Bruce A Holt
Date: December 22, 2015 12:45PM
TL;DR An uncle I've been very close to my whole life just learned of my unbelief and wrote a letter. I had the confidence not to take the bait but still responded firmly and lovingly. I am recovered.
My mother is the eldest of nine children. I am my mother's eldest. I have two aunts younger than me. One uncle was (he died at age 10) two years older than me and his brother just older than he is 5 years older than I am.
This said to indicate a close relationship with my mom's brothers and sisters. They are closer than the usual aunts and uncles in that they were also some of my best friends growing up!
On uncle is 10 years my senior. He was almost a surrogate father while I attended BYU after high school and before I served my mission. I served in Australia. So did he. He was a Stake President when my second wife and I got married and he performed the civil ceremony. He also served as a Mission President in Croatia somewhat recently.
We've been close our whole lives.
I recently received a letter from him, about a week after he learned of my unbelief.
"I am filled with sadness and disappointment after reading your “nonsense” letter to family. It came across to me that you are very prideful. You glory in being “learned”. Learning the truth only happens by #1 the power of the Holy Ghost ( Moroni 10: 5-6 ) and #2 by doing the will of the Father ( John 7: 15-18 )."
"Bruce read Jacob 4: 14. This applies to you. You have desired to prove the church is not true, so you can cover up your own weaknesses. God has given you agency and you have desired to use that agency to prove the church is not true. Because you have desired it God has allowed you to fall."
"You have not done the will of the Father. Instead you have pursued “learning” which is tainted by the Adversary. Part of your problem is your life has always been about you. Where is the service to others? Especially where is the service to your family. Get rid of personal pride. Forget yourself and instead live a life of service to others."
"You are not honest with family, yourself, nor are you honest with God. Quit breaking covenants that you have made. You can not justify evil thoughts and actions by your “learning”. Your “learning” will not only lead you down, but it will drag others down. You will be accountable for this. What about Mary? What about your children? What about family? You can not excuse your actions both past and present by announcing you have “learned”. The truth of all things is only learned by the power of the Holy Ghost and by doing the will of the Father."
"Your life is headed in a direction that will bring much sorrow in this life and in the world to come. You have rejected God and his blessings. Repent and change your ways. Reconcile yourself to the will of God ( 2 Nephi 10: 24 ). If you don’t you will be very unhappy ( D&C 63: 13-20 ). Wickedness never was happiness ( Alma 41: 10 )."
"Get back to doing simple things that will increase your faith in Jesus Christ. #1 Pray morning and night. Ask and ye shall receive. #2 Attend Church. #3 Partake of the sacrament and ponder and worship as you do so. #4 Live a worthy life. Be worthy of and obtain a temple recommend and use it every week. #5 Give service to others."
"Remember being 'learned' is not a compliment. I love you and encourage you to change. Use your idle time in a wiser way than seeking to disprove the church."
"I have watched you and loved you all of your life. I remember tending you when you were an infant baby. I also remember you living in our home for a while. Please do not disappoint me and your family. If you choose to continue this path I will still love you, but I will and others will have a lot of heart ache because of your actions."
In my response I did not address many of the accusations made simply because I think he wrote as a knee-jerk reaction. It's obvious to me he put little thought into it. My response follows.
Again I quote:
"I very much appreciate your concern and your love. You are more than just a 'respected elder' in the family to me! But I do need to clear up some misconceptions."
"I certainly don’t consider myself 'learned'. That label was applied to me by my Bishop but his intent, after I reminded him of its negative connotation, was nothing more than recognition of the study I had undertaken while unable to regularly attend church in 2013 and 2014 due to work. At the time I was a leader in the High Priest Group (First Assistant) as well as a frequent instructor when able to attend and I needed a way to maintain my spirituality, aside from attending to all my priesthood assignments. Anyway, that garnered me the “learned” label from my current Bishop."
"My intent was never to prove the church wrong. In fact, my intent was the exact opposite: to protect my spirituality during a time when I could not regularly attend church!"
"The fact is, I did learn. So I’m 'learned' in one sense but I do not boast about it. I only offer this by way of background and explanation. So, we can let that label drop. I was not the one who considered himself 'learned.'"
"My Bishop, Stake President and our local Area Seventy have all been concerned in a similar fashion to you. I have given them a portion of the information that drove my own decision. Only a portion, mind you. None of them have an answer to it yet. In the meantime, I have promised them I will not teach this information. My Bishop is now our Home Teacher. He hasn’t yet brought up my state since that first meeting back in July. Since my one meeting with the Stake President and Area Seventy (they came together) in August I have only had one letter from the Area Seventy. I replied and copied my Stake President and Bishop, so they all stay current with one another. I have nothing further from my Stake President. In over 5 months they have not found any way to counter. They’re basically leaving me alone for now."
"Since I promised not to share/teach my information, I’ll just leave you with the following quotes to help you understand where I am coming from:
"We believe in all truth, no matter to what subject it may refer. No sect or religious denomination [or, I may say, no searcher of truth] in the world possesses a single principle of truth that we do not accept or that we will reject. We are willing to receive all truth, from whatever source it may come; for truth will stand, truth will endure.” - Joseph F. Smith, Gospel Doctrine: Sermons and Writings of President Joseph F. Smith
"Mormonism, as it is called, must stand or fall on the story of Joseph Smith. He was either a prophet of God, divinely called, properly appointed and commissioned, or he was one of the biggest frauds this world has ever seen. There is no middle ground. If Joseph Smith was a deceiver, who wilfully [sic] attempted to mislead the people, then he should be exposed; his claims should be refuted, and his doctrines shown to be false, for the doctrines of an impostor cannot be made to harmonize in all particulars with divine truth. If his claims and declarations were built upon fraud and deceit, there would appear many errors and contradictions, which would be easy to detect. The doctrines of false teachers will not stand the test when tried by the accepted standards of measurement, the scriptures." – Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, 1954, vol. 1, p. 188
"Well, it's either true or false. If it's false, we're engaged in a great fraud. If it's true, it's the most important thing in the world. Now, that's the whole picture. It is either right or wrong, true or false, fraudulent or true. And that's exactly where we stand, with a conviction in our hearts that it is true: that Joseph went into the Grove; that he saw the Father and the Son; that he talked with them; that Moroni came; that the Book of Mormon was translated from the plates; that the priesthood was restored by those who held it anciently. That's our claim. That's where we stand, and that's where we fall, if we fall. But we don't. We just stand secure in that faith." - Gordon B. Hinckley - Interview "The Mormons" – PBS Documentary, April 2007
“If we have the truth, it cannot be harmed by investigation. If we have not the truth, it ought to be harmed.” - J. Reuben Clark: The Church Years. Provo, D. Michael Quinn, Utah: Brigham Young University Press, 1983, p. 24
"The four statements above are clear and unmistakable."
"Everything rides on Joseph Smith. Everything. If even one claim is provably false, the whole house of cards falls. I’ll just say that my proof has been given to my church authorities and remains unchallenged. Meanwhile, my mental church house of cards is in ruins. Before you suggest I’m not paying attention to the spirit, I’ll respond that I most certainly did during the process of reading all that material I read. I prayed more intensely than ever before in my life as my study revealed things I never knew before. You say what I’ve studied is tainted by the Adversary. What I studied is all church authorized, sanctioned and published and includes the scriptures, as I’ve pointed out. But I have to say now that whatever my spiritual feelings were and are, they cannot refute the knowledge I’ve gained. So, should I exercise more faith?"
"I refer you to Alma 32:34. Alma explains that faith is used to obtain knowledge of a thing (idea, hypothesis) and once knowledge is obtained, faith is dormant with regards to that one thing. This is essentially the scientific method (simplified but comparable). This means the facts (repetitively provable truths) I have obtained renders any further faith regarding that same thing to be dormant/moot. Further faith would be an exercise in futility."
"Lastly, again I appreciate your love and concern. I do not treat this lightly and certainly realize reprisals like yours probably will come from other family members. Some may choose to turn against me. That’s their choice, not mine. I love my family! So I really do appreciate you and your acceptance while not accepting my current state! That’s fair and expected. Just know I cannot un-know what I now know. I cannot live a lie. “To thine own self be true” is what I have now chosen. Anything less is false."
Recovery is confidence and bliss.