I was wondering if there was any information you can give me
as to better be a witness toward Mormons.
I have a book called "Speaking the truth in love to Mormons" by Mark Cares. I have studied this religion for many years, but want to use my info in practical ways if I ever get a chance.
Thanks for your question. Having been raised in a Mormon family, and having come from a long heritage of Mormonism that dates back to the founding of this religion, I am very familiar with the mindset of people involved with this sect. In my estimation, there is probably no other pseudo-Christian religion that rivals that of Mormonism for its level of difficulty in conversion.
First let me clarify something; there is no set “way” to witness to a Mormon, or for that matter, any other human being. Of greatest importance is that whomever you share the gospel with, you look at them as individuals with feelings, likes and dislikes, hurts, struggles, etc.
Second, I will have to make this an ongoing series of emails, simply due to the volume of info I want to provide you. This leads me to another point, and that is the issue of uploading this discussion online, so others can benefit from our discussion. If this is agreeable to you, let me know, and we can further our discussion.
Lastly, please understand that emails take time, and I get many questions each day, so I will reply to yours as time permits.
I might inform you that Mormons typically do not like to be called Mormons, but rather prefer the term, ‘LDS,’ an acronym for, ‘Latter-Day Saints.’ Recognizing individuality as prerequisite, there are two classes of LDS folk; the ‘lifer’ and the ‘convert.’ In other words, the lifer is the person raised from birth in an LDS home and the convert is the person converted to the Mormon faith thru proselytizing, usually done by Mormon missionaries.
The likelihood of converting an LDS on the spot is highly unlikely, but not impossible; therefore, as I mentioned before, focus should be made on building a relationship with them. Having been raised Mormon I have an in-depth understanding of the cornerstone thought behind LDS worship.
As a child, I grew up with LDS activity infiltrating my everyday life. Mormon children attend ‘Primary’ which amounts to the earliest forms of indoctrination. The LDS church instills a deep sense of martyrdom-complex, and the psychology is based upon erroneous characterization of the church’s founder Joseph Smith. Since you have already studied the religion itself for many years, this saves me valuable writing time, so that I can focus on the psychology of Mormonism, which is perhaps the most beneficial consideration when sharing the true gospel with Mormons.
We were taught that Joseph Smith was the first modern-day prophet since biblical times. What stands out most to me as a child is the emphasis the church Sunday school teachers put on the valiant way Joseph Smith died defending the faith, a far cry from what actually happened, as you already know. We never heard the true version of his jailbreak, and how he died in a gun battle with law enforcement while trying to break out of jail. In fact, we were taught he was tarred and feathered, then led like a lamb to slaughter, and Bible verses were often used to show the parallels between Smith and Christ.
On the heels of this thought, from the earliest age, all LDS children are taught they will also be wrongly martyred for their faith, making it nearly impossible to win them to Christ based on facts and statistics alone. Adding weight to the psychological indoctrination was the church’s claim to the restoration of the “true gospel of Jesus Christ” by Joseph Smith, and we were repeatedly told the false story of how the angel Moroni visited the young Smith, during the time in his life when he saw that all other Christian religions were wrong. It is vital you understand this perspective from the eyes of an LDS person, and realize the ‘lifer’ Mormon is told the erroneous version of events literally hundreds of times leading into adolescence.
With this in mind Tyler, realize that the Mormon feels as strongly and passionately about his or her faith as you do about your faith in Jesus Christ. Compounding the issue is the church’s emphasis on identification with martyrdom is the fact they inundate their member’s lives with activity revolving around the church. Mormons have their own dances as a church-approved substitution for high school dances, they have their own Boy Scout and Girl Scout activities, and they have their own baseball, softball, basketball, soccer and other sports related activities. They regularly schedule a plethora of social events, and then of course every Monday night there is the church sanctioned, ‘Family Home Evening,’ whereby all Mormon families are encouraged to have a family night together, and this should always include some aspect of Mormon doctrine.
I hope I am presenting to you a picture of a church that is highly organized, and very devoted, and which saturates its members with an ongoing flurry of church-related activities that virtually consumes a person’s time and life.
I am of the persuasion that not all Mormons are without salvation; in fact, I know of some that have a very personal relationship with God thru Jesus Christ. The problem and conflict with Mormonism and the true gospel is their emphasis on the Book of Mormon, (BOM) which devout ‘lifer’ Mormons consider equally inspired and in practice, of more value than the Bible. My own father frequently quotes passages to me from the BOM, but rarely from the inspired pages of the Bible.
As you know from your own studies, the LDS church believes the BOM to be divinely inspired. It is the very cornerstone of their faith, and though Mormon dogma says the Bible is the word of God, their creed includes the BOM as being the word of God too.
When it comes right down to the nuts-and-bolts of the LDS religion, if you ever find an open door to bear witness to your own faith you should have as part of your repitoire the discrepancies between the BOM, the Bible, and other truth based facts. As you probably already know, there are many contradictions in the BOM, which has been revised and changed multiple times since its first printing. Plural marriage for example, was not only sanctioned by the early additions, but actually included as one of God’s commandments.
The best source for facts on Mormonism is found at the ministry of Gerald and Sandra Tanner in Salt Lake City, Utah. I have actually visited their retail store that carries a vast treasure of archived documents obtained by the Tanners when they were still involved with the LDS church, and they have published one of the first editions of the BOM and included in it highlights and underscored words and phrases (in the thousands) that show clearly the vast number of changes made to it.
That’s all for today Tyler; I am in failing health, and must limit my correspondence.
God bless you brother,