German Technology: Making the LDS Church Even Truer

I have to admit, President Dieter Uchtdorf’s talk “The Gift of Grace” surprised me. But as I think about it, it was the logical move. When I was converted to a grace-based Gospel, I had the idea myself that the LDS church could vastly improve its teaching by simply adding Evangelical-style grace to the formula, and as Tim has proven, it barely produced a ripple. If the Church leadership doesn’t jump on this opportunity to make the church a more powerful force in the world by moving toward orthodoxy, I will know they have no hope.  If they do preach grace and salvation, they just might make themselves the true Church they claim to be.

If Uchtdorf pushed his neo-Mormon-Lutheranism down the throats of the correlation committee, the church will be in a great position to boost its power to spread to the third world.  Given how theologically wacky Brigham Young was, there should be no objection at all from the membership if the First Presidency started transforming into a full-blown Evangelical mega-megachurch. It has the media resources to put the pseudo-Christians at TBN to shame, and the organizational resources and financial support that should inflict most megachurches with a heathen lust. Whether or not move toward orthodoxy was accepted by the rest of the body of Christ, the LDS church could actually adopt the cutting edge of Protestant theologies, whatever would propagate faster in each individual culture.

Mormonism already has a competitive advantage over many Christian churches because its religious structure is much more akin to post-Christian paganism than Protestant churches.  They have the catholic capacity to mint new authoritative doctrine and tradition, and the nimble doctrine of modern-day prophecy to maximize their theological impact. This has got to play better in tribal societies that need a strong church structure within unstable nation-states.  For example, the Congo needs Mormonism badly, for social reasons as much as religious ones.  If Evangelicals got serious about teaching the Apostles how the preach the Gospel better, the Church could be a powerful force to spread hope to Africa.

The reason why Uchtdorf’s talk didn’t raise eyebrows is because grace-based theology is simply superior religious technology. From a religious perspective was as if this German airline pilot showed up with an iPhone 8 in a room full of flip phones.  Uchtdorf and other right-thinking church leaders could revise the entire church curriculum, most of the membership who has heard of the Evangelical gospel are all-too-happy to jump ship on Brigham Young and Co.’s archaic theology. Because the King Follet discourse has been kept from the canon, there is almost no need to even minimize it, simply allow people to believe what they want and preach the real McCoy in the correlated literature.  Any rift within the church could be countered with a form of Gamaliel’s counsel coming from the First Presidency.   The missionaries can integrate a grace-based message into the first discussion, and you will immediately dramatically increase the conversion rate.

The reason I think this is a good idea, is that the semi-pagan structure of the church, and allowance for further prophecy is a very important step toward bringing the Gospel to Islamic countries and pagan Europe.  The only evidence I have is a curious up-tick in Iranian-American baptisms in Southern California. (Muslims becoming anything like Christians is a very important phenomena in my book.)  By coming out with the truth behind Joseph Smith’s sex life, the church could distance itself from his later teachings yet maintain the “secret sauce” that is the Book of Mormon. Thus it could maintain its well-ordered authoritarian structure and true-church status all while moving to a more orthodox — and therefore more appealing — Gospel without jeopardizing unity.  I think they could become a force to be reckoned with in spreading the actual Gospel if they went this route.

I propose the Christian world act like Alma the Elder and push toward this new path in policy and doctrine.

The Message of Sin to a Mormon Missionary

I spent quite a bit of time as a missionary seeking out Evangelicals to talk with.  (I spent 8 months of my mission within a mile of Azusa Pacific University, and I would tract through the student housing for fun.)  Most of the Evangelicals that I met approached me with one of two attitudes: (1) ridicule, and (2 ) fear. I have never felt anyone fear me like I have felt in the presence of some true-believing Evangelicals when I was a missionary. I can chalk some of this up to pure physical presence (I was 6″2, and built a sort of like a skinny orangutan) but I am not a particularly hostile person, and I had made it clear that I was there to learn from them if they were.

It seemed that most of the fear came when I expressed my faith with both confidence and demonstrated knowledge of the Bible.  I seemed to be able to explain my faith better than they could, and in a more confident spirit. Because they “knew” I was wrong, this made them fear that they did not have the prowess or ability to correct me, so they simply wanted escape.  They saw me as a representative of the devil, when I knew I was a representative of God. I knew I was not from the devil, I knew I was there to save them, and they seemed to fear the salvation on offer.  Their fear made me think that the Gospel they believed in must be deeply confused.

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Living by the Sword

I don’t want to disrespect Slowcowboy or any other Christian that hangs out here with this post, but something is under my skin.

TO EVANGELICALS: If you want to have any influence whatsoever with Mormons you have to adopt the same approach they adopt toward you. i.e. “Bring all the TRUTH you have and let us show you MORE.” Not, “You have it wrong and you are going to hell if you don’t shape up.” This is not about theology, it’s just human relations.  I am not pointining any fingers here, but from what I know of the love of God and the truth in Christ, traditional Christians should not be afraid of Mormons. Yet,  90% of all the inter-faith dialogue I see among Christians is complaining, arguing and fear-mongering.  If Evangelicals spend their efforts resisting the evil of bad theology, they are going to be as effective at winning souls for the TRUE Christ as the Spanish inquisition. Resisting bad theology is not teaching good theology. 

Mormons are not traditional Christians for a reason.  The more Evangelicals try to tear down LDS theology and claim that Mormons are not committed to Christ, the more Mormons feel completely secure that Evangelicals are part of the crowd in the great and spacious building mocking those who seek the love of God in Christ. This approach keeps people in the Church more than it leads them to whatever view of Christ Evangelicals have.  The folks that attack Mormonism come across like self-serving dumb-asses. Resisting Evangelicals come across as part of that crowd that Mormons think are clearly apostate. Why, because attacking anybody is blatantly un-Christian.

From a LDS perspective, and the perspective of a whole lot of non-LDS Christians, there is nothing to be proud of in Christian theology, and nothing to be proud of in Protestant theology. The most Protestant nations on earth are also the harbingers of death, destruction, and mayhem. It is arguable that the holocaust was an all-too-direct result of the Reformation. There is a strong case that the “whore of all the earth” is the traditional Christian Church.  The LDS don’t use this approach much because it is completely ineffective in converting Protestants, but that is not because it is not completely reasonable to see the church this way.  From the LDS the field is white, but most of it is choked with tares.

Mormons don’t see traditional Christianity as a reasonable alternative because they don’t believe they have everything that traditional Christians have and more. When I was a missionary, it was all too easy. I would stack up the LDS approach against anything out there. And it had nothing to do with theology.  If you take the ordinary run-of-the mill deist, they are going to find the LDS view just as reasonable as the Evangelical view.

Why am I saying this?  Its because I have skin in the game. I actually think Evangelicals have something the LDS do not have, but I fully believe that most Christians I have met don’t have what many Mormons have.

I WANT ENLIGHTEN MY LDS FAMILY TO CHRIST. If they want to be Christian, they should more fully join the body of Christ.  I think it is obvious that they do not need to leave the Church in order to accept Christ in an Evangelical way, just like Catholics don’t need to become Calvinists in order to be Evangelical. I believe the LDS should wake up to a richer and deeper view of redemption, but in the six years I have spent following the conversation I don’t see how Evangelicals are going to help them do that.  And the problem is not the Mormons. They need people that can see to lead them, not people that are blind to the Spirit that they follow, that they are sure leads them to Christ and God.  There are plenty of people in the Church that would be willing to embrace and teach a more grace-filled theology.  One of the greatest barriers to this is that those that try to teach them grace can’t get past their pagan theology enough to break spiritual bread with them. The boundaries are more important than the Gospel.  I don’t think the truth Mormons learn from the Spirit is AT ALL incompatible with the truth that Evangelicals know from the Spirit and from scripture.  I don’t think you have to name all of your errors in order to embrace the truth. I don’t think you have to give up all of your cults or culture to embrace the truth.

Evangelicals often try to save Mormon’s souls from the wrath of a God that Mormons know loves them. You can’t convince a Mormon that God will send them to hell.  Evangelicals should be focusing on saving Mormons from the wrath they hold in their hearts for their own souls and the hell they put themselves through on earth. God has nothing but love for the Mormons, and He routinely shows this (even if they don’t quite understand the breadth and depth of that love).  I can’t see why Evangelicals can’t follow suit.

Mormons & Evangelicals: What can I learn from you?

Over several months so I have had a born-again sort of experience of sorts– one of those times in life where perspective shifts dramatically and you feel like you are seeing the world for the first time.  One of the biggest difficulties in experience was recognizing that I had lost faith in the LDS Church. It has been coming for quite a while, and it feels like the core meaning of my life was yanked from me. Losing faith has been very difficult for me even to acknowledge. But for complex reasons, I can’t now honestly claim to believe in the Mormon Church and this reality has stung me hard.  My participation in this blog has been a big part of the process of figuring out where I am and what to do next.

Over the years the blog has been a place for me to vent a lot of the deep thoughts and patent nonsense that bubbled up during this process. (Regulars here will recognize I write far more of the latter than the former.)  But lately I have been thinking about what attracted me to this blog– and how it might help me in the new spiritual life that I face.

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To The Ends of the Earth

Campus Crusade for Christ, an Evangelical ministry has a sub-ministry called “Global Ministry Outreach”. They function as the online outreach for Campus Crusade’s ministry. They buy search terms relevant to Christianity, religion and Jesus. Their ads generally direct people to websites like this one. Ads are displayed all over the world and they try to focus their ad buys on under-evangelized and closed countries.

What’s interesting about their ministry is that they give live tracking of events related to their advertising. If you go to you can see a map of where in the world people are visiting their sites, making a commitment to follow Jesus, providing their email and are engaging in a followup discipleship. All of these interactions are directed toward volunteer online missionaries who receive the email correspondence, answer questions and encourage new believers into an authentic relationship with Jesus. They’re currently putting together a network of churches for new believers to seek out.

This video tells the story of one online missionary.

Global Media Outreach can reach about 1 million people in a day for $60,000 (6 cents a click). I have my own reservations about the method and about the “Four Spiritual Laws” approach. But if you take their reported numbers and divide them by 10 to get a conservative estimate it cost about $45-$55 to find an authentic convert to Christianity. It’s an interesting project and easily the safest and most effective access into closed countries.

Their main competition for keywords is the LDS church.

Where have all the cowboys missionaries gone?

Two weeks ago, this headline in The Salt Lake Tribune caught my attention:

LDS add mission in Utah; cut back in Europe, elsewhere (Web Cite)

The article covers how the Church is downsizing its mission force in Europe and parts of America so that it can increase efforts in southern Utah, Central America, South America, and Africa. The Church has published a detailed breakdown of where it is adding and cutting missions, here; even my own neck of the woods is effected with the Chicago South Mission being combined into the Chicago North Mission to create a single Chicago Mission.

What really caught my eye though were these paragraphs here Continue reading

It’s True

When I was a kid I heard rumors of video of an entire tribe in Papua New Guinea accepting the Gospel message all at the same time and then breaking into a massive celebration that lasted several hours.  I saw a portion of the video several years later.  For some reason it just occurred to me that the video would now be on YouTube and I found it tonight.

This will give you a good idea of an evangelism technique used by New Tribes Missions.  They exclusively seek out tribes which have never heard the message of the Bible.

Three evangelical approaches to Mormonism

Christopher Carroll Smith of Mild-Mannered Musings has posted three excellent interviews with different evangelical figures in the Utah area on how they approach Mormons. Since this is a subject which interests most of the participants here, and since I think we have evangelicals currently participating who hold to approaches all across this spectrum, I thought I’d direct everyone’s attention to them:

Interview with Pastor Dean Jackson, “Peacemaker in Provo”

Interview with Pastor Greg Johnson of Standing Together

Interview with Mike Stahura of SLC Calvary Chapel

(UPDATE: Chris has pulled the interviews with Greg Johnson and Mike Stahura; see the comments on the Greg Johnson interview for details. It doesn’t look like the interview with Greg will be edited and re-posted, but the interview with Mike Stahura might.)

Chris also has some follow-up thoughts to these three interviews here. As you’ll see from my comments on those articles, Dean Jackson was my pastor when I lived in Provo and Greg Johnson was the leader of the evangelical Christian Bible study on the BYU campus for my first semester there, so I’ve worked with those two men.

I’m leaving the comments open here, but I want to make it clear that I don’t want to poach discussion from Chris’s blog; any relevant comments on the interviews themselves should go there. What I do want to discuss here is the fact that there’s serious disagreement between evangelicals concerning these three approaches. Chris quotes Mike Stahura’s opinion that other evangelicals are watering down their messages and being “overly tolerant or respectful.” I myself related a story on the interview with Greg concerning how Dean asked me not to attend a Standing Together outreach event because of his disagreements with Greg’s approach. And it’s fair enough that those of us who take the more “liberal” approach to reaching Mormons are critical of our “conservative” counterparts and feel that their approach is often unnecessarily rude and unloving.

So my question is, to what extent is there room to live and let live?

“As an Atheist, I Truly Believe Africa Needs God”

Now a confirmed atheist, I’ve become convinced of the enormous contribution that Christian evangelism makes in Africa. . ..  In Africa Christianity changes people’s hearts. It brings a spiritual transformation. The rebirth is real. The change is good.

I highly recommend this article.  The author understands that ideas matter and that Christian relief  offers something profoundly more important than just raw goods.

How God Makes Mormons

Today I heard the first missionary discussion taught to a new investigator to the Mormon church, and it made me  suprised how effective the approach is, considering how un-compelling it felt to me. Perhaps I was just too familiar with the subject matter, too jaded, critical or skeptical (or all of the above) but when I tried to see the discussion through the eyes of the investigator (a 25 year old presbyterian from Cameroon) the content and delivery just didn’t grab me.

For those who don’t know. Mormon missionaries teach others about the church through teaching a series of core principles and leading people through a series of commitments. For those Evangelicals who want to become completely familiar with our subtle brainwashing techniques they can download their own copy of the complete missionary handbook “Preach my Gospel” here.  This manual probably provides as close as you can get to the “official doctrines” of the church because these are the elementary doctrines that the leadership has decided to have taught to all missionaries and every new member of the church.

The missionaries introduce the church with the idea that God lives  and sent his Son to save us and has always spoken through prophets and that he spoke to Joseph Smith in our time and that our church   They then explain the role and mission of Jesus, the pre-earth life, the fall and redemption through the atonement of Christ, and the potential to inherit various kingdoms of glory through making and keeping covenants.   They ask those interested in the church to read the book of mormon,  be baptized, come to church, quite smoking, drinking, having extra-marital sex and to pay 10% of their income in tithing.  This usually happens in the course of 2-3 weeks but times vary greatly.

Central to the entire process is teaching people about the Spirit of God and how to recognize it.  Essentially the missionary process is an attempt to invite people to receive personal revelation to become members of the church.

I didn’t feel the Spirit when they taught the first lesson to the young business student from Africa today,(Maybe I was too concerned with the annoying way the young missionary was bobbing his head when he spoke, not sure).  I have felt the Spirit dozens of times when I taught the same lesson on my mission.

Tens of thousands each year make these commitments and become Mormons, in spite of annoying head bobs or other foibles of the barely-post-teenage missionaries that teach people about the church.

The experience made me think about how Evangelicals would go about converting me or someone unintiated to the faith and the meaning and significance of the different approaches.

How would evangelical missionaries go about converting me  (other than through internet blogs 🙂 ) ?  How much of the approach involves teaching me how Mormonism is heresy vs. presenting a compelling alternative?

Ward Boundary Bindings

In my latest installment of “Me & Mormons” I mentioned a story about not being allowed to visit a friend’s ward because I lived on the wrong side of the street.

I received this response:
There are geographical boundaries that separate the different wards. This is intentional, and in my opinion beneficial, since it doesn’t pit ward against ward. There is a rise of “mega-churches” that try to get as many people to go to their church from far away–so they try to make it exciting.

I’m not really trying to debate the merits of the ward boundary system. The LDS church and its membership is free to do anything they want. This isn’t by any means an issue of doctrine or heresy for either on of us. In the future I will write about mega-churches from the Evangelical side of things.

What perplexes me is that members would be so concerned about it that they would put up barriers to investigators in order to protect the ward boundaries. I’m guessing that most LDS would believe that gaining converts is fundamentally more important than ward boundaries. If it’s more likely to help an investigator to show up at a ward that he doesn’t live in so that he can be with a friend in his first visit, this seems like a reasonable exception to the rule to me. If ward boundaries are critical, then I think an investigator could come to understand them after they convert.

But everything I’ve learned about missiology says that the last thing you want to do is put up barriers to people coming to hear your message. My new LDS friends came off as rather “peculiar” and unnaturally rigid when the conversation went like this:

ME: I’d love to come to church with you (thinking this is something they’d be excited to hear)

LDS FRIENDS: No I’m sorry you can’t. You live across the street from us. We’re not allowed to bring you to our ward

[thinking to myself] OMG, this is a cult.

Seth recently wrote another post which I think is another classic example of putting barriers up that keep investigators away.

The Book of Acts is a great example of how the early Christians did what ever they could to unhinder the Gospel. It seems to me that this should always be our goal. This was one of many examples of how the LDS church seemed to me so locked into the “Preach My Gospel” method that they don’t want anyone coming to the faith unless they follow this strict path laid out to them. In my many conversations with LDS over the years I run into quite a few people who melt protocol and the gospel into the same thing. As if structure, hierarchy = salvation from sin by grace

Because Joseph Said It Was True

Leviticus 18:18
Do not take your wife’s sister as a rival wife and have sexual relations with her while your wife is living.

In March of 1843 Joseph Smith took two sisters, Emily and Eliza Partridge as polygamous wives. (Actually he married them twice but that’s another story.) In discussing Old Testament polygamy, defenders of latter-day polygamy are quick to point out the provisions and restrictions on polygamy listed in the Bible as justification.

As interesting as polygamy is, this post is not about that.

A problem I think Evangelicals and Mormons encounter in discussing Biblical doctrine is that we’re really not on the same playing field. We have different rules for its application. We Evangelicals want to show why Mormonism is false by illustrating through the Bible why Mormon doctrine is in contradiction to the teachings of Jesus and the apostles. The slipperiness or non-existence of Mormon doctrine not withstanding, this is a difficult proposition.

It is difficult for one reason. Despite the fact that Mormons claim that the Bible is scripture and hold it up as such, the Bible will always take a seat when something Joseph Smith said or did comes in contradiction to it. Joseph can do or say anything because he says he’s a prophet with authority over the Bible. I point out the passage from Numbers as an illustration of this. Here on one hand, we have a clear Biblical passage restricting polygamous wives from being sisters. On our other hand we have Joseph Smith’s direct violation of this commandment. Mormons will wave this off quite simply by saying “But God commanded him to do it.”

So it seems that no matter how clearly the Bible might or might not illuminate to us that there is and only will be ONE God, it’s generally fruitless for me to point it out because Joseph was told something different. Mormons will always hold the words of Joseph Smith over the words of the Bible.

What troubles me about that is that I have friends who are willing to reject teachings of the Bible in favor of something one man merely says Gold told him. There is no evidence for any of Joseph’s revelation whether it is the plurality of gods or the plurality of wives that anyone experienced other than Joseph Smith. The only thing anyone has ever had to go on is “because Joseph said it was true” (and perhaps “I’ve got a good feeling about it”).

I could point out Biblical passages which instruct us to accept new prophecy only when it conforms to scripture. But here again, there’s no point in directing Mormons to the Bible, as long as Joseph tells them that his new revelations supercede scripture and they decide to take his word for it.

Me & Mormons — Part 3

For a couple of years I served at my church as a volunteer in the High School group. I would disciple and mentor about 8 – 10 high school boys every year and then help put on youth events and go on trips with the entire youth group. Occasionally we would have some Mormon kids show up to our Wednesday night Bible studies or whatever random events we were throwing. At times we would provide an open question time so that kids could ask any question about faith or doubt they wanted. We wanted to make sure that their questioning was validated and that they were respected even if they were struggling (and it was always a great teaching opportunity for kids who hadn’t thought of tough questions yet).

The Mormon kids (always boys, girls never visited) always pounced on the opportunity. Their questions were always very similar and the doctrine they always tried to label us with seemed to be what someone else said we believed rather than what we ourselves said we believed. The questions always had an agenda to them and always followed the same pattern. Now that I know a little bit more about Mormonism, my guess is that these kids were getting a certain set of questions and assumptions fed to them by their Seminary instructor. He was probably telling them, if you ever get to talk to a Protestant ask them this, then this and then this. . .

After reliving high school for three years I quit volunteering to go back to college. I enrolled in a Christian Apologetics program. The program was basically a great opportunity to audit some graduate level seminary classes without having to pay the big bucks or do any homework. It was a great program and a great learning experience. The program was run by Craig Hazen who is involved in some ongoing dialogue between Evangelical and LDS academics.

During this time my mom was asking me for help. She wanted to know how better to talk to Mormons. She was having LDS sister missionaries show up at her home; she would always invite them in and they would always end up in tears as they left. My mom has some seminary training under her belt and had been a Bible college professor while she was a missionary in the Philippines, so she knows her stuff, but is by no means confrontational. She was always frustrated that these girls would show up at her door and no matter what she tried, they would end up crying. I didn’t really have any good answers for her.

One day soon after completing the apologetics program I left my apartment and walked down the street to my car. Before I could make it I was rudely accosted on the sidewalk by a couple of Mormon missionaries. The words “rudely” and “accosted” may be an understatement. They yelled at my from about 50 yards away and came running up to tell me their good news. I wasn’t in a state of mind to talk with them and I was on my way somewhere else, so I attempted to cut the chase as quickly as possible with them.

Without giving a blow by blow of the conversation (which probably lasted 10 minutes) my tact was to show that a spiritual experience, no matter how profound should not contradict what the Bible clearly teaches. Just as I was making my point, while in mid-sentence one of the missionaries said, “That’s nice, we have to go,” and then literally sprinted away from me. His companion was soon in tow at the same speed. The word “sprint” may be an understatement. They both must have been in track.

After I gathered my jaw up off the ground I returned to my business and got in my car. I was extremely frustrated by so many aspects of the experience. I couldn’t believe the LDS church was sending out missionaries with such poor interaction skills. The only thing worse than how they started the conversation was how they finished it. I was frustrated with myself for having been so visibly annoyed by them and so quickly argumentative. Most of all I was frustrated that neither of us was expressing any genuine interest in the other. The missionaries had an agenda that they were intent on ram-rodding down my throat, and I had my own agenda that I was intent on ram-rodding down theirs.

My strongest thought in reflecting on everything that happened was “There has to be a better way. . . for both me and the LDS missionaries.”

Ask a Mormon on 106.7 KROQ

The Kevin and Bean Show on KROQ recently had a featured called “Ask a Mormon”. Interesting what they decided to discuss. Their guest is an ex-Mormon, but by no means a raving lunatic.

It’s at the 14 minute mark if you want to fast forward. The Kevin and Bean show is a long running morning program on a popular rock station in Los Angeles, so you can expect to get everything that might come along with that. Sadly for us Evangelicals, I think they handled the subject matter much more respectfully than many of our own radio host would have.

Click here to download.

Me & Mormons — Part 2

After graduating from high school I came to the United States and attended an Evangelical university. I had zero interaction with Mormons during this time. I’m pretty sure that the local missionaries were told never to step on to our campus by their mission president.

Every student at the school had to take 30 units of Bible classes, so we all basically earned a Minor in Biblical Studies. I learned two things that influenced my future interactions with Mormons. The first was that fideistic epistimology (the belief that faith is best when it is blind and based on a person’s feelings) is not the way the Bible portrays faith or trust. The second was that Mormon missionaries often preached the importance of a “burning-in-the-bosom” in knowing what is or is not true about God, Jesus and the Bible. This sounded an awful lot like fideism to me.

After college I had a couple of LDS missionaries knock on my door on a cold winter night. Regrettably, I made them stand outside while I quickly and efficiently came to the conclusion that I knew way more about the Bible than they did and therefore was “correct” to not show them any kindness or consideration.

A couple of months later I visited my grandmother and step-grandfather. At the same time, one of my step-grandfather’s grandsons was visiting. He was a returned LDS missionary, with what I would now ascertain as a love for some of the old “fundamentals” of Mormonism. The one and only night we were there together we had a riveting but friendly conversation. I really didn’t know that much about Mormonism so I asked a lot of questions. It became evident after some time that my questions were unraveling the foundations of his faith.

I’m not sure if it was my strongest question or if it just happened to be the nail in the coffin, but I asked him a question about the fruitfulness of his mission that seemed to indicate that he needed to stop fielding my inquiries. The question was along these lines: he had told me that very few people were actually going to Hell, but that if he did not achieve exaltation he would feel that he was in Hell because he would know what he was missing. This seemed peculiar to me, that he would spend a bunch of money and two years of his life, to go to Ecuador to tell people about the exalted Kingdom and Mormonism if there was no real threat of going to Hell. This seemed to be an automatic “damnation” to anyone who did not accept his message or did not do everything required to achieve exaltation. They would have been better off in ignorance not knowing anything about Mormonism and then left to a lower kingdom in Heaven in complete bliss. I challenged that according to his beliefs he should have stayed at home and used all of that money to serve the needy in his own community.

My cousin-by-marriage decided it was time for bed after he couldn’t find an answer to my challenge. The next morning at breakfast he sheepishly pulled me aside and said “the Church has been nothing but good for me”. To which I responded “What’s it matter if it’s not true?”

This experience gave me tremendous confidence which played an unfortunate role in my future interactions with Mormons. . . .

Ground Rules For Talking With Mormons

By happenstance, I came across the article today, Ground Rules for Talking with Mormons. The experience he relates fits well into my own. I thought he made some valid points to consider about the ground rules of a religious conversation without really getting into the particulars of Mormon doctrine or belief.

Me & Mormons — Part 1

I’ve decided to give a brief history of my life in regard to Mormonism. As I’ve stated in the past, most Evangelicals know very little about the LDS church and have little concern to learn more than they already know. So, why am I, an Evangelical who has never stepped foot into Utah, so actively engaged in dialogue with Mormons?

I grew up largely in the Philippines. My parents were missionaries in a mountainous region of the country and trained future pastors at a Bible college. My earliest interactions with Mormonism was mostly newly built LDS chapels. When we arrived in the Philippine, the Manila Temple was just being completed. Over the next 8 years LDS ward houses began popping up across the country in some of the most remote locales across the country.

These ward houses were always marked by two things: immaculate construction that surpassed anything the locals could afford to put together themselves and a pristine unused basketball court. Filipinos love basketball and so with brilliance the LDS church put a full sized concrete basketball court next to every building they constructed. There was a tall fence around every ward house (as there was around everything in the country) and the basketball court was for members only. So Filipinos were always outside the fence salivating over the unused basketball court.

There was a general disdain for the LDS church among Evangelical missionaries (no surprise there). Protestant missionaries for years had been making inroads into unreached tribes throughout the country. Many missionaries had lived for over 40 years in communities that had no written language and little contact with the outside world. They did this in an effort to provide the people with literacy and a Bible written in their own heart language. LDS missionaries never entered a community that Protestant missionaries had not already been working in for many years. Whether language was a barrier or not, the LDS church never “set up shop” in any place that a Protestant church did not already exist. The perception among Evangelical missionaries was that agents of an imposter of Biblical Christianity were piggy-backing off of their hard work and stealing weaker, less grounded Prostestants. It was generally agreed that teaching Mormonism to anyone who didn’t already have a background in the Bible must have been pointless. Or in other words you could only distort Christianity to Christians.

Americans stuck out like sore thumbs in the Philippines. It was reasonable to expect to know every white person we saw. The ones we didn’t know were always LDS missionaries. My strongest memories of running into LDS missionaries were at McDonalds, at a Harlem Globetrotters game and on a plane flight from the U.S.

I attended a boarding school for missionary kids located in Manila. At one point in one of my high school Bible classes, Mormonism was discussed. Our teacher advised us (wisely I think) not to engage in debates with any Mormon missionaries we might encounter. His counsel was that these missionaries would probably know the Bible better than we did. And with that advise I avoided getting into any discussions of faith with any Mormons I ran across. . . . to be continued.


There’s a new video on YouTube that is a bit controversial. I’m too timid to be the first to put it on my blog. But I’ll give a brief summary. A missionary in France secretly taped his mission president berating his missionaries for masturbating. At first it doesn’t seem to be that big of a deal that he’s admonishing them to keep their thoughts pure. But then he blames their low baptism numbers on their lack of diligence in this matter.

The fact that they had any baptism in France I think is a small miracle.

I’ll let you look it up if you want to see it.