An Open Letter to My Mormon Missionary Friends

Dear Elders,

Open letters are not my preferred method of communicating. They are usually not-so-clearly-disguised ways of humiliating an opponent publicly in a forum where he cannot easily defend himself. That is certainly not my purpose here. I write now as we spoke face to face—as friends.

In this case, an open letter seemed to be a helpful way to provoke future reflection and conversation, and especially to encourage my Christian friends to engage LDS missionaries and members with some potentially fruitful topics of discussion. Many of my friends feel that talking to you is a waste of time. I do not. Clarifying truth is never a waste of time, and I think we accomplished that to an extent. My hope is that others will do the same.

With that in view, here are a few high points from our discussions, as I recall them.

Test of a Prophet

Several times when we talked, you correctly pointed out that “It all comes down to whether Joseph Smith was a prophet of God.” This might raise some eyebrows among my Christian friends, but I would have no problem accepting Joseph Smith as a true prophet, provided that I am shown that he meets the same requirements that every prophet of God has always met. No prophet has ever been accepted solely on his own word. When Moses said, “Thus says Yahweh,” he backed up his claim with appropriate support. Even Jesus Himself saw it necessary to provide verification of His claim (see John 20:30-31).

Nature of God

You explained to me the LDS teaching that God was once a man like us, who has become God. As you quoted one Mormon prophet, “As man is, God once was. As God is, man may become.” I won’t labor this point here since I’ve emphasized it in our conversations. But it is worth repeating a good observation that you made from Malachi 3:6, “I am the LORD; I change not.” That would require that God has never been anything in His essence that He is now and will always be. There seems to be a conflict here that hasn’t yet been resolved.

Restored gospel

Another key LDS claim is that it teaches the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. Again, I would have no trouble accepting that claim, so long as I am shown that LDS teachings about the gospel were in the gospel originally. So, for example, if Jesus’ gospel originally included certain requirements, such as baptism in an authorized temple by someone with priesthood authority, then it should be fairly simple to find that requirement plainly stated somewhere in the Bible. Only in that case would LDS teaching be a true restoration rather than an innovation.

With further study and being truly open to the Holy Spirit and His Word, I think that issues such as these can be resolved. I look forward to more truth-seeking conversations.

Grace to you,

Stephen

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3 Responses to An Open Letter to My Mormon Missionary Friends

  1. Brian says:

    Until you can get Glenn Beck or Harry Reid to see the light, I’ll opt out and cast my pearls elsewhere.

    Brian

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    • Brian,

      Thanks for responding. I get your point and I know that a lot of people feel the same. I did for many years. We certainly have to be discerning as to who deserves an answer and who does not.

      I’m not worried about Glenn Beck or Harry Reid. I am concerned with the people whom God brings across my path. The question to ask is: are we looking for and using all of these opportunities?

      It’s good to hear from you!

      Grace,

      Stephen

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      • Brian says:

        Reid and Beck present the bigger challenge. How about Mitt Romney? Beck proclaims he is he voice of reason, constantly quoting the Founding Fathers and Thomas Paine. Get him; you get the masses’ attention. Mormonism focuses on two things: family and money. The family is indoctrinated, and the businesses are well connected. Your challenge is much broader than one of doctrinal issues. You’re trying to crack a cult–a very monied one. It’s the eye of the needle syndrome.

        I agree that we should be a witness to those who cross our pathes. I think you underestimate the amount of people that enter the dialogue you do. Enter a bar and tell people not to drink. You’ll be labeled an annoyance. Help a drunk fallen in the gutter, and he may thank you.

        The parable of the good Samaritan is telling. He helped someone half naked and half dead.

        Christ witnessed to the Pharisees through his example and cultivated their ire. But his actions focused on others.

        It’s the pearls before swine and shaking the dust off your feet.

        And a change of heart is a miracle. Miracles are evidence of the Spirit. No, we shouldn’t tempt the Spirit, but I can think of better ways to spend my time. Been there, done that. It’s a big world.

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