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Dr. Louis C. Midgley

The following is not a SHIELDS testimonial.  Dr. Midgley sent the following message (which we received as a "cc:.") in response to a person critical of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  It carries a wonderful message and spirit.  We consider it a classic in the LDS witnessing effort.

Date: Sun, 19 Jul 1998 21:31:58 -0600
From: "Louis C. Midgley" <>
To:  [removed by request]

[Name removed by request]:

I have been thinking about your recent letter.  If I remember correctly, one of the motives for you getting into anti-Mormon literature was a question from your daughter, who seems to have asked you if "Mormons" are Christians.  I assume that you are talking about your daughter at a young age.  If that is the case, then would it not have been entirely satisfactory to explain that they are a different brand of Christian than you are?

It is very much like a child asking where babies come from.  One does not need to try to teach human anatomy in order to give an explanation.  And it is not necessary or desirable to go into any details.  Right?

But if your daughter was older, then I can imagine quite a different situation.  Perhaps your daughter had met and befriended some members of the Church of Jesus Christ.  She might have even become interested in finding out what they believed.  Then I can see a parent in a panic.  This would explain your running to anti-Mormon literature to somehow save you daughter from doing something that troubled you.  I assume that you will be willing to explain how old your daughter was and what provoked her question.  If a young girl had a question about Latter-day Saints, exactly why would it not have been satisfactory merely to say that they are involved in a brand of Christianity that differs from yours in some such way as Roman Catholics, Greek Orthodox or Anglicans differ?  I suspect that there is more or perhaps less to your story than you are letting on.

Perhaps you feel that a child who shows some interest in the fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ is somehow thereby threatened by the possibility of hell fire.  Unless one has already been indoctrinated by the hate literature produced and distributed by those involved in the countercult industry, I can hardly believe that any parent could reasonably hold such an opinion.

Years ago I knew a young fellow from Alberta who was at Brigham Young University playing football.  When he came here he was not a Latter-day Saint, but he soon accepted Jesus and became one.  His parents, and especially his father, were furious.  They made a big fuss.  They were even more angry when he married a young women who also had joined the Church of Jesus Christ without the approval of her parents.  Both of these handsome, decent young people asked my advice.  I told them to ask their parents exactly what is was that they were now doing that displeased them.  They were financially responsible, industrious, good students, did not risk lung cancer by smoking, were not on drugs, did not use dirty language, prayed, were genuine in their faith in God and on and on.  The only problem was that they were no longer part of Protestant sects of which their parents were but nominal members.  Both sets of parents objected to the marriage and demanded to know why these young people had gotten married; why had they not just set up housekeeping together?

And within six months the young man's father was boasting about his son to his friends and defending their having become members of the Church of Jesus Christ to his business associates.  And in a two year period both sets of parents had undergone a profound change they also were now Latter-day Saints.  The their parents no longer found it necessary to consume beer, puff on cigarettes, gamble, and various other things that has seemed to be the most important thing in their lives.  Instead, they were busy ministering to the needs and wants of others, something they had never even thought about before.  I seem to remember something to the effect that it is by their fruits that you shall know them.

Several years ago my wife and I, while on holiday in England, visited a tiny village in Calderdale, West Riding, Yorkshire.  This village is on the terrace above the Caller River a few miles from Halifax and Bradford.  Its name is Midgley.  Its existence was noticed in William's DOOMSDAY BOOK in 1066.  Then it had about 10 or 12 cottages.  It now has about 30 cottages.  The entire area was Wesley country and in Calderdale there were nine handsome, thriving Methodist churches.  When the industrial revolution came, those who lived in Midgley were forced to work in the mills that arose with the building of canals along the Caller River.  Previously there cared for sheep and were weavers in their own homes, each cottage having a weaving room.

My wife and I had a wonderful visit in Midgley.  We attended the Midgley Methodist Church on Sunday.  There were seven or eight people in 70s or older that made up the congregation.  They very much reminded me of my mother and father.  Lovely, kind people.  At the services, which were conducted by a Methodist circuit rider, a women who serviced three or four Methodist congregations in the area, it was announced that this was the last time there would be a worship service in that building.  Why?  They could not pay the light bill and so forth.  From then on those old people would have to travel three hours to a Methodist church to worship on Sunday.  In Calderdale the preacher explained they had now closed all but one of the nine churches.  Since World War II none of those nine congregations had retained any of the younger people and had recruited not a single person.  It was simply devastating to those people in Midgley, and devastating to me.  They were kind to us and invited us to a little party that they held there in that wonderful old building.  They told us how to locate Midgley's who happen to run the two farms in the area.  They told us of the history of the place and so forth.  We cried with them at their loss.

This experience in Midgley reminded me of Matthew Arnold's poem entitled "Dover Beach" in which he tells how the sea of faith is retreating around England.  But the sea of faith is not withdrawing among the more than 200,000 Latter-day Saints in England.  The Kingdom of God is growing on that fair island.  Why?  Because we believe in what you call evangelizing.  And not just pagan, but those who a presumably Christian, nominal or not.  Why?  Because we have the fulness of the gospel and the good news simply must be shared with others.

Midgley is quite a lovely place.  It was from a village not more than five miles away that the first Midgley became a Latter-day Saint.  He had a wife, four sons and four daughters.  When the missionaries met him he immediately accepted the fulness of the gospel and soon traveled with his sons by sailing ship, of course, in terrible conditions to New Orleans, and then to Kansas City, and then on to Utah.  After setting up a modest home, the wife and daughters were sent for.  And by they traveled to Boston and then to Kansas City by "coaches."  But they had nothing when they reached Kansas City, and were forced to travel under terrible conditions late in the fall.  Back in Salt Lake the father and his boys had found a lamb and prepared for a grand dinner upon the arrival of the women.  At the October General Conference of the Church, the first order of business by Brigham Young was to announce that a train of emigrants had reach what is now the Wyoming border and was suffering terribly.  He read a list of those who had died, and it included the mother. Brigham Young interrupted the conference to send a wagon train with help.  This was a year before the handcart companies suffered even more in their journey to Zion.

What motivated these people?  Greed?  Some worldly ambition?  The answer is that they would suffer anything for their faith in Jesus Christ.  In the words of Paul, they simply counted all worldly things as dung in comparison with their knowledge of Jesus as the Messiah or Christ.

Now I wonder if you have really had a close look at the Church of Jesus Christ.  Have you read the Book of Mormon from cover to cover?  Did you do so with a genuine desire to understand the prophetic messages it contains?  The fact is that it is simply a wonderful book; the very Word of God.  If you do not own a copy of the Book of Mormon, then I would be pleased to provide you with one, at my expense, of course.  And if you doubt that it is what it claims, including being an authentic ancient text, I would again be pleased to provide you with literature dealing with that issue.

If you are the least bit interested, all you need to do is to provide me with your address.  And I trust that you will see that I am evangelizing you.  Why?  It is my obligation, one I owe to God, to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ.  And I do this because I know, by a divine special revelation, that God lives, Jesus is the Christ, that he died to make us spiritually whole, and that by faith (understood as trust) in him, with repentance for our sins, and with the anointing of the Holy Spirit, we can return to the presence of God as the seed of Christ.  Now please note that I am not attacking your faith.  Some of what you have, if you are earnest, is good, of course.  I am not asking you to give that up.  But I am testifying to you that there is more than what is contained in the teaching of theologians and preachers.  It has been restored by divine revelation to prophets and apostles.  And it should be no surprise that what God reveals is not identical with what squabbling theologians have done to the Bible.  I trust you will now understand why I do not consider sharing the gospel to be merely an option that one may or may not take up, depending on how one happens to feel.  Once warned, one is under an obligation to warn one's neighbor.

Grace and peace,
Louis Midgley