On April 2nd and 3rd, Doug and I attended the LDS 186th Annual General Conference at Temple Square in Salt Lake City Utah. Every year, we stand on the corner of South Temple at the plaza entrance to reach out to the LDS that are heading to the conference center on North Temple.
North Temple is where most of the Christian missionaries go due to the location of the conference center. Doug and I have been standing on the corner of South Temple for the past 20 conferences so it is not unusual to have conversations with the same people at one conference to the next. Even a couple of temple guards occasionally come out and speak with us and take our tracts. This conference we even had a police officer that was directing traffic, bring us bottled water and thank us for our gentle conduct in the face of opposition.
1 Peter 3:15 states: ”But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with MEEKNESS and fear;”
As an ex-Mormon, I understand how the majority feel about being approached and spoken to in meekness rather than loud and or inflammatory preaching. Knowing that we are automatically considered protesters to the LDS, Doug and I chose to reach out to the LDS in the spirit of 1 Peter 3:15 knowing that meekness will help overcome the protestor appearance.
This conference, our good friend Jeff from California, proved that preaching in meekness goes a long way in breaking down barriers. Jeff set up a folding table, two chairs and a sign that read “THE FRIENDLY ANTI – Lets chat” We had no idea how well this approach would work but was mildly surprised when Mormons would come over, sit down and start chatting.
Jeff had many good conversations and a number of LDS thanked him for being friendly. Some of Jeff’s conversations were with young adults that were interested in hearing the differences in LDS and Christian doctrines of the Deity of Jesus and God. This shouldn’t be surprising since the internet has opened up LDS history for all to see and examine.
There seems to be a trend happening within the LDS church with members wanting to hang on to the LDS church but not some of their foundational doctrines. The conversation I had with an LDS man named Steve was interesting in that he had his own understanding about God, Jesus and salvation than what the LDS church teaches, yet according to Steve he was very much LDS.
Our conversation started out with me asking him if he believed the Book of Mormon. Steve surprised me by saying that he didn’t believe all the Book of Mormon because it contradicted other teachings of the LDS church.
I dug a little deeper by reminding him that Joseph Smith claimed it to be the most correct book on earth and the keystone to Mormonism. Steve surprised me again by saying that the LDS prophets even contradict one another in their own teachings, even Joseph Smith. I asked Steve if he was a member of good standing or was in question of the validity of the LDS church and he responded that he loved the LDS church but understood there were some issues in doctrine.
I asked Steve if he believed there is only one God , as the Book of Mormon and the Bible teach or if he followed Joseph Smith’s teachings that there are many gods. Steve replied by saying, “What difference does it make? We all pray to the same God.” He went on to say that it doesn’t matter what you know about God as long as you have a relationship with Him.
I asked Steve how he could have a relationship with God if he didn’t care what he knew about God. I explained that in John 17:3 how Jesus was so concerned about the importance of His disciples knowing the only true God and Jesus whom God sent that their eternal life depended upon it.
I reminded Steve that the disciples were with Jesus yet Jesus prayed for them to truly know God so that should show us the importance of knowing the only true God that gives eternal life to those who know Him.
Steve continued with his rant that it wasn’t important what you know about God as long as you have a relationship with Him. I asked Steve if he was able to have a relationship with his wife yet not know much, if anything about her or if it was even possible to have a relationship with your wife and not care what you know about her.
He laughed and said of course not. You have to know each other for a marriage to work. I said, “How then can you have a relationship with God if you’re not concerned about truly knowing who God is?”
I explained that Jesus also stated in Matthew 7:21-23 that not everyone that says Lord, Lord will enter into the kingdom of heaven because they are trying to get there through their own understanding and Jesus will say depart from me, “I never knew you.”
Please Pray for Steve to understand the importance of knowing the only true God and Jesus Christ whom He sent!