If you’re reading this article, it’s either because you’re Mormon or Evangelical…or you’re like one of those kids at the school yard that is surrounding the two kids yelling “fight, fight, fight”. Honestly though, the endless rhetoric between Mormons and Evangelicals about faith and works or other points of doctrine should be laid to rest so that they can join hands and fight the real fight. I’ll tell you what that real fight is in a minute…
Let me see how accurate I can get when summarizing how many Evangelicals feel about Mormons. I may be way off but I’ll give it a try anyway…[Theoretical Evangelical] – A lot of Mormons I meet are really nice but I feel sorry for them. They are so misguided. They’ve been led astray by a false prophet named John Smith. And oh my goodness, their missionaries that ride around on bikes and knock on my door right when we’re about to sit down for dinner are so annoying. They think there is only one true Church and that they are it. They think that everyone else is going to hell if they don’t join the Mormon Church. They have their own Bible and don’t believe in the same Jesus that we do. But they do really take care of each other… and their families are really important to them, and the one’s I’ve met have been really nice. [My Mormon Answer to this Theoretical Evangelical] – We don’t have another Bible. We love the Bible…and we also love the Book of Mormon which is an ancient record that was buried on the American continent. It was discovered by a man we consider to be a prophet and his name is Joseph Smith…not John Smith. 🙂 Trust me when I say that I know there are a lot of annoying Mormon’s… including missionaries…but heck…there are annoying people in every religion right? The reason we knock on your door sometimes is because we really want to share something with you that we don’t think you’ve heard in it’s entirety. We don’t want to take anything away from your faith. We just want to see if we have anything to add to it. We don’t think you’ll go to hell if you don’t join the LDS Church and we believe in the Jesus that is found in the New Testament. If you don’t like what we have to say then we hope we can be friends!
Then somehow the discussion changes into a Bible quoting debate about faith and works, the nature of God and the Trinity, and whether Mormons think they can become gods or not. But seriously… Mormons and Evangelicals may disagree about some various points of doctrine, but by and large, they are really not that different. They love God, and love their families, and try to help people at every opportunity. If we contend against each other harshly, then the adversary will gain ground on all of us. He knows that if he can distract all of the God fearing people for just a moment, that he will be able to assemble an army capable of destroying religious freedom worldwide and in the United States. If that happens, we won’t even have the freedom to debate with each other.
We’re all on the same team and we really need to remember that.
I hired a non-denominational Christian guy by the name of John Rowa (he said he doesn’t like to be called Evangelical) a couple years ago and we’ve become great friends…at least I think so. It was one of the best decisions I’ve made in business. I see him bumping the Mormon Tabernacle Choir in his office. He calls it “Mo-Tab Monday”. We talk religion all the time and have a bunch of fun with it. I listen to 89.7 KSGN and Air 90.1 (Christian radio stations in Southern California) almost exclusively and probably half of my music collection is Toby Mac, Switchfoot, and even a little bit of Kirk Franklin. My kids have grown up singing along to Mandisa and Matt Redman instead of Katy Perry. Like Matt Redman, we also have 10,000 reasons to glorify God. We go to the skating rink on “Christian” night to be around fellow Christians. We love them all for their desire to worship God and glorify Him. We just happen to believe in a few additional theological ideas. I don’t see any reason why those additional ideas should put anyone at odds with each other. Especially when Christ said,
And John answered and said, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name; and we forbad him, because he followeth not with us. And Jesus said unto him, Forbid him not: for he that is not against us is for us. (Luke 9:49-50)
I don’t believe at all that there is anything wrong with a healthy theological conversation about points of doctrine and interpretations, but when you become so angry at another person because of their beliefs, you’ve really got to evaluate where that spirit of contention is coming from. Respectfully disagree if you need to, but come together in the end.
Many years ago the LDS prophet Joseph Smith said,
“The Saints can testify whether I am willing to lay down my life for my brethren. If it has been demonstrated that I have been willing to die for a ‘Mormon,’ I am bold to declare before Heaven that I am just as ready to die in defending the rights of a Presbyterian, a Baptist, or a good man of any other denomination; for the same principle which would trample upon the rights of the Latter-day Saints would trample upon the rights of the Roman Catholics, or of any other denomination who may be unpopular and too weak to defend themselves.” (History of the Church, 5:498–99)
More recently Billy Graham stated on the “The Hour of Power”,
“I think there’s the body of Christ which comes from all the Christian groups around the world, or outside the Christian groups. I think that everybody that loves Christ or knows Christ, whether they’re conscious of it or not, they’re members of the body of Christ. And I don’t think that we’re going to see a great sweeping revival that will turn the whole world to Christ at any time. What God is doing today is calling people out of the world for His name. Whether they come from the Muslim world, or the Buddhist world, or the Christian world, or the non-believing world, they are members of the body of Christ because they’ve been called by God. They may not even know the name of Jesus, but they know in their hearts they need something that they don’t have and they turn to the only light they have and I think they’re saved and they’re going to be with us in heaven.”
Mormon’s believe that there will be many religions on the earth during the millennium and that it is important for us to support each other regardless of the specifics of our doctrine, which brings us back to the beginning of this article.
What is the real fight?
Right now as we speak…governments, groups, and coalitions are combining together against religious worship as a whole. Not against, Mormons or Non-Denominationals or Baptists or Catholics but against religion as a whole. If we fix our time on contentious arguments among believers, and lose sight of what is really important, we may not have the ability to express our beliefs in the future.
Dallin H. Oaks, an LDS apostle just stated about a month ago that people of all faiths should “insist upon our constitutional right to the free exercise of our religions,” and that “we need to support the coalitions of religious leaders and God-fearing people who are coming together to defend our nation’s traditional culture of belief in God and the acknowledgement of his blessings.”
I personally love to hear what other people believe about God. If you hear someone express their belief, it’s ok to question them…but always respect them and “instead of raising your voice…improve your argument”. Reasoning from the scriptures and talking about Church history can be fun, and if you can do it calmly and respectfully, it will help others understand where you are actually coming from. The more we know about each other and our faiths, the more we can come to love each other…and we will need that love and unification if we are going to be able to stand against the monster that is coming our way.