Mormons and Evangelicals Talk of Christ

On November 15 (2013), evangelical author (and seminary president emeritus) Richard Mouw addressed 2,000 young Mormons at Utah Valley University. As reported in the Deseret News’ “Evangelical leader says commonality with Mormons deeper than differences,” Dr. Mouw emphasized his discovery that between Mormons and evangelicals, “there’s more commonality than we realized in the way we talk about Jesus and his atoning work.”

mormon-jesusIn support of this idea, Dr. Mouw suggested, “when you stop and read [the Book of Mormon], a lot of the doctrine looks and sounds like our doctrine, with language that sounds like the kinds of things we say.” According to Deseret News, “Mormons and evangelical Christians… ‘say the same things’ about Jesus Christ.”

I submit that even more important than what one says, is what one means by what one says. Mormons have used traditional Christian terminology for as long as I can remember. Christian ministries to Mormons have always emphasized the need for those engaged in evangelical/Mormon dialog to define their terms. Why? Because we often say the same things – we use the same terminology – but we don’t mean the same things.

For example, according to Deseret News, Dr. Mouw

“…read from the Book of Mormon some of the prophet Alma’s language about the life, ministry and Atonement of Jesus Christ, and how people need to ‘repent and be born again … (and) have faith on the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sins of the world, who is mighty to save and to cleanse from all unrighteousness’ (Alma 7:14).

“’Those are words of the gospel of Jesus Christ that I affirm as an evangelical Christian,’ Mouw said.”

Looking, then, at Alma 7:14, it begins, “Now I say unto you that ye must repent, and be born again.” This sounds like something evangelical Christians could affirm, however, the Mormon Church teaching manual, Gospel Principles (2009) explains the Mormon doctrine of repentance in greater detail. It says,

“To make our repentance complete we must keep the commandments of the Lord (see D&C 1:32). We are not fully repentant if we do not pay tithes or keep the Sabbath day holy or obey the Word of Wisdom. We are not repentant if we do not sustain the authorities of the [LDS] Church and do not love the Lord and our fellowmen. If we do not pray and are unkind to others, we are surely not repentant. When we repent, our life changes.

“President Kimball said: ‘First one repents. Having gained that ground he then must live the commandments of the Lord to retain his vantage point. This is necessary to secure complete forgiveness’ (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Spencer W. Kimball, 43).” (111-112)

Mormon Church manual The Life and Teachings of Jesus and his Apostles, Instructor’s Guide Religion 211–112 (2000) explains “born again” like this:

“1. As Joseph Smith said, to be born again one must first ‘see’ the kingdom of God, or gain a testimony.

“2. Once one ‘sees’ the kingdom, he then can be born into the kingdom through obedience to the commandments.”

These things don’t sound like anything an evangelical Christian would say. (Read evangelical perspectives on repentance, forgiveness, and new life in Christ.)

Looking again at Alma 7:14, it says, “be baptized unto repentance, that ye may be washed from your sins.” The Church manual, Preach My Gospel: A Guide to Missionary Service (2004), explains,

“Jesus taught that we must be baptized by immersion for the remission, or forgiveness, of our sins. Baptism is an essential ordinance of salvation. No person can enter the kingdom of God without being baptized…When we are baptized we begin the process of being born again…”

Evangelicals don’t say things like this. (Bill McKeever and Eric Johnson address this unbiblical doctrine here.)

73780766fb07b13809e83eb3baaf99e2Alma 7:14 also says, “…the Lamb of God,…who is mighty to save and to cleanse from all unrighteousness.” Evangelicals could punctuate these words with a hearty “Amen!” But consider how the man who became the 10th President of the Mormon Church, Joseph Fielding Smith, understood Jesus’ cleansing power:

Joseph Smith taught that there were certain sins so grievous that man may commit, that they will place the transgressors beyond the power of the atonement of Christ. If these offenses are committed, then the blood of Christ will not cleanse them from their sins even though they repent. Therefore their only hope is to have their own blood shed to atone, as far as possible, in their behalf. This is scriptural doctrine, and is taught in all the standard works of the Church. The doctrine was established in the beginning, that ‘Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed; for man shall not shed the blood of man. For a commandment I give, that every man’s brother shall preserve the life of man, for in mine own image have I made man’…And men for certain crimes…have placed themselves beyond the redeeming power of the blood of Christ.” (Doctrines of Salvation 1:135-136 [1988]. Emphasis in original).

Doctrine and Covenants 42:18 confirms this teaching:

“And now, behold, I speak unto the church. Thou shalt not kill; and he that kills shall not have forgiveness in this world, nor in the world to come.”

Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual (2002) makes it clear that the biblical king David lost his hope of eternal life with God due to David’s unforgivable sin of murder:

“David’s story is one of tragedy and a lesson to all of God’s children, because he went from the height of favor with God to the depth of wickedness. He had all that this life could offer, but through sin he lost exaltation and the right to be eternally with his Father in Heaven.

“’… the Prophet [Joseph] says: “A murderer, for instance, one that sheds innocent blood, cannot have forgiveness. David sought repentance at the hand of God carefully with tears, for the murder of Uriah; but he could only get it through hell; he got a promise that his soul should not be left in hell.”’” (“Section 132 Marriage: An Eternal Covenant”)

This sounds nothing like things evangelical Christians say – or believe. (Bill McKeever contrasts this Mormon teaching with biblical teaching here.)

Dr. Mouw is right that Mormons and evangelical Christians sometimes sound alike – sometimes we say the same things. But we don’t mean the same things at all. There is no commonality in what Mormons and evangelicals mean when we talk about Jesus and His atoning work. Mormons (if they conform to the official teachings of their church) and evangelicals (if they conform to the teachings of the Bible) do not believe the same things, no matter how alike we may sound. Dr. Mouw needs to understand this. In fact, Dr. Mouw needs to read the manuals.

About Sharon Lindbloom

Sharon surrendered her life to the Lord Jesus Christ in 1979. Deeply passionate about Truth, Sharon loves serving as a full-time volunteer research associate with Mormonism Research Ministry. Sharon and her husband live in Minnesota.
This entry was posted in Baptism, Book of Mormon, Forgiveness, Jesus Christ, Repentance and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

44 Responses to Mormons and Evangelicals Talk of Christ

  1. Old man says:

    I’m wondering if Dr. Mouw is in fact a Christian. Certainly his C/V sounds impressive “evangelical author (and seminary president emeritus)” but what does that really mean? Some people prefer to say ‘cemeteries’ rather than seminaries & I would say from some of my experiences over the years there’s more than a grain of truth in that. Anyone, no matter how great an altitude they may attain in the academic world owe it to God, to themselves & to the people they influence to thoroughly research Mormon beliefs before making such assertions & this he has clearly not done.
    Me ex-wife is on the verge of resigning from the LDS, why? Well, I’m sure she wont mind if I quote her.
    “I started reading the New Testament & found that it conflicted with almost everything I had been taught as a Mormon”

    I’m amazed that a high-flying academic such as Dr. Mouw, presumably a man who is far more knowledgeable than her concerning scripture, cannot do the same.
    Has he never asked why the LDS should be so widely considered a cult if they are as close to mainstream Christianity as makes no difference, did he never question any long time members of the LDS or did he simply take the ‘broad road’ & accept everything he was told? If he had an ounce of Christian discernment he wouldn’t even have considered making false prophets & false apostles his ecumenical bedfellows.

  2. johnsepistle says:

    Mouw is a tricky figure. I want to like him; really, I do. I believe in the importance of kindly but robustly engaging Mormon scholarship point-by-point, and that is one area where Evangelical scholars have not always been paying the most attention. (Not that this gives Mormon scholars the actual edge in terms of having a better case – it doesn’t, and it doesn’t distract from the serious inability of Mormonism to present itself as a viable biblical option – but I do think it can be a problem.)

    But the problem is that Mouw makes several key mistakes. He has built up strong friendships with BYU faculty. Nothing is wrong with that. But he then goes on to take everything his BYU friends say at face-value; and, not only that, but to take it as representative of Mormonism in general, Mormonism at its healthiest, one might say. I believe that BYU-revisionist Mormonism needs to be addressed head-on and given an ample biblical, historical, and theological critique. But it must receive these as it is: as a revisionist trend within Mormonism, not as the One True Mormonism(TM). Because Mouw focuses so exclusively on this trend – and, indeed, exaggerates it, as is clear when his statements are compared even to what Millet and Robinson say – he has a woefully lopsided and naive view of Mormonism. As Sharon said, he needs to read the manuals.

    Now, I would not mind too terribly if Mouw said the following: “My calling in Christian ministry is to theological engagement with the forms of Mormon theology that one finds among BYU professors who have been paying attention to Evangelical trends. This is not all there is to Mormonism, but it is what God has called me personally to focus on. There are other forms of Mormonism that God calls others to engage in their evangelism. I glorify God for the work he does through my brothers and sisters in their ministries – some may not do it well, but others do serious work while honoring God in their conduct. I cannot and will not apologize for them; instead, I will encourage them to continue their labors, and I will collaborate with them wherever possible for the good of the kingdom of God. I have defamed my brothers and sisters in the past through injudicious conduct, and for that I repent, apologize, and ask forgiveness. May the future hold forth a cooperative kingdom effort that does not divorce truth from grace or justice from mercy, but bears witness to the whole character of God for the whole world.”

    If Mouw made that his attitude, I think only the most hard-line would take issue with him. But that isn’t what Mouw does, so far as I can tell. I don’t see a sign that he seriously challenges his dialogue partners. I don’t see a sign that he recognizes and admits how unrepresentative his dialogue partners are, from the perspective of Mormon theological history. I don’t see a sign that he takes seriously the need to make a realistic and critical evaluation of what his Mormon friends are saying. I don’t see a sign that he recognizes the legitimacy of other Christian ministries that take a different approach. And I don’t see a sign that he accepts or even notices criticism of his approach, even when that is well-founded. Until Mouw realizes these things, I fear that his work will ultimately be counterproductive. Which is a shame. I don’t see Mouw as unchristian, but I do think that these issues can be summed up under a two major headings: naivete and pride. He owes it to his standing in the academy to be rid of the former and to his life in the church to be rid of the latter.

  3. falcon says:

    Here’s Sharon’s bottom-line:

    “Dr. Mouw is right that Mormons and evangelical Christians sometimes sound alike – sometimes we say the same things. But we don’t mean the same things at all. There is no commonality in what Mormons and evangelicals mean when we talk about Jesus and His atoning work.”

    This is no small thing. The Mormon gospel is a different gospel. That’s why when Mormons really dig into the NT and what the gospel is, they find a serious disconnect. Where does the Mormon gospel come from? Where does the Mormon notion of who God is come from?
    Well, according to Smith and his gospel:
    “……..there were certain sins so grievous that man may commit, that they will place the transgressors beyond the power of the atonement of Christ. If these offenses are committed, then the blood of Christ will not cleanse them from their sins even though they repent. Therefore their only hope is to have their own blood shed to atone, as far as possible, in their behalf.”

    I wouldn’t want any part of this type of gospel primarily because it offers no hope for the sinner. Besides that the goal of Mormonism is goof-ball stuff. What is that goal? That men can work their way through a system to join the pantheon of gods. Again, where did Smith get this nonsense?
    It must be remembered that the BoM often sounds like something that came out of a Methodist revival. That’s because that was Smith’s opening bid as he started his religion. As we know, he went through about eight versions of his first vision story and about four renditions of who God is before settling on this god who use to be a man scenario. In addition to that, he even created a god that is depicted in the infamous BoA sitting on a throne exposing himself. As it turns out, this is the Egyptian fertility god Min.
    Bottom line? Joseph Smith was totally clueless. Any Mormon like Mouw who thinks there is commonality between orthodox Christianity and Mormonism is totally clueless too!

  4. falcon says:

    EXUSE ME!

    I identified Mouw as a Mormon. My bad! Got my guys mixed-up.

    JohnE,
    You had a couple of really good points in your post, well you had more than a couple, but a couple that caught my eye in particular.
    “BYU-revisionist Mormonism” was one and “……..as a revisionist trend within Mormonism, not as the One True Mormonism(TM). Because Mouw focuses so exclusively on this trend – and, indeed, exaggerates it, as is clear when his statements are compared even to what Millet and Robinson say – he has a woefully lopsided and naive view of Mormonism.”

    “A woefully lopsided and naive view of Mormonism”. We could spend a lot of time on that one.
    We have trouble continually on this blog when Mormons show-up here trying to tell us what Mormonism is. It’s obvious they haven’t read the manuals either. What they typically tell us is what they want Mormonism to be, not what it is actually defined as being by the leadership.

    Just a thought, what’s the deal with these people. Are they truly ignorant, liars or do they want to stay in Mormonism but can’t handle SLC style Mormonism? Why don’t they just join a different sect of Mormonism or better yet, start their own. This is, after all, a main feature of the Mormonism. Be your own prophet!

  5. Mike R says:

    Mr. Mouw is right when he says that much of what is written in the Book of Mormon looks
    and sounds like what ” evangelicals ” say . Why is this a surprise to him ? Considering sizable
    chunks of the Bible are in the Book of Mormon of course it would in many cases sound like
    what Bible believing christians would agree with . This is one reason why people might assume
    that Mormonism is not really too different than the other churches in the neighborhood .

    What Mr Mouw should consider in order to get a more objective appraisal of Mormonism is
    to lay aside the dead prophets of the Book of Mormon and read who Mormons call their
    ” modern day” prophets and apostles have taught about God , salvation etc . Men such as
    Joseph Smith , Brigham Young , John Taylor , George Q. Cannon, Orson Hyde , Joseph F. Smith
    Joseph Fielding Smith , Ezra T. Benson , etc .
    It would also be wise for Mr Mouw to see what Mormon leaders have taught about ministers
    like him and many of his beliefs . Perhaps they would issue him an apology ?

  6. Old man says:

    Here’s an excerpt from a news article concerning the Bishop of Durham, the second highest post in the Church of England.

    “While he was still professor of theology at Leeds, but already named as the next Bishop of Durham. He told ……..that he doubted God would have arranged a Virgin Birth, or allowed Jesus to walk on the water. He also allowed that people who did not consider Jesus to be more than a divinely inspired human could consider themselves Christians.”
    What does this have to do with Dr. Mouw? Well, the Bishop of Durham attended a seminary, he gained honours & he rose right to the top of the ecclesiastical ladder, but, as can be seen from the quote, those things did not make him a Christian.
    I know very little of Dr. Mouw so I cannot say this is the case with him but the old adage, ‘all that glitters is not gold’ does spring to mind.

    I don’t want to be accused of nit picking but I wouldn’t be true to myself if I failed to say something about a small item in Johns post. Forgive me if I cause offence, it is not intentional.

    “I don’t see Mouw as unchristian, but I do think that these issues can be summed up under a two major headings: naivete and pride.”

    Dr. Mouw should NOT be naïve, and he should NOT be prideful, I would expect to find that in a new convert but not in a man of his age or standing. Naivete & pride in a man who has gained such stature in his chosen profession (I hesitate to call it a calling) is out of place & I can’t help but compare him to men of the past such as Spurgeon & Tozer, both of whom earned the love & respect of Christians worldwide. They were committed to one thing only, the Gospel of Christ & had no interest in trying to make square pegs fit round holes. Dr. Mouw, from my perspective at least, appears to be more interested in the ecumenical movement & in seeing his name in lights rather than in truth & that to me is not the mark of a Christian.

  7. Kate says:

    All I have to say is that Dr. Mouw will never find Mormonism in the BoM. It isn’t there. Joseph Smith believed in and taught the Holy Trinity when he wrote it. We can easily see this by comparing 1 Nephi chapter 11 in the original version to the changes made by the LDS church in the version they use today. He obviously doesn’t know anything about the great apostasy, or what the leaders have taught about Christians and Christianity. Whore of all the earth and harlot daughters come to mind. Maybe he needs to get heavily into the D&C and then talk about similarities. There are none.
    I have to shake my head at the dishonesty of the Mormons he talks with. It’s very disturbing that they would even begin to allow someone to believe that Mormonism and Christianity have ANYTHING in common other than similar sounding words. Didn’t Dr. Mouw read or hear the words of Gordon B. Hinkley when he said he doesn’t believe in the traditional Christ of the Bible?

    “No I don’t. The traditional Christ of whom they speak is not the Christ of whom I speak. For the Christ of whom I speak has been revealed in this the dispensation of the fullness of times.”

    This speaks volumes and should be a red flag for any Christian looking into Mormonism. Obviously the Mormons Dr. Mouw speaks with have been withholding the words of their prophets. How dishonest, but not surprising.

  8. falcon says:

    Mouw is wanting to fill Mormonism up with his own meaning as do many Mormons. He doesn’t want to be like that nasty Ed Decker and his ilk writing books and producing videos on the “God Makers”.

    I would guess that Mouw is trying to carve out a niche for himself and I wouldn’t doubt if there’s some sort of play for LDS approval.
    I’ve seen this same thing on meetings of atheists, former Mormons no less, who get up and testify and the positive vibes from those gathered is like a love fest.

  9. falcon says:

    Does anyone know what BYU Mormonism is? I’m curious. The LDS/SLC sect is very much like the FLDS but without polygamy and Adam-god. From what I gather, BYU Mormonism must be a lot like the Community of Christ. I read something, can’t remember where, that CoC folks coming from a foreign country wouldn’t even know what the BoM was. There are congregations within the CoC family that don’t even use the BoM. My impression when I visited the CoC historical sites in Nauvoo that they see the whole Joseph Smith deal as part of their history that they can’t deny. But as far as venerating the guy, I don’t think so.
    So what is BYU Mormonism and what about the young people that attend there. It’s instructive that its been estimated that 50% of Mormon missionaries go inactive. Maybe BYU Mormonism is a way of stemming the flow out of the church.

  10. spartacus says:

    I think Sharon may have restrained herself in this post. There was more that Mouw said that could have been discussed. But let’s review:

    - He says ignorant (sounding) things about how the BoM has things that sound Christian (since, as already pointed out, the BoM is not very LDS at all).

    -He actually says (as Sharon quoted), “there’s more commonality than we realized in the way we talk about Jesus and his atoning work.” Now, as an academic, Mouw knows he chose the word “talk” as opposed to “teach” or even “believe”. So he is either trying to stretch a sliver into a bridge between the two groups, or he is intentionally ignoring all the negatives – the fact that what is taught and believed is very different than what seems to be spoken.

    -But I have to challenge Mouw’s logic here. Under what reasoning should we give greater weight to any hint of commonality and ignore the massive differences? If the commonalities are significant, then the differences are, too. Mouw seems to be giving shalom and political activism as the reason. Now, I am pretty sure Jesus wasn’t very worried about political activism – gospel, not right to religion, was the Great Comission. Does the latter help with the former – only in ease of attempt, not necessarily in effectiveness. Right to religion might make it “safe” to spread the Gospel, but how much better is the Church and its authentic growth under pressure??? As for shalom, can there be shalom while falsehood is ignored and while good work is done together, lending that falsehood credibility?

    Did God call New Testament Christians to work with the Gnostics for religious freedom?

    Mouw doesn’t want LDS and Christians to be “shouting at each other and demonizing each other.” I understand that. I think we all do. OK, that’s what MRM accomplishes without ignoring the differences. Does MRM increase shalom? I think it does. Can there be peace with disagreement and even counter-evangelism? Yes, truth – even the discussion and arguing for truth – is not anti-peace. It is the only means to true peace, true shalom. I think Mouw may be sacrificing truth for “shalom” when all he really needs is true Christian love to be present as Christians interact with LDS.

    Part 2…

  11. spartacus says:

    …Part 2

    But there were a couple of quotes that Sharon didn’t discuss that I wanted to bring up here.

    Mouw said, “Evangelicals and Mormons have a lot to talk about and a lot to share about the hope that lies within each of us. We need to work together, learning from each other and bearing witness to the hope that shines within us.” Is it just me or isn’t there a BIG difference between the “hope” within Biblical Christians and the “hope” within Manual-General Conference LDS? One True Mormonism as johnsepistle put it (although the Fundamentalists would have something to say about that ;) .

    The hope is Jesus. The hope is the Gospel. And “Jesus” and “the Gospel” are VERY different between the two groups! So the hope is difinitively different. Slapping “Jesus” and “Gospel” on each person’s hope and ignoring how the labels don’t fit or quite stick doesn’t really help.

    By just claiming that our hopes are compatible we dishonor Jesus, lie about the Gospel, and blunt the effectiveness of our true Commission – the spreading of the (True) Gospel.

    I’ve read Mouw’s book. I know he is aware that terms are used differently (which makes his “talk” quote I discussed earlier all the more shocking). I even relate to some of his more nebulous human condition common ground stuff. But does Mouw understand that 75% of LDS converts have at least a background in Christianity? Does he understand that most such converts believe that LDS is Christian (or the True Christianity)? So why does he think it’s ok to muddy the waters even more?!

    For politics? For truth ignoring “shalom”? Really? I think Mouw, like others too concerned with politics, has lost sight of the Great Commission.

    —-

    Then there’s this:
    “we evangelicals have often focused on the origins of the Book of Mormon and questions of Joseph Smith’s prophetic authority, but we haven’t paid attention to the content of the Book of Mormon.”

    The massive inaccuracy of this statement cannot but significantly and explicitly put Mouw’s familiarity, knowledge, and understanding of Mormonism (and the Evangelical response he has apologized for) into severe doubt.

    The article also said:
    “That hope, he said, emanates from the beliefs that evangelical Christians have in common with members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — specifically their shared belief in ‘the redemptive power of Jesus Christ.’

    ‘That’s important to us because we have a lot of disagreements,’ he said, noting a number of doctrinal issues that can be divisive in discussions between evangelicals and Mormons, including the Trinity, the nature of God and the relationship between human beings and God.”

    Here Mouw seems to be emptying the phrase “redemptive power” of meaning. What is the redemptive power of Jesus in Christianity and in Mormonism?

    1) Jesus redeems from all sins vs. Jesus redeems from almost all sins
    2) Jesus redeems you in your sins vs. Jesus cannot redeem you in your sins
    3) Jesus redeems you as you are vs. Jesus redeems you if you get good enough before you die
    4) Jesus redeems you back to full sonship with the Father vs. Jesus redeems you only as far as you let Him

    “almost”, “cannot”, “if”, and “as far as you” don’t evoke “redemptive POWER” at all.

    Mouw contrasts a hypothetical commonality in our beliefs in the “redemptive power of Jesus” with the differences between our doctrinal disputes. Does Mouw think there is no doctrine in the redemption of Jesus? If he thinks that “redemptive power” can be (ab)used in such a way. What keeps him from using “doctrine” in a similarly flimsy way? Hey, Christians and LDS both have a belief in “the redemptive power of Jesus” and in “doctrine”! We should embrace these “shared beliefs”!

    Lastly, there’s this doozy:
    “But it’s important for us to talk about those things as we hold fast to the Savior. If we’re all saying, ‘Give me Jesus’ (a reference to the beautiful gospel song presented earlier in the program by the Orem Institute Latter-day Celebration Choir), ALL OF THOSE DIFFERENCES WILL DISSIPATE INTO ACADEMIC RARITIES THAT PROBABLY AREN’T IMPORTANT WHEN CONSIDERED NEXT TO OUR DESIRE TO WORK TOGETHER FOR THE CAUSE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS.”

    I’ll try to be short and just say:
    Did he just say that?!

    Ok, not so short ;) . There it is! Mouw has either: 1) just slyly indicated the necessity that LDS convert to only wanting Jesus (not their righteousness, not their family, not the Celestial Kingdom, not their godhood, not eternal increase) or 2) just admitted that he is willing to sacrifice the True Jesus and the True Gospel for “the cause of righteousness” (read political/social righteousness). Or a bit of both?

  12. merrick says:

    Thanks for your great post, Sharon. I have had this very thing on my heart this past week. I have been listening to a lot of Ravi Zacharias’ pod-casts and loving them! I know he is coming to speak at BYU and at the Tabernacle this coming January. I am so excited to go hear him speak and also a little concerned. I left the LDS church a year ago, last December – recent enough to remember the many arguments I made in defense of the church and their “Christianity.”

    “By their fruits ye shall know them,” was a common phrase I would utter. Part of the problem was that as a mormon, I truly embraced Christ, while rejecting 90% of the doctrine. I remember the last time I got a temple recommend (about 3 years ago) I told the Stake Pres. member when he got to the last question – “Do you feel worthy to go to the temple?” (I think it used to say – “Do you consider yourself worthy in every way?”)- that it was only through the blood of Christ that I was considered worthy. He was really surprised-

    There comes a point though – that any mormon who truly has/wants a saving relationship with Jesus can no longer hold onto false doctrine. It becomes too uncomfortable to stand. You can’t truly be free until the chains are severed- so it is in looking backwards that I can truly see the falseness of mormonism.

    I have hope that even though there are people in the church still “wiggling in their seats” because of the discomfort; they too will find the joy of Christ and his total sufficiency in their lives. They will find the sweetest fulfillment in that very uncomfortable word for mormons- “SURRENDER.”

    It was through the testimonies of Christian pastors and Christian music that God gave me the courage to take the leap out of a religion and into a relationship with him. I am worried that people will hear brother Ravi and feel validated that they are just fine staying in the church (after all- the church wouldn’t have invited him if they felt he would invite people to leave the church) because we all believe the same thing- which we don’t. I hope with all my heart that he will BOLDLY proclaim the truth about Jesus Christ and that the soft-hearted Jesus lovers in the audience will hear with open ears and hearts and gain the courage to turn away from everything comfortable in exchange for TRUTH.

    The TRUTH about who Jesus really is- was enough for the fence sitters like I was. He is no longer my “assistant” to attain something greater – he is the sovereign Lord over my life and he alone is my reward. How amazing is that???

  13. merrick says:

    One more quick thought- All Mouw or any Christian apologist would have to do is watch an entire session of General Conference or read through the LDS hymnal to be completely turned away from the notion that mormons and Christians are saying the same thing.

  14. Mike R says:

    merrick ,
    great post !

  15. falcon says:

    All I can think of as I’m sitting here thinking about Mouw is Dr. Walter Martin. Interestingly enough, Grant Palmer mentions bringing Dr. Martin in to address his seminary classes years ago. While I’m sure Dr. Martin was very polite, I’m doubly sure he didn’t pull any punches.

    A short sample is presented here of a presentation by Walter Martin. It’s about 9 minutes long and take note at about minute 6 and see the contrast with Mouw.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qopJ7yA98r0

  16. falcon says:

    What would happen if Christians stopped pointing out the differences between Mormonism and Biblical Christianity? That is, what we did as Christians is emphasize the similarities? I think it’s important to point out these differences and in so doing, cause Mormons to consider some things they may have never thought about. It’s also important for Christians who don’t know the differences to get up to speed on this “other gospel”. We are told, in God’s Word to give a defense for the gospel of Jesus Christ.
    Lives are changed and people get saved when we do this. Take the few minutes to watch these videos. The first one directly addresses what we are discussing here.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tEnIUdL-luo

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5JiRIh0KCAU

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ldqf9pff4kk

  17. MJP says:

    I’ve said before that Mormonism is slowly creeping towards evangelical Christianity. It seems its beliefs are moving that direction, if not the leaders, then the lay LDS members are driving this trend. I know there are huge differences, which is why I believe it is important to demonstrate these differences to our LDS friends. The differences will always keep them out of the realm of Biblical Christianity, no matter how much they think they fall within it, and no matter how much they believe in their heart-of-hearts they are Christians just like us. But their presentation and superficial beliefs grow ever closer to sounding so much like traditional Christianity that its getting more difficult for those who do not know to discern the important differences.

    We’ve had at this site several times discussions concerning the supposed similarities. We Christians have challenged Mormons to explain the similarities beyond the superficial notions that w both believe in a man named Jesus who lived on the earth approximately 2000 years ago. We’ve challenged them to explain how their notion of grace alone is truly similar to our notion of grace alone. We’ve challenged them on so many other supposed similarities and they have never once offered anything more than superficial answers and wishful thinking.

    Dr. Mouw, I believe, has his heart in the right place: bringing trust and common ground between the two very different faiths can lead to better communication. However, as I understand, Dr. Mouw is ultimately no Mormon apologist. Its therefore unclear precisely what his goal is; though it is clear Mormons love to quote him and use him to suggest they are justified. From what I understand, Mouw does not think they are justified– he only advocates for more friendship but still finds LDS theology flawed. (If I am wrong, let me know).

    I understand his motives, but I think they destroy the ultimate goal of ministering to Mormons. Mormons, instead of hearing the important differences now feel empowered to focus on the superficial similarities. Defining the meanings is not important to them if they can equate themselves with Christianity. Having an accomplished Christian thinker tell them their beliefs are similar only shuts them down to discussion of the differences, which makes ministering to them more difficult.

    Should we approach Mormons with love? YES! But we should also speak truthfully and not whitewash the truth. We cannot serve two masters. Trying to appease one for the sake of friendship while ignoring the other will not make things easier or better. Building friendships (one master) is important, but so is speaking the truth (the other master). It seems Mouw may be better served focusing more on the latter.

  18. Mike R says:

    Mr. Mouw says that non-Mormons should have a desire to work together with Mormons ,
    ” for the cause of righteousness ” . I agree . That is certainly a shared belief most ” Evangelicals”
    would have with their Mormon neighbors . Now , Mr Mouw does mention that there are
    doctrinal differences between Mormon and ” Evangelicals ” , but it seems he won’t mention
    how huge these are , at least that is how he comes across in his speech . What’s interesting with
    his behavior is that even Mormon leaders have taught that only they know the real truth about
    God and have thus taught that to their flock , all non Mormons offer to their flocks is a false
    view of God that robs them of ultimate salvation ( eternal life/exaltation ) , and according to
    Mormonism this is’nt surprising because all other churches are included in what Mormonism
    teaches is the church of the Devil — that includes the church Mr. Mouw worships at .
    Influencial people like Mr. Mouw when talking about Mormonism should respectfully and
    gently remind his audience that the teachings of Mormon leaders concerning God / Jesus or
    salvation are so at odds with what most ” Evangelicals ” believe that it renders only one party
    true , not both . If Mormonism is true then all ” Evangelicals” including Mr. Mouw are outside
    the ” Ark of safety ” , and in very serious trouble .

  19. falcon says:

    I probably shouldn’t do this but I’ve been thinking a lot about it in light of our discussion here. I’ve been following, at a safe distance, the controversy in the Southern Baptist Convention over Calvinism vs. Armenianism. I don’t mean to start a debate here on these theological perspectives, but rather to think about what it means when a religious group has inner conflict.
    As it stands right now, there is no conflict within the LDS church, from what I can see. Those in authority aren’t pushing for changes in what makes the LDS/SLC sect unique. For example, the LDS temple is the heart of the LDS experience. This is where LDS folks go to become gods, in a sense. They have to get this work done in the temples. In addition to that, this is where they do the “work” for the dead. The outcome, for the dearly departed, is that they might accept the Mormon program in the next life and become gods too.
    So, is this going to go away. No, without it the whole program collapses.
    We can talk about the doctrine of God, which I think is the essential thing when it comes to the major differences between LDS style Mormonism and orthodox Christianity. But it’s doing the temple that has those Mormons who are into it, attached to Mormonism. BTW, what percent of Mormons are temple Mormons? My guess maybe a third of those who are “active” in the LDS church.
    Let’s face it. This is where the status comes from, that along with the LDS priesthood. Who would be willing to give that up; of those who draw their spirituality, position, and status (from it).

    Anyway, here’s what I started talking about at the beginning of this post. Think about this, debates such as the one going on in the SBC right now is what Joseph Smith latched on to in formulating his new religion. He used such debates and controversy to emerge as a “modern day prophet” who could set all things in order. Armed with his magic rock, his hat and fantastic stories of appearances by all manner of spirit beings, he captivated an audience of people seeking answers. Unfortunately, these folks should have consulted their Bible first before they joined Smith in his nefarious journey into religious experimentation.

    Nearly 35 years after conservatives launched a takeover of the Southern Baptist Convention, a new divide is emerging — this time over the teachings of 16th-century Reformer John Calvin — that threatens to upend the nation’s largest Protestant denomination.

    When Southern Baptist delegates gather for their annual meeting Tuesday and Wednesday in Houston, they’ll be presented with a report, ”Truth, Trust and Testimony in a Time of Tension,” that focuses on the growing popularity of Calvinism among Southern Baptist pastors and seminaries.

    At stake are fundamental beliefs on who can be “saved,” the need for evangelism and whether Baptists will retread familiar battlefields on the proper roles of men and women.

    Calvinism, which traditionally is the domain of Reformed churches like Presbyterians, differs from traditional Baptist theology in key aspects, particularly on the question of salvation. The report concludes that those aspects, while important, should not divide Baptists.
    This Religious News Service piece is popping up in several places. It includes lot of theological terms with very specific meanings in this debate (predestination, election) but is light on definitions. This is especially frustrating when the entire debate hinges on these definitions, but we don’t hear anything where each side falls other than a quick “Calvinists believe in predestination”. The debate really hinges on Unconditional Election, Limited Atonement, and Irresistible Grace.

    For an example of the confusion this reporting causes, this fragment from the RNS article “Eighty percent of SBC pastors disagreed with the idea that only the elect will be saved” is loaded with ambiguity. I haven’t seen the original LifeWay poll to know who was surveyed or the types of questions asked, but does that response mean this 80% of SBC pastors think that non-elect will be saved? That elect will not be saved? That there’s no such thing as election? What would that even mean?

    It also conflates Reformed theology in the SBC with gender roles, specifically around female clergy. And to speak to this issue, they interview a *former* Southern Baptist!

    This one from AP is a little better (although the sides are lined up as “Calvinists” and “non-Calvinists”). There’s a bit of interesting speculation as to why this debate is happening now, but no real evidence.

  20. falcon says:

    My point is that the LDS sect of Mormonism would have to give up way too much in order to come into line with orthodox Christianity. There’s just too much built in institutional resistance. It’s not like when the Catholic church switched from saying the mass in Latin. It’s way bigger than that. What I would guess is going to happen is that there will be a whole lot more social Mormons and nominal members. Think about it. Who would want to do all of the stuff that needs to be done in order to be a full blown temple Mormon? Not many. At the most, they may get the nominal social Mormons to keep their temple recommend for family purposes.
    Anyone who becomes born again by recognizing the God revealed in the Bible and his plan of salvation through His Son Jesus Christ, is not going to remain a member of the LDS church.
    It can’t be done.

  21. Mike R says:

    Falcon,
    There’s always something like this that will happen to get people’s eyes off of the simple gospel .
    There are denominations that are fighting over “gay” lifestyles /marriage , or fighting over any
    number of things these days . Then we have some highly visable Seminary professor like Mouw
    doing what amounts to P.R. work for the Mormon church , and the controversy that this has
    produced . What’s next ?
    Although I can’t fault the reason why some Christian denominations created Seminaries to
    begin with , perhaps it’s time for denominations to end . One thing is for sure , the Mormon
    church is not the answer .

  22. MistakenTestimony says:

    They will never be accepted by Christians so long as they actively tear families apart. They claim that they are all about families being together forever but they actually separate families for time and eternity. A Christian family is together forever, but with a Mormon family ALL members must perform the same level of works to be together forever. I personally have never met one Mormon family that has all nuclear members worthy of a temple recommend. They will never be considered as Christians so long as they regard worthiness as what you eat and drink. They will never be considered Christians so long as they regard worthiness as a flat tax payed to their organization that burdens the poorest. They will never be considered Christians so long as they regard worthiness as what you wear. But they are not now nor have they ever been concerned with being Brothers with us, they are only concerned with superficial agreement with Christianity. That is their Trojan horse, that is their tool, and this is their objective.

  23. falcon says:

    I would agree with the Trojan Horse characterization.
    One of the things I noticed way back when, when I first started studying Mormonism was the blatant dishonesty of the LDS church. The dishonesty certainly hasn’t subsided because Mormonism depends on deception both by omission and commission.
    By and large the LDS church doesn’t want people to know what they actually believe, what their leaders have taught over the years and the embarrassing details about Joseph Smith.
    Former Mormons have posted here, most recently Kate, about what they didn’t know and what a shock it was to make certain discoveries.
    I can’t think of anything that the LDS church would actually change. The last big thing was the ban on blacks in the priesthood. I guess they’ve changed one of the temple rituals to get rid of the throat slitting and bowel dissecting motions Smith lifted from the Free Masons. I guess they’ve also gotten rid of the Christian pastor being bought off by the devil in one of their little dramas in the temple. It’s kind of funny don’t you think? I wonder what the original apostles back in the first century would have thought about these folks changing these things.
    Really?

  24. Mike R says:

    I also noticed the way the Mormon hierarchy treated their followers , from not trusting them
    with knowing how much in finances they received as leaders , to not trusting them with
    providing full access to church historical archives . It’s only been because of the pressure
    from christian ministries , and some conscientious influencial Mormons in the last 20
    years that the leadership has opened up more access , but to my knowledge there is still not
    full disclosure .

    You said , ” I can’t think of anything that the LDS church would actually change .”
    Actually , they would change , or at least deny , most any long held teaching if it helps them
    to be accepted as another christian church . They’ve already exhibited this type behavior .
    The examples you cited ( Blacks receiving the Priesthood ; changing the gruesome temple
    ritual of mimicking having your throat slit and bowels ripped out for divulging your secret
    name , handshakes , etc , and then also portraying christian Pastors as hirelings of the Devil ) .
    Polygamy was said to be a restored essential ordinance in Jesus’ church by Mormon apostles.
    These latter days apostles have introduced ” restored gospel ” ordinances( temple) and then
    dumped them . From the beginning they have exhibited a unstable pattern as teachers
    —Eph 4:14 . Those in leadership today might be a little reluctant to change more significant
    teachings , being aware of the behavior of their predecessors as they are , but still most any
    doctrine is vulnerable , and with all the vacillation in teachings by their leaders the Mormon
    people submit to these men fearing God’s judgement for calling into question the guidance
    they give . That’s a sad scenario .
    The Mormon people can escape this atmosphere by dismissing their leaders as authorities in
    their lives . Jesus did not allow His gospel of salvation to become unavailable for 1700 years
    after the deaths of His apostles , so Jesus was not supervising the preaching of Mormon
    leaders since their appearance on the scene . Safety from men in the latter days , like those in
    the Mormon church , who come and attempt to mimic the claims of Jesus’ true apostles is
    available by anchoring beliefs about God / Jesus / and salvation in the teachings of the men
    who God did call , these are found in the Bible . It’s timeless teachings are the sure foundation
    we need in the midst of all those latter days prophets with their “restored ” gospels vying for
    our attention today . 1 Jn 4:1

  25. Old man says:

    “……..in the last 20 years that the leadership has opened up more access , but to my knowledge there is still not full disclosure .”

    Mike, to be honest I don’t believe there ever will be full disclosure about anything, to do that would mean financial suicide & when it comes down to brass tacks, isn’t that what the Corporation is all about, the acquiring of wealth? The LDS was founded on deception & no matter what changes are made it will never be a Christian organization until it acknowledges that it’s founder was a con man & that I’m afraid, simply isn’t going to happen.

    The Corporation seems to re-invent itself at least once every generation, the last major doctrinal shift being as you said, in 1978, so I imagine that some kind of change or changes can be expected soon. But, whatever those changes might be they will never be major enough to show the LDS for what it is, a deceptive authoritarian non-Christian business organization. Try as it may to appear Christian, it’s all on the surface & when one peels back the layers it’s seen to be as corrupt as it ever was.

    I believe it’s important to remember that the controlling influence behind the LDS & no, I don’t mean the latter day prophets, was clever enough to create the idea of continuing revelation (as opposed to a closed cannon) & once that belief became established it meant that the Corporation could say & do more or less anything it wished (apart from denouncing Smith) because that, in the minds of the members, is the way God works. I suppose, in a sense that should be proof enough that the LDS is non-Christian.

    There are always going to be people who think with their emotions & it is they who tend to keep the LDS in business, if that were not so the Corporation would have been consigned to the rubbish dump of history many years ago. All we as Christians can do is to keep plugging away on sites like this in the hope that ‘closet doubters’ will come here & react positively to what they read.

  26. falcon says:

    Old Man,
    And there it is, thinking with their emotions! That’s the hook. I’ve been to enough LDS sites in this country, taken enough tours to know that it’s all about creating an ambiance, an emotion and selling it as a spiritual experience. Given that, I wonder why the LDS church services are so boring………as I’ve been told having not personally experienced one. You’d think they’d be jacking the crowd up and doing some major emotional manipulation. I do understand that the Fast and Testimony meetings can get real emotive though. You know, shaky trembling voice, tears testifying how just wonderful the whole trip is.

    Oh, BTW I picked-up a copy of a recently written biography of the Beatles called “Tune In” by Mark Lewishon; the primer Beatles historian. It’s pushing to 800 pages but I’m really enjoying it. Being that you were there at the time, I think you’d really enjoy the read. I wish you were around here so I could ask you about the people, places and just the environment in your home country so soon after WWII. Let me say I’m learning something about the British educational system (did you pass any “O” or “A” levels ?) and also some new vocabulary for food, clothes and people. What in the world are jam butties, drainees, sidees, and Teddy Boys other wise known as “Teds”? I’ve figured most of it out but the housing, the welfare system etc. are totally foreign to me. Well I guess because they are foreign.
    The book is combining some of my main interests which are history, culture, music, and the “how did they get there” aspect of the Beatles development.

  27. Mike R says:

    Old Man ,

    The Mormon people will see the actual truth about their leaders if one of their 12 apostles or
    First Presidency accepts the truth about Jesus and turns to Him for salvation and walks away
    from Mormonism then enlightens everyone about the church and it’s hierarchy . Aside from
    something of that magnitude happening no one will really know any inside information or what
    historical documents are in the First Presidencies private vault etc .
    The Mormon people deserve to know .
    We’ll keep praying for this to happen .

  28. Old man says:

    Mike,

    I certainly agree with what you say & one can only hope & pray that such an event occurs, I’ve heard rumours of the possibility of something like that happening but it’s hard to sort the wheat from the chaff. My instincts tell me no because, as I understand the set up, there is a lot of money involved & in the LDS money talks.
    I can’t help but wonder at times if there is something akin to the Sicilian Mafia at work in the upper echelons of the Corporation where people dare not speak out for fear of incriminating themselves.
    It’s one thing for a man to say, “I was wrong in what I believed” quite another to say, “ I helped the LDS commit fraud” The strength needed to do that could only, in my opinion come through divine intervention.

    Falcon

    I’m happy to see that you’re interested in my country but I have to be honest & say that due to the various political parties being more interested in vote catching than in the country as an entity it’s no longer the place I grew up in. Best not to get too much into that though.
    I’ll try to help you with a few of your queries, yes, I gathered a nice collection of ‘O’ levels but due to family problems no ‘A’ levels, which meant no university education for yours truly.
    Let’s have a quick peek at the vocabulary of the times, Jam Butties, a local Liverpudlian name for Jam (Jello?) sandwiches made popular by the Beatles who as you know hailed from Liverpool. Drainees presumably are the same as ‘drainpipes’ no not the kind that are found on houses, rather skin-tight jeans. Sidees, another name for sideburns or sideboards as we called them in the West Country. Teds or Teddy boys, I’m not sure how to describe them, I missed being one by a few years as they were a mid-fifties phenomena but basically it was someone who wore drainpipes & long ‘drape’ coats. The ensemble was completed with string ties & ‘brothel creeper’ shoes. (Suede shoes with soft soles about an inch thick.) Sidees, the longer the better, were of course compulsory for the ‘with it’ teddy boy.

    The welfare & housing system is best left for another time as it can get quite complicated but I’ll briefly tell you a couple of things about the welfare system. (My pet grouses) It was introduced shortly after the war & was probably the best thing that any Government could have done for working people.
    Needless to say it has been so abused since that time (for the sake of garnering votes) that it has become a sick joke over here, many people who simply refuse to work get free social housing, free holidays once a year free even free cars if they’re accomplished enough at lying & swinging the lead. Many of them, especially young women/girls simply become baby factories for the sake of a free lifetime ride & in many cases they can’t even name the fathers of their children Most get far more money as single mothers than I ever earned as a hard working father. Ah well, that’s enough moaning for today.

    Ps, I don’t know how many of the Beatles records you have, perhaps you have all of them but hidden deep in the recesses of my 5 computers I have copies of every record they ever made, including white label ones. Maybe one day I’ll get around to sorting them out & if I do perhaps a way could be found to get some of them to you. Should you want them of course?

    As this is a rather long post it will probably, like most of my comments, end up in mod jail for a while so I hope the topic isn’t closed by the time you get it. ;-)

  29. falcon says:

    I think Old Man is right to bring up the issue of $$$$$ and to rightly call the LDS church a corporation.
    And so perhaps if they start losing tithe paying members in large numbers, this may drive some changes. Let’s face it, there’s a limited set of people who would get into being “temple” Mormons. Also consider that two-thirds of those on the rolls of the church are inactive.
    So where will they go to get new members? The foreign countries might be a good place to recruit since there’s no internet. But would these foreign country campaigns be a drain on the coffers especially in third world countries?

    Old Man,
    I was a 17 year old high school junior when the Beatles hit the states on the Ed Sullivan show. I have old LPs. I like the early phase. I have “Meet the Beatles”, “Something New”, “Revolver” and “Rubber Soul”.

  30. falcon says:

    The basic challenge for the LDS church has been to hide their style of Mormonism from the general public but in particular, possible recruits. Actually part of the challenge has also been to hide Mormonism from its own members. The reason, I think, that those who leave do leave is because they felt that they had been lied to as the religion has been misrepresented to them; despite the fact that many have been life long members. So, in-other-words, “the church” is not what its members thought it really is.
    It appears that Dr. Mouw is quite deficient in his knowledge or possibly finds it more convenient to over-look what is obvious in Mormon history, doctrine and practice. And here’s the thing, Mormons who post here are constantly telling us that we’re getting it all wrong about Mormonism. We are, in their view, mis-representing or mis-interpreting what their prophets, apostles and other leaders have said and taught. It’s pretty hard to not understand, for example, what Brigham Young taught in his Adam-god doctrine. Because even latter day Mormons couldn’t accept it, it gets the “opinion” or “folk doctrine” label.
    My point is, if people knew up-front what Mormonism is all about they wouldn’t join.

  31. falcon says:

    I’ve never had “the lessons” and as an educator, I’m always interested in the goals and objectives in a lesson plan. So what are there, something like seven lessons? Is the objective of the first lesson to get someone into the baptismal tank as soon as possible? From a brochure that Mike R. sent me I can see where the main goal is to get the prospect feeling something and then to equate that with the Holy Spirit.
    I would guess that like all good sales presentations, the missionaries have a list of the usual objections the prospect might have and how to answer them. For example, if the prospect is savy enough to say, “Well isn’t this another gospel?” The missionary would reply, “No”. That would be it. The missionaries are also taught a good deflecting technique of, “Answer the question the prospect should have asked rather than the one they did ask.”
    Here’s something from MRM that I think is very good. It’s titled, “Ten Lies I Told as a Mormon Missionary”.
    Here’s a sample:

    8. People Can Become Gods

    Given its explosive nature, this tenet was rarely shared with prospective converts. Missionaries try to entice people into Mormonism gradually, and presenting the doctrine of plural gods is seldom the best way. Several contacts learned the concept from their pastors or read about it on their own, but it was new to most prospects.

    “Our Father in heaven loves us so much,” I often said, parroting our lesson script, “that He provided a plan [Mormonism] for us to become like him.” I didn’t mention that Mormon godhood includes spirit procreation throughout eternity. Neither did I hint that the Mormon God was formerly a mortal man, had lived on an earth like ours, and had earned salvation through good works. However, such polytheism strips God of glory and sovereignty. No wonder the Bible condemns it so strongly. When discussing plural gods on my mission, I sidestepped Isaiah 44:8 whenever possible. “Is there a God beside me?” the passage reads. “Yea, there is no God; I know not any.” Other verses amply testify that only one God exists in the universe (Deuteronomy 4:35, 39; 6:4; Isaiah 43:10-11; 45:21-23).

    When confronted with these scriptures as a missionary, I usually countered with, “Those verses mean we worship only one God, that there’s only one God to us.” And if that failed, I lied further: “The Bible isn’t clear on this subject. Fortunately, the Lord told Joseph Smith that mortals can become gods.” Smith might have had a revelation, but not from God.

    http://www.mrm.org/ten-lies

    I doubt if Dr Mouw is familiar with the flim flam game that is played by Mormon missionaries and that they are indeed presenting a pathway to spiritual destruction through the preaching of a different gospel.

  32. falcon says:

    Speaking of flim-flam check out this account of someone who served a mission back in the late 1970s. It’s quite instructive when looking at a historical perspective of LDS practices in recruiting members.

    The account (edited) by me for highlighting and emphasis:

    In the fall of 1977, I was called to a mission on the Navajo reservation. My best friend received his call at about the same time. We went to Provo together to go through the temple. I was shocked. Nothing had prepared me for the endowment ceremony. This was in the bad old days before the blood oaths were removed. Did my eternal salvation really hinge on knowing some secret handshakes and phrases? Did my church really believe that all other churches were of the devil? I had lots of questions and doubts, but since we were instructed never to discuss the ceremony outside of the temple, I never voiced them. I just clung to the belief that God must know what he is doing, and trusted him.

    I spent several weeks in the Language Training Mission studying Navajo. During this time, I struggled with my testimony. I wanted desperately to believe, but found that my doubts crowded in time and time again. Just when I felt I had taken a step forward, I slid two steps back.

    Being a missionary to the Navajos was often discouraging to me. They treated us politely, would invite us in, would listen to our lessons, and would send us on our way. Even when someone agreed to be baptized, they seemed to drift away into inactivity in a short while. Our records were full of inactive Navajo members. We baptized a few young children and one of my companion’s parents. But the conditions on the reservation were very depressing, and I constantly struggled with the question of whether we were doing any good for the people.

    In my second area, we lived in a small apartment in the back of a laundromat behind a trading post. The trading post was run by church members, who were very kind to and supporting of the missionaries. They also had a copy of the documentary history of the church, which they lent to me. I started reading it during my scripture study time. I made it through the first five volumes. The more I read, the more problems I found with the church. I began to realize that the church of which I was a member bore little resemblance to the organization founded by Joseph Smith.

    As winter turned to spring, our efforts turned to “placement baptisms.” At that time, the placement program was the LDS church’s major effort to bring Lamanites (the LDS term for Native Americans) into the church. Children were taken from the reservation into LDS family homes throughout the country to attend school. Many Navajo parents wanted their children to participate as a means of getting them away from reservation and into what they perceived to be a better environment. There was one catch……to participate, you had to be a church member. So, every spring, lots of children would be baptized so that they could participate in the program. We were told that the previous year there had been 900 placement baptisms. The mission was very gung ho with this program, but there was little discussion of the impact of separating children from their families and their cultural heritage for three fourths of every year.

    The more I read from the church history, the worse I felt. The more I studied, thought and prayed, the more problems I found with the church and what it claimed to be. I started compiling a list of problems. It became harder and harder for me to go out and teach. When I got to the part of a lesson where I had to bear my testimony (even memorized in Navajo), my stomach would tighten into a knot. I became physically ill and couldn’t go out to teach.

    Finally, I realized that I couldn’t do it anymore — tell people that I knew the church was true when I had such serious doubts. I felt like I was in a fog, and I didn’t know what to do.

    http://www.exmormon.org/whylft52.htm

    Well this missionary decided what to do. He left! Good move.

  33. Mike R says:

    Falcon,

    That Mormon missionary you referenced said that the more he looked into Mormonism
    the more problems he found with what the church claimed to be .
    That’s the whole point with the Mormon church i.e. what it claims to be .
    If it was some civic organization that helped people to live a moral lifestyle that benefits the rest
    of society then we would’nt be on here and MRM would not be necessary .
    But the claims of Mormonism go way beyond this .

    Mormon leaders have taught that the Mormon church is the one true church of Jesus Christ
    restored to the earth in exactly the same form as it existed when Jesus established it 2000
    years ago . A correct view of of God /Jesus have also been supposedly restored as well by the
    apostles of the Mormon church . Only by submitting to the ordinances of the Mormon church
    can a person attain a right relationship with God .
    Those are the claims . They are serious and must be evaluated in the light of warnings like
    those Jesus’ original apostles counseled their flock —1 Jn 4:1 — lest imitation apostles or
    prophets fool people into embracing false doctrines . Therefore this is a legitimate way
    people can avail themselves of today to also be safe spiritually .

  34. falcon says:

    Mike,

    Vince Lombardi, the legendary coach of the Green Bay Packers said, “Football is a simple game. It’s blocking and tackling.” In echoing Vince Lombardi’s sentiment applied to his own life’s mission, the apostle Paul said, “For I purposed to know nothing among you except Christ and Him crucified.”
    I’m not sure that the apostle Paul knew who Vince Lombardi was although they were both Catholics.

    I listened to one of the head honchos of the Mormon missionary training program tell the trainees that is all goes back to that little grove of trees. What he was referencing was Joseph Smith’s account (one of at least eight) where he claimed to have a visionary experience.

    As Christians, we take people back to the cross of Christ. Because, contrary to what the LDS church teaches, that’s the place that Jesus atoned for our sins. It’s not real complicated. Mormons need to know exactly who God is and what His plan of salvation entails. It’s Christianity 101. It’s blocking and tackling.
    Jesus is not the spirit off-spring of a father-mother god who use to be human but are now some sort of divine creatures. Jesus is not just one of many gods populating the universe. Jesus is God incarnate. He is the qualified Savior. It’s important to get that right. It’s foundational. Without having that clear picture, nothing else really matters.

  35. johnnyboy says:

    I wish I could post pictures on here! I actually played at the Beatles cavern club a few years ago while on tour in England. It was quite the experience.

    As far as the morg, isn’t Tom Phillips scheduled to release info on the church very soon? Everyone here should go check out the AMA he did on reddit last week. It was very informative about the church leadership and how they act and work behind the scenes to convince members they have “seen” Christ. They are instructed to completely lie about it. Anyhoo, hopefully the info that Tom is about to release will be as big as he says it is.

  36. Old man says:

    johnnyboy
    Tom has been working extremely hard on a matter that has the potential to be extremely damaging to the LDS. Although I’m not sure if it’s him or the people he’s been working with who will actually be releasing whatever it might be.

    I don’t know if you’re aware of this but Tom has been harassed & threatened for months over it & has continued to plug away regardless.

    I will of course let you know if I hear anything more. :-)

  37. Clyde6070 says:

    What is interesting is that the very basic things are what we have in common. 1. There is a God. 2. We are separated from him. 3. Jesus is our way back to Him. The other stuff is how we see God and Jesus Whom He has sent.

  38. johnnyboy says:

    @clyde

    1. there are plenty of religions (most non christian) that believe in a god.
    2. The same can be said of being separated from him.
    3. Jesus is only partly useful in mormonism in getting back to god, unless you get the 2nd anointing… then you don’t need jesus.

    So not much in common it looks like.

  39. Clyde6070 says:

    I am trying to point out the simplest thing. You seem to want to make a huge thing out of it. Even with a non-christian religion It is nice to establish some common ground in there belief in God.
    I believe there is a God, do you? I believe we are separated from Him, Do you? I believe Jesus is our way back to Him, Do you?

  40. johnsepistle says:

    Latter-day Saints like Clyde often like to point to some extremely basic, ground-level aspects of LDS teaching that, superficially at least, would seem to warrant their inclusion among Christian groups. (Clyde hasn’t made that precise argument here so far, so let’s be fair to that; but, on the other hand, Clyde also hasn’t said anything about what he imagines we’re to do with the similarities he points out.) I don’t want to minimize similarities, just as I don’t want to minimize differences. The similarities are precisely what gives the differences their meaning and significance.

    However, there is a crucial question for Latter-day Saints to wrestle with here. Simply put: The similarities you cite between your system and biblical Christianity, would also have been supported by the Judiazers and other groups whom Paul routinely excoriated; and so, in light of that, why should Christians not, at best, regard Latter-day Saints as Paul regarded the Judaizers and the so-called ‘super-apostles’? If the Judaizers or ‘super-apostles’ could have invoked the very same set of similarities between their beliefs and Paul’s beliefs, then clearly (even though they are necessary) they are not sufficient, in and of themselves, to avoid being “false brethren”. And it is precisely to recognize the distinction between “true brethren” and “false brethren” that Christians deny the title ‘Christian’ to heretical groups.

    Common ground is good. Common ground is valuable. Common ground should never be understated – or overstated. But a great deal of the value of common ground comes from its employment as a place to come together to seriously, intelligently, reasonably engage our differences.

  41. Clyde6070 says:

    We might be zoominig past each other if I mention that Paul Had Barnabas circumsized even though Paul was against the practice. There are other thing that I am overlooking in mentioning this. This seems to be like a Puzzle which I don’t have all the pieces.

  42. johnsepistle says:

    If Clyde’s comment is more or less directed at me (it isn’t easy to tell), probably the first thing to point out is that Paul never had Barnabas circumcised; that was actually Timothy (Acts 16:3), who was a half-Jewish believer who had not been circumcised at birth and who needed to undergo it if he was to successfully reach out to Jews. (Barnabas was a full-blooded Levite from Cyprus – see Acts 4:36 – and so would have been circumcised as a newborn infant.) This was very different from the teaching of the Judaizers, who urged circumcision on all believers, Jewish and non-Jewish alike, as a requirement for salvation. For this error, Paul clearly did not regard them as fellows in the faith: they perverted theology. (If Clyde is attempting to insinuate that Paul’s circumcision of Timothy meant that he looked favorably upon the Judaizers, then I submit that Clyde is in dire need of reading a fascinating letter written to the Galatians. Clyde’s statement is too muddled, however, to clearly and reliably identify what he is or is not attempting to insinuate.) Hence, any Latter-day Saint who wants to make a sound case for Mormonism being accepted as Christian on the basis of similarities with commonplace Christian teachings, must make a clear case that could not also be made in favor of the Judaizers.

  43. falcon says:

    johnnyboy,

    OK, now you can’t leave me hanging here!
    I need to know more about what you said regarding playing at the Cavern. What’s that about?

    ……..and who is Tom Phillips? What’s that about?

    clyde,
    Yea, it really is just a small trivial matter as to who God is. How can we be so picky? It really doesn’t matter who people think God is as long as they believe in something and are, by and large, decent and moral.
    Man, I can see how and why you’re trapped in Mormonism. Your naivety knows no bounds!

  44. johnnyboy says:

    @falcon

    I used to be a moderately successful pop musician from 2005-08. I toured England and the US a few times. I actually have played the cavern twice and I was featured on bbc radio. It was fun. Took a break for a few years to have kids. I am just now starting up new music again, but playing music full time barely pays the bills, even for successful artists. At least now that I’m put of the morg, I’ll have more time to focus on things that matter.

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