The Gospel Coalition

I was raised in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, commonly referred to as Mormonism. Since my parents were active members of the LDS Church, I went to church every Sunday. And like many of those raised in the church, I had a testimony, was baptized when I turned 8, received the Aaronic priesthood at 12, and had a temple recommend. But as I grew older, I became less interested in my Mormon faith. So at age 18, instead of serving my two-year mission as I had been raised to do, I decided to go to college.

While I was pursuing my bachelor's degree, I came to trust in Jesus Christ alone for my salvation. Through my own study and hearing the Word taught at a campus ministry, I knew that I deserved God's punishment for my sins. I also knew that Mormonism did not have the answer, because I could never be good enough to gain eternal life. I came to faith in Christ, resting solely in what he had done for me—he fully paid for my sins on the cross, and in him I received his perfection and righteousness. Because of Christ, I have been reconciled to God and adopted as his son. Praise God for his free gift of salvation!

Continuing to Love Mormons


Now that I have been saved, I continue to have a deep love for Mormons and a strong desire for them to know hope and rest in Christ. Over the years, I have found that if they were not raised in the LDS Church then they generally became interested because of the care and love they received from Mormons. I also know that some became attracted to Mormonism because of their high moral standards and devotion to family. But however one becomes a Latter-day Saint, I am convinced that the teaching of the LDS Church does not provide true hope or security for eternal life. With millions of Mormons worldwide and their aggressive plan for expansion, I pray that all genuine believers will recognize that God has called us to reach out to Mormons with the gospel of Jesus Christ. Will you join with me? Then let me provide you with some counsel.

Love Your Mormon Neighbors

Yes, I am stating the obvious, but is it really so easy? We slam the door in the faces of Mormon missionaries. We tend to avoid our Mormon coworkers because of their weird beliefs and practices (don't they wear holy underwear?). We may even mock Mormons on our blogs, Facebook, Twitter, or other public forums. Maybe we should stop and ask ourselves why we act this way, repenting if necessary. We should love our Mormon neighbors, getting to know them and developing relationships with them as friends. Here's an idea: The next time we see Mormon missionaries, let us invite them over for dinner, enjoying their company.

Recognize Their Need for Christ

Scripture shows us why there are other religions in the world. According to the apostle Paul, unbelievers suppress the truth by their unrighteousness (Romans 1:18). So other religions are essentially counterfeit worldviews created by men who desire to keep living in sin and rebellion against God. We see this in religions that corrupt God's general revelation in creation (Romans 1:19ff), and we also see this in religions that corrupt God's special revelation in Scripture. The apostle Paul warns us against those who come and proclaim another Jesus, a different spirit, and a different gospel (Galatians 1:8; 2 Corinthians 11:4). So not everyone who claims to believe in Jesus Christ is a genuine believer. When you compare what Mormons teach with God's revelation in the Bible, you will quickly see that their teaching is not the faith "once for all delivered to the saints" (Jude 3). They need to believe in the true gospel of the true Christ with the true Spirit. Will you love them enough to share this gospel of hope with them?

Study Their Religion

If you were going to be a missionary in the Middle East, you would obviously have to understand the beliefs of Islam in order to effectively communicate the gospel to Muslims. It is no different when seeking to evangelize Mormons. You must recognize the differences between Mormonism and Christianity. Thankfully, there are many resources easily available today to help you. I would suggest Mormonism 101 by Bill McKeever and Eric Johnson as a worthwhile comparison between Mormonism and evangelical Christianity. I also highly recommend Speaking the Truth in Love to Mormons by Mark J. Cares. This book may be harder to find, but its "Dictionary of Mormonese" alone is worth the price. Since Mormons often "use the same language as Christians but with a different dictionary," you must understand how they use words to effectively share the gospel with them.

Learn Their Culture

Because of the LDS Church's history and unique identity, Mormonism is not merely a set of religious beliefs—it is also a culture. You should learn how Mormons live, what they value, and other important aspects of their culture. While I sometimes disagree with David Rowe and think he is too critical of traditional countercult apologetic efforts, I still recommend his book I Love Mormons because he insightfully explains and interacts with Mormon culture.

Treat Them Individually

When evangelizing Mormons, we should not debate Mormonism as an abstract system. We should be lovingly engaging with a real, living Mormon person. Most Mormons are not theological scholars. They are usually more interested in living a good and moral life. As a result of the LDS Church's emphasis on morality and family and a general lack of doctrinal understanding among its members, many Mormons today are unfamiliar with historic and even contemporary LDS Church teaching. We cannot assume that just because the church has taught something, an individual Mormon believes it. You need to take the time to know what your Latter-day Saint friend believes and then respond to his or her faith in light of the truth of God's Word.

Pray for Their Salvation

Salvation is of God, not man. Your persuasiveness or intellectual ability will not convince Mormons of the truth—only the Holy Spirit can open their hearts. As evangelical campus minister Will Metzger reminds us: "Prayer for others is the supreme God-ordained method in evangelism. Unless God changes a person's heart, nothing lasting will be achieved. Prayer is a means of raising dead sinners to life!" While we may be tempted to trust in our own abilities when evangelizing a Mormon, we must trust in God to give faith to those who hear the gospel. This critical truth must never be overlooked.

Have Confidence in Christ

I have talked to many Christians who believe that Mormons are somehow harder to win to Christ than others. While I recognize that there are challenges, all unbelievers are dead in their trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1). The salvation of Mormons is no more difficult for God than that of any other unbeliever. We should faithfully proclaim the gospel to Mormons, trusting in Christ to draw them to himself. Let us rest in his strength to save Mormons for his glory!


Comments:

[...] John was converted to Christ after growing up in the Mormon church. He recently contributed to The Gospel Coalition as well as Christianity Today regarding connecting and engaging Mormons with the true gospel. [...]

[...] John was converted to Christ after growing up in the Mormon church. He recently contributed to The Gospel Coalition as well as Christianity Today regarding connecting and engaging Mormons with the true gospel. John [...]

White Field Apparel

July 28, 2013 at 12:23 PM

Great article John. I am still active in the Mormon Church and I appreciate your approach so much! I know so many people who leave the church, some people I was really close with, and they want nothing to do with me. I believe that they have a choice to live and believe what they want, and honestly, I love them regardless. I wish they would do the same for me.

Darren Blair

July 28, 2013 at 09:21 PM

Thanks.

The main thing is that you just need to keep on studying.

Familiarize yourself with the standard works and the church's official materials, then go from there.

You can get all of that for free on www.lds.org just by browsing the website.

Darren Blair

February 8, 2013 at 10:13 AM

As I've noted elsewhere, there's an alarmingly high positive correlation between "engagement in counter-cult apologetics work" , "overtly hostile behavior towards those not of their faith" , "lack of knowledge concerning either party's beliefs" , and "willingness to play dirty to achieve one's goals".

Since the counter-cult types are often the primary source of contact between regular Mormons and mainline Christianity, this high positive correlation means that we're looking at an astoundingly high incidence rate of hostile encounters.

For example, consider this paper written by FAIR author Lance Starr concerning the Street Preachers that congregate around Temple Square: http://www.fairlds.org/authors/starr-lance/why-we-should-love-the-street-preachers . Before the church and the city teamed up, things like "people spitting on new brides and accusing them of being sexual deviants" was a daily occurrence.

Or this page here - http://www.fairlds.org/authors/wyatt-allen/anti-mormon-protesters-at-the-april-2003-lds-general-conference - has video of a street preacher dragging a Book of Mormon on the ground via string and another video of a street preacher shouting down some Mormons who were singing hymns.

What you apparently fail to realize is that the more we Mormons see of this, the less we're inclined to listen. If anything, it's proof that we're correct: after all, if we weren't, then why would so much venom be fired off in our general direction?

Darren Blair

February 8, 2013 at 10:00 AM

You *might* want to actually just state some of what's in there.

Darren Blair

February 8, 2013 at 09:59 AM

...and yet you would be allowed to pray in the average Mormon home or church.

I want you to think about that.

Darren Blair

February 8, 2013 at 09:58 AM

Mind typing up a quick summation?

Thanks.

zilch

February 8, 2013 at 08:23 AM

Hehe, right you are, Thomas. But until we define "belief" and "faith" there's no point in going further.

Rick

February 8, 2013 at 05:43 PM

Venom flies in both directions. LDS have not been more victimized than any other religious group. The main difference is many LDS I know thrive within their "victim status". Evidently you choose to remain there as well.

Michael Snow

February 8, 2013 at 02:22 AM

Excellent article. And, as noted, we should not neglect praying. I have never 'shut the door in their face' but I never allow them to pray in my house. In the Park Service, Mormons were common and part of the 'family' like everyone else.
Like most Christians, most Mormons don't know a lot about their Scriptures and history. One of their Scriptures is the Book of Abraham. This provides us with documentation of Joseph Smith's truth claims.
Here is the 3 minute summary:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D0u6clxJmI8

And here is the full documentary that you need to watch if you want to speak to the subject:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hcyzkd_m6KE

Michael Snow

February 8, 2013 at 02:14 AM

Excellent article. And we should not miss the essential of praying FOR them. I have never "shut the door" on a Mormon but I never allow them to pray in my house. In the National Park Service, Mormons were common and part of the team just like the rest of us.

Michael Snow

February 8, 2013 at 01:48 AM

I agree that Christians who want to interact with Mormons ought to read their materials and know their history.
Some claims are hard to deal with, like the golden plates. But truth is revealed in the history of the Book of Abraham. See this excellent documentary: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hcyzkd_m6KE

Here is the short version, 3 minutes, that gives you the summary. But you really need to see the whole story to clearly understand.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D0u6clxJmI8

Jason

February 7, 2013 at 12:57 PM

"Which Jesus?" Jesus is a person not an idea. There is only one Jesus Christ, and no one on this earth knows Him perfectly. The Mormons are mistaken about some aspects of Christianity, but so are you. No one is perfect. They still believe in many core Christian doctrines about Jesus, namely his virgin birth, divinity, death, and resurrection for the forgiveness of sins. Calling them "unbelievers" is a disrespectful insult that will end up putting up barriers between you and them. If you're really trying to reach them, honor and respect whatever faith in Christ they *do* have. But if you're mainly trying to make yourself feel better about the doubtful parts of your own faith by demeaning others', then call them unbelievers.

Matthew

February 7, 2013 at 12:53 PM

"As temple work progresses, some members wonder if the ordinances can be changed or adjusted. These ordinances have been provided by revelation, and are in the hands of the First Presidency. Thus, the temple is protected from tampering." -(W. Grant Bangerter, executive director of the Temple Department and a member of the First Quorum of Seventy, Deseret News, Church Section, January 16, 1982)

"The Prophet Joseph Smith taught, "Ordinances instituted in the heavens before the foundation of the world, in the priesthood, for the salvation of men, are not to be altered or changed." (August 2001 issue of the Ensign Magazine:)

"Now the purpose in Himself in the winding up scene of the last dispensation is that all things pertaining to that dispensation should be conducted precisely in accordance with the preceding dispensations.... He set the temple ordinances to be the same forever and ever and set Adam to watch over them, to reveal them from heaven to man, or to send angels to reveal them." - The Prophet Joseph Smith, (History of the Church, vol.4, p. 208)

Melody

February 7, 2013 at 11:18 AM

It takes too much faith in nothingness and ignoring evidence to be an atheist.

Melody

February 7, 2013 at 11:12 AM

It makes a difference which Jesus you are talking about. The Mormon Jesus is not the same neither is the god they call father. Makes a huge difference on being called a brother or sister in Christ.

Darren Blair

February 7, 2013 at 08:40 AM

Actually, it's pretty well known that changes were made.

The throat-cutting bit may well have had to do with bitter feelings stemming from all the Mormons who died in the 1800s due to persecution, but there are precedents in ancient Israel: http://www.jefflindsay.com/LDSFAQ/FQ_masons.shtml#misc

The bit with the minister may no longer be PC, but the sad truth of the matter is that then, as now, you had "ministers" who were in it for all the wrong reasons.

Darren Blair

February 7, 2013 at 08:34 AM

Something that people seem to forget is the fact that each and every individual Mormon is free to come up with their own interpretations and thoughts on different topics. The end result is that while you have a large body of believers who hold to the faith, just about everyone you speak with will understand things differently.

I myself not only have my own version of Skippy's List going, it's six items longer than the original... yet I'm one of the more respected members of the stake, the finance clerk for my branch, and a stake public affairs rep.

Darren Blair

February 7, 2013 at 08:27 AM

Thank you for the first part.

Darren Blair

February 7, 2013 at 08:26 AM

And yet we love you anyway.

zilch

February 7, 2013 at 07:57 AM

Have you guys ever considered becoming atheists? All these arguments would blow away into smoke. You'd only be left with the problem of how to be as good as possible, which is hard enough, no matter what your faith or lack of it.

cheers from chilly Vienna, zilch

Thomas Larsen

February 7, 2013 at 07:45 PM

Personally, I'd rather run where the evidence is—even if it requires hard thinking to get there.

Thomas Larsen

February 7, 2013 at 07:40 PM

// I just believe in how things seem to me. //

Doesn't everyone believe in how things seem to them?

Darren Blair

February 7, 2013 at 06:18 PM

Thank you.

Darren Blair

February 7, 2013 at 06:17 PM

There's a difference between rites and ordinances.

I've got a splitting headache and yet I can still see that.

zilch

February 7, 2013 at 03:04 PM

I have no faith in anything, Melody. I just believe in how things seem to me.

Ezra

February 7, 2013 at 01:57 PM

When I was LDS.... I too thought MRM was "Anti-Mormom" and so I thought they were not being accurate in their writings about Mormons. However, after spending time on the phone with Bill...I truly understand their heart behind what they do. I realize you may not like what they say about your beliefs (I didn't either) But, they ARE above board with their research. I don't have much time today but here is a "copy and paste" from their site.....mentioning Elijah Abel. (I realize you may not agree with their thoughts....but nonetheless ...I wanted to post this to show that there are people that know and talk about it)

"Some are heralding the fact that there was one of colored blood, Elijah Abel, who was ordained a Seventy in the early days. They go to the Church chronology and find the date of this ordination, and hold that up as saying that we departed from what was started way back, but they forget that also in Church history is another interesting observation. President Joseph F. Smith is quoted in a statement under date of August 26, 1908, when he referred to Elijah Abel who was ordained a Seventy in the days of the Prophet and to whom was issued a Seventy's certificate. This ordination, when found out, was declared null and void by the Prophet himself and so likewise by the next three presidents who succeeded the Prophet Joseph. Somehow because of a little lapse, or a little failure to do research properly, some people reach a conclusion that they had wanted to reach and to make it appear as though something had been done way back from which we had departed and which now ought to be set in order. The Prophet Joseph Smith said, 'That person who rises up to condemn the Church, saying that the Church is out of the way while he himself is righteous, then know surely that the man is on the road to apostasy, and unless he will repent he will apostatize as surely as God lives.' " (Harold B. Lee April 19, 1961, BYU Speeches of the Year, 1961, p.7)

Darren Blair

February 6, 2013 at 12:32 PM

Thing is, I'm not talking about one or two mainliners.

I'm talking about "the vast majority of counter-cult types I've dealt with over the last decade".

This, to me, raises some questions as to the correlation between "willingness to defend mainline Christianity" and "actual knowledge of mainline Christianity".

Darren Blair

February 6, 2013 at 12:27 PM

I'm talking about the kind of OSAS that goes "A person who is saved has a free ticket to Heaven, regardless of anything else they might do in life" and - in the same breath - follows it up with "...and if they sin after being saved, then they were never really saved to begin with, weren't they?".

In other words, a lot of the counter-cult types I've spoken with over the years have tried to bust out with the "No True Scotsman" fallacy.

Brent

February 6, 2013 at 12:20 PM

The problem with that argument is this:

I do believe in the OSAS doctrine as taught in Scripture. The reality is that real conversion and regeneration WILL display itself outwardly. However, the doing of good works is not a guarantee that you're looking at a "saved" individual any more than looking at a struggling "Christian" who has not yet grasped the obedience concept indicates that you're looking at an "unsaved" individual. Remember that God looks on the heart, and it is God who saves. It is tragic when a "Christian" is not doing good works, and it is tragic when a doer of good works is actually "unsaved". In the latter case, the good works of the unsaved person is an act of rebellion against Jesus and His finished work.

Phil

February 6, 2013 at 12:19 PM

> "This goes back to your post, in which you call me a 'wolf' just for being Mormon."

No, Darren, I clearly called you out as a wolf for peddling Mormonism and/or defending that church and it's false teacher and teaching, and (specifically) for doing so in and amongst followers of the true Christ. Being caught in Mormonism makes you deceived, whereas engaging in Mormon evangelism and apologetics makes you a wolf. I know you can see the difference.

As for cheap grace: No one here is peddling cheap grace. Sure you may find some nominally Christian evangelicals who do little or nothing, as I know some nominal Mormon who live the same way ("yeah, I was raised Mormon and I still believe, but I don't go to church anymore"). Failure to take one's faith seriously enough to spur action is hardly an Evangelical-only fault.

The difference is that we believe we are saved by grace, through faith in Christ (not your Christ, BTW) alone, unto good works; works are a response to salvation by faith. No Mormon can be intellectually honest and claim the same, since the official doctrine has always been not only that faith without works is dead faith (which we agree, per James) but rather that in Mormonism salvation come from our works + God's works. It's that "faith, plus" theology wherein it departs from the Bible.

As for a lengthy debate on this, I simply don't have the time for extended fruitless banter. Pretty soon, Titus 3:10 kicks in.

Darren Blair

February 6, 2013 at 12:09 PM

Thing is, whenever the topic of "salvation" comes up, a lot of the counter-cult types I've spoken with over the years not only *preach* OSAS and/or "cheap grace" as the alternative to the LDS concept of salvation, some of them take offense when it gets pointed out to them the fact that some of the worst examples of Christianity could still make it to Heaven under OSAS.

If those were your only two options - LDS-style "work on our salvation" or OSAS - which would you choose?

That's the paradigm so many counter-cult types try to perpetuate.

Darren Blair

February 6, 2013 at 12:04 PM

Roger-

How's your US history?

**

The region that Joseph Smith lived in was known as the "Burned-Over District".

Why?

At the time of the First Vision, the entire region was being swarmed with would-be religious reformers who were vying for a spot in the theological marketplace alongside the older establishment. In fact, the Smith household had been split apart by this theological explosion: his mother and several siblings followed one faith, his other siblings followed another, and his dad took a stance of agnosticism (likely in response to not liking any of his options).

In that sense, the First Vision amounts to God going CTRL + ALT + DEL on Christianity: things were so completely fouled that there was no way to organically salvage anything, and instead it was time to reboot the system.

**

As it is, my personal experience with the Creeds is that:

1. Entirely too many people telling me the Nicene Creed is Biblical w/o being able to explain how & why.

2. Entirely too many people not even knowing about the Athanasean Creed, let alone being able to comprehend it.

Brent

February 6, 2013 at 11:43 AM

I will say that if I were an employer, I'd love to have a Mormon employee because they are, in fact, known for a good work ethic. That does not mean that I believe in their religion. I do believe they are wrong and blind to the truth.

Roger Patterson

February 6, 2013 at 11:37 AM

Darren,
I am not quite sure I get the analogy since I didn't yell at you. Maybe you were referring to something that happened in the past. I am not interested in anecdote, but in doctrine, especially the doctrines of Christ.

You dodged the point of my post: Do you believe the doctrine of my church (you could use the 1689 London Baptist Confession as an outline) is an abomination to God as Joseph Smith declared in JS History 1:18-19?

If so, why call it a denomination if it is really an abomination?

https://www.lds.org/scriptures/pgp/js-h/1.1-20?lang=eng

18 My object in going to ainquire of the Lord was to know which of all the sects was right, that I might know which to join. No sooner, therefore, did I get possession of myself, so as to be able to speak, than I asked the Personages who stood above me in the light, which of all the sects was right (for at this time it had never entered into my heart that all were wrong)—and which I should join.

19 I was answered that I must join none of them, for they were all awrong; and the Personage who addressed me said that all their creeds were an abomination in his sight; that those bprofessors were all ccorrupt; that: “they ddraw near to me with their lips, but their ehearts are far from me, they teach for doctrines the fcommandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof.”

Brent

February 6, 2013 at 11:36 AM

Correct. Faith without works is a dead faith. I also would question so-called believers who are not doing their part to uplift humanity. The Christian worldview requires selfless service for the good of others. The Christian explanation is that when Christians are hard at work renewing and uplifting the world, they do it as God's agents, following in obedience to the cultural mandate. It is not surprising to find hard-working Mormons since they believe salvation is the result of their effort in part. The Christian life is pictured in the story of the Red Sea crossing. God miraculously saved His children, and then after they were secured where He wanted them, he gave them the law so they would know how to please Him. Obedience to the law is the result of love for the God who saves and not a pathway to salvation. I'd say that is the main difference in our two opposing ideas. In general, every non-orthodox Christian sect or "cult" has a works based salvation idea. Jesus never intended that. He died to pay our debt, not to finish our job.

Darren Blair

February 6, 2013 at 11:17 AM

So are you comfortable with those people who profess to be saved but then spend their days sitting on the couch instead of doing God's works?

In contrast, hymn #252 in the LDS hymnal is "Put Your Shoulder To The Wheel" - http://www.lds.org/music/library/hymns/put-your-shoulder-to-the-wheel?lang=eng .

Although first written during the pioneer days, when the physical survival of a community often rested on the efforts of all involved, the greater meaning and theology of the song is still relevant today: "We all have work; let no one shirk".

Some people work within their families, congregations, or even communities to make the world a better place. Others have positions within the church wherein they administer to those who are underneath them. Then you have those whose careers and other work involve outreach and/or "fighting the good fight" (it often surprises people how many doctors, nurses, teachers, police officers, and soldiers are Mormon).

In other words, for a Mormon to be active, odds are that they are *literally* active in some fashion.

Thus, such notions as "Once Saved, Always Saved" and "Cheap Grace" are rejected prima facie; any "gospel" that does not require the person to strive for self-improvement and/or the improvement of the world around them is seen as impotent and lifeless.

Darren Blair

February 6, 2013 at 11:05 AM

The problem with invoking that bit in Galatians is that a person can counter by invoking Revelation 14:6 and its "another angel with the everlasting gospel", then raising the prospect that the "everlasting gospel" is at odds with the extant belief systems held by certain aspects of Christianity.

IMHO, it's one of the more common entanglements that counter-cult types run into with us Mormons.

Brent

February 6, 2013 at 10:54 AM

Christ does indeed pick up our slack, and we are 100% slack...dead even. Read Galatians 2 for a clear explanation of the gospel of Jesus. Our "good works" are only good in the sense of obedience. In terms of saving power, they are less than worthless. Each person is born dead spiritually, and how can the dead resurrect himself to life? It requires an outside agent's effort completely with no possible help from the dead one. That is salvation. The Holy Spirit speaks life into the dead, raising them up and equipping them for good, obedient works. Hope this helps in understanding.

Jonathan Grabowski

February 6, 2013 at 10:49 AM

Thank you for putting Galatians 1.8 in the parenthetical citation.

Ezra

February 6, 2013 at 10:24 PM

I apologize if anyone has treated you poorly in the past. I agree with you...so much for Christian love.
Like I said, I was happy in the church and have a deep amount of love for the LDS people. I just don't think there is even a 1% chance that the truth claims are what the church claims to be. I know we can agree to disagree. For what it's worth, I considered myself a Christian when I was LDS. It wasn't until I began to see the differences though that I realized that I could no longer be LDS. (yet to this day I really wish I could) I love the people, the structure, home teaching, etc..etc..etc....

I hear you about your job situation. A lot of us are in the same situation. Hang in there. God is good!

My allergies get so bad that I can't even open my eyes at times. No amount of medication seems to work and so I suffer through it will cold rags on my closed eyes.

Take care!

Matthew

February 6, 2013 at 10:17 PM

I'm not talking about any fancy editing. That is proof that pre 1990 we, as LDS members in the temple had to slit our throats. I like that video because the younger temple goers seem to think nothing has ever changed in the temple. "Pay Lay Ale" is another change that comes to mind. If all the ordinances were revealed from God and never to be altered, it does strike many curious about all the changes. Even the removal of Lucifer paying money to a Christian minister to spread orthodoxy was removed. I'm sure this conversation will continue.

Darren Blair

February 6, 2013 at 10:15 PM

Thank you for actually being kind there - so few critics of the church even treat me as a human being (so much for "Christian love"...)

The long and short of it is that due to the economy, I'm working a job that's well below my education and work experience. As such, I'm having to cut corners, and as part of it I decided to go with store brand allergy medication this winter.

Thing is, my system's processing the store brand stuff way too quickly; the pills are supposed to be 24-hour, but I go through them in 12.

Darren Blair

February 6, 2013 at 10:14 AM

Again - every time you spread the gospel, you're engaging in a sales activity.

In fact, every time you try to get your kids to eat their peas you're engaging in a sales activity. (You're selling them on the notion of eating them.)

And I wasn't talking about whether or not people's actions validate or invalidate their respective belief systems - I was talking about how the disconnect can cause people to be turned off and ignore overtures towards that person's religion.

Darren Blair

February 6, 2013 at 10:12 PM

Again - how does Adam / Michael invalidate us?


And yes - I'm willing to extend the concept of Christianity to the JWs.

In case you missed it, I go by a person's actions.

Ezra

February 6, 2013 at 10:11 PM

You said, "People were apparently regarding the Lectures *as* scripture rather than a commentary upon them." ......they WERE in "scripture" for 86 years. You seem to be spinning a bit :)

Darren Blair

February 6, 2013 at 10:10 PM

Problem is, dude, I saw that same documentary; Current TV aired it roughly every three weeks in the lead-up to the 2012 election.

The documentarian in question compromised the entire documentary by being one-sided in that he allowed wild anti-Mormon allegations to go through unchallenged while grilling Holland obsessively.

Given this and his excessive focus on critics of the church as sources, I have no reason to believe that the interview with Holland was presented honestly. (Yes, I've seen critics of the church selectively edit interviews.)

I'll have to remember to look at that clip a little later on when I'm more alert (my allergy medication is wearing off, and so I'm getting fuzzy), but if that's the best you have then you should really be looking elsewhere.

Brian

February 6, 2013 at 10:10 AM

Again, the Gospel is not sales. If people are acting contrary to their calling they are in sin and need to repent, simple as that. None of that validates the teachings of LDS.

Hpyotheticaly, if I started a 'Happy Fun Faith' that was trained to manipulate people based on basic human psychology and offered $1,000 to every memeber that left their church, I suspect that religion would be very well received. However, it doesn't make the doctrine of HFF valid simply because I can sell it well.

Ezra

February 6, 2013 at 10:09 PM

Small world. I have terrible allergies too! I know what you mean. No worries. Time for me to go as well. I'm sure we could both go on and on. I wish you well in your studies and please know that Mormons are still "my people." I love my LDS friends and family. :) Have a nice night.

Darren Blair

February 6, 2013 at 10:06 AM

Brian -

Actually, every time you try to spread the gospel to someone, you're "selling" it. Few people seem to realize that.

And before I go hunting for references, I would like to know what *you* believe the LDS church teaches about Elohim.

Matthew

February 6, 2013 at 10:05 PM

I was just making a point that there are many groups that use the name "Jesus" and are referring to someone else. Jehovah's Witnesses say they are "Christian" just like Mormons do. I guess a more appropriate question to ask you is, Do you believe JW's are "Christian?" or Do you feel that JW's believe in the same Jesus as Mormons?

Darren Blair

February 6, 2013 at 10:04 PM

Did you read the chapter in full?

If you did, you'd see that Snow put that couplet in place to simplify what he had seen. In that sense, (and I'd like the full citation so that I can track that interview down), Hinckley is technically correct in referencing the couplet as such, but could have done a better job of clarifying the fact that the theology at work is far more complicated than that.


(FYI - my allergy meds are wearing off, and so I might have to log off for the evening soon; I'm slowly starting to get fuzzy.)

Brian

February 6, 2013 at 10:03 AM

My comment wasn't asserting the accuracy of MRM it was pointing out that your link doesn't actually provide any information supporting your claim that MRM is bais.

The Gospel isn't sales...we aren't in the buisness of convinving people that our 'product' is the best. Truth is truth regardless of how it is communicated or received. By your reasoning, the reason you cling to LDS is because people have been ineffective and harsh in their evangilism. If someone was sensitive and compassionate in communicating the Gospel, would you then recieve it?

Your calim is that LDS is compatable with Bibilical teaching. I would like to see, citing specific Biblical text that is not contrary to other Biblical text (ie. not proof texting with out of context passages) an argument for the origin of what you consider to be 'Elohim'...God the Father.

Matthew

February 6, 2013 at 09:59 PM

Jeffrey R. Holland lying on TV about "penalties" in the LDS temple. Listen carefully when he answers, "That's not true." (after being asked again and to his credit he finally does tell the truth about the "slitting of the throat" penalties). These were removed in 1990. I know because I did them and felt very uncomfortable pantomiming slitting my own throat if I told anyone about the "signs and tokens." http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ws4vgihE3Q0

Darren Blair

February 6, 2013 at 09:55 PM

How does holding Adam to be Michael invalidate us?

Ezra

February 6, 2013 at 09:53 PM

Wait a minute....you posted an upcoming lesson in support of the Lorenzo Snow couplet: "As man now is, God once was, As God now is, man may be."

Hinckley is on record saying "I wouldn't say that." (about if Mormons believe God was once a man)

So on one hand you agree that "God was once a man" and yet ALL the top LDS apologists don't supoprt you there. To complicate matter further, LDS "apostles" can't agree if "God was once a man."

I am very familiar with this. To answer your question though, I removed my name from the records of the LDS church in 2009 after many meetings with your "general authorities."

Darren Blair

February 6, 2013 at 09:44 PM

If they "know", then what exactly are they saying?

Darren Blair

February 6, 2013 at 09:43 PM

And?

Again - from what I'm seeing, the basic teachings were absorbed into other sources, rendering it redundant.

Darren Blair

February 6, 2013 at 09:41 PM

And?

So?

His words fit in just fine with the church's theology?

How far away from the church are you that you seem unfamiliar with this?

Darren Blair

February 6, 2013 at 09:41 PM

Again -

People were apparently regarding the Lectures *as* scripture rather than a commentary upon them.

Matthew

February 6, 2013 at 09:40 PM

Do we all believe in the "same Jesus? "

Jehovah Witnesses believe that Michael the archangel.... is Jesus.
Mormons believe that Michael the archangel....... is Adam.

Jehovah Witnesses and Mormons cannot be talking about the "same Jesus. "

Darren Blair

February 6, 2013 at 09:39 PM

I was referring to the chapter header that said "coinage".

You must have misread me there.

Ezra

February 6, 2013 at 09:23 PM

You sound like I did trying to justify it. So why remove it after 86 years? You seem to understand a 5 minute reading of the text....is "still keeping with church theology."...So they should have just left it in the D&C.

Ezra

February 6, 2013 at 09:18 PM

Q: There are some significant differences in your beliefs. For instance, don't Mormons believe that God was once a man?

A: I wouldn't say that. There was a little couplet coined, ``As man is, God once was. As God is, man may become.'' Now that's more of a couplet than anything else. That gets into some pretty deep theology that we don't know very much about.

Q: So you're saying the church is still struggling to understand this?

A: Well, as God is, man may become. We believe in eternal progression. Very strongly. We believe that the glory of God is intelligence and whatever principle of intelligence we attain unto in this life, it will rise with us in the Resurrection. Knowledge, learning, is an eternal thing. And for that reason, we stress education. We're trying to do all we can to make of our people the ablest, best, brightest people that we can.
(Gordon B. Hinckley 3/13/97 - San Francisco Chronicle)

Darren Blair

February 6, 2013 at 09:15 PM

How it works is that, because of the staggered reply system, if a reply chain goes past a certain point, the "reply" feature is deactivated to keep the posts from getting tiny.

That being said, just a few lines down we read that Jesus is in the express image of God, which *is* still keeping with church theology.

Ezra

February 6, 2013 at 09:12 PM

"are AMONG the ancestors of the American Indians."

vs.

"they are the PRINCIPAL ancestors of the American Indians."

is a HUGE change....for many people.

Ezra

February 6, 2013 at 09:09 PM

I can't seem to use the "reply" button on some of your posts.....at any rate you asked, "Again - source?"....was I not clear enough in my first post. I'm sorry if I wasn't. It's Lecture 5, Paragraph 2 that states, ""the Father being a personage of spirit, glory, and power, possessing all perfection and fulness."....Again this was in the D&c from 1835 - 1921 (86 years!)....I realize you probably don't have access to a D&C that old like I do. So here's your source: https://rsc.byu.edu/archived/lectures-faith-historical-perspective/lecture-5

[...] By John Divito at The Gospel Coalition [...]

Darren Blair

February 6, 2013 at 08:56 PM

Again - source?

Darren Blair

February 6, 2013 at 08:55 PM

Also, it's an accepted instructional manual, so that means it's official.

Darren Blair

February 6, 2013 at 08:51 PM

Thomas - They *will* become divine, but not any sort of direct threat.

The vast majority of the theology on the topic can be had here: https://www.lds.org/manual/gospel-principles/chapter-47-exaltation?lang=eng .

Contrary to what critics of the church try to assert, the average Mormon does *not* fixate on this point, nor is there much in the way of hard-and-fast theology. Rather, the focus is on doing what we can to improve the here & now.

Darren Blair

February 6, 2013 at 08:48 PM

Actually?

*Both* sources are correct.

If you'll look, you'll note that the teachings only go so far.

This is due to the fact that so few people in the world even grasp the basics of the church's theology that something so in-depth as the total specifics would be lost on much of the population.

Darren Blair

February 6, 2013 at 08:45 PM

You do realize that the headers weren't organic to the text at any point, right?

They were introduced during the late 1970s / early 1980s as part of an effort to turn the scriptures into "study" scriptures so as to make them more approachable.

Hence why what you're getting at is actually a non-issue.

Gb Emma

February 6, 2013 at 07:38 AM

I agree that we are always to be loving and reaching out to the lost with the gospel. I find it difficult though to reconcile this with the thought of if it can be dangerous In some situations to invite in missionaries who are very well trained to teach false doctrine. I know that the greatest safeguard against this is to be well grounded in scripture. However, the bible is very clear to stay away from false teachers. For a time I invited in jehovahs witnesses as I wanted to share the truths of the gospel with them. However, I was vulnerable to their false teaching, and desperately wanted to believe that hell was not real as I had just lost someone close to me who was an unbeliever. After time I knew that the the bible was what I had to stick to, but I asked them to stop coming as I wanted to remove the temptation to believe lies. I do feel guilty that I am not using opportunities to share the gospel with them, but I felt too vulnerable to their false teaching - I think that is something that we have to be aware of.

Darren Blair

February 6, 2013 at 07:34 AM

Look at it from a perspective of marketing.

In advertising, there's a concept known as "association". Association is a situation in which a person takes what emotions they have towards a particular person, place, or thing and transfer it to a secondary item that is being associated with it.

For example, suppose that a company is trying to sell a pitching machine.

They would want someone like, say, (purely hypothetical) Desert Moon Gearhead first baseman Lincoln Franklin, who famously knocked 75 home runs in a single season. In this case, the association would be "If you practice your batting with this machine, you could hit like Lincoln Franklin!".

In contrast, they would likely *not* want, say, (also purely hypothetical) Berkely Blitzer outfielder Steven Nevets, whose batting average last year was a paltry .001. Unless the company was trying to be ironic, such an advertisement would send the message "Our machine is so underwhelming as a training device that you'll be just like Nevets.".

Well, religion works the same way. If a person sees a believer of a particular faith acting badly, here come the mental blocks towards not only that person but also their faith. It's basic human psychology.

Ezra

February 6, 2013 at 07:31 PM

I was referring to that teaching is NOT in the "standard works of scripture"....you don't hear it being discussed because of the myth that "she is too sacred to discuss and Heavenly Father has so much respect for her that he doesn't want her name to be blasphemed."

Darren Blair

February 6, 2013 at 07:23 AM

The notion of "after all we can do" means "we put forward our best effort, and God takes up the slack from there."

In a way, this is similar to what the theologian Dietrich Boenhoffer called "Costly Grace", wherein a person takes up the yoke of Christ and gives it their best shot.

In fact, teenagers are encouraged to remember verses from James 2 ("...and I will show you my faith *by* my works.") as James 2 is interpreted as instructing people in the requirement for one to be active in their faith.

In that sense, we reject what Boenhoffer would known as "Cheap Grace", wherein a person professes to believe but then feels no compulsion to act on what they claim to believe. This rejection is emboldened by the negative experiences we have with counter-cult ministries, many of whom take a "do as I say, not as I do" mentality towards Christianity.

This goes back to your post, in which you call me a "wolf" just for being Mormon. But did you realize that about 90% of my work in "spreading the gospel" is done in the form of battling misinformation about the church? It's really only one encounter in ten that I even vaguely pitch the church, and even then it's often in the form of "pointing out famous Mormons" and "sharing news items of interest".

If I do "convert" someone, it's very often a person that was essentially written off by the local mainline churches in some fashion.

Ezra

February 6, 2013 at 07:14 PM

For 86 years it taught God The Father was "a personage of spirit."
It was removed in 1921.

Thomas Larsen

February 6, 2013 at 07:10 PM

So human beings can't become like YHWH in nature - i.e., they can't become divine?

Ezra

February 6, 2013 at 07:10 PM

Cover page to volume 1: Dear Brethren—It is well known to many of you, that Elder George D. Watt, by our counsel, spent much time in the midst of poverty and hardships to acquire the art of reporting in Phonography, which he has faithfully and fully accomplished; and he has been reporting the public Sermons, Discourses, Lectures, &c., delivered by the Presidency, the Twelve, and others in this city, for nearly two years, almost without fee or reward. Elder Watt now proposes to publish a Journal of these Reports, in England, for the benefit of the Saints at large, and to obtain means to enable him to sustain his highly useful position of Reporter. You will perceive at once that this will be a work of mutual benefit, and we cheerfully and warmly request your co-operation in the purchase and sale of the above-named Journal, and wish all the profits arising therefrom to be under the control of Elder Watt.

BRIGHAM YOUNG, HEBER C. KIMBALL WILLARD RICHARDS, First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Darren Blair

February 6, 2013 at 07:10 AM

You do realize that sites like MRM are apologetics sites in their own right, correct? And the link takes you to articles looking at instances in which MRM is alleged to have gotten things wrong.

And as far as what you allege my primary argument is -

Ever been in sales? Ever had any sort of sales training or experience?

One of the first rules for sales is that "it doesn't matter what product you have if you can't sell it".

If someone came trying to convert you, but did so in the fashion that I've described people trying to convert me, what would you do?

Darren Blair

February 6, 2013 at 07:07 AM

Are you speaking literally or metaphorically?

While we're on this Earth, we're "benchmarking" off of God. In the world of business, "benchmarking" means "identifying someone who possesses an attribute or set of attributes that you desire to attain and attempting to model their behavior". This is in keeping with the admonition "Be ye therefore perfect" as found in the Bible - in Mormonism, every soul is a work in progress.

Once we're on the other side and the final judgment has passed, those who were the righteous of the righteous can attain an exalted state *similar to* what God has, in much the same way that a child can attain a state similar to that of their parent.

For the latter, keep in mind that the church has actually given few specifics as to what happens once people achieve that state. Much of what counter-cult types tell each other about it is actually derived from other counter-cult works..

Ezra

February 6, 2013 at 07:05 PM

My source is my great grandmothers D&C. But you can see them on BYU's website and FAIRLDS. Here is a quick link for you: https://rsc.byu.edu/archived/lectures-faith-historical-perspective/lecture-5

Ezra

February 6, 2013 at 07:02 PM

Read Black LDS many times. They may be dedicated to "tracking down the official source" all they want.....fact remains there wasn't one! Same with priesthood EXACT date. (for a record keeping people sure seems odd).....IRR, MRM, Aomin, all know about Elijah Abel and Walker Lewis "priesthood"

Ezra

February 6, 2013 at 06:57 PM

Wow. So these LDS apologists know more than "prophets, seers and revelators." Why don't they simply remove the header? They could just like: http://www.deseretnews.com/article/695226008/Debate-renewed-with-change-in-Book-of-Mormon-introduction.html?pg=all

Ezra

February 6, 2013 at 06:52 PM

So ironic. The teaching of god was once a man....is NOT found in any of "the standard works."

I know it's in the manual (which includes quotes from Conference Report: FROM THE JOURNAL OF DISCOURSES!).....yet Gordon B Hinckley wouldn't even publicly affirm that god was once a man...he said it's a teaching "that we don't know much about." and that "we don't emphasize it."

Fact is, all the top LDS apologists don't accept it as "doctrine."

They simply call the Lorenzo Snow teaching a "couplet."

Darren Blair

February 6, 2013 at 06:48 PM

One of the things I've learned over the years is that sometimes, it's best to use a less-than-precise term when describing things in the event that the more precise term is obscure enough to where the average person would not be expected to know it.

In this case, "coinage" is still an acceptable term, if not entirely precise.

Ezra

February 6, 2013 at 06:45 PM

Darren-

You're simply wrong.
My point was this: "Nephite coinage" is still included in the heading of Alma 11. (which is "in the cannon" and approved by your leaders....yet NOT ONE LDS APOLOGISTS believes it!

"There have been no coins found in ancient America because THEY DIDN"T EXIST...and they DON'T exist in the Book of Mormon. The header note to Alma 11 which describes Nephite coinage is MOST CERTAINLY WRONG."

- Daniel Peterson (BYU)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UNt2aE_UM8g

Darren Blair

February 6, 2013 at 06:38 PM

I typed "Lectures On Faith" into the search engine at the church website, and I'm seeing more than what you might have thought there would be.

For starters, the instructional manual for teaching the D&C makes reference to it -

https://www.lds.org/manual/doctrine-and-covenants-and-church-history-seminary-teacher-resource-manual/overview-and-introductory-pages/explanatory-introduction-to-the-doctrine-and-covenants?lang=eng&query=lectures+faith

From there, I'm seeing the Lectures cited in individual manuals. This tells me that the Lectures themselves - or, at least, their teachings - were likely ultimately absorbed into other words, rendering them redundant.

Darren Blair

February 6, 2013 at 06:33 PM

I still want to know what your sources were.

Ezra

February 6, 2013 at 06:31 PM

They were "in the cannon" for 86 years! Where is the inspiration and revelation to sort this out BEFORE 86 years? Why do the LDS apologists only try to explain away these issues? Why is it not on LDS and Mormon website?

Darren Blair

February 6, 2013 at 06:31 PM

There's an analogy one can use... an analogy put forward by an atheist I once knew attempting to explain matters to some other atheists. ;)

If God is the president of a nation, then those who are exalted would be the governors of the states within that nation; they would have a portion of what God has, but in no wise would be threats to his power and/or position.

Darren Blair

February 6, 2013 at 06:29 PM

My official thought:

It's a non-issue.

If Jesus made it through without sin, then it's fair to presume that God did, too.

That being said, there are far more important issues for us to be worrying about.

Darren Blair

February 6, 2013 at 06:28 PM

Actually, Heavenly Mother was officially confirmed back in 1991 - https://www.lds.org/general-conference/1991/10/daughters-of-god?lang=eng (scroll down). It took me longer to skim the article for the reference than it did to work the church's search engine to find it.

Darren Blair

February 6, 2013 at 06:25 PM

Actually, the page was pretty clear: people were taking the lectures themselves as scripture instead of as instruction and lecture, and so the works were separated in order to prevent this from happening.

Sounds pretty normal to me.

Darren Blair

February 6, 2013 at 06:22 PM

Actually, figuring out what is and isn't canon is pretty easy.

1. Take the book in question.

2. Flip it open to the copyright page.

3. Note who holds the copyright.

If the listed copyright is "Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints" or "Intellectual Reserve", then it has been entered into the church canon.

If not, then it isn't.

4. Determine the date of the copyright.

The church constantly updates its manuals so as to reflect modern needs and concerns, such as replacing a discussion on microfiche with a discussion on the internet as a search tool for family history.

Generally speaking, if a book is more than 10 years old, check for an update.

Ezra

February 6, 2013 at 06:20 PM

Darren- You give a lot of weight to what is "official" and "in the cannon" which I can understand...but what are your thoughts about your leaders NOT saying "yes" or "no" on the question of: Did God the Father sin?

This video shows a lot of active LDS members that think it's possible that God did sin.
(Where did they get that belief from?....since you are going to say that it's "not official."

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WyH61ybnPBE

Darren Blair

February 6, 2013 at 06:18 PM

Oh, and "coinage" is used as a term meaning "system of currency". It's archaic in that usage, but I can't think of any reason why it shouldn't be valid.

Darren Blair

February 6, 2013 at 06:17 PM

Apples and oranges.

I was referring to a point of *history*, not theology.

And as far as your bit about God being human, look what lesson is coming up in a few Sundays: https://www.lds.org/manual/teachings-of-presidents-of-the-church-lorenzo-snow/chapter-5-the-grand-destiny-of-the-faithful?lang=eng .

Ezra

February 6, 2013 at 06:14 PM

Isn't it ironic that you are quoting "non-official" websites? (since you are so set on "in the cannon")

Jeff Lindsay's site says, "It has not been approved by the Church."

FAIR LDS sites says, "....should not be interpreted as official statements of LDS doctrine, belief or practice."

Thanks for the link. We can send LDS apologists links all day long. Trust me when I say for YEARS I've read ALL the writings from the top LDS "scholars" and to be honest with you Millet and Peterson wouldn't even say that Jeff Lindsay is one of the top. Nice guy though! Jeff Lindsay's site actually kept me holding on the truth claims of the church for a few years :)
I could also respond to you by saying: Show me something "in the cannon" that says that God the Father was once a man.

You know and I know millions of LDS members believe that! Yet, Bob Millet (BYU) even distances himself from that topic.

The average everyday LDS member does NOT know and believe in what these LDS apologists do.

For example: Nephite "coinage" in the heading of the Book of Mormon. The leadership leaves it in there....even though Daniel Peterson (BYU) and other LDS apologists are on record as saying it's NOT about coins.

Round and round we go.....If Jeff Lindsay had something on his site and you had a face to face meeting with "apostle" Holland....and asked Holland a particular question and his answer was DIFFERENT than Jeff Lindsay's.....Who would you believe more? (This is not a hypothetical. It happened to me.)

Jason

February 6, 2013 at 06:02 PM

John. It is great that you're calling for love towards Mormons and prayers for them. I wish the best for Mormons and for you also, and so I think you should be aware of a few problems with some of the ideas you've expressed here.

First of all, if someone claims Jesus Christ is the Lord who came in the flesh to die, rise again, and save us from our sins (as Mormons believer), then we should embrace that common point and try to sharpen one another gently with regard to other disagreements. Calling Mormons unbelievers is not a gentle approach and is most likely extremely offensive to them. They may be confused and mislead, but who among us is perfect? Many of them are sincere believers in Christ's divinity, death, and resurrection for our salvation from sin. If you want to be as effective as possible in your ministry to Mormons, don't call them unbelievers.

Secondly, you said, "When you compare what Mormons teach with God's revelation in the Bible, you will quickly see that their teaching is not the faith 'once for all delivered to the saints.'" Actually, while the Mormons don't have everything correct, they do agree at quite a few points of doctrine with the historical saints, with Scripture, and with the historical Christian Church that wrote and preserved Scripture. Yes they do differ from Christianity at many points, but you also differ from Scripture and the historical Christian Church at points in your doctrine.

For instance, you said, "I also knew... I could never be good enough to gain eternal life." Who told you that?! Read Jesus Christ's answer in Luke 10 after he was asked how to gain eternal life: "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself, and you will live." According to the Apostle John, to love God is to obey Him. So not only can we be "good enough" (obedient and loving enough) to gain eternal life, but we *have* to be good to gain eternal life. We can't be good enough to forgive our past sins, but once forgiven through Christ's blood we most definitely can (and need to) love God and neighbor for eternal life.

As a Reformed Baptist you apparently believe that "good works are a by-product of saving faith, not a pre-requisite to be saved." (from the mrm.org site) But see 1 Timothy 4:16 where Paul told Timothy that if he perseveres in his life and doctrine then he will save both himself and his hearers. All salvation comes by God's grace, but make no mistake about it: how we live for Christ determines our continuing salvation. You believe that "mankind is saved by grace through faith alone in Jesus Christ." But hear the Apostle Paul teach in Romans 2, "God will repay each person according to what they have done. To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life." The only place the phrase "faith alone" is found in the Bible is in James 2 where James asks, "Can faith [without works] save them?" (v. 14) and concludes with, "You see that a person is justified by what they do and not by faith alone." What we do does ultimately save us. Obedience is not mere evidence of faith. Love and obedience saves us, according to James; it justifies us. Unless we make an effort to add love and obedience to faith we cannot be saved. Hear also the Apostle Peter saying, "Dear friends... make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with [God]." "Effort," effort is required on our part to continually be found spotless, not only faith. Faith does save, but not only faith.

All of the Apostles, and even Paul himself, teach in the Scriptures that effort (love and obedience to God) is required to continually be saved. Indeed, even the Church that gave us the very Scriptures you read opposes your "faith alone" doctrine and your interpretation of Eph 2 and Romans 4, and they all always have. You believe and teach something that goes against what every single one of the Churches historically planted by Christ's first disciples has taught since they each were started. I'm not just speaking of the Roman Catholic Church but also about *every* ancient Christian Church with geographical and historical ties to the first disciples of Christ (the ancient Churches at Greece, Turkey, Armenia, Israel, Egypt, Ethiopia, Rome, etc.). All those Churches teach that Eph 2:8 is about how we are saved through faith apart from works *of the law*. It is not about salvation apart from all obedience. In Eph 2, Paul was referring to works *of the law. (see Eph 2:11-15, "Therefore, remember ... that the law of commandments and ordinances has been abolished...") Same goes for Romans 4:2. (see Ro 3:21, "works of the law will not justify.") When you strip those passages from their context, as you do, you end up interpreting them the wrong way.

Just as many Mormon ideas weren't taught as "Christian" until about 200 years ago when Joseph Smith started teaching them, similarly your ideas about salvation through "faith alone" were not taught as "Christian" until about 500 years ago when groups of people in Northern Europe start teaching them. When speaking of Paul's letters, the Apostle Peter wrote that they "contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction." (2 Pet 3:15) Perhaps due to the social instability and the circumstances of the abuses they suffered under Catholicism, Martin Luther (and the Reformers generally) misunderstood Ephesians 2 and Romans 4 and convinced nations to follow their distorted doctrines. In ignorance, they left historical Christian doctrine and biblical doctrine as well. Why leave Joseph Smith's 200 year old tradition and then believe the tradition of Northern Europeans from 500 years ago? If I were you, I'd go all the way back to Christ and his first disciples and the churches they planted... follow them as they follow Christ.

I think you teach error in regards to salvation, but that doesn't make you an "unbeliever" in my opinion. Yet you refer to Mormons as unbelievers, and you also say that unbelievers suppress the truth by their unrighteousness, citing Romans 1:18. However, in that passage Paul sums up his list of those unrighteous peoples' sins by saying, "You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things." (2:1) I think you should consider that passage careful. While you call Mormons "unbelievers" on account of their errors in doctrine, you're teaching error too, serious error my brother.

Ezra

February 6, 2013 at 05:56 PM

Study the "Lectures on Faith" issue....since they were "in the cannon" as you seem to like.

Again, they were in the D&C for 86 years!

Here is the BEST rebuttal that FAIRLDS has posted. (and it is very weak)

Again, after reading this....ask yourself why these "prophets, seers and revelators" of the one and only true church would even allow it to be "in the cannon" for so long......86 years Darren! We're not talking a year or two....So quite frankly the folks at FAIRLDS and FARMS seem to be missing the large picture here. They can try to explain away the subject matter and the reasons why they were removed....but please ask yourself....for 86 years were my ancestors being lead astray with following that portion of "scripture" that was "in the cannon?"

http://en.fairmormon.org/Doctrine_and_Covenants/Lectures_on_Faith/Removed

Ezra

February 6, 2013 at 05:39 PM

"Heavenly Mother" is NOT in "the accepted cannon" either. Yet, millions of LDS members believe that is "doctrine." ....Same would have been for Brigham Young teaching that Adam was God the Father. Thousands believed him.

Ezra

February 6, 2013 at 05:35 PM

Darren, you seem to be all about what is "in the cannon." The fact is these men were sustained as "prophets, seers and revelators" and were followed intently. Thomas S. Monsen's book "To The Rescue" is not "doctrine" or "in the cannon." However, he is your prophet....I'm sure it would be okay to read the book and follow his "personal opinion." ....Which begs the question: How do you KNOW when a prophet is acting as a prophet and when he's just voicing his "personal opinion?"....If he's walking about to get the mail and you ask him, "Hey Thomas, who do you think is going to win the Yankees game?".....I understand that his answer would not be "from the prophet.".....BUT....a HUGE BUT....A lot of what's included in the 'Journal of Discourses" WAS FROM THE PULPIT. .....So the question remains: How do you KNOW when a prophet is acting as a prophet?

Ezra

February 6, 2013 at 05:31 PM

You know Darren, I said the same thing when I was LDS. I understand your reply. The fact is "cannon" and "doctrine" are so hard to nail down tough. My great grandparents would have recognized the 'Journal of Discourses' as DOCTRINE.

Do you consider the Ensign magazine "official?" (I would hope so) Yet, what if in 50 years it was just rattled off by LDS apologists as "not doctrine" or "not canonical" .....LDS leaders are STILL quoting from the 'Journal of Discourses' in the Ensign articles and for the church manuals etc...Just because they tell you TODAY that they are "not doctrine"....doesn't neglect the fact that thousands of sincere LDS people (my ancestors included) didn't believe and follow them.

"I say now, when they [his discourses] are copied and approved by me they are as good Scripture as is couched in this Bible . . . " (Journal of Discourses, vol. 13, p. 264, 95)

Darren Blair

February 6, 2013 at 05:28 PM

I'd suggest taking a peek at www.blacklds.org, an apologetics website dedicated to tracking down official source documentation.

Blacks actually had the priesthood under Joseph Smith, something virtually no critic of the church seems to know about.

Darren Blair

February 6, 2013 at 05:27 PM

I don't have a lot of time, but here are some answers to consider:

1. At the time, 14+ *was* of marriageable age. Not many modern critics seem to know this.

2. Sounds to me like you listened to what some critic thought Blood Atonement was. If you were to read the Journal of Discourses (I've found that sermon), what BY was saying was "For some sins, the eternal consequences are so great that if people knew what they were, they'd rather be impaled by a javelin as part of the atonement process than die of old age in their sins." Interestingly enough, I once got a Catholic to agree on that point.

3. If Joseph *did* fall for the Kinderhook plates, then why did the hoaxsters wait until after he was dead and gone to spring the trap?

http://www.jefflindsay.com/LDSFAQ/FQ_BMProblems.shtml#fooled

4. IIRC, BY himself got frustrated by people misunderstanding what he was getting at with Adam / God, so that's not exactly a particularly strong argument.

5. The multiple accounts of the first vision can be reconciled as a person trying to get things together after a shock. As it is, despite the "variations", the core facts are still the same.

6. I don't recall a single official source saying that Jesus had multiple wives.

Darren Blair

February 6, 2013 at 05:22 PM

"The Seer" was never part of the canon, and in fact was condemned from the pulpit back in the day.

The JoD, meanwhile, was in a grey area at best, and so its inclusion in this list is questionable.

"The Miracle of Forgiveness" isn't part of the canon, either.

In fact, I don't recognize a single book on your list that's part of the accepted canon.

Ezra

February 6, 2013 at 05:21 PM

The church has done a good job with marketing themselves as "Christians".....I considered myself a "Christian" when I was LDS participating in the temple endowment. Actually, I considered myself part of THE ONLY TRUE AND LIVING CHURCH and viewed other Christian denominations as lacking in the "fullness of the gospel." It just seems confusing considering what previous leaders have said about 'Christianity':

"The Christian world, so-called, are heathens as to the knowledge of the salvation of God" (Journal of Discourses 8:171).

"With a regard to true theology, a more ignorant people never lived than the present so-called Christian world" (Journal of Discourses 8:199).

"Brother Taylor has just said that the religions of the day were hatched in hell. The eggs were laid in hell, hatched on its borders, and kicked on to the earth" (Journal of Discourses 6:176).

"We talk about Christianity, but it is a perfect pack of nonsense ...the devil could not invent a better engine to spread his work than the Christianity of the nineteenth century" (Journal of Discourses 6:167).

"What! Are Christians ignorant? Yes, as ignorant of the things of God as the brute beast." (Journal of Discourses 6:25).

A set of wicked Apostates, murderers, and idolaters, who ...left to follow the wicked imaginations of their own corrupt hearts, and to build up churches by human authority..." (The Seer, pg.205).

"Christians - those poor, miserable priests Brother Brigham was speaking about - some of them are the biggest whoremasters there are on the earth ..." (Journal of Discourses 5:89).

"Presumptuous and blasphemous are they who purport to baptize, bless, marry, or perform other sacraments in the name of the Lord while in fact lacking the specific authorization" (The Miracle of Forgiveness, pg.55).

"What is the church of the devil in our day, and where is the seat of her power? ...It is all of the systems, both Christian and non-Christian, that perverted the pure and perfect gospel ...It is communism; it is Islam; it is Buddhism; it is modern Christianity in all its parts" (The Millennial Messiah, pp.54-55).

"The gods of Christendom, for instance, are gods who were created by men in the creeds of an apostate people. There is little profit or peace in serving them, and certainly there is no salvation available through them" (A New Witness for the Articles of Faith, pg.545).

Thomas Larsen

February 6, 2013 at 05:09 PM

// those who were the righteous of the righteous can attain an exalted state *similar to* what God has //

Similar in what way(s), though? Keep in mind that YHWH has declared, "Before me no god was formed, nor shall there be any after me" (Is. 43.10). And he has also said, "I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me" (Is. 46.9).

Ezra

February 6, 2013 at 05:08 PM

I was a faithful member of the LDS church and the reason why I left was NOT because someone offended me or that I committed a serious sin etc.....I was HAPPY in the church...I love my LDS family and friends...but the "issues" that troubled me were: the pre 1990 temple endowment session where you would slit your throat from ear to ear and suffer your own life to be taken for revealing it...... the 7 underage wives of Joseph Smith ages: 14, 14, 16, 16, 17, 17, 17......Joseph Smith's marrying of 11 women, who had living husbands at the time.....the belief that polygamy is still a doctrine practiced in Heaven....the various versions of the first vision.....blood atonement teaching that some sins are so bad that your own blood must be spilled because Christ's blood won't cover you (blood atonement)......Brigham Young teaching that Adam was God in GeneralConference.....Kolob.....God being once a man....Jesus being polygamist.....Garden of Eden in Missouri.....Jesus coming back to Missouri......the Nauvoo Expositor....the Book of Abraham....the Kinderhook plates....etc..etc..etc...After years of meeting with BYU "scholars" and LDS "apostles".....with much study and sincere prayer.....the LDS truth claims cannot be true....and it broke my heart!....I sincerely wish IT WAS TRUE.

Rick

February 6, 2013 at 05:07 PM

Darren,

Don't you ever get tired of playing the victim? Personally, I am tired of hearing it from you over and over on multiple threads. Maybe it's time for you to get over it and move on to substance.

No one claims that Christians always share the gospel correctly. And I know many arrogant LDS who are very offensive when they speak to Christians. I regret that conversations go like that. But methodology is not the issue. The question is which theology is true because they are mutually exclusive. LDS are not Christians and Christians are not LDS.

There is no shortage of sinful people on this planet. Don't determine your theology by focusing on sinners. We each need to look instead at our own sinfulness and the One who saves us from sin. The Bible says there is only one God who saves us. It is Jesus himself who said we are to worship and serve "HIM only" (Matt 4:10). That means it would be wrong to worship or serve any other god. That is worth talking about.

Ezra

February 6, 2013 at 04:56 PM

The FAIR LDS and FARMS "scholars" do their best to explain away the removing of the "Lectures on Faith" from the D&C....but the fact remains that it was in LDS scripture for 86 years. These "scholars" DO NOT speak for the LDS church anyways. I've met with 2 LDS "apostles" and was set up with BYU professors because they "know more on this issues."

Ezra

February 6, 2013 at 04:52 PM

It's a "copy and paste" from me. :)

Ezra

February 6, 2013 at 04:46 PM

In 1978 it took a "revelation" for the LDS church to allow black people to fully participate in their "priesthood".....WHERE WAS THE ORIGINAL REVELATION TO BAN THEM FROM THE START? (hint: there wasn't one.)....So the question that no LDS leader can answer is: Why was there a "ban" to begin with? (nobody knows)

Darren Blair

February 6, 2013 at 04:42 PM

[citation needed]

Nothing personal, but that's an obvious copy & paste.

Ezra

February 6, 2013 at 04:40 PM

For 86 years the LDS were taught that God The Father was "a personage of spirit."
The LDS removed this from their scripture in 1921.

For 62 years the RLDS were taught that God The Father was "a personage of spirit."
The RLDS removed this from their scripture in 1897.

Until 1921 the "Doctrine" portion of the "Doctrine and Covenants" included "The Lectures on Faith." Lecture 5, paragraph 2 defined the Father as "a personage of spirit, glory and power."

The current "Doctrine and Covenants" Section 130:22 states, "the Father has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man's."

On page 58 of the 1835 edition of the 'Doctrine and Covenants' the following question and answer says:

Q-) Does the foregoing account of the Godhead lay a sure foundation for the exercise of faith in him unto life and salvation?

A-) It does.

Another question and answer said this:

Q-) How many personages are there in the Godhead?

A-) Two: the Father and Son (Lecture 5: 1).

Darren Blair

February 6, 2013 at 03:48 PM

Thing is, guess who seemingly makes up a large percentage of the counter-cult movement that we Mormons encounter on a daily basis...

Brent

February 6, 2013 at 03:39 PM

Sadly, we must steer away of the "fundamentalists" of our day who would be pharisees.

Darren Blair

February 6, 2013 at 03:00 PM

Sadly, the context I keep seeing it in is "if the person sins even once - and it has to be something that I, _____, would recognize as a sin - then it is proof positive that they are not saved".

This leads to much splitting of hairs, and can even lead to the odd double standard.

For example, we are to believe that Joseph Smith was sinful because he had multiple wives, but if we point out that such-and-such critic of the church was excommunicated for some sort of sexual peccadillo then we are "sin-sniffers" (actual term someone once lobbed at me) who exist only to cast aspersions on others.*

The end result is that any violations committed by their fellow counter-cult types is excused unless particularly egregious, while any perceived violation committed by a Mormon is magnified several times over.


*Consider the case of Loftes Tryk. Tryk came on the scene a few decades ago presenting himself as an ex-Mormon, something that drew a lot of attention to a book that he had just written.

Some time after his book was published, a man who had known Tryk once upon a time wrote a letter to a then-prominent LDS apologist. It turned out that Tryk was a convicted sex offender who was excommunicated from the church for his crime.

In other words, he didn't "see the light"; he was thrown out.

The revelation of his criminal record caused more than a bit of consternation among the counter-cult ministers of the day, especially since it raised questions concerning his motives for writing the book in the first place. Suffice to say that Tryk's career as a "defender of the faith" was short-lived.

Brent

February 6, 2013 at 01:55 PM

Everyone sins after being saved. Sinning does not undo a person's salvation. Having said that, a saved person will not exhibit a sinful lifestyle continually. We repent and become more transformed into the likeness of Jesus.

If a person claims to be saved but their life does not eventually evidence a change of will away from sin and toward Christ, then that person is not saved. Not that I can read their heart, but for me to say that they are saved is to deny the transforming results of coming face-to-face with the God of the universe in surrendered repentance and faith. When God reaches out and saves a man, the man is no longer the same as he was.

Steve

February 5, 2013 at 12:44 PM

Darren -

No Christian would ever deny that horrible atrocities have happened when Christians and Mormons collide - physical violence, harassment, name-calling, etc. In the many examples you have given, I am reminded of all of our need for God's grace found in Christ to pardon us for the sins committed against one another. I would never try to downplay or excuse the actions of ignorant, perhaps not even saved, individuals who claim the name of Christ and yet fail to love their Mormon neighbors properly. Hence, part of the reason I am thankful John took the time to write this article.

Let's keep something in mind here, though. The actions (physical violence, harassment, name-calling, etc.) taken by individual so called Christians against Mormons PALE in comparison to the atrocities committed by the Mormon church as a whole. No amount of physical violence or name-calling can cause a person to head down the wide path that leads to destruction. Creating, and then aggressively propagating, a false gospel to millions upon millions of people throughout the world assuring them that through their works and earned righteousness they can have reconciliation with God is the main issue here.

Everyone will be held accountable for the things they said and did in this world, whether you embrace Christ or not. Something that is true is true regardless of whether you personally believe in it or not. Those supposed Christians who have done horrible things to Mormons will be held accountable for that. My lack of love and zeal for evangelizing to the many Mormons in my town (Jackson, WY) will for sure be of much shame to me when I stand in the believer's judgement seat. However, God will hold a special contempt for those who come along preaching a false gospel and leading others astray because of it. Please keep that in mind when considering the damage that the Mormon church has done as a whole.

Steve

February 5, 2013 at 12:25 PM

"In that sense, setting the age of 8 as the age of baptism is perfectly in line with scholarly thought,"

I'm so thankful that true Christians aren't grounded in the "scholarly thought" of the day - but rather, in the inerrant, infallible, immutable word of God as given and spoken in the 66 books of the bible (and only the 66 books of the bible).

Sharon Ellis

February 5, 2013 at 12:18 PM

I know that academics regard Piaget's theory with respect, and I did too, when I was in college--before I had kids! Sin is rebellion against God, Darren. You don't need a "theory of cognitive development,"or even experience in raising children to know, even by the age of 4, that some things are wrong. In other words, you don't need to reach the age of 8 to "consciously comprehend" what you're doing is wrong. It's not even necessary to understand the ramifications of your wrong action--just that it's "wrong." The things we do that we know are wrong in God's eyes required a sacrifice far beyond anything we can do on our own.

Sharon Ellis

February 5, 2013 at 12:07 PM

The problem is, people in cults are discouraged from THINKING. First you have to get them to think, because they won't hear the gospel without it penetrating their hearts. I've found the best approach is to ask questions about their own church's doctrine that they can't answer. For instance, a Jehovah's Witness once said confidently to me that she believed in "the resurrection." I responded, "Oh! So you believe Jesus' body was raised from the dead." She answered, "Oh no, his body dissolved into gases." I asked, "Well, then do you believe his spirit died and was resurrected?" She answered, "Oh, no, his spirit never died." I asked in a very puzzled, gentle way, "I don't understand---what exactly was raised from the dead, then?" She said, "That's a good question....." She had no answer. I once asked her companion a very basic question about their doctrine (which makes no sense whatsoever) a question, and she responded, "In my 35 years of being a Jehovah's Witness, no one has ever asked me that." The cults really do everything they can to discourage their members from thinking, and it's our fist task in witnessing.

Darren Blair

February 5, 2013 at 11:57 AM

It's almost a guarantee that if you go to any random Mormon congregation you'll hear atrocity stories about what "Good Christians" have done to someone who is Mormon.

I myself have been threatened with physical violence, held up as a bogeyman by an anti-Mormon ministry, and verbally assaulted on more occasions than I can remember.

Other people who I have encountered have had similar stories.

One person I know was even *physically attacked* by members of his former congregation who, in essence, regarded him as a traitor.

What kind of message does that tell us Mormons?

It tells us that far too much of mainline Christianity doesn't really care.

Darren Blair

February 5, 2013 at 11:52 AM

I'm being honest when I say that far too many critics of the LDS faith go out of their way to avoid citing actual LDS works.

Instead, they prefer citing non-canonical, heterodox, or even *heretical* works in trying to "define" the LDS faith.

"Mormon Doctrine"? Bruce R. McConkie wrote it as a personal project, independent of the church hierarchy. Because of this, early editions (1950s and, to a lesser extent, 1960s) contain much that does *not* square with official church theology. In fact, McConkie got in considerable trouble back in the day. Most actual Mormons won't take any citation from MD that dates before the '79 edition, and most of us would prefer to see the '94 edition at minimum.

"The Seer"? So completely heterodox that Brigham Young actually went to the pulpit to tell people what pages to remove.


Guess which two books the vast majority of critics seem to keep wanting to cite...

cindy

February 5, 2013 at 11:45 AM

Hi Darren,

I would agree that anyone hoping to "witness" to anyone else, should do so in love and through the use of the other persons' perspective. And thankfully, sources from the Lds church are fairly easy to find on their sites which at least gives a nice starting point for understanding a Mormon worldview.

For that reason, it is also fairly easy to compare the beliefs of the Lds church with what was taught as the gospel to the early church (as the author states). That is what should be the focus of our conversations between each other...not the benefits or disadvantages of one church over another.

Jonathan Grabowski

February 5, 2013 at 11:35 AM

I think that it is a good reminder of what our hearts, attitudes and actions should be towards not just Mormons but also those outside and even those inside our faith as professing Christians. The example we set by our conduct and lives is what others see. Non-believer's do not read the Bible, they read us. How we come across, even in a rebuking way as the other Jonathan stated, should be done with caution and discernment. How we approach a situation or a person depends upon the delicacy of the circumstance and we must be prepared not only to give a reason for the hope we have (1 Peter 3.15) but be prepared to do so in a kind, caring and loving way.

Also, the section "Recognize their need for Christ" the third verse should be Galatians 1.8 instead of 1 Corinthians 11.4 about head coverings.

Darren Blair

February 5, 2013 at 11:34 AM

Piaget's Theory of Cognitive Development:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Piaget%27s_theory_of_cognitive_development

Children usually can't comprehend *why* an action is "sinful" until they reach 7 - 9 years of age. They can understand that there are actions they should not do as young as 2 - 3, but it takes several more years for them to understand the ramifications of what they're doing.

In that sense, setting the age of 8 as the age of baptism is perfectly in line with scholarly thought, as that is the approximate age at which children can consciously comprehend what they're doing.

Yes, I took Psych 101 to help round out my undergrad degree.

Darren Blair

February 5, 2013 at 11:28 AM

How about actually reading some actual Mormon sources?

If you go to www.lds.org and access the Gospel Library, you can get the canon of scriptures, the current Sunday School manuals, and archived copies of the official church magazines as far back as 1971.

It always astounds me how many "Good Christians" do *not* include our own materials on their reading lists of material about the church. It's as if there is something that they don't want people to read.

Darren Blair

February 5, 2013 at 11:26 AM

As an actual Mormon?

I've had threats of physical violence against me from "Good Christians" who didn't take kindly to my being Mormon.

In fact, it's rare for me to encounter a "counter-cult" type who *doesn't* either hate me as a person or think me a tool simply for being Mormon.

Darren Blair

February 5, 2013 at 11:23 AM

As an active member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, better known as the Mormons?

I'd like to know just what supposedly convinced the author to leave the church.

A few years ago, I was on a discussion forum with a woman who had left the LDS faith. In the process of the discussion, she brought out some of the anti-Mormon material that had made her leave the church. I, and a few other Mormon posters, looked it over... and found that it was all bogus. The material was filled with false accusations, false information, and false arguments. The author of the material? A man known on both sides of the debate as a purveyor of hate speech.

Suffice to say, folks, that when we told her this, she rather promptly repented of having left the church and began to re-investigate matters for herself.


You see, folks, it has been my personal experience that a *lot* of the "Good Christians" who would "save" us are more than willing to use less-than-Christlike means of doing it. This tendency was confirmed in 1997 in the infamous Mosser-Owen Report - http://www.cometozarahemla.org/others/mosser-owen.html - which excoriated the Evangelical counter-cult movement for its intellectual dishonesty in approaching us.

So for the OP to say "I was saved in college!" rings suspicious to me.

Jonathan

February 5, 2013 at 11:05 AM

Well rebuking can be done in a loving way. That's the way it's supposed to me. If it were me and I spotted a wolf, I would isolate him into a room with a bunch of elders. Otherwise, there's nothing you can do but kick them to the side.
We are to love mormons, correct them gently, and show them the truth. Mormonism isn't just a theology, there are also souls that need saving.

Arthur Sido

February 5, 2013 at 10:19 AM

Good article John, it is a lot easier to shun or avoid mormons but they are desperately lost and in need of Christ. Part of the problem is that so few Christians even know what THEY believe and are completely unequipped to deal with a false religion.

Sharon Ellis

February 5, 2013 at 09:43 AM

Thank you SO much for this article. Mormons are deceived, blinded from the truth, like all those who don't know the real Jesus Christ. The Mormon missionaries who come to our door deserve our compassion, love, prayers and efforts to introduce them to our wonderful Savior. I first began witnessing to them after reading a book called "Approaching Mormons in Love," by Wilbur Lingle. It provided all the information I needed to ask them questions about their own faith that they were unable to answer, i.e. I "put a stone in their shoe." For instance, "Oh, you say you were baptized at the age of 8. Why is that?" I knew the answer, of course, and once they gave it to me--Mormons don't believe children can sin before the age of 8--I express tremendous surprise that they would believe this, since it contradicts human experience. I share my own memory of deliberately breaking a window with a crowbar during a game of cowboys and Indians at the age of 5, and IMMEDIATELY knowing I'd done the wrong thing. One Mormon I shared this with responded with her own memory of stuffing cupcakes down her shorts to hide them from her mother--before the age of 8. So, they know from experience that this Mormon teaching is incorrect. Hmmm. What else is the LDS church wrong about?
And in the course of these conversations, there is always been the opportunity to share my own relationship with Christ--how reassuring his love is, how wonderful to know that he is always with me, and that the burden of sin--something the LDS church downplays--has been removed.
Witnessing to a Mormon involves sacrifice--time, energy, and prayers. It's what Jesus did for us.
It absolutely baffles me how anyone who loves Jesus could have a person come to their front door and say, "We want to talk with you about God," and then send them away! How can anyone do that?? Will we not have to answer for that someday? People who see the Mormons as a "theology to rebuke" are looking at them as if they were "things," and not people--people whom God loves every bit as much as he loves us.

Mzungu

February 5, 2013 at 09:39 AM

Thanks for this, John. I lead a women's Bible study where we have a young woman who came out of Mormonism and is still finding her feet. I didn't know much about Mormonism, but as we studied Galatians, it was amazing to see her reaction to the gospel--how it freed her from the weight of never being good enough, and from all the fear that goes along with that. Now I'm trying to read up a bit, so your article was timely for me, and I appreciate the recommendations and resources.

Josh

February 5, 2013 at 09:16 AM

What's your take on people who would say they are false teachers and we should have nothing to do with them? I know I struggled for awhile with the idea that we should just be shutting the door on them or rebuking them for their theology or we should show them hospitality and love them.

I don't agree with just casting them aside, since I think any Scripture references are talking about wolves among us, but I wondered if you have come across people who are opposed to loving Mormons because they see Mormons as a theology to rebuke and not a people to love.

Brian

February 5, 2013 at 06:25 PM

People profesing Christ and committing atrocities is inexcusable. However, those actions do not validate the LDS faith in any way.

Brian

February 5, 2013 at 06:17 PM

That link doesn’t actually provide any information that supports your claim of inaccuracy by the MRM. The site itself is a LDS apologist website, which is not surprisingly critical of LDS critics.

The bottom line is that there is no Biblical defense or precedent for critical LDS doctrine, such as the Origin of Elohim which states that God the Father once existed as a physical being of flesh and bones, and Exaltation is basically just a repackaging of the Satan's deception in Genesis 3:5.

If you want to talk doctrine and misconceptions that's fine, but I haven't actually seen any LDS doctrine brought up. Also, the primary argument that you submit for the validity of LDS doctrine is that some Christians were mean to you is intellectually insufficient.

If you want to convince people that the LDS faith is a more valid image of Christ then I would start with defending the contradictions between LDS doctrine and what the Bible teaches...from a Biblical perspective much like Paul reasoned Christ's validity using Old Testament scripture.

Thomas Larsen

February 5, 2013 at 05:54 PM

Darren, out of curiosity, do you think it is possible for some human beings to become like YHWH in nature? I know folks from the CJCLDS who claim that.

Phil

February 5, 2013 at 04:46 PM

Darren: I believe I've seen you come to The Gospel Coalition (TGC) blog threads before. You take every opportunity to herald the stories of mistreatment you've experiences at the hands of some professing Christians. Two things: 1. There are two sides to every story so I don't know what provoked those Christians to such outrageousness, and 2.) *we* here are not *those* people who treated you like that. Yes, we know that some professing Christians (if they're really Christians, that is) do not handle every situation well, and in some cases handle them completely wrong. We got that. We know that. You don't need to repeat the same thing in dang near every post. It's also a bit of a red herring, as it doesn't deal with the facts under debate. So with all that in focus, I have to wonder why you're here other than to show up at TGC everytime Mormonism is brought up just so you can tell us how horrible "good Christians" are toward Mormons, along with some occasional pseudo-evangelism to advocate for Mormonism.

Mormonism teaches that "we are saved by grace after all we can do," whereas the Bible teaches that we are saved by grace through faith in what God has done. This is not just *an* issue; it is *THE* primary issue -- the Gospel that saves! -- that irreconcilably separates Mormonism from the historic truths of the Christian faith. Also, the nature and origins of Christ are irreconcilable differences between Mormonism and the truth. You have a different Jesus and a different religion, and no amount of mislabelling (i.e., using Christian words with Mormon definitions) can hide or change that fact. Full disclosure: my family name is Snow, yes, as in the descendents of Pres. Snow. Yes, really.

Darren, if you were here peddling Buddha, Muhammed or whatever, I would have a much different tone. But you're not. So, like Paul, I take a much more pointed tone with wolves and false-brothers who go out of their way to find Christians to which they can promote false, cultic, damnable doctrines wrapped in Christian-sounding language in order to deceive God's flock. You are not a curious seeker, nor even an antagonistic agnostic (we get those here, too), but you are an open advocate for Mormon deception. Of these three -- sheep, goats and wolves -- you're a wolf, and the Bible does not command us to treat lost seekers (goats) the same as wolves who come to decieve and kill the sheep. I think I disagree with the author (and some here) who believe that Mormon advocates need to be treated just like anyone else when they (LDS'ers) insinuate themselves into our forums, blogs and discussion groups. Islam peddled in the name of Islam, or Buddhism in the name of Buddhism, is one thing... but Christianity peddled in the name of Mormonism is another matter entirely, whether the sheep here see it like that or not. Those of us who know, well, we KNOW.

Darren Blair

February 5, 2013 at 04:35 PM

Imagine, if you will, a bartender.

Said bartender spends half his time cussing out his customers over different things.

He then spends the other half of his time trying to figure out why he has so few repeat customers.

This is the way it is with a lot of the mainline Christians I've dealt with over the years: they treat me like I'm jive and then wonder why I stay within the church.

They fail to realize that their actions don't reflect the divinity that they claim to have.

Roger Patterson

February 5, 2013 at 04:29 PM

Darren,
I too am a former Mormon. I can firmly attest to the language divide that is present. The biblical definitions of atonement, gospel, eternity, etc. are quite different from the Mormon definitions of those words. That is quite apparent by comparing the language in the Mormon definitions (as clearly stated on the LDS.org websites) and the biblical definitions.

I came to understand those differences apart from any counter-cult group pointing them out to me...I read them in the Bible. This Sunday, I will be helping those in my church understand those differences and call them to seek to love their Mormon friends, coworkers, and neighbors to lovingly share the truths of Scripture without bashing or hating anyone.

This is far more than moving from Baptist to Methodist denominations. Mormons are not a Christian denomination and Joseph Smith made that abundantly clear when he reported what God had said to him--that all the creeds of the churches were an abomination. I belong to a church denomination which still holds the same creed and confession that was in place at the time Smith made those statements. If you believe Smith was a prophet, you must be consistent and believe that God has called my beliefs an abomination.

I pray that you will find rest for your soul in the true Jesus Christ revealed in the Bible.

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is a gift of God, not of works, so that no one can boast. For we are His workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.

Rest in Christ.

Darren Blair

February 5, 2013 at 03:59 PM

Actually, Steve, you just *did* condone everything that's happened to us by your attitude.

Darren Blair

February 5, 2013 at 03:58 PM

I'll have to read it when I have more time, but the very fact that you invoked MRM is sounding some *major* alarm bells for me; they're among the ones that are notorious for their utter avoidance of anything even resembling facts.

http://www.shields-research.org/Critics/Mor_Res.htm

Darren Blair

February 5, 2013 at 03:57 PM

Actually, in far too many cases it's:

*Someone who is Mormon is bombarded with hostile literature.

*Said hostile literature is long on shock and drama but short on fact.

*Said literature is followed up by "Christian love" that is generally anything but, and instead serves as peer pressure.

*Said person leaves the church for all the wrong reasons, only to wind up in a new denomination that they don't really believe in... or if they do believe in it, it's because they've been lied to.

You'd be surprised just how ugly it can be out there.

Darren Blair

February 5, 2013 at 03:55 PM

Re-read my post; I noted that kids can understand right / wrong as young as 2 - 3, but it takes a while for them to actually comprehend the reason why.

Darren Blair

February 5, 2013 at 03:54 PM

Actually, the church put the age in place well before Piaget even arrived on the scene.

In that sense, science is backing us up rather than what you suppose.

Darren Blair

February 5, 2013 at 03:53 PM

Generally speaking, the only "language divide" I've encountered has consisted of people trying to tell me what I mean and what I believe and not listening when I try to explain things.

Yeah - it's rare for me to deal with a counter-cult type who actually wants to discuss rather than bash.

Darren Blair

February 5, 2013 at 03:52 PM

Actually, you'd be wrong.

More than a few people *became* Mormon because of critics of the church; they tried to investigate the allegations made by the critics, and in so doing found that we were offering more than what their present denomination did.

Darren Blair

February 5, 2013 at 03:50 PM

Actually, it's been my personal experience that the "counter-cult" types who keep trying to witness to me are the ones who are woefully unprepared.

For example, I keep dealing with people who - by their own admission - have yet to read the Bible all the way through yet feel free to lecture me on it anyway.

Likewise, I've actually seen counter-cult authors argue that people should *not* seek to pray about anything they learn and should *not* seek to bear their testimony; similarly, these authors *instruct* their readers to disrupt any efforts by anyone who isn't a "Christian" to pray or bear their testimony.

Darren Blair

February 5, 2013 at 03:48 PM

Generally speaking, the more sinful their actions towards us, the louder they proclaim themselves to be Christian.

John Divito

February 5, 2013 at 02:19 PM

Darren,

A longer version of my testimony is available at the Mormonism Research Ministry web site: http://www.mrm.org/john-divito . I hope that it answers the questions that you have.

Melody

February 5, 2013 at 02:14 PM

You have no clue on who is a "Good Christians" anymore than the rest of us. We have all been threatened by someone, ridiculed by someone, snubbed by someone. It is an indication of their character and has no reflection on God. And it is not an excuse for not recognizing our own sin in light of God's holiness. This is not about what team we chose to sit with. It is about if we are still going to hell our not. It is personal. One on one with God and nothing else.

John Divito

February 5, 2013 at 02:14 PM

Darren,

I have personally recommended a number of LDS resources to people who want to understand what Mormons believe, especially the Gospel Principles manual. However, I tend not to begin with these resources because of the "language divide" between us. This difference is more effectively understood through materials that knowledgeable evangelical believers have written about Mormonism. In any case, I appreciate the reminder of our need to go back "to the sources" when researching the LDS faith.

John Divito

February 5, 2013 at 01:43 PM

Josh,

Since we should inform our relationships with Mormons in light of Scripture, I would suggest studying the various passages of God's Word which refer to "have nothing to do with them." These passages are either impersonal (Ephesians 5:11), or refer to those within our churches (Romans 16:17-18, 2 Timothy 3:1-9, Titus 3:10-11). The Bible nowhere teaches that we should avoid seeking to love our unsaved neighbors, which includes loving them enough to speak of their need for Christ.

Some argue against inviting Mormons into their homes based on 2 John 10. But I think this is a misunderstanding of the verse. For more information, please see Ron Rhodes' article on how to interpret this passage: http://www.equip.org/PDF/JAJ210.pdf

May we all show our Mormon neighbors the love of Christ as we share with them their need for Christ!

Steve

February 5, 2013 at 01:31 PM

"I'd like to know just what supposedly convinced the author to leave the church."

"So for the OP to say "I was saved in college!" rings suspicious to me."


Though I have never met John (the author of the article), I can authoritatively speak as to how he actually got saved (and how anyone gets saved). He was exposed to the true Gospel (through his own studies and at a college campus ministry) and he recognized that he was a sinner in desperate need of the grace of God. He recognized that he could never, not even in an infinite amount of time, do enough good works to earn his way to Heaven. In his innermost soul, he acknowledged that Jesus is indeed, "the Way, the Truth, and the Life" and he repented of his false view that he could somehow save himself. The Holy Spirit came into him, gave him a new heart of flesh rather than of stone, and now he lives every detail (imperfectly) of his life to the glory of God who has set His unfathomable love upon a wretched sinner. This is John's story, as well as mine, and anyone else who has been transformed by the power of God's grace found through Jesus Christ.

How do I know that this is what happened to John? Because this is the process that God has given for sinners to be reconciled to Him. There is no other process or theory or "gospel" to trust in in order to obtain salvation.

Please forgive me Darren, but many or your arguments and comments are very difficult to follow, so I'm trying my best here to clarify things for you and for everyone else following this comment thread. I hope I'm being helpful.

Steve

February 5, 2013 at 01:12 PM

"It's as if there is something that they don't want people to read."

No'p. Because Christianity isn't a cult that attempts to suppress the individual's ability to think, we would never discourage a true believer from researching and studying other world religions and cults in order to better understand where they come from so as to minister to them and meet them where they're at (1 Thess 5:14). A true believer is indwelt by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit confirms and testifies to the things which He has spoken (the 66 books of the bible) and sounds the alarm to the things He hasn't spoken (the book of Mormon, the pearl of great price, and the doctrine and covenants). Therefore, although I would say that some situational wisdom would be required, there is no fear that a believer indwelt by the Spirit will be swayed by reading the fallible works of other religions.

JR

February 14, 2013 at 01:17 AM

@ Darren Blair: Good job in your responses.
Mormons do not have a persecution complex. No one is playing a victim - just stating facts. There are over 720 "ministries" that claim to be religions, are tax-exempt, and supposedly non-profit that attack the LDS church exclusively. Just in the U.S.A. It is pure bigotry. If these "ministries" went after anyone else they would be charged with hate crimes and/or have many lawsuits against them. I have been called vulgar names and have seen the street preachers behaviors at LDS venues, and it is abhorrent.
Mormons have not done anything horrible to others that has been far worse than what Christians/Christianity has done. Christians have done far worse things and more of it in the name of Christianity.
Mormons as a whole know Scripture better than anyone in other denominations. Would you allow a Jew, Muslim, etc. to pray in your house? Probably not. Disappointing. Yet anyone of any faith would be welcome to pray in a Mormon's house and in a Mormon service. Not only pray but speak to the congregation as well, as it has happened. People of other denominations need to stop and realize that their beliefs can be nit picked to death also; that what they do to the LDS church can be done to any religion.
LDS do know how to think for themselves. Why is it that definitions, when applied to Mormons, is redefined to mean something else than what the actual meaning really is? Cult. I guess dictionaries don't know definitions and/or lie.
Too much to address. Again. thanks Darren Blair! I hope that one day I will have knowledge such as yours.
And regarding this article it is nice that someone is telling others to be Christian towards Mormons. But had you not been raised LDS you would not be saying so. But it is a nice change to see a former Mormon be nice instead of spewing hate and vitriol like some ex-Mormons and so called Christians of other denominations. And that could be another soapbox, human behavior and thought.

[...] the way, I found it really helpful to put into practice several helpful suggestions from a former LDS, John Divito. I think these points would be just as applicable when reaching out to anyone who  to any person [...]

Ezra

February 12, 2013 at 02:07 PM

I understand you saying they are not a part of the canon. However, you must take into consideration that the Journal of Discourses are still being quoted in your manuals. (example: the current Lorenzo Snow manual). Not to mention that they WERE considered "as good as scripture" with the early LDS people.

Suppose 20 years from now the LDS church removes the Ensign magazine.....and someone quotes from it....it seems off to just say, "Well, the Ensign is not a part of the canon."

Times and Seasons was published in Nauvoo, Illinois from 1839-1846. It includes the famous King Follett Discourse and even the first printing of the contents of the Book of Abraham....Yet, Times and Seasons is not considered "a part of the canon" in modern day Mormonism.

I must say that I find your term "a part of the canon" very interesting. All LDS scholars I know refer to the "canon" as only Bible, Book of Mormon, D&C and Pearl of Great Price. While referring to Ensign, church manuals and anything else printed by the LDS church....to be "official."

Either way...."official" or "a part of the canon".......I would say that the teaching of the Journal of Discourses were indeed "a part of the canon" and were also considered "official" at the time.
Nowadays....not so much.

Darren Blair

February 11, 2013 at 08:26 PM

Again - your citations are from items that are *not* a part of the canon.

Furthermore, remember when a lot of those statements came about: the 1800s and early 1900s, when the persecution was at its worst and there were people alive who were witness to what had gone on.

Ezra

February 11, 2013 at 08:05 PM

When an active LDS member leaves the church: many assume it was because 1-) They couldn't live the standards 2-)They were offended by someone in the church 3-) They committed some serious sin and wanted to continue to live it. While this may be true for some....it is NOT for most. A lot the former LDS I know have turned to Christ and left the LDS church because of doctrine. The others are now agnostic because they were told that there was only "one true church" and once they lost belief of the claims of Mormonism....they sadly lost faith in God.

I'm okay with street preachers that are biblical. I am NOT okay with the type that mock and are flat out disrespectful. However, even the nicest, clean cut LDS missionary has to tell investigators that "all churches are wrong and all their creeds are an abomination."

You won't hear Thomas S. Monson being so bold though.

"The Christian world, so-called, are heathens as to the knowledge of the salvation of God" (Journal of Discourses 8:171).

"With a regard to true theology, a more ignorant people never lived than the present so-called Christian world" (Journal of Discourses 8:199).

"Brother Taylor has just said that the religions of the day were hatched in hell. The eggs were laid in hell, hatched on its borders, and kicked on to the earth" (Journal of Discourses 6:176).

"We talk about Christianity, but it is a perfect pack of nonsense ...the devil could not invent a better engine to spread his work than the Christianity of the nineteenth century" (Journal of Discourses 6:167).

"What! Are Christians ignorant? Yes, as ignorant of the things of God as the brute beast." (Journal of Discourses 6:25).

A set of wicked Apostates, murderers, and idolaters, who ...left to follow the wicked imaginations of their own corrupt hearts, and to build up churches by human authority..." (The Seer, pg.205).

"Christians - those poor, miserable priests Brother Brigham was speaking about - some of them are the biggest whoremasters there are on the earth ..." (Journal of Discourses 5:89).

"Presumptuous and blasphemous are they who purport to baptize, bless, marry, or perform other sacraments in the name of the Lord while in fact lacking the specific authorization" (The Miracle of Forgiveness, pg.55).

"What is the church of the devil in our day, and where is the seat of her power? ...It is all of the systems, both Christian and non-Christian, that perverted the pure and perfect gospel ...It is communism; it is Islam; it is Buddhism; it is modern Christianity in all its parts" (The Millennial Messiah, pp.54-55).

"The gods of Christendom, for instance, are gods who were created by men in the creeds of an apostate people. There is little profit or peace in serving them, and certainly there is no salvation available through them" (A New Witness for the Articles of Faith, pg.545).

Thomas Larsen

February 10, 2013 at 07:41 PM

So what do you mean by "faith" and "belief"? I'd suggest that faith is, roughly, belief (perhaps with an active act of trust) on the basis of testimony.

Darren Blair

February 10, 2013 at 07:39 PM

Do you recall Nixon's "enemies" list?

I believe it was commentator Art Buchwald who pointed out that being on the list was, in essence, something of a perverse honor: while it might be scary to know that someone so powerful hates you, at the same time it means that you've "made it" and become someone so prominent in whatever you were doing that you've become a thorn in the side of the White House.

A similar sentiment abounded when it was revealed that the Clintons were possibly compiling an "enemies" list of their own (except this time, it was Rush Limbaugh rather than Art Buchwald who made the comment), and we're now seeing a lesser form of it under Obama.


Well, so many people *hate and revile* us Mormons that, in a way, being singled out is - like being on the Nixonian "enemies" list - almost a perverse badge of honor.

While nobody wants to be there (as it entails surviving things that just shouldn't happen in this day and age), the fact that you *did* succeed in making it on through means that

1. You're important enough - or a nuisance enough - to become a target

and

2. You've survived, meaning that you've thwarted the efforts of whoever was coming after you.

In fact, it's almost taken for granted nowadays that "being openly Mormon" in and of itself will make a person a target for someone, somewhere.

Darren Blair

February 10, 2013 at 07:29 PM

For many people who are LDS, their first impression of what a mainline Christian is *is* the Street Preachers and other such counter-cult groups.

And as the saying goes, "You don't get a second chance to make first impressions."

The longer people like them congregate (and it's not just confined to Mesa or SLC; they're getting to be all over the place now), the more Mormons will come away with negative images of what mainline Christianity represents.

In fact, at one point in time, whenever counter-cult types would argue that we would be "free" if we left the church, an all too common response was "Free to do what - commit sin in God's name?".

Ezra

February 10, 2013 at 05:29 PM

As a former LDS member....I'm with you Darren. Please know that legit Christians do NOT support these ugly actions by these "street preachers." We are to "speak the truth in love." (Ephesians 4:15). Perhaps this video will help illustrate. It's with Pastor Jason Wallace (Utah) who is respectfully rebuking one of these so-called "street preachers" http://www.ancientpaths.tv/2008/04/ancient-paths-episode-19-street.html