Multiple Versions Of CES Letter History

This blog post shares specific time points in Jeremy Runnell’s life that contradict statements he later made about his intentions

“I almost put this post together a couple years ago, but I was torn. In interviews, Jeremy Runnells comes across as such a nice guy. And yet the very nature of this post calls into question his motives.”

Jeremy claimed he never intends to hurt the Church or its members. Yet, earlier he was already on record stating he didn’t want his kids being brainwashed and had a goal to get others out of the Church. Jeremy’s tone, approach, and stated goals changed.

This thread is available in the LDS forum of reddit:

When the author wrote the original CES Letter in 2013, he was already totally out of the church and self-identifying as an apostate. In this post dated November 15, 2012 for example, he describes himself as an exmormon and asks for advice on how to keep his kids out of the church even though his wife is still in.

“I’m BIC, RM, Temple Married who left the church a few months ago”

“I’m mainly worried about two things at this point: 1) TSCC undermining me as a father by feeding them “your dad lost the spirit” bulls**t. 2) TSCC brainwashing my kids into TBM “Follow the Prophet” robots.”

“When is the right time to bring up my disbelief and the details that caused my disbelief?”

“I want to know the most effective way to save them from Mormonism”

That’s just an example of where he was before he wrote the CES letter. That’s his reddit account.

After he published the first draft he said “I wrote this for my kids who one day are going to ask their dad why he left the faith.”

If you use Google’s “custom date range” search feature you can see a more of what he was saying at the time.

The original CES Letter was different than the one that is available today – he used more aggressive language that made his position at the time a lot more clear. For example (and this was read at his disciplinary council as one of the evidences for his apostasy):

“So, Christ is the crazy god of the Old Testament. The Christ of the Old Testament and the Christ of the New Testament are light years different. Again, I’m asked to believe in not only a part-time racist god and a part-time polygamous god but a part-time psychopathic schizophrenic one as well.”


“Delusion is believing when there is an abundance of evidence against something. To me, it’s absolute insanity to bet my life, my precious time, my money, my heart, and my mind into an organization that has so many serious problematic challenges to its foundational truth claims.”

You see that the current subtitle of the CES Letter “My Search for Answers to my Mormon Doubts” is not an accurate description of why he wrote the letter, the content of the letter, or his spiritual state at the time. He wasn’t someone searching for answers as he commonly portrays himself now – he had left the church, had resentment toward it, and was involved in trying to bring his family out of it. The original subtitle was “How I lost my testimony”; he crowdsourced the current subtitle at /r/exmormon in 2015 before releasing the current version.

By 2015 the way he described his position in 2013 had shifted from a strong antagonism closer to what he currently claims: that he was just looking for answers, man. The current release was modified from the previous one “for a softer tone” according to Runnells, and that is characteristic of what he was doing across the board. Here is a good example of the way he describes the period when he was writing all of the stuff I quoted above:

I didn’t lead people away from the Church. I don’t accept this phraseology.” (compare to his posts about how to apply a strategy to get his family out of the church.)

“All I did was share my reasons for doubting.” (compare to his clear antagonism and resentment of the church earlier – that’s not doubt)

“Yes, my position in 2015 is that the LDS Church is based on a foundation of fraud but I was still wrestling with figuring things out 2 years ago when I was approached by the CES Director.” (compare to his statements about the church from 2 years previous – he was quite certain it was a fraud and he spoke openly about it).

Since 2015 he’s really fortified his statements that he was just looking for answers to his doubts when he wrote the letter, but I think the selection of quotes I’ve given here shows that actually that’s not the case.

After he wrote the CES Letter he started speaking publicly against the church. This is what ultimately led to his disciplinary council.

You can read the transcript if you like. As evidence of his apostasy they picked out sections from the original CES Letter (I’ve quoted them above) and they picked out statements he made during that “press tour” period in 2014-2015.

Evidence of the LDS Church from Early Christian Teachings

One would think that the Gospel restored by Joseph Smith should at least somewhat reflect the teachings of the early Christian Church. It turns out to have more than just a few similarities.

Wonderful insights:

Barry Bickmore gives a presentation on this same topic: similarities between the restored church and the early Christian church.

Who is Sam Young?

A friend, Jacob, shared this video:

Like other prominent LDS critics, Sam Young has followed a typical pattern.  Loss of faith, general disruption, laser focus on a single topic, heightened disruption, then excommunication.

Please read and listen to a few linked sources below.

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This interview discussed Sam Young’s claimed biggest issue — bishops’ interviews — in this video below:

The Interpreter Radio Show hosts discussed Sam Young’s recent protests, bishops’ interviews debate, Sam’s loss of faith (over 4 years ago), and possible objectives.

One caller (erroneously) claimed he’d face child abuse charges for what LDS bishops do.  The hosts and a 2nd caller responded well.

Interpreter Radio Show — September 16, 2018

A guest blogger at the Millennial Star had followed Sam Young’s activities for the last few years.  At least since 2014.  He shares his insights below in this post:  What is Sam Young’s True Cause?

The Millennial Star

The Pseudonymous George Rasmussen pointed out on 7/31/18 many details in Sam’s background and apostasy timeline.   A little background on a typical pattern for LDS people to lose faith.  One common way is to become undisciplined in personal study and to combine that with listening to faith-undermining sources.

Image below is of (excommunicated former member) John Dehlin.  From the intro to the podcast for which he’s the primary host:

“Mormon Stories Podcast is a podcast principally hosted by John Dehlin featuring interviews with scholars and others especially on Mormon topics.”

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“In October 2015, Young began participating in the Mormon Stories Podcast Community on Facebook to work through his issues with the Church. That infamous page was started by Young supporter and friend, (prominent excommunicated podcaster) John Dehlin.”

Exploring, celebrating and challenging Mormon culture through stories

“The group is primarily populated by thousands of disaffected former or soon to be former members of the Church. Over the course of 2015, he says that he became more and more disillusioned with the Church. But, in February 2016 he made the choice to “follow Christ.” He did this in spite of the fact that he acknowledges that he doesn’t know if Christ really exists.

In order to understand Sam Young, one must recognize the perspective he set forth on May 19, 2016. In this post, he complained that he wasn’t be afforded his full rights as a citizen of the Church. “Jesus wants me to be an active part of the governance of His church…. In my church, I am a citizen not a subject!”

On May 26, 2016, he expanded this by stating that, “Jesus values me and my opinion as an equity partner in his earthly organization.” I have seen him complain on countless occasions that based on his historic service in callings and his contributions of tithing that he should be afforded meaningful input and influence on Church teachings and practices.”

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“At his most recent stake conference, Young exulted in the opportunity to sit front and center to vote opposed to the 12 with Elder Christofferson in attendance, and then complained that members of his stake didn’t seem enthused at his action. He complained bitterly online about how the congregation didn’t pat him on the back for his bravery.”

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“In late 2016, I was surprised to learn that Sam had a temple recommend and was using it (occasionally). I had been watching his posts in the Mormon Stories groups for more than a year at that time and was shocked. He had shared his disbelief in all of the Church’s truth claims, and was candid that he was only in the Church due to family concerns. He clearly didn’t sustain the brethren and prophets, seers and revelators, and described Christ and the atonement as a fairy tale. He loudly cheered when his wife would do things that signaled baby steps away from the Church. He spoke about removing his garment, he spoke of breaking the word of wisdom; he applauded those leaving the Church.

Then, in January, 2017, he turned in his temple recommend. His reasons for doing so were convoluted. He said that he was sacrificing it to build the kingdom of God. It had become a distraction from what he was trying to accomplish in the Church, because members were complaining that he had one, so he gave it up so that he could focus on what he thought was important! At this time, it was that people were leaving the Church because the Church was being mean to them and not giving them a Sunday school class to complain about the things they didn’t like about the Church. I wish I was making this up.”

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“As I mentioned above, through most of 2017, youth interviews were only one of a dozen categories of reasons Young was voting opposed in Church. The first time he ever mentioned it on his blog was on March 19, 2017. It was mentioned a couple of more times as the year progressed, but Young seemed to notice that his audience responded more to these things than they did to his long-winded and convoluted rants about common consent, or to his old, white, straight complaints about homosexual issues. He started focusing on this in October 2017 and put his numerous other complaints on his shelf. He found something with which he could get his 15 minutes, and he started beating that drum; which brings us back to 2018.”

Just as John Dehlin has made LGBTQ issues the main thrust of his stated compaints against the Church, I’m not surprised that Sam Young sharpened his focus on something that could get him traction.

“As more and more people signed his new petition, and the Church kept not caving, Young decided that he was going to organize a march in Salt Lake City. In a Facebook post that Young later deleted, he updated the demands from his petition to include a call for the entire First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve to resign their positions. Unfortunately, his supporters convinced him that this would make him sound more crazy than normal, so he reluctantly backed down, while privately saying that this is what he wanted. He had been voting opposed to the apostles for a couple of years at this point, so this is not surprising in the least.”

Read the entire post above by clicking this link to the Millennial Star blog post.

The Godhead, the Trinity, and the Apostasy

Concise summary by Robert Vukich, a long-time LDS scholar and apologist:

“The Trinity is a logical contradiction as opposed to a mystery. A mystery is how god could be self existent, or how there could be an infinite regression of gods, and matter be eternal. Those are mysteries which do not present a contradiction because they rely on something which is not revealed but doesn’t contradict itself.

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By contrast, the Trinity presents a contradiction at every point. The idea of being fully god yet fully a person within that god, and there being three persons, each fully god and having all the essence of god, yet still being one of three is illogical. It is untenably illogical when you realize Jesus is sitting or standing next to god (such as Acts 7:56), who has a physical location. It is logically impossible to say a thing is next to itself. It is not just silly word games which is most of the trinity description, but it is hard fact that any thing cannot logically be next to itself.

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Thus the trinity is not a mystery, it is an illogical word game. It is fully explained once the correct NT understanding is provided, which was there were many gods and many lords, but God the Father and Jesus the Lord are the only ones that matter to us. There is no statement in scripture which requires the oneness of god, as described in the Ancient Near East setting, to mean anything beyond a corporate oneness, which is in fact the way Jesus described his oneness with god. When Jesus quotes from the Shema, he doesn’t include himself in it, he simply cites it.

The trinity is a manmade mess of jumbled words to impress people with just how inscrutable god is, despite it being life eternal to know the only true god AND Jesus whom he sent.”

Yep.  Hardly a mystery.  Entire a contradiction.

Another view from the 3 Mormons!

These guys could be a little clearer in that creedal Christians believe the Trinity is composed of 3 persons whose substance is the same.  LDS Christians believe in absolutely 3 separate beings.


Dr. Paulsen is a distinguished scholar who spent a career at BYU.  He defends the LDS understanding of the Godhead:

Brant Gardner discusses the union of these ideas:  monotheism, Messiah, and the Book of Mormon.

Brant discusses the Father God, El; the mother God or spouse of El, Asherah; Jehovah, the preeminent among the Sons of El (the Father God); and other topics in the evolution of gods in Judaism.

The Sons of God were assigned to different nations.  Jehovah was assigned to Israel.  By the 8th and 7th centuries BC Jehovah grew in stature, supplanting El in certain respects, as the Jews developed a proto-monotheism.



The understanding of the Godhead’s nature was corrupted in the centuries after Jesus’ resurrection.

Jeff Lindsay shares many explanations here, on his blog LDS FAQ.

Fiona Givens provides a history of the Trinity development in her book,  The Christ who Heals: How God Restored the Truth that Saves Us.

She discusses those issues here, contrasting what occurred in the Eastern and Western Christian Churches:

Episode 62: The Christ Who Heals – Fiona Givens

Barry Brickmore shares how the early Saints believed in much that was restored through Joseph Smith: separate Father and Son, deification, creation ex materia (not ex nihilo), and more.

Greek philosophy corrupted the Christian understanding of the Godhead.


Read the 1987 Ensign article, “Is the LDS View of God Consistent with the Bible?

Key quotes below:

“When Christianity came into contact with the society in which that habit of mind existed, it modified, it reformed, it elevated, the ideas which it contained and the motives which stimulated it to action; but in its turn it was itself profoundly modified by the habit of mind of those who accepted it.

It was impossible for Greeks, … with an education which penetrated their whole nature, to receive or to retain Christianity in its primitive simplicity.” (The Influence of Greek Ideas on Christianity, New York: Harper & Row, 1957, p. 49.)

As the church entered the third century, many ridiculed Christianity because they regarded it as polytheistic—that is, it had a theology of three Gods: the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

By this time the more sophisticated had rejected polytheistic pagan deities and had become monotheistic, accepting but one God. So the issue for the church was how to make Christian theology accord with respectable opinion.

Tertullian, a lawyer, offered this solution: The true God was composed of immaterial spiritual substance, and though the three personages that comprised the Godhead were distinct, this was only a material manifestation of an invisible God.

As for how three persons could be one, it was explained that the persons were legally conceived entities, “just as a corporation is composed of various people though it is not the people.” (T. Edgar Lyon, Apostasy to Restoration, Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1960, p. 113.)”

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Augustine (354—430 C.E.), also known as St. Augustine, is a fourth century philosopher whose groundbreaking philosophy infused Christian doctrine with Neoplatonism.

Additional quotes from the Ensign about Augustine:

“The unsurpassed intellectual in Christian history was Augustine. He was the one who thoroughly fused the theology of the New Testament with Platonism.

In examining Christian doctrine, Augustine confessed to a strong preconception—a repugnance to the idea that God had a body. (The Confessions, V, x:19–20; VII, 1:1. In Great Books of the Western World, vol. 18, Chicago: Encyclopedia Britannica, 1952, pp. 32, 43.)

He acknowledged that he had labored on the thesis of the Trinity for fifteen years without “ever reaching a satisfactory conclusion.” (Hugh Nibley, The World and the Prophets, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1954, p. 86.)

Finally he (Augustine) rationalized that if one accepts the Platonic idea that spirit essence is the purest manifestation of reality and that matter is the most corrupt, God must therefore be an immaterial being. He was then able to accept the doctrine of the Trinity. (Confessions, IV, xvi:29, 31; V, x:19–20; VI, iii:4–iv:5; The City of God, VIII, ch. 5–6. In Great Books, vol. 18, pp. 26, 32, 36, 267–69.)

As Plato had done before him, Augustine decided that since God is the ultimate good, he cannot be associated with anything material.

Augustine’s personal theology became that of the Roman Empire and remains an influence in historic Christianity to this day. Such is the basis for traditional Christianity’s teaching on the Trinity—a belief described by modern clerics as a mystery.”

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Listen to LDS scholar’s Blake Ostler‘s “The Attributes of God, Chapter ONE”, Part I and Part II.    A greater focus on the Apostasy:  “The Attributes of God, Chapter TWO.”

Ostler explains our view of the Godhead and our belief in eternal progression.  “As God now is, man may became.”

More from Ostler contrasting LDS and traditional cosmology:


Review Robert Vukich’s presentation here:  “Rejecting the False Doctrine of the Trinity.

Robert primarily uses widely respected, authoritative Christian and Jewish scholars to establish these points: 1) The Trinity isn’t biblical.  2) The Trinity was created by Greek philosophers centuries after Jesus.  3)  Multiple Gods are referenced in the scriptures.  4) Traditional monotheism isn’t supported.


LDS Truth Claims identifies the Greek influence on the early Church in the form of ex nihilo creation. These videos discuss concepts of impassibility (unemotional) and immutability (unchanging) of God and the Trinity:


Leaving the LDS Church and Returning

Great insights from Elder Uchtdorf:

Don Bradley was interviewed about his period outside of the Church:

Dusty was referenced in a talk by Elder Uchdorf as one who opposed the Church who returned to faith:

Lee, a young LDS actor, shares his story about leaving the Church and coming back.

Three prominent Latter-day Saints left the Church.  Years later they returned.  Each story of deconversion and reconversion is very unique.

I’ll introduce each panelist briefly:

  •  on the right:   Janet Eyring; niece of Spencer W. Kimball and cousin of Henry B. Eyring; grew up in Berkeley, CA; graduated from BYU in 1976; served mission in Toronto; got Master’s & PhD at UCLA; crisis of faith started as a child & wasn’t resolved till 46; spent 20 years outside the Church
  • middle:   Don Bradley; grew up in Upstate NY; Bachelor’s in History from BYU; spent time as an agnostic and atheist, then back to theist, then Baha’i, then generic Protestant before returning to the Utah-based church where he had begun; now getting Master’s in History at Utah State
  • on the left:   Maxine Hanks;  related to Marion G. Hanks; was excommunicated as one of the “September 6” in 1993; was out of the LDS Church for 20 years; 1/2 of life in the Church, 1/2 of life out of the Church; feminist who has authored or co-authored several books including Women & Authority: Re-emerging Mormon FeminismMormon Faith in AmericaGetting Together With YesterdayA History of Sanpete County, and was a contributor to Secrets of Mary MagdaleneReligion in America, and Latter-day Dissent.

For young Latter-day Saints:

Patrick Mason — author of Planted — discusses belief and doubt.