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First Doubts on Church History (Part 2 of 5)

Hans Mattsson first began to question LDS Church history while serving as an area authority in the 3rd Quorum of Seventy.  We’ll talk about some of the resources he used.  Were they anti-Mormon?  Were they Church approved?

Hans:  We were on our way to a stake conference in Sweden. There were some questions, though, from some members. I said, “I will have Elder [L. Tom] Perry coming up on this conference. So if we can meet together with the stake president there, and we three, together, can find out.”  Of course, that stake president [came] prepared. He had a huge lot of papers and asked questions about the Church’s early days that we didn’t know anything about. Then, Elder Perry said, “Listen. In my briefcase, I have a manuscript that will solve all the problems. [They] will show that they are all false, and we’re not only going to show them false, we’re going to prove them wrong.  We’re going to go after them, and we’re going to nail them.”  Of course, I didn’t know what that meant, to nail someone, but I was so happy that, “Wow! There is an answer. There is an answer to all those questions.”  Of course, we went back to those members and leaders that were asking questions, and said, “Hey, listen, no problem.  That will come out [in] the book that will answer all the questions, and we’re going to prove them as false and it’s just an anti-Mormon propaganda.”  Well, after a few months, the questions are coming back to me.  “Hey, have you seen the book? Have you read the book? Where is the book?”

Hans:  So I called Frankfurt where Elder L. Tom Perry then was presiding from.  Then I was told that you’re not supposed to ask questions like that to the apostles and that was it. Of course, that tricked me a lot. I wondered why is it that he’s telling things like that, and then he’s not giving us any [answer]? So then I really, really thought myself, “I have to find out myself.”  That’s when it started. I started to search on the internet and read lots of books and found out.  Then I was released in 2005, after five years.  They wanted me to stay for a few more years. But then I had a heart problem and I couldn’t make it physically or psychologically.

GT:  I think it was about this time that you started listening to John Dehlin’s Mormon Stories podcast. Is that right?

Hans:  Yeah.

GT:  Was that while you were still an [area] authority, or was that after 2005?

Hans:  Afterwards, because I had this open heart surgery. After that, I have to be kind of still for awhile and, my friend, Christina Hanke, that I know as a youth in Gothenburg, also lived in Stockholm. The bishop called me to be a home teacher for her. I didn’t know that she already had found out things that I didn’t know about. So, she opened her heart and we, together, found more things.  Christina found out by googling about Mormon Stories and introduced me to it.

GT:  So Christina Hanke, she was your author or she’s the one that helped you write your book?

Hans:  Yeah, she did.

Hans details how he came to question Church History.  Check out our conversation….

Hans Mattsson explains how he began to question Church history.

Don’t miss our previous conversation with Hans!

496: Becoming First Swedish GA

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Becoming 1st Swedish General Authority (Part 1 of 5)

I’m excited to introduce Hans Mattsson.  Hans will talk about his calling as the first Swedish General Authority and growing up in the LDS Church.

Hans:  Well, my name is Hans Mattsson, and I’m a Swedish citizen. I used to be holding a call as an Area Authority Seventy from 2000 and on to 2005.  During this time, I met a lot of good, high-position members of the Church.

Hans:  [I wrote] a book called Truth Seeking.  It gives the story about my life and how I experienced my family, the Church and why I have got some problems and why I left the Church, really, and that includes meeting with Marlin Jensen, and includes Swedish Rescue, it includes the New York Times and things like that. I just wanted to say, also, that Christina Hanke is the one who wrote most of it. But I talked to her, as they interviewed me a lot. It’s the way it worked.

GT:  So, you’ve got that in multiple languages, I believe. So you’ve got an English and Swedish and what other languages?

Hans:  Actually, people just contacted me and asked, “Can I translate it into German? Can I translate into Spanish? Can I make an audiobook of it?” So I said, “I don’t have any money for that project.” But they said, “No, no, no, you’ve done so much for so many people, and I just wanted to do something.” I said, “Well, just go ahead.” So I’ve been really blessed. I used to say to my wife, “That’s a blessing for tithing I used to pay. The windows of heaven opened.  The only thing is, the money is not coming in, but the books are selling through Amazon.

GT:  That’s right. I really appreciate you sending me a copy. As I said before the interview started, I can’t figure out where I placed it, but it’s an interesting book. So, of course, my current interview right now is with Dr. Matt Harris and Dr. Newell Bringhurst and we talk about the Swedish Rescue, which you had a major part of there. So, I definitely want to talk about that.  As we go here, I think– some of my listeners, I think, are going to be very familiar with you.  Others are not. Can you give us just kind of a thumbnail sketch of how you were in the Church and how you became a general authority and that sort of thing?

Hans:  I was born and raised in Gothenburg, Sweden. In Swedish, we would say Goteborg. There, I have three brothers, and a very faithful father and mother. We were really, really faithful and really believed in everything of the Church. I served a mission for two years in the England Central Mission that later became the England, Birmingham Mission.

GT:  And that’s how you learned English?

Hans:  Yeah, I tried to practice there. You’re right, really. Then after my mission, I did my military service in Sweden. Actually, there I met my future wife. She was working in the kitchen serving the militaries. That’s a wonderful story.  You can read all about in the book.

GT:  Yes.

Hans:  We had four wonderful children, no, five children. I’m so sorry. [We had] three boys and two girls. In the Church, I had callings as a branch president, Bishop, counselor to Bishop, counselor to a Stake President, High Councilman.  I served as a Stake President.  Then we moved to Stockholm. There I was called as a High Councilman, but also as the counselor to the mission president, because there are no stakes all over Sweden. So the northern part of Sweden is the districts. So that’s where I, as a counselor, had to take care of them. After a while, I was called to visit with one general authority up at the airport of Stockholm. There I received a letter from the First Presidency, calling me to be an Area Authority Seventy and belong to the Third Quorum of the Seventies. So, that’s 2000, in the early part of 2000, and then on the General Conference coming up the first Sunday in  April, I was sustained as a Seventy and Elder Holland, and Marlin Jensen were the ones who set me apart.

Hans:  From there, it’s just, “Go on.” I was nervous, happy, and delighted. Of course, in Sweden, I was the first Swedish Area Authority and that’s a humbling experience. I remember the first meeting, we had been taught by the Twelve and the First Presidency and Seventies every year at the Church Office Building, before the conference and when I looked around there–so, Brother Marriott, so some famous people, Elder Rasband. I was called as the same time as Elder Renlund.  They’re both apostles now. We get together and I thought to myself, “What are you doing here?”  You feel kind of humble. Kind of a voice from inside said, “Don’t blame yourself, blame God because He is calling you, so just do what, who you are and do the best.” So that’s what I felt. Of course, I have to travel in Europe, mostly, even part of the old eastern block areas like Hungary, Romania, those countries that used to belong to the Soviet Union from many years ago. Then, of course, [I travelled to] Germany, Austria, the Nordic countries.  About two different milieus, so to speak, [I traveled to] the ones where the Church was organized and had Stakes. Of course, I went to the countries that didn’t know anything really, that were brand new, that had missionaries for branch presidents and so on. So it was kind of exciting.

Were you aware of his story?  Check out our conversation….

Hans Mattsson was the first General Authority from Sweden. He later left the LDS Church.

 

Don’t miss our previous conversation with Dr. Matt Harris about the Swedish Rescue!

453: Swedish Rescue & Gospel Topics Essays (Harris/Bringhurst)

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“Forever Families” a Hurtful Doctrine?

Many LDS members find comfort in the idea that Families can be together forever.  But does it have a darker side?  What happens when a family member leaves the Church?  In our next conversation with Christ’s Church apostle David Patrick and Seventy Benjamin Shaffer, we’ll find out that both were former members of the LDS Church.  Have they been cut off from their families?

Benjamin:  Right. So we believe that families are forever. But I view this statement that families can be together forever as essentially one of the most vile and apostate teachings that has ever been perpetrated upon the Latter-day Saints.

GT:  You just offended all of my LDS listeners. {chuckling}

Benjamin:  I’m so sorry. Let me explain the difference…So families are forever is what I believe. The Doctrine and Covenants makes it clear that the same sociality which exists amongst us here will exist amongst us hereafter, which basically means that if you’re viewing the sealing ceremonies, if you’re viewing these concepts of the eternity of families as an eternity of association, then I think we’ve got a really big problem. Because essentially, what they’re then saying is, is that if you don’t follow our rules, if you don’t make it to the temple, then you’re not promised an eternity of association with your loved ones. That would mean, you’d have to have some kind of enforcement method where people can’t be with their families anymore. This is kind of what I would call the geographic view of the Three Degrees Of Glory, like they’re separated so fundamentally by geography, that people in one Kingdom can’t visit the people in another. If that’s the view that you take, then God’s a monster by that kind of reasoning. Essentially, what you’re saying is, is that the single mother who didn’t pay her tithing and didn’t get sealed to her child, or the single mother, therefore, who isn’t sealed to the Father, and therefore, dies without having those opportunities–you’re saying that you’re going to tear these children from their mother’s arms. This is worse than the slave auction block. We’re not just talking about separation for life. There’s a separation for eternity. It’s just absolutely heinous.

David:  Benjamin, do you think the most Latter-day Saints are not going to be as maybe literal about the word can be together forever, and you may be a little bit more literal than they are?

Benjamin:  Perhaps, but I think that the thing is, is that when you have your whole family, everybody’s in good standing with the church. It’s true. You don’t really think about it that way. But the moment anybody leaves the church, the moment someone apostasizes, people do start to panic. I’ve seen it over and over again.

David:  Yeah.

Benjamin:  If somebody starts leaving the church, they say, “Well, but does that mean I won’t be with you in eternity?” It’s like one of the first things that a lot of LDS people immediately go to when somebody, even if somebody just drinks a beer or something, is “Oh my goodness, you’re putting our eternal family at jeopardy”. That’s why I think it’s a really invidious doctrine. It’s not that your average LDS family when everyone’s in good standing is even thinking about it. They’re all just feeling happy. They’re going to be together forever. It’s all good. But yeah, when someone leaves, I think it is fairly universal for people immediately to go to that more terrifying understanding of,  “Wait, does this mean then that we are separated?” I think that’s why it’s dangerous.

Have you thought of it that way before?  Are forever families a two-edged sword that both provides comfort and pain?  David & Benjamin talk about the impact on their families.  Check out our conversation….

“Forever Families” is a comfort for the LDS, until a family members leaves. Then it is hurtful.

Don’t miss our previous conversations!

386: Why Polygamists are Threatening to LDS Church

385: God in a Box or Pyramid?

384: Documentary Hypothesis & Adam-God

383: Intro to Adam-God Theory

382: Scriptures of Christ’s Church

381: Intro to Christ’s Church