After my debacle with a couple of Mormon missionaries I was quite excited to hear that some one was having more success than I was talking with Mormons. Dr. Craig Hazen from Biola University had started to report that he had been invited to some forums with some LDS scholars and he found them quite encouraging. He stated the discussions were on a much higher level and much more positive than anything he had ever encountered with LDS ever before.
As a result of these on-going conversations, a book was being published to raise the bar on Evangelical and LDS dialogue. It was called “The New Mormon Challenge“.
When the book was released there was a conference for it held at Biola University. I attended the kick-off lecture and there for the first time heard Greg Johnson of Standing Together Ministries speak. I had been looking for a new way to talk with Mormons and Greg offered me what I was looking for.
Previously, Evangelical interaction with Mormons had been most influenced by Ed Decker‘s “The God Makers.” Which I think was simply an attempt to scare people away from Mormonism and condemn it to Hell. Johnson stated that the relationship between Mormons and Evangelicals had been nothing but antagonistic for a very long time. Instead of approaching them as Christian heretics we should simply view them as a different faith altogether with a different culture. We should enter into conversation with them as we would anyone in a foreign country with a different set of values than our own. Leading with friendship and relationship-building first.
Given that Jesus taught a life of grace and peace and the example of how he approached people outside of the Jewish faith, we hardly should need someone to tell us that in regards to Mormons. But the message was fresh and new to me. I resolved that the next time LDS missionaries came to my door I would first invite them back for pizza and get to know them. Then on a later date get into the particulars of our faiths. I figured any missionary who actually knew my name and a little bit about me would have a harder time bolting out the door at the first sign of hearing something they didn’t like.
Now all I needed was some Mormon missionaries to show up at my door. . . .