Betty Hollowell didn’t grow up LDS. She converted to Mormonism as a young adult. She told a bit of her life story in the July 2010 Ensign (69). Beginning when she was a young child, she always wondered, “Where did I come from?” Betty wrote, “Deep within my heart I knew I had lived somewhere before I became who I am now, but I had no idea where.”
This question frightened Betty. She thought (and still thinks) most people would regard such a question as “crazy” to contemplate. As a teen, Betty got up the courage to ask a pastor of a non-LDS church, “Where did we live before we came to earth?” Confirming her fears, the pastor told her she shouldn’t think about such things. “I was afraid he was right and that I was crazy, but I still could not put these thoughts out of my mind. I kept searching, but no one had any answers,” she wrote. A few years later Betty asked her question of another pastor, with similar results.
Though Betty insisted “no one had any answers,” in her story she actually included one answer that she received. One pastor told her that people do not exist before they are born. But Betty didn’t like this answer – it wasn’t what she wanted to hear.
It wasn’t until Betty met LDS missionaries that she found someone who would give her the answer she desired. And because she liked the answer (i.e., she enjoyed a premortal life with Heavenly Father), she joined the Mormon Church. She wrote, “I am grateful that the missionaries were able to answer the question that no one else could.”
I have often heard Mormon stories similar to Betty’s; people with deeply held convictions or questions for which they can never find answers or confirmation – until they discover Mormonism. I conducted a limited and informal study of this common Mormon experience a few years ago. You can read about the entire process and my findings on MRM.org, but I will post my conclusion here as, just like the three LDS converts in my MRM article, it also fits Betty’s experience so well.
What do these conversion stories have in common? None of these three people who later converted to Mormonism were just searching for answers; they were searching for someone who would tell them what they wanted to hear.
The Apostle Paul warned Timothy about this phenomenon: “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.” (2 Timothy 4:3-4)
These LDS converts (and I daresay others as well) did just that. They searched until they found teachers who would confirm what they hoped for. In due course, they turned their ears away from truth and were turned aside to fables.
Mormonism claims to have answers. Scientology claims to have answers. Islam and many other religions claim to have answers. But having answers isn’t the key. What matters is the content of those answers. There are plenty of religions willing to tell people what they want to hear; but an appealing answer is worse than worthless if it isn’t the truth—no matter how well it fulfills our desires or soothes our itching ears.
If the truth is what we really want, there is an unfailing source for answers to all questions of eternal significance: The Holy Bible. It is a two-edged sword dividing soul and spirit, joint and marrow (Hebrews 4:12). It speaks the truth despite what we hope to hear. And this is what it tells us: If we want lasting peace and inner contentment, to find meaning and purpose in life, we need a Savior. In truth, Jesus Christ is the only answer for the deepest longings of our souls.
This is really a good article and a topic I've never considered in this light before. It made me think of one of my favorite movies "Patton". In the movie, Patton and his aides are visiting an ancient battle ground and he's lecturing the group on different aspects of the battle. At one point he says, "I know because I was here". At another point he recites a poem that basically says something regarding in different "faces and form" the conclusion was of course his reincarnation. I don't think it's an unusual thing that people have thoughts and a sense that they lived before.
Vulnerable people are a favorite target of the cults. These people have questions and cults are more than happy to supply answers. Psychics are very good at asking questions and then based on the answers feed the information back to the victim. The victim is amazed at how this person can know these things. It's all a flim flam game but it starts with the emotional needs of the victim.
Didn't we have an article here some time back that Mormon missionaries scan the obituaries to get the names of the loved ones of the person who died to use as prospects?
I was just thinking about something Dr. Charles Stanley said yesterday regarding what a person believes. We need to consider three things: 1. What I believe; 2. Why I believe what I believe; 3. The authority by which I believe. So, I can believe I lived in a premortal state. I can say I believe it because I just feel it's true. Then, I have to say my authority is my own feelings and the teachings of the Mormon Church. Since the authority won't be the Bible regarding this specific belief, we have to reject it as false teachings. Sometimes simple things are just too simple to accept.
Betty is a perfect example of how the Bible tells us, people have itching ears and only hear what they want to hear. This also shows that since she did not like the other answers and only believed after she meet someone that told her what she wanted to hear, this is going to be hard to show LDS they have a false gospel. They dont want to hear the truth and only want to hear what they want to belive is true. We see this all the time with massive contrdictions in LDS teaching and scriptures. Rick b
I listen to more talk radio than I should and every once in a while there will be a promo for Art Bell "Over Night". This show is all about UFOs, psychic phenomenon and anything and everything spooky that the late night listener will groove on. These folks love this stuff and Art Bell provides a forum for them to entertain themselves to their hearts content. I was lifting weights they other morning and had the History Channel on and they were showing a documentary regarding the assassination of JFK. The true believers were articulating every wacko theory of what happened and spun intricate webs of conspiracy. They weren't going to give it up no matter if the evidence shows conclusively that Oswald shot Kennedy acting alone. They only want to hear about those things that feed into their fantasy.
Cults do thrive on people like this and the cults always have an answer and an explanation. What about all of the people that flock to John Edwards and his "Crossing Over" program where Edwards communicates with the dead. The people who believe it really feel it's true. They know it!
It's too bad no one ever told Betty (or perhaps they did, but it wasn't good enough for her) about residual cellular memory. What? Residual cellular memory -your memories are stored in your body at a cellular level (ask any massage therapist worth their salt). When we have kids and pass on our genetic material, memories can also be passed on and this is where "past life" feelings/dreams/memories can come from. Since Betty feels like she lived before this life, I'd bet that this is where it's coming from.
Falcon, jackg, mobaby, Rick B -so good to see you guys still on here fighting the good fight. Blessings!
One of the big things that hooks people is the "families are forever" doctrine. That doctrine makes families hostage to the church because if anyone dares to question it they are putting themselves in danger of not being with their families for eternity. That´s one of the biggest fears of true believers in mormonism, one that is so emotionally strong that will blind them to any evidences.
I do have to disagree with you falcon in one point – We have to be careful to believe certain evidences without questioning them appropriately, we shouldn´t just believe what someone says and presents as evidence without thinking about it or questioning it – The way you spoke about it is exactly the way that evolutionists speak: "there´s people that still believe in creationism regardless of all fossil evidence…they just want to keep believing in a mythological view created thousands of years ago" etc. It just doesn´t work quite like that.
This blog is very important because exposes and sources information that the mormon church doesn´t teach and mormons and non-mormons can find out if it´s true or not. We should keep this practice in every aspect of our lives, and avoid "only want to hear about those things that feed into their fantasy" – the search for truth is something that involves all aspects of our lives…
If people did that, they wouldn´t be deceived by any cults or wouldn´t be manipulated by any populist leader…
Those scriptures are important to keep in mind in this discussion:
Matthew 7: 14 Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.
Luke 11: 9 And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.
John 8: 31 Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; 32 And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.
Speaking of conspiracy tehories, check this out:
This is a radio broadcast that talks about how the church wants to take over the world by getting a mormon to become the president of the US, that then would use its military power to impose it to the world.
If anyone wants the full broadcast, you can download it here:
The title is "mystery babylon 29"
In the "old days" I used to listen to Dr. Walter Martin's "Bible Answer Man" call in show. I loved it! Walter use to say, "Question everything someone tells you, even what I tell you!" I've lived by that advice especially as it applies to spiritual matters.
Some folks are just way too easily impressed and convinced of everything from revelation (God speaking to them) to supernatural occurrences. I know this having spent a lot of time in and around Pentecostals. Before I got into this Christian apologetics to Mormons gig, I never realized the degree to which they were into (what can I call it?) supernatural, spiritual, God is speaking to me, I'm getting revelation, priesthood power pack, spirits of dead people are appearing during the temple rituals, business. This is one of the major hooks in Mormonism and because it is something that is so subjective, anybody can play the game.
So Betty, in the article, jumps right in with both feet without really doing any serious study on the topic. The cults work off of emotional need of the prospect and their (prospects') total ignorance.
I can’t say I’ve never thought about quitting this deal but for some reason I keep getting pulled back.
I’ve never heard about passing memories along genetically. I’d like to hear more about that. I must say, I’m skeptical. I do think that family traits can get passed along, but memory, I don’t know? Kind of an interesting concept. What does massage therapy have to do with it? I could use a massage BTW. I’ve needed one for about three years.
Thanks for the blessings, Andrea. Thank you for what you bring to the discussion!
Wait, don't you all see? This is the Spirit, calling out to her!
Hahaha, no. From a blog that celebrate's self-delusion,
The Misconception: Your opinions are the result of years of rational, objective analysis.
The Truth: Your opinions are the result of years of paying attention to information which confirmed what you believed while ignoring information which challenged your preconceived notions.
But before you take the blog's word on it, are we just looking for what we want to hear when we discount this convert's..experience?
Her experience challenges our "preconceived notions."
Yet ours challenges hers, and this concept spins in a circle until someone sets a standard. This blog uses the bible a lot as one, but there are other ways, such as the history of the LDS church and the reputation of Smith to not know what he's talking about (read the comments for a great discussion on some of the false truth-claims Smith made and believed in).
Very interesting. Thanks for posting it. I clicked on the links and was quite impressed especially with the comments on the Jeff L. blog.
I've been in a real quandry for several years with a process of trying to reshape my religious thinking (for lack of better words). I got saved during the Jesus Movement of the early 70s and have been right in the middle of every "movement" that born again baby boomers have gone through. I won't go into details but at one point I just got exasperated and in some cases disgusted with the "culture", the thinking, the pat phrases and vocabulary, most of the whole deal. I have friends that express the same sentiments. There is, I understand, a large population of us who have given-up on church for example. Now despite this, I'm in my Bible everyday, I often switch on Christian TV shows on one of a dozen stations on DirectTV and watch, critically, for a while.
I don't know if it's fatigue or what, but the religious eye candy doesn't do much for me any more and so I'm constantly stripping away and sanding my religious assumptions. My doctrinal beliefs haven't changed at all. I stick with those basic nine essentials of the Christian faith. It's the expression of the faith and claims of the supernatural intervention of God, that gets the microscope treatment.
A few decades ago I found myself in the BYU bookstore (long story). I couldn't help but notice a couple of women (at least 45 years old) having an intense discussion. I couldn't hear what they were talking about but they reminded me (exactly) of the women I knew in the evangelical Christian community. They looked, acted and had that intensity of discussion of those women I knew. Totally different set of beliefs, same behavioral characteristics. I'm sure if I could have dropped into the discussion I would have heard the same vocabulary and sentiments being expressed as those of the Christian women. I wonder, especially of the Mormon women, what would happen if suddenly they made some discoveries that rocked their Mormon world. I think we know when we observe the folks who figure out Mormonism, leave it behind, and have lost all confidence in religion. Same intensity but now they turn it on Mormonism rather than support it. Unfortunately, way too many of these people drop religion all together rather than finding a way to retool their faith and consider the claims of Christ a part from the distortions of Mormonism.
You and me both! 🙂
Years ago, a massage therapist friend told me that when she was working on people, she could sometimes see their grocery lists in her head. Weird, right? I've confirmed this with other massage therapists, including one who had done quite a bit of research on the subject. I've even heard first-hand accounts of people who-when a therapist was working on them- have suddenly remembered/re-experienced an event they hadn't thought about in 10-20 years.
Sure, it's all anecdotal and I'd be hard-pressed to find a published study on it, but every massage therapist I've talked to is aware of this 'phenomena' and agrees that our memories are stored in our body's cells. The theory that they're are passed along and this is where past lives comes from was related to me by the therapist that had done further research. Logically, it makes sense since we know that we aren't reincarnated, but it's too bad we can't scientifically test the theory…
Years ago I attended a presentation by the "Amazing Randi" (James Randi) debunker of all things paranormal. Someone asked him why people believe this stuff. He said, "Because they want to!"
Check out his website at:
James Randi would have had Joseph Smith and his magic rock treasure hunters revealed for what they were. A bunch of superstitious rubes!
Forty-three years ago I was transferring colleges and walked into the resistrars office and there stood a cute young thing behind the counter. There was an immediate "pop" in my mind/emotions. I was attracted to her so I married her! We're still married just short of forty-two years. So what's that about? I could read all kinds of things into that "pop" but the bottom line is that I was attracted to her. Now I don't mean to down-grade this romantic story but I think we could ask a few questions. Was I at any time prior to that, attracted to any other cute young thing? Do other people who have that initial reaction to a member of the opposite sex all get married and if they do are all of the marriages successful?
The reason I tell this story is because several years ago I was watching a daily feature on the Today Show highlighting various religions. The stories were mainly puff pieces. Anyway they interviewed a woman who had converted to Mormonism and she told an interesting story. She said that when she saw the two young missionaries standing at the door she knew that what they had to say was true. Really? Now Mormons groove on these types of stories because they interpret this as a supernatural revelation from the Mormon god. The tagline of course is "therefore the church is true." They discount any other explanation. People buy things from sales people all the time because they are attracted to them. In fact, people tend to buy things emotionally and then justify their purchase with some sort of "rational" explanation. In Mormonism, explanations tend to be spiritualized. And this makes it all true and if it isn't believed it's because the denier just isn't spiritual enough.
It's tough to give up an emotional experience.
First off, congratulations on the longevity of your marriage. secondly, I agree with your comments
on how so many people get hooked to religions thru emotion. There's few religions that can top
Mormonism in that area.
I always jokingly say that the longevity of my marriage proves there's a God.
There are people who like and demand emotionality in religion. I don't mind, really, as long as they don't confuse their emotions as a necessity of proving spirituality. Although if we remember, on the day of Pentecost the disciples were accused of being drunk when they went running out of the upper room speaking in tongues.
The type of spirituality that gets people into trouble is when they begin to use hyper-emotionality as proving that something must be true or as a proof that something must be an outpouring of the Holy Spirit because of how emotional the people are acting. It would be more accurate to say, in some cases, that what's being manifested is an outpouring of emotions and not the Spirit.
So Betty, in the above article, was won over to Mormonism because the missionaries provided an explanation for why she felt she had lived before. I'm wondering what other explanations Betty would have accepted to validate her feeling? For Betty, that she had lived before wasn't the question. She believed she had. All she needed was a confirmation that this feeling was in deed reality. Betty could probably have found an explanation in any branch of what's known as the New Age Movement. BTW, many in this movement believe in the power of crystals to do all kinds of things. I could see Mormons tapping into this because of their founders proclivity for using a magic rock to find buried treasure and translate Reformed Egyptian found on some golden plates. In the case of Mormons, they will search the Bible to find some verse that can be stretched, molded and/or trimmed to support Smith's nacromancy or for that matter, his adulterous behavior.