Latter-Day Saints: The Conclusion

We are here again at the end of yet another month. Each one is radically different from the next, with new challenges, new lessons, and new family members. The end-of-month post is bitter-sweet, the one I dread the most.

Let’s see how the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, like the faiths before it, changed my life.

Burying the Hatchet:

In a faith tradition where repentance is key, I started off July with a confession of my own to the LDS Church. When I was in high school, I carried my Christian faith like a semi-automatic, ready to fire on anyone who believed differently than I did. Guess who one of my favorite targets were? I remember harassing those poor missionaries on their bikes like it was yesterday…

The only way to start things right was to clear my conscience of the guilt I had for mistreating  these people. So I asked the church for forgiveness. With their grace, I was redeemed and prepared for the month.

What I Learned:

If you would have walked up to me over ten years ago and told me how similar Latter-day Saint beliefs are to other Christian quarters, I would have smacked you over the head with my Bible.

The LDS Church believes that Jesus Christ is the Son of God who lived, taught, and died among us. For them, as with most other Christians, Jesus paved the way to the Father via his death and resurrection. Jesus bore the sins of every human being as he suffered and died on the cross. He is the “way, the truth, and the life” (John 14: 6).

Sound familiar?

But there is a difference, one that draws the line between the LDS Church and, well, everyone. That line is Joseph Smith, Jr. He claimed that at age 14, God and Jesus Christ visited him in a grove of trees and told him not to join any church, for they were all wrong. Joseph’s mission: Restore Christ’s true church on the earth with the priesthood keys and authority to carry out proper ordinances of the church, including baptism and temple sealing of families.

The other difference is the details about our relationship with God. Referred to as Heavenly Father, God is our literal father in heaven and we are his beloved spirit children. Jesus created our universe via Heavenly Father’s direction in order to give us a place to obtain mortal bodies and the experience required to become more like Heavenly Father. Heavenly Father and Jesus are also seperate and distinct persons, with glorified bodies of flesh and bone, while the Holy Ghost is a pure spirit (Doctrine and Covenants 130: 22). There is even belief among many LDS members that a Heavenly Mother exists. Apparently, she’s very mysterious.

The People:

Are just awesome and probably some of the friendliest you’ll ever meet. Because Church doctrine states that we are part of a heavenly family, our earthly families are extremely important. We are brothers and sisters of a common spiritual lineage and as such we should treat one another with love and respect. At no time did I feel unwelcome or unwanted in the church. Both my local church community and LDS members of the Congregation supported me through this month with any help I or others curious about the faith needed. For that, I thank you.

The Challenge:

The Latter-day Saints are the only faith group so far that actively solicited my conversion. Boy did I play hard to get. Every meeting with the two Elders, the young missionaries who served as my Mentors this month, began and ended with a friendly invitation to join the church. This jarred me at first. How could I focus or get comfortable when I knew that all they wanted was my membership in the church? But it was so much deeper than that. The Elders serve two-year missions and are sent all over the world to share the gospel. They are young, between 18 and 25 years old, and they have a passion and a love for those they teach. Eventually the frustration eased and we understood one another. I told them that, through Project Conversion, they could not imagine the lives they touch by their teaching. Judging by the reactions this month, I know their reach was far and wide.

What I’ll Take With Me:

One important lesson I should have learned long ago is that we should always look before we leap to conclusions. Had I given those young missionaries a chance to speak all those years ago, would I be a different person today? Perhaps even a member of the church? I also realized the power of humanity’s two greatest abilities: Forgiveness and love. If we cannot forgive ourselves and others, then there is no hope for love. If there is no love, then there is no hope for peace. Forgiveness and love are the fruits of humility. We must humble ourselves to one another and have the courage to leave our conditioned opinions about those around us behind. I will never judge a book by its cover–or even the first few pages–again.

Who am I now?

Andrew Bowen: Latter-day Saints Edition

I am Brother Bowen. Friend to the Lumberton, North Carolina branch of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I am reconciled with those I wrongly judged and at peace. Through this month I also experienced the familiar touch of an old friend: The Christian faith. I am thankful that the months worked out the way they did, because coming from nothing (June) to something (Latter-day Saints) was rough enough. Having something familiar to land on cushioned the blow.

In closing I want to once again thank the Latter-day Saints community for their support, encouragement, and involvement this month. July has been one of the most interactive so far, and that always makes a difference. As much as I’d like to stay for a while longer, as with every month, I must pack my things and head off. After all, the show must go on.

I asked my Mentors what, if any, final thoughts they’d like to leave you with as we part ways. In true LDS fashion, I couldn’t pick a better one myself.

“We declare that God has once again reached out in love to His children and through His gospel authority and church to the earth through a modern day prophet in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We know that the knowledge of these things will bring great peace and happiness into the lives of all who are seeking truth. This knowledge can and will be gained through sincere study of the Book of Mormon and prayer.” –my Mentors, the Elders

Thanks guys. If you’d like to take up their invite to read the Book of Mormon for yourself, go here for details about a free copy. For more information about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, please visit your local branch or ward, and visit and

Thank you everyone for following along this month and every month before. I look forward to seeing you all Monday when I begin the next month in the world of Islam.

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  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Mandy Adams

    Thank you very much Andrew for investigating the church for many people not just yourself. You have brought truth about the LDS Faith to so many this month. Thank you again. I look forward to seeing what you post about Islam. Because of the 9/11 attacks I think there are a lot out there who do not understand this religion……

    • abowen

      You’re welcome Mandy. Islam will certainly be a challenge, however I believe my experience with the LDS month has prepared me for the task ahead.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Carol

    I want to add my thanks, too, for your honest and fair reporting this month. I will soon have one son in the mission field and two more to follow him, so I especially appreciate how you have explained what missionaries do and why. The other day I saw a driver flip off a missionary who waved at him and I thought it was sad. I hope that all who are following you who are not LDS will now have a second thought before they slam the door on my son(s) and all the missionaries out there who are just trying to share something they love.

    Thanks again for taking the time to explore, not just the LDS church, but all the religions. I look forward to your future posts.

    • abowen

      There is no reason to be disrespectful to these young people who’ve given up so much of their time to serve. If more people understood such devotion and sacrifice I think the world would be a better place.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment David

    Andrew, thank you for setting such an incredible example of respect and willingness to understand. You’re doing something very good here.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Colin_Faux

    Great synopsis my interfaith friend! This conclusion serves as a very good thumb print on your previously mentioned interfaith glass. Thank you for your hard work and dedication. From an LDS perspective, I think you did a very good job portraying the good/bad/ugly/happy sides of the faith and look forward to next month.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Laura Bradbury

    Thank you so much for all your hard work this month! You have truly done a stellar job portraying the Latter-day saints’ beliefs and traditions in a respectful manner. Keep up the great work!

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment EmiG

    Just like all of the months, July went way too fast! I’d like to add my thanks, Br. Bowen, to those that have already been expressed. Thanks for being open and honest and willing to learn and teach others as well. And thanks for allowing all of us to come along on the journey! I’m looking forward to August and the rest of the year!

    • abowen

      It did go by too fast. Just when I get used to something–POOF–it vanishes. I enjoyed my time with the LDS though. Thanks for being so involved!

  • Editor B

    Your explorations caused me to revisit many old ideas I had about LDS doctrine, some of which you touched on and some of which you did not. You motivated me to do a little research, and I found many of my conceptions were in fact misconceptions. Actually, to be more accurate, I learned that many of the doctrines in question are currently embraced by fundamentalist splinter groups, not the LDS. As usual, I found reality is more complicated than the simple notions I carry around in my head. Thanks for deepening my appreciation of the mysteries of life on Earth.

    • abowen

      I’m glad my research and experience helped clarify some things for you. What’s more is that you took the lead and looked into other issues for yourself. Thanks my goal.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Gil

    You’ve got faith-promoting conversion with the LDS Church. It took me 4 years to be converted to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day. Now, I’m in my 31 years of membership with the said Church. I have nothing to worry about. I’m active with the Church with two callings to magnify.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment JoelCannon

    Br. Bowen,
    I was impressed with how well you are able understand and even more so, personally experience our faith after just one month of study and practice. Your sincerity and humility are inspiring. You have earned my respect and I look forward to sharing your continuing spiritual experiences. I thank you for undertaking such a noble cause.

    • abowen

      You are most welcome and I am happy you want to follow along!

  • Sixmom

    My husband found your blog and showed it to me. I don’t know who you are, but I have infinite respect for what you are doing. I posted your picture and link to your blog on my blog today…your mind is so open and so lucid it blows mine.

    • abowen


      Thanks for the shout out! As for having a lucid mind…eh, some days I suppose ; )

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Holly

    Thanks so very very much for being such a good listener. I’m not a member of the branch you attended. I live in good old Utah. There are so many people who are so ready to hate us without even listening. Every day, it seems like there are more. So, I hope you know what a profound thing you have done simply by opening your ears and your heart.

    • abowen

      Thanks Holly. What I find truly profound was the time and compassion the Church (as well as many other faiths) have shown me thus far. It was a blessing and an honor to be part of your faith for such a short while.


  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Chris

    thanks for your posts. I thought you might like to read mine on “What kind of Christians are Mormons?”

    Key concepts are (1) continuing to learn and choose after this life and (2) a place in heaven for all with rare exception.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Francesca Mingo

    Andrew, I just want to thank you for taking the time to learn about Latter Day Saints and what we believe, instead of guessing and assuming to know what we believe…Oh and don’t worry about giving the Elders a hard time, I did the same thing. I have been a Latter Day Saint now for over 25yrs. It was the best thing I ever did for myself, I was a good person before, but now I’m a better person because of it. Because it was for me, and still is…Can’t wait for your next blog!!

    • abowen


      It was a pleasure and an honor learning about your wonderful faith. Thanks so much for reading!

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Robert

    It is interesting that you selected the church of LDS. Besides the Catholic Church, they are most close to western culture but most people do not know about them and even hold a unopened mind to them. Most people look at them as being a “crazy cult” church that don’t drink soda or do anything on Sundays. Hopefully more people have an opened mind with them.

    • abowen


      I like going where I was previously uncomfortable. Maybe the trend will catch on…

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Laura Walth

    It was great getting to hear Andrew speak at Drake last night. It made me want to read his blog about what he thought of the LDS religion. My husband and I joined this religion in 1982 while living in New York. We were introduced to it by our Jewish friend and his Christian girlfriend. They chose the path of Buddhism. It may seem like Mormons just want to convert you to their religion, but what we really want is to share the joy we have found in living the gospel on a daily basis. This is a way of life. It is not just something we do once a week on Sundays. As for the Mother of God being mysterious I would choose the word sacred. Just as Temple ceremonies are not secret, they are sacred. The Prophet of our church is not there to dictate what we have to do. We have the freedom to choose our path in life. This is not a cult as Andrew found out because he took the time to get to know the people of this religion. Not everyone is ready to make the commitment to a religion that teaches you how to live like Jesus on a daily basis and to love even those who persecute you. I have friends who are Atheists tell me that I’m the only one they feel safe sharing that with because they feel most Christians hate them. For me listening to a non believer only strengthens my belief. Our 11th article of faith is, “We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.” The people of this religion may not be perfect because we are only human, but as I was told by a Bishop of another religion, the organization of this religion will out live all others. He sees the why it will survive.

    • abowen


      It was a pleasure meeting you! Thanks for coming out to the talk.