The Mormon double standard when it comes to evangelism

Let’s cut to the chase. Evangelical Christianity and the Mormon Church are both very much interested in winning others to their way of thinking. On this there is no argument. The Mormon Church sends out tens of thousands of full-time missionaries to try and convince potential converts that Christianity experienced a “Great Apostasy” and that this was remedied by what they call the “restored gospel” given through their prophet Joseph Smith. Of course, the only way you can experience this “restored gospel” is through the LDS Church.Clearly the goal of the Mormon missionary is to baptize the potential convert into the LDS Church, which necessitates them abandoning their current church and much of what they currently believe theologically. I actually appreciated Mormon Apostle Dallin Oaks’ candidness when he said,

“The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has many beliefs in common with other Christian churches. But we have differences, and those differences explain why we send missionaries to other Christians…” (“Apostasy and Restoration,” Ensign (Conference Edition), May 1995, p.84).

Fair enough. But here’s the rub, Mr. Oaks. When Christians respond in kind they are automatically labeled “anti-Mormons” and demonized. It is assumed that they are motivated only by bigotry. Oh my.

Recently several Christian ministries and churches joined together to distribute hundreds of thousands of DVDs that clearly and lovingly explained the differences between Mormonism and Christianity. The DVD carefully explained what LDS leaders have taught in order to give the viewer a more informed opportunity to properly evaluate LDS truth claims. In fact, much of the DVD contained statements taken directly from LDS sources. Under normal conditions I would think this is how the Mormon doctrine of “free agency” should be practiced, but that is not at all the case.

While Article 11 in the LDS “Articles of Faith” states that Mormons believe that all men should be allowed to worship how, where, or what they may, this is not how things are in reality. Proclaiming the gospel and offering people clarity is a part of Christian worship. Our devotion to God includes proclaiming His message of forgiveness and to expound on what is true as opposed to what is error. However, when we do this, the Mormons react like we just set their foot on fire. I guess the right to proclaim what you believe to be true (which automatically assumes something must be false) is reserved only for those who are members of the LDS Church. It sure seems that way.

The Mormon Church put out an official statement which said in part,

“When Latter-day Saint missionaries visit homes or engage others in conversation, they studiously avoid criticism of other faiths.”

If that is true then the missionaries are not doing their job. Page seven of Preach My Gospel (the new missionary manual, 2004) states that missionaries are to “help investigators see the patterns of apostasy and restoration” and “help people recognize that the Church is not just another religion.” Helping a person conclude that his church is apostate is not a criticism?

Missionaries aside, what about all those kind comments from LDS leaders over the years?

News pieces in Salt Lake City decried the efforts of these horrible “anti-Mormons.” One news cast accused some Christian participants in Arizona of being part of a “hate group”! How dare these “mean-spirited” Christians even hint that Mormons should leave their church! My friend, greater hypocrisy cannot be found in all of Zion, for what Mormon missionary does not want to lead a person out of their present church and into the Mormon Church? If they deny it, they are lying, pure and simple.

Over the years I have had several Mormon missionaries come to my home and I have always treated them with respect and dignity. I have also had pieces of paper taped to my door announcing upcoming functions at the local ward building. I’ve even had a couple of 12-year-old Mormon deacons come up to me asking for my “fast offering.” At two different movie theaters I’ve been approached by Mormon missionaries and never once have I fired off an angry email to a mission president or stake president demanding that they “leave me alone!” because “I already have my religion!” I fully recognize that they have their right in this wonderful country to believe whatever they want, even though that belief pegs me as a part of an apostate Christendom that adheres to abominable creeds and abases itself before the “mythical throne of a mythical Christ” (as one late Mormon apostle said).

Pardon me, I forgot that Mormons don’t criticize other faiths.

If Mormons can’t seem to understand that all of us have a worldview that we’d like others to share, and that this passion for truth causes us to tell others, then I have to really wonder what motivates Mormon missionaries. Perhaps I’ve been wrong to assume that they are motivated by love and concern. Maybe they are just “doing their time” to please their parents or church. If Mormons can’t even consider that our motivation is based in love for them as people, then why do they feel we are obligated to assume the same for them?

Nah, to hear the many complaints from Mormons over this DVD, I guess my role as a Christian is to just silently sit back and let only the Mormons do the talking because in their mind it is “unchristlike” to do anything else.

Funny, I don’t recall Jesus doing that.

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23 Responses to The Mormon double standard when it comes to evangelism

  1. Neal says:

    Well said. I have responded earlier that as members of the LDS Church we need to prepare ourselves for criticism and scrutiny. We should respond with fairness and love. It is fair for others to criticize and analyze and scrutinize — AS LONG AS THAY ARE ACCURATE AND TRUTHFUL. Now I have not seen the DVD in question. It is my understanding that it is well done as far as production value, but people a lot smarter than me have also pointed out inaccuracies and flat out unTruth. That doesn’t help anybody.
    Think how Evangelical Christians react to secular criticism of their doctrine, principles or motives. It is not unsimilar. I have never seen the LDS church do a massive public campaign targeted at a specific religion that is meant to destroy faith or tear down a specific religion or church. In my experience in the church, even as a missionary, I clearly taught that the New Testament prophesies a falling away, and I have spoken about the history of Christianity. The whole notion of “Protestantism” verifies that MANY believed the “Church” had fallen away and many attempts were made by faithful, courageous people — Luther, Calvin, etc. — to right the wrongs they could see. The LDS Churhc offers another solution — a solution that people like Luther and Calvin actually believed possible — that of a Restoration, not simply a Reformation. In my experience, as that is presented, it is presented to individuals with an invitation to pray, to think, to ask questions and to decide for themselves if they believe it to be true. As long as we are all being truthful and seeking truth we should be able to tackle any difference in theology.

  2. rick b says:

    I agree 100 percent, I see this all the time. I see the LDS doing this when they do the (I feel a spirit of contention) Nonsense.

    Can you tell me which DVD you are talking about, Thanks, Rick b

  3. Arthur Sido says:

    The vitriolic reaction to any evangelism aimed at the mormon church is the height of hypocrisy. Mormon missionaries, tens of thousands strong, knock on doors all day long seeking to tell people that they are members of apostate churches, abominations in the eyes of God. The reaction of mormons whenever the shoe is on the other foot is telling. Why are mormons warned away from apostates (like me)? Because the claims of mormonism are all dependent on emotional responses (the burning in the bosom) and cannot stand up honest scrutiny.

    By the way Neal, Luther and Calvin sought a restoration of Biblical truth, the gospel of justification by faith alone, with the Word of God alone as our guide. To suggest that Calvin and Luther had similar aims as Joseph Smith is disingenuous. Calvin and Luther sought a return to the Bible. Smith sought to replace the Bible.

    Rick B, you can view the video at this link….

    http://www.goodnewsforlds.org/video.html

  4. Rich says:

    Well, you don’t exactly see Mormons going out and labeling Evangelicals as a cult – even though they fit their very own definition of the term.

    You don’t hear Mormons preaching that all people who do not believe exactly as they do will suffer eternal torment in fire and brimstone, either. Sure, they teach that people who don’t accept the LDS “plan of salvation” will not attain the highest glory – but that is not the same as the Evangelcal doctrine of hellfire damnation.

    There are differences. You just choose not to see them.

  5. Bill McKeever says:

    Neil, I’ve been following your posts and I assume by what I read that you are a reasonable guy. Please tell me, do you really think the DVD distribution was motivated by hatred?

  6. Aaron Shafovaloff says:

    The DVD/video is also available here.

  7. Arthur Sido says:

    Rich,

    Explicitly describing Christian churches as a cult, perhaps not. But this is hardly flowery language…

    >>18 My object in going to inquire of the Lord was to know which of all the sects was right, that I might know which to join. No sooner, therefore, did I get possession of myself, so as to be able to speak, than I asked the Personages who stood above me in the light, which of all the sects was right (for at this time it had never entered into my heart that all were wrong)—and which I should join. 19 I was answered that I must join none of them, for they were all wrong; and the Personage who addressed me said that all their creeds were an abomination in his sight; that those professors were all corrupt; that: “they draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me, they teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof.”< < (Joseph Smith History verses 18-19) Not exactly the modern, “can’t we all just get along” story you hear from Hinckley. If the Christian church was not considered apostate, an abomination in the eyes of God, there would be no reason to send out your missionaries. Not even counting of course the intemperate language used in the past by mormon “general authorities”. By the way, perhaps you would care to enlighten us as to how Evangelicals “fit their very own definition of the term” cult (which sounds like you are saying evangelical churches are a cult, even if mormons are just too polite to call them such). It isn’t the random, mean-spirited evangelical who says that those who don’t believe in the Christ of the Bible are condemned, it is Christ who said it: John 3:18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. Who are the sons of perdition in mormonism who get sent to “outer darkness” in mormonism? According the “Gospel Principles” it is those who leave the mormon church (which is a cult hallmark, frightening members away from leaving). Everyone else is saved, making mormonism a sort of universalism with the glaring exception of mormon apostates. This is exactly what the original post is saying. The mormon church has no issue sending out tens of thousands of missionaries to tell people that their churches are apostates and that the mormon church has the exclusive claim on truth based on the fanciful claims of Joseph Smith.

  8. Kathy says:

    Neal includes a telling phrase, “People a lot smarter than me have also pointed out inaccuracies and flat out unTruth.” One of the great tragedies of Mormonism is that there is no respect for the average member. He/she is told so often that the “debate is over when the Brethren have spoken” that the members become unwilling to utilize their own critical thinking skills in evaluating Mormon claims. In our society we value full disclosure and free speech. Neither your corner store or the local car lot could use the tactics of distortion and omission used by Mormon missionaries. One came to my door a couple of months ago when I was in a mischievous mood. Elder Whitney started up with the usual spiel and I stopped him. I told him I was an apostate and had a serious question for him. His whole body went on alert and he sparkled like he just woke up. “I want you to bring me a completely accurate, truthful definition of who Jesus Christ is in the Mormon faith…don’t bring me Bible quotations or that New York ad agency stuff, I quipped, just the real deal. You have nothing to lose–I’m out and never coming back.” Quite honestly, I thought I’d never see him again. The following week he brought me this message: “Jesus Christ is not a God like Heavenly Father is God. Savior is a calling…a job you might say. Jesus Christ is the Savior for this world.” I then asked if he was married so that he could progress and sit on the right hand of the Father like the Bible says. He replied, “We know his mission but we do not know his fate.” It seems only fair that prospective converts should know exactly what they are choosing since illuminating nature of God is the most important gift of religion. — Kathleen Waters in SLC

  9. Neal says:

    I have much to say but little time — I’ll return with more thoughts later — But I want to answer Bill very quickly. I reread my post to make sure I never said I felt the distribution of DVD’s was motivated by hate. I didn’t say it and I didn’t mean to imply it. I DO NOT believe hate is the motivation. I believe that those efforts and the efforts of websites like this and your Ministry are a sincere and based on your belief that the LDS doctrine is wrong. If you and I spoke in person I believe we would like each other and express our love and concern for each other. I will spend some time later to answer other issues that have been addressed, but I want to be clear that I do not feel that your efforts here are motivated by your hatred of LDS people.

  10. Bill McKeever says:

    I sincerely thank you for those comments, Neal. I am finding that many LDS people feel the same as you when it comes to the motivation behind the DVD distribution. However, this is what troubles me. I admit I am having a difficult time holding back my outrage at the charge of hatred by your church. To involve the ADL is equally reprehensible. There is little doubt that this charge was meant to intimidate anyone from criticizing the LDS Church and your PR department knows very well that in our present societal climate that such a charge gets a lot of mileage. Having said this, I admit my outrage will matter little because, let’s be serious, in the eyes of many, I and others who share my view are now made to appear like bigots by those who may not understand the issues clearly. My question is, where is the outrage from the LDS members who agree that this charge was unfounded? Do any Mormons out there that share your view have the nerve to call their leaders into account and demand that they repent for “bearing false witness”?

  11. Ginger says:

    My concern about the distribution of pamphlets and DVD’s and such about the LDS faith by non-LDS groups is this:

    Any religious group is only qualified to teach their own beliefs, not any other group’s. If I want to know what Baptists believe, I’ll ask a Baptist, not a Presbyterian. If I want to know what Jews believe, I’ll ask a Jew, not a Methodist. If I want to know what Mormons believe, I’ll ask a Mormon, not a member of any other faith or group of faiths.

    Of course, I’m a highly educated woman with a talent for research. I know to go to the source for accurate information on any topic. I’m not knocking the average American’s intelligence here, but sometimes the obvious must be stated (even to a genius at times) to be recognized.

  12. Heart for the Lost says:

    I posted a list of quotes that are Anti-Christian from LDS leaders on my blog so you can review them
    http://heartforthelostblog.blogspot.com/2007/04/update-2-on-response-to-mormon-dvd.html#links

  13. Arthur Sido says:

    Ginger,

    You said…

    >>Any religious group is only qualified to teach their own beliefs, not any other group’s.< < That is patently false. I know far more about mormon doctrine and history having left mormonism than I did in the years I spent as a mormon. Most church approved literature is sanitized, so that it is “faith affirming”. Examination of “anti” mormon material is discouraged. The vast majority of decent Christian materials directed at mormons makes use of primarily mormon sources. They simply quote what mormon authorities have said in the past, so in a way it IS a mormon telling us what mormons believe. In fairness, that is probably true of a lot of groups. I imagine your average seminary professor knows more about most Protestant denominations than the people who attend a given church on a weekly basis. But to make such a sweeping assertion is designed to quash discussion. Mormons have no issue with telling other people that their churches are apostate and an abomination to God, so it is hardly equitable to expect Christians to not respond to mormon claims.

  14. Bill McKeever says:

    Ginger, I have no problem asking the average LDS member what they believe, but such people, while perhaps very sincere, do not come close to being an official spokesperson for the LDS Church. This is why I take umbrage with the LDS Church’s reaction to the DVD. They complain that the DVD didn’t cite official sources. That isn’t true. It did. Furthermore, after making this complaint, they responded with a rebuttal from a group of lay members. FAIR doesn’t represent the church and your leaders know this. It is another case of plausible deniability that the LDS Church is famous for. If the LDS leaders are really concerned about “official” sources, let them have the courage to provide an “official” rebuttal.

    Here’s another flaw in your argument. Most of the research done on the subject of Mormonism is taken from LDS sources written by LDS members. That being the case you cannot say members of the church are left out of the loop and not considered.

    May I also ask you if you personally felt the people behind the production and distribution of the DVD were motivated by hatred? If so, do you have evidence for this?

  15. Aaron Shafovaloff says:

    Ginger, have you ever read The Great Apostasy by James Talmage? Do you think it was inappropriate of Talmage to tell people what others believed?

  16. Ginger says:

    Arthur said:”The vast majority of decent Christian materials directed at mormons makes use of primarily mormon sources. They simply quote what mormon authorities have said in the past, so in a way it IS a mormon telling us what mormons believe.”

    Bill said:”Most of the research done on the subject of Mormonism is taken from LDS sources written by LDS members.”

    Hundred-year-old quotes taken out of context do not tell a true story.

    Athur:”But to make such a sweeping assertion is designed to quash discussion.”

    Just adding to the discussion. I know that debate requires more than one side to a topic.

    Bill:”May I also ask you if you personally felt the people behind the production and distribution of the DVD were motivated by hatred? If so, do you have evidence for this?

    Personally, without consulting any other LDS (so you know this is all me here), I believe that some of the Protestants are involved out of love, some out of fear, and some out of hatred. Still others will do it to seem like a good Christian to others. Same old human story that’s been around since the beginning of time.

    Aaron said:”Ginger, have you ever read The Great Apostasy by James Talmage? Do you think it was inappropriate of Talmage to tell people what others believed?”

    I think I read it about 20 years ago, so I’m no expert on the contents. If I tried to comment now, it would be like showing up to a book club meeting after not having read the book and trying to look like I have an informed opinion on the contents. Sorry.

  17. jonathan says:

    The source of Mormon authority is the words of their so-called prophet being equal to scripture and infallible. Therefore any quote, regardless of context should be considered scripture by Mormons, until rescinded by another so-called prophet.

    It is the infallibility problem that was visually shown in this DVD-the words of a man are not infallible and until the leadership of the Mormon church officially admits this the church will continue to have these old quotes rightly thrown in their faces. The problem is that once the statement of fallibility is made-then there is no longer any reason to trust any words from any of their so-called prophets. And without its so-called prophets the Mormon faith is completely without any authority and void.

    For the first time this DVD publicly calls for the accountability of leaders of the Mormon church and their responsibility in perpetuating the false prophet of Joseph Smith and his counterfeit religion for their personal gain and position.

    For me, the only new information was about the Jupiter talisman worn by both Joseph and Hyrum. The deceit of Joseph Smith continues to be exposed and the air-brushing of his character continues by the Mormon Church.

  18. Bill McKeever says:

    Ginger, you said:
    “Personally, without consulting any other LDS (so you know this is all me here), I believe that some of the Protestants are involved out of love, some out of fear, and some out of hatred.”

    Would I not be considered out of line if I was to say, “I believe that some Mormon missionaries are involved out of love, some out of fear, and some out of hatred”?

    No doubt there are some people who hate the Mormon Church and that is wrong, but this charge was directed at those behind the DVD distribution.

    How can Mormons allow their church to publicly support a statement from the ADL that blankets the entire DVD effort as hateful without any evidence that this conclusion is true?

    How do you define hatred?

  19. Arthur Sido says:

    Ginger,

    You said…

    >>Hundred-year-old quotes taken out of context do not tell a true story.< < Well that is again simply not true. Mormonism is a religion based in large part on the “restored priesthood”. Because of that, the office of prophet and apostle has been reinstituted, so their writings, which are rightly considered authoritative are as valid today as ever. Any mormon who rejects the teachings of Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, Spencer Kimball or any of the prophets cannot in good faith stand up and affirm the current prophet as “prophet, seer and revelator”. The mormons have the same problem as Roman Catholics, when you make a man authoritative you can’t undo what his predecessors declared without undermining his authority. Joseph Smith is the “prophet of the restoration.” If he was wrong about some stuff, it casts doubts on all of his prophetic statements. As far as being out of context, perhaps you can offer some specific example of mormon teachings that have been quoted out of context? Or is that just a sweeping generalization without any basis?

  20. jer1414 says:

    I completely agree with Kathy. I find it disturbing that Neal said “I have not seen the DVD in question. It is my understanding that it is well done as far as production value, but people a lot smarter than me have also pointed out inaccuracies and flat out unTruth.”

    WOW!! This echoes what I saw on TV when Dianne Sawyer went to N.Korea. She passed around a U.S. magazine among a group of young students and the students didn’t even look at it. They passed it like a hot potato – like it was “anti-N.Korean”. I thought, how sad that they have been so conditioned, they even censor themselves! It was bizarre and I couldn’t help but think of the Mormon similarities regarding this DVD. Many Mormons have warned each other with “it’s [filtered profanity or slur] and FAIR has already responded to it”, without even considering the challenges or thinking for themselves! It is ironic to me that the fear of looking at the evidence is something Mormons themselves think reprehensible, for instance when people make judgments on the Book of Mormon without reading it, and yet can’t see they are doing this very thing.

    I also agree with Bill about the double standard of witnessing. Anytime Christians try to witness to Mormons or submit anything that challenges their beliefs, they are labeled “[filtered profanity or slur]”; but yet Mormons aren’t called “anti-Christian” when they go door to door and challenge Christianity with being “the church of the devil“ who is the “mother of abominations“ and “the whore of all the earth” (Book of Mormon, 1 Nephi 14:10), etc. etc.

  21. rick b says:

    Ginger said Hundred-year-old quotes taken out of context do not tell a true story.

    Here is another problem with this. Ezra Taft Benson said, The prophet cannot lead the Church astray. He Also said, the Prophet does not need to say, THUS SAITH THE LORD, To give us scripture. And he also said, The prophet speaks for the LORD in everything.

    Ezra Taft Benson Supports all those statements with scripture and words of other prophets. So are they true? If not then how can we trust anything your church teaches?

    I bring this up for this reason, Brigham Young Taught Adam God and Blood atonment, he very cleary stated it was scripture and Doctrine. Did he lie? According to what Ezra Taft Benson taught, Brigham young is either correct, or a liar.

    Then an even bigger problem is this, LDS claim those are found in the JoD and they are not offical Church teachings. two problems with that. 1. Ezra taft did not put a limit on the prophet and where he spoke. 2. The LDS church claims that the King Follet Discourse by Joseph Smith is the greatest teaching/sermon ever given.

    Why can the LDS church make that claim using the JoD, But then when I use it, they claim foul?

    Then the Adam God is only 2 pages long at best, King follet is 11 pages. Many LDS claim the Adam God was a mis quote or printed incorrectly, Two pages are wrong, but 11 pages are 100 percent correct. Sure. And Ginger, in case you ask, Yes I own the entire 27 volume set of the JoD. My set is 27 volumes not 26, because the 27 book is an index of the other 26 volumes. Rick b

  22. Clay Soldier says:

    My name is Chris and I am originally from Salt Lake. I was Mormon at one time. Now I am a born-again Christian, and have been for 7 years. Tell me, did anyone get saved through this DVD outreach?

    Besides the outrage from some of the Mormon community, have there been any other responses?

  23. D says:

    As a Non-Mormon and a Non-Evangelical, I find this very interesting. This post is seems to be stating that the Mormons are doing what the Evangelicals are doing. Both side seem to think that the other side is going to HELL. I personally know numerous Mormons and Evangelicals.

    I would say that the Mormons feel more picked on, and the Evangelicals are more Self-Righteous. Mormons seem more family oriented, and Evangelicals are defiantly more judgmental. If I were able to pick my own neighbors, I would pick a Mormon or even a Jehovah’s Witness over an Evangelical.

    Mormons outside of Utah are more reserved and more normal, but Evangelicals are preachy no matter where I’ve met them. Personally, I’m annoyed whenever I’m targeted by Mormons, Jehovah Witnesses or Evangelicals. The Mormons and Jehovah Witnesses respectfully withdraw when asked, but several times the Evangelicals have been quite nasty with comments about burning in Hell and the like.

    From my experiences with the three religions, I like the Evangelicals the least, and prefer the Mormons slightly more than the Jehovah Witnesses.

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