from the Testimony column of the Christian Research Newsletter, Volume 2: Number 2, 1989. The Story of David and Tanya Andersen and their search for truth.
The Editor of the Christian Research Newsletter is Ron Rhodes.
Had anyone suggested to me five years ago that I (a Mormon at the time) would one day be a Research Assistant at Walter Martin's Christian Research Institute, I would have responded with sheer disbelief. By God's grace, however, I am a Research Assistant at CRI and my wife (also a former Mormon) works downstairs in the Word Processing department. What a transformation our lives have been through!
Tanya and I were both born and raised as Mormons in Salt Lake City, Utah. From an early age we were very active in Mormonism and took part in all the programs sponsored by the church. We started dating in our mid-teens and attended church together on occasion.
No one could question my commitment to Mormonism. I had even gone on to receive what the Mormons call the "Aaronic priesthood," the lower of two priesthoods in Mormon practice. At the time, I had every intention of serving two years as a Mormon missionary just as two of my brothers had done before me.
Tanya was also very open about her faith. She was the president of her "Mutual Class" for two years. This class is for teenagers in the Mormon church and is designed to teach young people important doctrines in Mormonism. It was during this time that Tanya decided she did not want to marry me unless the ceremony took place in the temple. After all, the Mormons teach that there is no reason for being married on this earth if you cannot be sealed to your mate for "time and all eternity" by a temple ceremony.
In spite of our youthful zeal for the church, however, we soon became disillusioned with some of the key teachings of Mormonism. For example, the Mormons teach that God cannot be in all places at the same time. Such a small concept of God seemed unreasonable to us. God seemed too man-like.
This low view of God was the cause of a long-lasting spiritual struggle for Tanya and me. As I reflect on these years, I now see that one reason for this struggle is that I very rarely read my Bible. I was taught in the Mormon church that the Bible had not been carefully translated down through the centuries. I reasoned, why should I read a book filled with errors? In spite of my lack of exposure to the Bible, however, my natural conception of God was much closer to the biblical view than that of Mormonism. In my heart, I just knew that God had to be all-powerful, all-knowing, and everywhere-present.
As our spiritual struggle continued, our disillusionment mushroomed. We desired to be close to God, and this desire made us only more aware of the chasm between us. When we prayed we felt no bonding to a Heavenly Father. He was too far away. The personal relationship with God that the human heart longs for was virtually non-existent for us.
Although I hadn't yet completely rejected the Mormons' claim to the truth, I began searching for something that would satisfy the incredible longing I had in my heart. Not knowing where to turn for truth, I drifted into occultism. I studied pyramidology, Eastern mysticism, and anything else I could get my hands on that might ease my hunger for spiritual enlightenment. This study of the occult, however, had the opposite effect of what I was looking for. Instead of spiritual fulfillment there was spiritual disaster. It came to a climax one night when I sensed the presence of evil in my room. This shook me up so much that I couldn't sleep for months. I felt as though I was "open game" for the powers of darkness.
I decided to enlist the help of my martial arts instructor, who -- like me -- was a Mormon involved in the occult. To my surprise, he advised me to read a Psalm from the Bible every night before going to sleep. This seems like odd advice to come from a Mormon occultist, but I thank God I followed it. For the first time in my life I began reading the Bible on a regular basis. I didn't know it at the time, but this served to prepare my heart for receiving the true gospel of Jesus Christ later on.
During this same period Tanya had been experiencing nightmares to the point that she could no longer sleep in the dark. She was afraid. And she felt utterly alone in her fear because of her lack of a relationship with the true God. Many hours of reflection led her to conclude that there was something drastically wrong with her concept of God. Whoever God was, Tanya became convinced that He must be someone who could be related to on a personal and intimate level. Such was not the God of Mormonism.
It was at this time that I met a Christian who was later to become my closest friend. Terry was well-acquainted with the ministry of Jerald and Sandra Tanner. They publish Christian materials which critically examine and refute the historical and doctrinal claims of Mormonism.
As I examined the Tanners' materials, I was astonished to discover that numerous alterations had been made in the Doctrine and Covenants and the Book of Mormon, two of the foundation stones of Mormon doctrine. More specifically, I found that many supposed "revelations from God" recorded in an earlier Mormon publication, the Book of Commandments, were later altered in a significant way and republished in the more recent book entitled Doctrine and Covenants. How could I possibly accept this as being the Word of God in view of such alterations? Mormonism began to crumble before my eyes.
This was such a frustrating time for Tanya and me. On the one hand, we had been taught from childhood that all churches outside of Mormonism are apostate. We were led to believe there was no truth in them. On the other hand, we now discovered that the very books on which the Mormon faith is based are riddled with fabrications. It was shattering to ponder the possibility that truth was nowhere to be found.
We decided to read some books on the authority and inspiration of the Bible. Finally we began to see a glimmer of light. With our hope growing with each passing moment, we discovered that -- unlike the Mormon books -- there is an overabundance of evidence for the Bible's accuracy. This boosted our confidence so much that we decided to study the Bible and find out what it had to say about God and how to know Him. Through our study, we learned about Jesus Christ and what He accomplished for us at the cross. We came to see that -- through Jesus -- man can come into a personal and intimate relationship with God. We discovered the truth and the truth set us free! We became believers.
We quickly began growing in our knowledge of the Lord. We became anchored in our faith as a result of listening to "The Bible Answer Man," Walter Martin's radio program which airs in Salt Lake City. Moreover, we were able to attend several of Dr. Martin's lectures in this area. He played a major role in our growth as new believers and encouraged us to stand up for our faith in Christ. Tanya and I were married on May 23, 1987, by our Baptist pastor. Not long after this, I sensed that the Lord was calling me into the ministry of apologetics. This kind of ministry seeks to defend the truth of Christianity. I believe that my background in Mormonism has uniquely prepared me for this type of ministry.
Less than nine months after this, we moved to California for schooling at Christ College Irvine. It was at this time that the Lord provided Tanya and I positions at CRI. Our work has been both challenging and fulfilling. We are excited about what God has in store for us here.
Tanya and I stand as living proof that the Word of God is "living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart" (Heb. 4:12). We are truly thankful that God has revealed Himself in His Word.
As we continue to serve God here at CRI, our goal is to be faithful to the admonition in 1 Peter 3:15: "Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have."
End of document, CRN0008A.TXT (original CRI file name),
"Emancipation From Mormonism"
release A, June 25, 1993
R. Poll, CRI
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