Freedom and Friendship

Ravi Zacharias Mormon LDS

Ravi Zacharias will again be speaking in the Mormon Tabernacle. His visit to Utah will also include a stop at BYU. I hope some of my Utah based friends can attend. Live streams of the event are included below for those who can’t be there in person.

BYU Live Stream

Friday, January 17, 2014 – 12:00pm-1:00pm (MST)

Title: What Does It Mean To Be Human?

Dr. Ravi Zacharias will speak on what it means to be human as he believes faith, family, and society cannot be fully appreciated until this question is first answered.

Mormon Tabernacle Live Stream

Saturday, January 18, 2014 – 6:30pm-8:30pm (MST)

Title: Lessons from History: Building A Nation Under God

Dr. Ravi Zacharias will speak on the centrality of the Word of God as the guide for personal conduct, true freedom, and building a nation under God.

The Greg & Bob Show Hits Santa Barbara

Last night I was able to finally attend “A Mormon and an Evangelical in Dialogue” featuring Greg Johnson and Robert Millet. The event was held at Westmont College in Santa Barbara. I was excited to go and see this event for myself and thought it was important that I finally get to attend. It was a pleasure to meet Dr. Millet for the first time. I also got to meet Sarah for the first time, who had just moved to California the day before. I enjoyed chatting with both of them after the event and getting to know them on a more personal level.

From previous reviews of the event I expected the conversation to be on the surface level of the differences between Evangelicals and Mormons. But I did not find that to be the case. The two men dove head long into authority claims, the role of grace and works in salvation, the nature of God and whether or not Mormons are Christians. Because of time constraints none of discussions could be fully developed, but I was satisfied that they at least addressed what I think are the most important distinctions.

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Ravi Zacharias at the Mormon Tabernacle

In 2004 Ravi Zacharias was allowed to speak in the Mormon Tabernacle. This video includes the entire program from that event including Richard Mouw’s controversial comments.

Probably my favorite line from the sermon was “Once you get to heaven and see Jesus Christ, you won’t care to have any other roommate.”  That so expresses my impression of the banality and baseness I find in the Mormon promise of eternal marriage.

Me & Mormons – Part 4

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. . . .

Wow, We Can Get Ugly

I mentioned in a previous post, that there is a disagreement in Evangelicalism on how to approach Mormonism. If you would like to hear how heated it can become you should listen to these two episodes of the Frank Pastore show. There is definitely a wing that almost says if you don’t hate Mormonism as much as I do, then you must be Mormon.

I should give a couple of early indications of what you are going to hear. Frank Pastore in the last couple of years has been trying to do the Sean-Hannity-thing. He’s almost as good at it as Hannity which makes him sound like a really unpleasant person and not some one you would want to emulate as a Christian. In real life, he’s a nice guy (with a desire for ratings). Also, the advertising on the show is extremely over-sold. There are a LOT of commercials. You get about 2.5 hours of new content in 6 hours which is why I don’t listen to the show live. Be prepared to fast forward. I would edit it down, but I don’t own the copyright, so I’m not going to mess with it.

Regardless of who you are I guarantee that it will elicit a strong reaction from you. (and thus the success of the Hannity impersonation)

From August 15
1) Listen to the interview with Craig Hazen in the second hour. Notice how confrontational Pastore is with Hazen. Hazen throws in some key words in this controversy: jealousy and limited ministry resources.
2) Listen to how un-confrontational Pastore is with Jill Martin Rische.
3) The disparity between what Millett says in front of Evangelicals and what he says in front of LDS is big. I’m wondering why more LDS aren’t upset with Millett for distorting Mormonism.
4) It’s sounds like to me the issue isn’t that Greg Johnson isn’t distorting Christianity, it’s that he’s not going after Mormonisms unique claims hard enough.

From August 16
1) Listen to Jill Martin explain her own backstory to this controversy. She got left out of the clique.
2) Interesting that she rips Craig Hazen for praying inside the Mormon Tabernacle, Pastore says nothing. This despite Pastore telling Hazen the day before that he had no problem with the prayer.
3) Kurt Van Gordon hypocrisy as he accuses Greg Johnson of attacking his ministry while at the same time attacking Greg Johnson’s ministry. I have not heard every word out of Johnson’s lips but it’s my impression that he says nothing about what other ministries are doing. He personally told me, “they should keep doing what they are doing, I’m going to try something different.” I’m interested to know how many more conversations Van Gordon has been able to have with high ranking Mormons since 1991.
4) Van Gordon wants to know who and where Evangelicals are being confrontational with Mormons. How about going to Temple Square on October First.
5) Van Gordon alleges that Evangelicals are being won over to Mormonism as a result of Standing Together Ministries, but Mormons are not being won over to Evangelicalism. This is patently false and Greg Johnson can give names and phone numbers.

My own impression is that fewer and fewer Evangelicals are willing to participate in traditional Anti-Mormonism (or street Evangelism in general). This is putting a strain on some long standing ministries and they are lashing out at what they perceive to be their threat for ministry dollars. No money, no ministry. I think it’s gross how we can treat one another at times.

Hat tip to Summa Theologica