Bridging the gap between The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and other Christian churches07.26.2007
In years past, it was rare for anyone outside of the Mormon loop to hear of any public figure that was a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (aka Mormon) besides Joseph Smith or maybe Brigham Young. Things have changed. Recently, a good portion of the world has become acquainted with the likes of Mitt Romney (presidential candidate), Glenn Beck (talk show host), and David Neeleman (former CEO of JetBlue), a short list of members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that are now making waves in today’s society. Someone outside of the church, having heard the plethora of anti-Mormon propaganda, might ask, “How could such people be deceived into believing such a cult!?”
And so comes the purpose of my post. I wish to speak to you Christians who find that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is in direct contrast to your own religious beliefs. My purpose is not to prove that your church is wrong or that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is right. I’ll leave that part for you. My purpose is only to break down the basic logic barriers that so often keep people from learning more about the church. These barriers seem to fall into one of three categories: (1) a lack of physical proof, (2) faults in church leaders, and (3) an anti-Christian stance.
A lack of physical proof. In this barrier, those opposing the church state that there is no physical evidence to prove that the church is true. There is no evidence to prove that the Book of Mormon was really written on metal plates by ancient prophets. Likewise, there is no evidence that shows that Joseph Smith really talked with God or Jesus Christ. In essence, they say that “Mormonism” is a “cult” because it can’t be proven by archeology or history–we’re only blindly following a fan club of like-minded, peculiar people.
Is this perhaps your notion of the church? Ask yourself the following questions: When Jesus preached to the Jews, was He required to show them an archaeological artifact to prove that He was the son of God? Did He have a magazine article written by a well-known scholar revealing an archaeological discovery proving His divinity? Even if he did have such an article, would that have been enough? What do you suppose the apostles thought when Jesus told them that they would only know of the veracity of the gospel by the Holy Spirit rather than a historical fact or figure? How do we know that Jesus lived in Jerusalem? How do we know that he died on the cross and was resurrected? How do we know that the Bible was written by prophets? How do we even know that God exists?
What’s my point? It seems that basic Christian beliefs (which I share) are more often than not taken as “proven” only because they have been accepted by a large population for a long period of time. Does this mean that we shouldn’t believe in Christian teachings? No. It only means that “proof” concerning religious things only comes by the Spirit as taught by Jesus Christ Himself, not by physical records or artifacts.
Faults in church leaders. Opponents love to rip on leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They often dig through endless pages of transcript looking for subtle comments that may discredit the prophets and apostles who direct the church.
So why shouldn’t you promptly toss your Book of Mormon out the window? Remember Peter the apostle? The one who was charged to lead the church’s administration at Christ’s death? The one who walked on water? He was the same who betrayed Jesus three times in one night. Can you imagine how many anti-Mormons would jump on the news of an apostle of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints betraying Jesus Christ three times in one night in front of a crowd of people?
Better yet, remember Judas Iscariot? The one Jesus Christ selected as one of the twelve most important people to help lead the church? Does his complete betrayal and ultimate murder of our Savior mean that the gospel is false? Did Christ make a mistake as He chose His apostles?
Remember David? The prophet who committed adultery with his scantily-clad neighbor?
What’s my point? While we shouldn’t accept everything spoken as truth or every action as appropriate, we can ultimately see that the fault of church leaders does not disprove the gospel of Jesus Christ or His church.
An anti-Christian stance. Opponents often declare that members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are not Christians. According to Webster, a Christian is “one who professes belief in the teachings of Jesus Christ.” I profess belief in the teachings of Jesus Christ. So does (or once did) everyone else that is baptized into the church. In fact, before one is baptized into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, he/she is interviewed. The first section of questions in the interview is as follows: “Do you believe that God is our Eternal Father? Do you believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, the Savior and Redeemer of the world?” And the final section of questions: “When you are baptized, you covenant with God that you are willing to take upon yourself the name of Christ and keep His commandments throughout your life. Are you ready to make this covenant and strive to be faithful to it?”
If “one who professes belief in the teachings of Jesus Christ” defines a Christian, then I’m feeling pretty confident we’re in the same boat. So why is your pastor or friend declaring that we aren’t Christians? Most likely because our understanding of Jesus Christ and God differ from theirs, but it’s far from anti-Christ or even a different Christ. It’s a difference in understanding. We believe that the Trinity is composed of three separate individuals, we believe that God and Jesus Christ both have bodies, and we believe that God directs His church through living prophets and apostles today. For the basics, is that too far-fetched for one to learn more about the church? I sincerely hope not.
Interested in learning more? I suggest the following official sources of information: