Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Mormon jesus Over a Smoke...

Yesterday evening I was heading out the door and turned my head wondering if anyone was out at the smoking area picnic table at our office complex. It was around 6pm so I didn’t think anyone would be there. When I saw two ladies smoking I was surprised and a little disappointed. I battled my desire to move on but felt the Lord saying to go. Lacking a strong desire to step out and feeling helpless to know what to say I walked out to the ladies and started a conversation.


[something like] “You guys getting a smoke in?” I was surprised by their warmness and their welcome. They told me they were friends just catching up on life and asked if I worked there. I told them that our church office is on the first floor and I wanted to invite them to church.


As I handed them a “How Good Are You?” booklet and a Grace Church card, one of the ladies said very graciously, “thank you, I actually do have a church I attend. I’m a Mormon.”


She was one of the nicest ladies I’ve ever met. She went on to talk about how she was raised Baptist and became a Mormon 18 years ago. She tired from the constant rededications and was thankful that “wisdom” had been revealed to her through the Mormon church. She also talked about family and the strong values held by the church. She talked about her son who is serving as a missionary. She beamed with the love of a mom when she thought of how hard he’s working—even through insults and physical threats. She talked about the Father and his love for the whole world. She talked about her relationship with Jesus. She assured me that Mormons are Christians who believe the Bible—but that they believe there is simply more revelation given to us.


I’ve studied Mormonism from a distance but have limited experience in sharing the gospel with Mormons. Instantly I was engaged in the difficulty of clarifying the differences in her understanding while at the same time maintaining a dialogue and conversation. She mentioned past encounters of Christians “bashing” her beliefs. I thought of Randy Newman’s approach.


“I have a friend who used to be a Mormon. Help me understand. How is a Mormon saved from their sins?”


She instantly said that “repentance” was the key—all someone needed to do to avoid hell is to repent. All people when they die are given an opportunity to repent and that only a few people ever really end up in hell. I talked to her about how 11 out of the 12 times “hell” is mentioned in the Bible it came from Jesus. I asked her what she thought of John 3:36 where in the context of speaking of God’s love, he warns that God’s wrath “remains” on those who do not believe in the Son. She said her revelation helps her to interpret that differently .


“I don’t want to misrepresent you—so tell me if I’ve got it wrong. It sounds like your ‘feelings’ are your ultimate authority and not the word of God.”


Her friend who is an agnostic and listening patiently said, “I don’t think that’s what she’s saying.” She agreed. She said that she does believe Jesus’ words are important and admitted not knowing the Bible—but that God gives special revelation.


At some point I asked, “Is God a trinity?"


She graciously but firmly said, “no way.” She said Mormons do not believe that. She said, “God is not three in one.”


“Did the Father create the Son?”


“…yes”


“So Jesus is a creature?”


“…no…he’s not a creature…he is a god.”


“..but he is created?”


“…yes.”


“is the Holy Spirit God?”


“………..yes.”


She and her friend are open to continuing the conversation. I was thankful to the Lord that for the ease of conversation—and for His grace to not go on a defense or do all the talking. Pray for a doorway for hearing the gospel (2 Thess 3:1).


I left burdened for her and for all of Frisco. The “jesus” she described was not much different than the way many describe him even in the evanjellyfish world—but he’s not the Jesus of Scripture. The offensive message of the gospel is that salvation from our sins is found in the Messiah as recorded in the Bible—not a “jesus” made in our image or revelation or any other person’s gospel—no matter how sincere (Gal. 1:8-9). If Jesus is not equal with the Father in holiness, atonement for our sins and reconciliation with the Father is not possible (Heb 9:14).


Remember Paul’s words from 2 Cor 4:4 “…the god of this world has blinded the minds of unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of…”


From seeing the light of what? A great family structure? Fantastic morality? The joy of serving others? The need for every person to repent?


No. This is not the light of the gospel. Satan's blinding ministry is a shielding of their eyes from seeing the light of the “glory of Christ (v. 4, 6).” This glory does not shine forth from our nudges, our impressions, or golden tablets in Egyptian hieroglyphics—but from Scripture (Ps. 19:7-11; 2 Tim 3:16-17; Matt 5:17-19; John 14:10; 24). Reject the glory of the written word and you reject the glory of the Living Word.

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