Getting To Know Our LDS Neighbors

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by: Eric Wendt

            I was recently a guest on the Sent Life podcast discussing my early upbringing in the LDS (Mormon) Church, and how to engage our LDS neighbors. While on the podcast, I was asked some of the major differences between Mormonism and Christianity and gave several examples of some of the teachings of Mormonism. Due to time, I was not able to give the listener some quotes directly from Joseph Smith and other authorities’ in the LDS church. This post will list those quotes along with an acrostic I formulated to help us when sharing the good news with our LDS neighbors.

Quotes on God:

“I will go back to the beginning before the world was, to show what kind of being God is. What sort of a being was God in the beginning? Open your ears and hear, all ye ends of the earth, for I am going to prove it to you by the Bible, and to tell you the de- signs of God in relation to the human race, and why He interferes with the affairs of man. God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man, and sits enthroned in yonder heavens! That is the great secret, if the veil were rent today, and the great God who holds this world in its orbit, and who upholds all worlds and all things by his power, was to make himself visible,—I say, if you were to see him today, you would see him like a man in form—like yourselves in all the person, image, and very form as a man; for Adam was created in the very fashion, image and like- ness of God, and received instruction from, and walked, talked and con- versed with him, as one man talks and communes with another” (Joseph Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 345. Italics in original. See also Achieving a Celestial Marriage, p. 129).

“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” (Joseph Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pp. 345-346. Italics in original. See also Gospel Principles, 1997, p. 305)

“That which is without body or parts is nothing. There is no God in heaven but that God who has flesh and bones” (Joseph Smith, Teachings of Presidents of the Church – Joseph Smith, p. 42).

Quotes on Jesus:

 6th President Joseph F. Smith

“Even Christ himself was not perfect at first; he received not a fulness at first, but he received grace for grace, and he continued to receive more and more until he received a fulness” (Joseph F. Smith, Gospel Doctrine, 1986, p. 68. See also Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph F. Smith, p. 153).

“Jesus had not finished his work when his body was slain, neither did he finish it after his resurrection from the dead; although he had accomplished the purpose for which he then came to the earth, he had not fulfilled all his work. And when will he? Not until he has redeemed and saved every son and daughter of our father Adam that have been or ever will be born upon this earth to the end of time, except the sons of perdition. That is his mission” (Joseph F. Smith; Gospel Doctrine, 1986, p. 442. See also Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph F. Smith, p. 87).

15th President Gordon B. Hinckley

“In bearing testimony of Jesus Christ, President Hinckley spoke of those outside the Church who say Latter-day Saints ‘do not believe in the traditional Christ.’ ‘No, I don’t. The traditional Christ of whom they speak is not the Christ of whom I speak. For the Christ of whom I speak has been revealed in this the Dispensation of the Fulness of Times. He together with His Father, appeared to the boy Joseph Smith in the year 1820, and when Joseph left the grove that day, he knew more of the nature of God than all the learned ministers of the gospel of the ages’” (Gordon B. Hinckley, “Crown of Gospel is Upon Our Heads, Church News, June 20, 1998, p. 7).

Quotes on the Holy Spirit:

“We do not refer to the Holy Ghost as the Father. Jesus did not pray to him as the Father, but acknowledged him as the third and least personage in the Godhead” (Joseph Fielding Smith, Answers to Gospel Questions 5:127).

Well, let me tell you, the Holy Ghost is a man; he is one of the sons of our Father and our God; and he is that man that stood next to Jesus Christ, just as I stand by brother Brigham” (Heber C. Kimball, August 23, 1857, Journal of Discourses 5:179).

“The Holy Ghost is a member of the Godhead (see 1 John 5:7; D&C 20:28). He is a ‘personage of Spirit’ (D&C 130:22). He can be in only one place at a time, but His influence can be every- where at the same time” (Gospel Principles, 2009, p. 32).

“He will help us understand that we can become exalted like our Heavenly Father. (See Romans 8:16–17.)” (Gospel Principles, 2009, p. 32.).

Final Remarks:

            These are just a few quotes on the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. As you can see the early LDS prophets do not hold to orthodox Christian beliefs in the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. These unorthodox beliefs, as represented by LDS prophets, still formulate mainline LDS doctrine as espoused by the LDS church and church authorities. These fundamental beliefs are the starting point for conversation with our LDS neighbors before getting into other beliefs and practices such as temple ordinances, pre-existence, and polygamy.

            One question that is always asked of me is, “Are Mormons Christians”? This is a question that I am always in prayer about even before answering. First, I am not the key holder to the Kingdom. It is not my kingdom you are inheriting but Jesus’. If the LDS member holds to the teachings above and believes that they need to earn their salvation (2 Nephi 25:23), then no they are not Christians and I beg them to search the Bible for truth.

            It is important to remember that there are many LDS members who have not studied the beliefs of the LDS church, but are only following what they were taught as children or what LDS missionaries have told them. So, knowing what we know, we need to be gracious with how share this information. Most of them have family members who are in the church and are scared to think differently because they fear they may lose a relationship. Always keep Colossians 4:5-6 close to your heart when you are in these conversations.

In light of these things, I developed an acrostic to help us remember how we should evangelize our LDS neighbors—D.E.B.A.T.E.

D- Depend on the Holy Spirit through these conversations.

E- Engage in normal conversation. Ask them what they believe, what they believe about Jesus, and why do they believe their church is the only true church.

B- Be cautious with what you hear. It may sound biblical, but they do not mean the same thing as Orthodox Christianity.

A- Avoid immediately calling out Joseph Smith, their garments, and other different teachings.

T- Treat them as image bearers. No need to be aggressive or demeaning.

E- Expose the differences and share the truth of the Gospel.

If you are a member of the LDS faith and feel I have misrepresented the church feel free to email me at [email protected]

If you are an LDS member and are struggling with what you read and have questions, I want to be there and walk with you through this, so please email me.

If you have more questions and need more resources, feel free to add me on Twitter @EricMWendt or email me.  

Thanks for listening to The Sent Life Podcast. Let’s all live sent this week!

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