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VIDEO: 4 Reasons Evangelicals Can Be Hostile Toward Members (“Mormons”)

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4 Reasons Evangelicals Can Be Hostile Toward Mormons – powered by Happy Scribe

But I will tell you, in my interactions with Latterday Saints, they’re great people. They are kind people, and most importantly, they’re not dangerous. Hello, Saints. My name is Jeff. I am a pastor exploring everything I can about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints. And the reason I’m on this journey is because typically, when it comes to evangelical and Latter day Saint conversations, a lot of times it can devolve into something like this.

Like, what about Steve? Have you lied before? And he, David, if you retain, we shall be clean. We don’t have to call anybody out.

And I am on a mission to ask this question does it have to be this way? And I’m not the only one asking this question. Stephanie Thomas, who is a commenter on one of my videos, says, as someone who raised LDS, I never understood why other religions spend so much time on Sundays talking about us. We never discuss other religions during our Sabbath. The time was spent learning more about Christ and his teachings. I often felt sad that it appeared that the religion I belonged to was being gossiped or spoken about unfairly. I appreciate you recognizing that that isn’t the way to learn about people different than you. I found your channel today and I appreciate the journey that you are on. So since I’m asking this question and other people are asking this question, I’m going to take the 20 plus years of church leadership and pastoral ministry and look at that through the lens of this journey on hello, Saints to talk through four of the reasons why, from my perspective, evangelicals can sometimes be hostile towards Latterday Saints. Number one, I don’t think we can ignore that there’s a historic divide. When Joseph Smith established a church and he brought forth the Book of Mormon, it didn’t go over well with the Christian communities around him.

Whether you’re talking about Palmyra, New York, kirtland, Ohio, independence, Missouri, navu, Illinois, or even Utah, any Christian groups around them did not take kindly to this growing community of sort of what seemed to be this alternate Christian group. And though there’s a little bit of a push and a pull as to when Latterday Saints might have been a little bit more aggressive to the Christian communities around them, and other times when they were more pulled back and more tolerant of other Christian beliefs around them, things never quite settled out and most interactions broke down and oftentimes even got violent. Now, the vast majority of American denominations moved on from that. And that actually speaks to something that this commenter said, is why is it that a lot of churches spend so much time talking about Mormons? We actually really don’t. In fact, most evangelicals I know in the Midwest and in the Bible Belt, they don’t even really know the difference between a Latter day Saint and a Jehovah’s Witness. And the only time we really talk about it is when there’s a teaching to help give some insight into what Latterday Saints believe or what Jehovah’s Witnesses believe.

But to be fair, the reason we do that is because it’s typically to teach people who come to our churches how they can share the gospel with people from these different faith groups. Now, in all reality, a lot of evangelicals have moved on. We don’t really think or talk about Latterday Saints very much unless you’re in parts of the country where there’s a high Latter day Saint concentration. But that doesn’t take away the fact that there is an unresolved historic divide between Latterday Saints and mainstream Christianity in America. Number two, this might come to surprise to you, but because there’s such a strong conviction about so many things in evangelical Christianity and in America we’re sort of bred to speak very loudly and aggressively about religious convictions we have. I mean, we live in a country that was based on the idea of religious freedom. Anything that looks like a threat to that religious freedom or even religious beliefs can sometimes be responded to with an overly aggressive reaction. So for example, I just want to talk through a few Latterday Saint teachings and why they seem threatening to evangelicals. One of them being a statement that says that the Bible can only be trusted as far as it was translated correctly and that additional revelation or additional writings, the Book of Mormon is necessary to understand God’s.

Revelation is a threat to our understanding of truth. We believe that all that is necessary to understand who God is and his will and who Jesus is is found in the Bible. So to say that the Bible is not trustworthy seems like a threat to what we believe to be the truth. The teaching that comes out of the first vision that God and Jesus are two distinct beings to an evangelical that is a threat to the strong belief that Jesus is God. And I know that we can get into the differences and the similarities between how we view the Godhead but the fact remains that is a different understanding to the nature of Jesus that can feel threatening to our understanding of who Jesus is. Which is why oftentimes evangelicals will say that’s a different Jesus. When an evangelical hears that Joseph Smith had revelations that the true Zion is in Missouri and that Jesus is going to reign from that place, it threatens our understanding of the Promised Land and even the history of Israel and the significance of that area that has eschatological or in time implications. When an evangelical hears a Latter day Saint talk about how certain temple work is necessary in order to get into the celestial Kingdom, that is a threat to our understanding of grace.

Because though we believe our works show that we are saved, that doesn’t mean that we have to do additional works in order to get to a higher level of heaven. We believe that God’s grace gives us full access to reconciled relationship with Him through Jesus. I’ll keep going. Whenever the Latterday Saints teach that much of the atonement took place in the Garden, that seems like a threat to the cross for us, which is where we believe the atonement took place where Christ died for the sins of the world and shed his blood for that atoning sacrifice on the cross. I want to touch on this a little bit more in just a second. But when evangelicals live on this mission to spread the gospel and there are enough differences in a Latter day Saint gospel that can in some ways erode our message of what we believe to be the true gospel of hope in Jesus that feels threatening to the mission to spread the gospel. And I think the last thing that I will point to is a very touchy subject and that is where a lot of evangelicals believe that the Latterday Saint Church is occult.

Now, I could do a whole other video or series of videos on whether or not the Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday Saints is a cult. But regardless of where you stand on that issue, that idea of occult inherently seems dangerous because when we hear the word cult, we think about drinking Koolaid or the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas. So when we see a Latter day Saint who believes in all of these things and in our mind we’re told or we believe that it’s a cult, we see it as something very dangerous. That leads to the third reason why evangelicals might be hostile towards Latterday Saints and some of it is misinformation or misunderstanding about what Latterday Saints actually teach. For example, for many years before I started this journey, I believe that one of the most important teachings of Latterday Saint faith is that there is a desire and the ability to become the God of your own planet one day. And when I talk to Latter day Saints there are some who say yes, this is something that we have taught and still loosely teach and others who say no, that was something that Joseph Smith talked about before he died.

The church has never established that as doctrine and that’s not really a thing. But those things sort of feed into a reputation about Mormonism that a lot of evangelicals will hold on to and can even become a barrier to them understanding in greater detail other beliefs that Latterday Saints have. Another example of this is polygamy. Most evangelicals that I’ve interacted with in the Midwest and in the Bible Belt don’t know whether or not Latterday Saints practice polygamy or not, where we would see that as a violation of God’s design for marriage. Being that that is in the history of the Latter day Saint Church, there are a lot of evangelicals who aren’t very clear on whether or not that is still something that Latterday Saints practice. I think the last thing I would point to when it comes to misunderstanding or misinformation is this belief that latterday saints believe that you have to do works in order to be saved, due to the fact that a lot of emphasis is put on doing temple work and proxy baptisms and ceilings, which really a lot of evangelicals don’t even know about. But for those of them that do, they see that as a works based salvation.

And one thing that I’ve been learning is as I’ve talked to Latterday Saints and understood the teaching that it is not necessarily a works based salvation, latterday Saints don’t believe that you have to do those things in order to be saved. That doesn’t mean that it’s not a works based religion or construct where those things are still important in order to progress into the celestial kingdom. But there’s enough there that provides enough misinformation or misunderstanding or lack of clarity that evangelicals might be responding to things where they really don’t have all of the information. So we could have a conversation all day long on whether that’s an acceptable doctrine. But I have been corrected by a lot of Latterday Saints clarifying that it is not a works based salvation, even though specific works are interwoven into much of their faith practices. And this leads to the fourth reason why there can be a hostile relationship between Latterday Saints and evangelicals and that is because they are both proselytizing faith groups. We are both evangelizing and promoting a gospel that we believe is not only important to share with people, but something that we are commanded to do.

If you’re a Latter day Saint, you might not know this, but one of the most important things to evangelical Christianity is the Great Commission. The Great Commission is the command that Jesus gave his disciples before he ascended to heaven to go into the uttermost parts of the world, teaching people to obey, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son of the Holy Spirit and making disciples. Almost every evangelical church, every Sunday morning is pointing to the Great Commission and encouraging all churchgoers to look for opportunities to spread that hope and that love and that grace of Jesus to the people around them and to make disciples. So being that the Great Commission is so important to evangelicals and we’re always looking for opportunities to spread the gospel, when some evangelicals encounter Latterday Saints and now you have dueling agendas to convert one another, sometimes that doesn’t go over well with people. The mere idea that we are two groups that are designed to convert people can a lot of times get in the way of us setting the conversion agenda aside and just having human conversations about beliefs or even about sports and weather.

But I think that idea of both being evangelizing faith groups really does play into why sometimes there can be friction between latterday Saints and evangelicals. There’s actually a book in the Bible that might give insight into why evangelicals take this posture when it comes to spreading the Gospel and it’s the book of Galatians. Paul went into Galatia. He established a church. He taught them what it meant to have salvation and reconciliation with God through Jesus. And then he moved on to plan another church. But another group came in behind him and they began to teach the same group of people that they all needed to be circumcised and follow certain Jewish traditions and ceremonies in order to actually be saved. And when Paul found out about this, he was not happy. He did not like that this group came in behind him and altered the salvation message in some way to cloud the issue. The way he talks about it is very direct because he feels so protective of this group in Galatia. He did not want them to be confused. That works needed to be introduced into what Jesus brought in order to truly have salvation.

And an evangelical is going to see some similarities there where we’re bringing the hope of Jesus, which is the free gift of salvation through Christ where another group is coming in Latterday Saints and teaching that there’s more to understand and that it’s tied to introducing certain works based practices in order to truly be like God and to arrive at the highest level of heaven. Many evangelicals are going to have a very Pauline extreme response to something like that. So those are four of the main things that I can point to right now that might give Latterday Saints some insight into why some evangelical Christians take a hostile posture when engaging with Latterday Saints about issues of faith. But I want this to lead to some takeaways, both for Latterday Saints and for evangelicals. I’ll start with my Latter day Saint friends. I don’t know what you’ve experienced if you’re a Latter day Saint as you’ve engaged with evangelicals. I’ve talked to some Latter day Saints who have a really good relationship with the evangelicals around them and actually really appreciate and desire to be around them. Or I’ve talked to other Latter day Saints where it’s very difficult because there’s been so much hostility.

I will say that the more hostile posture is more of a minority than a majority with evangelical Christianity. And most of the everyday evangelicals that I interact with would probably be willing to have a very charitable conversation with people from the Latterday Saint faith. But that’s difficult to see when Latterday Saints are trying to go to the temple or go to General Conference. And the representation of evangelicals in those settings are street preachers holding signs with flames on them. So that street preaching aggressive style might be loud, but that doesn’t mean it represents the majority. And where that does send a message that you are not liked or where that does send a message of contention or hostility. I apologize because most evangelicals that I know would be willing to have a pretty constructive and dignified conversation on matters of faith in the right setting. And now my takeaway for evangelicals I want to lovingly challenge you to think beyond apologetics. I understand that Peter tells us very specifically that we need to be ready to defend what we believe. But in that same passage of Scripture, this is something I’ve talked about in some of my videos before.

We’re also called to do so with gentleness and kindness. And I would encourage you to have an open mind that there is more than one way to have faith conversations and that it doesn’t always have to be a debate. In fact, even if you look in the Scriptures, we can see this represented in the Book of Acts, Peter and Steven. They represent people who spoke to large crowds and proclaimed what they believed needed to be proclaimed about the Gospel. In Peter and Steven’s cases, it was specifically to the Jews, and they were confronting very specific fundamental issues regarding a Jewish understanding of God and why they needed to embrace Jesus as the Messiah. So I get in our faith persuasion that there is a place to stand on the street corners and to proclaim these things. But I would encourage you to understand that there are other methods that can be taken and that Jesus himself is our example of that. It is true that Jesus would stand in front of crowds and he would proclaim things, but don’t lose sight of his interaction with the woman at the well. It was very relational, and they clearly had different beliefs.

Or Nicodemus, who was a pharisee, or a Roman centurion who was probably a pagan worshipper. Jesus shows us that it is possible to have very loving and charitable conversations with people who are different than us and to drive toward more relational interactions with one another. I would just encourage you to remember that faith conversations are less about being right and they’re more about the spiritual reality of those we are interacting with. And to be quite frank with you, it’s also about your spiritual reality as you’re interacting with someone. If you are holding the desire to be persuasive in an argument over the desire to really see an individual and connect with that individual, I would question whether or not at that point you’re really being spiritually led, because at that point it seems more cognitive than it does spiritual. Say what you will about the Book of Mormon or Mormon teaching at large. I understand that we get very passionate about what we believe to be true. But I will tell you, in my interactions with Latter day Saints, they’re great people. They are kind people, and most importantly, they’re not dangerous. Most of them aren’t even really interested in getting in debates about faith.

They’re willing to share what they believe, and they’re actually willing to listen to what you believe, but it is not necessary to avoid them, nor is it necessary to try to go after their dignity and prove them wrong. And I get that impulse to be critical of people who are different than us. But that’s really why I started this channel, to fight criticism with curiosity. It is okay to ask questions and even to drive toward commonalities, even about what we believe about Jesus, so that we can have conversations about the important things and we can have relationships with people who believe differently than us. At the end of the day, all of us need to look for ways that we can balance truth and love, because it’s when we do that that I believe the Savior is most clearly seen. I know this isn’t easy, but it is important, which is why I’m going to keep making these videos, because this path that I’m on is important for me, and I’m finding it to be important for a lot of people, which is hopefully why you’re still watching. So like this video and subscribe. If you want to subscribe, port me on Patreon, feel free.

Either way, I hope you come back to check out more videos, because there’s more to come. So until next time, I’ll see you later, saints.

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