HOW TO WITNESS EFFECTIVELY TO MORMONS— Breaking the LDS Authority Barrier Step-by-Step
This prideful attitude is common among members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS). They believe that “plain and precious” Gospel doctrines have been removed from the Christian Bible so that additional books of Mormon Scripture (i.e., Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price) are needed for a complete understanding of the Gospel. The LDS Church teaches that when the Biblical Apostles died, special “priesthood authority” to act in the name of God was removed from the earth. Thus, Mormons claim that Jesus Christ used John the Baptist, Peter, James, and John to confer upon Joseph Smith missing Aaronic and Melchizedek priesthoods so that he would hold the authority necessary to “restore” God’s true Church to earth in 1830. Due to these spiritual superiority claims, how should Christians approach Mormons who think their LDS Church has more to offer than other churches? We suggest the following steps to overcome these foundational Mormon authority barriers.
A common mistake that Christians make when witnessing is to offer the Gospel of “faith alone” to a Mormon who is happy with his “faith + works” salvation requirements of the LDS Church. Such encounters often turn into a debate between a Christian and a Mormon playing Bible ping-pong, tossing Scripture proof-texts back and forth in an attempt to prove the other wrong. These debates go nowhere and often end up with the Mormon exclaiming in pride: “Your Gospel is too easy! You only have some truth, but we have the fullness of the everlasting Gospel!”
1 Peter 3:15 instructs Christians to: “…sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence.” 1. Herein lies the key to presenting the Gospel to Mormons. Until they “ask you” to “give an account” for your faith, they are not interested in anything you have to offer them. They are content with their culture of Mormonism and their attitude that “we have more Gospel truth that you do” makes them feel superior to anything you offer.
So, how does a person create interest in the true Biblical Gospel of grace? Mark 10:17-22 describes Jesus’ approach to a rich man who, like Mormons, believed that he had to “do” something to earn God’s favor. Jesus’ response to his question of: “What shall I do to inherit eternal life?” (verse 17) is perceptive. He did not give him the simple Gospel of grace, but rather, challenged him with obedience to God’s commandments (verse 19). The pride of this man was seen in his response to Jesus when he said: “Teacher, I have kept all these things from my youth up.” (verse 20) Was this statement true? Of course not! Scripture explains that: “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) “If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us.” (1 John 1:8) This man’s pride had deceived him into thinking he was righteous enough for eternal life. He was not ready for the Gospel of grace. So, Jesus broke him with the law by saying:
Jesus put His finger on the rich man’s pride by emphasizing the essence of the law — that of loving God and others by denying self and surrendering all to God. The rich man’s “face fell, and he went away grieved” because he wasn’t ready to give up his pride in his accomplishments and possessions. In the same way that Jesus broke the rich man with the law, we must break Mormon pride with the impossible Gospel law of Mormonism so that they will be humbled into hearing the true Gospel of grace. As an old preacher once admonished the famous Christian apologist Walter Martin at the beginning of his ministry:
CHALLENGE MORMONS WITH THE IMPOSSIBLE GOSPEL OF MORMONISM.
You may be wondering: “What is the impossible Gospel of Mormonism?” It is the emphasis that the LDS “Gospel Law” puts upon Mormons to do “all” (2 Nephi 25:23) they can do to prove themselves worthy of the highest level of heaven. Although the LDS Church teaches that Jesus Christ died to pay for Adam’s transgression and that because of Christ’s atonement, all people will be resurrected to one of three Kingdoms of Heaven, LDS Scripture states that before a person is able to receive the “grace” and “forgiveness” of Christ, he must first “repent” by removing “all ungodliness” from his life. Moroni 10:32 in the Book of Mormon states:
The key words in this passage are “if” and “then.” “If” a person denies himself of “all ungodliness,” “then” is Christ’s “grace sufficient” for him, but until “all ungodliness” has been removed, Christ’s grace is not sufficient to cover his sins. The same principle holds true for the LDS concept of “forgiveness.” Forgiveness in Mormonism is conditional upon a person’s ability to stop the sin. Thus, if a person repeats a sin after asking for forgiveness, he is refused forgiveness for that one sin and is also held accountable for ALL of his former sins that were related to that one sinful act. 2. Thus, Mormon Scripture Doctrine and Covenants 82:7 states:
While both Christians and Mormons agree that repentance (a change of heart and mind about sin) is a requirement for true faith in Jesus Christ, the differences lie in the definition that Mormonism gives for repentance. Mormonism teaches that repentance is not valid until a person has abandoned sin. True to the Faith—A Gospel Reference published by the LDS Church states:
Who has been able to completely eradicate sin in his life? If repentance and forgiveness is based upon a person’s ability to stop sinning, what assurance does a Mormon have that he will be forgiven by God? As you can see, this impossible Gospel of Mormonism cannot promise forgiveness to anyone! Tragically with requirements like these, Mormons are constantly under pressure to perform to the dictates of their Church, never having the assurance of eternal life. I am sure you will agree that the following promises given to the true believer of Christ’s Gospel of Grace would be a welcomed relief to any weary LDS person who has been broken by the law:
START A CONVERSATION ON THE IMPOSSIBLE GOSPEL:
It can be difficult to start a conversation with a Mormon on the differences between the LDS Gospel and the true Gospel of the Bible. If you’re not careful to wait until the Mormon is broken with his law, you can easily slip into a futile argument over whether or not works are required for salvation. Remember, Mormon pride in their LDS Gospel most be BROKEN before they will consider the true Gospel of Grace. To accomplish this task, below we have provided a sample dialogue that will help you get started in a productive conversation:
This sample dialogue takes you up to the second question listed in our step-by-step witnessing training article entitled: “QUESTIONS FOR LDS ON THE IMPOSSIBLE GOSPEL OF MORMONISM — A Verse-by-Verse Presentation from LDS Scripture” This article will probably be the most helpful to guide you in this discussion with a Mormon.PREPARE FOR OBJECTIONS:
Be prepared that Mormons will begin to feel overwhelmed by the impossibility of salvation within their religion. They may try to excuse away the evidence you are presenting by saying something like this: “That’s just your interpretation of these Scriptures. It’s not really that impossible.” If a Mormon says this to you, simply ask him: “What is your interpretation of each of these verses?” Don’t allow him to jump around the issue or change subjects. Force him to provide you with a specific explanation on how each verse doesn’t mean what it is says. He will have a hard time coming up with an alternate view because official LDS Church publications and the teachings of LDS Prophets and Apostles have all claimed that one must abandon sin 4. before forgiveness in Mormonism can be granted. Once you have sufficiently proved the point that forgiveness according to the LDS Gospel is impossible to achieve and is never guaranteed, ask the Mormon:
If his pride in his Gospel is beginning to break, you will see evidence of this in his response to your questions. It is only at this point that he is ready to hear the real Gospel of grace.PRESENT THE GOSPEL OF GRACE
When you present the Gospel of salvation by grace through faith in Jesus alone, emphasize that the reason we must add nothing to the sufficient atonement of Christ is so that we will have nothing to “boast” about when we enter heaven (Ephesians 2:9). Either Jesus paid the full price for our sins so that we can go free, or He left part of the sacrifice undone and we must complete it by our works. Either Jesus is completely sufficient to stand as the worthy sacrifice paying the full debt to God the Heavenly Father, or He is insufficient and we must make up what is lacking in His atonement. You can’t have your “Gospel” both ways. The reality is clear that Christ is indeed sufficient for our salvation.
For more information on how to present the Impossible Gospel of Mormonism, see the following articles:
The Mormon Church proclaims that “Priesthood” is the “authority” to act in the name and power of God. Mormons believe that males must be ordained with “priesthood authority” in order to teach and administer sacred ordinances of the Gospel. These ordinances include: baptism, confirmation, consecration, sacrament, blessings of children, prayers for the sick, miracles, temple endowments, and marriage sealing. They profess that when Jesus established His Church upon the earth, He conferred the “Aaronic and Melchizedek Priesthoods” to His disciples. When this “authority” was lost from the earth through the death of the apostles, Mormons claim that apostate doctrines infiltrated the Christian Church and many “plain and precious” doctrines were removed from the Bible.
Declaring that Joseph Smith was “ordained” to the Aaronic and Melchizedek Priesthoods through a special appearance of John the Baptist, Peter, James and John the Beloved, the LDS Church claims that Joseph Smith “restored” missing Gospel truths through his publication of the Book of Mormon and his organization of the LDS Church under the guidance of living Prophets and Apostles. Thus, Mormons often ridicule Christian pastors for operating without God’s authority because they are not ordained to the Aaronic and Melchizedek Priesthoods of Mormonism and do not have “living” Prophets and Apostles leading their churches today.
This concept of having the “authority” of special Priesthoods and the guidance of “living” Prophets and Apostles who claim the ability to receive direct “revelation” from God, forms the basis of Mormon pride in their Church, fosters LDS feelings of superiority over all other professing “Christians,” and holds Mormons captive to the official teachings of the Mormon Church; for to question the “living Prophet” is viewed as questioning God Himself!
Mormons claim that the Lord will never allow the President of the LDS Church to lead the Church astray. Thus, heavy emphasis is constantly given to “sustain the General Authorities” (Mormon leaders) of the LDS Church by following their “teachings completely.” 5. Until the Mormon’s trust in the counterfeit “authority” claims of the LDS Church is broken, it is difficult to make any progress in convincing Mormons of the doctrinal falsehoods of Mormonism.
Ultimately, the Holy Spirit is the only one who can penetrate a Mormon’s heart and mind with the truth of Scripture. However, a Christian who is prepared to lovingly share his faith while breaking down the following false premises of Mormonism with prayer, Scriptural truth, and historical documentation, can greatly increase a Mormon’s ability to break free of LDS strongholds.
The following facts dispel the myths concerning Mormon Priesthood Authority. You can use these facts to prove that Mormon authority claims have no foundation in reality, but were merely the whimsical dreams of Joseph Smith and his cronies.
The Mormon Church claims that the canon (rule) of Scripture was not closed with Revelation—the final book of the Bible. Rather, they contend that God gave “new revelation” through the additional books of LDS Scripture (The Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and The Pearl of Great Price) and He still speaks today through the words of the “living” Prophets and Apostles of Mormonism. Thus, Gospel Principles, a publication of the Mormon Church, proclaims:
In the Bible, Isaiah 8:20 warns: “To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” Scripture is clear that the words and testimonies of any prophet of God must agree with the “law” and “testimony” of God’s Word. Yet, many aspects of the teachings of LDS Prophets and Apostles not only contradict Biblical Scripture, but they contradict the clear teachings of the Book of Mormon as well. For example, the Bible proclaims that there is only one God (Isaiah 43:10; 44:6, 8). The Book of Mormon likewise affirms that the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost are “one God” (Alma 11:28-29, 44; 2 Nephi 11:7; 31:21; Mosiah 15:1-4). Yet, Joseph Smith asserted:
ASK THE MORMON:
For a compilation of contradictions between Mormon doctrines and revelations, see the following articles:
HOW DOES GOD SPEAK TODAY?
It is true that God is continuing to speak to His people. Although the gift of prophecy is usually confined to specific individuals who proclaim “word[s] of knowledge” for the edification of the church (1 Corinthians 12:8), Jesus Christ is the only supreme Prophet leading the Church of God today. He gives direct “revelation” to each Christian believer through the testimony of the Bible and the personal indwelling and guidance of the Holy Spirit. Likewise, “apostles” serve in a variety of ways that include proclaiming God’s Word, exhorting fellow believers, and pioneering new churches and ministries throughout the world. Since the Greek word ἀπόστολος (apostolos) for “apostle” means “messenger, he that is sent,” 7. most “apostles” in the Christian church today are called “missionaries.”
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Mormons believe the Bible is an authoritative book of Scripture. However, they do not trust it like they do their other Scriptures. Claiming that the text of the Bible has been perverted, Joseph Smith declared that he clarified and restored the truths missing from the Bible through his publication of the Book of Mormon.
The Book of Mormon itself attacks the Bible by claiming: “there are many plain and precious things taken away from the book, which is the book of the Lamb of God” by the “great and abominable church.”8. So, when a Christian presents verses from the Bible that contradict LDS beliefs, it is not uncommon to hear Mormons question the validity of those Biblical Scriptures by asserting that they were not “translated correctly.” Thus, the LDS Church’s Eighth Article of Faith states:
In addition to claiming to “restore” and “clarify” alleged lost Bible truths through his publication of the Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith produced his own translation of the Bible called The Joseph Smith Translation (JST) or The Inspired Version of the Bible. Although the Mormon Church does not publish a full version of Smith’s translation, it does publish excerpts in the footnotes and appendix of the LDS version of the King James Bible.
Smith’s claim that the text of the Bible has been distorted contradicts numerous manuscript records we possess of the Bible today. The oldest Old Testament Hebrew manuscript we have is the book of Isaiah, dating back to the 2nd Century B.C. When this manuscript was compared with the Isaiah manuscript of the Old Testament Masoretic text dating from 900 A.D., it revealed no significant differences between the texts in over 1,000 years of scribal copying! The same is true when one compares the 5,000+ partial and complete Greek manuscripts we possess of the New Testament with the oldest fragments dating back to the 2nd and 3rd Centuries A.D. They reveal 99.5 % accuracy 9. in the transmission of the text. Finally, these claims of Bible corruption contradict many promises given concerning the preservation of God’s Word:
ASK THE MORMON:
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IS BIBLE SCRIPTURE INCOMPLETE?
A common accusation leveled by Mormons against the completeness of the Bible is the claim that there are “missing” or “lost” books of the Bible. To support this claim, Mormons often point to citations of book titles given in the text of the Bible that are not found in the canon (rule) of the Bible. Christians often respond to this accusation by pointing out that not every book mentioned in the Bible was considered Scripture. Often these books were referenced simply because they were well-known historical accounts of the nation of Israel (such as the book of the wars of the Lord mentioned at Numbers 21:14) or were the journals of the prophets (such as the book of Gad the Seer at 1 Chronicles 29:29). They are not included in the canon of the Bible today because the Jews never considered these books to be Scripture in the first place. Ironically, not only does the Bible cite unscriptural books in its text, but the Book of Mormon also cites no less than ten books that are not found in its canon of Scripture either. One can ask the Mormon, “Is the Book of Mormon also missing books?” No Mormon would agree to this claim in regard to the Book of Mormon; yet the “missing books” argument is hypocritically tossed around in Mormon circles as evidence that the Bible is incomplete. Mormons also accuse ambiguous statements in the Apostle Paul’s letters as evidence that some of his letters were lost from the text of Scripture. These accusations and more are answered in our website article entitled: “SHOULD WE TRUST THE BIBLE? —A Response to Mormonism’s Attack Upon the Bible’s Accuracy.”
Mormons often ridicule Christians who believe in the sufficiency of the Bible with the taunt from the Book of Mormon that says:
In addition to advocating “Latter-day revelation” from God through their additional books of “Scripture,” Mormons also believe that God may send “new revelation” at anytime through the words of their current, living Prophet. The problem with this open view of the canon of Scripture is that so much of this “new revelation” of “Latter-day Prophets” contradicts former revelation, not only in the Bible, but also in the Book of Mormon. Although the Bible does not specifically say that God’s revelations to man were completed with Revelation, the last book of the Bible, it does state:
ASK THE MORMON:
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It doesn’t take long in spiritual conversations with Mormons before the challenge to read and pray about the Book of Mormon is presented as a test to determine the truthfulness of the Mormon Church. Often the challenge of Moroni in the Book of Mormon is read from Moroni 10:4:
This is a classic “bait and switch” tactic because one can read the Book of Mormon from cover to cover and not find many of the unique doctrines that differentiate the Mormon Church from other churches of Christianity. While the Book of Mormon is said to contain “the fulness of the everlasting gospel,” many key doctrines of the Mormon Gospel are completely missing from it. These are as follows:
Given the fact that these essential doctrines of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are completely missing from the Book of Mormon, it is deceptive to imply that answered prayers for the Book of Mormon prove that the LDS Church is true. Likewise, since over 100 divergent groups of Mormonism hold the Book of Mormon as their foundational document, how can it be said that the Holy Ghost is confirming the truthfulness of all of these divergent churches when their adherents “pray about the Book of Mormon”? Obviously, the alleged truthfulness of the Book of Mormon does not prove the truthfulness of the LDS Church or any of the other splinter groups of Mormonism.
Furthermore, in addition to missing key doctrines of the LDS Church, the Book of Mormon outright contradicts several essential doctrines of the Church. Thus, if the Book of Mormon is indeed true, one must question the validity of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as the proper representative of Christ’s Gospel on earth. For a list of contradictions between the doctrines of the Mormon Church and those taught in the Book of Mormon see:
The challenge to “pray about the Book of Mormon” is often given so strongly that a Christian who refuses to “pray” about the book is accused of not believing in prayer or the power of the Holy Ghost to reveal truth. He also runs the risk being scorned and rejected as someone who a Mormon would not consider “worth his time” to talk to. So how should you respond when Mormons ask you to “pray about the Book of Mormon?” There are several ways you can handle this with integrity:
ASK THE MORMON:
This verse from the Book of Mormon also agrees with the Bible’s teachings about God’s eternal, unchangeable nature at Malachi 3:6 and Psalm 90:2. So, I believe this teaching in the Book of Mormon is true. Yet, Joseph Smith contradicted the Book of Mormon when he taught:
Since the Mormon Church continues to affirm this false belief about God that contradicts this and other teachings from the Bible and the Book of Mormon, doesn’t this prove that the LDS Church can’t possibly be God’s true Church? After all, if I believe the Book of Mormon is true, would it not force me to reject these false teachings of the LDS Church and Joseph Smith?
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Have you ever wondered why it is that you can present a significant amount of evidence against the beliefs and historical claims of Mormonism only to discover your LDS friend turning a deaf ear to your facts? Have you ever wondered why Mormon “feelings” about an alleged “testimony” of the Book of Mormon override rational thoughts and concerns? The reason is because Mormons have a faulty concept of what true Christian “faith” is. Since they believe that “faith” must be without evidence, they feel that the lack of evidence for their beliefs actually confirms that they have true “faith.” So, while you can ask difficult questions against the claims of Mormonism and present irrefutable evidence in support of your own Christian beliefs, if you never confront their false concept of “faith,” they will shut down their thinking capacities and refuse to consider what you present, rationalizing their behavior with the idea that “proof” and “evidence” prevents true “faith.” So, how does a Christian overcome this critical barrier to true communication, we suggest you discuss the difference between Biblical “faith” and “presumption.”
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN BIBLICAL FAITH AND PRESUMPTION:
Most people are familiar with the great definition of faith given in the Bible at Hebrews 11:1: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Yet, few understand the twisted way Mormons interpret this concept of faith. Mormons view the fact that “faith is …the evidence of things not seen” as a license to justify their trust in the Book of Mormon and other discrepancies within Mormonism that have failed the test of historical, archaeological, geographical, Biblical, and analytical studies. From a Biblical perspective, this type of “faith” in a fraudulent and unsubstantiated claim is nothing short of “presumption.”12. Yet, the Book of Mormon Prophet Alma justifies this faulty understanding of “faith” when he proclaims:
If “knowledge” or proof of a belief disqualifies it from being “faith,” we must ask: “What is the difference between this definition of ‘faith’ and the definition of ‘presumption’?” The word to “presume” means, “to suppose to be true without proof,”13. while the Greek word for “faith” (πίστις- pistis) used at Hebrews 11:1 means: “firm persuasion… assurance, firm conviction… ground of belief, guarantee.”14. Can you see the difference between these two words? While the Biblical view of “faith” is “conviction” based upon a “ground of belief, guarantee” or “assurance,” the Mormon view of “faith” fits the definition of “presumption” in that it is an assumption of something that does not have “proof.” Thus, according to Deuteronomy 18:20, “presumption” should be avoided and the advice of 1 Thessalonians 5:21 heeded: “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.”
Since another word for “faith” is “trust,” faith is only as good as the object in whom it is placed. When we understand that true Biblical faith is a “conviction” based upon a “guarantee” of something that has been proved true and reliable in the past, we see immediately that “faith” at Hebrews 11:1 “is the substance of things hoped for,” based upon the “evidence” of the past that proves that the “things not seen” will indeed come to fruition. The key word in this passage of Hebrews 11:1 is “evidence.” It is “faith” (trust) in the past “evidence” of the faithfulness of God that allows a Christian to look forward to the future “things not seen” because God has proved dependable in the past.
This view of faith will be a new concept for your Mormon friends, but it is crucial that you explain these differences when they object to your views based upon their feelings and faith in Mormonism. By challenging them to explain to you the difference between faith and presumption, you will challenge their faulty presumptions so that your arguments based upon evidence will start to have an affect upon them.
ASK THE MORMON:
We have discussed creative questions one can ask to overcome the foundational barriers that often inhibit effective dialogue between Christians and Mormons. Yet, none of these methods will be effective if they are not presented with love and grace. Just as the Apostle Paul explained at 1 Corinthians 13:1, no matter how many persuasive arguments and facts one may amass in support of his or her position, if the truth is not presented in love, one becomes nothing less than a clanging symbol to the Mormons listening. Ultimately, the Holy Spirit is the only One Who can open hearts and minds to receive God’s truth. If you are prepared, God may grant you the privilege of leading one of His lost sheep home.
If this occurs, be prepared to provide emotional support and an intimate environment where the Ex-Mormon can be coached to replace the false LDS views of God, Jesus Christ, and Salvation with the truth from God’s Word. Remember the Mormon leaving the LDS Church not only leaves behind a religious system of activity, but also many friends and family members who will never comprehend their choice to leave their “testimony” of Mormonism behind. Without sufficient help from loving Christians, many disillusioned Ex-Mormons often end up joining other legalistic religions that claim to be “the only true Church,” or they become atheists and agnostics, living life with no view of God or eternity. But with proper resources, the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and the loving support of committed Christians who understand the process, many are coming to find true freedom in Christ.
Because the Mormon Church demands so much activity from its members, Ex-Mormons often feel lost, confused, tired and hopeless. They need time to rest, heal, and process what they’ve been through. Do not expect them to attend religious services with you right away. It may take months and even years before they are ready for another “spiritual” experience. Go easy when it comes to this area of Christian living and keep in mind that the goal is not to get them to join your church but to help them come into a personal relationship with the real Jesus Christ of the Bible. For more information on the many resources we have available to support former Mormons, please visit our website at: www.4witness.org.
FOR MORE INFORMATION ON WITNESSING TO MORMONS SEE:
1. Unless otherwise noted, the following Biblical Scripture references are quoted from the New American Standard Bible.
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