How to Witness to Mormons
- Whitney Hopler Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
- 2005 8 Aug
Ever since leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (better known as Mormons) banned the earthly practice of polygamy in 1890, their religion has come to resemble classic Christianity more and more. Now, Mormons appear to be very much like evangelical Christians. They read the Bible, attend church regularly, and work to build strong families.
But Mormons believe in a very different God. And, unlike faithful followers of classic Christianity, Mormons hope to become gods themselves. If you break through the confusion surrounding Mormonism, you can shine the clear light of the Gospel into Mormons' lives.
Here's how you can witness to Mormons:
Check your motives before starting discussions. Make sure that your motivation for discussing spiritual matters with Mormons is real concern for their spiritual well-being and eternal destiny. Don't view Mormons as foes or approach them with hostility. Never mock them, demean their beliefs, or try to manipulate them. Realize that even though you may disagree with Mormons, you can do so with respect and civility. Ask God to give you a genuine love for them as people and a willingness to genuinely listen to what they say - even to the point of learning something from them - as you discuss each other's beliefs. Try to speak words of life to them, as Christ would speak.
Get to know the life of Mormon founder Joseph Smith. Seek to understand the person on whose claims Mormonism rests. Smith, whom Mormons view as a prophet divinely ordained to restore Christ's church on Earth, spent his life immersed in the occult beliefs and practices. His life was also rife with behavior that impugns his character. And historical data suggests that today's official version of his "First Vision," upon which the doctrines of the Mormon church are based, is fraudulent.
Understand challenges to Mormon scripture. Realize that DNA research has revealed that the Book of Mormon's claims that Israelites are the principal ancestors of Native Americans is wrong. In fact, Native Americans are of Asiatic origin. Know that Mormons have not been able to verify other claims in their scriptures (such as the Book of Mormon, the Pearl of Great Price, and Doctrine and Covenants), and that scholars have pointed out inaccurate information, mistranslated text, and erroneously interpreted drawings in Mormon scriptures.
Recognize revisions to the Mormon faith. Understand that Mormons have changed their accounts of some of what they claim to be revelations from God over the years. They haven't been consistent with the details of what they say is true. Tactfully point out some of these consistencies to open up dialogue on the issues they raise.
Understand the difference between monotheism and polytheism. Recognize that, while traditional Christians say there is only one God, Mormons assert that there are many gods. Mormons interact and worship only one God, "Heavenly Father," whom they recognize as the supreme God of our universe. However, they still believe that other gods exist, and that they themselves can eventually become gods. Mormons also reject the classic Christian doctrine of the Trinity (the One true God expressed in three ways: the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit).
Get to know the Mormon view of God. Understand that Mormons believe God (whom they call "Heavenly Father" or "Elohim"), is an immortal man with a body of flesh and bones - not an incorporeal spirit being. They believe that God is a part of creation, not separate from it as the eternal Creator. According to their view, God lived on an earthlike planet in the distant past and served a god above him who was part of a successive line of gods. Eventually, they believe, God progressed to godhood after dying, being resurrected, and pursuing righteousness by means of obedience to truth. Discuss Bible verses with Mormons that explicitly state that God is a Spirit who is not a man, and that His nature has never changed.
Understand the Mormon view of families in the spiritual realm. According to Mormon belief, God is literally a procreating father who is married to a divine being known as "Heavenly Mother." Mormons believe that human beings existed as spirit children of these divine parents before coming to Earth. They say that God formed (or organized) all humans out of pre-existing spirit material. Mormons believe that their families go on for eternity, and that marriage is an essential part of achieving godhood. They believe that humans who become gods will birth additional spirit-children in heaven. Although Mormons no longer practice polygamy, they still justify its practice in their church's early history as a way to populate God's kingdom on Earth - despite the fact that no biblical justification for polygamy exists, and that many early Mormon leaders were not honest with others about their practice of it.
Understand the Mormon view of the Fall. Unlike other Christians, Mormons actually see the Fall (when sin entered the world as a result of Adam and Eve's disobedience) as a positive event. They believe that the Fall was a blessing because it opened the way for humans to enter into mortality, and thereby move forward on the road to eternal life (which involves becoming mortal, dying, then being resurrected and eventually able to obtain the exalted state of godhood). Discuss biblical accounts of God's punishment for Adam and Eve's disobedience to open up dialogue about whether or not the Fall truly was a positive event.
Discuss grace with Mormons in need of assurance. Realize that Mormons are never sure of their salvation, God's forgiveness for their sins, or even God's love for them. They must constantly strive to do the best they can do to work their way to eternal life, and they often struggle with doubt, fear, guilt, and anxiety. Understand that Mormons believe three heavenly kingdoms, with varying levels of rewards - including deification in the highest level. Share the Gospel's message that humans can't (and don't need to) prove themselves worthy of God's love and forgiveness. Explain that the motivation behind good works should be gratitude toward and love for God, who unconditionally and freely offers us eternal life. Let Mormons know that they can rest in the assurance that Christ's work on the cross has made it possible for their sins to be forgiven once and for all.
Understand the Mormon view that humans can become gods. Clarify Bible verses that Mormons misapply, asserting that they relate to godhood, when in fact they deal with human sanctification, spiritual growth, and resurrected state in the afterlife.
Understand Mormon efforts to convert all other people - including evangelical Christians - to their religion. Realize that Mormons see their church as the only true church of Jesus Christ, and believe that all other Christian denominations are false and part of Satan's kingdom. Mormons view Christendom as an apostate network of people who don't have authority to act in God's name. They regularly baptize dead people by proxy as a way of trying to extend salvation to them. Discuss with them how faithful Christians have existed across history and across the globe. Share a conversation about the priesthood of all believers that Christ established.
Adapted from Becoming Gods, copyright 2004 by Richard Abanes. Published by Harvest House Publishers, Eugene, Or., www.harvesthousepublishers.com.
Richard Abanes, a nationally recognized authority on cults and religions, has spent more than 10 years in the field as an author and journalist. In 1997, he received The Myers Center Award for the Study of Human Rights in North America for his "outstanding work on intolerance in North America." Among his dozen-plus books are The Truth Behind the Da Vinci Code and the best-selling Harry Potter and the Bible.