2 Sets of LDS Missionaries
Last month my dad and I met again with the LDS missionaries that live a couple doors down from him. This time there was another missionary to replace the previous one who got transferred across the valley. They asked me to pray, so I prayed that God would open our eyes for what He wanted us to see. They wanted us to watch a short, less than 2-minute video that the Church put out for Easter called “Starting Today.” I told them it was nice, but we already believe in the bodily resurrection of Jesus and don’t see anything in this video that would compel us to join the LDS Church. Of course the lead missionary shared his testimony with us and said that before his mission he was in such a bad place in life, and there would be no way that he’d be there talking to us if it wasn’t true. So I challenged him on 3 other possibilities: our hearts play tricks on us, Satan and his helpers play tricks on us, and God allows those who don’t listen to what He’s already said to enjoy a strong delusion to believe a lie.
We shared God’s grace with the missionaries and contrasted biblical grace with what their late prophet Spencer W. Kimball taught about trying not being sufficient and that one must perfectly obey all the commands before forgiveness is realized. This is why Kimball claimed that neither the woman caught in adultery nor the thief on the cross had any evidence of forgiveness applied to them. I asked them if they had ever read Kimball's book, The Miracle of Forgiveness. They hadn’t. I told them that I would get a copy for them as well as former BYU prof Lynn Wilder’s book, Unveiling Grace. (I brought them both copies of both books the following week, and they seemed happy to get them.) During our talk, one of the missionaries asked what I thought of BYU prof Stephen Robinson’s book Believing Christ. I told them I still had problems with it, but it was much better than Kimball’s guilt trip. Nonetheless, I told them that Kimball obviously had much more authority than a BYU prof. The missionaries had to get to another appointment after the short hour we had.
On the 20th, I pulled my car over to talk to another pair of missionaries for just about 10 minutes. After finding out about them, I asked if they ever read the Bible and if they saw any contradictions to what they are believing. Of course they said, “No,” so I asked them about Christ creating all things. Of course they said they believed that, so I had to ask them about their spirits since they hold Jesus is their elder brother in a pre-earth life, and I also had to ask about matter, since in their D&C 93 it says that the elements are eternal. One of them said that it was too deep. I responded by saying, “It’s not deep. It’s really basic. Either Jesus really created everything outside Himself or He didn’t. You seem to have a devalued Jesus and the Bible teaches an infinitely more exalted Jesus.” They of course had to go, so I challenged them to read through the New Testament with the eyes of a child, I gave them my site JosephLied.com to look at some point, and then I prayed for them.
First time we've had a mission team pull up in a huge bus!
We had a mission team of about 26 over on the 24th. It was a high school team from Kearney, NE. It was led by my buddy Dr. Tim Stratton (Free Thinking Ministries) and the high school pastor Richard Eng. We fed them, and then Tara shared her testimony and I got to talk to them about challenging the LDS testimony.
I have had a few friends now ask me about Dallas Jenkins and The Chosen, particularly because 1) Jenkins has claimed in various venues that LDS have the same Jesus as evangelicals have and because 2) LDS are an important part of its production. I watched former New Ager, now Christian Melissa Dougherty interview Jenkins last month. I left a few comments for both of them there. It seems difficult to judge what is going on in Jenkins’ head concerning LDS now. It appears that he has been confronted about what the LDS Church teaches about Jesus being our elder brother in a pre-earth life, so it seems he is sticking his head in the sand and just wants to listen to what his LDS friends are feeding him… apparently for the sake of his business partnership since he sees them as a means to an end. Namely, he is using them to get this production out to even more people. I think he has put himself in a very dangerous position, and as such, he really needs our prayers. He claims LDS have so far let him have free reign for the end product, but that, of course, is no promise for the future.
Tara sharing her testimony to team
It is clear to me that he could give the most brilliant and faithful portrayal ever of Jesus outside of Scripture, and LDS would still reinterpret it, as they do with the Bible, according to LDS categories. Jenkins isn’t an apologist. He’s a movie producer, and so far, I think he’s done a good job in that. Is it perfect? Of course not. Only Scripture is. But God seems to be using it to draw people to Scripture and fall more in love with Jesus.
Here’s one of the comments I left on Doughtery’s video:
"Instead of saying that the LDS Jesus is the same as his Jesus, it would have been better for Dallas to say, 'As far as I can tell, my LDS friends believe the same Jesus as I do.' That's a different topic than what does the LDS Church, their scriptures, and their prophets and apostles actually teach as revelation from God. I wish Melissa would have pressed Dallas more on this. I would have liked her to ask him: 'Do you think Jesus being your elder bro in a pre-earth life would be something that would make for a different Jesus?' Or how about, 'Do you think that Jesus not being the creator of literally everything outside Himself would count for a different Jesus?'
The way LDS communicate their faith with those outside it is really demonic... even if LDS aren't intentional about it. I say that as one who has evangelized LDS for almost 50 years now.
In her book last year, LDS SDSU scholar Joanna Brooks really nails her own church. As a result of their fight with the United States in the 19th century over polygamy, the Church went underground to evade prosecution and persecution. The effort was to 'maintain theocratic sovereignty in the face of outside pressure even after the abandonment of open polygamy.' The results of this strategy persist to this day. These include 'nontransparency in public relations, cultivation of distinct “insider” and “outsider” narratives of belief and practice, and careful public speech to protect private knowledge. An ethos privileging opacity, institutional loyalty, hierarchy, and guardedness developed in LDS Church institutions (including Deseret Book and Brigham Young University) as Mormons attempted to preserve a residue of theocracy and difference even as they were assimilated into broader US society’ (Joanna Brooks, Mormonism and White Supremacy: American Religion and The Problem of Racial Innocence, 165). She went on to describe all this as what they refer to as 'lying for the Lord.'"
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I had a blast working with ya tonight, Rob! Thanks for your hospitality (and Tara's too)! 🙂
Are you planning on attending any Temple openings or redications in 2021 or 2022?
[I replied:] No plans at this point. Hoping to finish my dissertation the end of next year, so that's the priority right now.
Rob, this brother from the UK reminds me of you.😇
Your story about the visit with the LDS missionaries was great!