Some Mormons Search the Web and Find Doubt–The Hans Mattsson Example

This was written in 2013. It hasn’t been updated.

During my lifetime it seems that every year or two there is sensational news about the Mormon church in the national press.

I remember when President David O McKay died one of the leading news magazine quipped that the Mormon Church had lost touch with God because their prophet died. They reassured their readers this was only temporary because another prophet would soon replace President McKay.

A few years later news about the church’s revelation extending the Priesthood to all worthy males was headline news. For years, the church was both praised and ridiculed in the news media.

Next came Mark Hoffman’s forgeries. Some wondered if the church could survive the implications of the salamander letter. This was followed by news that Mark Hoffman was a master forger and murderer.

The critics then scored points saying that the apostles and prophets were duped by Hoffman. “How could he so easily deceive prophets?” Apparently, they never read D&C 10:37 where the Lord taught Joseph Smith, “you cannot always tell the wicked from the righteous.”

The latest headlines about the church come out of Sweden. The New York Times recently wrote about a church leader by the name of Hans Mattsson. He has been a dedicated church member for decades. He is , a third-generation Mormon, former bishop, stake president and Area Authority Seventy. Nowadays, bother Mattsson is deeply troubled by aspects of church history. The New York Times reported the following:

“I felt like I had an earthquake under my feet,” said Mr. Mattsson, now an emeritus area authority. “Everything I’d been taught, everything I’d been proud to preach about and witness about just crumbled under my feet. It was such a terrible psychological and nearly physical disturbance.”

Mr. Mattsson’s decision to go public with his disaffection, in a church whose top leaders commonly deliberate in private, is a sign that the church faces serious challenges not just from outside but also from skeptics inside.

I’m sorry for brother Mattsson, his family, and those he served who are now required to deal with his loss of faith. For brother Mattson, and those who don’t have sufficient testimony to quickly deal with the challenges they’ve encountered with church history, I hope they will turn to the Lord for help.  

My question, something I’ve wondered about since I read the story, how is it possible that he served as a Bishop, Stake President and Area Seventy Authority, and never experienced the things of the Spirit sufficient to ground and root his faith? 

I don’t know the answer, but I suspect that there is something missing in his Spiritual development. Maybe the faith crisis he is currently facing will be the source of a breakthrough for him. I hope he finds the strength to turn to Heavenly Father with sufficient energy of heart to acquire the needed faith.

Some readers might be asking themselves what qualifies me to write about Hans Mattsson. I’ll provide an explanation. 

I first became aware of the difficulties with church history decades ago. I was shocked and upset. I felt betrayed and experienced all of the feelings brother Mattsson related. However, I never considered leaving the church. I never questioned my testimony. I never needed to talk with a church leader. Why? I had already been through a crisis and turned to the Lord and learned for myself that God is willing to answer prayers in ways that grounds and roots faith. I learned that the kinds of experiences recorded in scripture are available to average members of the church. 

I knew in the early 1970’s that the day would come when “uncorrelated” church history would be headline news. This is one of the reasons I started this blog over six years ago. I desire to let church members know that average church member can be blessed with answers to their prayers that will sustain them in their hour of crisis.

Is it easy? No, for some answers, it takes an Enos like effort. On occasion, the Lord requires His followers to expend great faith and energy before He will grant the greater manifestations of the Spirit. It took Enos all day and in to the night pleading with the Lord before his prayer was answered. Alma the older was head of the church and was struggling with how to manage the affairs of the church. He didn’t know what to do when many church members were led into sin by unbelievers. 

13 And now the spirit of Alma was again troubled; and he went and inquired of the Lord what he should do concerning this matter, for he feared that he should do wrong in the sight of God.
14 And it came to pass that after he had poured out his whole soul to God, the voice of the Lord came to him   (Mosiah 26:13 – 14)

What does it mean to pour out your whole soul to God? My experience with this kind of prayer taught me that knocking sometimes isn’t enough. It requires more. The word pounding may be more descriptive, it may take pounding on the door of heaven before the Lord will respond. 

I’ve related my experience here, then scroll down about half way to, “It is Quite as Necessary for You to be Tried, Even as Abraham and Other Men of God”. 

I hope and pray that all church members struggling like Hans Mattsson will turn to the Lord with full purpose of heart and obtain the help needed. It can be done. The Lord hears and answers prayer for those who exercise sufficient faith. This fact is clearly established in the histories of individual church members. Accounts of answered prayers, miracles and healings among the faithful are very common in days bygone and in our day.  

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