Answering Questions in Manti
Well, another year at the Mormon Miracle Pageant in Manti Utah has passed; a place where many Christians from around the country gather to reach out to the LDS pageant attendees and enjoy Christian fellowship in the name of Jesus.
Last year, the LDS Church purchased the street in front of the Mormon temple in order to keep Christians from witnessing to the LDS that were attending the pageant. At first, we were all concerned how this would affect our witnessing efforts, but as it has turned out, all it did was scatter Christians out around the city of Manti, instead of being gathered into one place. Didn’t God do this once before in the early church?
Doug and I found a great place on main street at a cross walk to catch LDS as they walked to the temple grounds. It even comes with LDS crossing guards to talk with all evening long. One night my crossing guard was a young man named Tim, who had just returned for his LDS mission. He was very eager to discuss topics in the Book of Mormon. I read Moroni 8:18 to him and asked why the LDS church taught differently about God than the Book of Mormon teaches The passage reads: “For I know that God is not a partial God, neither a changeable being: but he is unchangeable from all eternity to all eternity.” Tim replied that they believe in God the eternal father. So, I asked him this question, “Since the LDS god was once a sinful man like us before he obtained exaltation and was appointed god over this world, didn’t that mean that God changed?”
He replied that we are all eternal in the sense that we have always existed as intelligence before we were born in heaven. I responded, “So what you’re telling me is that God changed from intelligence to a spirit baby in some heaven and then change to a finite man and then changed to an infinite God. Yet, the Book of Mormon teaches that God never changed so do you see the discrepancies here?”
Tim never got to answer because he had to help people cross the street. This was one of the problems when talking to crossing guards. Later, we got into a crowning conversation about being sinners and how the Bible states we are saved by grace through faith and not by anything we can do so that we can’t brag that we did anything to enter the Kingdom of God (Ephesians 2:8-9).
Tim responded by saying that most people think that Mormons earn their way to heaven but he said they don’t. As I pointed to the temple, I asked Tim if he could enter the Kingdom of God, having eternal life without first becoming worth to enter that temple and before he performed ALL his temple works? With an embarrassed look, Tim said no! Again, we were interrupted by people needing to cross the street.
So later I read to Tim, Alma 24:32-35, which states that this life is the time to repent and if you procrastinate repentance until you die then God will withdraw from you and you will be sealed to Satan for eternity. Tim said that this passage was speaking of those who rejected God, but I reminded him that Amulek, the Mormon prophet, was speaking to those who were trying to follow God. I went on to explain that Amulek didn’t believe nor teach in “baptism for the dead” as Amulek explained there will be no repentance after death. Tim became somewhat agitated by what I said and avoided me the rest of the evening.
Later, I had an LDS guy named Steve approach me saying that my shirt (Why Don’t Mormons Believe The Book of Mormon?) attracted his attention, so he had to find out what compelled me to be here. I explained that I was here to share the true Jesus with the LDS people, and that I grew up in the Salt Lake Valley and later in life got saved, left the Mormon Church, and now I reach out to Mormons with the true Jesus and the true gospel.
I explained that my shirt was not intended to poke fun of the Mormon faith but that it was to point out discrepancies between the teachings of the LDS Church and the teachings of the Book of Mormon. Steve was interested in hearing what these discrepancies are so I showed him my tract on the Book of Mormon and how it teaches a different God than what the LDS Church teaches. (See also Book of Mormon vs LDS Doctrine Chart).
I showed him Book of Mormon verses that teach that God is a spirit so God could not have a body of flesh and bones, and that God has been God for all eternity so that God couldn’t have once been a man. I showed him also verses that demonstrate that Jesus is God and that He created us so Jesus couldn’t be our elder brother but is our Creator instead.
After seeing these verses, Steve said that maybe I was just misunderstanding what these verses were saying. So I reminded Steve that according to Joseph Smith, the Book of Mormon was translated from “reformed Egyptian” into plain English so that all could understand and follow.
Then, Steve admitted that the LDS Church did not have the same views of God that was taught in the Book of Mormon. Steve also admitted that he believed the Book of Mormon and had already been questioning some of the teachings of the LDS Church. He thanked me and said he might come back and talk more at another time, but I never saw him again on this trip.
Another experience I had was a short conversation with a guy named Troy who was curious about how God could be 3 distinct persons yet just one God. He kept saying that it was confusing to understand how Jesus could look up to heaven and thank the Father, and he asked if Jesus was thanking Himself. I explained that the Triune God attended Jesus’ baptism in Matthew 3:16-17 saying: “And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him. And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”
I explained that this was a great picture of the Trinity, that the Father was distinct from the Son and the Son distinct for the Holy Ghost. All 3 distinct persons are yet only one God. I gave him my email so we could continue our conversation but Troy said that he would probably chicken out in contacting me so he gave me his email instead. He said that this way he might not chicken out. Well, we will see what God has in store!