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Loving Mormons Well

Loving Mormons Well

Steele Croswhite
  • When Mormons take a step into our Evangelical Christian world they find awesome music about Jesus. And the Truth is that most Mormons love it!
Loving Mormons | Image if a large church

Though publicly, in recent years, The Mormons/ Ladder Day Saints prefer to be called: “The Church of Jesus Christ,” for the sake of this article, (as most still know them as “Mormon or LDS”) I will refer to them in this way as well. 

When people hear that we live in Utah, they usually think of “Mormons and Mountains.” Both of these assumptions would be true. We are blessed beyond measure when we can look out of our windows each day and see the unbelievable beauty of God’s creation. The mountains are indeed towering and majestic. Additionally, 66% of Utah’s population is comprised of men, women, and families who would say they are practicing Mormons (or Latter Day Saints — LDS).

Utah Is Highly Religious

This means that the state of Utah, although highly religious, is comprised of less than 3% Evangelical Christians. In fact, Utah is the least Evangelical state in the entire country. Less than 3% of Utah’s population would consider themselves “Born Again Christians” or consider the Bible as the infallible Word of God. And more than half of the state would not have what we would consider a biblical understanding of Jesus Christ, His death on the cross, grace, salvation, the Trinity, and sanctification. Because of this, as pastors and musicians in ministry, we see Utah as one of the greatest mission fields in the country.

Though not necessarily an expert on LDS culture, I was born and raised in Utah and would love to clarify some things about living with our Mormon friends and neighbors.

Commonalities Between Mormons and Christians

First, Mormons are incredibly sweet, caring, hardworking, devoted, family-oriented, and spiritually minded people. In many ways, culturally and civically, there are tremendous commonalities between a conservative, born-again Christian and a Latter Day Saint. Born-again Christians are also spiritually minded, lovers of good, and they also seek to walk in the fruit of what we would call our sanctification.

There are, however, many significant differences in our faiths, the greatest being our understanding of Jesus and the Gospel of Grace. That being said, as we’ve traveled outside of our state or country over the years, we have found that many people view Mormons in the same way we might have a view of an old fairy tale or odd, extreme cult. What comes to many people’s minds are things like polygamy or the funny underwear Mormons are supposed to wear to be “holy.” Most Christians know that Mormons knock on doors, come in pairs, and seem generally nice. But they don’t know exactly how to have Gospel-centric conversations with them.

Additionally, whenever you meet a Mormon, please remember they are not “out to get you” or “convince you to be a polygamist.” Most Mormons disagree with the fundamental extreme LDS view of polygamy and, like Christians, are eager to share their faith.

Loving Mormons To The True Gospel

Now that I have dispelled some misconceptions about the Mormons, let’s look at a few ways that we (Bible-believing Christians) might love Mormons one step closer to the true Gospel. Rather than explaining the vast difference between our faiths (because they are many), it is most important to know that a highly works-based system is at the root of the Mormon faith. As a general statement, the LDS believe in Christ’s “atonement” but do not see His atonement on the cross as complete and undeserved.

Along with Christ’s sacrifice on the cross must come “practices” of faith that “show” their dedication to God. Though hardly exhaustive, these practices may include missions, baptism, marriage in the temple, wearing garments, and tithing. Often, when a Mormon sins, they must confess their sin to a bishop. He will then ask them to abstain from “sacrament” or partaking in Mormon practices such as being able to go on a mission.

So, as a Bible-believing Christian, rather than pointing out every flaw and contradiction found within the Book of Mormon or highlighting every obscurity in their faith, focus your conversation on Jesus. Though Mormons hold the Book of Mormon as their highest authority (over the Bible), they are eager to talk about Jesus. They will look at the Bible with you.

Focus your conversation on the words, actions, and life of Jesus. Remember, they are dear people, loved by God, caught in a web of legalism. The undeserved grace found in Jesus is like water to their soul. However, for some, it’s too good to be true. You and I know it’s true, and that’s wonderful. Just talking about Jesus builds a true bridge for conversation and relationship. And speaking of relationships, when you engage with a Mormon, consider the “long game” as opposed to having a quick, argumentative debate.

Pastoring In Utah

Being pastors in Utah has helped us realize that there is much fruit in long-term relationships. Week in and week out, within our church’s walls, there are dozens (if not hundreds) of Mormons looking for something more real than a religious system.

From their early ages, many Latter-Day Saints have felt misunderstood by “evangelicals.” As born-again believers, if our starting point of conversation with them is antagonistic, it will not be fruitful. In many ways, they expect us to attack them and are prepared to combat faith differences. However, to be invited into a relationship with a Bible-believing Christian and be invited to your church is a bridge for authentic love and conversation.

In this, please know (and this is very important) that as you come to know your Mormon friend, neighbor, or co-worker, you must acknowledge that you have different views regarding your faith. Over the years, we have found many a Latter Day Saint to say something along these lines: “We are all doing the same thing, trying to love God and do good in the world. We’re basically the same.” Again, in social good, we have many similarities. But, as believers, we must acknowledge that we are different in many of our core beliefs. It is absolutely okay and necessary to mention this. It’s essential because we must defend the Truth. It is also necessary because it gives us (as Christians) an opportunity to talk about grace, forgiveness, heaven, hell, and Jesus Christ as fully God and fully man. It is not offensive to disagree well while holding onto Truth. We like to call this form of engagement “convicted civility.”

Many times, I find myself simply responding to a statement of Mormons and born-again Christians being the “same” with something like,

“You know, we are similar in some of our views on social issues, but we have a very different understanding about Jesus and the Gospel of Grace. But we can still be friends and have great conversations about Jesus.”

Brothers and sisters, by God’s amazing grace, being in Utah with a simple approach like this has transformed countless former Mormons into Bible-believing Christians. It has been a miracle to watch Jesus save people time and time again.

Christian Music and Mormons

Another practical approach is to share your Christian music with your Mormon friends. The LDS faith does not have contemporary or indie Christian music as a part of their church culture. Mormons typically do not write worship music or poetry. Most of their music is considered “reverent” and is mainly instrumental or choir-based. When Mormons take a step into our Evangelical Christian world they find awesome music about Jesus. And the Truth is that most Mormons love it! As musicians, we often write and release our own music within our church walls.

Additionally, we host a variety of concerts in our church for awesome Christian bands and touring acts. Every time we release music or host these shows, Mormons attend. What they find is unbelievable joy and contagious Christianity. All of this helps our LDS friends and neighbors take one step closer to Jesus Christ.

As you share your favorite Christian music and art with your Mormon friends, this builds a relational bridge and foundational Truth to bounce off of for your conversations about Jesus and what it means to be “born-again.” The Lord will speak through you as you are winsome in your tone and as you pray for your unbelieving friend.

Brothers and sisters in Jesus much could be written and taught about our differences between our two faiths. All that to say, our truest heart in sharing our small insights within this article is to challenge us all as believers to remember that whether it’s an atheist, a secularist, a humanist, an agnostic, or a Mormon – lost is still lost.

Jesus came to seek and save the lost.

To articulate fruitful conversations with a lost person can be tremendously difficult to navigate. When it comes to your Mormon friends, however, this is most likely not the case. They don’t want to argue with you. They want to be invited to the banquet table. Stand up for Truth and teach them about who the Jesus of the Bible is. Invite them to come and understand your “born-again” world. Share your music, and share how Jesus’ radical grace changed you. Show them the passion of Jesus found within the message of the biblical Gospel. The Lord may be working in their life. The Lord may be using you!

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