I have a great friend who is LDS. I love him and his family. I have shared the gospel with him, but I have not shared much of what I know about his faith because I’m really afraid of what it will do to our friendship, and I know that it may crush him if he knows how I truly feel about his religion. He is a lifelong “temple worthy” Mormon and he will lose so much if he denies his faith, but his eternal soul [also] if does not accept Jesus. I know how selfish this is. Any suggestions on how to break into the conversation?
In that kind of situation I think the best thing you can do is start asking simple questions. “What do you believe about the afterlife?” “What do you believe about the nature of God?” “What do you believe about sin and salvation?” “Do you believe your sins are forgiven?” “Do you have an assurance of eternal life?” This normally opens up all kinds of subjects in a conversation. Then you can start asking tougher questions like, “I’ve read that Mormonism teaches that God was once a man. Is that correct? Do you believe that?” “I’ve read that Mormonism teaches you can become a god? Do you believe that?” “What do you think about the Book of Abraham? I saw a video online about how it was disproved. Can you help me understand what they’re saying? What do you think about what they said?” “Was Joseph Smith a polygamist? How many wives did he have?”
To avoid hedging and ambiguity, you’ll want to make sure that you have accessible material that you can specifically point to, especially but not limited to material that quotes recent Mormon leaders. Just simply point to it and ask more questions of your neighbor. There are all kinds of questions. Some you will ask out of curiosity, others to probe the heart, and yet others that are lawyer-like to draw out an answer and help your friend say certain things out loud. Some people who haven’t thought through issues really need to openly say what they believe in explicit terms to start a process of introspection and self-examination.
And of course you should be opening your Bible. Go to a specific passage like Isaiah 43:10, Ephesians 2:8-9, Titus 3:5, or 1 John 5:13 and ask your friend to read it out loud. Then ask him, “What do you think this means?”
As either Keith Walker or his wife Becky once said, “Questions are like hooks.” They draw someone in and put the focus on their answers. In an especially sensitive context, they can make a person feel less threatened than they would by direct challenges or accusations. They give a person an opportunity to promote their own religion and then interact with yours. If you ask a Mormon enough questions about his faith, it is usually inevitable that he or she will reciprocate with questions to you about yours.
I really like asking, “What do you think the definition of idolatry is?” Make sure you ask enough questions to help your friend explain idolatry that goes beyond the oversimplistic definition of “a physical statue”. Help them see and say that idolatry is having a false view of God. A good follow-up is, “With that definition, would you consider the Trinity an idol? Do you think I am an idolater?” My dialog partner usually asks in return, “What do you think the definition of idolatry is? Do you think I am an idolater?” With a sad and serious demeanor I will answer, “Unfortunately, yes. The Psalmist says, ‘from everlasting to everlasting you are God’ (Psalm 90:2), and any other view of God dishonors him for who he truly is.”
I don’t think this is necessarily the only right way to witness in your situation, but if it was me, that is what I would do. Now go do some fishing! Don’t forget your tackle box replete with hooks.
Grace and peace in Christ, who justifies the ungodly by faith apart from works (Romans 4:4-8),