Speaking the Truth in Love to Mormons
Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect. (Matthew 5:48)
By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool. For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified. Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us: for after that he had said before, This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin. (Hebrews 10:10-18)
Speaking the Truth in Love to Mormons, despite what the subtitle--A Video Study Guide for Effective, Non-Confrontational, Christian Witness to Mormons--claims about being "Non-Confrontational," is a pretty nice instructional video on how to confront LDS with the impossibility of their gospel and with the reality of the biblical gospel. This film is approximately 40 minutes, and is hosted by Peter Kruschel. Kruschel interviews Pastor Mark Cares of Truth in Love to Mormons concerning his method of witnessing to Mormons. Cares not only talks about this issue, but he shows a video reenactment of a witnessing situation with two LDS missionaries at a Christian home, as well as a very moving testimony of a former Mormon Becki Levi.
Cares communicates the need to focus on "witnessing" rather than "debating Mormonism." By this distinction, he means that Christians should focus on giving Mormons Christ and what He's done for us. Cares does a good job explaining how the LDS gospel is one in which there is constant pressure to be worthy or perfect. There needs to be a complete abandonment of sin. Only then can one know the forgiveness of sins. Cares describes this from a couple major LDS works--Gospel Principles and Spencer W. Kimball's The Miracle of Forgiveness. This is important for Christians to realize, so that they can empathize and pray for LDS when the time of confrontation arises.
Cares also explains how Christians also need to understand some basic terminological differences before witnessing to LDS. But his definition of salvation from an LDS perspective is a little too simplistic. He says that this means resurrection and has nothing to do with going to heaven. Of course LDS will say that basically salvation entails that everyone except a relatively few will go to one of three heavens (the rest go to outer darkness), and every mortal will be resurrected. But what Cares means by heaven is being in the presence of God after this life.
Cares plays a video reenactment of a witnessing situation with a Christian couple-- Don and Sue--and pair of LDS missionaries. The lead elder asks Don and Sue if they can all pray together before they get into things. Surprisingly, Don and Sue say they can't, because they believe prayer to be an act of Christian unity. Now besides the fact that prayer is an act of direct communion with God, which can be done without Christian unity, there is no verse in the Bible that says Christians can't pray with unbelievers. Nonetheless, Don and Sue use this as a springboard to talk about why these LDS missionaries are not fellow Christians.
The dialogue centers around two biblical passages cited above: Mt. 5:48 and Heb. 10:10-18. The former commands us to be perfect, and the latter tells us how this is to be accomplished--viz., by the once and for all sacrifice of Christ. Strangely though, Sue then tells the missionaries that Jesus did not come "to show us how to be perfect, but to be perfect for us." This is strange, since the latter seems to describe to the former. But what is probably meant here is found on back of the video cover: [LDS] "believe that Jesus died as our example, not our substitute." Because of Sue's unbiblical axiom (e.g., the rest of Mt. 5, Heb. 12, and 1 Pt. 2:20-25), there seems to be an undue stress on forcing the Matthew passage to speak only of justification. The Greek word here for "perfect" is teleios, and it is the same word used in James 1:4 where it clearly is communicating a process.
The Christians in this video make too much of the word "be" vs. the word "become" in the Matthew passage. The Christians use different examples to demonstrate how the term "be" demands immediateness (e.g., a parent telling the kids to "be" good). But one of the other examples that is used in the video--"be on time"--may be argued otherwise. Being on time requires planning and executing a number of things prior to its fulfillment. As another example, if I tell Senator John Thune, "You should be president," I'm in no way implying this should take place immediately. Everyone realizes that I'm encouraging the senator to get on a process. So context is essential; we can't simply "zero in on that one word 'be'" as Cares claims.
Now I'm not denying the doctrine of justification. I'm just saying that, in and of itself, one cannot make one term in Mt. 5:48 do what the Christians in this video are claiming. We know of the immediate perfection offered to those who simply come with genuine faith from such passages as Romans 4:4-8, and of course Heb. 10. But we as Christians, particularly those Protestants of a more Reformational bent, do not need to shy away from the sanctification the Lord performs in and through us as a promised process.
With this in mind, I think the film makes a great point in encouraging Christians to shock LDS by telling them, "I am perfect," and then going on to explain what we mean by this. In Christ, and through His perfect sacrifice, we are "made the righteousness of God in him" (2 Corinthians 5:21). (Christians need another bumper sticker: Christians are perfect in Christ, because they are forgiven!) And we can still tell LDS as Sue rightly did, that if they try to be perfect in any other way, they'll be spending eternity in outer darkness (cf. Luke 18:10-14). The biblical life-long process of sanctification presupposes the biblical sanctification of being immediately perfected in Christ, or being justified through genuine faith alone.
To purchase a DVD or video of Speaking the Truth in Love to Mormons, click here.
R. M. Sivulka
Salt Lake City, UT
June 5, 2005
|Marc says... ()|
|"I was given this book many years ago by a well-meaning inlaw who wanted to help us (I and my wife are LDS). I went through the book with some interest, and found that all of the points it raised could be answered. Either they were misunderstandings of our theology, or taken from incomplete references, or just different interpretations. I’ll give you one example: One of the points raised is that a Book of Mormon prophet made the prophesy that Christ would be born at Jerusalem. The objection raised was that of course Christ was born in Bethlehem, so this is a proof that the BOM is false. Of course I immediately thought of the fact that Bethlehem is basically a very small suburb of Jerusalem and only 5 miles away. Also the fact that this BOM prophet lived some 500 years after the people had left Jerusalem and traveled to the Americas. The people would have learned and heard stories of Jersusalem but it is doubtful if many had heard of Bethlehem – in fact Bethlehem is not mentioned by name anywhere in the Book of Mormon. For me, that would be enough explanation for why the Lord would tell the prophet to prophesy that Christ would be born at Jerusalem. Myself, if people ask where I’m from I usually say Denver, because the name of the suburb of Denver I’m from wouldn’t likely be known to them. Also, don’t people think that Joseph Smith knew where Christ had been born? He had been brought up on the Bible and learned to read from it like many of his generation. However, I’ve seen this response of mine brought up on other sites discussing this objection to the Book of Mormon, and the answer back is always “God would be more exact than this.” OK then, how is this evidence I’m about to present?
The scripture in the Book of Mormon that was referred to is Alma 7:10 “And behold, he shall be born of Mary, at Jerusalem which is the land of our forefathers, she being a virgin, a precious and chosen vessel, who shall be overshadowed and conceive by the power of the Holy Ghost, and bring forth a son, yea, even the Son of God.” This is the scripture which says he would be born “at Jerusalem”. I think everyone is familiar with the Christmas scripture in Luke 2:11 which reads: “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.” So according to Luke, he would be born in the city of David. However we read in 2Kings 14:20 “And they brought him on horses: and he was buried at Jerusalem with his fathers in the city of David.” So when this guy was being buried in the city of David it was referred to as “at Jerusalem”, precisely the same way that it was referred to in the Book of Mormon! So you see this “proof” of the falseness of the Book of Mormon is actually an evidence of its veracity. Anyone writing the book would have made the prophesy that Christ was to be born in Bethlehem, but Joseph translated it as it was written by the ancient prophet." (2/8/15)