Why won't you take Gamaliel's advice in Acts 5:34-42 and leave our church alone?

LDS have used this Acts 5:34-42 passage as a reason why Christians should stop picking on them, or lovingly warning them--depending on how one looks at it--and as some sort of justification that they must in fact be of God. Gamaliel clearly stated, "[I]f this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to nought: But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against God" (vss. 38-9). This passage would have a lot more weight to it though if it were coming from one of the apostles. Instead, it was coming from one of the Pharisees. The Pharisees ended up beating the apostles before they let them go (vs. 40). Should we also take this advice when LDS come to our doors? Should we also follow the advice of Satan and worship him (Matthew 4:9)? After all, this is what the Bible teaches, right?

The Bible actually says to go into the entire world, teach everything Christ taught, make disciples, and baptize (Mat. 28:19). The Bible also teaches that we are to "contend earnestly for the faith once for all delivered to the saints" (Jude 3). The testimony of Jesus, the prophets, and apostles is that they preached, dialogued, argued, and rebuked (see Mat. 23 for a classic example). It is better to follow their advice than Gamaliel's.

The other problem with Gamaliel's advice is that it is empirically false. Islam has not "come to nought." Are we to assume then that it is of God? The same may be said for all the other major world religions. John Hick or Baha'u'llah would certainly say that all religions are representing the different names of God. So perhaps LDS should drop "the only true Church" title if they want to strictly adhere to Gamaliel's advice.

Finally, do LDS really heed Gamaliel's advice? Most conversions to Mormonism come from the Christian Church. Why won't they just leave us alone and stop coming to our doors? At this point LDS usually respond that they just simply let people know what Mormonism is all about and then allow the Spirit to do the converting as He wills. As such, they attempt to avoid the role that Jesus, the prophets, and apostles had which was just mentioned, and nonetheless, they still are not leaving us alone. Finally, LDS are also commanded not to heed Gamaliel's council anyway in D&C 71: "Wherefore, confound your enemies; call upon them to meet you both in public and in private; and inasmuch as ye are faithful their shame shall be made manifest. Wherefore, let them bring forth their strong reasons against the Lord" (vss. 7-8).

R. M. Sivulka

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