Hello LDS Missionaries,
I appreciate your sincerity, and the time you’ve taken to have discussions with me. We would all agree that the matter of the Gospel is of utmost importance, and so it is good for us to talk about it.
I am concerned, however, about the disconnect between what you are attempting to teach me and what I’ve come to know and love as the truth of God in Jesus Christ.
- My biggest concern is that your goal in evangelism isn’t simply that men would be drawn to Christ, but that men would be drawn to the LDS Church. Granted, I respect your motivations here insofar as you genuinely believe that the LDS Church is the exclusive true Church of Jesus Christ. However, if a man has come to place his faith and trust in Jesus Christ as his Savior, then this can only be a work of God’s Spirit, and evidence of this ought to delight the heart of any self-confessed Christian. What more could we desire to see in someone’s life than that they trust in Jesus Christ and turn from sin? I realize and respect your concern that the teaching of the Gospel and the administering of associated Ordinances must come only via those with God-given authority. I agree with you here. I simply ask you to consider: if I have received the truth of Christ’s Gospel through certain men, then from where did they receive this truth? Will you accuse them of preaching the truth of salvation through Christ by the power of Beelzebul? That would be an illogical charge, if not dangerous.
- Another concern I have is with your church’s opinion that it is God’s plan that there would be new prophets (in the sense of Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Malachi) and apostles (on par with Peter, John, and Paul) after Christ brought His kingdom to this earth, fulfilling all prophesy and illuminating all shadows through His teaching, life, death, resurrection, ascension, and through the ministry of His hand-picked eyewitness apostles who wrapped up the scriptures for us—the Holy Bible—which earlier editions of the Book of Mormon confess as containing the “fulness of the everlasting gospel.” I am perplexed: if my Bible contains the fulness of the Gospel, then what need do I have of additional scriptures? What does Mormon literature mean by “revelation” beyond the Spirit’s work of bringing a man to understand the OT and NT scriptures? Is there some new revelation that’s an addition to the Bible, coming after what Paul, Peter, and John wrote in the NT?
- I sense that Mormonism is another branch of the rampant tree of Arminianism. For example, page 7 of the “Restoration” pamphlet says, “Those who have faith in Him, repent, and keep His commandments receive forgiveness of sins and are filled with peace and joy.” I have found the opposite to be true. Those whom He has saved are those who necessarily have genuine faith, who repent, and who keep His commandments. These are signs/results of being saved, not prerequisites of being saved. I once was a zealous Arminian. My attempt at good works never ushered in God’s grace. On the contrary, when I was ready to abandon God, it was then that He rescued me, according to His mercy and faithfulness, not according to any credit from my prideful attempts at showing myself to be righteous. I loathe any portrayal of a sentimental Jesus who softly calls from a distance. It seems to me a picture of a lifeguard calling to a dead man floating in the water: “Just swim here to the beach, and then I’ll save you.” My experience has shown that Christ is an effective Savior. By this I mean that He doesn’t merely make things possible, but He saves to the uttermost those whom the Father has given into His hand. He goes after the elect, and He catches them. Then, He finishes the good work He has begun. Using the lifeguard analogy, Christ goes after the dead man and pulls him to shore, breathing life into his lungs. This is a more accurate metaphor of salvation. Dead men don’t seek Christ. Christ brings life to dead men, and in their joy those men respond to Christ in obedience and worship.
- Mormon doctrine claims that the authority to teach and baptize is called the priesthood. This is an unbiblical usage of the word “priesthood.” The Bible teaches that the Aaronic Priesthood is insufficient (Hebrews 7:11) and that our priest after the order of Melchizedek is Jesus Christ. I will call no other man my priest.
- Mormon doctrine teaches that Jesus Christ “suffered and died for the sins of everyone who has lived or who will live on earth.” Contrast John 17:9 and Ephesians 5:25-27. Mormons teach that through “His suffering, death, and Resurrection, the Savior made it possible for us to be forgiven.” I disagree. He didn’t just make something possible. He effectively saves all of those whom the Father gives to Him. He taught this clearly; for example, see John 10:14-16 and John 17:12.
- Mormon doctrine confesses that Martin Luther and John Calvin were “inspired people,” but in the same paragraph indicates that they did not have priesthood authority. This reminds me of the conversation in Matthew 21:23-27 and the conversation in Mark 3:22-26. If Luther and Calvin were inspired, that proves that the Holy Spirit gave them authority. Yet you say they did not have the required authority—so then I ask, who gave them inspiration? Beelzebul? You can’t have it both ways; either these men were inspired, and used by God (and so possessed the requisite authority); or, they were devils working for Satan and telling lies.
- You also misunderstand the Reformation. It certainly was the case that the likes of Luther desired to “reform” the church; however, these attempts were unsuccessful, as you know, for the Roman church continues to this day, and so the Reformation was actually a “restoration” (or a revolution of sorts)… The so-called Reformation was the restoration that Christ powerfully accomplished at that time. The manner of this restoration involved people opening their Bibles and God opening closed hearts. It did not involve uprooting new scriptures out of the soil. The scriptures were never broken, so new scripture was not required.
- The only method of “knowing that the Book of Mormon is true” offered by Mormon literature is to read the BOM and ask/pray to know that it is true. I am concerned that Mormons do not instruct us to examine the BOM (and other Mormon scripture) against preexisting scripture. The Jews from Berea were called “more noble” because they “[examined] the Scriptures daily to see if these things [which they had heard from Paul and Silas] were so.” Acts 17 does not say that the Bereans were noble because they asked God to show them that what Paul taught was true. The Bible does not teach us to receive new ideas with prayer and feelings, but by testing/discerning (Acts 17:11; 1 John 4:1). We need to examine what people say to us against the Gospel that the Apostles of Jesus taught. (Galatians 1:8.)
- Mormon doctrine teaches that baptism “shows our willingness to follow Christ’s example and to make covenants with God.” I don’t find this in the Bible. I find rather that baptism is the sign and seal of God’s promises to us, as His covenant children.
- The Mormon definition of “Revelation” conspicuously omits the fact that revelation primarily comes from the Holy Spirit via the scriptures—this is the reason God gave us the book.
- Page 21 of the “Restoration” pamphlet asks, “Did Jesus’ Apostles know that an apostasy would occur?” The answer, of course, is “yes,” but I find it thought-provoking to additionally ask, “Did Jesus’ Apostles know that a new priest-prophet would arrive after said apostasy?” I find no prophesy of Joseph Smith’s coming.
- To the question, “What does it mean to you that the gospel of Jesus Christ has been restored through Joseph Smith,” I would like to ask Mormons, “What does it mean to you that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is faithfully preached in God-fearing churches worldwide?” Jesus is the one who looks after His church—He will not lose her.
- I’m unsure why Mormon literature refers to the sacrament as “bread and water,” when the Bible clearly indicates bread and wine.
- I find it offensive that the first two bullets of “What Should I Do?” (back of the pamphlet) are “read the Book of Mormon” and “pray to know that Joseph Smith was a prophet…” If a man hears the preaching of the Biblical Gospel and then asks himself, “what should I do,” these are hardly the first two things that would come to mind. Though you are very diplomatic, and might deny this, I perceive that “knowing that Joseph Smith was a prophet” is a requirement of salvation in the Mormon gospel. This is a drastic departure from the salvation that Christ brought and taught, and raises serious alarm. Again, Galatians 1:8 comes to mind, and this is no small matter.
I must be forthright with you: my heart already sings, “I once was lost but now am found; was blind, but now I see.” I’m not searching for new feelings.
Sincerely in Christ.