An interesting post appeared on the LDS & Evangelical Conversations blog last week. Eric, raised Evangelical but converted to Mormonism a dozen years ago, wrote “What Mormons Should Know About Evangelicals.”
For the most part, Eric’s comments are very helpful. He addresses many basic areas where Mormons misunderstand Evangelicals and the way Christian churches operate. The focus of Eric’s post is non-doctrinal, though he does touch on doctrinal issues. Eric writes about things like diversity within Evangelical worship, misconceptions over paid clergy, and reverence in prayer. Doctrinally, he writes that Evangelicals have a testimony of Jesus, have a significant part of the Gospel, and believe good works are important.
In his conclusion Eric writes,
“I have no desire here to ignore or downplay the differences between Evangelical Christians and LDS Christians; they are real, and they are substantial. But we also share a love for Jesus Christ and a gratitude for the Heavenly Father sending his Son to Earth to set an example for us and to die for us. We have much we can learn from each other, but we can do that only if we make efforts to understand each other and to see each other not as people to demonize but as children of our Heavenly Father and who are sincerely, even though possibly mistaken, trying to heed the teachings of Jesus Christ.” (emphasis his)
I appreciate Eric’s contribution toward greater understanding between Mormons and Evangelicals. I whole-heartedly agree that we all need to make a determined effort to that end. Yet, overlooking the fact that Mormons and Evangelical Christians worship a different God while at the same time appealing to our “shared” love for what are actually disparate Christs, is not helpful in the long run. At least not for Evangelicals.
Evangelical Christians seek to understand Mormons (spiritually speaking) for the ultimate purpose of evangelism. We hope to be used by God to speak His truth to Mormons in order that, in the words of 2 Timothy 2:25-26, “God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.”
Therefore, Evangelicals cannot give a nod to the fact that Mormonism is substantially different from Evangelical Christianity and then find some sort of solace in the fact that Mormons love a false god–even if this false god goes by the same name as the one true God.
As I said earlier, I appreciate Eric’s post at LDS & Evangelical Conversations. It is helpful as far as it goes, up to his conclusion. But for Evangelicals, peace with God is the goal. And this peace is available only through the authentic Christ:
Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. (Romans 5:1-2)
Christian theologian R.C. Sproul wrote,
“We’re living in time where theological conflict is considered politically incorrect, but to declare peace when there is no peace is to betray the heart and soul of the gospel.”
As much as we may share with Mormons in terminology and outward appearance, the “real and substantial” differences between us totally eclipse any misperceived spiritual union whatsoever. Yes, we can and should be friends; we can and should work toward understanding one another better. But we cannot and must not pretend that Mormonism and Evangelical Christianity share even the most rudimentary spiritual truths. To do so is to betray the very heart and soul of the Gospel.
Comments within the parameters of 1 Peter 3:15 are invited.