January 17, 2017

When Christians Act Like Mormons

by Jordan Standridge

mormonsThe other day I was getting ready to take the kids to our park when there was a knock on the door. Thinking it was a present from Amazon, I looked out only to find an even greater present: three Mormon missionaries. I’m sure you’ve experienced this. A long time goes by before your last visit and you start getting excited about the next time Mormons come knocking at your door. Every time I see Mormons, I get this sudden urge to talk to them. And every time I walk away discouraged and saddened for how blinding their religion is. And the cycle continues. Over the last few years, I’ve had many interactions with Mormon “elders.”

Mormons are usually very sweet people. They genuinely believe their religion, and they do believe that what they teach is the truth. They believe their religion is best and that you will be happiest if you follow it. But what is fascinating is the training that they receive before coming to your door. They are taught to focus on the positives. They are all about image and the way they present themselves. They are, in fact, salesmen, and they sell their product through smiles and offering “hope.” Over the last couple of years, I’ve asked Mormons what they are selling. I say, “Ok, you guys have come all the way to my house and to my door, what do you guys want me to do?” “What are you guys offering?” and whether it was Virginia, California or a random Chick-Fil-A in Georgia, they all said, “Happiness in this life and hope for the next!”

Their training teaches them to smile big, to not argue, and to focus on the positives of their religion. They are trained to talk about family, and about being with family for eternity. They are discouraged from bringing up controversial topics. No matter what you say, it seems like they nod as if they agree, and when you point out to them that they shouldn’t be agreeing, they agree with you again and say that they agreed with most of what you said. In other words, they are taught to be “winsome.” And this winsomeness ultimately manipulates some people into giving this false religion a try.

I’ve noticed over the years that some people in the church do the same, even some preachers are tempted to do this from their pulpits. We put on our best face. We ignore the difficult topics the Bible talks about and just focus on the love of Jesus. We focus on family as well, and on more happiness in this life and hope for the next. And as I think about the Mormon religion, I see three areas in particular where Christians are tempted to behave similarly.

  1. The Difficulty of the Christian life

Jesus seemed to fight against having false converts. Everywhere He went, He seemed to want to talk about how difficult the Christian life was. Luke 9:57-62 is a great example of this. It says,

As they were going along the road, someone said to Him, “I will follow You wherever You go.” And Jesus said to him, “The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” And He said to another, “Follow Me.” But he said, “Lord, permit me first to go and bury my father.” But He said to him, “Allow the dead to bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim everywhere the kingdom of God.” Another also said, “I will follow You, Lord; but first permit me to say good-bye to those at home.” But Jesus said to him, “No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”

Most of us would be tempted to compromise for the sake of a “follower” and yet Jesus’ response to a potential follower is “if you follow me you will have a hard life.” To the next two guys, he demands complete devotion and attention. Jesus doesn’t want half-hearted followers; He also doesn’t make following Him look like it’s going to be a trip to Disneyland. On the contrary, He expresses how difficult it is, and how someone must really count the cost before picking up their cross to follow Him (Luke 9:23).

Mormons are taught to focus on how great life will be and how much happiness becoming a Mormon can bring to your life. And Christians, as well, for the sake of a convert, seem to neglect the difficulty of the Christian life and want to convince people to become Christians so they can improve their marriage, relationships, wealth and health, when Jesus clearly said that becoming a Christian can divide families (Matt 10:35), ruin relationships, and bring persecution (2 Tim 3:12) and loss of money. We must declare to people that following Christ is difficult and has temporary pain, but it will bring true hope and joy that is eternal.

  1. Urgency of the need

Mormons believe that everyone will get a second chance to hear the Gospel in the next life. They also believe that salvation is a process that happens over a long period of time. I like to ask the “elders” what would you say to me if I were on death row and I asked you, “How do I get to Heaven?”  During this last visit, the guy said, “I would just say, repent and be baptized.”  I said, “Be baptized? I’m about to die!” So, another guy said, “Don’t worry, you’ll get a second chance in the next life!”

As crazy as that sounds, at times we act just like they do. We tend to let many Christmases go by without sharing the gospel with family. We spend many hours sitting on planes next to people without giving our testimony, and we have many lunches and dinners with co-workers without explaining the truth about Christ. The Bible continually urges people to repent as soon as possible. Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5:20, “Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.” Just a few verses later he declares, “Behold, now is “the acceptable time,” behold, now is “the day of salvation.”  This is the apex of urgency. And the Bible calls us to take this urgency with us everywhere we go. There simply is not a second chance after death, and there isn’t as much time as we want.

  1. Eternal destination

Ultimately, the reason for the urgency is the fact that death is coming and then comes the judgment (Hebrews 9:27). Mormons not only teach about a second chance but also teach that there is no hell. They teach that there are three heavens, with the first level of heaven not being as great as the next two levels, but certainly not as bad as the biblical concept of hell.

Christians, too, are tempted not to talk about it when sharing the Gospel. Despite the fact that we believe in it, we simply are too uncomfortable sharing the truth about the subject. While Mormons completely reject the idea of hell, we believers know what the Scripture says about it, we know that Christ talked about it far more often than He even talked about Heaven, and we must include it in our Gospel conversations. Sometimes we leave it out thinking that it is simply wiser to eliminate from our Gospel conversation despite Jesus’ example and the Bible’s repeated warning about hell.

The devil has created a masterpiece with the Mormon religion. He’s set it up where the evangelists are very moral and sweet young adults with great smiles and with a message that resonates with a worldly heart. We must resist the urge to copy them. We must preach the Gospel the way God wants us to. Obviously, Christian false teachers omit the difficulty of the Christian life, hell, and the urgency of the need of salvation mainly because they don’t believe it and want people’s money. This post is not directed at them, it is more directed to true believers, so many of which are very sweet and gentle. Unlike Mormons, though, they have the Holy Spirit and believe the Gospel. They desperately want their family members, co-workers, and neighbors to believe the Gospel, but because of fear and sometimes lack of confidence, they might omit essential components of the Gospel. If you are one of these people, I’d like to commend you for your love, but I’d like to encourage you to re-think your approach and look more like Jesus than Joseph Smith.

Jordan Standridge

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Jordan is a pastoral associate at Immanuel Bible Church in Springfield, VA, where he leads the college ministry. He is the founder of The Foundry Bible Immersion.
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  • Mo Jones

    Hi Jordan,

    I enjoyed your article. It was very apt and accurate.
    Just one small corrective: the Mormon church does believe in a form of Hell…outer darkness.

    https://www.lds.org/scriptures/gs/hell?lang=eng

    https://www.lds.org/scriptures/gs/outer-darkness?lang=eng

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spirit_world_(Latter_Day_Saints)

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Outer_darkness

    https://www.mormonwiki.com/Outer_Darkness

    As an evangelist to the cults. this is something that Mormons tend to hide from the public and is only talked about in hushed, holy LDS huddles.

    God bless,

    Mo

    • Jordan Standridge

      Thanks Mo. Yes I’ve read about their belief in outer darkness, but most of the missionaries seem to be confused about the subject, and when you press them they seem to believe that nobody will actually go there. They act like most people if not all will accept the “gospel” after their death. Thanks for the work you do!

      • robertetozier

        Mormon missionaries and everyday Mormons often describe their religion inaccurately, and Christians should not take them at their word.

        From the Mormon church’s manual Gospel Principles re the spirits of the dead “who rejected the gospel after it was preached to them on earth or in the spirit prison” [the location of all spirits after death and before resurrection]: “After suffering in full for their sins, they will be allowed to inherit the lowest degree of glory, which is the telestial kingdom.

        “The hell in the spirit world will not continue forever. Even the spirits who have committed the greatest sins will have suffered sufficiently by the end of the Millennium. They will then be resurrected…. [In their glorious telestial kingdom] they will be visited by the Holy Ghost but not by the Father or the Son.”

        Also, for clarification, in Mormonism the term “heaven” technically means the eternal state of those who prove themselves worthy of “exaltation” or “eternal [not merely everlasting] life” or “godhood” or the “eternal family.” “Outer darkness” is not “hell,” but a confusing concept in Mormon church literature; it is torment and everlasting; it is for those who “denied the Holy Spirit after having received it.”

        And so on. Mormonism is a complex, confusing religion – – and false.

    • Marv44

      Who are those that the LDS say will be in the outer darkness? Apostate Mormons?

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  • Jill Thomas

    Spend your energy preaching what is true, what people can do, where hope and life is. Focus on how to transcend our current state. Preach pure connection and direct with God. Anyone that focuses on bashing other religions and calling them of the devil, does not have the message I am looking for. Preach where truth is and not where it isn’t. It’s like when sprint bashes Verizon to sale their product. If they have a good enough product or messages it should Sale itself without bashing anyone else. Teach how to reconginze truth and how to be connected to God. Then it doesn’t who knocks at your door, if you practice that, you will know truth when infringing of you and when it’s not. Good luck on your blog. My friend posted this and I decided to read. Also the other guy the commented is misinformed, I have had many discussions about outerdarkness and you can Learn about it in any Mormon meeting. It is not hush, just difficult to undertand at first. When a kid wants to learn division before addition and you ignore his request and just keep teaching addition, it doesn’t mean division is secret or hush hush. It means that if you learned division before addition you will be confused, overwhelmed or turned off. Most things are taught step by step line upon line. If you learn about outer darkness before many other things in Mormonism, you will be confused and get the wrong message. Seems like this is what has happened to you. Missionaries are taught to focus on Mormonism 101 not shy away from difficult subjects. To get the correct message, to understand what other doctrine pieces mean, it is best to be taught step by step, line on line. Like math, reading, photography, a new language. A new religion you are learning is no different. Just people want to have a bachelors in Mormonism before they are willing to learn 101 and if you don’t give it to them, you are “shying away from difficult subjects” or “hiding something”. It’s a lose, lose situation. So instead teach others how to recognize God and truth and then they can make their decisions based on that and not an misinformed blog post.

    • Jane Hildebrand

      So just curious, how and where do you find truth?

    • Jordan Standridge

      Hey Jill,

      I totally understand your frustration. I too get disappointed when people disagree with my faith. Thanks for reading the post and I hope that you will consider some of the verses I mentioned. The Bible is filled with warnings about “false teachers” and twisting the Gospel. Several books in the new testament were written to warn believers about false religions, and people who might claim to believe in Jesus, but teach a different way to get to Heaven. Galatians 1:6-9 talks about this specifically. Paul warns about changing the Gospel and even warns about himself or an angel coming with a new religion days, weeks, months or even 1800 years later!
      Many Christians struggle with seeing the wolves in sheep’s clothing and it is the job of the shepherds to keep watch over the flocks. Most of the time we focus on truth, but there are times where we must warn as well. Thanks for your comment.

    • RaShel Ferrin

      Thank you for this, Jill. As with any religion, if one wants to find out about it, go to the source, not “misinformed blogposts”. I appreciate your explanation. Our daughter goes to a different Christian church than we do and as we’ve visited her church with her, we find that most of our beliefs are the same, but we say some things differently. True Christians try to understand one another, not tear each other down. And we all have real trials, where we have needed to rely on our faith in God and use the atonement in our lives to help us through those. Yes, young Mormon missionaries are sometimes inexperienced, but they are spreading the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ, like many other missionaries around the world! But not just that, take a look at all of the Christlike service they do in communities all over the world–yes, with smiles and great optimism. Adults with huge trials can take comfort in some of that optimism–it’s refreshing in a world so full of pain. My son’s mission in an extremely impoverished country made him a compassionate and loving young man, who believes in Christ and his atoning sacrifice so much more after serving, in so many ways, amongst some of God’s sweetest and most humble people of El Salvador. It helped him see the true meaning of life and prepared him to be a husband and father. For this, I am grateful and celebrate missionaries of all Christian faiths.

      • Jane Hildebrand

        Are you grateful for Jehovah’s Witness missionaries?

        • RaShel Ferrin

          The answer is, yes I am. Although I do not agree with much of their philosophy, I certainly appreciate that they believe in what they are doing, are sincere, and are willing to go out and talk to people about it.

          • Jane Hildebrand

            Forgive me, RaShel, but it doesn’t matter if they believe in what they are doing, it matters if they are bringing the true gospel of Jesus Christ in order that people are saved, which they are not.

            I say this as a former Jehovah’s Witness who spent 22 years knocking on doors bringing a false gospel and offering a false Christ that could not save them.

            The truth is that there are many similarities between Mormonism and Jehovah’s Witnesses and no doubt part of that study you have based your faith upon has been the book of Mormon. If it had been the Bible only, you would not have come to the conclusions Mormonism offers, just as I would not have become a JW without their teachings. I don’t say that to be unkind, but as a daughter and a mother who were once deceived and lost, but now saved by grace through faith in Christ.

          • RaShel Ferrin

            Jane, I hear what you’re saying, but do not believe there are many similarities. I don’t believe what they are preaching is the true gospel of Christ, and believe they’ve been deceived, but it’s not my place to judge them– only to be kind to them. My hope has always been that they will come to the truth in time… The bottom line is, Christ died for all of us, so we can be saved–yes, by God’s grace. I have, through much prayer, received my own personal testimony of Christ, of the Bible and its teachings. I know that God loves me, He gives me guidance on a regular basis, and as I follow Him, I am grateful for that love more and more every day . There may be things that we disagree on, and that’s ok. But I feel that you truly believe in Christ, in His true gospel, as do I, and I wish you all the best.

      • Eric Davis

        Hi Rashel – I understand your concern that Christians work towards building up one another. That is certainly something which God’s people must major on. And I don’t doubt the kind demeanor of many Mormon missionaries, as I have known and interacted with several.
        But, here is something we need to consider: there are some significant ways in which the LDS faith differs from biblical Christianity. Now, if the Bible is not true (or if other spiritual scriptures are true), then those differences are inconsequential. However, if the Bible–the 66 books of the Old and New Testaments alone–is inerrant revelation from God, then the differences are extremely consequential. Of course, the Bible proposes itself to be the very word of God. The Bible also teaches that any book in addition to the 66 books are not the words of God. Therefore, it’s of utmost importance that we understand if and where, for example, something differs from the Bible, notwithstanding social/tangible expressions of kindness from those who adhere to differing convictions. In light of that, I would encourage you to consider some of the major differences between what the Bible teaches and that of mormonism: http://thecripplegate.com/why-i-am-not-a-mormon/

        Thanks Rashel

      • Alex

        As Eric and others have already mentioned, I think the question to be asked is are LDS missionaries “missionaries of [a] Christian faith?” If so, then let us celebrate them as you suggest and discuss doctrinal differences as brothers and sisters would. If not, then to celebrate them would be the worst possible suggestion, and rather we should actively work to stop the false doctrine they spread. So, which is it?

        As the Apostle Paul writes in Galatians 1:9, “if anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.” So, it would seem that the line must be drawn at the gospel. (The gospel here being defined as the good news by which sinful men may be saved through Jesus.) If the gospel proclaimed by the Mormon faith is different from the gospel proclaimed by Scripture, there is no room for celebration or acceptance. Is it?

        According to the Book of Mormon, salvation is the work of God’s grace “after all we can do” (2 Nephi 25:23). This doctrine has been clarified by multiple LDS elders over the years, even as recently as 1956 by Harold B. Lee who ensures that we recognize sufficiently completed personal holiness is a prerequisite to making grace efficacious.

        Notice also the “if…then” clause of the Book of Mormon Moroni 10:32, “if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might…then is his grace sufficient for you….” Again, the LDS scriptures make clear that sufficient works of personal holiness are a necessary prerequisite and precondition of salvation. A Mormon seeking salvation would be expected to work as hard as possible, trust in that effort and grace to complete it.

        Does this correspond to, or oppose the gospel as taught by the Apostle Paul in Galatians?

        “I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.” – Gal 2:21

        “Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?” – Gal 3:3

        “I testify again to every man who accepts circumcision that he is obligated to keep the whole law. You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace.” – Gal 5:3-4

        The gospel, as Paul teaches it in the letter to the Galatians, is not the addition of grace to the end of our good works, but rather the promise of grace to those whose works will always be insufficient. And that to marry the meritorious efforts of our works to the grace of Christ is to fall away from grace. This leads to an inescapable conclusion, the gospel as taught by the Mormon church is significantly different. As such the Apostle Paul, and the Bible, demand that we not consider the LDS church as a part of the “Christian faith,” but rather an apostasy from it.

        I do not write these in a way that seeks to denigrate anyone, but only as a way to teach positively the truth of the gospel.

      • Barbara

        No, Mormons are not at all spreading any good news. They come looking like light while they make sons of hell. And worse, using the name of Jesus to do it. But Jesus knows His sheep, and they know His voice and follow Him. No person who is predestined to salvation will stay in LDS. Jesus does not lose even one of the sheep given to Him. Thankfully God is sovereign. My sister is lost in Mormonism, but I pray for her to be saved and rescued. If Mormons get to read this, may they repent and be saved. An encouraging post, thank you True Christians have the best news, let’s know our God and rejoice in Him❤

      • Kermos

        Joseph Smith asserts some radical ideas, and here are two:

        1) In the 1844 Joseph Smith sermon known as the “King Follett Discourse”, Smith proclaimed “God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man, and sits enthroned in yonder heavens! … It is the first principle of the Gospel to know for a certainty the Character of God, and to know that we may converse with him as one man converses with another, and that he was once a man like us; yea, that God himself, the Father of us all, dwelt on an earth, the same as Jesus Christ himself did.” Smith continued: “Intelligence is eternal and exists upon a self-existent principle. It is a spirit from age to age and there is no creation about it. All the minds and spirits that God ever sent into the world are susceptible of enlargement.”

        2) The Doctrine and Covenants, one of the four sacred books of Mormonism states, “Christ, the Firstborn, was the mightiest of all the spirit children of the Father”; furthermore, the Doctrine and Covenants states elsewhere “The difference between Jesus and other offspring of Elohim is one of degree not of kind”. In these quotes, Joseph Smith indicated that Jesus was created by God.

        In number (1) above, Smith attempts to descend God into being a man at some point. God is eternally the Great I AM.

        In number (2) above, Smith attempts to demote Jesus into a creature. The Prophet Isaiah identified the Lord Jesus as “Mighty God” (Isaiah 9:6) more that 700 years before the Birth of Christ, the Apostle John wrote “the Word was God” (John 1:1), and the Apostle Thomas said “My Lord and My God!” (John 20:28). God is eternally existant, which is why Elohim said “I AM WHO I AM” as recorded by Moses (Exodus 3:14).

        About the latter half of the 20th century, God provided us with the Great Isaiah Scroll among the Dead Sea Scrolls (in Qumran), which date to about 100 B.C. compared to the Mormon Founder Joseph Smith’s so-called “New Inspired Version” in the 19th century with it’s additions to the book of Isaiah (the LDS has the book, . Smith asserted falsehood and corruption in his version of the book of Isaiah by writing himself in the book as well as adding pages and pages of text. It takes little effort to locate Smith’s presumptuously added “a book will be given” into Smith’s book of Isaiah.

        Based on the above, Smith is a liar and false prophet. In Deuteronomy 18:20-22:

        But the prophet who speaks a word presumptuously in My name which I have not commanded him to speak, or which he speaks in the name of other gods, that prophet shall die. You may say in your heart, ‘How will we know the word which the LORD has not spoken?’ When a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD, if the thing does not come about or come true, that is the thing which the LORD has not spoken. The prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him.

        A false prophet leads the dead to eternal punishment; in other words, it is the blind leading the blind.

        We say, whoa, wait a minute, that guy, Smith, he added to the Bible from his own imagination. Smith attempts to twist the clear meaning of various passages. For example, “only begotten” in John 3:16 is monogenes meaning unique, one of a kind. Another example, the Firstborn in Colossians 1:15 is prototokos meaning the first in rank, preeminent One. We say, wait a minute, this describes something very different from Smith’s imaginings.

        Now, let’s look at example that hits close to home for many folks. Pastor Jesus said “they will become one flock with One Pastor” (John 10:16). I find this deeply unsettling that mere men would call themselves pastors or shepherds or under-shepherds. The Greek word used for Pastor in John 10:16 is Poimen, and it matches when Lord Jesus repeatedly states that He is the Good Shepherd, or said another way, the Good Pastor (the definite article, please see the passage of John [chapter 10]). King Jesus is my only Pastor. Men of pride and arrogance assume the title of Pastor, and I can write this because the Lord Jesus reserved the name to Himself.

        For any person to call a man “pastor” is applying the name, Pastor (Poimen or Shepherd), again, that Lord Jesus reserved to Himself. to a second actor. Lord Jesus said “One Pastor”, not two. Lord Jesus also said “”No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon” (Matthew 6:24). That mammon is “treasure” or “treasure a person trusts in”.

        The false prophet Joseph Smith points at something other than the true Jesus. A mere man carrying the title of pastor points at something other than the true Jesus, it is divided loyalty, and if you don’t believe divided loyalty, try to find the exaltation of the Lord Jesus in this video from a Grace Community Church member titled “John MacArthur Confronted By a False Prophet at Grace Community Church, CA 8-16-2015” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZVHBz06bJTw – at 3 minutes and 35 seconds into the video, it is quite telling.

        The path that leads to Life is narrow (Matthew 7:14).

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  • Michelle Dacus Lesley

    Awesome, Jordan. Well done!

    • Jordan Standridge

      Thanks Michelle.

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  • NJ Treadnotter

    Very good indeed. I take the urgency to heart and plan to share this as well.

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  • Think about it!

    Unfortunately grew up in major pentecostal denomination (assassins of their god-AoG’s) that it would be interesting to search who founded them because they behave no different than Mormonism; so maybe that’s what the people are dealing with. There is a famous Christian College in So. California that was founded by a Mormon! Don’t Call Me Brother by Austin Miles and The Fleecing of Christianity by Jackie Alnor, Thieves by Trey Smith, Pagan Christianity (green cover) by Frank Viola depicts them well. So, who founded your movements and what is there foundations since majority no Bible-Word going forth and not depicting true model of a church!