We spent a lot of time on the idea of praying about the Book of Mormon. I tried to really impress upon them the reality that people can talk themselves into all sorts of stuff. The people in Jonestown who drank the Kool-Aid, the followers of David Koresh, the 9/11 hijackers all sincerely believed and had convinced themselves that what they were doing was the right thing. It is little different from mormonism. Mormonism at its heart is based on a “testimony” of the book of mormon that stems from praying to be given a revelation that it is true. It then becomes a linear A-B-C, if the BoM is true, then Joseph Smith was a prophet and the church he founded is what he said it was, the “priesthood” is restored and therefore Thomas Monson is a prophet. All of this stands over and above what the Bible teaches. All of it transcends evidence to the contrary that shows the Book of Mormon to be a fabrication, the product of Joseph Smith’s imagination. There is faith and there is blind faith and mormonism falls into that. The young men who were in our home last night are captive to the same manipulation that has been used for over 150 years by mormonism to draw people into a false belief system. By clever marketing, selective misrepresentation of the Scriptures, religious language and genuinely polite, likeable and nice young men as their representatives, mormonism creates a product people want to buy and like a good salesman mormonism manipulates people into modifying their desire to belong to what seems at first blush like a great thing into feelings of “faith” bolstered by their testimony and that of others. Little wonder that so many talks in mormonism focus on the mormon church being the “true church” and the monthly testimony meetings where you are to inundated with others telling you and encouraging you to publically intone the words “I want to bear my testimony that I know this church is true, that Joseph Smith is a prophet and Thomas Monson is a prophet”. When you have a preconceived outcome and a sincere desire for whatever reason to reach that outcome bolstered by the support of people you like, it is pretty easy to manipulate yourself into an experience. A couple of other things I brought up were people who fall in love and feel all warm and fuzzy, only to break up a few months later and also that they were raised as mormons with the tacit understanding that the BoM was true and that they would be missionaries. That sort of familial pressure can create all sorts of feelings (which is true of many “Christian” kids as well). I have often wondered if they reason the mormon church sends these men out so young is that they are still heavily influenced by their family upbringing and easier to control and manipulate than a more mature adult might be.
We also spent some time on the nature of God. As I mentioned, one of the members who came with the missionaries gave us a copy of Gospel Principles, so we were able to ask about our “heavenly parents” and that this implies a “Heavenly Mother”. We were able to talk a bit about who Christ is, His nature and who He is, and why the Bible teaches that what mormonism believes about Christ is heretical (without using those words). I tried to emphasize that Jesus cannot be who He said He was in the Bible and also be a created being who is the brother of Lucifer and our elder brother, different in age but not in nature.
One new tactic they tried was to get us to preemptively commit to being baptized as mormons and working our way toward that goal even though we clearly had no interest in doing so. Kind of determines the outcome and t hen working toward it. It is kind of clever, it puts pressure on you to get a “burning in the bosom” as you get closer to your date. I think it would be a great sales pitch for a lot of products, decide at the beginning on the closing date of the sale and then work on your pitch. What we did instead was tell them that we would do so if they would similarly agree to be baptized on the same date as Christians. We would search the Scriptures for a month together, pray together and at the end of that time either we would be baptized as mormons or they would be baptized as Christians. That really threw them off. They were kind of stunned for a second. That is when we got into the conversation that either we are wrong or they are wrong but that we cannot both be right. I get the sense that the “commit to be baptized” thing was their big gun and when that didn’t work I was afraid they weren’t coming back. They did commit with no qualms to come again next week, we might have a new missionary after the change date on Monday. Please pray for these lost young men and all of the missionaries around the world who have been manipulated and deceived into earnestly and sincerely preaching a false gospel to the lost of the world.