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Four Things to Remember When Sharing Christ with a Mormon

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Sharing one’s faith in Christ can be both exhilarating and exhausting. Similarly, though it is faith-building to practice personal evangelism, it can also be fear-inducing. This is especially true when attempting to share about the hope found in you (1 Peter 3:15-16) with a member of another faith tradition.  

The alternate faith tradition member most likely encountered by a person in the United States, and in many places around the world, is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons).[1] After working with Mormons for almost twenty-five years, I want to identify four things to remember when sharing the gospel with them.

1. Know Christianity and the Bible Well

First and foremost, as is the case when sharing with a member of any alternate faith tradition, it is of fundamental importance for the Christian to know Christianity well and to be able to use the Bible easily. Memorizing, and being able to recite, Scripture is extremely important because the gospel is the power of God for salvation (Romans 1:16), not our clever arguments. The Christian must utilize Scripture as his or her main weapon in the battle against the forces of darkness, and those forces will be on full alert during any gospel encounter with a member of an alternate faith tradition.

Put the gospel first and foremost in your evangelistic encounter and, as God promises, his word will not return void (Isaiah 55:11). When you encounter a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, you may find yourself sharing with a person who can quote more Scripture than you and can do so more quickly. Do not let this frighten you. Simply continue sharing God’s Word and trust that his promises are indeed true. Do not get into an elementary schoolyard fight over who can quote more Scripture like two first graders would do when determining whose father can “beat up” the other. Satan tried this with Jesus when tempting him and he will try it with you as well. Follow the example of Jesus, lean heavily on the Word of God, and trust the power of that Word.

2. Love the Person

Second, we must understand that members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are not the enemy nor are they a project. They are real people with real problems who are in need of a real Savior. They are not a means to an end but an end in themselves.[2] Each one is created in God’s image and is loved by Him. First Peter 3:15-16 instructs Christians to always be ready to offer hope when asked why we have hope, but to do so with gentleness and reverence. This means being a “jerk for Jesus” is out of the question. This also means tearing down the non-Christian is out of the question.

Christians are instructed to be beacons of light and hope for a lost and dying world. Many Christians who work with members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believe the best approach to take is to tear down false belief and then build up Christ. Having worked with Mormons for many years, I can tell you that this does not work. Usually, Mormon belief is multi-generational within families, so that belief is very deeply rooted. The best strategy is to stay away from Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, Mormon doctrine, etc., and stick as closely to Jesus as possible. Your goal as the Christian evangelist should be to discuss Jesus and his gospel message as much as possible in any and every conversation with the Mormon. Your goal should be for the person to walk away and think, “That was the most Jesus-centric person I have ever met!” 

3. Understand Their Beliefs

Third, we must understand that Latter-day Saint theology is based on a system of grace and works. One text from the Book of Mormon, 2 Nephi 25:23, says, “For we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.” 

This verse has been debated rigorously by Mormon scholars as to its meaning, but the text seems plain: salvation is by grace and by works. This is also the historic teaching of the LDS Church. Stressing aspects of the New Testament gospel like true grace, mercy, and forgiveness can function as a cold drink of water to the Mormon who has been wandering in the hot desert of a partially works-based salvation. 

4. Define Your Terms

Fourth, and maybe the most frustrating for the evangelical, you will hear the Latter-day Saint speak of God, Christ, salvation, love for the Bible, grace, the atonement of Christ, church, and how Latter-day Saints are Christians.[3] This is, honestly, one of the most difficult aspects of sharing Christ with Mormons. 

As an evangelical Christian, you can present the gospel to the best of your ability and ask the Latter-day Saint for a response, only to hear, “I agree 100% with everything you said.” Quite often, talking through definitions of four major doctrinal areas is helpful (when time allows): God, Christ, Scripture, and salvation. Be ready and able to define what you, as a Christian, mean by those words and be willing to listen as the Mormon defines them for himself/herself. You will find, very quickly, that Christians and Mormons utilize the same words but define them with completely different dictionaries. Be cautious not to fall into a debate over these issues but rather use them as points of contact to continue sharing the saving message of Jesus, always being ready to show, from the Bible, what Christians believe. 

Christians must stand on the Bible and lovingly proclaim the gospel message to all unbelievers everywhere. This includes sharing Christ with members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Though the word “Christ” is found within the name of the organization, the New Testament Christ is not found within its teachings. Mormons are no different from any other unbelievers; they need Jesus in the same way we did before we were converted.  

In the end, be salt and light and proclaim grace and the forgiveness of sins, knowing God’s Word will not return empty-handed. Pray to the Lord of the harvest, asking Him for strength, boldness, and compassion in sharing about who Christ is and what he accomplished on the cross of Calvary.

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[1] It is important to note that members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints do not use the moniker “Mormon” or “Latter-day Saint” any longer as the current president, Russell M. Nelson, recently admonished members to use the full name of the group whenever referring to the group as a whole and to refer to themselves as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints rather than as Latter-day Saints or as Mormons. For our purposes here, the use of “Mormon” or “Latter-day Saint” is only for ease of reading. Using these terms around a Mormon may or may not be offensive, so use caution.

[2] For further information on loving Mormons as individuals and not treating them as enemies, see David Rowe, I Love Mormons, Baker Books, 2005.

[3] For further information on Latter-day Saint beliefs, see Travis Kerns, The Saints of Zion: An Introduction to Mormon Theology, B&H Academic, 2018.

Travis Kerns serves as the Associate Professor of Apologetics and World Religions at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He previously served with the North American Mission Board (NAMB) as the Send City Missionary for Salt Lake City, Utah. He has a B.A. from North Greenville University and an M.Div. and Ph.D. from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. His Ph.D. studies focuses on world religions, specifically, Mormon philosophy.
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