Sharing the Good News with Mormons
A former faithful Mormon and BYU professor encourages outreach
After 30 years in the Mormon Church, I left my job, my home, my community, and my church—all because of an amazing encounter with the Jesus of the Bible. Coming to know the biblical Jesus changed my life in profound ways I feel inadequate to articulate. Going from a gospel of works in Mormonism to resting in the Jesus who did it all on the cross for me—a free gift available because I have faith in and confess him—transformed me. With profuse gratitude for salvation, I see my former neighbors and dear friends struggling under the weight of earning their righteousness before God. How could I allow these good people to sit in non-biblical theology? How many of us feel we don’t have the know-how or the courage or have any idea of where to begin to tell the good news to our Mormon friends? They may seem so sure of themselves, so secure in their own faith. For those leading in the church, how should we lead others in reaching out to Mormons? What can we do to share the gospel of grace?
How Everyone Should Relate
Christians must relate to Mormons with the love of Jesus. When we love others, we will want to share the truth so they too can know the freedom we know in Jesus. The Bible encourages us to present the truth in love (Ephesians 4:12), but we must present it. And we must make it clear to those we have stewardship in ministry that Mormonism and biblical Christianity are not synonymous. Mormons may believe they know the biblical Jesus. They may not be aware that the Mormon Jesus teaches a different way to salvation than the biblical One. So when sharing the good news, we need to make the differences between the teachings of the Mormon Jesus and the biblical Jesus—especially on salvation—crystal clear. This is not as daunting a task as you might think.
Yes, the Mormon gospel is very different from biblical Christianity. It took me nearly five years to get enough of God’s truth from the Bible in my head to leave all the previous teachings behind and to feel less confused. It’s a process. I was angry when I first read the Bible in context and felt convicted that it conflicted with Mormon doctrine. Christians need to stick near Mormons who are learning truth, be available to answer questions, and point them where to read in the Word. Be patient and loving, provide sincere friendship, social activities, and Bible study with other Christians. They will need biblical knowledge and emotional support in transition.
The Role Relationships Play
The Mormon culture is tight. When Mormons begin to question faith and investigate biblical Christianity, they may lose former friends or even family. I know I did. The cost can be high. If you have Mormon friends, you may know that church members are like family and help each other. These sweet relationships helped take my husband and me into Mormonism. Christians will need to supplant these relationships until the former Mormon becomes dependent on Jesus. This loss is sometimes more than they can bear and something Christians may not understand. It’s a whole new way to live. Love them for the long haul.
What We Can Do
First, Christians must pray for and with Mormons. The Bible says the god of this world has blinded the minds of unbelievers. Of course no one can judge the spiritual state of another except our Lord Jesus, but many major teachings of Mormonism run contrary to biblical Christianity, so we can assume most Mormons will need to hear truths from the Bible. Warning: They believe the Bible is suspect and often mistranslated—not reliable. So pray they can accept the Bible as God’s undefiled Word. Pray that God will break the spirit of blindness. Pray that God will draw them to himself. Pray that God will open their eyes and unstop their ears as you present and they read the truth in God’s Word. Ask God to show you who he is already working with and what you can do.
Second, Christians need a rudimentary knowledge of Mormonism (see UnveilingMormonism.com or check out the book 7 Reasons We Left Mormonism). This is not as difficult as it may sound. Christians will have to study to some degree but do not have to memorize the doctrinal differences. Simply ask Mormons probing questions that ask them to clarify what they mean when they say something about their faith. You’ll see the differences and then you can gently say, “But the Bible says this. How do Mormons reconcile the two?” If honest, Mormons will tell you they do not trust the Bible. Then you can help them see the overwhelming evidence for why the Bible can be trusted.
Be aware that Mormons use the same religious words as Christians—like grace, salvation, and atonement—but they do not have the same meanings. Christians will not realize this unless they press Mormons for what they mean. A Christian will say, “I’m saved by grace.” And Mormons nod in agreement, but this statement does not mean the same thing to a Mormon as it does to the Christian. Always ask for clarification and keep pressing gently. Mormons will not respond to direct confrontation, though. The Book of Mormon tells them that contention is of the devil. So if you press too hard, they will probably shut down. Offer ideas or biblical Scriptures that challenge their beliefs. The prayer is that these conflicts will cause them to go searching for truth in the Bible. Point them to the Word.
Finally, do not be afraid or hesitate to engage even Mormon missionaries in faith discussions. One of our sons came to faith in the biblical Jesus when a pastor shared the gospel with him while he was serving a 2-year mission for the Mormon Church. You never know what God intends to do with the biblical Word you share. It never returns void.
Dr. Lynn Wilder is a former tenured professor at Brigham Young University and faithful Mormon for more than 30 years. Unveiling Grace: The Story of How We Found Our Way Out of the Mormon Church chronicles her amazing journey of faith. She and her husband, Michael, have formed the nonprofit organization Ex-Mormon Christians United for Jesus, to keep Christians safe from false Christs and to bring Mormons to know the joy of the biblical Jesus.