How to Witness to Mormons
There are at least two approaches to use in witnessing to Mormons. We can either debate the doctrines of Mormonism (baptism for the dead, “burning” in the bosom, Joseph Smith as a prophet of God, the validity of the Book of Mormon, the Trinity, “God was once a man,” “protective” underwear, etc.), or we can present the gospel biblically. One creates an atmosphere of contention and often leaves the Christian feeling frustrated, while the other creates an atmosphere of concern for the eternal welfare of the Mormon. Our goal should be to win a soul to Christ rather than merely win a doctrinal argument.
One point of frustration for the Christian is that Mormons often agree when they hear words such as “salvation,” or Jesus as “Savior.” The problem is that their understanding of the words differs from the biblical revelation of the words. “Salvation” for a Mormon can mean the salvation of all humanity—when the “Savior” will eventually raise everyone from the dead. Rather than speak of “going to heaven,” the Christian should ask what the Mormon has to do to be at peace with the “heavenly Father.” This is language they can understand, and will reveal the basis for their salvation. Are they trusting in self-righteousness, or solely in the righteousness of Christ?
Mark J. Cares writes: “Although Mormons commonly appear self-assured and self-righteous, many are undergoing great stress. This is because Mormonism holds up perfection as an attainable goal. The one Bible passage the Mormon church constantly holds up before its membership is Matthew 5:48: ‘Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.’ They then expound on it with numerous exhortations to strive for perfection. Spencer W. Kimball, for example, wrote: ‘Being perfect means to triumph over sin. This is a mandate from the Lord. He is just and wise and kind. He would never require anything from his children which was not for their benefit and which was not attainable. Perfection therefore is an achievable goal’ (Life and Teachings of Jesus and His Apostles, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints).
“This emphasis on perfection permeates every aspect of a Mormon’s life. Its most common form is the unending demand on them to be ‘worthy.’ Every privilege in Mormonism is conditioned on a person’s worthiness. Kimball wrote: ‘All blessings are conditional. I know of none that are not’ (Remember Me, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints).
“Christians need to recognize that this constant striving for perfection—and the resultant stress it produces—offers an excellent opening to talk to Mormons about Jesus and the imputed perfection we receive through Him.
“Reinforce their predicament. Average hard-working Mormons view this striving for perfection as a heavy but manageable burden. They can cultivate illusions of perfection because the Mormon church has greatly watered down the concept of sin. Consequently, the Christian witness needs to show Mormons both the severity of their predicament and the impossibility of their becoming perfect. In other words, they need to have a face-to-face confrontation with the stern message of God’s Law, because ‘through the Law we become conscious of sin’ (Romans 3:21).
“The Law must first convince Mormons of the severity of their predicament. The best way to accomplish this is to tell them, lovingly but firmly, that they are going to ‘outer darkness.’ (Outer darkness is the closest concept in Mormonism to an eternal hell.) Most Mormons have never been told this, nor have they ever considered that possibility for themselves, since Mormonism teaches that nearly everyone will enter one of Mormonism’s three kingdoms of heaven. Therefore, until you introduce the thought of eternal suffering, they will not feel any real urgency to take your witness to heart. On the contrary, most, if they are willing to talk at all, will view any religious conversation as nothing more than an interesting intellectual discussion.
“Christians often hesitate to be this blunt. They feel that if anything will turn Mormons off, telling them that they are going to outer darkness surely will. I shared that fear when I began using this approach. To my amazement, however, rejection wasn’t the reaction I received. Most have been shocked, but they were also eager to know why I would say such a thing. The key is to speak this truth with love, in such a way that our concern for their souls is readily apparent.
“Alerting Mormons to the very real danger of their going to outer darkness opens the door to telling them the basis for that judgment —which is, they are not meeting God’s requirement for living with Him (they are not presently perfect). The key to explaining this is the present imperative, be perfect, in Matthew 5:48.” See Luke 18:20 footnote for how to go through the Law, and 1 Corinthians 15:58 footnote on how not to be discouraged in witnessing.
Reference: Comfort, R. (n.d.). The Way of the Master. Retrieved from http://www.livingwaters.com/witnessingtool/howtowitnesstomormons.shtml
|About the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
a.k.a. “Mormonism”, “LDS”, “Reorganized LDS” (RLDS), “Community of Christ”
Originating in America, and now headquartered in Salt Lake City, Utah, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormonism) is one of the fastest growing pseudo-Christian religions in the world, with a presence in 140 nations and 21 territories and possessions.
As of December 31, 2001, the church claimed a worldwide membership of 11,394,522. The church also claimed:
Needless to say, Mormonism has grown from a small aberrant sect into the significance of a world religion.
Joseph Smith, Jr., the founder and first prophet of the Mormon church, was born on December 23, 1805, in Sharon, Vermont. The Smith family migrated to western New York, near Palmyra, in 1816. It was there that Joseph spent his teenage years.
As Joseph recounted, when he was fourteen years old (1820), he became concerned as to which church to join. The different churches in his area were at odds with one another, each claiming to be the true church. After reading James 1:5–“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him” (KJV)–he went into the woods to prayerfully ask God which church he should join.
According to Joseph, while praying in the woods near his home, he received his “first vision” of God. As he was battling the powers of darkness, he was delivered when a pillar of light descended upon him. Two personages appeared in the pillar of light. Although they never explicitly identified themselves, Joseph described the personages as God the Father and his Son, Jesus Christ. He asked the Son which church he should join. Claimed Joseph, “I was answered that I must join none of them, for they were all wrong… that all their creeds were an abomination in his sight; that those professors were all corrupt…” (Pearl of Great Price, Joseph Smith–History 1:19).
Four books comprise the scriptures of the Mormon church; these are known as “The Standard Works”: the Bible (King James Version), the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price.
Doctrine taught by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints varies significantly from traditional Biblical Christian theology. To learn more, please choose one of the following topics:
WHERE ARE YOU? In order to be equipped to witness to our Mormon friends we need to know what we believe. It is one thing to focus our attention on what Mormons believe, it is quite another to understand clearly what the Bible teaches. In light of this, it is important that you, as a Christian, are in a habit of studying God’s word, attending a strongly biblical church, and praying for God to grant you wisdom in your witnessing opportunities.
THE RELIABILITY OF THE BIBLE Since Mormons do not believe the Bible is fully trustworthy, you may encounter some trouble using the Bible. But you should never stop using the Bible, simply because of their unbelief. In spite of their unbelief, the Bible is still the word of God; and it is true (John 17:17) and reliable (Isaiah 40:3). Remember, the word of God contains wisdom unto salvation, and thoroughly equips God’s people for every good work (2 Timothy 3:15-17).
Important in witnessing to Mormons is showing that they have placed their trust in something truly untrustworthy. Here are a few areas on which you may focus.
Because so many Bible passages are distorted by the teachings of Mormonism, we will only be able to look at a few of the more common distortions. Keep in mind that if you take the context of a verse into account, you will see that it does not teach Mormon doctrine. Their interpretation is read into the text.
BE PRAYERFUL We are called to pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17). Pray that God would grant you the wisdom you need to clearly and carefully communicate the truth to your Mormon friends (James 1:5).
BE PREPARED While there is no need to try to know everything about Mormon beliefs, history and culture, it can only help if you know some of the basics. This way you can anticipate what they might say. It is even more important for you to know what the Bible teaches. You must spend much time studying the Bible so you may be able to respond to the Mormon distortions and appeals to it.
BE PATIENT As you seek to witness to your Mormon friends, don’t try to cover too much territory in one sitting. This can lead to a strong defensive attitude and minimal communication. Take your time. Remember 2 Timothy 2:24-26.
BE PERSISTENT Don’t give up. We are in this for the long term. If you get frustrated, take some time off. Pray and ask God to help you in your preparation and understanding. Pray too that he will give your Mormon friend eyes to see and ears to hear the truth of who God is, their need for his salvation, and his provision of the Gospel of grace.
Effective Evangelism is a part of ChristianAnswers.Net
Reference: Christian Answers Network. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.christiananswers.net/evangelism/beliefs/mormonism.html
Witnessing to Mormons
Those who frequently witness to Mormons seem to gravitate to one of three different approaches: (1) use of the Bible, (2) use of the Book of Mormon, or (3) discussing the many problems associated with LDS claims for being the only true and restored church of Jesus Christ. Of course, one can blend a combination of these. We will discuss these methods in more detail, but first let’s consider a few insights that will help you to be more effective.
Foundational, but sometimes overlooked, is to begin with a sincere attitude of love and a burden for the salvation of your Mormon friend. A heart of love and continued prayer all during the witnessing experience will help you stay focused on your message and maintain the proper demeanor. Witnessing is not equal to arguing or trying to be right by proving someone else wrong. Arguments will almost always cause someone to be defensive and closed-minded. Witnessing is sharing the true gospel of Jesus Christ with them. You might use a few different approaches to get their attention so they will give you an ear, but until you have exposed them to the gospel you are not witnessing.
It is advisable that you know a little about Mormon beliefs ahead of time so that you know how to direct the conversation and be able to ask meaningful questions. We have an introductory article on Mormon beliefs andother resources on Mormon doctrine to equip you in this regard.
If you have just met the person, get to know him (or her) on a personal level so that he becomes a real person to you, not just another Mormon. Learn about his interests, family, and background. Ask questions about why he became a Mormon and what he likes most and least about the Mormon faith, etc. Respect his values and offer him water or milk to drink instead of coffee. Don’t ridicule their beliefs by saying things like, “I don’t know how anyone could possibly believe such a thing!” Ask him to explain what he believes. Not all Mormons are aware of what the LDS Church teaches, and many will not readily reveal what they truly believe. Often you will have to ask questions to draw their beliefs out of them. You need this sort of information to have a purposeful discussion. Be aware, however, when discussing their beliefs that Mormons regularly attach different understandings to the same words that are used by Christians. Here is a guide to help you with some common terminology differences.
Also, don’t assume that your Mormon friend is at peace with everything he has been taught, and don’t expect him to tell you that up-front. Many have doubts and many have repressed them. To help him open up and be honest about his struggles with living sinlessly, be transparent regarding your own struggles with life and sinfulness.
Much more could be said but much of it centers on putting yourself in the Mormon’s shoes and concluding how you would like to be treated if you were standing in them. Some additional insights will be discussed as they are appropriate, so let’s get started.
Use of the Bible
One common approach to witnessing to Mormons is to use the Bible to show them the true gospel and to help them see how it differs from the gospel of Mormonism. In using this approach, it is important to keep in mind that Mormons are taught not to trust the accuracy of the Bible. They have been led to believe that many plain and precious truths have been removed from its pages while other teachings have been altered or added. (I might humorously add that they have no problem using the Bible with total confidence if they think it supports their teaching.) Because Mormons don’t trust the Bible, they believe that their additional scriptures and prophets were needed to restore the true gospel. You will find it helpful to be able to show that the integrity of the Bible has been carefully preserved over the past centuries in the processes of copying and translating the Bible. Mormons use the King James Version. Sometimes I have used another translation and asked them to follow along in the KJV so they can see it says the same thing. In discussing difficult passages this can help both of you to grasp the message being taught.
Typically, Mormons don’t view themselves as being lost sinners in need of God’s forgiveness and grace. They more typically see themselves as gods in embryo working their way to perfection and on the road to becoming full-fledged gods someday. They are aware that they sin, but whenever they sin they are expected to repent, forsake their sin and never repeat it, not even once. This quest to become perfect will continue after death. After possibly eons of time they expect eventually to reach perfection and successfully achieve godhood. They don’t understand the biblical teaching that man is helplessly corrupt, spiritually dead in sin, and unable to do anything to deserve God’s grace and forgiveness. In their theology, Jesus suffered and died so that everyone can be resurrected from the grave. The standard view in Mormonism is that God offers his grace only to make up the deficit after they have exerted every possible effort in their quest for perfection. The goal of attaining sinlessness in this life is of course humanly impossible and can be extremely discouraging to one who is hopelessly failing. Here lies our opportunity to share the true gospel of grace. We can help Mormons see and feel the weight of their repeated failure to live a perfect life and help them understand that human perfection is impossible for us in this life. Once they see themselves as helpless failing sinners, the logical next step is to show them that their only hope is that God willfreely love, forgive, and accept them on the sole basis of what Christ has done for them, as the completely undeserved gift of his grace.
So, the challenge is to demonstrate that the LDS plan of salvation is unworkable and to show Mormons from the Bible that Jesus has already accomplished for them on the cross what they can never do for themselves. Jesus has already perfected those who trust in him by the work he did for us on the cross (Hebrews 10:14).
Mark Cares in his book, Speaking the Truth in Love to Mormons, finds it effective to start out (lovingly of course) by explaining to his Mormon friend that he is headed for outer darkness (the term Mormons use for hell) because they are not perfect and God requires perfection. He uses Jesus’ words in Matthew 5:48: “Be ye therefore perfect, even as you Father which is in heaven is perfect.” This same verse is basically repeated in 3 Nephi 12:48 in the Book of Mormon. Mormons are familiar with Matthew 5:48 and often use it to show Christians that works are necessary and that faith alone is not enough to be worthy to live with Heavenly Father someday. Therefore, to them this verse proves their point that they must be actively accomplishing their required list of dos and don’ts. Cares, however, points out that “Be ye therefore perfect” is in the present tense and is not the same as becomingperfect. If your boss says to be on time, he doesn’t mean to work on it over the next year or so. Cares shows them from James 2:10 that if you fail at only one point you have broken the entire law. This is reminiscent of the Mormon scripture D&C 82:7 which states if you repent of a sin and commit it again later, then all of your pervious sins will return. He shows them from Matthew 7:13- 14 that most people are on the wide road leading to destruction (outer darkness). This, again, is contrary to LDS teaching that the only brings that will go to outer darkness are Satan, his demons, and temple Mormons who once totally understood the Mormon gospel and then left the LDS Church. Nearly all people, they believe, will go to one of three glorious heavens.
Cares’s intent in pointing out Mormons’ sinfulness is to “get them lost so they can get saved.” He wants them to feel the weight of the impossible demand of perfection required by Mormonism. He quotes teachings like this from Mormon prophet Spencer W. Kimball in his book The Miracle of Forgiveness (p. 286):
“‘Yes,’ I said, ‘but we are commanded to be supermen. Said the Lord; “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” (Matt. 5:48) We are gods in embryo, and the Lord demands perfection of us.’”
If the Mormon attempts to change the subject away from being perfect, Cares tactfully brings the conversation back to add to the weight of sin and the impossible task of becoming perfect. Each time they meet he gently tries to ask how the quest for perfection is going to add more weigh of sin until hopefully the Mormon comes to realize that his attempts at being sinless are utterly failing. When asked, usually early in the first conversation, if he ever does anything wrong, Cares replies, “God has declared me, a person who sins constantly, perfect because Jesus was perfect for me and wiped my sins away with his death.” He recommends Hebrews 10:10-18 to demonstrate that those trusting in Christ have already been perfected by Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. Verse 14 shows that Christ’s sacrifice has already made true believers perfect forever in God’s sight. Of course, many other verses found (for example) in Romans 3- 5, Galatians 3 and Ephesians 2 can be used to fortify the message that we are saved by grace through faith and not by our works.
Cares has written an entire book on reaching Mormons with this method. I highly recommend it. He discusses why Mormons think the way they do in the first half of the book to set the stage for his recommendations for how to witness in the second portion. The final 40 pages contain an extensive “Dictionary of Mormonese” to help students understand the differing terms and teachings important to communicating effectively with Mormons. There is much to be learned and appreciated in this book, which can also be found at Mark’s website Truth in Love Ministry, an excellent resource to help those who are witnessing to Mormons.
Another good source that teaches this witnessing method is found in chapter 11 of The Mormon Scrapbook: A Christian’s Guide for Reaching Latter-day Saints, by Daniel G. Thompson. This is also a great book that clearly explains both the Mormon and Christian side of various doctrines. It is packed with insightful witnessing tips and suggestions. I highly recommend this book as well. It can be found in our e-store for your convenience.
Another approach in using the Bible is obviously to look at passages relevant to significant differences between Mormon doctrine and biblical teaching. I would advise that most of these discussions should center on teachings about the nature of God or the doctrine of salvation. A good place to start on the nature of God is in the book of Isaiah because, based upon the credibility of the Dead Sea Scrolls, it can easily be shown to be trustworthy, complete and unchanged. The Isaiah scroll is dated at one hundred or more years BC and is essentially the same as the text we have in our Bibles today. This means that neither the Catholic Church nor the Jews rabbis adulterated the text. Furthermore, Isaiah is quoted extensively in the Book of Mormon almost verbatim so there is no reason to believe other portions of the book would be inaccurate. Following are a few verses that teach us about the nature of God that conflict with Mormon doctrine.
Isa. 43:10, 11; 44:6, 8 – There is only one God
Neh. 9:5, 6; Ps. 90:2; Hab. 1:12 – God has existed eternally as God
Num. 23:19; Hos. 11:9; 1 Sam. 15:29 – God is not a man
Ps. 139:8-16 – God is Omnipresent
Because Mormons distrust the bible and put much emphasis on bearing their testimony, I like the suggestion of Aaron Shafovaloff from Mormon Research Ministry when introducing a biblical passage where God is revealing something about Himself. He doesn’t say simply, “This is what the Bible says.” Instead, he recommends saying something like this to give the passage more weight: “This is what God has testified about Himself.” You might ask your Mormon friend to read the verse out loud and then ask: “What is God telling us about Himself in this verse?” Get him to verbalize the message and say it out loud. It is good to plan where you desire this conversation to conclude. Hopefully it will lead back to what the Mormon needs to hear regarding Christ and his provision for us on the cross. A thought-out plan will reduce the temptation to simply exchange proof texts back and forth. One person calls this playing Bible ping-pong. This can easily lead to arguments, i.e., friction creating more heat than light. The Mormon certainly needs to understand what the Bible teaches, but our demeanor is critical at every step. Mormons must know that you sincerely love them, that you are not trying to pick an argument, and that your motivation for sharing is because you are concerned for their salvation. If need be, tell them so.
Use of the Book of Mormon
Here we find basically two different methods. The first is to help Mormons understand the truth by using Book of Mormon passages that teach the same truths as taught in the Bible. I don’t really recommend using this method because the Book of Mormon is not God’s inspired Word and should not be used as though it is. The Bible should be held out as the only authority for truth. Certain Book of Mormon passages that agree with biblical teaching can be used, however, to show that early in the history of Mormonism the teachings of the LDS Church agreed closely with biblical teachings. It can be helpful to show, for example, that LDS teachings on the nature of God have drastically changed and are now contrary to or were never taught as doctrine in the Book of Mormon (BoM). It could be significant to point out that the introduction to the BoM states that it contains “the fulness of the everlasting gospel.” The same introduction quotes Joseph Smith stating: “I told the brethren 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.” The BoM supposedly restored the true gospel that had been lost shortly after Christ’s apostles died. It is helpful for a trusting Mormon to see that the BoM teaches that there is only one God, that God is spirit, that he has always existed as God, and that there is no second chance for salvation after one dies. All of these teachings are denied by current LDS doctrine. If the BoM contains thefullness of the everlasting gospel, why should the current doctrines of the church be different than those found in the BoM, which supposedly restored the true gospel after being lost for almost 1,700 years? Within fourteen years of this historic “restoration” through the production of the BoM, many teachings found in the BoM were changed and many more added that do not appear in the book. Following is a chart listing some of the missing or conflicting doctrines now taught by the LDS Church.
Teachings Not Found in the Book of Mormon
(Verses in the BoM that oppose the teaching)
More than one God exists: Alma 11:26-31, 44; 2 Nephi 31:21; 3 Nephi 11:27, 36; Mormon 7:7; Testimony of the Three Witnesses in the front of the BoM
God is not spirit, but has a body of flesh and bones: Alma 18:2-5,24-28, 22:9-11; Mosiah 15:1-5
God has not existed eternally as God, but is an exalted man that once lived on a planet like we do, and progressed to become a god: 1 Nephi 10:18; Mosiah 3:5; 3 Nephi 24:6; Mormon 9:9-11, 19; Moroni 7:22, 8:18
Man can become a God: Use the same references given immediately above showing that God existed eternally as God, therefore he could never have been a man in the past.
There is no eternal hell and punishment: Jacob 3:11, 6:10; 1 Nephi 15:35; 2 Nephi 9:16, 28:21- 25; Mosiah 2:39, 16:5,11; 27:31; Alma 42:16
We pre-existed as spirits before we were born on earth: There is nothing in BoM on this subject.
Marriage for eternity/temple work: There is nothing in the BoM on this subject.
Polygamy is acceptable to God: Jacob 1:15, 2:24, 28, 3:5; Mosiah 11:2; Ether 10:5
There are three degrees of glory (Three different heavens with increasing greatness in rewards): There is nothing in the BoM on this subject.
We have a mother in heaven: There is nothing in the BoM on this subject.
New Testament era “Melchizedek priesthood with its corresponding authority and offices of Elder, Seventy, and High Priest: There is nothing in the BoM on this subject.
New Testament era “Aaronic priesthood with its corresponding authority and offices of Deacon, Teacher, and Priest: There is nothing in the BoM on this subject.
Church organization with Stakes and Wards, a First Presidency, President of the church, Stake Presidents, Bishoprics, etc.: There is nothing in the BoM on this subject.
Baptism for the Dead, or a second chance for salvation: Alma 34:32-35; 2 Nephi 9:38; Mosiah 2:39, 3:25, 16:5, 11; 26:25-28
The blood of Jesus Christ does not cleanse certain sins: There is nothing in the BoM on this subject.
The Holy Ghost and Lucifer are sons of God: There is nothing in the BoM on this subject.
One of the easiest ways to use the BoM as a witnessing tool follows a two-step approach. First, discuss, clarify, and arrive at a mutual understanding of its introductory statements regarding its accuracy and the completeness of its gospel message. Then in your conversation simply ask the Mormon to show where it teaches one or more of the major doctrines, such as the Mormon priesthood system, or that temple marriage is necessary to become a god, or that god was once a man, or that baptism should be performed for the dead. The uniqueness in using this approach is that you don’t have to be an expert on Mormonism; you only have to be familiar with some of its unique teachings. You don’t have to remember references and it is not confrontational if done carefully and with tact. You simply have to ask for documentation in the BoM and the rest is us up to the Mormon to find a reference. The goal is to start him questioning his foundation and what he has been told to believe. You may want to ask your Mormon friend how to help you understand why these discrepancies are possible. Again, try to steer the subject back to the gospel. For example, you could possibly read 2 Nephi 25:23 “…for we know that it is by grace that we are saved after all that we can do.” Then ask what that means. Then ask if they are doing all they can do in order to be able to live with Heavenly Father someday. This could lead you to Matthew 5:48 and the teaching about being perfect.
In our e-store there is a book by Concerned Christians called Witnessing to Mormons that is very useful for showing the problems between doctrines taught in the BoM and other Mormon scriptures including the Bible. It has parallel columns showing what Mormon doctrine says, what Mormon scripture says, and what the Bible says, showing the contradictions for over 20 unique LDS teachings. The references are given and fully written out so you don’t have to have the books in hand. This book also gives many other insights into witnessing to Mormons including terminology differences that are helpful for understanding your Mormon friend.
Another way to use the Book of Mormon is to point out its many problems such as changes that have been made to the text or the archaeological and scientific problems with its claims, such as the origin of Native American peoples. The BoM says they stem from people of Hebrew lineage who sailed across the oceans, but according to DNA evidence they are descended from people of East Asia who came to the Americas over the Bering Strait. There are many anachronisms (errors in chronology) in describing things as horses, steel, elephants, etc., that we now know did not exist in the Americas in the pre-Columbian era of the Book of Mormon story. For examples of scientific and historical problems with the BoM visit our Book of Mormon page.
If you decide to use this approach with the Book of Mormon for witnessing to Mormons, be prepared for Mormons to try to turn the tables by using the Book of Mormon for witnessing to you! When Mormons seek to proselytize others into Mormonism, they commonly give people the Book of Mormon and ask them to read it and pray about it so that the Holy Ghost can confirm to them that it is true. Moroni 10:4 is used:
And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.
The hope is that you will receive a warm feeling in your bosom, or some other manifestation to confirm that the BoM is true. When confronted with the differences between the BoM and current Mormon doctrine, a Mormon will very likely fall back on his “testimony” that he has had such a spiritual experience that assures him that the Book of Mormon is true and that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God. The Mormon may also ask if you would be willing to pray about the BoM.
In response to this challenge, you will need to explain why praying to determine if a book is true is not the way to determine truth. Ask the Mormon what he thinks about praying to receive a testimony of the truthfulness of the Qur’an or some New Age book claiming to be channeled by a spirit being. He will probably understand your concern. The test for truth is spelled out in Galatians 1:6-9 and Acts 17:11. We search the scriptures and see if itagrees with what God has previously revealed in the Bible. If a teaching claims to be from God but does not totally agree with what God has already revealed, then the teaching fails the test. You don’t pray over it to get a feeling.
The BoM sounds quite biblical in many places, although in some places it errs drastically. For example, several passages in the BoM teach that Jesus is the Father (Mosiah 15:1-5; 16:15; Alma 11:38-39; Mormon 9:12; Ether 3:14). Except for the story of an unverifiable American civilization and the claim that Jesus came and taught on this continent shortly after his resurrection, there isn’t much in the BoM that would alarm many people. Thus the average potential convert is not overly alarmed while reading it. The grossly non-biblical teachings that are taught after one joins the church are called “meat.” Potential new members are not considered ready for those teachings, so they are given the “milk” of the Christian-sounding BoM complete with King James language. But, is Mormonism really Christian? That needs to be determined through searching the scriptures, not by way of a subjective feeling.
Discussing Problems Associated with LDS Claims
There is by far the most information and documentation available for using this witnessing method. I believe it is used more often than the other approaches. On the one hand, it is quite possibly the biggest type of reason why people leave Mormonism. On the other hand, many people who come out of Mormonism as a result of such information do not come to Christ but lose any faith in God they might have had. This approach is used by many ex-Mormon websites that bitterly oppose Mormonism and no longer believe in God. They have no reason to bring a person to faith in Christ because they no longer believe in him. Most Christian ministry websites fully document the many problems with Mormonism, but they also teach the truths found in the Bible. A huge concern, however, is that using this approach alone without sharing the gospel message offers nothing to fill the spiritual vacuum once one discovers what they have believed so intently is completely void and false. This approach, used without emphasizing the good news of the true gospel, has undoubtedly contributed to the huge percentage of exiting Mormons that become agnostics (about 50%). I can’t stress enough that one should have a prayerfully developed plan before using this approach, as with the others, for how they will apply the information and transition the discussion to the truths of the Bible and its gospel.
This approach seeks to open the tightly closed mind of the devoted Mormon by discussing serious and shocking problems within Mormonism. The goal is to help the Mormon begin to think honestly about the LDS religion and to question what he has been taught. A sampling of issues includes the following:
- inconsistencies and deceptions related to the officially proclaimed history and origins of Mormonism
- false prophecies of its prophets
- concealed changes to revelations supposedly given directly from God
- doctrines once taught by early Mormon prophets and leaders that are now regarded as heretical by current leaders
- claims made in Mormon scripture that are now refuted by science and archaeology
- the discovery of the papyri that Joseph Smith claimed to have translated as the Book of Abraham—papyri that turned out instead to contain pagan Egyptian funeral texts
- Joseph Smith’s involvement with the occult
- Joseph Smith’s secret marriages to at least 33 women 11 of whom were already married to other men
One reason this approach is so popular is that there is so much irrefutable evidence that it is very hard to explain it all away. I won’t go into detail about all of these issues here. Our website documents and explains them in detail. When discussing them with Mormons you must show concern without ridicule. All you have to do is to ask them, for example, if they have ever heard about these matters. No matter how hard you try, however, this approach is not going to make you popular with the Mormon and it may make it harder to build relationships and a desire to meet with you again or to build trust. Yet, these objectives are not impossible if they can see that you truly love them and that your only concern is for their eternal welfare.
If you take this approach to witnessing to Mormons, you should also be prepared for the fact that it takes time for Mormons to come to terms with such disturbing information. Some Mormons know about these things but find ways to rationalize the problems. Other Mormons recognize the implications of these facts but for personal reasons choose to remain in the religion. We reviewed the unsolicited comments of a hundred people who were leaving Mormonism and requesting mentors from IRR. Twenty-five mentioned they had doubts about Mormonism for many years. Many had forced the doubts out of their minds. Essentially, they put themselves into denial of the problems they saw. Many Mormons over the years have stated they stayed in the church because of the fear of going to outer darkness if they should leave. Others stayed because of social pressures, even the threat of divorce, if they should disclose they had lost faith in Mormonism. It is significant that 50% of registered Mormons no longer attend any services. One respected ministry leader in Utah calculates that 50% of Mormons on the street no longer believe in Mormonism. Most don’t leave because of family, social, or business reasons. This means that getting the truth about the LDS religion into the hands of Mormons is at most a useful first step in witnessing to Mormons.
We sincerely pray that you will be blessed as you share the true gospel of Jesus Christ and his grace and forgiveness, so much needed by a wonderful but lost people.
Following are several resources from our e-store that can offer you additional help for witnessing to Mormons. Descriptions of all materials can be viewed by clicking on their photos.
The Mormon Scrapbook: A Christian’s Guide for Reaching Latter-day Saints, by Daniel G. Thompson, 128 pages, 8 ½ X 11. A very comprehensive, informative, and understandable guide to various witnessing approaches.
Speaking the Truth in Love to Mormons, by Mark J. Cares, 308 pages. Not in our e-store, but can be purchased at the Truth in Love Ministry website. If you order from this site they usually include additional helps along with the book. Also, at this site are helps on witnessing using the biblical approach discussed above.
Where Does It Say That? Compiled by Bob Witte. 88 pages, 8 ½ X 11. Is a compilation of photographically reproduced copies of old LDS publications that document false prophesies, teachings of doctrines that are now considered to be heretical, and revelations now considered to be scripture but significantly changed at a later date to accommodate changing doctrines. These are reproduced with the changes clearly noted. Many more topics are also covered.
God’s Word Final Infallible and Forever by Floyd McElveen, 378 pages. This book is a giant tract. It shows that the Bible can be trusted, discusses many problems found in Mormonism, and clearly gives the biblical plan of salvation. Several hundred thousand copies of this book were distributed by Christians to individual homes in Utah about 25 years ago resulting in a very significant but unknown number of Mormons coming to the Lord. We still receive encouraging stories and reports each year.
By His Own Hand upon Papyrus, by Charles M. Larson. 240 pages with a full color pull-out showing photographs of the Book of Abraham and the Book of Joseph papyri. A Mormon Egyptologist, Stephen Thompson, said this book was far better than anything LDS scholars had produced. This book lovingly and respectfully explains the fraud of the Book of Abraham in language an average person can understand. It contains a chapter discussing the true gospel message.
Witness to Mormons, by Concerned Christians, 41 pages, 8 ½ X 11. This book is very useful for showing the problems between doctrines taught in the BoM and other Mormon scriptures including the Bible. It has parallel columns showing what Mormon doctrine says, what Mormon scripture says, and what the Bible says, showing the contradictions for over 20 unique LDS teachings. The references are given and fully written out so you don’t have to have copies of LDS Scriptures in hand.
The Lost Book of Abraham (DVD). An award-winning documentary that lovingly uncovers the fraud of the Book of Abraham. Thousands of Mormons were surveyed after viewing this presentation and overwhelmingly told us they felt it was fair and not offensive to them. Several Egyptologists and other scholars, both Mormon and non-Mormon, share their knowledge. 55 minutes, English and Spanish. This video may be watched free online.
DNA vs. The Book of Mormon. This and the following DVDs are professionally produced, loving and respectful. This presentation documents the false claim found in the Book of Mormon that the American Indians originated from Hebrew lineage. Today the same DNA evidence that sends criminals to the electric chair proves the Book of Mormon claims to be false. 49 minutes, English and Spanish.
The Bible vs. the Book of Mormon. This DVD compares archaeological evidence for the Bible with archeological evidence for the Book of Mormon. It also demonstrates that there is absolutely no archeological, linguistic, or any other kind of evidence for the vast Book of Mormon civilization that supposedly covered all of the Americas. Not a single coin or any other artifact has been found to authenticate the Book of Mormon. Also, several claims made in the BoM regarding the existence of steel in the Americas during pre-Columbian times as well as several kinds of animals are now known to be false. 66 minutes plus 40 bonus minutes, English, Spanish, Portuguese.
The Bible vs. Joseph Smith. This DVD analyzes prophecies made by Joseph Smith, prophecies made by Book of Mormon prophets, and prophecies made by biblical prophets. This was filmed with the participation of an active member of the LDS Church. Mormons often disbelieve this fact but it is true. An added benefit to this presentation is that one can see firsthand someone witnessing live to a real person. The biblical tests for a true prophet of God are clearly presented, and the accuracy of the Bible is clearly shown through useful illustrations. 78 minutes, English only.