Don’t believe everything you hear about the Mormons. Odds are…it’s probably not true.
When my wife and I were dating before I left on my mission (yes…I was engaged when I left on my mission), we did the nerdiest stuff you can think of. Instead of going to the movies, we derived pleasure from visiting the various Christian bookstores around Southern California. After awhile…we started to notice that every Christian bookstore had loads of anti-mormon literature plaguing the shelves. So we started asking the store workers why they sold that stuff and how it was “Christian” to knock down other religions. Most of the people we asked were embarrassed and normally gave the classic “I just work here” response. After all…if a Christian is comfortable with their doctrine…then they should follow the old and wise counsel of Gamaliel from the 5th Chapter of Acts. When those pesky apostles created a stir among the Jews with their new and strange doctrines, Gamaliel told the Jews that were preoccupied with proving them wrong to “let them alone: for if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to nought: But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against God.” (Acts 5:41)
The things I found on those shelves weren’t fair…and they definitely weren’t accurate. Maybe partially accurate but rarely entirely accurate. What was written was almost always either taken out of context or quoted from another anti-Mormon source from many years back.
So here’s the issue. A bunch of good hearted Christian people go to the Christian bookstores or innocently attend their church’s Sunday school class and BAM! They’re hit with a bunch of things about Mormons that are calculated to make them look like freaks. Remember…just because the guy that published that book you read about the Mormons had a Phd…it doesn’t make it true. That’s also true of your pastor. He may be a man of God…but if he’s bashing other churches in any way shape or form, then you may want to remind him that Christ never had time for that sort of thing. He was too busy with the rigor of His ministry to have time for tearing others down. It wasn’t His style…and it shouldn’t be yours either.
Even if you never join the Mormon church…just don’t believe everything you hear about it and keep an open mind. Find out for yourself. Invite one over for dinner or ask them directly about what they believe. It’s not going to hurt you to have one of them explain to you what they believe and why they believe it. If you come to decide that Mormonism isn’t right for you…then just be friends with them. Don’t declare theological war on them. Even Christ said in Luke 9:50 that “he that is not against us is for us.” A preconceived notion from a book you read or a sermon you heard might keep you from developing a friendship with a really nice person! No Mormon is against you! They want to be your friend…and if they don’t want to be your friend because you believe differently or because you won’t convert to Mormonism…then they shouldn’t be a Mormon.
But lets flip this on its head and look at it from the other side. If you’re already a Mormon…you shouldn’t just believe what another Mormon tells you either. Apply the same advice that is given to non-Mormons and don’t believe everything you hear about the Church. There are too many people leaving the Church because they’ve heard something that was either stated incorrectly or out of context by another member of the Church. One of the things I love most about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is that I have always been told to study, research, pray, and find answers for myself. No one should just join the Church or stay in the Church because Glenn Beck said it’s cool or because Mitt Romney is a stud. You’re not a Mormon because of David Archuleta’s vocal cords or because you like Jimmer’s three point shot. Don’t just believe in the Church because mom and dad told you to or because President Monson bore his testimony of it. Yes…these are great people that you may be inclined to follow…and for good reason, but don’t ever just believe something because they said so. That’s not part of the program. It was never part of the program. Let their testimonies stir your soul, study up, and then get an answer from above.
Do you remember when Jesus was hanging out with Peter and the rest of the apostles in Cæsarea Philippi? He took them specifically to this place to ask them one of the most important questions in human history. He asked them “who do you think that I am”? Remember…they had been with him, seen miracles, and listened to him teach about the fulfillment of the Messianic prophecies. Being Jews…they were taught of the coming Messiah since birth. But as they stood before Him…they were still unsure about who He really was. But Peter spoke up with boldness and declared Jesus to be the the Son of God and the Savior of the world! Then Christ gave us one of the most important lessons of his entire glorious ministry. “Flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven”. (Matt 16:17) Christ was telling Peter and the others that the only way to get to the truth was by careful study, obedience to the commandments, and by direct revelation from heaven above. Christ is acknowledging that even as He stands there in front of their faces…that He himself, in the flesh, is unable to give them the testimony they will need in order to be faithful until the bitter end. He is teaching them to seek the spirit and to receive a manifestation from heaven to know of a surety.
So…if you’re not a Mormon, don’t believe what you hear about the Mormons. And if you are a Mormon…don’t just blindly believe and rely on the testimony of others. In these last days (which we are in) Nephi says that its going to get super hard to stay true to the faith because of false reports and widespread apathy. He says that “they have all gone astray save it be a few, who are the humble followers of Christ; nevertheless, they are led, that in many instances they do err because they are taught by the precepts of men.” (2 Ne 28:14)
Yeah…people are “erring” because they’re listening…believing…following the “precepts of men” without learning the truth for themselves by going to God and studying it out. So find your sacred grove…regardless of your religious background and be one of the “few” that stay true to the faith in boldly testifying of Christ in the latter days.