Category : Mormonism
Can you help us reach more Mormons with the true gospel? There is currently a major exodus of Latter-day Saints who are leaving the Mormon Church at a pace never seen in the history of Mormonism. Last month I was asked to kick off the ex-Mormon convention in Salt Lake City. We are now offering that new message on video for a donation of any amount.
In my talk, I provide the proof from shocking statistics gleaned from major demographic studies along with some amazing admissions by LDS General Authorities. This evidence reveals the real reasons Mormons are now “leaving in droves.” Most importantly, I share practical strategies for reaching out to these “Mormons in transition” with the true gospel of the grace of Christ.
In this message I also answer critical questions that are raised including:
- Where are the 1.7 million “missing Mormons?”
- Why are so many Mormons now losing faith — what has changed?
- What role is the Internet playing in this mass exodus?
- Why is only 11% of these former Mormons embracing Christianity?
- How can we reach these former Mormons with the true Gospel?
On this video you will also witness the Utah premiere of the 21-minute video Is Mormonism True? produced through our partnership with TrueLifeOrg. I also provide a 5-minute sneak preview of my two-hour debate with Mormon Elder, Joseph Evans, the Dallas-area LDS Institute and Seminary coordinator, Is Mormonism Christian?
Again, you can watch this new video for a donation of any amount.
The good news is that Mormons are seeing the errors and leaving. Your donation helps us to reach out Mormons and those of other faiths with the truth of Christ. If you can help us by making an online donation of any amount between now and May 31, I will send you this video (link and password) so you can experience the complete message — 1 hour, 40 minutes! This is our way of saying “thank you” for your support of Watchman Fellowship.
Please remember, that your tax-deductible donations also help to make our ministry possible. You can help us with an online donation by clicking: http://www.watchman.org/donate. Thank you also for your prayers and encouragement!
We have just uploaded to our website our Profile of the Twilight series. In this free Profile Marilyn Stewart looks at the history and philosophy of the popular series, and presents a Christian response.
Order your free subscription to the Watchman Fellowship Profile today!
With the recent news that some members of the LDS Church have continued to perform baptism for the dead on behalf of deceased Jews, readers might wonder: what, exactly, is baptism for the dead?
In our book, The Concise Guide to Today’s Religions and Spirituality, we define baptism for the dead as:
(The) practice of the LDS church based on an unusual interpretation of 1 Corinthians 15:29, whereby living members are baptized by proxy for people who have died without knowing the LDS gospel. If the dead accept the LDS gospel while in spirit prison, they can potentially have access to full salvation or godhood (exaltation). This ceremony is performed only in a Mormon temple.
You can learn more about the way in which the LDS Church misinterprets 1 Corinthians in our article, “Twisting 1 Corinthians 15:29 – Mormonism’s Baptism for the Dead.” You can also learn more about the concept of spirit prison – and spirit missionaries – in our article, “Hell, Paradise and Spirit Missionaries.”
Finally, you can watch a short video of James Walker talking about the issue in Watchman Fellowship’s What’s the Deal with Mormons Baptizing Dead People?
A recent article from the Religion News Service looks at the mainstream – including both Christians and non-Christians – American view of Mormons, and concludes, “Americans (are) intrigued but wary still of Mormon beliefs.”
Cathy Grossman, the article’s author, makes an interesting observation: Mormons are significantly more likely than Roman Catholics or Protestants to be knowledgeable about their beliefs (a claim that is debatable, as we’ll see in a future post), and they are far more likely than other groups to be deeply committed to their group’s orthodoxy. To illustrate this point, Grossman refers to a 2010 Pew study which “asked 32 questions on the Bible, major religious figures and core beliefs and practices, the average score was 16 correct. Just 19 percent of Protestants knew the basic tenet that salvation is through faith alone, not actions as well.”
The study also found that 45 percent of respondents believed the Golden Rule is one of the Ten Commandments, and 65 percent could not name all four Gospel books. Sadly, the Pew study found that even atheists tend to have a deeper knowledge of biblical teaching than do Protestants
The general lack of knowledge among Protestants demonstrates several significant issues.
First, the fact that many know little about their ostensible faith demonstrates a lack of appreciation for God’s truth. Jesus gives us in just a few words the essence of the Bible when he prays, “Thy word is truth” (John 17:17). In a world in which many question whether absolute truth exists, the Bible tells us quite plainly that this truth can be found in Scripture – and it can be found there because God himself is “The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth” (Exodus 34:6). When we refuse to learn God’s truth, we show a lack of concern for this truth – and thus a lack of concern for God himself.
This lack of concern for God and his truth is the central and primary problem, of course, but people who refuse to learn about God are also missing out on the great privilege of this learning and knowledge. The psalmist tells us a true worshipper of God can be identified by the fact that “his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night” (Psalm 1:2; emphasis added). Later in the psalms we read, “I have rejoiced in the way of thy testimonies, as much as in all riches. I will meditate in thy precepts, and have respect unto thy ways. I will delight myself in thy statutes: I will not forget thy word” (119:14-16; emphases added).
It is impossible to over-emphasize this point: being known by God, and learning more about him and his work for and in us, is the source of the greatest joy; indeed, “the joy of the LORD is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10). As we grow in our relationship with God, and our knowledge of him, we can say, “My soul shall be joyful in the LORD: it shall rejoice in his salvation” (Psalm 35:9). Furthermore, experiencing and demonstrating this joy will not only enrich our lives – it is also a powerful testimony to others of the glory of God (see Jeremiah 33:9).
That last point leads to the final two issues tied up in failing to know God’s truth: we lack guidance in life when we do not know God’s truth, and we fail to demonstrate to others God’s glory. Even beyond doctrinal and moral drift in the church and larger culture, we too often see people whose lives are simply aimless and without purpose. Faithful Christians have such guidance, however, because “(God’s) word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path” (Psalm 119:105). This is because, Paul tells us, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
When we are knowledgeable in God’s truth, and are guided by his truth, we are also able to share this truth with others. As Peter says, “Sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ” (1 Peter 3:15-16). Knowing God’s truth, and being able to share it with others, enables us to be used by God to clear up doctrinal misunderstandings among Christians that are frequently exploited by new and alternative religions, and to reach people are who involved in such groups.
Grossman’s article is a much-needed reminder to Christians: we need to learn more about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints“…and we also need to learn more about our own faith.
We are excited to announce our new DVD, The Debate: Is Mormonism Christian?
For two fascinating hours, a Mormon Elder and a former Mormon go head-to-head on the critical issues separating Mormonism from traditional Christianity. Both men share their testimonies then tackle the big questions. No subject is off-limits. Questions include:
- Is God married?
- Was Joseph Smith a true prophet or guilty of false prophecy?
- Does Mormonism teach that humans can become Gods?
- Is salvation by grace through faith or by obedience to laws?
- Has the Book of Mormon been changed in over 4,000 places?
- Did Joseph SmithÂ mistranslateÂ the entire Book of Abraham?
James K. Walker is a former 4th-generation Mormon. He is now an evangelical Christian and president of Watchman Fellowship in Arlington, Texas. He also serves as adjunct professor of Evangelism at Criswell College.
Elder Joseph Evans is a returned Mormon missionary and a graduate of Brigham Young University. He serves as a regional coordinator for the LDS Institute and Seminary system in Dallas, Texas.
You can watch a free preview of the DVD and order a copy here.
In a recent article we noted the finding of a journalist that members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are more likely than Protestants to be knowledgeable about the doctrines of their religious group.
There are some ways in which such a finding is to be expected. Many Mormon youth and young adults are educated in the faith in Institute of Religion and Seminary courses, and Mormon men may additionally receive additional training in the Missionary Training Center (not to mention, of course, the education all Mormons receive in their local wards).
At the same time, while Mormons can avail themselves of extensive educational resources and have been noted for their religious knowledge, it is also notable that their knowledge – while deep in certain areas of their faith – is nonetheless limited in its scope.
For example, a 2008 study conducted by Latter-day Saints found that Mormons have a significantly greater knowledge of the Book of Mormon than the New Testament: while almost 70 percent of respondents could identify a passage from Mosiah, and almost 60 percent a passage from 3 Nephi, less than 40 percent could identify a passage from Hebrews, and less than 30 percent could identify the martyrdom of Stephen in Acts.
At the same time, Mormons are also unaware of numerous teachings and developments within the LDS Church’s distinctive doctrine and history. One example is a series of false prophecies found in Doctrine and Covenants (as well as the Journal of Discourses and History of the Church) – not only are most Mormons unaware of these failed prophecies, but they are also unaware of the Bible’s teaching regarding false prophecy (see Deuteronomy 18:20-22; cf. 1 John 4:1).
Most Mormons are also unaware of the lack of archaeological evidence for the Book of Mormon (and, in fact, the archaeological evidence disproving this central scripture).
The Book of Abraham – part of the Pearl of Great Price – presents an additional set of problems of which Mormons are generally unaware. Latter-day Saints are frequently surprised to learn that the papyri which Joseph Smith claimed to translate have been found, and in no way support Smith’s work.
Even the Book of Mormon itself is only somewhat known by most Mormons. Not only are people frequently unable to identify key texts from the work – the 2008 study found relatively few Mormons who could identify specific statements from Jacob and King Benjamin – but Latter-day Saints are also generally unaware of the over 4,000 textual emendations and anachronisms from the original 1830 Book of Mormon.
While Mormons may often know slightly more about the Bible than do most Protestants – a state that, as we mentioned in our earlier article, is indicative of several serious problems for Christians – their lack of knowledge regarding numerous important points of their faith and history provides an opportunity for ministry and outreach. Educating Latter-day Saints regarding some of the generally unknown facts about the LDS Church is a useful way to present the reliability of true Christianity.
Watchman Fellowship produces several resources to assist Christians in this outreach:
- Witnessing to Mormons with the Book of Mormon: The manual in this teaching set contains photocopies of select pages from the original 1830 Book of Mormon with copies of the same passages from recent editions. Combined with the audio CD, this teaching set shows some of the more than 4,000 changes and anachronisms in the book of Mormon text.
- Testing the Mormon Prophets: Formerly titled How Shaky a Foundation, this updated guide teaches a step by step approach for Christians to witness to their Mormon friends and loved ones.
- Witnessing to Mormons with the Book of Abraham: In 1835, Joseph Smith obtained some ancient Egyptian papyri that he claimed to be able to translate. He told his followers that part of this collection included the actual handwriting of Abraham. In 1967, these Egyptian papers were rediscovered and re-translated proving that Joseph Smith did not get one word right.
The media has recently engaged in a spirited defense of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints against charges – most notably from Robert Jeffress, the pastor of First Baptist Church of Dallas – that the LDS Church is a cult.
For example, the Dallas Observer labeled Jeffress’ language “hateful,” and the Daily Beast decried “anti-Mormon cheerleading.” The Atlanta Journal-Constitution took a more positive approach, highlighting Mormons happy to demonstrate their well-adjusted states and cultural normativity, and the Washington Post similarly published an editorial by a Mormon English professor describing what it means to be Mormon.
The media’s sudden love – or at least staunch support – for the LDS Church has prompted some to ask whether Mormonism is accepted by the media, or whether there is another purpose behind the tidal wave of positive coverage.
To see part of the answer, roll back the clock three years to late 2008, in which it was discovered that the LDS Church had taken an active roll in supporting Proposition 8 in California (which restricted marriage to heterosexual couples). The Huffington Post then snarled about the Church, “Mormon Church on Prop 8: We Oppose Civil Rights (But Don’t Tell),” while the Los Angeles Times said the Church engaged in “fear-mongering”…bigotry and intolerance.”
The Atlantic magazine, in its attack on Mormon support for Proposition 8, gave a significant pointer as to why the media either attacks or supports Mormonism when it said LDS support “is about consolidating the Mormon church into the wider Christianist (sic) movement. If the Mormons can prove their anti-gay mettle, they will be less subject to suspicion from evanglicals (sic).”
Quite simply, the media will present Mormonism in whatever light is necessary to use the LDS Church as a weapon against evangelical Christians – as Ed Stetzer puts it, some in the media will use Mormonism “as a hammer on evangelicals.”
Kathryn Jean Lopez gives as an example the New York Times’ positive portrayal of Mitt Romney as merely “feed(ing) readers’ bigotry” by deliberately downplaying Mormon distinctives while emphasizing the “anti-Mormon sentiments” he encountered.
A particularly clear example of this can be seen in a column by the Seattle Times’ David Horsey, who concludes, “Mormons aren’t scary, zealots (i.e., evangelical Christians) are.”
Given this, it was very savvy of a columnist in the LDS-owned Deseret News to call on the media “to investigate the “˜countercult’ movement within some branches of Christianity and bring to public scrutiny the connections that have likely led to some of the public hostility against Mormonism.”
Here, therefore, is the question: when using Mormonism “as a hammer on evangelicals” loses its attention-share, will the media continue to argue that Mormonism is acceptably mainstream? I agree with the English theology professor David Murray, who says, “So, here’s my prediction. If Romney is nominated, the media who seemed to support him will suddenly discover he’s a Mormon, and they’ll quickly and easily render him unelectable.”