In my book, Why We Left Mormonism, I explored with other ex-Mormons the “point of departure” that led us to leave that church. For each of us, a different device (radio program, passing remark, and in one case, a forgotten pamphlet discovered in a pocket) led to the final decision.
For me, it was something that came not from any anti-Mormon book, nor even from a desire to see my beloved church proved wrong. It came from my lifelong fascination with Egyptology.
In the summer of 1973, I had had all the criticisms of the church I could stand from people in my hometown of Albuquerque. I packed my bags and was ready to move back early to BYU for my senior year. I needed comfort and affirmation, so I picked up my favorite volume of LDS scripture. In those days the Doctrine and Covenants and Pearl of Great Price were commonly bound together in one volume, and I loved the D%26C.
But the page fell open to the PofGP woodcuts, facsimile 3. And in a flash of horrified understanding, I saw that a figure that was obviously a woman (breasts, two-strapped ankle-length robe) was labeled as Prince Pharaoh.
I’m sure that few people in the world left Mormonism because of the mis-labeling of an ancient Egyptian. But for the first time, I saw with my own eyes, from my own book of scripture, that Joseph Smith was not inspired.
Since that day, the evidence has formed insurmountable mountains over which I could never pass to go back to Mormonism. Not a single reputable Egyptologist would ever say that the woodcuts nor the papyri have anything to do with Mormonism. With enormous loss and sorrow, I saw that my beloved prophet was none such. Nor are the leaders of Mormonism today.
I predict that within my lifetime, the church that cavalierly changes its own doctrines and own scriptures will, without much fanfare, omit from subsequent editions all of the Pearl of Great Price woodcuts.
For more information, see The Mormon Mirage 3rd Edition: A Former Member Looks at the Mormon Church Today (Zondervan, 2009). Also available as an audiobook and as an expanded-text E-book for Nook, Kindle and other reading devices.