A few weeks ago some guys showed up at our house with starchy white dress shirts, skinny long ties, and shiny black name tags. I wasn’t home so my wife told them to come back on Saturday, and that I would like to talk to them, which I did.
I am usually an attack dog with the Mormons or Jehovah’s Witnesses. If you want to see an example of what I mean you can check out the article I wrote a while back, Opportunity Knocks: Speaking to Mormons. But this time I decided to go for the long view.
Should I invite them in?
I did something I have never done before, I invited the Mormon missionaries into my house. I used to be against doing this based on 2 John 10, where John is warning about false teachers not bringing the doctrine of Christ, “If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not take them into your house or welcome them.”
This would clearly apply to the Mormons since they do not believe in the same Jesus that the Bible presents. The Mormon Jesus is a created being, and brother to the Devil.
As I thought about this verse, I wondered, “but what does ‘take them into your house or welcome them’” mean? If this means just having someone in your home, then it also means we shouldn’t welcome Mormons to do anything, including talking to them. That seems rather extreme.
Following the example of Jesus
After asking some other brothers I respect about it, one made the interesting comment that this is a reverse command to the Lord’s sending out of the 12 in Matthew 10:11-14. There the Lord commanded those he sent to lodge with whoever would welcome them.
In 2 John, the apostle says that if “anyone comes to you,” which very well could be a traveler coming into town, “do not take them into your house.” With that understanding, I wouldn’t be following the apostle’s instructions if I lodged Mormon missionaries while they were staying in town to spread their false teaching or if I encouraged them in what they were doing.
But inviting them over so that I can explain what the Bible says and refute their ideas would be like what the Lord Jesus did by going over to a Simon the Pharisee’s house in Luke 7:36-50.
Reading from the Book of Mormon
So I invited the Mormons in. The next unconventional thing I did was agree to read the Book of Mormon. “Now hold on just a second!” I can hear you thinking. But just hear me out before you throw a Book of Mormon at my head. Remember that the Apostle Paul did this in Athens in Acts 17:28 with a poem about Zeus.
The reason I agreed to read the Book of Mormon is so that I could try out an evangelism method called “The Impossible Gospel.” This is a method that uses the Book of Mormon to show that it is impossible for Mormons to be saved by their version of “the gospel of Jesus Christ.”
I didn’t come up with this method, but if you go to evidenceministries.org the videos by Keith Walker are especially helpful.
The approach works like this
Mormon: Would you like to read something from the book of Mormon?
Christian: Sure, how about 1 Nephi 3:7?
Christian: Do you believe Nephi 3:7?
Christian: What does that verse mean?
Mormon: That means God will only give commands we can keep.
Christian: How are you doing with that?
Mormon: I’m doing my best.
Christian: Is it possible to do your best and fail?
Mormon: No, probably not…
Christian: So if you fail, what does that mean?
Mormon: God is so gracious, he just wants us to do our best, but his grace makes up for the rest.
Christian: Are you saying the book of Mormon is not true? Because you said you believe 1 Nephi 3:7, so if you do your best you should be able to keep God’s commandments.
Mormon: (Repeats what they just said)
Christian: I’m also wondering how 1 Nephi 3:7 fits with 2 Nephi 25:23 where it says, “we know we are saved by grace, after all we can do.”
Mormon: Right, I like that verse.
Christian: What is the meaning of the word “all?”
Mormon: Doing our best.
Christian: Would that include keeping all of God’s commandments?
Mormon: The best that we can.
Christian: So when does the grace apply according to 2 Nephi 25:23?
Mormon: After we have done our best.
Christian: How are you doing with that?
Mormon: My best…
Christian: Did you pray this morning?
Christian: Could you have prayed a little longer?
Christian: Why would God deny his word and save you if you haven’t done all you can do?
Exposing the flaws
As you can see, this conversation is going to take a while. But I believe these are exactly the type of questions we should be getting Mormons to ask about their religion. They will never take the gospel of the grace of God seriously until they see the flaws in their own message. And as you can see from this example conversation, they probably aren’t going to understand this the first time.
Unmasking the truth
Mormon phraseology is very similar to evangelical Christianity, they’ve modeled it that way, at least in public. They use words like: faith, grace, Jesus Christ etc. But they have radically different definitions for those words. It’s important to ask them what they mean by those words.
You’ll find out that what they mean by “faith” is actually works plus believing. And what they mean by “grace” is a kind of force that empowers them to do good, not the biblical definition – God’s unearned favor.
When getting into a discussion of grace and works in salvation, be ready to explain how James 2 fits with Romans 4. Mormons love repeating James 2:20 “faith without works is dead.” What they need to see is that Genesis 15:6 (quoted in James 2:23 and Romans 4:3), comes before Genesis 22 (referred to in James 2:21). Abraham didn’t have to sacrifice Isaac in order to get right with God.
Two other verses that are important to share with Mormons
Isaiah 43:10 – No God before or after God.
Isaiah 44:6-8 – God knows no other God.
Please pray that the light of the gospel would dawn on their souls of the young Mormon missionaries I’m meeting with and the ones you will encounter.