Dave Parrish and RobManti Pageant
Every end of June, the LDS Church puts on a pageant presentation in front of their temple in Manti, UT—a small rural community in the center of the state. It’s the same hour and a half show that runs every night for about a week and a half, and it’s pretty much been the same since its inception in 1967. The show portrays the early beginnings of Mormonism and their trek out west. It starts about 9:30 in the evening, but before that, people line up before the gates open up at 6:00 PM to get a good seat. Thousands of people come from all over to watch the performance. In fact, Christian evangelists come from all over the world (England, Jamaica, Malaysia) to minister to these LDS people as they wait for the pageant to begin.
Every year, I have the privilege of seeing the now former head of security there, Dave Parrish. He has been a good friend of mine for quite some time. He's the former mayor of Ephraim (the next town north of Manti) and now serves as a local LDS bishop. We get to see each other every year at the Manti Pageant. Even though we disagree with each other, I feel so much more secure when I preach knowing Dave's there looking out for me. He believes I have every right to preach on public property, and has got countless people out of my face in attempts to limit my free speech.
The first night I arrived, I immediately got into a long conversation with this “Jack” (inactive) Mormon lady named Lori. She took the Jesus Christ/Joseph Smith DVD and my card. She said LDS also teach that Jesus died for all our sins, so I told her that, according to her own scripture, killing and more than a one-time offense of adultery are not forgivable in this life, nor in the life to come (D&C 42). I also quoted to her a couple other of her scriptures in the Book of Mormon--2 Ne. 25:23 and Moroni 10:32, both of which teach that we have to do all that we can do by denying ourselves all ungodliness before we can receive God’s grace.
The next guy, Jake, was the same postmodern skeptic I ran into six months prior at Temple Square. In fact, I wrote about him in January’s newsletter. We had a brief time then, but quite a long, good conversation in Manti. He said that my defense of the apparent contradiction in the resurrection accounts was apologetic spin. Not sure I made any headway with him, but I do believe it was a divine appointment to run into him again.
Rob preaches to the crowdThe next night I talked to Ian, who said he was a Satanist. Not sure how serious he was, but I asked him, “Where did Satan come from?” I gave him evidences for a literal 1st moment, which entails a certain nature of the Cause of that 1st event. I also talked about the prophecy Jesus fulfilled and the historical case for His resurrection. I also was able to share with two of his buddies. One asked about the telephone game to dispense with the Bible, so I told him about how the finding of the Dead Sea Scrolls last century disproved that theory. They all intently listened as I shared the gospel with them, and they took the DVDs.
I also ran into a couple that told me that the DVD was instrumental in her recently getting out of Mormonism and coming to Christ. The husband wasn’t so sure about committing himself to Christ, but both were definitely done with Mormonism. I encouraged them to check out the Ephraim Church of the Bible, since they were locals. They ended up listening to me preach to the crowd for awhile not long after we got done talking.
Christians worship before evangelismEarlier that night, I was assaulted. I was walking and talking with a couple women, and being polite, when this older big man yells, “Stop harassing my wife!” He got in my face and told me to leave. I smiled at him and told him that it was public property and I wasn’t going anywhere. He then clamped his hand on my neck and shoulder and started pushing down. I kept smiling at him and told him that he makes a lousy god and he needed to repent. I was feeling rather confident, because I knew the cops were near and watching this all play out. As expected, the cops immediately separated us, and asked me if I wanted to press charges. I wasn’t hurt at all, so I declined.
The next night I decided I was going to start a new routine. I arrived early before the gates opened and began preaching to the crowds lined up outside. This actually worked out great because I didn’t have to compete with the blaring music that starts when the gates open and goes on until the pageant starts. An LDS guy named Chris tried interrupting me, but my Christian buddy Eddie blocked for me until I finished. Afterwards, I talked to Chris, who wanted to spin LDS beliefs in such a way that we really agreed with each other. He said that they really believed in the atonement for Christ. So I read Articles of Faith 3, which says that we’re saved by the atonement as well as by keeping the laws and ordinances of the gospel. So the atonement is only a necessary condition, not a sufficient one. He asked what he needed to do to be saved thinking I was simply going to say, “Pray to ask God to save you from your sins,” and then he’d say that of course he’s already done that, so he was fine. But instead, I told him, “Tell God that you repent of Mormonism and their false god.” He didn’t like that and then had to take off.
I later talked to a Highway Patrol officer for a little while. He was the same cop who got me away from the guy who assaulted me. He told me that he went to my site and even looked up and read my tract 7 Differences Between Mormonism and Christianity. He said he was LDS and that I was accurately portraying LDS beliefs in it. He said that he also respects us missionaries for being so respectful at stopping when the pageant starts and standing at attention during the singing of the National Anthem.
Aaron Shaffovaloff preaches prior to gates openingWhen I preached later, one guy was so mad, he got up in my face and started waving his hands. The cops got him to back off, but he stood in front of me to stare me down as I preached. He said that I ruined his night! I could tell he was really listening to what I had to say, so hopefully he went home to think more about it.
The next three nights were very similar. I would spend the first couple hours bending over backwards to have some LDS person take my DVD and dialogue with me. Finally some younger guy would and I had great hour long conversations with each, and each let me pray for them. The first was with Brad, who is waiting for his mission papers. He immediately opened up to me and we started out by talking about some personal issues. We started talking about marriage and God’s design, and how it’s not supposed to be idolized as it practically is in Mormonism. That led to talking about all sorts of doctrinal issues. He really listened to me. He then said that as long as one sincerely believes in God, it doesn’t matter what religion you are. So I explained to him how one can be sincere and yet sincerely wrong. One can be happy and headed to hell. Jesus was very exclusive, and He wants him to repent by leaving Mormonism and not worrying about what his family, church, or friends think. When I prayed for him, I was moved to tears asking God to have mercy on him. I gave Brad my card, the DVD, and a copy of his LDS prophet Spencer W. Kimball’s book, The Miracle of Forgiveness. The latter was given to him, since I began to quote how “Trying Is Not Sufficient” in it and Eric Johnson of MRM.org was there next to us passing these books out.
Brandt and RobAfter that, I immediately preached for about 10 minutes to the crowd on the grass across the street from the temple grounds. After I was done, some guy with a cane asked a cop if he’d have a problem if he shoved that cane down my throat!
The next night I talked with a high school student named Brandt. He said he didn’t find anything contradictory with Mormonism after reading the New Testament. So I asked about Jn. 17:3 and Jm. 2:19 with one true God vs. what the LDS scriptures teach. I also talked to him about Christ creating everything and being God from beginning as John 1 teaches. He said he didn’t know what to say. We also talked about the Book of Abraham problem, where the translation from Joseph Smith is proven to be bogus. He replied, “Well couldn’t God use something totally different from its literal meaning to bring about truth to us?” I told him that if he believed that with the Book of Abraham, then I have a bridge in AZ to sell him. The display of the 34 wives of Joseph Smith walked right past us, so we also talked about that.
34 Wives of Joseph SmithFunny, but when I preached later to the crowd, people were really listening to me in contrast to the stories I heard from other Christians about all the demons coming out over the wives display.
On the final night, I got to talk with Terry, who left Mormonism, but thinks basically whatever makes you happy is all that matters. He also held that love is merely a feeling. So I explained to him that many times I’m not happy with my wife and don’t feel lovingly toward her. Nonetheless, it is love that keeps me seeking her best interest. This is why duty trumps feelings, even though it’s still nice to have the feelings.
When I preached, I had a very attentive audience until a guy started shouting me down by getting in front of me and then beside me. I told the cops he was limiting my free speech, but they didn’t do anything about it. The audience started singing, then my friends blocked for me by engaging in conversation with this guy. Then the audience started listening to me again. Since it was the anniversary of Joseph Smith’s death, the crowd sang the popular LDS hymn “Praise to the Man” (no, not the man Jesus of Nazareth).
At Miller’s (the local restaurant Christians congregate in while the pageant is performing), Jessica was in line with my buddy Alex and me, and she bounced into our conversation. She grew up LDS, but doesn’t have a testimony. Her husband does and was watching the pageant. We got to talk awhile and she gladly took the JC/JS and Unveiling Grace DVDs.
Here’s the list of videos I took during the pageant:
Rob Sivulka Preaching Prior to Manti Pageant
Worship Prior to Manti Pageant Evangelism
Aaron Shaffovaloff Preaching Prior to Manti Pageant
Chip Thompson on Displaying Joseph Smith's Wives at Manti Pageant
Joseph Smith's Wives at the Manti Pageant
I Was a Mormon: John Timothy Singer
Ryan Edwards goes to our church and was our guest last month. You may see the pictures here and the video of his testimony here.
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Proud of you Rob! I'm praying for you
As a Mormon, I find the Manti Pageant a little on the corny side. However, even goofier are the people who travel there every year for the sole purpose of staking out the pageant to tell pageant-goers that that they are blasphemers. I’ve only been to the pageant once, but I was told that I believe stuff that I don’t believe and that I was an idiot for believing it. Then I was told that the other person knew more about Mormon doctrine than I do.
It’s OK to have different beliefs. I actually enjoy learning others’ viewpoints. However, the crews that tend to show up at pageants, temple open houses, conference, and such tend to be there only to slam Mormon beliefs. They don’t offer any new information or insights unless you count bizarre spins on some of those beliefs.
It’s reassuring to know that the yippy-dog harassment brigade will be back in Manti. It wouldn’t seem like a Mormon event with them.
[I replied:] Well talk about "goofier!" We aren't even FB friends, yet you come on my Wall to correct me for going to correct others at the Manti Pageant. Smells like hypocrisy to me. Have I missed something here, or are you coming here to slam my faith? So if you can do it, why can't we?
Further, saying we are "there only to slam Mormon beliefs" simply tells me that you're too blind to see the alternatives we offer. The Bible is quite clear that following Christ requires teaching as He and His prophets and apostles taught (Mat. 28:19). Following the command of the apostles to destroy bad teaching (2 Cor. 10:4-5) implies contending for the faith once for all delivered to the saints (Jude 3).
We simply reject the LDS Christ and proclaim He's false, because He contradicts what the scripture positively teach about Christ. Jesus taught in the last days false Christs and prophets would arise (Mat. 24:24), and if the LDS Church doesn't have that, then I don't know who does. And regardless of your own personal beliefs, because the LDS Church does in fact teach what the video above has Smith saying as well as Jesus being our elder brother in a pre-earth life and not literally the creator of literally everything outside His own being, then you need to be warned that you're involved in neo-pagan, multi-level marketing fertility cult and you need to repent or you're in danger of going to hell.
Perhaps you're coming on my Wall thinking you're imitating Samuel the Lamanite preaching from the wall he was on. ;)
[He replied:] Where have I attacked any of your beliefs? I have mentioned areas where we disagree; but that was a foregone conclusion and I don’t believe constitutes an attack. I believe that I tried to emphasize that I am totally OK having discussions with people who have different viewpoints.
My complaints here have been about the general M.O. of evangelicals in their dealings with Mormons, mostly from personal experience. Travis Howell’s post was level-headed. He sounds like somebody I would enjoy talking with. The rest of the posts have just been more of the same of what I have dealt with before. I am continually told that evangelicals are only concerned about Mormons’ souls and they are approaching us in the spirit of love. It very seldom seems that way to me.
Just let me say that a “neo-pagan, multilevel marketing fertility (you forgot “subversive” and “poorly dressed”) cult” ascribes more love, honor and glory to God and Christ than your group. Mormonism teaches that the Savior’s Atonement is big enough for all of humanity; it offers a doable path for salvation to every human who as ever lived on the earth, if they will only accept it. Your teaching that people throughout history who never had a chance to hear of Christ are just damned, is enough to be a deal-breaker in my mind.
You have un-invited me to be here, so I will go away now.
Enjoy the cream soda.
[I replied:] My belief is that we should be out there evangelizing LDS like we do... slamming LDS blasphemy just as 2 Cor. 10:4-5 says. If you don't see how you have denigrated what we do outside LDS events, then I really doubt you'll see much else.
According to LDS scripture, the Savior's atonement wasn't big enough for the killer or for the one who commits more than a one time offense of adultery (http://scriptures.lds.org/dc/42/18-29#18). It's an impossible gospel, since one must "do all one can do" (2 Ne. 25:23) and be perfected in Christ by denying oneself all ungodliness and then loving God with all one's might, mind, and strength, then the grace is sufficient (Moroni 10:32). Salvation is through keeping the laws and ordinances of the gospel according to the 3rd Article of Faith. D&C 58:43 says that we know one's repented if they confess and forsake their sins. Then D&C 82:5-7 says all your sins come back on you once you sin again (keep in mind 1 Jn. 1:8 says that we all have sin), and Alma 11:37 says you can't be saved in your sins. Your own prophet taught that "Trying is Not Sufficient" ("Miracle of Forgiveness," 164-5), because 1 Ne. 3:7 says that God doesn't give us a command that He doesn't expect us to keep.
We don't need the temple and wearing garments when it's over 100 degrees outside. We don't need to learn secret handshakes and passwords to go through the veil. We don't need to keep the word of wisdom or pay our tithing, etc., etc. So please don't tell us that this is a "doable path for salvation to every human who as ever lived on the earth."
The "salvation" you're not telling everyone here about is a general salvation in which one is able to go to one of the degrees of glory, but the highest, where the heavenly Father dwells, is only reserved who are saved through keeping perfectly the laws and ordinances of the gospel.
But for us evangelicals, being anywhere after this life other than where the Father is is hell. We don't worry about whether we're going to make it or not, since it's not based on us and our own worthiness. It's based simply on what the Worthy One has done for us. We are going to the Celestial Kingdom, so we don't need the temple or anything else Mormonism has to offer.
Finally, you simply assume that all Christians hold that those who have never heard of Christ will go to hell. That's just incorrect. Whatever the truth is here is irrelevant to the fact that you do know what God has revealed, and you need to repent from the Mormon God/Jesus/gospel or you are in danger of going to hell. You make a lousy God.
Blasphemy? Just let them have their thing on the hill. Let everyone believe what they believe and show a little self respect. I know that Jesus Christ teaches love and acceptance and kindness no matter what the name of your organization is. If that's wrong then I don't have anything to believe in anymore.
[I replied:] Jesus said, "You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father's desires" (Jn. 8:44). He also said a little earlier that "if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins" (vs. 24). He also said, "Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person's enemies will be those of his own household. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it" (Mat. 10:34-39). How's that for acceptance?
[She asked:] Why would you go to a place that you knew would have Mormons everywhere? Just curious.
[I replied:] To get my message out to more of them, so that they may repent and be saved from hell.
Interesting newsletter! Sorry I don't keep in better touch. I know you have your own way of preaching but I am not sure if yelling for 20 minutes will do much good in Utah since most people there believe (as do I) that contention is of the devil. I know though that you want to reach as many people as you can but my experience with YouTube is that they will remove anything deemed offensive to the masses.
I am not sure that yelling accomplishes much. People just don't like to get yelled at I have found. When I was an LDS missionary in New York I remember seeing people yell at others and it just raised tensions. It was usually over bad driving, parking etc; but the yelling just made the situation worse.
I have to wonder if this is one reason (out of many) why the world is hostile toward Christianity. I work with a lot of people who are not religious and many who are hostile to Christianity so I like to ask them why they are hostile. Their answers are interesting.
They tend to view Christians as hypocritical, angry people who obsess over the fine points of doctrine. As one described what he saw I had to wonder if we were somehow acting more like Pharisees than like the Master.
I challenged him to do what I challenge everyone to do. Buy a Bible where the words of Christ are in red and read only the text that is red. Ignore everything else. Just read the words of Christ. After all the black text would not have been heard if they had met Jesus face to face. They would only hear his words. I then challenge them to read the black text to understand the context of who Jesus was speaking to, who he was speaking with and why. I tell them that this voice (Jesus') is the only one that needs to be heard to really be a Christian. Everyone else is either a counterfeit or an echo of Christ and that as a Christian I have to constantly discern which is which.
I am glad you are still doing ministry. It can't be easy. I know a lot of Mormons still and it is interesting that some are closer to Christ than others. The ones who are close to Christ are usually not those who are in high leadership positions. They are those who realize they are sinners and are repenting and trying to honestly live Christian lives.
[I replied:] Thanks for your thoughts and reading the newsletter. If you think there's never a time for contention or yelling, then that's just not Christ-like. In John 7, Jesus rose up and "cried" out to those at the temple. I don't recall the Pharisees ever doing this. They were the calm ones, who attempted dialogue with the Master. He sure seemed contentious when He cleaned out the temple on occasion and when He railed on them in Matthew 23.
Further, Isaiah was instructed in chapter 55 to raise up his voice as a trumpet to preach.
So I deem shouting appropriate under certain situations. Given a pattern of this woman purposely limiting my free speech, I thought it apt to do what I did. She'll certainly think twice before she does it again. Keep in mind that this is a small percentage of my ministry. Recall all the good dialogues I have including I had with you, which had a part in you coming to Christ.
By the way, the Book of Mormon passage that speaks of contention being of the devil is a paraphrase of devilish anger. If that's not the case, then Samuel the Lamanite contradicted it by preaching from the wall.
[He replied:] I never said that yelling and screaming was un-scriptural, only that I don't think it is as effective in this day and age. For example, some of the old Puritan ministers probably wouldn't get much of a congregation these days due to how strict they were in appearance, doctrine etc;
I think there is a difference between being loud and yelling. For me yelling is done in anger. As for "contention being of the devil" I have (even when I was LDS) believed that contention was more related to anger and rage than being related to the word contend. Galatians 5:19-21 (Fruits of the Flesh) mentions in the NIV that "fits of rage" is a fruit of the flesh (as opposed to peace being a fruit of the Spirit).
The Pharisees were calm in many chapters but their actions were done out of pure hostility. There are however far too many Christians that have given in not so much to a gospel of good works but a gospel of doctrinal purity to the point of absurdity. For example I know a guy that told me that I was not saved and could not be saved because I wasn't wealthy enough. Hand it to a Prosperity Gospel adherent to come up with that one. Of course I told him that it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than.....(you can guess the rest).
When I read your newsletter (albeit quickly since I was at work and it was before a meeting) I only saw that you were yelling for 20 minutes and your friend got tired. I commend you for continuing.
[I replied:] Well however you want to call what I did to that woman and her daughter, I think it was effective. Effective in getting her to finally move on and effective for ringing in her ears and others' ears. God will have to give the increase through the foolishness of preaching as He's ordained to save some (1 Cor. 1:18-21). I also think being loud or yelling or crying or shouting should only be done with righteous anger as Paul had when he saw all the idols in Athens and was distressed in spirit for them. And I think it's effective if you want to reach a larger group. In fact, [besides displaying a big sign,] it's the only way to reach a large group that is passing you by. I would agree with you that it's typically not effective in personal dialogues. So the scope or context needs to be clarified. Yelling at my daughter to get out of the street is pretty effective, by the way. :)
If any Christians uses bull horns, debase, and ridicule any eternal human then they are a clanging cymbal, and need to check there motives.... in the end the LDS person must have that bridge remaining. 7 years... to convert on average - that's a lot of time for one soul. If one bull horn was to tear down the love that so many have already invested.... that would be rather sad if not devastating.
[I replied:] I don't see how using a bullhorn automatically classifies one as a clanging symbol without any love. As far as I know, I was the only person using a bullhorn. I haven't done it in a couple years or so now. The reason I thought I'd use it is because it was given to me as a gift to save my voice. I got a permit from the city to use it for only about 20 minutes after the pageant. I don't use it anymore simply because it's unreliable and the target audience all hears me well enough without it as they pass by me.
There's nothing illegal or sinful about using a bullhorn. But of course you say, it makes others stumble and they use that as an excuse to stay away from Christ. However that's a lame excuse and can be used of any method we use that LDS don't like. The problem really isn't the method; it's the fact that we're there in front of their temple on public property evangelizing both before and after their pageant. Anyone can whine about my preaching with or without a bullhorn or my lighted signs, but if I value them for a particular situation that's going to cause more people to hear or see the gospel, then I'm more than happy to tolerate all the whining I get from them.
I was reading an article by Roger Olsen and he said this of Bob Millet, "Millet affirms even as he denies as I do inherited guilt..." What do you think he means by 'inherited guilt' and why would he deny it?
Does he mean that he thinks we are not guilty of Adam's particular guilt of disobedience or that any guilt we have stems from any particular sin we commit? Does he think we are not guilty until our first sin?
Do you know why he thinks that sin does not make us totally depraved. Does he hold that the Imagio Dei in us mitigates the totality of our depravity?
Also, wasn't it Joseph Smith who said that as man is God once was? Why would he attribute that to Lorenzo Snow?
[I replied:] Olson is a radical Aminian. Millet holds to the Articles of Faith: 2 says that men punished for their own sins, and not for Adam's. 3 says that all may be saved by obeying laws and ordinances of the gospel. Millet also believes that the age of accountability is age 8. Up until then, kids are innocent.
Snow made the original couplet, but Smith reaffirmed the theology.