How Best to Teach Mormonism to Mormons
HOW TO TEACH MORMONISM TO MORMONS
By Former Mormon Bishop, Lee B. Baker
It is my opinion, as a former Mormon Bishop and member of that faith for over 30 years, that the best possible situation to teach a Mormon. Mormon Investigator or even a Mormon Convert about Mormonism, is within their own sheltered environment and from their own authorized and public documentation. In this safe atmosphere, as opposed to a cold-contact within a large group, they are naturally and more genuinely committed to the teaching opportunity that they perceive is under their control.
The very point of this strategy of love and compassion is to plant the seeds of truth at the lowest possible level within the Mormon Church, and then to have those truths repeated up through the Mormon Leadership, into meetings and among those whom you and I will never have access to. If this process is repeated hundreds or even thousands of times, then Mormons will struggle with other Mormons to deal with the truth, on our behalf, as they justify or defend Church actions or Doctrine that they themselves would not otherwise have found the need to come to terms with.
Every member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is taught to share the Gospel at every opportunity. They generally look forward to such opportunities and report each teaching event or contact within each of their many organizational meetings. If they find themselves unacquainted with the subject or incapable of answering a specific question, then they are to bring the question to the next level of Leadership for additional support.
You may not believe it now, but your most effective supporter in bringing the truth about the Mormon Faith to Mormons may be the Mormon Leadership themselves. It maybe the local Mormon Bishop or even the most Senior Latter-day Saint Mission President. Simply know this fact, that no non-Mormon, no matter how much documentation or Biblical truth they may have, can pierce the heart of a Mormon like one of their own trusted Leaders. When those few by sincere Mormons have honestly presented your specific questions to a Missionary Correlation meeting in an attempt to openly resolve these issues, they will be ridiculed by their own and inadvertently expose many more to a true but bizarre set of Mormon Doctrines each was previously unaware of.
I firmly believe that within the general context of a large important Mormon gathering, such as the Semi-Annual General Conference of the Church, a Formal Pageant or the opening of a new Mormon Temple or Church, the opportunity to effectively witness to a Mormon is significantly restricted. I offer this consideration based on several personal experiences and I can tell you plainly that in such situations, the average Mormon is spiritually strengthened by both their numbers and a mild attraction to the probability of modern persecution, however illogical that may seem to you and me.
As most of you know, a Mormon is very uncomfortable in the “receiving” mode of a testimony. When a Mormon feels that they are teaching you, they will have a strong desire to follow-up and search-out your question to the best of their ability. This will happen best within their own Church buildings or among your Mormon friends and coworkers within your own neighborhoods. The foundational principal here is to teach them things they do not know about their own faith, by asking simple and polite questions within the very meetings and programs they have carefully developed to answer such questions.
It is a true but sad fact that even the most heartfelt traditional witnessing to a member of the Mormon faith, rarely leaves a lasting spiritual impression. Yet, within an hour drive of your home there are several Mormon congregations that will welcome you and your questions within an Investigator Class, which is the only meeting within the entire Mormon Church where you, as a visitor, can openly ask any respectful question. If you attend these meetings and sincerely ask the two questions listed below, you will plant a seed of Truth and Doubt that will become a more powerful witness than if you spoke with 100 Mormons on the streets of Salt Lake City. This is only possible because the Mormon Missionary within his or her own building or your Mormon neighbor or friend within his or her own home will feel a genuine commitment to you that can only rarely develop from a cold-contact on the street.
As you study the two simple questions below and review the supporting homework, which is developed from only authorized Mormon resources, know that you MUST resist the desire to “pile-on” additional comments, questions or Biblical points that you may so desperately want to add to the meeting. This overzealous approach will only confirm any suspicion that you are NOT really serious about these two basic questions and the entire event, along with all your efforts will be lost without any long-term impact whatsoever. Trust me on this point, I have written a 350 page book on the subject of why the Mormon Church is wrong, with over 315 documented footnotes, and I know only too well the uncontrollable desire to share everything all at once, and I also know well the failures that follow that strategy, for it is not of the Lord.
Remember, it is the good a Mormon knows about their Church that keeps them active in the Mormon Faith, but it is what they do not know that will bring them out of Mormonism and to the Lord Jesus Christ. There will be time enough to add to what knowledge you are bringing to them, do not overwhelm them on the initial few visits, this is the blessing and the power of an effective witnessing of the Truth that may change their lives forever.
Below you find only two basic questions followed by the precise internet path to search for and print the exact information provided here. The information presented here has two primary purposes: first – to provide you the opportunity to study the questions, read and understand the homework as well as the additional comments, which clarify the point of the question, and second – to provide your Mormon acquaintances with the opportunity to see for themselves where this information has come from, all authorized and official publications, scriptures and statements from the Mormon Church itself.
The information found between the asterisks (***) is precisely what is found from the Mormon Church sources. As such, you may print and use this presentation of the facts or use this as a guide to build the identical information along with your Mormon associates if they do not believe the references here are accurate.
Your personal preparation, both spiritually and temporally is very important to a successful introduction of these valid but earth-shattering concepts to a Mormon. If you can, it is best to verbally summarize these questions with their several points of controversy, without the use of the paper copy at first. Then as required, provide the specific Mormon scripture references as needed from the paper when you are asked to elaborate or clarify your question.
Finally, I would suggest that as you study these questions and review the supporting documentation a day or two in advance, go to the Lord in prayer as you have with similar requests for the support and guidance from the Holy Spirit. Know with all sincerity that the information you will provide in a loving and compassionate way, might forever change the lives and relationships of those whom the Lord has placed within your path for His purpose.
May our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, bless you and prepare you to know exactly how and when to share this knowledge with your Mormon brothers and sisters as they come out of the darkness and into His loving arms.
Your Brother in Christ,
Lee B. Baker
Former Mormon Bishop
Author: Mormonism – A Life Under False Pretenses
QUESTION 1: I somewhat understand the history of Polygamy, and I know that the Mormon Church no longer teaches that principal, but could you explain to me the practice of Polyandry as it relates to the Laws of the Priesthood found within the Doctrine and Covenants?
HOMEWORK Question 1. Part 1: The internet path to search on the Official Mormon website will be: lds.org (then at the very bottom left side of that page select) Go to Classic LDS.org (then select from the top left menu, Gospel Library, then Scriptures, then Doctrine and Covenants, then within the Jump to Section 132), then scroll down to Verse 61, for the highlighted information below.
61: And again, as pertaining to the law of the priesthood–if any man espouse a virgin, and desire to espouse another, and the first give her consent, and if he espouse the second, and they are virgins, and have vowed to no other man, then is he justified; he cannot commit adultery for they are given unto him; for he cannot commit adultery with that that belongeth unto him and to no one else.
Clearly the “Law of the Priesthood” concerning the practice of Polygamy (Plural Marriage) is condition upon three unyielding requirements found within the Official Mormon Scriptures:
1 – The first wife must give her consent for the man to take another virgin wife.
2 – That the next wife or wives must be a virgin, and
3 – That the next wife or wives must not be vowed or belong to another man.
The Mormon Prophet Joseph Smith Jr. did not meet these “Laws of the Priesthood” with many of his 33 wives, but most graphically with the wives of other men, who were both not virgins and were vowed to another man with no divorces required to any of the sharing of these wives. In fact, not only did Joseph’s first wife, Emma, not know of the majority, neither did the majority of the shared husbands know that Joseph had taken their wives. Could this truly have been a deed commanded by the Lord Jesus Christ that you have come to know?
HOMEWORK Question 1, Part 2 : The internet path to search on the Official Mormon website will be: lds.org (then at the very bottom left side of that page select) Go to Classic LDS.org (then select from there) About the Church (then select) Church History (then select) BYU Resources (then select) Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship (then within the search window type) Todd Compton Plural Wives of Joseph Smith (and select Go), the first item will be: The Prophet Joseph Smith and His Plural Wives (select that item and scroll down to the following two headings for the highlighted comments) Note: the specific URL will be:
General Observations about the Book
Overall, In Sacred Loneliness is extremely informative. The book features a high level of research, generally good judgment in the use of source materials, and a fairly comprehensive collection of known data pertaining to the wives of Joseph Smith. No biographer in Mormon history has ever been ambitious enough to write a group biography as extensive as this. Because of the complexity of the subject and an obvious lack of detailed primary sources, the job of compiling full-chapter biographies of Joseph Smith’s plural wives could be insurmountable. In Sacred Loneliness was recently honored with the annual best book award from the Mormon History Association. This recognition is deserved because it is the most detailed study of the lifetime experiences of the women sealed to Joseph Smith.
|Status of Women at the Time They Were Sealed to Joseph Smith||#||%|
|Single with no prior marriage||17||59|
|Single and widowed||4||14|
|Married to a husband with good church standing||4||14|
|Married to a disaffected or nonmember husband||4||14|
Clearly the Official website of the Mormon Church recognizes that Joseph Smith took eight women, who were already married to other men, as his own wives. How is this disgraceful action NOT in violation of the “Laws of the Priesthood” found within the Mormon Doctrine and Covenants?
HOMEWORK Question 1. Part 3: The internet path to search on the Official Mormon website will be: lds.org (then at the very bottom left side of that page select) Go to Classic LDS.org (then select from the very top of the page, A-Z Index), scroll down to Articles of Faith, specifically the 12th Article of Faith for the highlighted information below.
Articles of Faith
Of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
History of the Church, Vol.4, pp. 535-41, 1843, Joseph Smith, Jr.
12. We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.
At the very time that Joseph Smith wrote the Articles of Faith in 1843, he was married to 33 wives, and 8 of them were clearly the wives of other men. His actions were in clear violation of the Laws of the United States and the Laws of the State of Illinois, how then could he claim that both he and the Mormon Church believed in honoring and sustaining the Law? Additionally, after his death in 1844, the Mormon Church went on for some 60 plus years to actively disobey, violate and avoid many Federal and State Laws, and yet still claim to obey, honor and sustain the Law, as recorded in the Mormon 12th Article of Faith?
HOMEWORK Question 1. Part 4: The internet path to search on the Official Mormon website will be: lds.org (then at the very bottom left side of that page select) Go to Classic LDS.org (then select from there, within the search box to the right) Polygamy (Plural Marriage) – (and click search, the first item will contain the information highlighted below)
Polygamy (Plural Marriage)
The family is ordained of God. Marriage between man and woman is essential to His eternal plan. At certain times and for His specific purposes, God, through His prophets, has directed the practice of plural marriage (sometimes called polygamy), which means one man having more than one living wife at the same time. In obedience to direction from God, Latter-day Saints followed this practice for about 50 years during the 1800s but officially ceased the practice of such marriages after the Manifesto was issued by President Woodruff in 1890. Since that time, plural marriage has not been approved by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and any member adopting this practice is subject to losing his or her membership in the Church.
The Bible indicates that Abraham, Jacob, and others of the Lord’s servants had multiple wives (see Genesis 16:1–3; 29:23–30; 30:4, 9; Judges 8:30; 1 Samuel 1:1–2). Joseph Smith asked God why He had permitted this practice and was told that God had commanded it for specific purposes. One reason given by the Lord for plural marriage is mentioned in the Book of Mormon: “If I will, saith the Lord of Hosts, raise up seed unto me, I will command my people; otherwise they shall [have only one wife]” (Jacob 2:30; see also v. 27).
After God revealed the doctrine of plural marriage to Joseph Smith in 1831 and commanded him to live it, the Prophet, over a period of years, cautiously taught the doctrine to some close associates. Eventually, he and a small number of Church leaders entered into plural marriages in the early years of the Church. Those who practiced plural marriage at that time, both male and female, experienced a significant trial of their faith. The practice was so foreign to them that they needed and received personal inspiration from God to help them obey the commandment.
When the Saints moved west under the direction of Brigham Young, more Latter-day Saints entered into plural marriages.
Influenced by rumors and exaggerated reports, the United States Congress, beginning in 1862, enacted a series of laws against polygamy that became increasingly harsh. By the 1880s many Latter-day Saint men were imprisoned or went into hiding.
In 1889 in the face of increasing hardships and the threat of government confiscation of Church property, including temples, Wilford Woodruff, President of the Church at the time, prayed for guidance. He was inspired to issue a document that officially ended the sanction of plural marriage by the Church. The document, called the Manifesto, was accepted by Church members in a general conference held in October 1890 and is published in the Doctrine and Covenants as Official Declaration 1 (see also “Excerpts from Three Addresses by President Wilford Woodruff Regarding the Manifesto” following Official Declaration 1).
Just as the practice of plural marriage among the Latter-day Saints began gradually, the ending of the practice after the Manifesto was also gradual. Some plural marriages were performed after the Manifesto, particularly in Mexico and Canada. In 1904, President Joseph F. Smith called for a vote from the Church membership that all post-Manifesto plural marriages be prohibited worldwide.
More recently, President Gordon B. Hinckley has reiterated that plural marriage is “against the law of God. Even in countries where civil or religious law allows [the practice of a man having more than one wife], the Church teaches that marriage must be monogamous and does not accept into its membership those practicing plural marriage” (“What Are People Asking about Us?” Ensign, Nov. 1998, 72).
Groups who teach polygamy today are not part of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Again, at the very time that Joseph Smith wrote the Articles of Faith in 1843, he was married to 33 wives, and 8 of them were clearly the wives of other men. His actions were in clear violation of the Laws of the United States and the Laws of the State of Illinois, how then could he claim that both he and the Mormon Church believed in honoring and sustain the Law? Additionally, after his death in 1844, the Mormon Church went on for some 60 plus years to actively disobey, violate and avoid many Federal and State Laws, and yet still claim to obey, honor and sustain the Law?
Question 2: According to the Official Church website, a primary belief of the Mormon Faith is that we, each in this room can become a god. Is there any Biblical justification for this belief?
HOMEWORK Question 2: The internet path to search on the Official Mormon website will be: lds.org (then at the very bottom left side of that page select) Go to Classic LDS.org (then select from there, within the search box to the right) Chapter 47: Exaltation (and click search, the first item will contain the information highlighted below)
Chapter 47: Exaltation,” Gospel Principles, 301
When we lived with our Heavenly Father, he explained a plan for our progression. We could become like him, an exalted being. The plan required that we be separated from him and come to earth. This separation was necessary to prove whether we would obey our Father’s commandments even though we were no longer in his presence. The plan provided that when earth life ended, we would be judged and rewarded according to the degree of our faith and obedience. We would then be assigned to the place for which we had prepared.
Jesus taught, “In my Father’s house are many mansions” (John 14:2). From the scriptures we learn that there are three kingdoms of glory in heaven. The Apostle Paul mentioned that he knew a man who was “caught up to the third heaven” (2 Corinthians 12:2). Paul named two of the kingdoms in heaven: the celestial and the terrestrial (see 1 Corinthians 15:40–42). The celestial is the highest, and the terrestrial is second. Through latter-day revelation we learn that the third kingdom is the telestial kingdom (see D&C 76:81). We also learn that there are three heavens or degrees within the celestial kingdom (see D&C 131:1).
What Is Exaltation?
Exaltation is eternal life, the kind of life God lives. He lives in great glory. He is perfect. He possesses all knowledge and all wisdom. He is the Father of spirit children. He is a creator. We can become like our Heavenly Father. This is exaltation.
If we prove faithful to the Lord, we will live in the highest degree of the celestial kingdom of heaven. We will become exalted, just like our Heavenly Father. Exaltation is the greatest gift that Heavenly Father can give his children (see D&C 14:7).
Blessings of Exaltation
Our Heavenly Father is perfect. However, he is not jealous of his wisdom and perfection. He glories in the fact that it is possible for his children to become like him. He has said, “This is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man” (Moses 1:39).
Those who receive exaltation in the celestial kingdom through faith in Jesus Christ will receive special blessings. The Lord has promised, “All things are theirs” (D&C 76:59). These are some of the blessings given to exalted people:
- 1. They will live eternally in the presence of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ (see D&C 76).
- 2. They will become gods.
- 3. They will have their righteous family members with them and will be able to have spirit children also. These spirit children will have the same relationship to them as we do to our Heavenly Father. They will be an eternal family.
- 4. They will receive a fulness of joy.
- 5. They will have everything that our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ have—all power, glory, dominion, and knowledge. President Joseph Fielding Smith wrote: “The Father has promised through the Son that all that he has shall be given to those who are obedient to his commandments. They shall increase in knowledge, wisdom, and power, going from grace to grace, until the fulness of the perfect day shall burst upon them” (Doctrines of Salvation, 2:36).
Again, is there any Biblical justification for this distinctively unchristian belief?