Jeremy Runnells and his Letter to a CES Director-My Response
I listened to almost all of the interview with Jeremy Runnells the other day on Mormon Stories. The following comment was submitted, but was not accepted by the blog editor. I include it here.
If it really is true, when presented with more compelling evidence, I think that Jeremy and John Dehlin and others will not hesitate to come back into the fold. But even if you never do, I still like you anyway!
There is much good in the interview. It is very helpful to me to understand how those who have become disaffected with the Church are poorly treated. Such poor treatment of those who leave or consider leaving the Church should not happen ever. God is a god of love, and so should we, his children, be loving to all–including those who disagree with us.
I respect Jeremy’s integrity, and I respect his decision, although perhaps not the way he arrived at it.
It appears to me that Jeremy’s testimony was not so much based on the Holy Spirit but on the emotions of social interaction and social bonding, and thus his decision to leave the Church seems to have been affected far too much by the emotions he felt related to being offended by various people in the LDS Church (for example, see his very sarcastic letter to Elder Quentin Cook).
I have studied most (if not all) of the same issues that were concerning to Jeremy, and (I think–and I hope I don’t come across as rude, because there is no intention to be) that because my testimony is based on what I’ve been taught by the Holy Spirit and not on social considerations, I was able to follow them through to what I think were logical conclusions. Some issues, such as the Kinderhook Plates, have simple answers. In this case, Joseph Smith originally thought they might be authentic and then found out their weren’t. For me, case closed.
Issues such as polygamy and the Book of Abraham are very large and very nuanced and shouldn’t, I think, be used in the simplified way that Jeremy and others use them as a reason to leave the Church. In other words, there is room for faith on both sides of the issue. But all in all, that is why I respect Jeremy’s decision to leave and hope that others–especially his family members and close friends–will (a) accept it, (b) not treat him as somehow “broken”, and (c) not treat him disrespectfully for his well-thought-out decision.