It has been said that if you ask ten Jehovah’s Witnesses the same question, you will receive ten identical answers. When you ask ten Mormons the same question, you will receive fifteen different answers.
Trying to reach Mormons with the gospel is a tricky endeavour. For a start they will often speak ‘Christianese’ – that is they will use the same terms as Bible-believing Christians, but they will mean something very different by them. Not knowing this has tripped up many a Christian, even fooling some into believing the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (to give them their official title – hereafter shortened to LDS) are just another ‘Christian’ denomination. The notion that the LDS Church are Christians has been supported by appearances on Songs of Praise by the likes of the Mormon Jimmy Osmond (no longer ‘a long-haired lover from Liverpool’) but who claims to be a Christian who has faith in Jesus.
This is exactly what the LDS want. They desire to be recognised as a credible branch of Christianity, but their beliefs put them way outside of orthodox biblical Christianity.
Challenging Mormon teaching
The LDS church believe the Bible to be the Word of God as far as it is translated correctly, but they have no such qualms about the Book of Mormon which they claim is the Word of God.
Ask your Mormon friend: ‘Where has the Bible been translated incorrectly?’ They do not usually have a response for this, but rather point out the Bible may have been translated incorrectly when it contradicts Mormon doctrine. A further question might be to ask, ‘Why, unlike many Bibles, does the Book of Mormon contain no maps?’ This question leads them to see that there isn’t any serious archaeological or historical evidence for the contents of the Book of Mormon.
Who is God?
‘As man is, God once was; as God is, man may become.’ Yes, you read that correctly. The LDS teach that God was once a man who, through working out his own Plan of Salvation, became the God of this planet.
You could ask them, ‘Is it true that the God you worship was once a sinful man?’ and ‘Is it true that you too can become a God?’ The LDS, though they often deny it, are polytheistic. Have them read Isaiah 43:10 and Isaiah 44:6-8 and tell them that this is God’s revelation about himself. There is only one God. If they suggest that these are places where the Bible has been translated incorrectly, ask them to read the following from the Book of Mormon: Alma 11:26-29 which says: And Zeezrom said unto him: Thou sayest there is a true and living God? And Amulek said: Yea, there is a true and living God. Now Zeezrom said: Is there more than one God? And he answered, No.
Moving on from this, you may ask them if they believe in Moroni 8:18 in the Book of Mormon? For I know that God is not a partial God, neither a changeable being; but he is unchangeable from all eternity to all eternity.
When they have read it, have them confirm whether they agree with it – which they will. Tell them that this verse sounds like a verse in the Bible. Have them read Psalm 90:2: Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God.
The follow-up question to ask is: ‘What do these two verses teach about God?’ The answer is that they both teach that God is, and always has been, God.
Now ask them if they are familiar with the following quote from Joseph Smith:
‘We have imagined and supposed that God was God from all eternity. I will refute that idea and take away the veil, so that you may see. These are incomprehensible ideas to some, but they are simple. It is the first principle of the Gospel to know for a certainty the Character of God, and to know that we may converse with him as one man converses with another, and that he was once a man like us; yea, that God the Father of us all, dwelt on an earth, the same as Jesus Christ himself did, and I will show it from the Bible.’
(Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pp.345-346. Italics in original).
Ask your Mormon friend or missionary: Which do you believe? The Book of Mormon, the Bible or Joseph Smith?
Who is Jesus?
Mormons teach that Jesus and Lucifer are brothers. Yes, you read that correctly. Jesus and the Devil are spirit brothers: in fact, we are all spirit children. We all existed in a pre-mortal life before we were born. We don’t remember it because en route to earth we all pass through the Veil of Forgetfulness – yes, you read that correctly as well. There are major problems with the idea that Jesus is only a spirit child produced by a Heavenly Father and a Heavenly Mother. The most obvious is that this is not the Jesus of the Bible. We need to show the missionaries from Scripture who Jesus was. Show them John 1:1; John 20:28; Romans 9:5; Colossians 2:9; Titus 2:13; Hebrews 1: 8-10; 1 John 5:20. Take them to Colossians 1:15,16 & John 1:3 to show them that Jesus is not Lucifer’s brother, but Lucifer’s creator.
Who is saved?
In Mormonism, everyone is saved. Well, practically everyone. There are those labelled ‘sons of perdition’ (pre-mortal spirits who followed Lucifer and apostate Mormons) who will find themselves in outer darkness (LDS hell).
There are three possible destinations for everyone else. We could perhaps liken them to 3-star, 4-star and 5-star hotels. The 3-star hotel (Telestial Kingdom) will be the eternal abode of those who rejected the gospel and were perhaps liars, thieves, murderers etc. Joseph Smith, the founder of the LDS, allegedly said: the Telestial Kingdom is so great that if you were able to see it, you’d kill yourself just to get there. The 4-star abode (Terrestrial Kingdom) is for those who receive of his glory, but not of his fulness. This includes non-LDS Christians and members of other religions. We can have visits from Jesus, who resides in the 5-star Celestial accommodation, but we will never see Heavenly Father. The 5-star Celestial Kingdom is where Heavenly Father dwells and only card-carrying, fully paid up Mormons will get there and perhaps, become gods.
Again, we need to take the Mormon Missionaries to the Bible and compare it to the Book of Mormon. Ask them to read 2 Nephi 25:23 from the Book of Mormon. This reads: For we labour diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved after all we can do.
Point out to them that this sounds like a verse in the Bible and have them read Ephesians 2:8-9 in the King James Version. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.
Ask them what the difference is between these two verses? Back this up with other Bible verses that show we are saved through faith in Christ and not by works. You could use Romans 1:17; 3:21-28; 4:1-5; 5:1; 11:6; Titus 3:5.
It is important to show Mormons that no amount of good works will save them; they need to put their faith in the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Some helpful tips
When speaking with Mormon friends or missionaries, it is good to use the King James Bible and where possible use terms they are familiar with like Heavenly Father (God); Outer Darkness (Hell); Godhead (Trinity).
Be loving towards these lost souls. Most missionaries you meet will be young people, thousands of miles away from home and missing their families. Speak to them of the real Jesus and pray that they would come to know him and be saved.