Originating in America, and now headquartered in Salt Lake City, Utah, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormonism) is one of the fastest growing pseudo-Christian religions in the world, with a presence in 140 nations and 21 territories and possessions.
As of December 31, 2001, the church claimed a worldwide membership of 11,394,522. The church also claimed:
60,850 full-time missionaries throughout the world
100 partial or complete translations of the Book of Mormon
107 temples in use, with 18 more planned or under construction around the world
Needless to say, Mormonism has grown from a small aberrant sect into the significance of a world religion.
Joseph Smith, Jr., the founder and first prophet of the Mormon church, was born on December 23, 1805, in Sharon, Vermont. The Smith family migrated to western New York, near Palmyra, in 1816. It was there that Joseph spent his teenage years.
As Joseph recounted, when he was fourteen years old (1820), he became concerned as to which church to join. The different churches in his area were at odds with one another, each claiming to be the true church. After reading James 1:5--"If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him" (KJV)--he went into the woods to prayerfully ask God which church he should join.
According to Joseph, while praying in the woods near his home, he received his “first vision” of God. As he was battling the powers of darkness, he was delivered when a pillar of light descended upon him. Two personages appeared in the pillar of light. Although they never explicitly identified themselves, Joseph described the personages as God the Father and his Son, Jesus Christ. He asked the Son which church he should join. Claimed Joseph, "I was answered that I must join none of them, for they were all wrong… that all their creeds were an abomination in his sight; that those professors were all corrupt…" (Pearl of Great Price, Joseph Smith--History 1:19).
Four books comprise the scriptures of the Mormon church; these are known as “The Standard Works”: the Bible (King James Version), the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price.
Q. Should a Christian pray about the Book of Mormon to see if it is true? Answer
Doctrine taught by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints varies significantly from traditional Biblical Christian theology. To learn more, please choose one of the following topics:
THE GREAT APOSTASY
GOD: Our Father in Heaven, Jesus Christ, Holy Ghost/Holy Spirit
MANKIND: The Fall of Mankind
THE PLAN OF SALVATION: The Atonement of Christ, General (Unconditional) Salvation, Individual (Conditional) Salvation
LIFE AFTER DEATH: The Celestial Kingdom, The Terrestrial Kingdom, The Telestial Kingdom, Hell, Outer Darkness
TEMPLE WORK: Endowment Ceremony, Celestial Marriage, Baptism for the Dead
WHERE ARE YOU? In order to be equipped to witness to our Mormon friends we need to know what we believe. It is one thing to focus our attention on what Mormons believe, it is quite another to understand clearly what the Bible teaches. In light of this, it is important that you, as a Christian, are in a habit of studying God's word, attending a strongly biblical church, and praying for God to grant you wisdom in your witnessing opportunities.
THE RELIABILITY OF THE BIBLE Since Mormons do not believe the Bible is fully trustworthy, you may encounter some trouble using the Bible. But you should never stop using the Bible, simply because of their unbelief. In spite of their unbelief, the Bible is still the word of God; and it is true (John 17:17) and reliable (Isaiah 40:3). Remember, the word of God contains wisdom unto salvation, and thoroughly equips God's people for every good work (2 Timothy 3:15-17).
Because so many Bible passages are distorted by the teachings of Mormonism, we will only be able to look at a few of the more common distortions. Keep in mind that if you take the context of a verse into account, you will see that it does not teach Mormon doctrine. Their interpretation is read into the text.
Salvation by works
The Two Stick of Ezekiel
The “Other Sheep” in America?
Baptism for the Dead
Q. What does the Bible mean? Answer
BE PRAYERFUL We are called to pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17). Pray that God would grant you the wisdom you need to clearly and carefully communicate the truth to your Mormon friends (James 1:5).
BE PREPARED While there is no need to try to know everything about Mormon beliefs, history and culture, it can only help if you know some of the basics. This way you can anticipate what they might say. It is even more important for you to know what the Bible teaches. You must spend much time studying the Bible so you may be able to respond to the Mormon distortions and appeals to it.
BE PATIENT As you seek to witness to your Mormon friends, don't try to cover too much territory in one sitting. This can lead to a strong defensive attitude and minimal communication. Take your time. Remember 2 Timothy 2:24-26.
BE PERSISTENT Don't give up. We are in this for the long term. If you get frustrated, take some time off. Pray and ask God to help you in your preparation and understanding. Pray too that he will give your Mormon friend eyes to see and ears to hear the truth of who God is, their need for his salvation, and his provision of the Gospel of grace.