Sharing Christ with a member of another faith tradition can be frightening. And some traditions seem to cause more angst than others. In my experience, one causing a great sense of trepidation is Mormonism.
This need not be the case.
Let’s consider a few ways to reach our Mormon neighbors as effectively as possible, so they will turn from false religion and follow the Jesus of Scripture.
First, we must establish that Mormons are involved in false religion. Two questions summarize well the differences between Mormonism and biblical Christianity:
- Who is God?
- Who is God in Christ?
Answering either incorrectly leads to the judgment and wrath of God. Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) believe in a deity (Elohim) who was created and reared on another planet. There, Elohim married, had children, and eventually gained a “sphere of existence” into which he and Heavenly Mother could place incarnated spirit children—children created through their heavenly, intimate, physical relations.
The first spirit child born to Elohim and Heavenly Mother was a boy named Jehovah. Eventually, Jehovah was adopted as the Messiah, came to earth, and incarnated as Jesus. As humans, if we follow the plan set forth by Elohim—doing all we can (Book of Mormon, 2 Nephi 25:23)—then we can become like Elohim one day after death. As former LDS Church president Lorenzo Snow famously put it, “As man is now, God once was. As God is now, man may become.”
Needless to say, this is not historic, orthodox Christianity.
Know the Gospel, Stress Certain Teachings
How, then, can Christians effectively reach out to Mormon neighbors and friends? First, the Christian must know the message of Jesus and know it well. The preferred method of presentation does not matter; knowing the gospel is what matters. Practice with a friend and ask for critical feedback. Make sure to remove any “churchy” language from the presentation.
Second, it’s important to understand that Mormons believe salvation is gained through a combination of grace and works. Just as Paul declared the gospel in contextually appropriate ways, especially in Acts 17, so we must do the same.
Stressing three particular Christian teachings is helpful when seeking to reach Mormons.
1. Salvation is a free gift from the Father.
Passages like Ephesians 2:8–9, Romans 5:8, and Romans 6:23 are vital. Those passages plainly teach that salvation is a free gift, given in spite of our works. One might go so far as to say those verses stress that salvation is given to us freely in direct contradiction to our works. Works are of utmost importance for the Latter-day Saint, so stressing freedom from earning salvation is critical.
2. Jesus is the final prophet, priest, and king.
Latter-day Saints believe in the need for a living prophet who hears from God daily and then passes that information on to humanity. Without a living prophet, most Latter-day Saints would feel directionless and lost. One former LDS leader compared the need for a living prophet to the need for a daily newspaper; without one, humanity wouldn’t understand daily life. Sharing passages like Hebrews 1:1–4 and 2 Timothy 3:16–17 can be helpful here.
3. There’s no need for a mediator other than the risen Christ.
Mormons, in effect, believe LDS Church leadership is the current mediator between humanity and Elohim, as part of the priesthood being passed down via LDS hierarchy. Without the priesthood, Mormons believe no work can be done that will be accepted by Elohim. Mormons believe Elohim’s will couldn’t be known without LDS leadership passing it on to humanity. Passages like 1 Timothy 2:5–6 and Galatians 3:20 can bring necessary light to this doctrine.
Gentleness and Respect
Above all, we must treat Mormons with graciousness and respect in accord with 1 Peter 3:15–16. In this regard, we must show ourselves worthy of the title “follower of Christ.” We must remember, as representatives of Christ, that we have his all-sufficient Word as our authority. The same power found in the words “Let there be light” is found in the words “The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” There is inherent, creative, soul-transforming power in God’s Word. Let our confidence reside in his truth, not in our ability to debate.
The idea of reaching out to an adherent of another faith tradition is probably intimidating to most Christians. Fear of the unknown, fear of being rejected, and fear of being unable to answer difficult questions lurk in every encounter. We can also fear a broken relationship if the person we’re trying to reach is a friend, relative, or co-worker. These feelings don’t need to be paralyzing. The Lord Jesus promised he will be with us until the end—and will rescue all who call on him in faith (Matt. 28:20; Rom. 10:13).