When the Mormons Came Knocking

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Saturday, March 15, 2014 0 comments

In my previous blog I mentioned that I tried to take Jesus seriously about hospitality, even to those who come to “sell me” their religion. And I shared briefly about one major departure from the Truth that the Jehovah’s Witnesses believe.

We often feel ill-equipped to have a discussion, because we don’t know our Bible, we don’t understand Jesus, or we don’t know what others believe. (I shared some resources at the end of that Blog that will help you understand the Bible better.) Let’s unpack another conversation I had with two young Mormon men who came to my door one afternoon. My hope is that it brings some clarity to the differences between Following Christ, and what Mormons believe.

These two young men came to the door, on a day where I was particularly well rested, clear minded, and hospitable. I know that, because like most of you, that is not normally how I feel toward the end of a work day. J It was a warm day, but comfortable, so we sat out on the porch and I thanked them for stopping by. They asked me if I knew the Gospel of Jesus Christ, to which I responded, “yes, I do. It is really good news isn’t it?” They were energized and began to talk to me about Bible passages. We had rousing discussion and enjoyed hearing about each other’s lives and faith journey. We hit a couple of points where we began to disagree on the interpretation of passages, but they remained energized and excited, as did I. It was like having a great theological discussion with friends. The red headed young man, then asked me if I had heard of the further testament of Jesus Christ. I told them that I did, and that I had a copy. He was shocked and asked if I was Mormon. I light heartedly said, “No, but I figured if I was going to have discussions like this, I should at least know a few points about where you are coming from.”

After another few minutes of conversation, I knew we had to start wrapping things up, for their sake and my family’s sake. They wanted to move toward evangelizing me, and I wanted to leave them with something to think about. So, I said this, “Look guys, I totally respect the effort you are making, and how difficult it is to face rejection all day long, in order to have a chance to share your faith. I applaud your boldness and your courage. I appreciate the amount of studying and preparation you have undergone, and the psychological conditioning you have been brought through – you probably have identified at least six different psychological perspectives that I have presented in my conversation with you by now…” They both nodded and smiled. “Let me level with you, neither of us is going to convince each other in one day, on my front porch. We clearly all believe strongly what we believe.” Again they nodded.

I said, “Here is where I get stuck with Mormonism, and please hear no attack or disrespect, I am just sharing from what I have studied also. I know the book of Mormon says in the book of Nephi that non-believers will say, ‘my bible, my bible’ and not listen to you and the prophets. But I hope you know I am not trying to just throw scriptures up to avoid talking about Truth.”

They said, “Please go ahead, we want to hear what you think.”

I continued, “When I read about Joseph Smith (the founder of Mormonism), and I dig into his story, I see a young man who was heartbroken over the Christian church he attended and the corruption he apparently saw. I see someone who very much wanted to be a revolutionary when it came to fixing what was wrong with the church. The problem is, studies of the “Egyptian tablet” he found prove it doesn’t say what he claims it did. The further revelation he claims to have received from Jesus directly counters much of the Bible’s teaching (when understood through its own context). The idea that God is having endless celestial sex to populate the earth, that Father-God took on physical form to impregnate Mary, that Jesus and Satan are brothers who fought over how to fix humanity’s sinfulness, and that we will one day become gods over our own planets if we live well enough is more mythological than anything. With the Bible, I see historical, archeological, or supernatural evidences that are well documented in world history. With Mormonism, I hear a lot of personal testimonies, but nothing more substantial. I do take the Bible on faith, but I also see God’s activity impacting and changing the world in line with what the Bible teaches. I do not see the same evidences with Mormonism or the Book of Mormon. At the end of the day, I am saddened by Joseph Smith’s story, because I see a man who could have had incredible potential to reform the church, but in his bitterness and frustration was lead astray into experientialism and good works. Again, that is my perspective, and I certainly don’t mean it as an offense against you. You are brilliant young men and I respect your efforts.”

They affirmed that they were not offended, and thanked me for being honest and transparent with them. Of course they didn’t agree with me, but they admitted they had many questions themselves. And they affirmed their testimonies (which is Mormon speak for – my experience is why I believe).

I asked them if I could pray with/for them. They said yes. I asked God to take their hunger for Truth and to lead them into His Truth. I prayed for them to never settle on what a “prophet” says but to settle on the Word of God. I asked God to lead them by His Holy Spirit to continually have their eyes unmasked and that they would see Jesus for who He really is. We shook hands, they thanked me, and we parted ways.

2 Timothy 4:1-5 says, “In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage – with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. But you keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.”

I wish I could say that I am always ready for these conversations. But I am human, and often want to duck and cover, or just not be bothered with taking the time. That day, I did what Paul charged us to do. And I trust God will take those young men’s open hearts and minds and lead them away from the mythological beliefs of Joseph Smith, and the personal experiences of others that do not reflect who God really is.

Embracing deep conversation with those who disagree with us, and not losing hold of God’s Truth can difficult if we are not prepared. Jesus took the time to engage the Pharisees and other religious leaders of the day. He loved, corrected and prayed for them – as did Paul. Jesus was prepared, and had to spend time preparing. Are we?

Will the religious salesman, or anyone, who comes to your door, see the real Jesus?