[This per-release review by Jared Jenkins originally appeared on www.EntrustedWithTheGospel.com and is re-published here in conjunction with the partnership with Entrusted With The Gospel.]
Matt Wilder in Unveiling Grace is quoted as saying he “prefer[s] to dwell on the positive aspects that brought [him] closer to Christ rather than the negative things that drew [him] away from Mormonism. But for [him] to fully come to Christ, [he] first had to realize and accept that [he] had been deceived” (220). The balance between learning positive Christian truth and seeing lifelong deception is the knife-edge that must be walked when anyone comes to Christ out of Mormonism. To keep this scale from teetering too far in either direction it takes the master plan of a sovereign God working through His “Dancer of grace” (314) and speaking through His Word the Bible. Lynn Wilder has written a tremendous testimony of God’s power to do exactly that; save her and her family, extended family, and friends out of the deception of Mormonism by the Blood of Christ as revealed in the Bible. This book is Lynn’s personal testimony of the way in which God has kept the scale in balance, unveiling truth through his word where needed and opening Lynn’s eyes to deception when appropriate; all this over a five year process of coming out of Mormonism to a saving faith in Christ.
As I (Jared Jenkins) began Lynn’s book, I was skeptical of where it might go or what her message might be. Many books about Mormonism tend to land very heavily in the apologetics side of the scale, leaving the reader with a negative, almost sterile feeling in their heart about the way people are saved from Mormonism. In fact, after reading most books concerning Mormonism, all you want to do is just stay away from its deception at all costs! Lynn however has been able to skillfully reveal apologetic differences between Mormonism and Christianity by weaving what she learned into her story of salvation. Instead of pages and pages of information on the differences between Mormonism and Christianity the reader gets the story of a person fully living Mormonism and little by little coming to believe in the God of the Bible. As this story unfolds Lynn teaches about Mormon and Christian belief throughout in a way that is personal and heartfelt. Readers get a great picture of real Mormonism; a culturally enmeshed belief system that leaves little room for critical thought stranding its adherents in Zion, blissfully blind. Readers also get a real picture of the one true God found in Christianity; able to save anyone out of their situation through the truth about Christ found in the Bible as revealed to individuals by the “Dancer of grace” (314).
Particularly, I like Lynn’s radical focus on the ability of God to speak through His word. Over and over again Lynn credits God speaking through His word the Bible for bringing her and her family to a saving knowledge in Christ. Lynn’s message is a great challenge for the Mormon that may read this book to pick up their New Testament and read and see if God does not speak to them about truth and the real Biblical Christ. In addition, it is a good challenge to Christians. So often Christians discount God’s ability to speak through His Word. Lynn challenges Christians to know their Bible and know it well because this is the only place anyone will find a way to truth, life, and Christ. God speaking through His word not only saved Lynn and her family, but it has also safeguarded them from error and provided a sure guide for the future. Praise be to the God of Abraham, Issac, and Jacob that still speaks to us through His Word!
Another very important aspect of Lynn’s book is the way in which she draws a very strong distinction between Mormonism and Christianity through terminology. She repeated uses phrases like “the God of Mormonism” (49) set against “the God of the Bible” (214), or explaining the differences between the Mormon “Holy Ghost” (323) and the “Holy Spirit of the Bible” (324), and in continually referring to the “the Mormon Jesus” or the “Biblical Jesus” (329). The reader will undoubtedly clearly see that Mormonism and Biblical Christianity are not compatible. In fact, Lynn includes a great quote from a former LDS prophet, Gordon B. Hinckley, which boils the differences between Mormons and Christians down to a fundamental point; we don’t believe in the same Jesus! Hinckley says, “The traditional Christ of whom they [Christians] speak is not the Christ of whom I speak” (315). To draw these distinctions between Mormonism and Christianity is so important today when the world and many armchair theologians are claiming these two faiths are the same. I challenge anyone that has thought Mormonism to be Christian to read Lynn’s work.
Finally, Lynn invents a term to describe the deception that Mormonism uses to suck people into its fold that I really like. I live, work, and minister in Salt Lake City as a Christian pastor and people are always asking me, “How do I effectively ministry to my Mormon friends and neighbors?” Of course the first piece of advice I give people for effectively ministering to Mormons is to love them as people in a pattern after Christ’s love for all sinners, and the second piece of advice is to define theological terms when you talk with your Mormon friends. Questions like, Who is Jesus? Who is God? Lynn masterfully redefines what the Mormons do with Christian terms by giving it a new name, “twistiology” (217). Twistiology in Lynn’s words means “Mormonism takes elements of truth and twists them into something very confusing” (219). In fact Lynn goes further to point out that because there is so much discontinuity within Mormon scriptures themselves, Mormons are able to argue both sides of the same theological issue (219)! This can be very confusing if you are ministering to a Mormon friend. Lynn calls us to know what we believe from the Bible and to measure Mormon beliefs against what the Bible says. Lynn has included at the end of her book a short, helpful guide to Mormon terminology, a quick doctrinal comparison between Mormonism and Christianity, and a list of ministries that minister particularly to Mormons for further study. These guides are concise, easy to read, hitting a perfect balance in Lynn’s book focusing on the positive truths of Christ while adequately revealing deception inherent to Mormonism.
Critical theological readers may take exception to some of the seemingly folk theological pieces of Lynn’s conversion that came by the “Dancer of grace” through dreams, impressions, and seemingly coincidental encounters. But Lynn has not placed her faith in these things or flighty emotion; rather she shows how she has learned to “test feelings [and spiritual experiences] against a true source that [she] trust[s] – the Bible” (321-322). Through testing her experiences against the Bible she is able to see what was truly from the “Dancer of grace” and what was from the father of lies. I only wish that many of my own congregants could learn to do the same. Lynn’s conversion as it unfolds in UnveilingGrace, is a great reminder to extend mercy and grace to our friends, family, and neighbors as they are finding Christ. Lynn at times believes wrongly (judging by Christian standards) and at other times is being both Mormon and Christian at the same time. Lynn’s testimony helps the reader to place their trust in God’s ability to save someone, which gives them the freedom to extend people grace while they walk the path of salvation.
Unveiling Grace is not just about Mormon and Christian Doctrine. It is the story of a BYU professor and her LDS high priest husband and family leaving the LDS church because God revealed the Biblical Christ to them through his Word and saved them. This book is personal and shows the battle, the carnage, and the joys of coming out of a cult and finding real truth. I was deeply moved by Lynn’s work to renew my commitment to pray for and engage my Mormon friends and neighbors with the Gospel. This book will become the first book I encourage people to read if they want to learn about Mormonism because of the way it presents doctrine in the context of life and experience. I highly encourage Mormons, Christians, and pagans alike to read this book and hear about just how great the God of the Bible is.
Lynn witnesses to the fact that He can even save you.
Lynn K. Wilder, Unveiling Grace: The Story of How We Found Our Way Out of The Mormon Church. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2013. 367pp. $15.99.
Lynn’s book is not yet published and will go on sale 8/20/2103. I highly encourage you to pre-order a copy from Amazon HERE. Page numbers and quotes above may change by the time of printing.
Several weeks ago Bryan Catherman of Salty Believer and I were priviledged to do an interview on our podcast Salty Believer Unscripted with Lynn concerning her book and ministry to Mormons. Our interview with Lynn far exceeded our expectations and I highly encourage you to listen. You can read Bryan’s review of our conversation HERE and listen to the podcasts below.
Listen to an Interview with Unveiling Grace
author Lynn K. Wilder
author Lynn K. Wilder
-Unveiling Grace (Part 1) audio
-Unveiling Grace (Part 2) audio