"...convince us of our errors of doctrine, if we have any, by reason, by logical arguments, or by the word of God, and we will be ever grateful for the information, and you will ever have the pleasing reflection that you have been instruments in the hands of God of redeeming your fellow beings from the darkness which you may see enveloping their minds" (LDS Apostle Orson Pratt, The Seer, pp. 15-16).
The following are some suggestions for sharing the historic Christian faith with Latter-day Saints:
Do you want to make an eternal impact on your LDS friend, family member or missionary at the door? Then you will want to be faithful in prayer. It has been said that prayer works like the Air Force. The "Army" or "Marines" is the actual going and preaching the Gospel, but first the Air Force is sent to control the airspace and prepare the battlefield for ground forces. Reaching Mormons for Christ is a spiritual battle and we need to use the spiritual tools that God has provided. When you see a Mormon, pray for them. Put Mormons on your daily prayer list. Pray before and after having a meeting with LDS missionaries. Most do not join the LDS Church because of extensive religious study, but the decision is based on feelings and spiritual experiences. "The burning in the bosom" is a spiritual feeling that Mormons are encouraged to acquire when they read the Book of Mormon. When Christians try to witness to Mormons with intellectual arguments alone, results are rare. What Mormons need is a miracle that removes the veil that is over the mind, opening their eyes and ears to the Holy Spirit.
It is very important to have the right attitude and motive for engaging in doctrinal discussions with Latter-day Saints. We should guard against getting impatient or angry at their responses. Some Mormons already know that the LDS Church has problems, but they may not be aware of a better faith! Sometimes, even while passionately defending their religion, they are secretly hoping that we have something better to offer them! Mormons are victims of deception who in turn deceive. Fortunately some of them will one day "see the light" and begin to serve God in the truth! Your humility and loving attitude are more important than what you actually say to them. Without love we are like a crashing cymbal that profits nothing (I Corinthians 13:1-13). We are called to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15). Some think that to be loving they must avoid talking about unpleasant or challenging issues. Others are quick to speak the truth but fail to show love. We are commanded to speak out but to do it in a loving manner.
WIN PEOPLE, NOT ARGUMENTS.
If we go into a discussion determined to win an argument, we will probably find ourselves “locking horns” with an equally determined person. In humility admit when you don’t know something, and tell them you will get an answer for them. Get back to them with an answer as quickly as possible. Remember to actively listen. Repeat their statements back to them to clarify with language such as, “do I correctly understand you to be saying that you believe…?” Good communications skills go a long way in winning people.
KNOW PET ARGUMENTS.
A lack of knowledge of Mormonism often makes evangelical Christians insecure when witnessing to their Mormon friends & family members. Take the time to learn the basic teachings and arguments used in Mormonism. If you do not understand the fundamentals you will limit your effectiveness as a “fisher of men” among the Latter-day Saints.
ACKNOWLEDGE THE GOOD.
For your Mormon friend, the LDS Church represents God’s Kingdom on earth. For them, the Salt Lake City-based LDS organization is the epitome of virtue and holiness. Unless we acknowledge some good in Mormonism, our friends may have an even harder time listening to what we have to share. As Christians we can commend the Latter-day Saints for having zeal for the things of God (even though very miss-guided) and for their strong emphasis on family & moral values. If we do not acknowledge some of these positive things, we risk being seen as someone out of touch with the faith that they know and love.
We should not argue with Mormons (II Timothy 2:23-26). Instead of telling LDS people what they believe, begin conversations by asking questions. Latter-day Saints will appreciate the opportunity to tell you about their faith. You can ask simple things like: “What does Jesus mean to you?” or “Have you been saved by grace?” “Have you been born again? … When and how did that happen?” or “Do you believe you are a good person?” This will open up discussions in a non-threatening manner, and enable you to learn more about the person. (Are they “dyed in the wool” Mormons, or perhaps new converts that have yet to learn the Mormon doctrines?) By knowing the basic teachings of LDS leaders, you can ask them why they follow men who teach opposing doctrines (if they expressed a Biblical view). If their beliefs contradict the Bible, ask them to consider what Scripture (the original revelation found in the Bible) has to say on that issue. Be a “curious person” and you will be planting many Gospel seeds along the way!
One of the greatest difficulties in witnessing to Mormons is the language barrier. The Latter-day Saints use Christian terminology, yet have learned completely different definitions for those same terms. We must define the Christian words and terms that we use, and request the same from the Mormon we are speaking with. If we do not we might get the false idea that we believe the same way! Examples of this are commonly used terms such as “born again”, “salvation”, “virgin birth”, “atonement”, “gospel”, and so forth. By defining our terminology both parties will gain a better understanding of each other.
USE THE BIBLE.
Instead of quoting scripture from memory, ask the LDS person to read passages out loud during your talks. Many Mormons still respect the Bible (despite LDS leader’s attacks against it) and they need to see what it says. They have been told that their religious beliefs are backed-up by the Bible – we must help them see that this is not so! No matter what, God’s Word does not return void so we want to share it often with the Latter-day Saints (II Timothy 3:16). One of the most effective ways to prepare the soil of the Mormon heart before they hear the Gospel is to use the Ten Commandments to show them that they are law-breakers. Are they “Saints”… or lying, thieving adulterers-at-heart like the rest of fallen humanity?! The Bible says we have "fallen short of the glory of God" and need God's mercy. LDS members need to see the severity of their sin and the inability of Mormonism to save them from the coming judgment.
USE THE BOOK OF MORMON.
LDS leaders claim that the Bible has "many plain and precious things" taken from it over past centuries. (The Book of Mormon teaches this in I Nephi 13:26-29) Joseph Smith said that "...the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book." (See introduction to the Book of Mormon) It is also important to know that many Bible verses were plagiarized into the text of the Book of Mormon, giving it a scriptural tone as well as many Biblical teachings. Since this is the case we can have a Mormon read Book of Mormon passages that teach truth. For example, we can show the following truths: The law does not save, salvation comes by Jesus alone, there is one God, etc. We want to take them to the Bible as soon as possible and show them the original source for the teaching. This builds their faith in the Bible and makes them wonder why the modern Mormon Church is not in agreement with the Book of Mormon.
USE OTHER BOOKS.
Christians often ask our ministry what books are good to give to Mormon people. Any book that criticizes the LDS faith is usually not well received. The LDS Church often warns its members against “anti-Mormon” material, and temple active Mormons are instructed not to have such materials in their homes, equating it with pornography. Despite these strong feelings, many Mormons have been effectively reached through books that address the errors of Mormonism. Let the Holy Spirit guide you in this. It is always good to give LDS members Christian books that share a personal testimony and a clear teaching on grace.
SHARE YOUR TESTIMONY.
No one can argue with the change that Jesus has brought to your life! It is a powerful witness for an LDS person to hear about and observe your love for Christ - while at the same time you reject the Mormon prophets and religious system. They have been taught that those who are sincere and have a testimony of Jesus will come to accept Mormonism. You are a contradiction to that. Whether you are ministering to a Mormon, a Muslim (or anyone else for that matter) let the redeemed of the Lord say so! We have good news to share (Psalm 107:2)!
REMEMBER THE FINAL GOAL.
Ministering to Mormons is a unique experience. First our friends have to get “unsaved” from a false religion before they can get saved in the Truth! We need a long-term commitment to reaching out and praying for the LDS people that God has put in our lives. We shouldn’t be surprised if results are slow in coming because of the nature of the deception. We need to be obedient to the Lord to prepare the soil, plant “seeds” as He leads us and “water” those seeds faithfully in prayer (I Corinthians 3:16). We could also look at our ministry to LDS friends & family like sending down layers of snow on a desert floor. Things may initially seem lifeless, but we pray that there will be a future season in which that snow will melt, go deep into the hard ground enabling life to spring forth! Keep sharing scriptures and your testimonies (piling up the snow) even when there are no visible signs of life. Pray for hearts to hunger for the Truth, the whole truth and nothing but the Truth.
GOT DOCUMENTATION? Perhaps you need evidence of the teachings of the Mormon Church for yourself or to show a friend. We would be happy to provide you with photocopies from a wide variety of LDS books from our library at no cost. Just let us know what you need!