This I Believe?
There is a litany of differences between Christian and Mormon doctrine. Questions about Mormon beliefs arise when open-minded thinkers look at the facts. If nothing else, it is interesting that Mormons believe that for 2000 years, all the theologians, all the hundreds of millions of believers down through Christian history some how had it wrong. It is the height of arrogance to think that all of history misunderstood Christ’s message and meaning and that we needed an uneducated money-digging teenager who looked at stones in his hat to sort out the truth. Could it be that real truth has been eluding the Christian Church since the birth of Christ?
Consider the following list of great minds that did not understand what the Bible really teaches like 17-year old Joseph Smith did:
Now I’ll be the first to tell you that education does not always equal a man of God. Just look at the group of so called theologians roled out by ABC TV everytime the network does a documentary on Jesus. Karl Barth is one reminder that one is not required to have a long-sleeve list of degrees to prove he hears God or knows His word. In fact, Barth proved the opposite, for he knew it better than almost anyone in history–that is, if you believe the Mormon Church, until Joseph Smith came along.
The Mormon church wants you to believe that Joseph Smith is a prophet of God. A prophet of God is supposed to hear God. Deuteronomy 13:1-3 says “If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or the wonder comes true, concerning which he spoke to you, saying, ‘Let us go after other gods, (whom you have not known), and let us serve them,’ you shall not listen to that prohphet or dreamer of dreams, for the Lord your God is testing you to find out if you love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.”
Actually, when it comes to determining if Joseph Smith is a prophet of God, we only have to look as far as the “Oliver Granger prophecy” in the ‘inspired Mormon writing, Doctrine and Covenants, 117.12-15 to find a false prophecy. It reads ‘I say unto you, I remember my servant Oliver Granger, behold verily I say unto him that his name shall be had in sacred rememberence from generation to generation forever and ever, saith the Lord.”
Without exception, when I ask the LDS missionaries who come to my home who Oliver Granger is, they cannot tell me. “His name is supposed to be in everlasting rememberence,” I tell them, yet even Mormons can’t remember him. Surely people outside the LDS circle will not know him if Mormons don’t know. Then there’s the “Grease Spot” prophecy which today, Mormons attempt to deny that Joseph Smith ever said. It’s a prophecy that said that the U.S. government would be destroyed and brought down and all that would be left is a grease spot. Or perhaps you prefer the prophecy of the Mormon ”Zion,” which historically was supposed be in Independence, Missouri and never came about. In fact, the Mormons must have a god with a little ‘g’ because he was unable to protect his chosen people in Independence and they were driven out of Missouri altogether. Then there is the Nauvoo House prophecy (D&C 124.56-60), and how that house would be owned by Joseph Smith’s family forever. Again, it didn’t come to pass…among many others. If Joseph Smith was a true prophet, he would have have to be 100% accurate. There is no gray area with God.
Deuteronomy 18:20-22 reads ”But a prophet who presumes to speak in my name anything I have not commanded him to say, or a prophet who speaks in the name of other gods, must be put to death.” 21 you may say to yourselves, “How can we know when a message has not been spoken by the LORD?” 22 If what a prophet proclaims in the name of the LORD does not take place or come true, that is a message the LORD has not spoken. That prophet has spoken presumptuously. Do not be afraid of him. i.e (false prophet).
Sometimes I fall into the trap that seems to lead to endless discussions about Mormon doctrine and how this doctrine and that doctrine are not consistent with the bible. I feel like I must talk every Mormon out of their beliefs that I cross paths with. If I could just show them a few things surely they would see the errors of their ways. Well folks, it doesn’t work that way.
The Mormon Church must recognize that the average Mormon missionary does a poor job of debating doctrine. To compensate, LDS Web sites like FAIR LDS attempt to overwhelm you with scriptures taken out or context and arguments about how right they are, all in an effort to support their flimsy doctrinal claims that are based on a early 19th century teenager’s interpretation of the Bible. Apparently, it’s as if this group of thinking Mormons feel that endless, ad-nauseam
apologetic arguments dripping in sarcastic personal attacks will somehow help prove their point. These “scholars” need more pages to discuss how correct their biblical interpretations are than the IRS needs to explain the tax code. It is just a coincidence that the IRS and the Mormon Church are located in the same state?
Despite my desire to see these Mormons saved, it really only takes a moment of two to decipher if the person you are talking to is really open minded enough to hear some truth. It’s actually very easy to control the conversation with your average Mormon if you want to. Usually a few solid questions is all the average Christian really needs in their bag in order to keep the discussion going for quite some time as long as you keep them on point and do not let them move about to various topics. It’s also important to keep them in the context of the Bible. What basis does the Book of Mormon have if the starting premise is that it is false doctrine? Rather, one must keep them arguring their points using Biblical scripture which they rarely can do. But is that really productive? I’m beginning to think not.
Getting back to what I expressed earlier, that “trap” that we as Christians fall into attempting to talk Mormons out of what they believe, may in fact be futile in most instances unless the person you are witnessing to is an open minded, intellectually honest truth seeker. However, if that is not the case, and again, as I said earlier, I am beginning to think that a different approach might be a better way.
If the Mormon you are witnessing to is only interested in feeding you their party lines that they learned in their high school seminary classes, then I suggest this: start talking about what they really believe. What I mean is that some of the Mormon beliefs are so outrageous, the average Mormon will look silly trying to defend them.
Consider these questions to ask your Mormon friends about how they got their doctrine and if these things are true:
1. Is it true that Joseph Smith put his face in a hat to interpret the Book of Mormon?
(A demonstration of this to your Mormon friends might help illustrate how silly this looks).
2. Is it true that Joseph Smith looked through stones to tell people where treasure was buried before he discovered the Golden Bible (that no one was allowed to see) in the same way?
3. Is it true that Joseph Smith was so fascinated by Masonic beliefs, that he incorporated them into his “pure Mormon doctrine” and even put Masonic images on the temple of Nauvoo?
4. Is it true that Joseph Smith believed in polygamy and had 48 wives?
As you can see, these types of questions ought to make the average Mormon think about how others see their faith. For the devout Mormon it may not be enough for you. I often think of my neighbor, a Mormon bishop in the local ward, no matter how logical of an argument I make to him, he can’t go there. And for people like that, the truth may not be enough.
That’s why everything we do as Christians, in witnessing to Mormons, must be bathed in prayer. This is a spiritual war we’re fighting and it can’t be done by us. It must be done by the acts of Holy Spirit. Pray for your Mormon neighbors before you talk to them. Pray before the missionaries surprise you at the door. Don’t be reactive, be proactive. Ask God for the wisdom for dealing with the specific person you are talking to. One size does not fit all in witnessing to unbelievers, why would it be any different for Mormons?