November 22, 2013 by mattfradd
I’ve never met a Mormon I didn’t like. My next door neighbors are (temple) card-carrying, alcohol avoiding, special underwear wearing Mormons. We’re very close and I love them dearly. They’re kind, generous, and committed.
They’re also wrong.
Mormonism, though it contains elements of truth, is a severe perversion of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
I don’t intend to rehash those perversions in this post, instead I’d like to help you prepare for a first encounter with a Mormon.
This is a technique I consistently use. It works every time, I think for two reasons. 1. They don’t expect it. It’s different to what they usually hear: What about polygamy! or Why did Mormons deny blacks the priesthood! and 2. It helps them understand why you’re not interested in hearing what they have to say, without being a jerk.
Obviously after your first encounter with a Mormon, if you agree to continue the discussion, you’ll owe it to him to study his religion (and your own) in order to share at greater depth why it is you disagree with him and why he should join the Catholic Church.
I begin by assuring the missionaries (who I never call elder. They’re not my elders, neither in age (usually) nor in the faith) that I’m not trying to be rude and that I in no way mean to come across as condescending or insulting.
I then ask if I could try out a thought experiment on them. They agree because they’re Mormons and therefore seemingly incapable of being impolite.
[For those of you who aren’t familiar with Mormonism, the thought experiment is a parody of the Joseph Smith story].
Here’s what I say:
Suppose I said to you that there was a man by the name of John Smith, who in 1920, 100 years after Joseph Smith received his “revelation,” began wondering which of the many christian churches to join. After much prayer he received a revelation from God who told him that all the religious denominations (including Mormonism) were believing in incorrect doctrines and that he was to await further instructions from on high.
I then tell the missionaries that In a later revelation John Smith received, emblazoned on metal slabs, further inspired works from the Heavenly messenger Doroni that would, essentially, add to the Bible. This religion is called Dormonism and John Smith is the prophet which restored the purity of the Gospel.
I tell them that the book of Dormon (like the book of Mormon) contains a promise that whoever reads it sincerely, ponders its contents and asks God if it is true will receive that knowledge by the power of the Holy Ghost.
The conversation usually follows like this:
You: “Now, as I said, this was just a thought experiment, but suppose I was serious, tell me, would you take this book and read it prayerfully?”
You: “Why not?”
Mormon: “Well, this is obviously made up and the Mormonism isn’t.
You: Okay, yes it’s made up, but that’s the nature of a thought experiment; pretend I’m serious. Why wouldn’t you take these books home and read them?
Mormon: Because I think it’s false. Because, I know that Mormonism is true and therefore this has to be false.
You: Terrific! And now you understand the exact position I am in. You see, I’m not interested in reading the book of Mormon because I have already accepted the truth of the Catholic faith, therefore I know that Mormonism, since it conflicts with Catholicism, cannot be true. So unless you can give me a really good reason to abandon my faith, I’m not interested in hearing you out. You see, Jesus Christ established a Church. He said of that Church that the gates of Hell would not prevail against it (Mt 16:18). He said to the leaders of that Church, “he who hears you hears me” (Lk 10:16). Since I believe that Jesus Christ is sinless I know that he was not lying and I know that the gates of Hell have not prevailed against the Church he founded—the Catholic Church.
Now (I’m talking to you now), I’m not pretending that the Mormon won’t have a rejoinder to this. He’ll likely go into what they call the great apostasy, which, he’ll say, can be demonstrated from Scripture (it can’t).
I want to reiterate my high esteem for those within the church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day saints (their official title). Their efforts to evangelize; their strong family values, and the support they offer one another as a community is commendable. We as Catholics can and should learn a lot from them.
If you have Mormon friends or family, love them. Don’t take cheap shots. Don’t misrepresent their views. Study what it is they believe and then be gentle in sharing the fullness of what they may have caught a glimmer of in their own faith; Jesus Christ.
For other tactics and techniques, see Mormon Stumpers