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Would You Convert To Mormonism?

Rusty - May 8, 2006

If you hadn’t grown up in the church, would you have converted? Of course it’s impossible to answer accurately (unless you are in fact a convert) but this is a question that has plagued me for all of my adult life. There are so many factors that determine the experience like where you live, how you are introduced to it, your age, current decade, etc. In addition, so much of who we are is determined by our living of the gospel principles, I mean, who’s to say I wouldn’t be a raging alcoholic?

So let’s set up the parameters to better answer this question. Assume your current age in your current life situation being introduced to the gospel by someone like you. In other words, the person introducing you to the church is not John Redelfs, John Hatch or A Random John (unless you are John Redelfs, John Hatch or A Random John), it’s a person with your same sensitivities, lifestyle and demeanor talking with you about the Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith and the church.

If you are already a convert, would you have still converted if this were the circumstance? Or was your experience unique in that you probably wouldn’t have listened otherwise?

I always like to think that I would convert. In my mind the Mormon understanding of the gospel makes much more sense than the alternatives… by far. I would have probably heard stuff about polygamy and seerstones and whatnot but if presented to me in the way that I think I would present it (big picture explanations with a few “I don’t knows” all accompanied by the Spirit), I think the larger theology would have won out. I think I’d convert.

Yes, I understand that this game is impossible, but who cares, play along.


  1. I am a a convert of about three years. I first went to church out of respect for a friend who invited me. I was uneasy about going based on my understanding (or lack thereof) of mormon doctrines. I, however thought very highly of this man and his family as did my wife, so we went. After the one day at church we asked for the discussions and the rest his history.
    I’m not sure, however, if I would have accepted an invitation from a schlub such as myself :).

    Comment by john scherer — May 8, 2006 @ 12:48 pm

  2. I imagine that if I did investigate the church, studied the scriptures, and prayed about it that I would have received an answer and would have joined. Of course those are big “ifs”. It is getting to the point where one seriously investigates, studies, and prays that is difficult… But I’ve seen it happen many times over and my own parents are converts so it is not hard for me to imagine myself being like them.

    Comment by Geoff J — May 8, 2006 @ 12:55 pm

  3. I grew up in the church with a long line of blah blah blah church ancestors. I have always found the doctrines to be so logical so it’s easy to think I would convert.

    However, that being said, I find the conservative political views to be logical and “true” and have a difficult time with liberals. Could a liberal introduce me to their point of view and would I “convert”….I don’t think so.

    Democracy is a great system, could I convert to being ruled by a king…a righteous king? I don’t know, probably not.

    I would hope that I would be open eonugh to the spirit to answer yes. But I don’t know for sure.

    Comment by don — May 8, 2006 @ 1:15 pm

  4. doubtful.

    Comment by john f. — May 8, 2006 @ 1:36 pm

  5. I did convert. And yes, Rusty, you would have too. :)

    Comment by Susan M — May 8, 2006 @ 2:35 pm

  6. we converted as liberals and slowly but surely, over 25 years, we became pretty conservative. of course a swing to the right also comes with age and wanting what’s best for the childrens’ best interest. the Gospel grabbed our hearts and souls, above and beyond our temporal views.

    Comment by jane webb — May 8, 2006 @ 3:58 pm

  7. I am certain I would convert. The bad thing is that I would probably never aproach myself to make any kind of invitation.

    Comment by Eric — May 8, 2006 @ 5:04 pm

  8. Well, I certainly hope I would have accepted. It is simply of too high a value not to. My main worry is that I would have been too busy, preoccupied, or proud to simply listen. But a miracle is necessary for every conversion, so why not for me too?

    Comment by john f. — May 8, 2006 @ 5:33 pm

  9. In my younger days, I probably would have, but with age I’ve aquired a certain skepticism and I’m suspicious (or cautious) of people, so if someone approached me right now, I’m not so sure. I’d be too afraid and too comfortable in my lazy Sundays and coffee drinks. I’d probably be very contented with going to church twice a year and feel good about it. BUT, If I let down my defenses enough to actually read the Book of Mormon, pray, and humbly be taught by the missionaries though, I guess the answer would be yes!

    Comment by meems — May 8, 2006 @ 8:25 pm

  10. My family has a strong history in the Methodist religion. But, if I were not a born-again Mormon, I would not, could not be a Methodist. I would be a Catholic. The authority to administer Christ’s church either continued in a direct line or was restored. I find no basis for a nebulous priesthood of all believers as expounded by many Protestants.

    That said, it’s got to be more fun to be a Mormon bishop than a Catholic bishop. Yea, the Catholic bishop gets a pimpin’ wardrobe, but a Mormon bishop can marry.

    If I were a Catholic, would I become a Mormon? I’ve known quite a few Catholics who’ve converted. They make great Mormons. I know that the question really boils down to would I pray about it. That’s what got me in the first place. I prayed and received a witness, not of the magnitude of Joseph Smith’s, but if such quality that I can join him in saying that I could not deny it.

    Comment by Floyd the Wonderdog — May 9, 2006 @ 11:47 am

  11. I don’t know if I would have converted or not. I took a big interest in the LDS scriptures as a child — but some of that interest was due to the fact they were around and my parents encouraged me in that direction. Whether in another environment I would have had a similar interest in whatever scriptures were available … I don’t know.

    It’s an interesting question.

    Comment by danithew — May 9, 2006 @ 3:00 pm

  12. Diddo to danithew’s comment.

    A lot depends upon what my previous religious/spiritual background would have been. I’ve always felt like God was merciful to me by birthing me into the church because He knew I wouldn’t get it otherwise:)

    Comment by Bret — May 9, 2006 @ 4:01 pm

  13. “……who’s to say I wouldn’t be a raging alcoholic?”

    Rusty, booze brings out one’s core personality and temperament. You’d be a cheerful nice drunk like I was, not a raging one.

    Comment by Steve EM — May 9, 2006 @ 4:21 pm

  14. Probably not. I’m gay, remember?


    But John Fowles was very helpful to me, pointing out a passage in my patriarchal blessing that suggests, marriage (to a woman) could still happen. I’ve been pondering this daily since he visited a couple of weeks ago.

    Comment by D. Fletcher — May 9, 2006 @ 4:36 pm

  15. No. Converting requires, it seems to me, a certain amount of spiritual exertion, which is not in my nature.

    Comment by gst — May 9, 2006 @ 6:07 pm

  16. Cool D. That was a fascinating discussion.

    Floyd — great comment. I also think that Catholicism would make the most sense absent a knowledge of the restored Gospel. However, whenever I think that, I am reminded of the contentions of Luther and other reformers, and I have to amend that by qualifying it to post-Vatican II Catholicism.

    Comment by john f. — May 9, 2006 @ 6:13 pm

  17. I’m with Eric—

    Sure I would have converted.

    The problem is I never would have shared the Book of Mormon or invited me to go to Church with me.

    Comment by Gert — May 9, 2006 @ 7:46 pm

  18. I’ve always said that the church fails miserably as a social club. Few are the wards I have been to that are nothing more than high school cliques and superficial banter. I continue to participate because of the spirit. So if I invited me to church it would have to be a spiritual meeting to get me to come back. We all know that no one would actually introduce themself to me.

    Comment by cj douglass — May 9, 2006 @ 8:33 pm

  19. Thanks for all your responses. Very interesting stuff.

    Steve EM, I think you’re right, I probably wouldn’t be raging. I don’t rage in any other aspect of my life, why would I when I’m drunk?

    D, your case is interesting. I’ve had mixed feelings regarding your situation because on one hand I think there’s no way a gay person would join into a church that has such restrictions on homosexual behavior, but on the other hand I think if anyone, no matter what their situation, if they’re humble enough, if they feel the Spirit that they would be willing to join the Church.

    Susan M, thanks for the confidence :)

    Comment by Rusty — May 9, 2006 @ 9:35 pm

  20. I think I would have converted because only our church understands the spirit world as I knew it to be as a very young child. The plan of salvation totally resonated with me.

    Comment by annegb — May 9, 2006 @ 11:36 pm

  21. I admire everyone else’s surety. I think I would have been a cynical atheist. And an aimless one too, probably.

    Comment by sarah — May 10, 2006 @ 1:21 am

  22. There are a lot of assumptions to make in order to answer that question. I’d rather explore the assumptions than answer…
    The first question I have is do you investigate other religions seriously now? If no, is it because you already have a testimony of the one you are in? Well what if you were born in another one and had a testimony of it? Now I know that some will say that is impossible and that people can only have a testimony of the One True Church, but I think that many people believe that their religion is as true as it needs to be for them.
    So are you not investigating other religions because you are happy with being LDS or because you’ve been taught all your life that the others are wrong? I don’t know for myself.
    What would prompt me to seriously consider another religion? What would need to happen for me to ask God if it is true? Do other religions have the same sort of ask and get an answer mechanism? I’ve always felt that the Moroni 10 thing was inspired in more ways than one.

    I suppose I should answer the question at hand though. And the answer is “It depends.” Assuming that I had the courage and whatever else was needed to study and pray it would depend on the answer to that. Or at least I like to think it would. And my problem is that I’ve seen people study and pray and not get an answer.
    Now again some will say that is impossible, but I’ve seen it happen. How long should one continue to study and pray? Should a truth seeker devote all their efforts to investigating the LDS Church or should they explore other faiths after some amount of time?
    I would hope that an answer would come and that I would have the courage to do what the Spirit instructs. One thing that is burned into me from my mission is that the Spirit usually doesn’t intervene unless you need to do something that you wouldn’t normally do. Often it is there to tell you to do something hard.

    I’ve rambled enough for tonight!

    Comment by a random John — May 10, 2006 @ 1:54 am

  23. I have had the same thoughts and my conclusion is, I don’t know, but until I can say yes my conversion is not yet complete. That my seem a conundrum but I think that that is where we need to be.

    Comment by georgeD — May 11, 2006 @ 8:42 am

  24. I’d probably be picketing at the SLC temple and calling you guys racists and mysoginist bad words. However you spell it.

    Comment by annegb — May 12, 2006 @ 12:18 pm

  25. I was a convert half my lifetime ago.

    If I had known then, what I know about now, concerning the history of the church and some other things, I probably would not have joined.

    When you’re going through the discussions, you are exposed to only a small cross-section of the Church, which makes it a lot easier to buy into. *shrug*

    annegb: I thoroughly enjoy seeing your posts. They usually make me smile. =) Like this one.

    Comment by FHL — May 12, 2006 @ 8:05 pm

  26. I grew up in the church and developed an understanding and testimony of the doctrines before I began awaking to all the social garbage one must put up with in this church. But because I already had a testimony, I stay with it. Had I experienced the social culture of church members first,…..there would’ve be no chance for me.

    Almost certain of it.

    Comment by john cline — May 13, 2006 @ 10:43 am

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