Chris Duckworth, a Lutheran pastor in Indiana, wasn’t happy when a 12-page advertising supplement arrived on his doorstep last week. The “Non-Mormon Temple Visitors Guide” was published by Tri-Grace Ministries and distributed to communities in preparation for the LDS Temple Open House event scheduled to begin on July 17th (2015).
On his blog, Reverend Duckworth posted a piece he titled “Mormon Bashing,” in which he argued that the Tri-Grace publication was a form of “public bullying” and “not beneficial” to the community. Dismissing theological issues while quoting 1 Corinthians 10:23, Rev. Duckworth wrote that he plans to attend the Mormon Temple Open House in an effort to (quoting Martin Luther) “come to their defense, speak well of them, and interpret everything they do in the best possible light” as well as to “stand with my friends and neighbors against the unfair attacks and slander.” He explained,
“Theological differences between the Mormon Church and the Lutheran Church are real. But so too is the unfair treatment our neighbors, friends, and fellow children of God of the Mormon Church receive to this day. My friends and neighbors don’t deserve to receive, on their doorstep, such a publication. I cannot remain silent. I have to speak out.”
Rev. Duckworth’s comments were praised by some, and challenged by others. Responding to one commenter that suggested he was moving toward conversion to Mormonism, Rev. Duckworth wrote,
“Nothing could be further from the truth. I am not in the process of conversion. I am simply saying that no group of fellow citizens and children of God deserve to have a 12-page screed ripping their religion delivered to their doorstep by a ‘newspaper’ that purports to serve the community and be a community asset.”
Rev. Duckworth repeated this concern several more times as he continued to respond to critics:
“All that I claim is that no group deserves to have a 12-page attack on their religion thrown on their lawn – and on the lawns of thousands of their neighbors. That is patently unfair and unChristian.”
“I have little interest either in defending or in disparaging the faith of my friends and neighbors. I simply believe they – or anyone – do not deserve to have a 12-page attack on their faith delivered to their doorstep by a newspaper purporting to serve our community.”
“I simply don’t believe that they – or any group of our neighbors, friends, fellow citizens – deserve to have a 12-page screed criticizing their faith thrown on their lawn wrapped in a garment that purports to be ‘news’ and a publication serving the community.”
As a Christian dedicated to evangelism, I found many things in Rev. Duckworth’s blog that troubled me, especially his repeated assertions centering on what he believes Mormons “deserve.” I responded, posting this comment:
“Chris, your argument is centered on what Mormons ‘deserve’ (or don’t deserve). Christians have some experience with the concept of getting what we deserve. From God’s perspective we are all sinners and deserve eternal punishment and separation from God. But God, in His mercy, has confronted our sin and offered us the gift of reconciliation and eternal life in Him. This we do not deserve; this is God’s grace. Mormons (like all of us) need God’s grace. They need to have their sin (including the idolatry of Mormonism) confronted. You say they do not deserve to have this confrontation delivered to their doorstep. On the contrary, Tri-Grace Ministries is a vehicle of God’s grace for the Mormon people, as well as for people who are unaware of the doctrines of Mormonism who are at risk of being deceived by the public relations presentation they will hear at the temple open house. Don’t these people ‘deserve’ God’s grace? Well, actually, no, they don’t. But our great God is merciful, and He calls His people to speak the truth in love. None of us deserve God’s grace, but neither do Mormons ‘deserve’ to have God’s gracious truth withheld from them in an effort to protect their feelings. May God move in a mighty way among the Mormon people of Indiana, and may He continue to use the Christians of Tri-Grace Ministries as His ambassadors of true and lasting peace.”
Christians, please join me in praying for the Christian outreach at the Indianapolis Indiana Temple. May God, in His mercy, rescue the perishing.