of me, but because of pride, your heart was never broken, and therefore you were unable to come to know me. I sent unto you messengers the same way I have always sent messengers into the world, but you rejected them because the message of repentance did not make you feel good as they testified of my word, which revealed your iniquities. You had your church, but you wouldn’t receive and have me. I’m saddened and hurt that you would not let me in. Because you never spent time with me, you never truly lived the gospel. I love you, but you wouldn’t receive my love, my mercy, my grace, my sanctifying blood, my testimony to become like me while in the flesh. Therefore, I can’t testify to the Father on your behalf, depart from me, ye that work in inequity.”
The man left in utter despair.
There was another man in this same church. He was exactly like the first in his youth and young adult years. He did everything which was expected of him by the church. However, this man was not as complacent in his spirituality. He felt as if he lacked something and he had honest questions about things that didn’t add up in his church. He would bring up these concerns up in church meetings, but was always counseled by church leaders to trust in the church because the leaders had the “keys”. He was told to have faith and he was told about longsuffering and enduring to the end. So he turned to the church and continued to seek diligently to do everything that was expected of him by the church in the hopes that he would receive answers and blessings. Despite that, he continued experienced trials and tribulation, never receiving comfort or aid from God. His family suffered though contention, tribulation, and heartache. He was frustrated and confused, for he was trying his hardest to be faithful to do everything expected of him by the church. He was exactly obedient to the church, but no fruits were coming forth. He didn’t feel any closer to God through his efforts in church. He finally snapped one day. Feeling betrayed and deceived, in anger he ripped down the pictures frames of Jesus on his wall and shattered them on the floor. In frustration he threw his scriptures in the trash. Instead of turning to the word of God, (he didn’t know how to receive revelation through the Word because he was taught throughout his life to turn to the church leader’s for answers and revelation). He turned to other sources for truth. Through the internet, he discovered several ugly truths concerning the history of his church and the modern day corruption of it.
He came to a conclusion and declared, “I have been lied to my whole life; this church is choke of lies and is false! Because this church is false this restored Gospel of Jesus Christ is a bunch baloney. I don’t believe in this make believe fairy-tale character Jesus. There is no such thing as God.” From that day forward, his heart became ever hardened toward God, and therefore he was unable to receive any guidance and help Christ tried to offer him. He chose Atheism. His hardness of heart eventually lead him to know nothing concerning God, and was thus he was taken captive by the devil, and lead by his will down unto destruction.
On the day judgement, he was sad that he was unable to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven, but it was of no surprise to him.
The first man died a church-going religious man, the second man died an atheist. Although both men had different beliefs they were exactly the same. How?
Because neither had a connection with God, neither knew God.
Why did they not develop a connection with God?
Because they both made the Exact same mistake: they trusted in the arm flesh, or the precepts of men. Instead of relying on wholly upon Jesus Christ, they relied in man, their church leaders.
Trusting in the Precepts of Man
Cursed is he that putteth his trust in man, or maketh flesh his arm, or shall hearken unto the precepts of men, save their precepts shall be given by the power of the Holy Ghost.(2 Nephi 28:31)
Why is cursed is he who putteth his trust in man? Why are we cursed when we hearken or follow the precepts of men? First, let’s define “precept” as it would have been used when the Book of Mormon was translated:
“In a general sense, any commandment or order intended as an authoritative rule of action; but applied particularly to commands respecting moral conduct.” (from the Webster 1828 dictionary)
Google defines a precept as “a general rule intended to regulate behavior or thought.” The precepts of men are the rules, regulations, beliefs, and policies enforced by men.
Religious organizations are full of rules, regulations, beliefs, and policies; when followed, they may constitute good moral and social behavior, but many of these precepts are unscriptural and not doctrinal, and therefore not the precept of God but are the precepts of men. Still, why is it dangerous to follow the precepts of men if they lead to good moral and social behavior?
The answer is false hope. When we have hope we have an expectation. God gives us hope or an expectation through promises and covenants, or laws, to live by. You can call these the precepts of God. God is bound to that law which he gives to us.
"There is a law, irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of this world, upon which all blessings are predicated—And when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated."(Doctrine and Covenants 130:20–21)
"I, the Lord, am bound when ye do what I say; but when ye do not what I say, ye have no promise."(Doctrine and Covenants 82:10; emphasis mine)
The Lord always delivers on his promises when we do what He says, if He wasn’t able to deliver, he would cease to be God. So, if we follow a precept of man, fully believing that if we follow that rule or law we will receive a promise blessing, will we actually receive a blessing? The Lord says “When ye do not what I say, ye have no promise”. When we follow the commandments men, we are not doing what the Lord has said, therefore we have no promise.
The danger is that people in religion struggle to distinguish the precepts and rule of men from the commandments and laws of God. They place their hopes and expectations in the precepts of man (commandment of men taught as doctrine in church), believing them to be the word and promises from God. When the expected result does not come from living the precept, they doubt and blame God, thinking that he is not a trust-worthy being, or that he may not even exist. The sad thing is, they only believe this because of misinformation, causing them to not understand God. In anger they turn away from Him, cutting their connection with Him, and drift towards philosophies such as Atheism and Agnosticism.
Can you see why cursed is he that hearken or follows the precepts of man? Satan LOVES the precepts of man. It is how he attacks us to cause us to hate and distrust God. Its proven to work. Satan even used this tatic in the very beginning on Eve.
Learn about how Lucifer deceived Eve by using her precept against her here: Precept of Eve vs the Subtle Serpent
The Precepts of Men is the Poisoning of Religion
"Yea, they have all gone out of the way; they have become corrupted. Because of pride, and because of false teachers, and false doctrine, their churches have become corrupted, and their churches are lifted up; because of pride they are puffed up."(2 Nephi 28:11–12; emphasis mine)
The precepts of men is the poison of religion. It distorts our perspective of Jesus Christ from something beautiful, adorable, intimate, magnificent, even playful, into something distant, overly formal, weird, stagnant, and something to be feared.
This is why the greatest opponents during the mortal ministry of Jesus Christ were the religious authorities of Judaism: The Pharisees and Scribes. They taught the precepts of men. It wasn’t necessarily their strict observance to the Law of Moses where they messed up, it was their adding to and diminishing to God’s original commandments in the Law of Moses. (See Dued 4:2,14:2) When man adds anything or diminishes from God commandments, or in other words declares more or less than God’s doctrine, (3rd Nephi 11:39-40, 18:12-13, D&C 10:67-68,93:24-25) they are preaching the precepts of men. The scriptures I just listed state that doing this is of the evil one, and if you declare such things as doctrine, the gates of hell will receive you. Spreading false doctrine by preaching the precepts of men is no small matter to God.
The Pharisees and Scribes taught the precepts of men through what the new testament describes as the “traditions of the elders” (see Mark 7:1-9) The traditions of the Elders were the outward rules and policies, which were more or less than the law of Moses, were unscriptural, and did not conform to God’s doctrine. Jesus, being the scandalous Savior and rebel He is, went out of his way to break every false tradition and precept of man, all the while holding true to the commandments of God. He condemned such traditions and precepts saying:
"Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do. And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition."(Mark 7:7–9; emphasis mine)
How many of the things preached and practiced in your church actually conform with the Doctrine of Christ and the scriptures? How many of the rules, regulations, traditions, and expectations enforced in your religious organization, are actual commandments of God? How many of them are an attempt to maintain an appearance and feeling of righteousness, or to maintain good moral and social behavior?Questions your beliefs and practices. Search the words of Christ and hold those precepts to God’s standard of truth and measuring stick: THE SCRIPTURES. If you do you so with an unbiased approached, with a sincere desire to know truth (Moroni 10: 4-5), you may be surprised by how similar your church is to the religious culture of the Pharisees and Scribes.
So, why do so many people who leave the LDS church completely lose their faith in Jesus and Mormonism and become Atheists?
Because they were raised to believe such precepts as:
"Follow the prophet, follow the prophet, don’t go astray."
"Follow the Brethren, they can NEVER lead you astray."
"The Keys, The Keys, The Keys!"
“The Lord will never permit me or any other man who stands as President of this Church to lead you astray. It is not in the programme. It is not in the mind of God. If I were to attempt that, the Lord would remove me out of my place, and so He will any other man who attempts to lead the children of men astray from the oracles of God and from their duty.”
"STAY IN THE BOAT!"
"The book is blue, therefore the Church is true."
|Is this belief doctrinal, or is is a precept of man?|
Find out here:
Can the Prophet Lead You Astray?
From a young age, millennials have been conditioned to place their trust in man and make flesh their arm. They are raised to believe the biggest and most damaging precept of all:
The Gospel of Jesus Christ and the Church are the same thing. In order to live the Gospel you MUST remain an active member of the Church.
This is a lie, but millennials, because of their upbringing in the false traditions of Mormon culture, cannot separate God from a religious organization. When they noticed the lack of fruits in the church, when they discover ugly church history that reveals the abominations and doctrinal contradictions of a past church leader, when they recognize the priestcraft and corruption in the modern church and realize that the brethren are in fact fallible, that they are just men who can indeed lead you astray, and who contradict and wrest the scriptures, these unfortunate souls reject the church outright, and in the process, throw-out the Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith, the Restoration, and Jesus Christ.
This is why religion, when corrupted with the precepts of men, becomes the greatest opponent and enemy of Jesus Christ. Ironically, this why institutionalized religion has been and still remains the greatest stumbling block for those seeking to come unto Christ. (see 2nd Nephi 26:20)
This is why Satan loves the Precepts of Man and uses corrupted religion to cause God’s children to distrust and disbelieve Christ.
This is why so many people who leave Church become Atheist. This isn't something to be proud about or to be used as argumentum for the LDS Chruch being "the true church"; that through rejecting the church you can no longer find truth anywhere else. The Chruch should be deeply concerned and take into consideration that maybe because of their pride, false teacher, fasle doctrines, they are driving honest truth seekers away from Christ, proselyting far and wide only to, as the bible puts it, make people twofold more the child of hell than themselves. (Mathew 23:15)
Beware of trusting in false doctrine, the precepts of men. Just as leaven in bread will change the chemical make-up of the bread, false doctrine is what poisons religion and perverts our perspective of God.
"Then Jesus said unto them, Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees….Then understood they how that he bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees."(Matthew 16:6-12; emphasis mine)
How to Avoid the Following the Precepts of Man
The truth, Jesus Christ, is independent of all religious organization, and although a church may be dependent upon the Holy Ghost, the priesthood, and Christ; the Holy Ghost, the priesthood, and Christ are not dependent upon the church. The Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ and the LDS church are two different things. One is dependent upon the other. Never in the history of mankind, or in the scriptures, has a person been saved, exalted, or redeemed because of their testimony in a Church organization. It was always their testimony in Jesus Christ, their relationship with God, which brought them salvation. Study the Book of Mormon and tell me this is not so.
When Jesus was on the coast of Caesarea Philippi he asked his disciples the most important question one can ask themselves concerning Jesus, “But whom say ye that I am” (Mathew 16:15)
Jesus was pleased with Simon Peter’s answer, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” (Mathew 16:16)
Jesus replied saying:
Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.(Matthew 16:17–18; emphasis mine)
Mortal man is made of flesh and blood. Blessed is Peter because he didn’t receive this knowledge that Jesus is the Christ from another man, or in other words, the arm of flesh. He received this knowledge directly from God. This rock is referring to how Peter received this personal testimony: directly from God the Father. Jesus then declares that upon this rock will He build His church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. This language is used at the end of 3rd Nephi 11 when He is describing the doctrine of Christ. The entire purpose of the Doctrine of Christ is to enable you to receive the Holy Ghost so that you can become one with God, thus establishing your own personal and direct connection and relationship with Jesus Christ. This what the actual Church of God consists of. The Rock is each individual coming to know the Lord for themselves. This privilege is not reserved for the select few elite religious “authorities”, but for each person, from the least unto the greatest.
"But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more."(Jeremiah 31:33–34;emphasis mine)
This is why the Lord has declared through the Prophet Joseph Smith concerning those who are members of God’s church:
“Behold, this is my doctrine—whosoever repenteth and cometh unto me, the same is my church. Whosoever declareth more or less than this, the same is not of me, but is against me; therefore he is not of my church.”(Doctrine and Covenants 10:67–68)
Christ’s church is not limited to a copyrighted trademark of a religious organization. Its members will consist of people from all walks life who have repented and have come unto Christ. (see 3rd Nephi 18:25 for what it means to come unto Christ). Each person will know for themselves, not merely believe, that Jesus is the Christ, because they received that knowledge of Christ not by man, nor the will of man, neither by beginning of days nor end of years, but from God. (see JST Gen14:28-29)
When you are connected directly to Christ, and receive the word of God DIRECTY from God, and not the polluted precepts of men, then will you have an assurance that the life you are pursuing is in accordance with the will of the Father. Trusting wholly in Jesus is how you avoid the precepts of men.
Is Atheism Really the Only Alternative When Leaving the Church?
Atheism is not the only alternative to membership in the LDS church. I am proof of that. During my service as an LDS missionary, I had my crisis of faith. I had to choose whether I would trust in man or trust in Christ. I chose to follow Jesus Christ, and in that process I found God. He has required much from me, which has included my membership in the LDS church. Although I am not LDS, I am still very much a Mormon because of my testimony of the Book of Mormon. I received a divine witness of that book at a young age. I believe that Joseph Smith is a Prophet, and I have come to know, for myself, that Jesus Christ is a very real, personal, and intimate God. He is my Savior and my Lord. He is my Jesus. The words of Christ, the scriptures, the Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, are what keeps me anchored in truth. The Doctrine of Christ as found in 3rd Nephi 11, 2nd Nephi 32-31, and Moses 6 is the foundation upon which I build. I have not converted to another church organization; my conversion is an ongoing one to Jesus Christ. I seek to belong to Him. I am a non-denominational Mormon and Christian. I don’t consider Non-Denominationalism as a gateway to Atheism; in contrast, my faith in God and devotion to Him is stronger now than it ever was when I belonged to a denominated religion.
In my journey with Christ, I have come to know many people who have left the LDS church and have since become more immersed in the words of Christ and are closer to God than they have ever been before. It may be true that many people who leave the church abandon God in the process, but that is not the case for all. There are people, who in the effort to seek for greater light and knowledge, and deeper intimacy and love with God, have realized that in order to keep God’s commandments, they must forsake the precepts of men. In that process, they have been forced to sacrifice their membership in LDS Church.
Atheism is not the only alternative to membership in the LDS Church. Another alternative is to repent, rely wholly upon Jesus Christ, abide in His doctrine and gospel, and come to know Him, today.
"Verily, thus saith the Lord: It shall come to pass that every soul who forsaketh his sins and cometh unto me, and calleth on my name, and obeyeth my voice, and keepeth my commandments, shall see my face and know that I am"(Doctrine and Covenants 93:1)
"Behold, this is the doctrine of Christ, and there will be no more doctrine given until after he shall manifest himself unto you in the flesh. And when he shall manifest himself unto you in the flesh, the things which he shall say unto you shall ye observe to do."(2 Nephi 32:6)
"And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent"(John 17:3)
"Enter ye in at the strait gate; for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, which leadeth to destruction, and many there be who go in thereat; Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it."(3 Nephi 14:13–14)
"O then, my beloved brethren, come unto the Lord, the Holy One. Remember that his paths are righteous. Behold, the way for man is narrow, but it lieth in a straight course before him, and the keeper of the gate is the Holy One of Israel; and he employeth no servant there; and there is none other way save it be by the gate; for he cannot be deceived, for the Lord God is his name."(2 Nephi 9:41)
"Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me."(John 14:6)
"And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall."(Helaman 5:12)