For many Mormons, bearing their testimony is deeply personal, so be sensitive as you raise challenges. At the same time, be courageous because you must be honest with your Mormon friend. Present the truth with grace as you offer the following responses. RESPONSE #1: Show they never use this method of knowing for any other area of life. Do you pray to know that George Washington was the first U.S. President? Do you pray to know murder is morally wrong? Mormons will answer no to each. Follow up with, “Why not?” Then listen carefully to their response. For instance, when I asked a Mormon missionary working at Temple Square if she prayed about murder, she looked at me with disgust and retorted, “Of course not!” I followed up with a “Why not?” and she answered, “Because God prohibits murder in the Bible.” “Exactly,” I replied. Then I explained that no one needs to pray about truths already revealed in Scripture. We simply examine God’s Word to know them. In the same way, God has revealed the truth about Himself and the Gospel in His Word, so rather than pray for the meaning of Scripture to be revealed, we discover its meaning through study. RESPONSE #2: Show the liabilities of solely relying on a personal experience to know truth. You can do this in two ways. First, ask your Mormon friend, “Have your feelings ever been wrong?” If they’re honest, they’ll answer, "Yes." I’ll quickly add, “My feelings have misled me, too.” We’ve all been misled by strong emotions. Second, ask your Mormon friend what he’d say to a Muslim who read the Qur'an from cover-to-cover, prayed, then felt Allah told him the Quran was true. How would they respond if I said I prayed about the Book of Mormon and felt that God told me it was false? Subjective experiences have a place, but they have their liabilities, too. We need an objective source to judge between testimonies for contradictory religious views. After showing the liabilities of personal experience as a guide to truth, redirect your LDS friends to the most reliable guide, God’s Word. RESPONSE #3: Show them the biblical model of knowing. First, the Bible warns against trusting our hearts. Jeremiah 17:9 offers a sobering reminder of the condition of an unregenerate heart: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: Who can know it?” Yes, who can know it? And moreover, who can trust it? Second, the Bible commends a different method of knowing. In Acts 17, Paul and Silas share the gospel with the Jews in Berea. Verse 11 records the Bereans’ response: “These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the Scriptures daily, whether those things were so.” What was the Berean’s noble-minded approach? Examination of the Scriptures to know the truth. We should do likewise, especially in light of Paul’s warning about false gospels in Galatians 1:8: “Though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.” This is a grave warning for Mormons who preach a gospel different from the biblical gospel. Third, the Bible supplies alternate explanations for the source of good feelings. 2 Corinthians 11:14 tells us that Satan, the great deceiver, transforms himself “into an angel of light” and I Peter 5:8 adds that he’s on the prowl, “seeking whom he may devour.” “The sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Ephesians 6:17), not a feeling, is our primary weapon to fend off Satan’s lies. THE TESTIMONY OF GOD We must help Mormons transfer trust from their own heart to God’s Word. It is the objective and authoritative source of knowledge that stands against the winds of changing emotion. And there, in stark contrast to the Mormon testimony, we find God’s testimony: "If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater. For this is the witness of God which he hath testified of his Son: He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself. He that believeth not God hath made him a liar because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son. And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God, that ye...may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God." (I John 5:9-13) As God Himself testifies, knowledge received from His Word leads to trust in the one true Jesus, not the counterfeit Jesus of Mormonism.
Responses to Mormon Testimony
Clarity before Agreement
ARE MORMONS CHRISTIANS? Is Mormonism merely another branch of the Christian tree? That claim isn't consistent with official LDS teaching. Mormonism’s founder and first prophet, Joseph Smith, prompted by his reading of James 1:5, prayed and inquired of God to reveal which church was the true church. According to Smith’s account, God declares all Christian sects not merely wrong, but corrupt. Mormon doctrine states that shortly after the original apostles died off, the first church had a complete falling away from the gospel, known as the Great Apostasy. Therefore, the Book of Mormon is severe in its judgment, condemning Christianity as “that great and abominable church” and “the whore of all the earth” (I Nephi 22:13), whose founder is Satan (I Nephi 13:5-6). Thus, the Mormon doctrine of the total apostasy of the church and the LDS scriptures’ denunciations of Christianity are incompatible with the claim they are merely another branch or denomination of Christianity. MORMONISM TEACHES CHRISTIANITY IS “ABOMINABLE” According to the Latter Day Saints church, Mormonism is the restoration of true Christianity. All other Christian churches are false churches. When LDS members attempt to soften or even deny these implications, we must simply point them back to their own authoritative sources. APPLICATION Point your Mormon friends to John 17:3 which says eternal life is knowing the one true God. If we have radically different views of God, then one of us is in trouble. If I’m wrong, I'd want to know. That’s why this conversation is worth having.
Ask Columbo Questions
START WITH THE ESSENTIALS Don’t jump in with polygamy, Mormon undergarments, temple rituals, or racism. Instead, stick to the essentials. TWO QUESTIONS TO START WITH 1. Who is God? 2. What is the gospel? Every false religion will deviate from Christianity on these two issues. FIRST TOOL FOR CLEAR THINKING: Columbo Question #1 When your Mormon friend says, “I believe in Jesus,” begin with a probing question like, “Which Jesus do you have in mind?” Your LDS friends will use the same terminology you use. If you don’t start with clarification, though, you’ll end with confusion. SECOND TOOL FOR CLEAR THINKING: Columbo Question #2 Once your LDS friend explains their view of Jesus, ask them, “How did you come to that conclusion?” or, “Why do you believe that?” Columbo #2 will give you their reasons for holding a particular view. Do they think Jesus is a created being because they think the Bible says so? Or is that taught in the Book of Mormon? Once you discover what a Mormon believes and why he believes it, you’re well positioned for a productive conversation. Even though you think their views are false, you are showing them true tolerance. When this kind of tolerance is practiced, it often creates the best context to share the truth with your LDS friends.
Mormon View of God
SAME WORDS, DIFFERENT MEANINGS Our eternal destiny depends on getting certain things about God right. This is the implication of John 17:3. So, do Mormons and Christians see God the same way? Mormons believe in God the Father, in Jesus Christ His Son, and the Holy Spirit. Just because Christians and Mormons use the same words does not mean they share the same definitions. Because Mormons and Christians use the same words, labels, and even phrases, our first step is clarification, and our first tool is Columbo Question#1: What do you mean by that? WHAT DO YOU MEAN BY THAT? For example, if you ask your LDS friends who Jesus is, they’ll probably say He is the Son of God. Notice, they have only offered more Christian terminology, another phrase that needs clarification. Respond by asking, “What do you mean by ‘Son of God?’” It may take a lot of questioning before the full Mormon view of God is on the table, so be patient and persistent. Once the Mormon understanding of God is clearly defined, we’ll need to compare it to the Christian view of God revealed in Scripture. This is the next step. HOW DID YOU COME TO THAT CONCLUSION? Ask Columbo Question #2: How did you come to that conclusion? If Mormons and Christians hold mutually exclusive views about God, we need to examine the biblical reasons offered. Does Scripture support the Mormon view or does Scripture uphold the classical Christian view? Rather than start with what we think Mormons mean by “God,” we’ll let Mormons speak for themselves. We’ll draw from three authoritative sources: Mormon scripture, the teachings of Mormon prophets, and official Mormon publications. On the topic of God, LDS authorities are clear: God the Father was once a man before he became God and has a physical body. WHAT MORMONISM TEACHES ABOUT GOD According to Smith, God was first a mere mortal in another world, worshipping and serving his own Heavenly Father. The Doctrine & Covenants tell us, “The Father has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man’s...” (130:22). He progressed to godhood and received a glorified body through his obedience to the same gospel principles the LDS church teaches today. For Mormons, the Godhead consists of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. However, they are not three persons in one God; they are three separate gods. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are just the gods who created and rule this world. Mormon scripture teaches there are other gods with its reference to the “Eternal God of all other gods before this world” (Doctrine & Covenants 121:32). Not only did God the Father worship his god, but also that god worshipped another god. According to Mormon doctrine, you and I can become gods as well. In the final analysis, the Mormon worldview turns out to be polytheistic. According to LDS teaching, Jesus is not the second person of the Trinity. Rather his spirit comes into existence through the procreation of Heavenly Father and our mother goddess. Jesus is the firstborn spirit child of our heavenly parents. According to Mormon doctrine, Jesus and Lucifer are brothers. You and I are also spirit children, making Jesus and Lucifer our elder brothers. As a man, Jesus had to progress to godhood. He was not eternally a god, but became a god. According to Joseph Smith, this was revealed to the apostle John: “And I, John, saw that he [Jesus] received not of the fullness at the first, but received grace for grace. And he received not the fullness at first, but continued from grace to grace, until he received a fullness” (Doctrine & Covenants 93:12-13).