"Bishop" Earl Erskine
I came from Mormon pioneer heritage and was raised in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I was baptized in the Tabernacle at age 8, participated in all Aaronic Priesthood activities, and was a 4-year seminary graduate. At 19, I served a 30-month mission to Denmark. One year after my mission, I married Karla in the Salt Lake Temple, in 1969. From that time, until 2011, I always held a current temple recommend, and served faithfully. I served as a high councilor, a stake missionary, High Priest Group Leader, gospel doctrine teacher (several times), and served in three bishoprics, including five years as a Bishop in Sandy, Utah.
Conflicting Doctrine. In the fall of 2005, President Hinckley asked us to read the Book of Mormon by year’s end. (I was dutiful, as usual.) I finished early so I decided to read it a second time. I had a copy of the 1830 Book of Mormon, and thought it would be interesting to read it, since it doesn’t have verses or footnotes and was written in novel form. I got into 1st Nephi, chapters 11 and 13, and noticed some significant doctrinal changes. Changes that, if true, would make suspect the Book of Mormon; the First Vision (which Joseph Smith said he had in 1820); and the teachings & doctrines I had known, believed, and taught. I also found similar conflicting scriptures in the current Book of Mormon, in Mosiah 15 and Alma 11.
In investigating further, I came across conflicting versions of the First Vision. The earliest version in 1832, in Joseph’s own handwriting, stated he saw just one person. I also read the Lectures of Faith No. 5, where he said God is a spirit. In the Joseph Smith version of Luke 10:22, it was changed to read that the Son is the Father and the Father is the Son. This is not the Mormon God.
Finally, after years of intense study, prayer, fasting, and several trips to the temple, I concluded that the “true” church was not true. I was grateful, as I shared with Karla, that together we have now come to trust the Bible, revere the cross, and have come to a saving relationship with our Lord, Jesus Christ, through His grace. He did for me what I could not do for myself!
"17 Minutes with a Bishop"