My Visit With the Mormon Missionaries
As dusk fell last night I was just wrapping up my yard work when I heard a friendly voice say, “Excuse me, sir, could we have a few minutes to share with you an encouraging message about Jesus?” I paused a moment, wondering if I had the energy to visit with the two young Mormons who politely waited for my reply. “Sure,” I said after a moment. “Let’s talk.”
It has been a while since I have visited with LDS missionaries and our conversation lasted about 20 minutes. Three things stand out as I reflect back on my time with them.
- Their approach is very disarming and appealing
Mormons have very specific beliefs, but the men were not looking to confront mine. “We’re not trying to tear down anyone’s faith,” they said several times, “We just want to show you what we’ve found to be true.” They happily encouraged my confidence in the Bible but wanted me to understand that the Book of Mormon is just another testament of Jesus Christ. I soberly realized how compelling their message would be to a person who does not have a solid grip on their theology.
- Their theology is unbiblical in critical ways
I marveled anew at how the missionaries used the same terminology I use as an evangelical Christian. “Jesus is the Son of God… faith in Jesus…the Bible is God’s Word…” They affirmed all these things. But I pressed them a bit to draw out the reality that while they use the same words, they define them in very different ways. “We are saved by grace,” he assured me, but then went on to explain that by their faithful service they were earning their place in the Celestial Kingdom. “The Bible is God’s Word…insofar as it is translated correctly.” Hence the need for the Book of Mormon. The similar terminology makes the difference between LDS theology and the Bible seems negligible. But careful research reveals the difference to be massive.
- They are admirable young men
These young men were polite, respectful and so obviously sincere. As we talked my overriding feeling was one of genuine sorrow. Despite introducing themselves as elders they were both almost young enough to be my sons. It broke my heart to hear them declare their absolute confidence in Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon and I silently prayed God would open their eyes to real grace through the real Jesus of the Bible.