I was raised in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, commonly referred to as Mormonism. Since my parents were active members of the LDS Church, I went to church every Sunday. And like many of those raised in the church, I had a testimony, was baptized when I turned 8, received the Aaronic priesthood at 12, and had a temple recommend. But as I grew older, I became less interested in my Mormon faith. So at age 18, instead of serving my two-year mission as I had been raised to do, I decided to go to college.
While I was pursuing my bachelor’s degree, I came to trust in Jesus Christ alone for my salvation. Through my own study and hearing the Word taught at a campus ministry, I knew that I deserved God’s punishment for my sins. I also knew that Mormonism did not have the answer, because I could never be good enough to gain eternal life. I came to faith in Christ, resting solely in what he had done for me—he fully paid for my sins on the cross, and in him I received his perfection and righteousness. Because of Christ, I have been reconciled to God and adopted as his son. Praise God for his free gift of salvation!
Now that I have been saved, I continue to have a deep love for Mormons and a strong desire for them to know hope and rest in Christ. Over the years, I have found that if they were not raised in the LDS Church then they generally became interested because of the care and love they received from Mormons. I also know that some became attracted to Mormonism because of their high moral standards and devotion to family. But however one becomes a Latter-day Saint, I am convinced that the teaching of the LDS Church does not provide true hope or security for eternal life. With millions of Mormons worldwide and their aggressive plan for expansion, I pray that all genuine believers will recognize that God has called us to reach out to Mormons with the gospel of Jesus Christ. Will you join with me? Then let me provide you with some counsel.
Yes, I am stating the obvious, but is it really so easy? We slam the door in the faces of Mormon missionaries. We tend to avoid our Mormon coworkers because of their weird beliefs and practices (don’t they wear holy underwear?). We may even mock Mormons on our blogs, Facebook, Twitter, or other public forums. Maybe we should stop and ask ourselves why we act this way, repenting if necessary. We should love our Mormon neighbors, getting to know them and developing relationships with them as friends. Here’s an idea: The next time we see Mormon missionaries, let us invite them over for dinner, enjoying their company.
Scripture shows us why there are other religions in the world. According to the apostle Paul, unbelievers suppress the truth by their unrighteousness (Romans 1:18). So other religions are essentially counterfeit worldviews created by men who desire to keep living in sin and rebellion against God. We see this in religions that corrupt God’s general revelation in creation (Romans 1:19ff), and we also see this in religions that corrupt God’s special revelation in Scripture. The apostle Paul warns us against those who come and proclaim another Jesus, a different spirit, and a different gospel (Galatians 1:8; 2 Corinthians 11:4). So not everyone who claims to believe in Jesus Christ is a genuine believer. When you compare what Mormons teach with God’s revelation in the Bible, you will quickly see that their teaching is not the faith “once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3). They need to believe in the true gospel of the true Christ with the true Spirit. Will you love them enough to share this gospel of hope with them?
If you were going to be a missionary in the Middle East, you would obviously have to understand the beliefs of Islam in order to effectively communicate the gospel to Muslims. It is no different when seeking to evangelize Mormons. You must recognize the differences between Mormonism and Christianity. Thankfully, there are many resources easily available today to help you. I would suggest Mormonism 101 by Bill McKeever and Eric Johnson as a worthwhile comparison between Mormonism and evangelical Christianity. I also highly recommend Speaking the Truth in Love to Mormons by Mark J. Cares. This book may be harder to find, but its “Dictionary of Mormonese” alone is worth the price. Since Mormons often “use the same language as Christians but with a different dictionary,” you must understand how they use words to effectively share the gospel with them.
Because of the LDS Church’s history and unique identity, Mormonism is not merely a set of religious beliefs—it is also a culture. You should learn how Mormons live, what they value, and other important aspects of their culture. While I sometimes disagree with David Rowe and think he is too critical of traditional countercult apologetic efforts, I still recommend his book I Love Mormons because he insightfully explains and interacts with Mormon culture.
When evangelizing Mormons, we should not debate Mormonism as an abstract system. We should be lovingly engaging with a real, living Mormon person. Most Mormons are not theological scholars. They are usually more interested in living a good and moral life. As a result of the LDS Church’s emphasis on morality and family and a general lack of doctrinal understanding among its members, many Mormons today are unfamiliar with historic and even contemporary LDS Church teaching. We cannot assume that just because the church has taught something, an individual Mormon believes it. You need to take the time to know what your Latter-day Saint friend believes and then respond to his or her faith in light of the truth of God’s Word.
Salvation is of God, not man. Your persuasiveness or intellectual ability will not convince Mormons of the truth—only the Holy Spirit can open their hearts. As evangelical campus minister Will Metzger reminds us: “Prayer for others is the supreme God-ordained method in evangelism. Unless God changes a person’s heart, nothing lasting will be achieved. Prayer is a means of raising dead sinners to life!” While we may be tempted to trust in our own abilities when evangelizing a Mormon, we must trust in God to give faith to those who hear the gospel. This critical truth must never be overlooked.
I have talked to many Christians who believe that Mormons are somehow harder to win to Christ than others. While I recognize that there are challenges, all unbelievers are dead in their trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1). The salvation of Mormons is no more difficult for God than that of any other unbeliever. We should faithfully proclaim the gospel to Mormons, trusting in Christ to draw them to himself. Let us rest in his strength to save Mormons for his glory!
John Divito is a former Mormon, a graduate of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (MDiv, 2007), and currently serves as the administrator for the Midwest Center for Theological Studies in Owensboro, Kentucky. He also serves as a deacon at Heritage Baptist Church. This article was found here at gospelcoalition.org.