How to Witness to Mormons
There are at least two approaches
to use in witnessing to Mormons. We can either debate
the doctrines of Mormonism (baptism for the dead, "burning"
in the bosom, Joseph Smith as a prophet of God, the
validity of the Book of Mormon, the Trinity, "God
was once a man," "protective" underwear,
etc.), or we can present the gospel biblically. One
creates an atmosphere of contention and often leaves
the Christian feeling frustrated, while the other creates
an atmosphere of concern for the eternal welfare of
the Mormon. Our goal should be to win a soul to Christ
rather than merely win a doctrinal argument.
One point of frustration
for the Christian is that Mormons often agree when they
hear words such as "salvation," or Jesus as
"Savior." The problem is that their understanding
of the words differs from the biblical revelation of
the words. "Salvation" for a Mormon can mean
the salvation of all humanity—when the "Savior"
will eventually raise everyone from the dead. Rather
than speak of "going to heaven," the Christian
should ask what the Mormon has to do to be at peace
with the "heavenly Father." This is language
they can understand, and will reveal the basis for their
salvation. Are they trusting in self-righteousness,
or solely in the righteousness of Christ?
Mark J. Cares writes: "Although
Mormons commonly appear self-assured and self-righteous,
many are undergoing great stress. This is because Mormonism
holds up perfection as an attainable goal. The one Bible
passage the Mormon church constantly holds up before
its membership is Matthew 5:48: ‘Be ye therefore
perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.’
They then expound on it with numerous exhortations to
strive for perfection. Spencer W. Kimball, for example,
wrote: ‘Being perfect means to triumph over sin.
This is a mandate from the Lord. He is just and wise
and kind. He would never require anything from his children
which was not for their benefit and which was not attainable.
Perfection therefore is an achievable goal’ (Life
and Teachings of Jesus and His Apostles, Church of Jesus
Christ of Latter-day Saints).
"This emphasis on perfection
permeates every aspect of a Mormon’s life. Its
most common form is the unending demand on them to be
‘worthy.’ Every privilege in Mormonism is
conditioned on a person’s worthiness. Kimball
wrote: ‘All blessings are conditional. I know
of none that are not’ (Remember Me, Church of
Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints).
"Christians need to
recognize that this constant striving for perfection—and
the resultant stress it produces—offers an excellent
opening to talk to Mormons about Jesus and the imputed
perfection we receive through Him.
"Reinforce their predicament.
Average hard-working Mormons view this striving for
perfection as a heavy but manageable burden. They can
cultivate illusions of perfection because the Mormon
church has greatly watered down the concept of sin.
Consequently, the Christian witness needs to show Mormons
both the severity of their predicament and the impossibility
of their becoming perfect. In other words, they need
to have a face-to-face confrontation with the stern
message of God’s Law, because ‘through the
Law we become conscious of sin’ (Romans 3:21).
"The Law must first
convince Mormons of the severity of their predicament.
The best way to accomplish this is to tell them, lovingly
but firmly, that they are going to ‘outer darkness.’
(Outer darkness is the closest concept in Mormonism
to an eternal hell.) Most Mormons have never been told
this, nor have they ever considered that possibility
for themselves, since Mormonism teaches that nearly
everyone will enter one of Mormonism’s three kingdoms
of heaven. Therefore, until you introduce the thought
of eternal suffering, they will not feel any real urgency
to take your witness to heart. On the contrary, most,
if they are willing to talk at all, will view any religious
conversation as nothing more than an interesting intellectual
"Christians often hesitate
to be this blunt. They feel that if anything will turn
Mormons off, telling them that they are going to outer
darkness surely will. I shared that fear when I began
using this approach. To my amazement, however, rejection
wasn’t the reaction I received. Most have been
shocked, but they were also eager to know why I would
say such a thing. The key is to speak this truth with
love, in such a way that our concern for their souls
is readily apparent.
"Alerting Mormons to
the very real danger of their going to outer darkness
opens the door to telling them the basis for that judgment
—which is, they are not meeting God’s requirement
for living with Him (they are not presently perfect).
The key to explaining this is the present imperative,
be perfect, in Matthew 5:48." See Luke 18:20 footnote
for how to go through the Law, and 1 Corinthians 15:58
footnote on how not to be discouraged in witnessing.