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Radio Free Mormon: 176: Born Again Book of Mormon Part 2

RFM reveals for the first time the contents of an unpublished manuscript.  In it, RFM seeks to answer six questions raised by the fact the Book of Mormon teaches salvation by grace!  Several surprising discoveries are made along the way!


30 thoughts on “Radio Free Mormon: 176: Born Again Book of Mormon Part 2”

  1. RFM…can I tease you a little??

    While going down the rabbit hole with you on this one, I suddenly envisioned the scene from “A Beautiful Mind” starring Russel Crowe, where his wife discovers his office with all the papers tacked up everywhere …and suddenly she gets a glimpse inside his genius tormented mind.

    And there you are anonymously, in your office bunker wearing your “CTR” cape plowing into the intricacies of the insane contradictions of the LDS church and its scripture…trying not to lose your own sanity or testimony…hahahahaha!!!…..God love you!!!! I’m now imagining your booming laugh on the other end of this…LOL

    All ribbing aside, its impressive what you were able to weed out and make some sense of. I have many thoughts on what you presented but I’m not thinking that was the point.

    Many thanks again for your monumental output. I’m very sad that I am about to join the long string of loyal listeners that must necessarily face a miserable withdrawal from the daily podcast fix. What have you done?????

    All ribbing aside, what you’ve done there is

    1. I haven’t seen that movie, so I cannot fully appreciate your teasing, Angie! Dang!

      Sounds like something I have to watch, though.

      I did manage to see the new version of “Emma” over the weekend, though!

      Highly recommended!

      And watching it a second time helped me see a lot of things I missed the first time.

      1. Oh you have to see A Beautiful Mind just for my joke alone….its a classic scene at a pivotal point in the story. Its a true story. Ill have to see Emma

  2. Yes, you can! (and yes, you did!) … bring daily information and entertainment in the midst of the global COVID-19 pandemic!

    Bravo for your 9-week run!

    1. I did!

      But believe me, the stuff I edited out of the podcast you didn’t want to hear!

      It is a good illustration of the fact that I typically edit out a third of what I record.

      Thanks for listening!


  3. RFM
    Just a few words to say thank you for spending hours and hours of your precious time over the last few weeks on our behalf your podcasts are always intelligent, interesting, insights into the world of the real truth behind Modern Mormonism that has so little resemblance to it’s humble beginnings’.
    Our journey out of the Church is not yet complete in that we were still, although reluctantly, attend every Sunday before Corona reared it’s ugly head and will likely do so for a while when things get back to normal the only reason being that every Sunday we take with us the only other Mormon in our village an elderly lady who serves diligently in Primary who would find it impossible to get there without us. One day soon we will have to tell her because now knowing the truth as we do we just do not want to be there.
    From your thoughts and conclusions within your published and unpublished works on the “Born again Book of Mormon” it seems plain to me that the reason Modern Mormonism teaches that the only way to salvation is by slow improvement over the whole of our lives by service to the church, on going works and obedience to the words of the living prophet and the giving of our time, our talents and 10% of our income + Fast Offering + Humanitarian Aid + Book of Mormon Fund + Perpetual Education Fund +++ Others because without us, the Members, there is no profit and no church just 15 sad old men with little hope of salvation.
    “Of all the bad men, religious bad men are the worst.”
    C. S. Lewis “Reflections on the Psalms” (1964)
    Coming out of Mormonism is to come from assumed absolute certainty to an empty void of not knowing even if Christ and Heavenly Father exist and one is desperate to try somehow to rebuild one’s faith not knowing how or where to look.
    However if I may plagiarise your idea again, haha, and quote C S Lewis he says:-
    “ When we lose one blessing, another is often most unexpectedly given in its place.”
    I lost the blessing of the certainty I had within the Mormon Church and found this replaced by non other than Radio Free Mormon a man I have never met who has helped me to come to terms with the uncertainty and is helping me to re-build my faith.
    My great grandson is the eighth generation born in the Pennine village where I reside the high point of the village is ScapeGoat Hill a wind swept hill with far reaching views of over 50 miles to the East, here, on top of this hill my Great Grandfather and his sons built the Scapegoat Hill Baptist Chapel. Their little congregation will be boosted by at least two when we finally escape we know from past experience that we will get the warmest of welcomes.
    Through our family history research Christine and I found out that our great grandparents were next door neighbours not far from this chapel on the hill and that through our DNA analysis we found out that we are 4th cousins so I now I call her cousin Chris.

    Thank you for helping me to find my way back to my roots.

    1. I just looked up a favorite quote from T.S. Eliot that I will post here, as well, because your comment about getting back to your roots made me think of it again!

      We shall not cease from exploration
      And the end of all our exploring
      Will be to arrive where we started
      And know the place for the first time.

  4. I have been troubled in the past by the phrase “remission of sin” because it sounds like “remission from cancer” which does not mean “cancer free” or “cured,” which is what I would expect I would want when “getting saved” especially if the atonement is without limits (infinite and eternal). Your analysis of the salvation described in the Book of Mormon seems to indicate the Book of Mormon describes salvation as being in remission from cancer (sin) for which we must be ever vigilant and watchful unto prayer until we die at which time we hope to be found in remission from cancer (sin) if we hope for a better afterlife. Thank you for your analysis! For the record, I don’t have cancer but I am a sinner 😉

    1. I think I see what you are saying, James.

      And yes, I can see that the way the Book of Mormon talks about “remission” of sins is similar to “remission” of cancer.

      It may be gone now.

      But it can come back.

      Spot on!

  5. Soteriology seems to make the assumption that there is a time limit on perfecting oneself. In other words, life is a test and you’d better hit all the marks prior to the final exam. So whether you can be saved with a deathbed prayer or must prove oneself over a period of time (while you pickle) I’d have to observe that with the presumption of eternity before us, what’s the rush? If we use parenthood as a model, how much time would we offer a beloved child to hit certain marks of righteousness or confessions of faith? I think the answer would be as long as it takes. Death seems an artificial finish line in a universe teeming with unused time.

    1. In a theology that depicts the existence of humankind as extending eternally in both directions, I agree that putting a hard and fast judgment expiration date on this life only seems a tad artificial.

  6. Thank you once again! That closing song was real good. I have never heard it before. I will have to look it up. I think the song High Hopes by Frank Sinatra could also apply to your marathon effort. You know, the one about the ant and the rubber tree plant and the ram and the dam. I imagine that you have spent at least fifty hours a week in producing these episodes. If not recently, in years gone by in your diligent search. You had some great stuff in the vault. Search diligently and teach diligently are two things you do well. I wish I could have been in your gospel doctrine classes.
    C.S. Lewis wrote,(since you referred to him) “Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: What! You thought that too? I thought I was the only one.” I appreciate all the other comments and the camaraderie.
    Dave, I bet you are a James Herriot fan. My wife and I read almost everything written by James Herriot during our first year of marriage and loved his work. We planned on never getting a TV, but we did eventually. Have you been to Thirsk?
    This point applies the 14 Fundamentals episode. Ronald Poelman gave a conference talk that was revised for the conference DVD set at a cost of $10,000.00 He had emphasized a difference between the “gospel of Jesus Christ” and the “Church of Jesus Christ.” He pointed out our need for more personal responsibility in seeking to make the gospel part of our lives. You can google an interesting Sunstone 2011 article on this. My point is that obviously revisions/corrections can be made.
    Concise prayers. Yes, can’t get much shorter than a plea for mercy. I thought of an exception but then figured that it wasn’t. Enos prayed for a day and into the night. That is still pretty concise compared to 70 years.
    Louis Zamperini is an example of one of those instant grace changing cases. Laura Hillenbrand wrote his biography in the book Unbroken. In the Second World War he was a prisoner of war and badly tortured. Before the war he had been in the 1936 Olympics as a runner. The morning before his plane crashed he had run the mile in real close to 4 minutes in the sand. When he got back from the war his body was too damaged to run again. He got married, became an alcoholic, had nightmares about the war, and lived for revenge on the prison guards who had treated him so badly. He was consumed with hate. His marriage was about to end in divorce but his wife went to a Billy Graham crusade and decided that night that she would not divorce him. He went to the crusade on another night soon after and accepted Christ. Immediately he was free from the hate that had weighed him down and the nightmares stopped. He was free from the deep depression that held him prisoner and he got free of the alcohol problem. He devoted his life to helping troubled youth. You might want to read or listen to Unbroken. It is inspiring.
    If you google “Baptist minister praises Book of Mormon for solid ten minutes” you will find the name Dr. Lynn Ridenhour. He was commented on by Rick W and RFM. Sorry you were banned from his message board, RFM. He says, “In a nutshell I have discovered that in places this book is more Baptist than the Baptist hymnal.” “Just like the Bible, the theme,-the central theme of this book, The Book of Mormon, is the Lordship of Jesus Christ.”
    I have listened to part two twice and plan to go over it in slow motion this week marking a copy of the Book of Mormon.
    These last two episodes have reminded me of a healthier viewpoint of the healing power of the grace of Christ. I went to a fireside where Stephen E. Robinson spoke on this very topic. I felt the spirit during his talk, that warmth in my heart. I don’t feel this often, rarely, in fact, so I remember it well. In his book Believing Christ he told how his wife just flat gave up-she just could not do everything to perfection. I have heard of a doctor in a small predominantly Mormon town who figures anti-depressants should be in the drinking water. These two episodes reminded me of the most basic thing as stated in Moroni 7:41. “And what is it that ye shall hope for? Behold I say unto you that ye shall have hope through the atonement of Christ and the power of his resurrection, to be raised unto life eternal, and this because of your faith in him according to the promise.”
    The part about the spirit one might “list to obey” reminded me of Fred Flintstone with his good angel on one shoulder and his bad angel on the other shoulder.
    I am glad that Outer Brightness and Searcher made contact with you. This rescue crusade is a team effort. “Here a little and there a little” “Line upon line precept upon precept.” It is a lot better for mental health to look upon saving grace the way the Book of Mormon teaches it than the impossible, depressing, and almost hopeless view that I think many people hold onto.
    Right, and thinking of basic doctrine that has been taught contrary to the teachings of the Book of Mormon Jacob Chapter 2 is very clearly against polygamy. 2 Nephi 26:33 very clearly says,”He denieth none that come unto him black and white, bond and free, male and female.” Clearly there never should have been a priesthood ban from day one if “the most correct book” and “the keystone of our religion” had been consulted.
    On the lighter side. Late one night a man answered his door. A six foot tall, two hundred pound cockroach reached in, grabbed the man, broke his arm, punched him in the face and ran away. Soon after the man was explaining what had happened to the ER doctor. The doctor said, “Yes, there’s a nasty bug going around.”
    Best wishes everyone.

    1. Jim. You ask have I been to Thirsk the answer is Yes many times I retired in 2007 after 25 years selling cardboard boxes I travelled 1.5 million miles during that time my biggest customer was united biscuits based in London I had half their business £11.5 million (Total spend £23 million over several of their biscuit and snack factories. I had customers in the Thirsk industrial estate the quorn factory being the main one. Every other Wednesday I did the Newcastle run leaving home at 6.30am in Newcastle on my first call for 9.30 then Middlesboro then down the A19 and across through Northallerton to Leeming Bar to see Richmond Ice Cream, Dalepak and the Pie Factory about £3 million pounds worth there on Leeming Bar Ind Estate. I always tried to hit Thirsk about lunch time great fish and chips the Town. I often crossed from the A19 on a quiet country road through a village called Bullamoor stopping to have a sandwich then 15min power nap before going on to Leeming bar by 2pm for my first afternoon appointment. I always stopped on the same grass verge in the middle of the countryside not a house to be seen until one day something very strange happened to me that I cannot explain. I reclined the car seat, ignition key in the centre console, door locked at 1.10pm I awoke with a start the car clock showed 1.30pm (I had no wrist watch) perfect plenty of time to get to Leeming Bar. Car would not start bonnet up no loose connections tried again still nothing the car was completely dead. My only hope was to get a lift to the Rover garage in Northallerton but very few cars use this road but after a few minutes one came that had to stop because I was in the middle of the road. Now the strange Part when I got to the Rover garage by their clock the tine was 5.15pm with their works van and jump leads we got the car back to the garage they checked everything but found no faults all they could tell me was that the battery had been completely drained of all its power very suddenly. After a fast charge I was on my way and I never had another problem with the car. My battery was completely drained and I lost 4 hours of my life. I totally believe that I was abducted because their is no other explanation. What do you think Jim.
      Yes I’ve been to Thirsk but strange stuff happen up yonder so don’t go stopping on grass verges.

    2. Thanks for the comments, Jim!

      Which reminds me, I need to do an episode about Ronald E. Poelman’s 1984 General Conference talk at some point.

      So much to uncover.

      So little time.


  7. Dave, Thanks for the answer. That is very interesting. I think an abduction is a possible explanation. I’m sure you have brainstormed every other possibility that you can think of. I respect your suspicions on the matter. It is at least a good working theory.
    Strength and honour, Jim

  8. Dave, I must emphasize that I just don’t know since other than some stuff I have read and seen on TV I don’t really know much about aliens. But I have come across odds and ends from people I have met to adjust my thinking from total skeptic to possible believer. The things is – you were there. From my limited acquaintance with you I believe that you are an honest and intelligent person which lends credibility to your perception. Best wishes, Jim

    1. Jim. Believe me I don’t share this with many people as its always a risk being labelled as crazy but your post to RFM shows a man who is intelligent and well read and when you mentioned James Herriot and Thirsk the memories came flooding back and I just felt impressed to break my silence.. I did some research of my own and according to the Yorkshire post over 840 sightings of UFO’s have been reported in the county since 2008 that’s makes Yorkshire a hotspot. The Todmorden incident in 1980 involved an on duty policeman called Alan Godfrey who lost time and swears he was adducted. My incident was late 90’s the car was only a few weeks old a top of the range Rover 800 2.7 litre V6 so it was in tip top condition a well tried and tested model known for reliability and speed they just don’t break down and the only way the battery can go flat is if the electrical system develops a short. The Rover Garage in Northallerton checked everything and found ZERO faults and they had no answer as to what could have drained the battery so quickly and so completely. This happened at exactly 1-30pm when the clock in the car stopped 15mins later I was in the Rover garage Northallerton their wall clock should have shown the time as 1.45pm but it was 5.15pm. I could not believe it and asked to see the guys watch and this also showed 5.15 pm. So where the hell had I been for almost 4 hours certainly not asleep in the Rover no way. I thought about hypnotism but dismissed it as perhaps too traumatic I’m just glad they put me back in the car fully clothed otherwise the lady who took me into Northallerton would probably have run me down rather than pick up some looney in the middle of the road totally starkers.

  9. RFM,
    I thoroughly loved your podcasts about being born again. I’m a fringe LDS who had a born again experience 20+ years, but was too ensconced in LDS doctrine to realize the beauty and purity of it. 6 years ago, I was one of those who fell desperately to their knees one night and “gave up” trying to do everything right. It was a very dark place, and I literally handed it over to God. My words were, “You will have to intervene because I can’t do it anymore.” Within months I had a series of different born again experiences that now brought into clarity my first one years ago, and I began to see with fresh new eyes. In an instant, the burden of certain Church doctrines were lifted. I truly believe in such experiences because of the complete change of heart I had and its accompanying joy that I never felt in the church or temple. Some beautiful fruits are compassion for the marginalized, ability to allow for mistakes, and realizing the truth behind our masks, including those of church leaders. It’s been freeing. I think the Book of Mormon has hidden treasures that can only be seen with different eyes (which is what repentance really is…seeing with a fresh new view). I think the BOM was truly intended to bring us to Christ, not to verify a one, true church. Sadly, that got lost in the “translation”…Thanks, RFM, I will miss your daily podcasts!

    1. Thanks, Amy!

      Since you have shared your experience, I feel I should probably do the same.

      The first paper was published right around the time I was despairing personally of doing everything that was set for me to do by the LDS Church.

      I tried everything I could to be completely obedient. But no matter how much I tried, I ended up failing. (That is why the C.S. Lewis quote I included in the second paper appealed so much to me. It described my situation exactly!)

      I tried the old Mormon method of working on one thing as hard as I could until I had it perfect, and then moving on to the next thing, and so on until I had them all perfected.

      (Surely I am not the only one to have heard this taught in church?)

      What I found out was that it was like the guy on the old Ed Sullivan show spinning plates on the top of long poles.

      He would get one plate spinning, and then go on to the second plate, and then to the third.

      But he had to keep going back and spinning the first plates so they wouldn’t slow down and crash to the floor.

      Eventually, the plate spinner got to the end of his plates with none falling and that was the end of the act.

      But obviously, if he had kept going, he would not have been able to keep it up and plates would have started crashing to the floor.

      That would be bad for the act, but it was what I experienced as I tried this experiment in my own life.

      It was like I could keep those first few plates spinning but as I went on to other things on my list to perfect, the original plates started falling to the floor.

      That was when I realized that no matter how hard I tried, I could never do everything the Lord wanted me to do.

      Which I understood at the time as being everything the LDS Church wanted me to do.

      It was so good to just let go and let God!

      To realize God knew I wasn’t perfect, didn’t expect me to be perfect, and was happy to accept me just the way I was.

      Which reminds me of another experience I had when my youngest daughter was about fourteen and told me she had an assignment from Young Women’s.

      The assignment was to answer the question, “How do we come to Jesus?”

      Without missing a beat, I told her, “Just as we are.”

      One of my favorite quotes from T.S. Eliot seems appropriate here:

      We shall not cease from exploration
      And the end of all our exploring
      Will be to arrive where we started
      And know the place for the first time.

    2. Amy,

      I have experienced this mighty change as well. If you’d be interested, I’d love to talk with you about your experience.

      RFM has kindly given me permission to leave my email address with those who have made comments in this regard. You are welcome to contact me. I’ve had a difficult time finding others of an LDS background who can claim this experience.

      [email protected]

  10. Thank you RFM! your daily podcasts have been like a near death experience… A light at the end of a very dark tunnel. I will now have to readjust my expectations to patiently await the next installation as before.

  11. You learn a lot revisiting the comments. I will have to go back to some other episode comments.Thank you for all the good insights.

  12. Radio Free Mormon:

    Wonderful episodes. It really is a shame that your article wasn’t accepted for publication because it truly illustrates what many in the ExMo community have come to realize, that Joseph’s theology significantly evolved over the course of his life and that at the earliest phase, was much more similar to the mainstream Christianity of his day.

    I wanted to offer some thoughts on this.

    1. Having been raised as a mormon (left the church in my mid 30s) and hitting all the required check boxes (returned missionary, married in the temple, etc.) it is absolutely mind boggling that I never picked up on the obvious “saved by grace” soteriology expounded in the Book of Mormon.

    2. Religious education in the church, even at the collegiate level, includes very little textual study of the standard works. The scriptures are almost always parsed in such a way to hide those problematic verses and coupled with official church interpretations that oftentimes twist the original meaning to fit more modern church doctrine. It is no wonder that the current church leadership seems to discourage in depth scripture study (without explicitly stating so) favoring instead an emphasis on reading and re-reading the talks by the current church leadership. Notice how the current seminary curriculum has shifted its emphasis from memorizing scriptures to memorizing doctrines. I believe that the church leadership recognizes that in depth study of the standard works raises too many uncomfortable questions for too many members. Thus the church education manuals are heavily curated and only superficially gloss over the scriptural text.

    3. As I stated above, it is clear that Joseph’s theology was much more mainstream when the BOM was written. This is reflected not only in the soteriology, but also the trinitarian view of God that it clearly endorses (post publication edits not withstanding).

    4. Clearly, as time went on Joseph’s theology expanded to include the elements that we are familiar with. Priesthood, temple worship, eternal progression, plural marriage. You have discussed as much in other episodes how Joseph readily incorporated/plagiarized outside ideas into his evolving religion.

    5. Your discussion in this episode raises an important question as to why the church shifted away from a doctrine of salvation by “grace” to a doctrine of works as a well as the deemphasis of “instantaneous salvation” and the promotion of the “subtle, gradual pickling”. I believe that this coincides with the development of the priesthood and the hierarchal leadership structure. The priesthood is almost absent in the Book of Mormon. Lehi was not a Levite, and yet offered sacrifices. Alma the elder was one of Noah’s corrupt priests, and yet somehow obtained the authority to baptize at the Waters of Mormon. Furthermore, salvation is clearly described in every instance as an intimate affair between the individual and God. For example, Alma the Younger is never required to confess his sins to his bishop and go through a repentance process before going out to serve as a missionary. I believe that the church has a vested interest in keeping the membership dependent on the church leadership for even the most intimate aspect of the religion i.e. salvation and the atonement. Were church members taught that repentance could be obtained directly from God without the interference by a bishop or stake president, then how would the church exercise its control over the membership? How would a bishop know who to disfellowship or place on probation if people were allowed to just go straight to God to get forgiveness. What would the Bishop do with all his free time if he no longer had to ask 14 year olds how often they masturbate. It would be anarchy! Anarchy I tell you! Joseph and Brigham to follow obviously understood the need of using their position of authority to keep the church members in line but I wonder exactly when did the current system of worthiness interviews and formalized church discipline arise?

    6. Lastly, your episode gave me cause to reflect on my own path within the church. I was a typical teenage boy, with typical teenage boy “hobbies” but those “hobbies” and the toxic doctrine in the church led me to believe that I was depraved and evil. It led me to stay up nights crying, pleading with god to take my temptations away from me only for those temptations to loom even larger in my mind. All of the promises of receiving a “change of heart” or having “weak things made strong” were ever so hollow as I struggled with what I now understand were completely normal biological urges. Had I been exposed to this notion of grace that you discuss, I wouldn’t have suffered anywhere near as much religious trauma nor would I carry as many of those emotional scars today.

    Thank you for all your efforts in producing this podcasts RFM.

  13. RFM:

    Thank you for your podcast and everything that goes into producing it. I appreciate your clarity of thought and expression and have been regularly inspired to learn and study more.

    Are your two papers available? Not that I don’t love to listen to you read them, but I would love a copy to read, and would love to see the footnotes. Thanks again.

  14. Hello, RFM.

    My name is Isa (pronounced Esa) and I’m currently in the process of listening to all of your podcast episodes and as of today, I’ve reached episode 177: Born Again Book of Mormon, Part 2. I joined the LDS Church when I was eighteen and thereafter served a mission and remained a committed Latter-Day Saint for the following nine years. I decided to leave the LDS Church approximately two years ago, however. I left because I was unable to reconcile the teachings of The Book of Mormon (which I believe, for the most part, harmonise with Biblical Christianity) with the current teachings of the LDS Church. I arrived at the conclusion that The Book of Mormon teaches a different ‘Doctrine of God’, ‘Plan of Salvation’ and ‘Gospel of Jesus Christ’ from the LDS Church and I felt compelled to choose between the two. In the end, I determined to align myself with The Book of Mormon on these issues and leave the LDS Church to embrace a Biblically based Christian faith which, from a doctrinal perspective, The Book of Mormon supports. Life has gone pretty well since then and I’m happy with the decision that I made. Ironically, when I’m asked about why I left the LDS Church by Latter-Day Saints, I often say that I left because The Book of Mormon is true (I’m agnostic concerning the historicity of The Book of Mormon but believe that most of its doctrinal content is nevertheless true). Stunned, they often ask for more clarification to which I then explain that if the teachings of the Book of Mormon are true, the LDS Church has clearly apostatised given it teaches doctrines contrary to certain of the central affirmations of The Book of Mormon.

    Is it possible to do a trade? I’d like a transcript of the paper that you read in this episode as well as the one you read in the episode previous. In return, I’ll provide you with a copy of my Dissertation Project. This past summer I finished an undergraduate degree in Christian Theology and for my final project I wrote a 10,000-word piece called; ‘Nephi’s Foresight or Joseph Smith’s Hindsight – An Analysis of Isaiah 48-49 in 1 Nephi 19-22 within The Book of Mormon’. I revived a First for it (the highest grade according to the British system) so it mustn’t be too bad. Let me know!

    Although you don’t know me, RFM, I know you. You’ve been a good friend to me over these past few years and your companionship has been a great comfort to me. Thank you for being my friend.

    Best wishes.

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