I am a semi-active, somewhat Universalistic member of the LDS church.  This means that I attend church at least once a month (sometimes more), but that I do not view the LDS church as the “one and only true church.”  I do believe in God (though I don’t quite know what that means), and I believe that while God’s inspiration can often be found within the LDS church, I also see God’s inspiration in most churches, in nature, and wherever love and goodness abound (including amongst scientists, atheists, etc.).

There are a million things that I love about the church and its members (community, hymns, structure, standards, etc.), and some things that deeply trouble me (e.g. the church’s exclusive truth claims and historical hostility to “gays, feminists and intellectuals“).  I believe in the central teachings of Jesus (love your neighbor and your enemies, forgive people, judge not, have faith, repent (or turn away) from mistakes, etc.), but I have no idea how much of “the gospel” is true/literal, and how much of it is symbolic/metaphorical.

I am a myth-loving (Joseph Campbell), stage-5 aspiring (James Fowler) religionist.  And my goal in life is to help struggling Mormons find peace during tough transitions.

Finally — you should know that my bishop and stake president know all of the above about me, have reviewed what I do with Mormon Stories, and continue to encourage me to remain active, and to feel welcome at church.

25 Comments

  1. John S July 17, 2009 at 1:56 pm

    I really enjoyed your podcasts, and in the end I found them to help me strengthen my faith. I have come to a similar conclusion as you did, I find a lot of strength and peace in our faith. I believe strongly in what we do and how we live. I relate to you view in no longer seeking to rank our faith against others, I think that is a more harmonious and healthy out look.

    Thanks for sharing your journey with us.

    John

  2. Corey January 27, 2010 at 6:07 pm

    Wow. It’s been ages since I visited the site. I was almost sure it wasn’t coming back.

  3. Garrett O. February 3, 2010 at 11:09 pm

    Corey,

    I’m also surprised (and happy!) to see the site back.

    In my opinion, it seems much more tolerant than anti-mormon sites and at the same time John’s Mormon Stories give us the opportunity to embrace whichever “version” of truth will work most for happiness in our lives.

    I’m glad you brought the site back John!

  4. Aaron Shorr February 4, 2010 at 3:11 pm

    I am a recent convert (1 year) who spent 9 years investigating the Church. A significant obstacle to the progression of my testimony was my perception that being heterodox and universalistic was not possible within the LDS faith. While I now understand heterodox and universalistic members will always struggle with themselves within the church, regardless of their degree of orthopraxy, I now realize the power of a personal testimony to overcome these crises.

    I appreciate your work in proving that faith in the doctrines of the LDS Church does not necessitate homogeneity.

  5. Susie February 13, 2010 at 4:42 pm

    This is interesting…do you live in Utah? As someone who lives on the East coast where there aren’t very many members, I have a hard time understanding what this is all about. “The Church” is a wonderful institution that I attend three hours on Sunday. What “the Church” is really all about to me because I’m so outside the Mormon culture, is bringing each member to Christ through saving ordinances and in our day to day lives being blessed with all the knowledge we have to come closer to God through prayer, scripture study, and serving others and to thank the heavens for our gift of the Holy Ghost and the priesthood.

    Now, I’m SO one to appreciate everyone’s faith and know that it brings them closer to God, but there’s a HUGE difference between our church and the rest of the churches beginning with our meat compared to everyone else’s milk. I just have a problem when people try to bring the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the level of what everyone else has, saying they all have their good things. We can each KNOW the truth because we have a personal relationship with God who steers each of us to the truth.

    What matters most is our individual testimonies of the Savior Jesus Christ and his atoning power, not the cultural crap that is on this website. Of course you can believe polygamy and barring blacks from the priesthood is a mistake, but that doesn’t make the church any less what it is (and I wonder if they were mistakes too, but so what? It doesn’t make my relationship with the Savior any less real? That’s what matters.) I just feel like this website doesn’t bring people to Christ and that’s too bad. And I think people need to get out of Church culture and see what life is really like and how blessed we are to have the knowledge and power that we have and its ability to bring others to Christ and peace, and get to doing that for others, not just through missionary work but service and friendship.

    In conclusion, I think this website is sad, especially done by someone who professes to go to church but not really believe in it more than anything else. I think if you wanted to do some good in the world, there are better ways. Just figure I’d leave my two bits.

  6. lostindc February 28, 2010 at 9:57 pm

    John,

    You could not have expressed my own views better. It is actually strange. Thanks for the hard work. The podcast really is something that my wife and I look forward too…

  7. Saganist March 19, 2010 at 7:07 pm

    Susie, I’d be interested to know if you feel the same way after listening to a few of the Mormon Stories podcasts. I assume you haven’t listened to any because you don’t really seem to understand what Mormon Stories is all about. Give it a listen, particularly episode #118 (linked below), which explains a lot about John’s personal beliefs and motivations. If, after listening to the podcast, you still feel that this is a sad website that turns people away from Christ, at least it will be an informed opinion.

    https://mormonstories.org/?p=826

  8. Randi March 26, 2010 at 12:51 pm

    This is a WONDERFUL website for those of us who have struggled with our faith in the Mormon Church. John provides a very important service for people who have a hard time fitting in with Mormon culture. John has provided so many helpful resources and perspectives that I would never have encountered on my own. I’m still working my way through the podcasts, but I find new ideas in each of them as well as new ways of verbalizing my own thoughts and feelings. For my husband and myself, this website is tremendously helpful. We absolutely love it.

  9. William May 18, 2010 at 10:32 am

    This is a fantastic website. I am 18-years-old and have struggled with my Mormon faith since I was 13. With shaken faith, it’s hard to find many informed or sympathetic local church members. I contemplated leaving the church following seminary graduation, but now I look forward to serving a mission. However, that will be tough, acknowledging issues like the black priesthood ban and polygamy. I am attempting to become an expert on Mormon history/doctrine and have compiled great research in reading the Book of Mormon and Rough Stone Rolling. I am reading other stuff like Huebner vs. Hitler, From Man to God, and of course the Bible in the meantime. This situation will be even more interesting as I move on to college, potentially BYU.

  10. […] Posted by Onhech Maybe he has since, do you have a source? What is your status now with the Church? | Mormon Stories Podcast […]

  11. Josh July 8, 2010 at 5:41 pm

    I have heard you question the word “truth” on a podcast and in this post. The word can be interpreted in different ways. According to scripture, the “truth” is a knowledge of the way things were, the way things are and the way they will become. Also, Christ has called himself the truth. When people say the church is true, according to scripture definition. It means the church is eternal, or past present and future and it is of Christ.

  12. Michael November 18, 2010 at 11:47 am

    At what point does one’s heterodoxic beliefs cause one to think as an apostate? If you believe polygamy and no black priesthood were mere mistakes of men (which LDS scripture teaches both) where’s the line drawn that prevents a la cart Mormons? As the LDS church progressed through time, more and more of the distinctive characteristics are relics in the past if not removed from the LDS scriptures. When the veil was torn at Christ’s death, it was final – flesh could not keep us from the Father. Could one still be an active LDS and inwardly believe the LDS temple is a mistake in the attempt to undo what God himself did (tore the temple veil in two from top to bottom)?

  13. Mary Call January 17, 2011 at 2:22 pm

    How do you interact with your children as to the above mentioned status in the Church? How do you teach little one and interact with adult children”

  14. BeLikeChrist_StayLds_org February 28, 2011 at 10:33 am

    Thanks John for providing this site. I have listened to about a dozen or so podcasts and have seen your youtube video on “why people leave the church” and I appreciate your comments. I was a little disturbed by the Grant Palmer podcasts and found that he was discounting Joseph as a prophet and considered Joseph’s work on the book of Mormon as a creation of his imagination of things that were around him in his life as he produced/translated the book of Mormon. I thought about Grant Palmer’s views and the specialness of the book of Mormon from my own perspective and came to realize that someone writing the Book of Mormon from one’s own imagination just didn’t make sense to me because I have read and studied the book and conclude that the book was much bigger in scope than any one person’s imagination. Thank goodness for Richard Bushman’s podcasts because his views were very positive of Joseph and, though discrepancies were evident to him in his historical research and what the church has portrayed of Joseph over the years, he was still able to keep balanced and positive about Joseph Smith’s contribution to Mormonism.

  15. Zacktac April 20, 2011 at 1:42 pm

    John,

    I’m a huge fan. I no longer believe in the Church, and your video on why people leave the LDS Church probably helped my wife understand where I was coming from better than anything I could have said. In addition, I’ve appreciated your positive view of the Church and it’s teachings. I just wanted to ask about your status with the Church currently. Maybe a better way to put it would be, “what is the Church’s status with you at this point?” I’ve heard rumors that you have taken a less active role in Church.

    Thanks for all you do!
    Zack

    • Lobizao June 22, 2011 at 2:56 pm

      The point of this whole page is to talk about his status in the church. Didn’t you read it?

      • Zacktac June 23, 2011 at 3:44 pm

        Lobizao,

        When I read it, I noticed the page was posted April 14, 2009, about two years ago. I was trying to ask John if things have changed since this was posted. The rumors I’ve heard would indicated that there has been a change from what’s posted above, but I thought I’d ask John rather than assume the rumors are true.

        Thanks for helping me clarify!

        Zack

  16. 100% LDS May 29, 2011 at 1:04 pm

    The above comment is so sad.

    • 100% LDS May 29, 2011 at 1:18 pm

      to Zack

      Come back soon brother.

    • Zacktac June 6, 2011 at 8:04 pm

      Brother 100% LDS,

      I’m not sure why you think the above comment is so sad. Perhaps if you were more specific, I could address your concern for me so your sorrow could turn to joy. I hope so.

      Thanks,

      Zack

  17. Lobizao June 22, 2011 at 2:55 pm

    I’m pretty much on your same boat, but I’m wondering if you can really be a universalist and still hold a temple recommend (I’m kind of worried about my next temple recommend interview). I mean, isn’t one of the temple recommend questions if you believe the church to be true and all that?

  18. Zacktac July 29, 2011 at 12:25 am

    I thought some of you might be interested in this. A few months back I posted a comment asking John Dehlin his current status regarding the Church since this FAQ was written more than two years ago. I recently listened to Mormon Stories Podcast # 261. At about 55:40 John gave such an update when he said,”I’m currently inactive from the LDS Church. I’m not proud to say that. I’m not happy in that state, perfectly. Um, if I could find a way to reconcile and be able to feel like I could do it in happiness and with integrity I would, and I still will.”

  19. Reagan Haltner August 15, 2011 at 5:13 am

    No surprise that he is inactive. For six years he has run a site that
    does nothing but push the limits of belief and faith by introducing new
    questions that can add nothing but holes to a testimony. This site attracts those who are seeking a thrill or joy ride because they are bored or unfulfilled by their testimonies. They want to have fun seeing the Book of Mormon Musical and still take the sacrament the next day at church. They want to read critical books about Joseph Smith or explore issues like sexuality that are taboo in Gospel Doctrine class. And then at the end of the day they go inactive or leave the church, left confused by their choice as it appears Dehlin is going through.  This site might be interesting to a non-member, but it is poison to the weak in testimony who would rather go on these joy rides than simply read the scriptures and pray.

  20. TheTomballonian February 7, 2012 at 6:40 pm

    What about when your interest just fizzles?  Then you reflect on all the cultural things and remember the kids on the mission bearing fervent testimony, “And I wouldn’t be on a mission if the church wasn’t true!”  Then you reflect on your family and feel conflicted within the paradigm of eternity and forever?  Then you remember gospel doctrine classes where people that leave the church have to try to destroy it after they leave because Satan is working within them and is using them to destroy the kingdom……. And you wait for the  against it to start….. And you realize you feel gratuitous amounts of apathy.  It might not be true because I don’t feel anything about the reality of being done with a chapter like this in my life.  But then again, I have a hard time finding the energy to devote to caring.  There are other things to do in this world. 

    There are good things about the church, and culture within, and at the same time, there are good things everywhere.

    I don’t dwell on “kicking against the pricks” and I find these podcasts interesting some of the time. 

    Glad to see that donations here are tax deductible.  I need a new charitable cause now that I have 10% of the old income back.  I would hate for the IRS to get too much of it.

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