Mormon Missionaries Do Not Teach the Gospel

The Mormon-themed Meridian Magazine posted an article last week titled, “Baptized Too Soon?” In it, author Joni Hilton confessed her proclivity toward blaming the missionaries when new Mormon converts fall away, wondering if

“…the missionaries were too hasty, and scheduled a baptism before the investigator really understood the gospel. Do they even have a testimony of Joseph Smith? Have they actually prayed about whether the Book of Mormon is true? Do they know what they’re committing to?” (Emphasis in the original.)

mormon-baptismBut upon further reflection, Mrs. Hilton noted that, “Nobody comes out of the waters of baptism a complete gospel scholar—everyone will continue to learn and add to their testimony.” Mrs. Hilton decided she needed to repent of her poor judgment in questioning the missionaries’ techniques.

Leading to her change of heart were a couple of statements from LDS leaders. One was this from Howard W. Hunter, the 14th President of the Mormon Church:

“Missionaries don’t teach the gospel; they cry repentance and instill in the people enough faith to have the desire to be baptized. At that moment, they are turned over to Christ, then, the Church teaches them. There are not many in the Church that understand this. They think that the missionaries haven’t spent enough time and haven’t taught them the gospel. Now, the missionaries aren’t to do that! We have six discussions. We take them that far, and that does not cover all the gospel, but then the Church spends the rest of this person’s life teaching them the gospel. We do the same thing with our eight-year-old children. No one in this Church should ever be heard to say, ‘The missionaries baptized this person before they were ready!’” (Quoted in the Meridian Magazine article without a source attribution. Bold in the original.)

The other statement was from an LDS apostle:

“The stressing of the Gospel lessons right at first, before the purpose and intent of the missionaries’ presence, can lead to confusion. Their initial reaction is the result of the Spirit testifying to them and where this is manifest baptism should be accomplished as quickly as possible, otherwise the Holy Ghost will leave them. Let me reiterate this: If you have people who receive the spirit but you don’t baptize them, they will lose the spirit. This is why you should baptize them as quickly as possible.” (Apostle Alvin R. Dyer, “The Challenging and Testifying Missionary.” Mrs. Hilton’s quote is somewhat different from the text I found in the complete talk posted online. I have here quoted from the complete transcript rather than as quoted by Joni Hilton.)

WatchFaceThus, Mormon missionaries are not supposed to spend time teaching investigators the gospel. Rather, missionaries must strike while the iron is hot — get investigators baptized as soon as they indicate that they think the missionaries are servants of God (as explained in Elder Dyer’s talk). Converts don’t need to know the doctrinal content of the Restored Gospel or the unique doctrines of the Mormon Church. They don’t need to know the God Mormonism serves or the (different) Jesus it proclaims. They need only be convinced that Mormonism – whatever it is – is probably true. They are to be quickly baptized (before they can think too much about it and “lose the Spirit”), and then spend the rest of their lives (as Mrs. Hilton suggested) filling in the blanks.

Please understand that Mormons believe these investigators are receiving a testimony of the Spirit that Mormonism is true, hence the acceleration to immediate baptism. But both the Old and New Testaments encourage a very different approach to a Mormon missionary challenge than that suggested by these LDS Authorities. God tells us in the book of Proverbs,

“It is a snare to say rashly, ‘It is holy,’ and to reflect only after making vows.” (Proverbs 20:25)

It is a snare – a trap. We avoid this trap when we take our cue from the ancient Bereans:

“The brothers immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived they went into the Jewish synagogue. Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.” (Acts 17:10-11)

This is important. God warns over and over again that we must be careful, discerning, questioning, watchful. Because “Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8)

I pray it will not be you.

Echoing the Apostle John I implore you,

“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.” (1 John 4:1)

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.
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17 Responses to Mormon Missionaries Do Not Teach the Gospel

  1. MJP says:

    Can someone explain to me how this system is not just a giant sales job?

  2. Mike R says:

    you’re right the Mormon gospel is a ” system ” , it’s a man made religious system of rules
    compliance to which enables a person to attain salvation . Thankfully , the true way to
    receive pardon and the gift of eternal life from God is nothing like this .

    Mrs Hilton was frustrated why new converts were leaving ? That’s understandable given that
    so many Mormons have become disillusioned in the last several years largely because they
    found out things about Mormonism that the Missionaries are reluctant to tell them , or Mormon
    leaders should be more forthright about . This is something that Mormonism has been famous
    for , and while it has gotten a little better ( the newest attempt to answer some of these issues
    started late last year on the Church’s official web site ) still people talking with Mormon
    Missionaries need them to give answers to these issues and then compare their responses with
    what ministries like MRM offer in the way of information . People deserve to hear both sides.

  3. MJP says:

    Mike R, yup, it is a system, but what strikes me more and more about this system is the sales job and techniques that go into it. Its hardly what one would call a soft sales job– its a hard sell. This is but one example of that, but this certainly demonstrates its emphasis on getting people through the door. At the expense of this technique is a temperance for allowing the searcher to find truth and research its product more. There is no/little patience for such exercises.

    I certainly understand that Mormons will excuse this hard sell technique on the basis that what is being sold is truth, so it is bound to bother them less than it bothers me. But there’s an element within this paradigm that gets lost: the Spirit will not leave someone who believes in the truth. The truth is the truth, and followers of the truth ought not fear it being lost on someone who understands it or believes it. Thus, the rush to baptize someone quick out of fear of this person losing faith is rather ludicrous.

  4. grindael says:

    Didn’t Smith pen a “revelation” that went something like this…

    But, behold, I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind; THEN you must ask me if it be right

  5. MJP says:

    Grindael, we all know how much value that quote is worth…

    The answer is that it depends on when it is being used and who is using it.

  6. grindael says:

    Exactly MJP,

    But like with most other things, it contradicts what they are saying now.

  7. MJP says:

    Grindael– Ha. I can only reiterate what I said earlier: their response will depend on the circumstances. Its amazing to me how loose they are on holding leaders, even Smith, to comments. Its as if there are no standards at all, unless you count upholding the church’s image and mission up against negativity.

    Its pretty much, I think, all designed to foster positive feelings and confidence in the system. Truth is a secondary issue to upholding that image and those positive feelings. What’s worse, they may well respond that the church IS the truth to them, even when it is inconsistent. The leaders, by the way, ARE the church. They have to be. It is a necessary connection if the leaders have the authority of their god.

    Yet, they don’t hold them accountable. Whatever their justification, there is no consistency in what is upheld and what is tossed aside. Often, the same leaders and comments can be both upheld and tossed aside. It just really depends on the audience and the purpose of the conversation.

  8. falcon says:

    I think Mike pointed out on a thread sometime in the past that the purpose of the MM “lessons” is to get the prospect to feel something. It’s not what taught it’s what is felt about what is taught. Because the feeling is presented as confirmation from God. If a prospect buys that bill of goods, then they have been successfully trapped into the Mormon system.
    But what the LDS church has to do is “Mormonize” the convert as quickly as possible. If the feeling fades and the convert isn’t all that into the program, they drop out right away.

  9. Mike R says:

    I obtained two small booklet’s published by Utah Christian Tract Society many years ago in
    which the Mormon Missionary lessons and their proselyizing techniques were critiqued in
    ” A Systematic Program for Teaching the Gospel ” ( 1955) , and ” A Uniform System for
    Teaching Investigators ” ( 1961 ) , both published by the Mormon church .

    One of the booklets discussing these Mormon lessons was by Wesley Walters where he
    concludes about the techniques used by Mormon Missionaries :
    ” Largely through cleverly designed questions , they plant their concepts by feeding them
    into the questions they ask . They obtain commitments to important ideas by selling the
    prospect on minor ones . They seek constantly to promote an attitude of agreement and to
    stimulate desire , while reinforcing every point by a solemn testimony . THEY
    CONCENTRATE ON FEELING DEVELOPMENT , and the final sales closing is done by
    the same strong emotional pitch , using prayer cleverly cpoupled with the notion that no
    prayer is ‘ sincere ‘ that does not result in agreement with the Mormon position . With such slick salesmen at work throughout the country , gathering in thousands of members a year ,
    people need to keep their communities informed lest they fall prey to the enticing words
    of man’s wisdom … ”
    [ caps mine ] .

  10. falcon says:

    The problem the LDS church has is making the conversions stick and stemming the flow of “veteran” members out of the sect. There’s really a limited “set” of people to whom the LDS version of Mormonism appeals. There best shot to maintain membership is with the home-grown bunch but even here it proves to be a challenge.
    Being in the LDS full-out temple program has limited appeal. It takes a lot of time, money, effort and commitment. Besides that the rituals themselves can be very disturbing to people who have been prepped to receive the greatest spiritual experience of their lives. Because of this the throat slashing and bowel dissecting portions of the ritual have been eliminated.
    So to get a prospect to feel something and be convinced to join the sect is in and of itself a challenge. To keep a convert coming back is even more (of a challenge).
    When people are introduced to things that were previously hidden from them it’s not only the double whammy of the surprise of multiply gods and men become gods (for example) but it’s also the feeling that they’ve been lied to by omission that can provoke anger.
    It’s tough to go back to a ” confirming feeling” once a person discovers that they’ve been conned.

  11. falcon says:

    Let’s face it, people pray to receive Christ as Savior or go forward in a meeting but it means little or nothing sometimes as far as their receiving salvation goes. I talked to a pastor one time who did some door knocking one time with a particular evangelism outreach and he told me they had “picked a lot of green fruit”. I thought that was an interesting way to put it.
    I’m surprised that a Mormon hasn’t shown up here to say something about/trying to apply the parable of the sower and the seed. Jesus was mindful that the sower sowed the Word but the Word fell on different kinds of ground.
    I would tell them that what the LDS church is “sowing” is not the Word of God. It’s a false gospel message that the LDS MM sower must by necessity, give an incomplete picture.
    In Christianity our presentation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is straight forward. It’s about the person recognizing that he/she is a sinner; lost without faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. There isn’t anything hidden.

  12. Mike R says:

    When Mormon leader Howard Hunter stated : ” Missionaries don’t teach the gospel ….”

    That particular statement is so odd , it’s hard to believe someone could say that .
    It makes it easy though to realize that what Mormons preach as their gospel , and what
    Jesus’ apostles preached in their missionary journeys are not the same gospel . Despite
    what Mormon leadership has claimed about their gospel being the ” restored gospel ” of Jesus,
    it is more accurate to say it is only a good imitation of the gospel of salvation preached by
    Jesus apostles , so instead of their gospel being restored , it has been replaced , replaced by
    an imitation . Thus the teachings that Mormon leaders have mixed onto the true gospel has
    produced a great example of what Paul warned would happen after he was gone — Gal 1:8 .

    From what I have read , the Mormon gospel means the message of Mormonism i.e the news
    of the “restoration of the gospel ” since it’s the truths received through that restoration
    are important for people to hear in order to know the truth about God or salvation etc.
    Some of those received ” gospel truths ” by Mormon prophets relayed to their flock are :
    God was not always God ; God the Father is a married human male with a Goddess wife( s) ;
    secret temple rituals are vital for salvation .

    Mormon leaders sought to advertise their church/ gospel in a way that linked it with the very
    one as that of Jesus’ apostles . That sales pitch would make it easier to people who cherished
    the Bible to accept it . So according to Mormon leaders , Jesus’ church was overcome and died
    off after His apostles were gone , and the true gospel was altered to the extent that salvation
    became unavailable for 1700 years until 1830 when a Mormon prophet appeared on the scene
    and allegedly restored it . Since then ( 1830 ) anyone who wishes to be in compliance with
    God’s will for mankind for salvation must accept the Mormon gospel .

    But despite their salesmanship Mormon Missionaries have only exhibited their truth identity —
    they merely serve those type of prophets Jesus said would come in the latter days and attempt
    to offer His gospel but which would be a imitation of the real one , the one preached by His apostles long ago and which has survived the centuries making the salvation message always
    available for anyone who hears or reads the words of those apostles ( Jn 20: 30,31 ) .

  13. falcon says:

    The restored gospel is, “Join the LDS church”.
    When we as Christians preach the gospel it is 1) mankind is separated from a Holy God by sin 2)God’s Gift to mankind is salvation through the blood atonement of Jesus on the cross 3) this free gift is received by faith.
    Notice anything in the NT about joining a church?
    But the LDS sect advertises their false gospel as being accessed only through their religious organization which they say is the “one true church”. Jesus is not the focal point of this organization. Jesus is just one of many gods who was assigned a special mission. This mission could have been fulfilled by any of the Mormon god’s spirit off spring.
    This is nuts and it’s a trap.

  14. Mike R says:

    Mormonism has produced their own version of the gospel of salvation —Rom 1:16 .
    It comes 1700 years after Jesus’ apostles preached the truth necessary to know in how to be
    forgiven , and reconciled to God and receive the gift of eternal life — it’s all about Jesus .
    It’s summed up succinctly in Rom 3:23; 5:8, 10 ; 6:23 ; 10:9-13 . Simple and direct , and it stands
    in sharp contrast to the system of rules/laws that Mormon prophets have constructed and
    piled onto it .

    You’re right about ” joining the church ” . Mormons seem to put a over emphasis on the
    church especially in their testimonies . Mormon missionaries proselytize to get people to
    join their church because that is necessary for salvation , all other churches constitute part
    of the church of the Devil in these days , and those christians in them have no right relationship
    with Jesus as they have not ” come unto Christ ” , i.e. they hav’nt joined the Mormon church!

    ” We must come unto Christ by belonging to his church . Only in the Church of Jesus Christ
    of Latter Day can we find all the truths that we need to prepare ourselves to return to our
    Father in Heaven …. Only by joining Christ’s church can we show that we accept Him and
    want to be saved and return to our Father in Heaven .”
    [ Uniform System for Teaching the Gospel 1985 , Discussion three , principle # 4 ] .

    Joining a religious organization is not a way to receive salvation , it’s by faith in Jesus alone —
    a complete reliance on Him , because of who He is ( Jn 8:58 ) .
    With Mormonism’s mangling of the simple gospel of salvation as recorded in the N.T. through
    the addition of rules , policies , laws , which define it’s gospel, it is no surprise to see the
    following statement by a Mormon leader :
    ” This church….is the way , the truth, and the life . ” [ Marion Romney Conf. report 4-1961 ;
    Book of Mormon Student Manual 121,122 p. 26 ] .

    Mormons need to get out of their “church ” and into Jesus alone . A personal relationship with
    Him is available for those who understand what He meant by ” Come unto Me … ” and
    do just that . For salvation , the gospel Jesus’ apostles preached was all about a person — Jesus
    as the answer for sinners . Jn 14:6 .
    Mormon leaders , in an effort to convince people that Mormonism and the gospel of Jesus
    Christ can be considered synonymous , have gone to some subtle ways to drive this point
    home . One example is how they used Paul’s statement in Rom 1:16 . In that verse
    ” gospel of Christ ” , was replaced with ” Mormonism ” :

    ” I desire to say that ‘ Mormonism ‘ as it is called , is still as always , nothing more than
    nothing less than the power of God unto salvation , unto every soul that will receive it
    honestly and will obey it . ” [ Joseph F. Smith , Conf. report April 1910 , p. 5 , as quoted
    in ” God’s Prophets Speak ” ( 1998 ) , p. 273 . ]

    The Mormon people can be free to experience the spiritual freedom that Jesus offers .
    The Mormon church may be a organization where good activities are done , but agreeing
    with the Mormon missionary lessons and joining it is not where salvation is found , and
    that is ultimately what anyone should be concerned with .

  15. falcon says:

    The main thing in LDS sect style Mormonism is the “system”. The system is even more important than the Mormon god. That is because even the Mormon god had to go through the system in order to become a god. There are literally millions of gods who have become (a god) via the system on some planet some place. The system is all part of “principles” of the universe that formed the system where by men can become gods.
    Does any of this sound like Christianity? Does any of it sound like what is presented in the Bible? BTW, does it even sound like anything appearing in the BoM?
    Jesus is the point of the Gospel presented via God’s Word. No religious system, can do it.

  16. falcon says:

    I wonder if the gospel lessons the MM teach inform the prospect that the LDS god is not the God revealed in the Bible? In-other-words are prospects informed of the most important fact; that the LDS church believes in a pantheon of gods while Christianity believes in One God? This, I believe, is the most serious sin or lie by omission of the MM presentation.
    Also, do the lessons include the fact that the LDS sect teaches that there are two levels of salvation? The second one is where the member must work themselves into a frenzy in order to become gods. Well if they aren’t told the truth about the LDS god, I’m sure this other point is withheld also.

  17. MJP says:

    Falcon, my father-in-law once had some MM’s over for a couple of visits. One of the things he demanded of them was that they be honest with any future discussions. The next discussion, when he asked how many gods they believed in, they answered just one. He reminded them of the promise to be honest, and they, after some prodding, finally admitted there were multiple gods in Mormonism.

    If this is representative of how they all present their religion, they do indeed know there are multiple gods and are slow to admit that is not necessarily true.

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