Someone’s at the Door

Victorian doorbell

It’s just so weird. Mormon doctrine is full of outlandish claims—Jesus’ visit to America, golden tablets, polygamy, celestial rule etc. But a religion cannot be denied because it is spectacular, or hard to believe. Christianity has often been accused of being unbelievable (Acts 17:32). A religion is not made sensible by being mundane, but by being true. Does Mormonism succeed in being true? No.

Last night I was privileged to sit in my living room and speak with a couple of young Mormon missionaries. They had rung our doorbell the week before but it was late and I asked them to come back another time. In fairness to them I disclosed the nature of my vocation. Undaunted, they returned and shared their hope with me. As my wife fed our kids in the background, I spoke with these pleasant young ladies about their faith. We began by agreeing that our faiths are distinct. Mormonism is not Christianity.

Mormons believe in Jesus. They acknowledge him as the Son of God, the redeemer of this world, and their personal savior. Their vocabulary sounds very much like orthodox Christianity and this leads many to assume that they are simply another Christian denomination. However, while we may use the same words, our meaning is very different. Jesus in Mormon belief is a created being, who progressed into deity. Like Jesus, those who believe can also progress in deity and ultimately rule over other planets. This is not orthodox Christianity. We will never be like Jesus, He is our Lord forever.

We were not saying the same thing differently—our convictions are incompatible. From there our conversation moved to the prophet. I was told that Joseph Smith was the man chosen by God to restore the church of Jesus. Mormons claim that the early Church Councils had perverted Christianity and Smith was called to undo the damage. Guided by an angel called Maroni, he transcribed God’s truth from golden tablets that he had found. This volume that he wrote is called the Book of Mormon and it is the foundational text for the Church of Jesus Christ and the Latter Day Saints (LDS or Mormon). These young missionaries wanted me to read the book (cover to cover) so that I would believe Smith to be the legitimate prophet of God and then enter into the one true church.

When I questioned the role of Smith I was informed that God has always used prophets to speak with his people. “But how can that be reconciled with the book of Hebrews?” I asked. There we read that Jesus completes and supersedes the roles of prophet, priest, and sacrifice. He is the consummate Word of God and additional revelation is unnecessary. This was a new thought to them, but they maintained their resolve. Once again I was invited to read the book Smith transcribed. I declined. I have read portions of the book and have been unmoved. Its central problem is that it contradicts the Bible. I explained to my guests that I measure my life by the Bible. They responded that their final authority was the Book of Mormon.

At this impasse our time together ended. Before they left, I told them that many young people come to a point of crises where they must embrace their parent’s beliefs for themselves. If they were to experience uncertainty I advised them to seek clarity in the Bible. We closed in prayer and they left. Chaos ensued as we bustled one child off to horse riding and settled the other two into regular routines. As I loved my little ones, my heart hurt for two young ladies who are lost in a lie. I have never prayed for doubt before, but I am now. May God shatter their certainty and in their bewilderment reveal himself in all His loving glory. Like Paul, may they see and believe.

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16 thoughts on “Someone’s at the Door

  1. You should focus on your own faith instead of trying to disprove others. If your faith is true you should have no need to try and disprove the Mormon faith. Many of your claims are false and untrue. Some of the finest people I know are Mormons. All this does is make you look very small and non Christian. If a pastor or minister is mis leading people like this I would have to wonder about your faith.

    • M, I would have to respectfully disagree with you. If a Christian’s faith is true then there is much need to disprove others! However, this is not for the sake of being right or in some kind of prideful arrogance. Jesus says that He is the only way to salvation…faith in Him as the One and only God who gave Himself up for us is the bedrock of the Christian faith. So if Eugene’s faith is true, then it would terribly wicked of him not to try and convince these girls! Out of care for their eternal state, he shares with them what he believes. For the record, I think those girls probably have similar reasoning for coming to Eugene’s doorstep. Whether you not you agree with Christianity is one thing, but if is truth, how could Christians not try to convince everyone they know?

    • M. Thank you for your response to my piece. While I did not intend to cause offense it seems like I have done so. Allow me to respond to your concerns.

      1. I sought to be accurate in my description of LDS. Everything I wrote, I checked against LDS sources or it came from the mouths of the missionaries. I know that polygamy is no longer part of the church but it is a historical reality and is one reason people treat the faith with apprehension. Also, I know that Mormon doctrine claims that Jesus is co eternal with the Father and would dispute my ‘created’ statement, but here words mean a lot. The two faiths understand creation very differently. I went so far as to point out that orthodox Christianity is also deemed weird by some. I wanted to measure the faith by the facts. If I have gotten the facts wrong, I would be willing to detract them. I have no desire to mislead anyone.
      2. I know some wonderful Mormons too. Likewise I know some lovely Muslims, Jews and agnostics. They all make for wonderful neighbors and my contention is not with their character but with their convictions. Time and again I commented on how pleasant those missionary ladies were. Niceness is not the issue.
      3. To my shame, those ladies knocked on my door, I did not knock on theirs. Their zeal in sharing their faith is admirable and I grant myself the same freedom. They informed me that my faith was wrong and I take no offense at that. Likewise they were not offended when I kindly explained that my convictions denied theirs. I believe orthodox Christianity to be true, to hide my light under a bushel would be to deny my God. So, I lovingly say with all conviction that Jesus (as described in the Bible) is the only way for a person to be saved.

  2. Once a week I await the blog…but before opening to read this week’s thoughts, one must get a cup of coffee, take a deep breathe and begin to read and dissolve the text. This usually takes more than one reading…sometimes it’s over and over.
    Instead of attacking, one should investigate the text for themselves…after all, eternity with our Lord and Savior is a very long time and we certainly want to get this one right.
    Until next week…I appreciate you Eugene.

  3. Very interesting read for me as my maternal grandparents are/were Mormon. My grandfather is deceased and grandmother is still living. They converted to Mormonism in their adult lives and raised my mother and her siblings as Mormons through their childhood and adolescence. My mother quickly converted to Baptist, when she was of age. She raised my sister and I as Baptist until we moved from Memphis to “real” West Tennesee, where at that point we started attending a non-denominational church.
    When my grandfather passed a few Novembers ago, I became very concerned about his eternal destination. He was a wonderful man, a man of God, so I believed. Retired military and was the chief over the Memphis Fire Departement, where he retired from in his older age. I was only 23 when he passed and he and I had never had serious religious conversation. I’ve never read the Book of Mormon, all I know is what my mother has told me about it. I have aunts and cousins who are still Mormon. I should take more time to try to understand this religion maybe to have hope to speak with my grandmother before she passes.

  4. Great read Eugene, I especially liked your pointing out that the emphasis is should be on whether something is “incredible”, but whether it’s true! Also, your prayer to “shatter their certainty” in order that they might find Christ is a good example for me.
    Very polite, respectful, hard-hitting, and thought provoking…

  5. Eugene thank you so much for the blog. As a member of Fellowship I appreciate your thoughts. I have spent the day looking at the Mormon website and am deeply touched by how beautiful it is. It has answered my questions about things that our faith can not. When my Pastor tries to disprove something it tells me to check it out. If you are trying to disprove the faith you must be fearful of it. So sad that you would do this! I am going to meet with the Mormon missionaries and find answers for myself. They have so many answers to life’s questions. Especially about how the trinity is not one. Their faith seems to make sense. Maybe I should start praying for you that you will have more security in your own conviction. I hope this blog does not come back to bite you.

    • I wasn’t going to comment. “Concerned Member” please think again. I was born into the Mormon church in Salt Lake City. I was one of the fortunate ones. I was saved after 28 years of Mormonism. I lost all my family and friends when I was excommunicated. Would a “Christ” based church do that? Jesus taught just the opposite. The fact of the matter is that Mormonism will take over your mind and body. Blind faith is powerful. It is the basis of Mormonism. It will suck you in. Don’t go there. Good people don’t automatically make it into heaven.

  6. Eugene just so you know Mormon Doctrine is not official doctrine of the Mormon faith. It is a not considered scripture. There are a lot of books written about the Mormons unfortunately that book gets used by a lot of anti Mormons to try and disprove the faith. Find some better sources. By the way there were several prophets in the New Testament
    . Zacharias, John the Baptist etc. God bless

  7. One more quick comment. Mormon doctrine is Mormon faith. The Mormon church believes in the book of Mormon, Pearl of Great Price, The Doctrine and Covenants and the Bible (as far as the Mormon church dictates that it is translated correctly). This has always been a moving target. God never changes. If you believe the Bible to be the word of God then Mormonism can only keep you from the heavenly reward in the deity of Christ!

    • I think this particular message and many replys has been an eye opener. Thank you Eugene for adding it to the many interesting topics you have chosen. My personal contacts with Mormons have been enlightning. I have found to keep the topic solely on the fact that Jesus is God. Period. When it keeps getting sidetracked to gently bring it back with scripture to back up Jesus is God. If we can’t agree on that, no sense in moving on. And yes, it is sad to watch them walk away knowing that ‘our’ God saves. Every religion has something good about it, but the end results are the way of destruction. I find that Mormons are wonderful meeting the needs of people at just the right moment when others are not there for them. It is interesting to read the views of people who attend our church and possibly do not know what we actually believe in. Jesus took my place on the cross, He died, rose again and reigns on high, waiting for those that placed their trust in Him after He reached down and touched our hearts to respond to his invitation. Free gift of salvation, and we don’t lose our salvation.

  8. Eugene, I want to thank you for so lovingly and boldly proclaiming truth and only one truth. In the “Bible belt” it can be tempting for ministers to deliver messages that make the people feel good so they keep coming back, but that’s not what our faith is about. It’s about the truth. Thank you for being a pastor that is faithful to both gently and boldly proclaim the truth of the gospel, seeking to please God and not man. It is such a great example to me!

  9. http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865588850/At-BYU-Baptist-says-Mormons-and-evangelicals-may-go-to-jail-together.html?pg=all

    http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865585938/QA-Evangelical-leader-Richard-Land-shares-views-on-LDS-Church-threats-to-religious-liberty-other.html?pg=all

    http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865590208/What-to-look-for-in-our-Evangelical-brethren.html

    http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865589508/Mormon-evangelical-detente-Mouw-Zacharias-to-speak-to-LDS-again.html

    The above link are great examples of people of different faiths trying to find a common thread and live lives of exemplary christian love and peace.

    While reading on Facebook I clicked on a link one of my Facebook friends had to this blog. I would like to first thank Fellowship Bible Church for all the wonderful things you do in our community and your mission efforts around the world. How beautiful your faith is. What goodness you share. Thank you Thank you.

    I am a member of the Mormon Faith. I love my faith. I love that I have the freedom to worship as I please. I love my Savior Jesus Christ and am grateful that I am saved through him. I am looking forward to meeting my Savior someday and worshiping him. I know that we have one God who reigns. I strive each day to live worthy of the beautiful grace and love he shows to me. Christ cared for all people never judging and striving to be peaceful and kind. How I love him.

    I know those sweet young women who came to your door. Please don’t worry about their salvation. We have a merciful and wonderful God who loves each of his children and knows the intents of our hearts. We should not feel like we need to be the judge of their salvation. God will take care of that, and we should have faith that he will. Please know that nothing negative or derogatory is ever said about your church or faith from the leaders of our church. We respect your faith and hope that all of your members are finding joy and happiness in their lives. What wonderful people live in this area. Wouldn’t you agree?

    I would encourage all faiths to work together to preserve this wonderful Religious Liberty that we all love in this country.

    Let us work together to foster friendship and good will. Let us strive to build one another up and give encouragement. Walk as Jesus walks and find peace and joy in living side by side. Please don’t tear each other down. That only allows the devil into our own hearts. That is never good. He is winning the battle when we feel threatened or defensive. May your Church be strengthened and receive all the blessings you need. Continue to do good in the world. If there is ever anything the Mormon Faith can do for your church please don’t hesitate to ask. To our brothers and sisters in Christ we love you.

    • Thank you for your response and the kind spirit in which it was written. Let me respond in a like spirit.

      There are things that we evangelicals share in common with our Mormon neighbors. Our commitment to virtuous families, the sanctity of life and civil obedience are just some of these. On these shared topics we can work together. Our faiths encourage us to be good neighbors to one another and a force for good in our communities. In this way, evangelicals and Mormons can cooperate.

      Moreover, I join you in celebrating our religious freedoms that make it possible to worship as our convictions allow. I even celebrate the freedom your missionaries have to seek converts. Likewise I presume the same freedom. Indeed I count it a divine obligation.

      So when some missionaries came to me to persuade me away from my faith I did not take offense. Nor should they take offense at my efforts to move them. Our impasse simply demonstrated that we do not share a like faith. There are similarities but not essential unity.

      Since I affirm the early Christian councils and the vitality of the historic church I am in disagreement with the LDS. I have no interest in demonizing the LDS but, like those missionaries, I presume the responsibility to move people towards my understanding of the truth.

      Proselytizing is a mandate for both our faiths. The activity assumes that we have the truth to share. Implied in this is that other versions include error. Mormons state that the historic church is in error. Evangelicals state that the Mormon church is in error. It’s okay to say that the other is wrong. It’s not okay to be unkind.

      Thank you for your kindness.

      Eugene

  10. As usual great input using language that is clear and respectful. Now I do wonder about the possibility that God is using various religions (and variations) to sort of customize his message to different groups of people. That would mean that he say uses the Muslim religion for those that it is effective with. I also wonder if Eugene would have similar responses to different versions of the Christian religion say the Roman Catholics, in that they have some ideas that are different than Evangelicals. I know that the differences are not as great but they do seem to be significant.

    To those that were offended I don’t understand how you got this from the original post, I clearly understood that Eugene, rightfully so, believes in his religion and therefore does not believe that the Mormon religion is correct. That said it is impossible for him not to have such a discussion with others, or to wish that somehow their view of the world would be corrected. To do otherwise would be incompatible with the caring and loving nature of Eugene and his religion.

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