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The Mormon Missionaries: An Inside Look at Their Real Message and Methods, by Janis Hutchinson. Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1995. 272 pp. $9.99 (softcover). [Reviewed by Agatha Lubbers.]

Janis Hutchinson devoted thirty-four years of her life to activity in the Mormon Church during which time she filled two stake missions, married a returned missionary, and sent a daughter on a full-time mission. She writes, “I know the missionary mind-set, sincerity, and dedication. As a result, I may be guilty of rendering too sympathetic a portrayal of the two Mormon missionaries in this book.”

The subjects covered in this book are the same as the major topics included in the six lesson books used by the missionaries. These major topics are: 1/ Examining the “heavenly Father’s plan,” 2/ The Book of Mormon as another testament of Christ, 3/ The great apostasy and the gates of hell, 4/ Eternal progression and its destination.

The first chapter entitled “Surprise on Campus” tells about the initial encounter by students at an anonymous Bible college in San Antonio, Texas, with Mormon missionaries. The book begins with the following episode: “Come quick” a student yelled, bursting through the door of the empty classroom where I was correcting papers…. Dashing outside the small wood-framed bungalow where I served as teacher of the cults class at a small Texas Bible college, I suddenly stopped short. I couldn’t believe my eyes! There they were! Two Mormon missionaries! And – of all places – at a Bible college!”

Using the classroom as the envelope of the story, Janis Hutchinson employs the dialogue of the-characters to tell about the doctrines of Mormonism and to relate how Mormon missionaries carry their canned message. The dialogue of the characters in this story and the Bible college setting is based on the actual experience of Janis Hutchinson, but the characters are purely fictional and any resemblance to persons living or dead is coincidental.

The reader will discover startling facts surrounding Mormonism’s beginnings, is promised an eye-opener concerning the source of Joseph Smith’s doctrines, and will learn the shocking motive behind Mormon missionary work. The author indicates that the reader’s “own testimony will be strengthened as to the falseness of Mormonism – just in case those television commercials are getting to you.”

The Scripture verses used in the text are taken from the King James Version because Mormons recognize no other version except parts of the “inspired translation” of the KJV by Joseph Smith (1833).

In my opinion the most valuable aspect of the book was the chapter entitled “Magic and Masonry: How Joseph Smith put it all together.” The impact of Magic and Masonic ideas on the ideology of the Mormon church becomes particularly obvious in this chapter.

In one of the episodes in chapter seven the following dialogue occurs. One of the students in the class asks, “After Smith died did succeeding presidents continue in occult practices?” Professor Hutchinson answers, “… Brigham Young used Oliver Cowdery’s divining rod to decide where the Salt Lake Temple should be built. In addition when Young and Taylor (second and third presidents) supervised the making of a woodcut seal for the twelve apostles, they copied occult symbols from Jacob Boehm’s Theosophical Works – a book used for two hundred years by Christian Kabbalists and Rosicrucians.”

The book is a polemic against the adherents of this false religion that now number more than nine million. Those reading this book will find that the false doctrines of Mormonism are well-documented and instruction concerning the heresies of this religion are woven through the episodes and dialogue of the story. The book is recommended for your enjoyment and instruction and is recommended for church and school libraries.