Doug and I attended this year’s LDS Spring Conference at Temple Square in Salt Lake City Utah. The weather was great with a larger than normal attendance, which I assume was due to the sustaining of the new LDS prophet/president of the church, Russell M. Nelson during the Saturday morning section. Russell M. Nelson replaced Thomas S. Monson who was the former prophet until his death.
The sustaining of Russell M. Nelson proceeded with a rare apposing of the sustaining by an LDS member who also yelled out for the church to stop sexual abuse by the leadership. Because of the governmental and political influence of the LDS church, to put it mildly, this sparked a hotbed of news for the LDS and all of Utah.
When I first started going to conferences back in 2006, I was the only Christian on the corner of South Temple and Main Street. Then in 2007 Doug started coming with me and this conference we had as many as 10 Christians witnessing on the corner of South Temple. With this many Christian witnesses there was always a conversation or two going on.
Jerry, a Christian from California and I were talking when 2 LDS missionaries walked by. I said, “Good morning Elders” (Mormon missionaries are referred to as Elders) and they replied, “Good morning but kept walking.” I called out to them to come and evangelize us and share the gospel with us. They turned around so Jerry said he wanted to ask them a question about their explanation of the restoration of the gospel. That drew them in like bees to the hive.
Jerry had a tract addressing the problems of the LDS explanation of why the gospel needed to be restored. Jerry presented Joseph Smith’s claim that all the churches were corrupt and all their creeds were an abomination. Both Elders claimed that Jerry’s statement was false, that the LDS church teaches that all churches have truth but only the LDS church has the fullness of the everlasting gospel through Joseph Smith’s restoration.
Elder Staley was closes to me so I peeled him away from Jerry’s conversation with the other Elder and explained to him that he of all people should know that this was the bases for the restoration. He said that we, Jerry and I, were only trying to persecute them and their church.
I said that Joseph Smith was the one who started persecuting the Christian churches. I showed him Joseph Smith’s history in the Pearl of Great Price that what Jerry was claiming is true. In Joseph Smith’s history, Smith claims in a vision that he saw the Father and the Son and in this vision Smith asked the Father which church he should join. The Quotation Says:
“I was answered that I must join none of them, for they were all wrong; and the personage who addressed me said that all their creeds were an abomination in his sight; that those professors were all corrupt: they draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me, they teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof.” (Joseph Smith – History 1:19)
I explained to Elder Staley that Joseph Smith’s claim of this vision is the very crutch for the LDS Church’s claim of why the gospel needed to be restored. I told Elder Staley that I didn’t believe Smith’s claim of this vision because the Bible states that the true church is not an organization but a body of believers. I quoted Matthew 16:18:
“And I say also unto thee, that thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”
I explained that Jesus was prophesying that His Church would stand forever and that even the gates of hell would not prevail against His Church. Yet Joseph Smith’s vision claims that the gates of hell prevailed against Jesus’ church and now Jesus had to restore it through a man instead of Himself. I went on to say that Smith was claiming that Jesus didn’t have the power to keep His Church together but that Smith did.
Elder Staley was getting upset by this point and said that I was being contentious and argumentative and that it was time for him to go. I said to him, that all I have been doing is showing you the truth through scripture and the truth is upsetting you.
“My purpose here is not to upset you but to share the truth with you.” I explained that I was LDS for 35 years until I got saved and now I come here because I love you guys and I want you all to know the truth. I said that my heart goes out to the LDS people because they are not worshipping the true God of the Bible. I went on to explain that the belief that God was once a man like us and that we can become Gods and rule over our own planet is contrary to the teaching in the Bible and also in the Book of Mormon.
I continued by adding that Joseph Smith changed his teaching of only one God to preaching that there are many Gods and that you need to learn how to become Gods like all the Gods before you. Elder Staley looked very uncomfortable and seemed somewhat embarrassed, yet was trying to defend it by downplaying the significance of this doctrine. I pleaded with him to stop embracing this idea because according to Jesus he could not enter eternal life. I quoted John 17:3:
“And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.”
I explained that the LDS church is teaching a different God and a different Jesus and according to Jesus you will never have eternal life believing in the wrong God. Elder Staley said it was time for him to go and shook my hand before leaving. I gave him my email and invited him to contact me if he had questions.
Doug has a sign that reads, “Is the Mormon Jesus the same Jesus of the Bible?” Two young women approached Doug asking him why he was here and what his sign meant. Doug told them that he was here because he cared about their eternity and wanted to share the true Jesus with them. Lady #2 said she was a new convert to the LDS church and was here for the first time with her friend, Lady #1. Lady #1 commented that she was a generational Mormon and was helping Lady #2 learn the Mormon faith. Lady #2 said that her whole family are Christians so she wanted to know why Doug’s sign was questioning the Mormon Jesus.
Doug started first by saying that the Mormon Jesus is our elder brother, the first literal born offspring of heavenly father and heavenly mother in heaven. With a shocked look, Lady #2 turned to Lady #1 and asked if this was true. Lady #1 agreed saying that this was all part of the pre-existence. Doug went on to explain that according to Mormonism, Lucifer/Satan was also our literal brother and the brother of Jesus. Again, Lady #2 turned to Lady #1 asking if this was true. Lady #1 timidly said that again this was all part of the pre-existence and part of heavenly father’s plan of salvation. Doug went on to explain that Jesus is our Creator and that He created everything in heaven and in the earth (Colossians 1:16). Therefore, Jesus could not be our elder brother because He created us and Lucifer.
Doug explained that this idea of pre-existence came for their prophet Joseph Smith along with the idea that everyone can become a god themselves just like heavenly father. Again Lady #2 was shocked asking Lady #1 if this was true. Lady #1 started to back pedal saying that we all are supposed to be like Heavenly Father. Doug then turned to Joseph Smith’s boosting statement where he said that he was greater than Jesus. Lady #1 said that this was just not true and that Doug was only making up lies. So Doug read Smith’s boasting claim,
“I have more to boast of than ever any man had. I am the only man that has ever been able to keep a whole church together since the days of Adam…Neither Paul, John, nor Jesus ever did it. I boast that no man ever did such a work as I. The followers of Jesus ran away from him; but the Latter-day Saints never ran way from me yet.” (May 26, 1844 – Church History vol. 6, pp.408-409).
Doug went on to explain that Joseph Smith’s Jesus is another Jesus and not the Jesus of the Bible. With that Lady #1 told Lady #2 that is was time to go. Please keep these people in your prayers and all the others that received tracts and those who listened.
God Bless, Rob B.