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I just finished the last of four or five meetings with the Mormons. Here are some of my thoughts from our conversations:

1. From the beginning, I tried to take charge of the meetings. I was not interested in hearing a pre-packaged message or being led through a series of questions that they had been trained to ask. From the outset, I set the amount of time I was willing to meet with them, and I asked the questions. The advantage to this approach was that it put us on equal footing. I was not in the position of being asked questions whose answers and scripture citations they had been diligently trained to know. They were being put on the spot, and I got more natural conversation.

2. I received and talked to them courteously. I asked them questions about themselves and tried to learn about the mechanics of what a Mormon missionary does. If you do a quick search on the internet, it won’t take long before you find someone talking about how annoying the Mormons/Jehovah’s Witnesses are and how someone relished slamming the door in their faces. What gives anyone the right, however, to treat another human being with rudeness, regardless of how obtrusive or annoying his missionary efforts may be? Doesn’t the gospel teach us to treat others with kindness? Doesn’t it tell us that Mormons, too, are in need of the love and forgiveness of Christ?

3. I focused at first on the Book of Mormon. My plan was to read it book by book and raise my objections. So I started with 1 Nephi and was struck by its total inauthenticity. I objected to the Mormons about the strangeness that a book written (or “translated”) in the 1800’s would use the Old English of the King James Version; that it failed at capturing that Old English; and that some of the names (“Sam”) did not exactly seem Hebrew. The main point that I pushed again and again was that the Book of Mormon was given to the LDS by a single man. No one else read the plates. The Bible, on the other hand, was definitely written by different authors, and there were multiple witnesses to the event of Jesus’ death and resurrection. Ultimately, however, I did not have time to read the Book of Mormon and bring a point-by-point objection.

4. I pushed the Mormons to tell me just how the gospel or the church was corrupted from the time immediately after the apostles to the coming of Joseph Smith. I asked them to tell me how the Mormon church was different in doctrine from my own. Over and over, I heard, “We believe basically the same thing.” I queried them about God being a human at one time, about Jesus and Lucifer being brothers, and about the possibility of becoming a god of one’s own universe in the afterlife. They down-played these as things that are unclear or things that some Mormons believe and others do not. I got the impression that they were not being straight up with me, as if the goal was to convince me that Mormonism and orthodox Christianity are basically the same.

5. I tried to speak the gospel and say clearly what I believe it means.

I am praying for these guys, hoping that God will use something out of what was said for good. Ultimately, we agreed that there was no chance of progress and we parted ways amicably.

What are your experiences with the Mormons?

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