July 4, 1989
Dear Floyd McElveen,
Yesterday, as my wife and I were
leaving the Open House for the Portland Temple in Lake Oswego, Oregon, we were
handed your book, “GOD’S WORD, FINAL, INFALLIBLE AND FOREVER”. I was
driving, but as my wife began to read at the first of the book, she said, “I
don’t feel good about this.” I began reading your book and penciling in
comments to myself, and decided to write you some of my thoughts on it.
Only this morning did I find that there were two more books, obviously
anti-Mormon, included in the one cover. I felt that this was a deception
on the publisher’s part, at least; I realize that the authors often do
not have much control over the publication and advertising, etc. Then I
found the note on the back, regarding the three books included. At least
it was on the cover, but it has your name under it, so I don’t know if I should
still blame the publishers.
Now, my story. I was intrigued
that you, the author, were Conservative Baptist, since in my youth I started
going with my family to the Willamette Baptist Church when it was being started
by Jim Spillman. Previously we had attended Keizer Community Church where
my father’s parents went. I loved the Bible, and studied it eagerly.
I had good, concerned pastors: John R. Turnbull, Jet S Turner, Warren
Fleishmann (pardon, this is all from memory, if I forget anyone). I went
three years to Salem Academy, whose reputation I hope precedes this. I
went two years to Judson Baptist College, then in Portland.
Though I had dedicated my life to
Christ in High School or Jr. Hi, I don’t remember which, at the First Baptist
Church in Salem, and was baptized by John R. Turnbull, yet in college I found I
needed to know for sure if the Bible was true. I was aware of all the
evidences you mention in your book, but I wondered, if I had been born in
India, would I believe as the Hindus or Buddhists? I was encouraged by a
speaker at the Lents Baptist Church, not personally, that God would give me a
sure answer, if I prayed sincerely. I did. I received an assurance
from Him that the Bible was truly the word of God, and I have never doubted it
to this day.
Also, while in college, where I was
going with the idea of training for the ministry, I discovered for myself by an
examination of the Bible that the doctrine we called Eternal Security, as I had
been taught it, was not in accordance with the Bible, for the Bible says (in
one of the four places where the word “SAVED” is not used in a future tense),
“Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you,
which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; by which [gospel] ye are
saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed
in vain” (I Corinthians 15:1,2). Our security is conditional on our
standing with God, according to the Bible. Right after giving a summary
of the basic principles of the gospel by which we are saved, Paul says, “For it
is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the
heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, and have tasted the
good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, If they should fall
away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves
the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.” Hebrews 6-4-7.
As I could not conscientiously be a
Conservative Baptist minister as I had intended, I began to look at other
Churches. For a while, I joined the Salvation Army. They had only a
few points of doctrine, with which I then agreed. During this time I met
my first wife, who was Catholic, and we planned to marry.
Since I was out of school, I began to
consider my obligations for military service. I could not see myself
killing others. I considered even going to Canada to avoid the
draft. As I was reading in Ezekiel, I was clearly told that I must join
the Army. The next day, I went down to the Army recruiter and after
searching through my options, I signed up to be a Reproduction Equipment
Repairman - I was to fix printing presses. I trusted the LORD’s
direction, knowing that since He had given me the instruction, He would also
control my situation, that I might not need to do anything against His will.
I signed up for three years, of which
I was only required to serve two and a half due to political maneuverings in
Washington DC. During that time, I found the Base Chapels too
watered-down, though I liked the Chaplains personally. On Okinawa, I went
off-base to a Pentecostal Serviceman’s Center. I heard much about
receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost and witnessed their speaking in tongues
which they said was a sign of receiving the gift. I was convinced by the
scriptures that I should pray for the gift of the Holy Ghost, and I did, but I
never spoke in tongues. I went home from the Army disappointed in that.
I married my first wife in the
Salvation Army chapel. Two of her ‘fathers’ assisted, which I needn’t
tell you was unusual. She lived only six months after we married.
During that time, some Jehovah’s Witnesses came to the door, but my wife
said to have nothing to do with them. After she died, they came around
again. I was still searching in my soul for the answers to the questions
that had been raised but not answered. I studied with the Jehovah’s
Witnesses and even went around door to door with them. I saw from the
Scriptures that Jesus and God the Father and the Holy Ghost were actually
separate persons and not just one; They were one in purpose, thought and will.
I left the Jehovah’s Witnesses, however, because they taught that Jesus
was resurrected without a body, which was contrary to the scriptures,
especially Luke 24:36-43.
After that, I tried several
Pentecostal Churches, a Methodist church (belonging to none), re-married,
studied with the Seventh-day Adventists, investigated the Worldwide Church of
God, and fathered a son, who is now 14.
In each of these Churches one
doctrine or another was emphasized to me, and I kept these things in my heart,
as it is said of Mary. But I was at a loss how to bring all these
biblical doctrines together. Then, one night as I was working as a
custodian at the Salem Y.M.C.A., a resident there asked me what I thought of
the Book of Mormon. Now, to tell the truth, I had only once before (as a
High School student) opened the pages of a Book of Mormon, and before I did I
prayed, “Lord. I don’t have time to read the whole Book, Please show me what is
wrong with it.” So I opened it up to Mormon 8:12, which I trust if you do
not know it by heart you can look up, and I, pleased with myself, said, “The
Bible doesn’t have imperfections in it”, and closed the book for about 10 years
(forgive me if I’m off by a year or two). Anyway, I had a pretty good
idea, somehow, what I thought of the Book of Mormon. I told him something
like this: I think Joseph Smith believed he saw and heard what he claims, but
he was deceived by the devil posing as an angel of light. He responded
with, “You will need to read it and pray about it and ask God if it is true.”
Something clicked in me. I had had to do that with the Bible, so I
agreed. I read through the Book of Mormon, while praying, receiving no
answer. I began reading the Doctrine and Covenants, thinking, “This, if
anything will turn me off”, knowing that the strange doctrines were contained
in the D&C. I was half-way through reading the Doctrine and
Covenants, and walking to the Bishop’s home for some reason, which I have
forgotten, and the answer came to me. I recognized the answer as the same
that told me the Bible was true, and on top of that, all the things with which
my mind had been concerned for years seemed to find their place as if the
pieces of a jigsaw puzzle were to fall onto a table and take their proper
places unaided by human hand. Since then I have no more doubted the truth
or the inspiration of the Book of Mormon than that of the Bible. I know
that they are the word of God. I know that they are not all of the word
of God that has ever been or ever shall be, for He speaks daily.
I have been a member of the Church of
Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for fourteen years now. Since that
time, I have been through a divorce, gone through the Idaho Falls Temple for my
own endowments, been sealed to my first wife for eternity, my third wife and I
were married there for time and eternity and we were happily married for eight
years before she died. I have again married in the Seattle Temple for
time and eternity. This was not my plan. The first time I married,
I visualized growing old together and having a full life with my partner, but
it was not to be. I knew that she was happier with the LORD than she
could be in this mortal life. I knew after she died that I would marry
again. I had never been taught about eternal marriage at that time, but I
knew that true love never dies. And what of marriage? What is it
for? - To death do us part? Unless what Jesus said only applies to people
like the Sadducees to whom He was speaking, who denied a resurrection, or
angels, having a knowledge of the scriptures, and thus forfeited those
blessings for themselves.
Now as to your First book:
1. As does the Bible, the
Book of Mormon claims to be the word of God. In 2 Timothy 3:15 it says,
“All scripture is given by inspiration of God …“; It doesn’t say “The
Bible“, as it could have, if that was what was meant. After all, Cyrus
was named before his birth, for example.
2. As does the Bible, the
Book of Mormon claims to be preserved by the LORD. It claims to have been
hid up by the LORD to be brought forth in the last days. The Bible even
talks about it in Ezekiel 37:15-20.
3. The Problem of
manuscripts and translations: There are many translations in English alone of
the Bible, while there was only one translation made of the Book of Mormon.
I, for one, am glad that we do not have the original manuscripts of
either book that they might not become in themselves revered and worshipped.
Mankind has such a knack for finding idols.
4. Revelation was not the last book
written. Does that mean its injunction against adding to and taking away
was on hold until the Bible was complete? I know that God controls our
destinies and historical events, but this kind of appeal to circumstance to
prove a point of so much importance, is hardly reliable.
5. As with the
Bible, the Book of Mormon must be the invention of either good men or angels,
bad men or devils, or of God; For the same reasons given for the Bible, I draw
the conclusion that the Book of Mormon must be given by divine inspiration.
6. It has been
shown by computer analysis that the Book of Mormon, though coming through one
voice and being transcribed by only a couple of hands, that its source comes
from as many original writers as was claimed in the book itself.
I keep in my scriptures, marking the passage in Alma 48:7-9, a picture
taken from a National Geographic article on Peru (I have lost the date) whose
explanation reads: “Mysterious seal [describing the shape of the fortification]
stamped on the landscape of Peru’s central coast, a Pre-Inca fortification
rises from the brow of a rock bluff in the Casma Valley. Constructed by
an unknown coastal people two millenniums ago, the fortress came in time into
the orbit of the Chimus, whose dominions the Incas absorbed in the l460’s.
A six-foot-high defensive wall stretches across the plain to the distant
mountains ...” The picture, the date, the place all agree with the
passage as well as Alma 49:l3; 50:10; 53:7.
You refer to archaeology to attack
the Book of Mormon, but are silent where it contradicts the Bible. I
prefer to accept either scripture when they contradict archaeology, as I have
little faith in their dating systems. I do not believe that man has been
on the earth for millions of years, and I don’t believe the Bible will allow
8. Prophecy is a
matter of interpretation in many cases. I have found there are many
disagreements between ‘Christian’ interpreters of Bible prophecies. I had
a pamphlet I bought at Bible Book House in Salem, which gave [a large number]
of Biblical reasons why the LORD was returning in September 1988. I have
since, for obvious reasons, thrown it out.
9. There are
miracles in the Book of Mormon, there were miracles in the infant LDS Church,
there are continuing miracles today, in and out of the Church.
Why do you find it hard to understand
that a church claiming to be the one true Church would claim the others are
wrong? This follows logically to me. How can everyone be right? On
the other hand, It is hard for me to see how churches who can argue, if
silently, over how to baptize, how to handle the Lord’s Supper, whether the
LORD will come before or after the tribulation, etc. Why, if they call
themselves Christian, and recognize each other as such, are they not One
Church: One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism, as the Bible says? Jesus said, “A
house divided against itself, cannot stand”.
We truly teach there is no salvation
outside of the Church, but it is not meant that every member (or even most)
will be saved, nor is it meant that if you are not a member in this life, you
cannot be saved. What it means is that the plan of the gospel is taught
in purity only through the Church of Jesus Christ in any age, as Israel was
indeed the Church of Jesus Christ in a former age. The ordinances of
salvation are provided through it alone. As Jesus was baptized by one
called and ordained to baptize, so we must follow Him in baptism for “remission
of sins” (see Acts 2:38; Mark 1:4; Luke 3:3). Though He needed no such
thing, still He said, “Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to
fulfil all righteousness”. Jesus did not sin, but He is our example.
These ordinances are provided only by His Church, which He has called by
His name, and to which He has given His authority. Jesus called apostles, and
ordained them, giving them power and authority. Even after He ascended to
His Father, new apostles were called: Paul, Barnabas, and James, the Lord’s
brother. But the apostasy or falling away (2 Thess. 2:3) that was
predicted by the New Testament writers did occur (2 Tim. 1:15; 1 John 2:18),
and the Apostolic authority was withdrawn from the people, and they were left
You and I both know there are no real
contradictions in the Bible, if it is understood correctly, but the problem is
how we interpret the Bible. Let me give you some passages which seem to
contradict what you have said in your book:
Psalm 82:1 “God standeth in the
congregation of the mighty; he judgeth among the gods.”
Psalm 82:5 “I have said, Ye are gods;
and all of you are children of the most High.”
Psalm 85:8 “Among the gods there is
none like unto thee, 0 Lord; neither are there any works like unto thy works.”
Psalm 135:2 “0 give thanks unto the
God of gods: for his mercy endureth forever.”
WAS THE WRITER OF PSALMS A
John 10:33-35 “The Jews answered him,
saying, For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that
thou, being a man, makest thyself God.
“Jesus answered them, Is it not
written in your law, I said, Ye are gods?
“If he called them gods, unto whom
the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken;
“Say ye of him, whom the Father hath
sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the
Son of God?”
Jesus prayed to his Father,
“nevertheless, not my will, but thine be done”. — How, if they are the same
being, can they have two wills? How can the Lord have been seen standing
on the right hand of the Father?
Jacob said, “I have seen God face to
face, and my life is preserved.” Genesis 32:30
Of Moses, Aaron, Nadab, Abihu, and
seventy of the elders of Israel it is said, “And they saw the God of Israel ...
also they saw God, and did eat and drink.” Exodus 24:9-11
Isaiah 5:1 “I saw also the LORD . . .
and his train filled the temple.
I Corinthians 13:12 “For now we see
through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: . . . then shall I know
even as also I am known.”
1 John 3:2-3 “Beloved, now are we the
sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that.,
when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And
every man that hath this hope in him, purifieth himself, even as he is pure.”
In your third book you say on page
44, “Be sure the church believes in instant salvation, ... and that they
believe John 3:35a, “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life.. .“,
but on page 35 you showed that you understood the continuing nature of the
Greek tense, which translated fully would make the verse read more like this:
‘He that is believing on the Son is having everlasting life... This
doesn’t sound like instant salvation, any more than what I believe. I
believe, am believing, in the Son, therefore I am having everlasting life.
If I were to quit believing in the Son, where would my salvation, or
eternal security be? As long as I am believing, I will be working, doing
the works of my Savior. If I cease doing the works of my Savior, where is
my faith, where is my salvation?
In book 2, page 150, you say,
“Abraham proved his faith before men . . . by faithfully offering his
son Isaac upon the altar.” In fact, according to the Bible, “Then on the
third day Abraham lifted up his eyes, and saw the place afar off. And
Abraham said unto his young men, abide ye here with the ass; and I and the lad
will go yonder and worship, and come again unto you ...“ Abraham’s work of
faith was not seen by men other than himself and his son. Certainly it
would not have been understood if it were.
You say on page 149, “I believe that
the only reason I was delivered from becoming a Mormon is because I finally
searched the Bible.” I checked back at your previous account and could
only find that you were given several verses by a minister friend, and clung
(desperately?) to one (John 3:35) which you understood to be instantaneous,
which you should see is not supported in the original language (as far as it is
translated correctly). Actually the translation was fine, but the
understanding was murky; whenever you see the “-th” ending on a verb, you are
looking at a continuous present tense, but you can check that for yourself.
“And there are also many other things
which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that
even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written.
Amen.” John 21:25
“And I, brethren, could not speak
unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. I
have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to
bear it, neither yet now are ye able.” 1 Corinthians 3:1, 2. Is this
“For I think that God hath set forth
us the apostles last, as it were appointed unto death: for we are made a
spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men.” 1 Cor. 4:9.
“I wrote to you in an epistle not to
company with fornicators:” 1 Cor. 5:3 (note this is in FIRST Corinthians.)
According to The Analytical Greek
Lexicon (Zondervan), the definition of ‘aionios’ is “indeterminate as to
duration, eternal, everlasting”. It does not necessarily mean “without
beginning, without end.
According to Young’s Analytical
Concordance, FOR EVER
‘kol-hay-yamim’ is literally “all the
days”; EVERLASTING ‘ad’ is “duration, continuity”, ‘olam’ is “age,
age-lasting”, ‘qedem’ is “what is before (in time or place)”; ETERNAL comes
from the same Hebrew and Greek words as EVERLASTING and FOREVER.
Concerning the Professor Anthon
incident: Professor Anthon is the only one who claimed he could read the copied
inscriptions. It only showed him to be a fraud, hoping to acquire a new
find. It is obvious that he couldn’t read them, though he may have
recognized some of the characters. Martin Harris only reported what
You said the doctrine of Polygamy
“was against the law of the land ...“ Correct me if I’m wrong (please
give documentation), but the way I heard it, there was no law against it until
after the Mormons were in Utah, and then it was passed with the single purpose
of destroying the Mormons.
You write, “Obviously, if man is
going to live by every word that comes from God man must be in permanent
possession of every word that comes from God.” Obviously, man is not in
possession of every word that has come forth from the mouth of God, but he can
live by every word that comes to him personally, that he has in his possession.
According to the Bible, God said very few words to man until the time of
Abraham. This is not reasonable. How can one believe on Christ, let
alone the right one, if he never even hears the name, let alone the plan.
Most of mankind is being flushed into hell if I am to believe you.
God is the father of spirits. Is that just the ‘saved’ ones?
The Jews claimed to be sons of Abraham, which they were according to the
flesh. But Jesus said they were sons of the devil. We believe all
mankind are literally children of God, though the spiritual birth makes us
truly children, much like the example above.
You say that Jesus said not a jot or
tittle would pass away from his word, then, a few pages later you tell of 17
letters in question in one chapter of Isaiah, which is probably the best
documented book of the Old Testament, and then you say later that there are
nearly 200,000 variants in the New Testament manuscripts. I prefer to
understand Jesus’ statement in a way that does not make Him seem a liar.
Well, I have gone on and on. In
fact, today is the 5th of July. I have edited some things out that were
answered by further reading of your book(s). I have finished reading, and
am still pondering. Of course, there is much more that I could say if I
were writing a book instead of a letter. If you wish, I would enjoy
corresponding with you.
Yours, in Christ,
David E. Sawyer