Six Reasons Why Mormons Are Beating Baptists (In Church Growth)

Our churches face a demographic crisis.

Young people are leaving, even the Southern Baptist Convention is starting to lose members, and when you drill down even deeper — comparing church attendance with population growth — the picture grows even more bleak.  Simply put, when America’s fastest-growing religious segment is “nonreligious,” we have a problem.  The Barna Group (the gold standard in evangelical research) recently compiled the results of a number of national studies and published a list of six reasons why young evangelicals leave the church: the church is overprotective, their experience of Christianity is shallow, churches seem antagonistic to science, the church’s approach to sexuality is judgmental and simplistic, they wrestle with the exclusivity of Christianity, and the church feels unfriendly to those who doubt.

Those answers are unsurprising — unsurprising because those are exactly the answers one would give leaving the kinds of churches that dominate modern evangelicalism — churches that combine nominally traditional doctrine with shallow commitment, rampant divorce and extramarital sex — all against a backdrop of extreme cultural hostility.  In other words, we’re about 95% like the surrounding culture and hated for the 5% deviation.

But one of the top four churches not only shows consistent growth, but growth continues year by year and decade by decade.  Mormons, living in the same country and culture that Baptists do, just keep growing their church. Why?  I propose six reasons:

1.  Mormons have bigger families. This is the easiest and simplest explanation.  But it’s far from the entire story.  In fact, if family size were determinative, then every church in America would be growing at a rate that exceeded general population growth.  After all, the birth rate of religious families generally exceeds that of nonreligious families, and — all other things being equal — while Mormons would grow slightly faster, we would all grow.  Instead, church after church shrinks or remains basically steady in spite of the higher birth rate.  Mormons start with a bigger baseline family, but then they tend to hold on to their kids while evangelicals often do not.

2.  Mormons have lower divorce rates.  While regular church-goers divorce less than secular couples, Mormon marrying Mormons have the lowest divorce rate of any major religious group.  It goes without saying that families that stay together tend to pray together (or is that the other way around?)  There are few things more demoralizing to a young Christian than seeing his Christian parents destroy their own marriage and destroy their own kids’ childhoods in a blaze of selfishness, lust, and pride.

3. Mormons evangelize.  Who hasn’t met a Mormon missionary?  My wife used to debate them at the doorstep, but ever since we launched Evangelicals for Mitt, made many new Mormon friends, and began to experience a constant flow of vile hate from a small but dedicated anti-Mormon fringe, we now welcome them into our home, offer them rides in the rain, and generally get to know young people who experience a very, very different young adult rite of passage than your typical evangelical.  A Mormon mission is a sacrifice — a deep sacrifice — especially compared to the lives of evangelical youth.  So not only does evangelism win converts, it also strengthens the faith of the evangelist.

4. Mormons are orthodox.  What?  No self-respecting evangelical can call Mormons “orthodox,” right?  Well, of course they’re not “orthodox” in the “Apostles’ Creed, no books but the Old and New Testament” sense, but they are orthodox within their own faith tradition.  In other words, members of a Mormon church tend to know and believe their faith.  Go to a Baptist church (or my own Presbyterian church) and you’ll find very wide divergence.  Nationally, 84 million people self-report as evangelicals, but of that number only 19 million actually have orthodox evangelical beliefs.  In other words, the evangelical church does a pathetic job in transmitting even the most basic Romper Room-simple elements of the Christian faith from generation to generation.

5. Mormon leaders ask a lot of their members.  As our circle of Mormon friends grows and grows, I’m always amazed at the level of their church involvement compared to evangelicals.  From giving, to service, to teaching, to raw number of hours in the church building, Mormons are simply doing more.  To some evangelical critics, you’d think we lose members or grow less because we’re so demanding, but compared to the Mormon experience, an evangelical church is a carnival ride of short services, low accountability, and zero church discipline (look in your pews at the number of divorced members and ask yourself how many have faced actual church discipline for non-scriptural divorces; I’d bet the number is near zero).  If you’re a faithful Mormon, you’re not living a 95% secular life like so many evangelicals.  A Mormon is truly countercultural.

6.  Mormons are less selfish.  Add up points one through five, and you get to the sum.  Evangelicals have forgotten the fundamental paradox of scripture — you won’t gain your life until you lose your life.  We ask our kids to lose just a little life to gain . . . what, exactly?  If Christianity isn’t worth losing everything, is it worth only losing some things?  And if it’s not worth losing everything, why is it worth losing anything?  Mormons remember the biblical equation.  Evangelicals forget it.  Mormons prosper.  Evangelicals falter.  Big families, intact families, years-long missions, faithfulness to church teaching (rather than believing than you can customize your own theology), and a lifetime of service add up to a sustainable, Christ-honoring counterculture.  By contrast our small family, increasingly-divorced, mission-free, theologically diverse, and consumer-oriented church will prove to be ashes and dust — unable to resist a culture that relentlessly demonizes even the small remaining differences between evangelicals and atheists.

As a Calvinist member of the Presbyterian Church in America, I’ve got my theological differences with the LDS church, but if we evangelicals don’t learn from our Mormon friends, then we’re foolish.  Our churches will not grow by conforming, by shedding the last remaining distinctions between Christians and the secular world.  That route is well-traveled by the imploding mainline denominations.  Instead of asking less of our families and youth, let’s ask more.  Instead of giving less, let’s give more.  Instead of believing we’re unique theological snowflakes capable of discerning truth on our own, let’s teach church doctrine early and well.  And let’s not be afraid of church discipline.

What are the core lessons for the church?  Conform and die.  Resist and live.

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  • Kerry

    Wow as a very conservative baptist. I have to say my respect for the Mormons went way up ! Evangelicals in this country could learn a lot from Mormons and we should follow those 6 points a lot more. Thanks for sharing !

  • Jody

    Excellent article. I thoroughly enjoyed it….

    • DAVE

      Let the truth be known, I don’t trust those numbers because they are not real. The mormon faith is in a great apostacy. Watch the news in SLC. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DjBwt4R9BRQ.

      • Ryan

        ha ha Surprise surprise everyone, “anti-mormon guy” showed up. lol

      • Kay Stephens

        Sorry you feel that way and I am sure that there are a great many of us who have fallen away from regular attendance and regular involvement. Inculding most of my own family, brother, sisters and even children. I have not always done the best job, but just the same all of those people are still good American citizens and I still care for them a great deal.

      • Brother Joe

        I wasn’t aware there was a C in the word apostasy! Hmm imagine that you learn something new everyday!

      • http://storytellerartstudio.com Brent
  • Randy

    David, I have followed you guys for years. Thanks for the work you do. As a member of the LDS Church, I felt you painted a picture that was a bit too good, though flattering. We are losing too many of our youth as well. I would like to bring up a specific program in the LDS Church that really affected my life. During the teenage years, some of the hardest of life, the LDS Church asks even more of its youth. High school age youth are asked to participate in Seminary. This is a daily religious class that focuses on our standard works (Old Testament & Pearl Of Great Price, New Testament, Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenenants with Church History). In some areas this is just another class during the day (like some parts of Utah). For me it was Early Morning Seminary. For the four years of high school I was at a religious class from about 6 – 7 am. This is a tremendous way to start each day, and a great way to navigate the challenging teen years overall. Not only did it increase my knowledge and understanding of the Gospel of Christ and my testimony of the LDS Church, but it helped me behave by anticipating having to arise early in the morning.

    • Lance in TX

      Randy,
      I am a convert to the LDS church (converted in my mid-20′s after a failed marriage and finding an incredible LDS woman!) and I wish I had grown up with Seminary as part of my daily life in High School. Our two youngest children (now 15 and 17) have attended early morning Seminary (6:00AM-7:00AM) and it has done an incredible job in helping them in their daily lives. My daughter (the 17 year old) has completed all 4 years (she started when she was 13 instead of 14 due to a technically about her being in High School already) and will be attending Institute this next school year (for those that are not LDS, Institute is the Religious study classes for students in College and beyond) as she has already completed her first year of College. She is looking forward to Institute to get deeper into the Old Testament, New Testament, Book of Mormon, D&C, and Pearl of Great Price. Our son, (the 15 year old) is working on his third year (he started at 13 also) this comming school year and has gotten sooooooooo much out of it.

      My life would have been in much better control during High School if I had been LDS and in Seminary. I did a lot of things in High School that I would not have done if I had been LDS.

    • LindaSDF

      I, too, must weigh in on the importance of Seminary. My boys both graduated from seminary, but my daughter only finished one year. That was my fault. After time, I just decided it wasn’t worth the hassle of trying to get her up, ready, and all the other difficulties of school schedules, etc.
      Now, my boys, while not totally active, still retain their firm testimonies of the Church, and the Book of Mormon, etc., while my daughter is not sure what she believes. This is one of the few times I wish I could have a do-over.

      • toothfairy

        This atheist was on Seminary Council. ;)

        • marci

          Cool…… ?
          :-/

      • Beverly

        Agree with you on the do-over comment.
        My hubby and I converted about a year after our marriage, were active LDS for six years, and fell away when our daughter was a baby. We didn’t want to have to follow all those rules (sigh), so we didn’t set foot in an LDS chapel for 15 years. In the meantime, we had our son and raised both kids as best we could. By the time we came back to church, our daughter was 16 and definitely not interested in coming with us. Our son, however, jumped in with both feet (after a few weeks) and is now (after 3 years) actively preparing for seminary and his mission. Daughter is okay, no serious problems and a great young lady, but living with her boyfriend and has zero knowledge of God — our fault. We blew it. Our son is our “d0-over” and he doesn’t mind one bit.

        We know for a fact that in going to church regularly, doing acts of service for others, and praying and reading scriptures daily has changed our family for the good. We are happier and our marriage is stronger and more loving.

        Bottom line: You have to work for something to truly appreciate it, and this includes a spirit-filled life as well.

      • Connie

        Me tooo! Do over’s would be helpful. I have three daughters and only one went every morning to seminary and now she is married in the temple and very active. The other two…not so much.

  • http://moboy.blogpsot.com Mark LDS Rock Music

    It’s interesting to hear about your own faith experience from an outside perspective. I served my mission, went through seminary as a teenager, and married in the temple. Thanks for this additional viewpoint.

    I do wish there were less doctrinal wrangling, less “we vs you”, and more interaction in the faiths. We can be different from each other with more respect. Thanks for showing that.

    • Lance in TX

      Mark, I agree about the “we vs you”… We all believe Christ is our Saviour and the ONLY way to return to our Heavenly Father. (I am LDS also)

  • http://www.unseasonably.blogspot.com Jill

    Thanks for such a great article! I’m LDS (Mormon) and I love when there are loving fellow Christians out there who can join us in friendship and understanding! You rock!

  • Laura

    I just want to thank you for acknowledging the deep sacrifice that people make to serve missions in our Church. (While the majority of missioniaries are young adults, we have lots of older couples who serve missions as well). And I’d like to say, I think we have lots to learn from eachother. Having grown up as an evangelical and then converting to Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints as an adult, I can see the distinctions very clearly. Some I love, some not so much. I think Evangelicals have a way of praying for one another on a personal level that is something to be emulated by everyone. Just wanted to share. Thanks for your thoughts.

    • David French

      Thanks Laura. Honestly, evangelical youth have absolutely no parallel to the sacrifice of the Mormon missions experience. For them, “radical faith” means something quite mild by Mormon standards.

  • http://coryhuff.com cory huff

    Thanks for this David. I’m an active Mormon and have a great love and respect for my fellow Christians. We do great work when we come together and pursue the admonition of Christ to love and serve our fellow men.

    Joseph Smith, our first prophet, taught that any religion that doesn’t require the sacrifice of all lacks the power to bring men to salvation. The early prophets of the Bible gave everything – we need to be willing to do the same for our fellow men and for God.

  • http://www.mormon.org Jake Davies

    I enjoyed your article and absolutely agree with your last line. God expects us to conform to Him, not the other way around. “A religion that does not require the sacrifice of all things never has power sufficient to produce the faith necessary unto life and salvation.” – Joseph Smith
    Those of the LDS faith (Mormons) are not looking to strip any of their beliefs, rather add to them. If any wish to learn more, they may do so by visiting Mormon.org, and even chat live with representatives, asking any questions they may have about this article or other topics.

  • Charlene Holzhouser

    And as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints ( Mormon) May I add one more reason, quoting from our “Articles of Faith” “We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how , where, or what they may. 11th Article of Faith. When a person, or people try to force their views on others, it FEELS WRONG. We believe we were born into this life, to learn, by faith, to follow God’s example of conduct and beliefs willingly, not by force or coercion . So to belittle, shun, or otherwise mistreat others for their heartfelt beliefs, would be entirely against our own teachings.

  • Sara

    Beautifully stated. I have deep respect for anyone who makes their religion a lifestyle and not just a Sunday morning activity.

  • howard H

    actually the mormon church is “growing” for a few reasons. They have 50,000 people at all time whose mission ( no pun intended ) in life, is to add members. second, the church is desperate to make the numbers look high. they dont remove names of folks that resign, are inactive, or dont have a confirmed death until they are 120 years old. Second, they push people into baptism, regardless of if they are ready or not, which is why the retention rate is so low.
    simply put, the mormon church is only growing in the sense that they juice the numbers, and devote exponentially more resources than any other church into a missionary force. despite that, groups like the adventists are growing faster, so not sure why you are patting yourself on the back.

    • David French

      The Adventists start from a much lower number baseline, so higher growth percentages are easier to obtain. Yet they are also growing for many of the same reasons of group cohesion, high levels of doctrinal and time commitment, etc.

      Also, I think you’re quite wrong in your description of Mormon record-keeping. They’re known as among the most meticulous of the Christian churches.

      • Chris Pinson

        “of the Christian churches”?

        Agree with most of what you’ve written here, David, but please tell me this was a goof. Anyone can put “Jesus Christ” in their name. Doesn’t make them Christian. Please don’t let your political commitments lead you into serious doctrinal error. Mormonism is NOT Christianity. You have said as much, correctly, in the past as you cautioned others about throwing around the word “cult.”

        • DBW

          Chris, I’d invite you to read what the LDS Church actually believes about Christ, and then tell them that they are not Christian: http://mormon.org/jesus-christ/?gclid=CP2z1bDHkrECFSZntgodWQPLeA

          Yes, the Church does not follow the Coucil of Nicea, but that would make them Niceans, not Christians.

        • Jonathan

          Chris,
          I do not understand how and why you do not think that Mormons are not Christians? What evidences do you have to support your claim? I do not understand? Our main belief is that we believe in God the Father and Jesus Christ. We do not worship Joseph Smith. I am not trying to start an argument. I really do want to know your perspective and why you believe what you believe.
          I can say that through the Articles of Faith, our first article acknowledges that we believe in Jesus Christ
          1 We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.
          3 We believe that through the aAtonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.
          4 We believe that the first principles and aordinances of the Gospel are: first, Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; second, Repentance; third,Baptism by eimmersion for the remission of sins; fourth, Laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost.

        • Steve Kelly

          Mormons or members of the Church of JESUS CHRIST of Latter Day Saints are biblical Christians. Evangelicals are Nicean Christians. The church in the 3rd and 4th century allowed the Doctrine to be diluted or adulterated through their credes and councils largely derived from the Greek philosophies

      • Holldoll

        This is a very interesting piece. It actually speaks to something else I read this week by a Mormon author on Patheos : http://www.patheos.com/Mormon/Why-Mormons-Good-Neighbors-Larry-Wilson-07-02-2012.html

    • Laura

      @ Howard: Just for the record ( no pun intended) Part of my husband’s voluntary service is keeping track of the Membership records of our Church. I serve as a Ward Missionary. If someone asks for their records to be removed, they are removed. We do not keep their info to boost our numbers. That would be extremely dishonest. If a person inexplicably stops coming to Church, we would never, ever take it upon ourselves to remove their names from our records for them. To do so would be very judgmental, in my opinion. A person is still a member of our Church even if they are not coming every Sunday or stop coming for years at a time. I have been blessed with the opportunity to fellowship people whose names are on our records, who have not come to Church for years and are now attending regularly and enjoying the blessings of the gospel. To remove their records would imply that they are not welcome to return some day. We try to follow Jesus’ s parable of seeking out the Lost Sheep. That’s it. I know people want to believe there is some ulterior motive, but there really isn’t. We just love the Lord and want to share His goodness. Hope you have a great day.

      • Steven

        My mother was a Lutheran all of her life. She was a member of a congregation all of her life UNTIL someone at that church decided that since she had not attended for XX number of years that she was no longer a member of that congregation.

        Never set foot in the Lutheran church again except for her funeral.

        Sad, sad, sad

        • Lance in TX

          The LDS Church does not remove an inactive person’s name from the roles unless they request it. All they have to do is call the Bishop in his area or send a letter to Church Headquarters in Salt Lake City.

          It is not OUR decision to remove a name. It is the PERSON’s decision. Afterall, that person is the one that has to decide what they want to do and how they feel about the Church. Maybe they cannot attend for a long period due to work.. Or whatever…

          It is sad that happened to your mother. They should not have made that decision for her.

        • Amy

          I was raised Lutheran as well only b/c my folks came from the former Czechoslovakia and the only church in the village was Lutheran. Due to Communism, religion skipped a generation but to the point of what you mentioned… My Father is the President of the Lutheran Church in our town & shortly after I was baptized LDS he said I am no longer Lutheran & my name would be removed from their roster. I said, Dad… if a man goes to college for Engineering and graduates he’s a certified Engineer. If he chooses to return to college to become a doctor & graduates, he is a Doctor yet he is also still an Engineer. A part of me will always remain Lutheran but I have been blessed with a deeper understanding of Christianity that expounds on what I was taught already. I just came from a visit the he Bible Belt South in SC & GA. There are thousands of churches that claim to be Christian. No doubt there are some truths in what they preach/teach with good intentions. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is the restored Gospel and after church hopping & doctrine studying of many denominations… I found the church with the MOST TRUTH. Read the Book of Mormon and ask God yourself if it is not true, then you’ll know. Proud of my introduction to Christianity by way of Lutheranism… even prouder of my membership to be Mormon. I spread what I know not for brownie points but b/c I love the truth and the peace it has given me. Everyone will get it, if not while living then after death the learning continues… but will you be open minded more then than you are now?

    • Poqui

      @Howard H. – As an active member of the LDS Church and leader of a local unit let me share my experiences:
      Here are the latest statistics (as of December 31, 2011):
      Total Membership 14,441,346
      New Children of Record during 2011 119,917
      Converts Baptized during 2011 281,312

      Members are not removed from the records of the Church until they request to do so in writing.

      Less-active members (or inactive as you call them) are not removed from the records because they are still willing to identify themselves with the church and do not want their names removed. Activity rates vary from the high 80% to the low 20% depending on how mature the church is in the area. The more mature the church, the higher the activity rate. There are no worldwide activity statistics released by the Church but generally 40% activity is accepted by many as a number close to reality.

      Members that pass away are immediately removed from the records of the Church. If a member is not active he is contacted monthly by his home teachers and they would be able to find out if he has died or not and proceed to remove his name from the records if he has indeed passed away. The only exception to this rule is when a person hides from the Church and moves without giving a forwarding address (which always makes me wonder why they don’t remove their names from the Church). Those records are kept at headquarters until it can be safely assumed that the person has passed away (120 years is an exaggeration, last I heard it was 90 years old).

      Your second statement that Mormons “push people into baptism, regardless if they are ready or not” is to be taken into perspective. In order to be baptized into the LDS Church you must first receive the basic missionary lessons from the LDS missionaries (these are very basic lessons about the LDS theology and these boys who serve on missions are far from being theologians). After receiving the lessons the person must attend the local church unit and express a desire to join the Church. At this point they are interviewed by an ecclesiastical authority to determine if the person is willing to join the Church of their own intent and volition and to see determine if they are prepared for this step in their lives. Only after this has taken place will a person be allowed to join the Church. At that point they are assigned home teachers who will help with the transition by teaching the New Member lessons to the converts. They are “taken by the hand” for the first year of membership and taught the doctrines deeper. When this transition fails to take place, the convert sometimes drifts away and there is an effort to return them to the flock that continues until they die or leave the Church.

      The amount of resources the Church spends on missionary work is only what the Lord required of His Apostles when He ascended to heaven. The Great Commission requires us to do all in our power to spread the word of God to “every nation, kindred, tongue, and people.”

      I hope this helps to clarify some of your misunderstandings.

    • Don Ormsby

      Howard, your assertions are completely false. Those who resign from the church DO have their records removed. Baptism is not done without a firm commitment to the principles of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and a thorough interview to determine a person’s willingness and desire to become a church member. And a question: If the church does not have a confirmed death date, how else can the know whether a person is, indeed, deceased? You may be better served going to the source of information about the LDS Church at http://www.mormon.org

    • Luke Bingham

      Howard H. — As other commenters have indicated, the LDS membership numbers are not faked. However, I would agree that there are many people on the rolls of the Church who do not take an active role in the life of the Church. This is probably true of all churches. I grew up in a Methodist Church that had 4,000 members on its rolls, but the total attendance on the average Sunday was no more than 1500 then. Based on my admittedly infrequent recent visits, attendance at the worship services is probably less than 700 now. Personally, I would like to pare down the LDS membership rolls by eliminating some of the inactives, as that would reduce the burden on the active members to visit the inactives. For better or worse, though, in most cases when you ask them for permission to cancel their membership, they won’t agree to it. For example, I have been visiting one lady on and off since 1990. Since her husband died, she has attended church services less than once a year. Nevertheless, in her mind she is a Mormon and will never give that up. Another man stayed away from church for the better part of 20 years. After his wife died, I suggested that it was time for him to come back. To my surprise, he agreed. He has been fully active ever since (about 8 years). He never rejected the teaching of the Church even though there was a long period when he did not completely live up to its standards.

      Turning to this issue of new converts, I would agree that we have a problem retaining some in full activity. This is what the Savior predicted when he said that the Word was like seed scattered by a sower. Some of the seed falls in stony ground; the hearers accept it initially, but do not have deep enough spiritual roots to withstand a drought, and they wither away. Yet the Scriptures do not demand that we withhold baptism for years while the person proves and reproves his worthiness. On the contrary, the example of the Ethiopian eunuch teaches that when someone has repented and wants to make that commitment to Christ, you should not try to erect obstructions.

    • Jane

      @ howard H The reason I am a member of this church is because I am grateful for the hope and happiness that I get from it. I want to learn better how to follow my Savior, to come unto him, and to trust him, and overall just to become a better person. All of those things are life long for me, and I do not have it figured out yet. But it is not just about me, I want to treat those around me with much more kindness and be of help when and where I can. The reason I gave 18 months of my life to serve a mission for this church was not for numbers, forcing, deceiving, or tricking anyone. I went to present a message that has given me so much happiness and hope. My purpose was to INVITE people to come unto Christ, to help them know who they are, and that life has so much more purpose, hope, and happiness than they can imagine. I did not want to force or push anyone into anything they did not agree to or choose themselves. People didn’t want to listen to me all the time, and that was okay. I didn’t attack them for it. I only taught those who showed a genuine interest and were searching and yearning for something, and invited me back. They were searching for that same hope that drives me day to day.

    • Raymond Takashi Swenson

      Just so it is clear, each Sunday when we gather in the worship service with our families, the prayers at the beginning and end of the meeting are offered “in the name of Jesus Christ.” Each talk or sermon ends with a statement by the speaker that it was offered “in the name of Jesus Christ.” The speakers teach about the gospel of Jesus Christ. The hymns sung are about Jesus Christ. In particular, there is a hymn that focuses on the death and redeeming sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, followed by the ordinance of the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper (communion). A prayer is offered by a priest which ask God the Eternal Father to bless and sanctify the broken bread so that all the members of the congregation will eat it as they remember Christ, and promise to taken upon themselves the name of Christ, and obey the commandments of Christ.

      After the worship service, we adjourn to Sunday School for adults and children where we study the scriptures, including the Old and New Testaments, and learn about the life of Christ, not only as the mortal Son of God born of Mary, but also the pre-mortal Jehovah and Creator, and the ascending resurrected God who promised to return to the earth in glory.

      For members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Jesus is not just a name, he is the living Son of God who, we believe, directs the Church through revelation to his living apostles, just as he did during the First Century. We call ourselves Christians because, every Sunday, we solemnly promise Jesus we will not only call ourselves Christians but also live as Christians.

    • TimShawSr

      @Howard H…. I would like to respond to your post if I may. When Jesus said, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” We take this command very seriously, as we do all of Our Lord’s commands. So, whatever sinister spin you were implying on our having 50,000 missionaries around the world, keeping the Lord’s command, is unfounded. As to your other points. Of course, I can only speak of my personal experience, and I believe it is not uncommon. I served a mission in Australia. I never baptized anyone unless they were sure that was what they wanted. I would never baptize anyone unless I was certain they had been given a personal witness from the Lord that they were following His will, and had received a personal testimony directly from Him of the truth of what I had taught them. I NEVER talked anyone into anything. As missionaries we were continually taught by our church leaders we were simply teachers, and that the Holy Ghost was the testifier of the truthfulness of what we taught. We encouraged prayer and study to receive their own spiritual witness. After my mission and I served in my local ward I spent many hours fellowshipping and welcoming into the ward newly baptized members so that they felt included in the body of Christ. Each family is visited monthly by a home-teacher (or personal minister) to enquirer regarding their welfare and encourage continued spiritual growth. If people stopped coming to church they were shown an increase of love and support. But, all people retain their freedom of choice to addend the church or not. My own brother decided to leave the church and wrote a letter to church headquarters requesting his name be removed from the records. I know this was done.

    • Evan Maughan

      The LDS church has no program that I know of to “inflate the numbers”. Recorded keeping in the church is not just done for clerical purposes but it is a commandment. As such, fudging the numbers is not a consideration.

  • http://fwcon.wordpress.com/ Jonathan Gardner

    As a Mormon, this article pretty much describes why I am a Mormon and why the people around me are Mormon. I consider all who try to put God first in their lives as brothers in this counter-culture we are a part of, regardless of denomination.

  • Michael

    Great and thoughtful article, David. I don’t envy you the hate mail you get over not indulging secular spats. I am encouraged by the increasing (but still very small) numbers of committed people of faith who see that in the face of a terribly corrosive degradation of American culture, people of faith need to stand together to face the true enemy rather than turn our guns on each other.

  • Noel

    I think you have to consider the fact that there is a huge difference between the census records of many countries of membership and the numbers the LDS church says it has. In Europe the church growth is slow. While LDS missionaries spend two years in an area, Evangelical missionaries may stay ten years. See Cumorah.Com for data on LDS numbers

    • David French

      In Europe if there is any church growth at all, that’s good. Sadly Europe is becoming a post-Chrsitian continent. I know some Christian missionaries who’ve labored years to see two or three converts.

    • http://patheos.com/blogs/faithpromotingrumor aliquis

      Although I, as a Mormon, admire and envy the mainstream Christian missionary commitment to labor for decades in one area, the experience is not comparable to one of a two-year Mormon mission. Mormon missionaries are not allowed to date, go to movies, attend commercial sporting events, watch TV, go swimming, ride on privately-owned watercraft, travel outside of their assigned area, listen to unapproved music, read unapproved books or do anything else that might make life bearable for missionaries in other denominations all in an effort to concentrate on community service and evangelism. Heck, they aren’t even allowed to call home more than twice a year (on Christmas and Mothers’ Day). They aren’t allowed to even visit except in case of a family death or serious illness, and even then, unless the missionary’s health is in danger, most choose to stay. That kind of lifestyle might be difficult to maintain for 10 years. It’s definitely difficult to maintain for two.

      That said, I must admit there historically have been Christian missionaries from more orthodox denominations whose total immersion in their communities for decades of their life is the very essence of Christ’s service. Good on them, and may we all learn from their dedicated examples.

      • Ovala T.

        One other difference between mainstream Christian missionaries and Mormon missionaries is that all Mormon missionaries pay their own way. They receive no salary as opposed to their counterparts on other faiths. In that sense, the Mormon missionaries sacrifices may be a bit more defined I think. I am a child of parents who converted to Mormonism from another Protestant faith and like hundreds of thousands of others, I too went on a mission and I just want to say that if I was paid to go and serve instead of paying for it myself, I probably would’ve stayed and served 10 yrs or more too. But that’s not the way the Mormon faith operates. We adhere strictly to the Lord’s admonition that the gospel must be without charge, “…freely ye have received, freely give.”

        • John L

          You’re correct, Ovala. A Mormon mission is absolute slavery. Having to PAY to go out an pimp a lie is even more proof it’s a mendacious cult. Thanks for pointing that out!

          • Lance in TX

            John,
            A LDS Mission is not “absolute slavery”. It is spreading the Gospel as Christ tells all Christians to do.
            As for your “pimp a lie” comment.. I think Christ will determine who is Christian and one of His followers and who is not. It is not your place to determine that. It is not your place to decide on someone else’s salvation.
            Are you ready to cast the first stone against the LDS Church and all of its members? If you are, I hope you have complete knowledge from Christ Himself for you will be judged, by Christ, for the stones you cast.

    • Raymond Takashi Swenson

      Just so we are clear, when a Mormon missionary completes his or her 18 or 24 months of service, he or she is replaced with another missionary serving in the same nation or state. The two different approaches correspond to the basic fact that most Mormon church service is done as unpaid volunteers, so the two year period distributes the burden of time and money among a larger portion of the church membership, just as all the positions in a local Mormon congregation are filled by unpaid part time workers, including the bishop of “pastor”, who support their families through ordinary employment, from farming to public school teaching to architecture to business to lawyering to medicine to military officers.

      The experience of serving as a missionary gets spread around, so that some 45% of Mormon men and 10% of Mormon women have served full time missions. That experience prepares them for volunteer service in their home congregations, and it also has given Mormons a much higher than average familiarity with many foreign countries and languages. You can go visit a Mormon congregation out in a rural area and find people who speak Japanese or Tagalog or Mandarin.

      In countries where an American needs to learn a new language, living there for a long time can be very helpful. When I was a missionary in Japan, I met Protestant missionaries who told me that they weren’t expected to try to proselyte until they had studied Japanese for three years. The Protestant missionaries were generally impressed by our relative fluency developed on the job (after an initial intensive language course) in the couple of years we had.

      It was enough for me to get college credit by examination for two years of Japanese language study, and to qualify for interpeter pay when I was in the Air Force. I have known a number of my peers who went on to greater fluency as they returned to Japan to work in business, as academicians, and attorneys, like Mike Young, the president of the University of Washington, who established the Japanese Law program at Columbia University.

      The other aspect of Mormon voluntary leadership and missionaries that is important to understand is that, after people in Japan or any other country have been members of the Church for a year or two, they are expected to take on unpaid leadership responsibilities, just like in the US. In an established congregation in Nigeria, the leadership of the congregation is performed by local members, not by the missionaries. It is marvelous how men and women who have only been in the church a year can become capable leaders and teachers. The continuity in the congregation is carried out by the local members, not by the missionaries, who rotate in and out. Missionaries don’t need to be there for a decade to hold the congregation together.

    • ehwelch

      As a former LDS missionary in Germany for two years, I witnessed first hand how secular that society has really become. It is sad how the younger and new generations have put the pursuit of temporal material possessions over more eternal and spiritual pursuits. The real scary thing is I see this slowly happening over here in America. I hope all faith professing to believe in Christ can recognize this trend and help combat it! Excellent article!

  • Agkcrbs

    Well, if the conclusion is that LDS are detached from secular culture, the explanation is no mystery. It came through bloodshed. LDS were quite literally chased out of America and their leader assassinated, with no state promising refuge or rights. A confused, over-aggressive federal government even sent an army against them in Utah, once. It wasn’t LDS who necessarily wanted to be excised from what was a much more thoroughly Christian culture. And Jehovah’s Witnesses and our Adventist friends have comparable tales to tell, and even today bear the brunt of exclusion from not only secularists, but sectarians and their shrill cries of purity of the “Christian” label over poorly understood theological points.

    Look at what a blessng this unwanted chastening has been to institutional integrity and growth; now, an LDS candidate is poised to win the presidency. May this not be a Constantinian moment for LDS, since they view the old church as having completed its apostasy by losing apostolic guidance and later merging with the Roman state. But as French suggests, other Christians have a perfect opportunity now to plant themselves more firmly on the right side of the fence, on the wrong side of society — and these are stances on morality, marriage, and family. Even now we see Unitarians (unsurprisingly), Episcopalians, and others craving the idols of our modern age, and Presbyterians also flirting with the idea — and on a personal level, immorality haunts every church to some degree. At the same time, our Muslim associates, so often derided by some Christians out of the same fear that has always prompted religious persecution, are some of our strongest moral allies, if only we could comprehend it and try to harness their contribution. Thank God that amidst our decaying sense of humanity and crumbling social values, he is still drawing a very clear moral line in the world to pierce the fog of some of our pettier denominational strifes that have made believers the worst enemies of other believers. God is not most correctly understood through legalistic verbal definitions, though they’re not to be ignored; he’s best understood through behaviours.

  • David Knecht

    David:

    Outstanding overall analysis. I’ve seen similar assessments before. Your work at EFM is far from over. After Mitt becomes president in only four months, I think you should devote your time and talent to building Evangelical/LDS bridges. Because of your open mind and heart, your perspective and understanding will do much to reduce friction and draw these two sides closer. This world need that!!!

    Thank you, and keep up the great work!!

    • David French

      David, thanks for your thoughts. Nancy and I are thinking a great deal about what to do to continue to build our EFM community post-campaign. The relationships forged there are far too valued to cast aside with the end of a campaign.

    • Lance in TX

      I agree! The French’s have done an incredible job at spreading the work of Jesus Christ and the belief that we “should all work together”.

      I hope one day to meet them and shake their hands (let me know if you ever come to the Dallas area of Texas! My wife and I would be happy to take you out for a real Texas grown Steak!).

      I, as an LDS person, appreciate everything they have done and am saddened to hear about the hate mail and threats they get. Those are very Un-Christian behaviours from people that claim to be Christians.

      I am thankful that I found EFM back when it started and have seen the incredible efforts that they have put forth.

    • anne

      I agree !! Yes! Ditto to everything Lance and David Knecht have said. We can do so much good if we join hands.. After all, we want the same things and can move mountains if we focus and celebrate what we have in common. And, our country and the world need the good that people of all faith can do! Honestly, if I wasn’t a member of the LDS church, I would be turned off by religion these days. I am sickened by all of the Un-Christian like behavior,much of it directed at us (LDS) but others as well. The attitude of “all of you are going to hell” if you don’t believe exactly as I believe thing has to stop. It is no wonder that the numbers are down. So, really we need you to help build those bridges David.

  • http://www.restoredtruth.com Ben Tanner

    Fantastic Article. Just think what would happen to our country if more evangelicals practiced these 6 points. They would be an amazing force for good that our country desperately needs!

  • rex samples

    As a former LDS member, I’d like to say that they are not a christian church. they use christian termanology. you have to work for your salvation. it’s not by grace. If people did thier homework, they would think twice before joining.. Now, that said, they do a much better job showing love and respect than most Christian churches, which is sad. they make the propective memebers feel wanted and needed. and they do a great job following up on them. they have great organazational skills. I have a lot of respect for many of them that I know. BUT THEY ARE NOT BIBLE BASED . THIER GODS AND NOT EITHER..NOR WILL THEY BE WHEN THEY BECOME GODS THEMSELVES.

    • rex samples

      sorry for all the typos..lol

      • Lar

        Rex,
        During your time as an LDS member, you obviously missed the main concept of Mormonism… And that is the worship of Jesus Christ and the study of the Bible and the Book of Mormon. I read the Bible and Book of Mormon everyday. What I see in the Bible, and particularly the New Testament, is the organization of the Mormon Church. Mormonism is not 21st century Christianity. It is 1st century Christianity. I think that is a lot closer to Christ himself, wouldn’t you think? I don’t know how you can’t see that this is a Bible based church. Do try and read the Bible more often…

        Great article by the way. I see all Christians as my brothers and sisters… I wish that they could see me, as a Mormon, in the same light. We could accomplish so much if we work together!

        • Lar

          P.S. We are saved by the Grace of God, after all we can do. We can never be perfect, and that is where grace comes it. Christ fills in the gaps through his grace. However, he wants us to work hard and try our very best to be good people. We do believe in grace, but we also have to work hard to follow the commandments.

          I have a hard time believing that as soon as you accept Christ as your savior, you are automatically saved. Don’t you think he wants us to try and be like Him? And then His grace will save us?

          • DAVE

            Sorry Lar, that is not the belief of true Christians. there are over 184 scriptures that teach us that we are saved by Grace through faith, not of works. We are not justified by works only faith for our salvation. God does not want us to be like Him. He wants us to do His will and that is to believe on His Son. He wants us to love Him first and then others second. Those are His commandments. As Paul teaches we can not have Grace with Works for salvation, it doesn’t work. However the thing that makes us whole and connected with Him is Love. This is the fulfillment of the law.

          • Hannah Rebekah

            Lar,
            Obviously people like Dave over look the many verses in the Bible that talk about works and don’t understand the synergy of faith, grace and works through the guidance of the Holy Spirit in transforming our lives so that we can be like Christ. Here are just two :

            2Cor.11
            [15] Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.

            Rev.20
            [12] And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.
            [13] And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.

          • Matt

            Hanna, don’t forget these ones:

            Matt. 5: 48: “Be ye therefore perfect even as your father in heaven is perfect.”

            1 Tim. 4:12: “be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.”

            Of course we can only be saved by grace! We have, indeed, all gone astray. But there is simply no book in the Bible where we aren’t admonished to live as He taught us to live.

            Moreover, to David’s point: what is the point of going to church or doing anything “christian” if a profession of faith is all that is required? Regardless of the denomination you belong to, surely a Christian recognizes that the Kingdom of God simply cannot be built on faith unaccompanied by works. Indeed it is the fuel of good works, in the end, that keeps the fires of faith burning.

          • Thomas

            I appreciate the article. It is insightful and well written. I have been thinking about the saved by grace alone doctrine lately and would like clarification on the following please:
            1- If there is nothing we can do to be saved, why must we accept Christ as our personal Savior? Isn’t this itself an action /work?
            2- If acceptance in Christ is the only requirement why aren’t Mormons saved? Is it because they understand Christ differently?
            3- If my assumption in #2 is correct wouldn’t this mean that another requirement is to gain an understanding of who Christ is? Isn’t this another action/work?
            4- If all this is correct wouldn’t another requirement be to get rid of false preconceptions of who Christ is?
            5- Could we in fact say that mainstream Christianity and Mormonism both have required works for salvation by grace? (Mormonism just has more)

            I have wondered this for a while. Thanks for clarification.

          • hillplus

            Lar, I want you to google “His Grace is Sufficient” by Brad Wilcox. He is a member of the Sunday School board and a professor at BYU. Not understanding Grace is a problem for some in the LDS church IMO. This is the core of the gospel. I am adding a link that may or may not work.

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yLXr9it_pbY

      • Meagan

        Hi Rex. As a Mormon, I just want to say that I totally respect your feelings about the central importance of salvation by grace, and I agree that at times it can seem as if Mormons don’t believe it. Indeed, some of them may not, though it’s doctrine; I personally resisted the idea for a long time, not because I doubted Christ, but because I couldn’t see why God would fill his scriptures with so many commandments if works were not essential to salvation. How I’ve come to reconcile the truth of salvation by grace with the divine mandate of works is this: God gives us commandments, not because our effort, in whole or in part, can save us, but because that effort helps us appreciate the magnitude of His sacrifice and His love. It isn’t just a clean slate God wants to give us; He wants to change our very hearts. And while I still believe salvation is a process and not an event, it helps me to understand grace simply as God’s love for us, unconditional and overwhelming: He is anxious to extend that love to you, and no amount of prodigal misbehavior is going to stop Him embracing you wholeheartedly when you finally decide to return. There’s a hymn we sing, “Rock of Ages”, that sums up salvation by grace for me: “Not the labors of my hands/ Can fill all Thy laws’ demands./ Could my zeal no respite know,/ Could my tears forever flow,/ All for sin could not atone./ Thou must save, and Thou alone.”
        Cheers,
        Meagan

        • Colan

          Meagan, those are not the actual original words of “Rock of Ages”. Actually the original verse written by Augustus Toplady say this “Could my tears forever flow/ could my zeal no languor know/ These for sin could not atone/ Thou must save and Thou alone/ In my hands no price I bring/ simply to Thy cross I cling.” You can probably see why the Mormon church adjusted the wording to better fit their theology of grace plus works. I find this tendency (they have done the same with other classic evangelical songs) to be intellectually dishonest.

      • Wendell

        Rex, please accept this in the spirit it is intended. I would like to have you point out for all to see, any verse of biblical scripture regarding Jesus Christ that a Mormon would not agree with. As a lifelong member of the Church it does get a bit wearisome having other Christians tell me my faith is not Biblical when I agree with absolutely every verse in the Bible regarding Jesus Christ, including his divinity. So, if you could, please cite some references from the Bible regarding Jesus Christ which a Mormon would not believe.

        • DAVE

          Wendell, if you can truly understand the book of Galatians and know it, I believe it’s absolutely impossible to be a Mormon. No one is justified by works, only faith. Works do not save us. In your faith, it’s about the works that matter whether you’ll make it to the highest kingdom isn’t that right?

          • Lance in TX

            In the LDS faith, the works prove the faith. Just like Baptism proves you want to follow Christ and become like him. Remember, Christ stated you must be baptized. That is a work, is it not? You must treat others with Love, that is a work is it not? You must show charity, that is a work is it not? You must live the 10 commandments, this is a work is it not?
            You must also read James. James states that Faith without works is DEAD. Or do you toss out James completely?
            We do not believe we can “earn” our way into heaven. We believe the ONLY way back is through Jesus Christ, but we are to do all we can to live as He told us to.

            Do you remember the poem of the footsteps in the sand? That is how we believe it is. We do all we can and walk with Christ and then in the end, Christ does the rest because we cannot.

            Footsteps In The Sand

            One night a man had a dream.
            He dreamed he was walking along the beach with the LORD.
            Across the sky flashed scenes from his life.
            For each scene, he noticed two sets of footprints in the sand:
            one belonging to him, and the other to the LORD.

            When the last scene of his life flashed before him
            he looked back, at the footprints in the sand.
            He noticed that many times along the path of his life
            there was only one set of footprints.
            He also noticed that it happened at the very lowest and saddest times of his life.

            This really bothered him and he questioned the LORD about it:
            “LORD, you said that once I decided to follow you,
            you’d walk with me all the way.
            But I have noticed that during the most troublesome times in my life
            there is only one set of footprints.
            I don’t understand why when I needed you most you would leave me.”

            The LORD replied:
            “My son, My precious child, I love you and I would never leave you,
            During your times of trial and suffering,
            when you see only one set of footprints, it was then that I carried you.”

            Author unknown

          • Jonathan

            Dave,
            In James 2:14-20, This scripture specifically addresses having faith is not enough. You must have faith and works. They work together.
            “14 What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, 16 And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled ; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? 17 Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone . 18 Yea, a man may say , Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. 19 Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe , and tremble . 20 But wilt thou know , O vain man, that faith without works is dead?” I hope this helps

    • Alma

      Rex, my intent here is not to start a theological debate, but I just can’t let these inaccuracies stand. I would like to simply set the record straight. First, The Church of JESUS CHRIST of Latter-day Saints is of course Christian, in that we believe in, worship, and depend on His grace for our salvation. If there is some other requirement for defining Christian, such as belief in the Nicene Council’s definition of God, then we agree with you. We do not believe in that understanding of who Christ is. So by that definition, you are right, and we are not Christian. However, if a belief in and worship of Christ is what a Christian is, then we definitely are Christian. Next, we are totally reliant on grace for our salvation. By ourselves we are not worthy to return to God and enter His presence. We totally rely on the Atonement of Jesus Christ to cleanse us of sin and make us worthy for that. So we are saved by grace, not by works alone. That being said, how do you show your desire to be saved? Words are empty; actions speak so much louder than words. Of course, God knows the intent of our hearts, so He should be able to see past our actions, but if our intent is to return to Him, then won’t our actions reflect that? Won’t it count for something if we are willing to behave like we want to return, instead of simply stating it? So works do matter. We try to show our faith by our works (see James chapter 2). Third, I’m not quite sure what you mean by “Bible based,” but the Bible is one of our standard works, a canon of scripture that we could no sooner do without than any other Christian church. We use the King James Version of the Bible, and while there are several differences between it and other versions in use today, the KJV is still accepted as scripture, I believe. And I’m sorry, but I have tried several times to understand what you intended on that last sentence, and I can’t figure it out. So no response to that.

    • John Toewater

      Rex, I feel sorry for you. Did you customarily sleep through sacrament services? Did you attend any sunday school classes at all? If your answer to these is yes, it is no wonder you now consider yourself an ex LDS : you never really had any idea what it was about, brother ! I joined when in my 30s, I read Church books for years before baptism, and NOBODY can ever convince me that this Church is not the one and only true church of Jesus Christ

      • gina

        John – I did the same as you only I read all about the Catholic Church and discovered it to to be the true Church. Your Church was no where to be found 2,000 years ago. No on can ever convince me that the Catholic Church is not the one true Church.

    • Lance in TX

      Rex,

      We are saved by Grace after all we can do to follow Him and His teachings. Grace and works are required. Works do NOT replace the Grace of God in our salvation. Go read James. You cannot read only John and ignore James.

      Every child growing up as LDS knows this. It is taught in ALL of our lessons. If you missed the fact that we are saved by the Grace of God then you were not listening.

      • DAVE

        And that Lance shows your misunderstanding of why Christ came, if you believe that, than as Galatians teaches you can’t make it into His kingdom. Romans teaches that you can not intermingle them, but Mormons do. This is sad.
        Romans 11:6
        And if by grace, then it is no longer of works; otherwise grace is no longer grace. But if it is of works, it is no longer grace; otherwise work is no longer work.
        2 Timothy 1:9
        who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began, Titus 3:4 But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, 5 not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, 6 whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

        • Lance in TX

          I guess you completely missed James.. Right?
          You must have BOTH.. First is Faith… You then prove your faith through works. Without faith you are not saved. Without works (proof of faith), you are not saved.

          Please state how you can discredit and toss out James?

          James 2:
          14 What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?

          15 If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food,

          16 And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?

          17 Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.

          18 Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.

          19 Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.

          20 But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?

          21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?

          22 Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?

          23 And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.

          24 Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.

          25 Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way?

          26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.

          • Matt

            In my opinion, the problem I see with Dave’s formulation is that faith is not static: just because you once have it, doesn’t mean you always have it. I also don’t think that faith is proven through good works. I rather believe that it is the doing of good works, the taking up of the cross, if you will, that invites the Holy Spirit into our lives, and it is the Holy Spirit that builds and sustains our faith Jesus’s ability to save.

            That is why, as Mr. French alludes to above, it is precisely when Christianity ceases to ask it children to do hard things and to actually be different from the world that we lose them to the world.

            That is how I read both Paul and James and, much more importantly, Jesus himself.

    • Roxane

      As an LDS member, I believe that we are truly and completely saved by grace. Works and grace are simply complementary principles. I love the way that Brad Wilcox explained this concept at a BYU devotional last year. You can view it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yLXr9it_pbY&feature=share

    • TimShawSr

      @Rex, my Rex, how my heart aches, How could you not read the New Testament and the Book of Mormon (Another Testament of Jesus Christ) AND not come away with an overwhelming sense of the need of the GRACE of Jesus Christ in our salvation. We all agree the Grace of Christ is a central theme of the New Testament, so let me just say a few words about the Book of Mormon and it’s teachings about grace. “Nevertheless, the Lord God showeth us our weakness that we may know that it is by his grace, and his great condescensions unto the children of men, that we have power to [find redemption] Jacob 4:7 There is the entire sermon of King Benjamin (Mosiah 2-5) which is the most profound sermon on the nothingness of man without the grace of Jesus Christ in written language. Then Alma’s description of his being saved by the grace of Christ in Alma 36, very similar to Paul’s conversion. I could write pages, no a whole book, well it has already been written, The Book of Mormon. The entire book has one theme, Salvation comes through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ.

      I suppose your posting hit a nerve with me, because I have been LDS my entire life, but at a certain point found myself in the darkest pit of hell because of sin. No amount of “good works” could get me out. I turned to the teaches I had been taught my entire life, and had taught myself, and studied all the scriptures I have mentioned. They all pointed to only one way out, and that was a total surrender of my heart to the grace and power of the Lord Jesus, and to call upon his mercy, grace and plead for the power of his atonement to be applied in my life. It didn’t happen over night. But it came, and boy it did come. Today, I am full of joy over flowing, I can hardly speak his name without tearing up. My heart is bursting with gratitude continually. I feel my life mission is simply to spread His love.

      It just pains my heart to hear you say that we don’t teach the grace of Christ in the church Rex. I don’t know what scriptures you were reading, what general conference you were watching, what lessons you were listening to, but that is all I have heard. And, it has literally saved my life. Glory be to the Father and the Son forever.

    • mark I. Ward

      Rex, We have always been a bible believing and Christ adoring Church. We also teach about Grace within the Church, and it is in the Book of Mormon too! “Remember, after ye are reconciled unto God, that it is only in and through the grace of God that ye are saved” (2 Ne. 10:24). We are told to “rely alone upon the merits of Christ who was the author and finisher of [our] faith” (Mni 6:4) We basically teach that we are saved by grace and works, because Christ told us to be doers of the word, not hearers only. Even Benjamin teaches that we must rely upon the grace of Christ. But you must have been away every time the subject came up? Even Moroni’s invitation to come unto Christ and to be perfected in him, is a comment on relying upon Christ’s grace. I have never believed that anyone can save themselves by their works. For without Christ we cannot be saved, no matter what one does. Yet we are also called in Philippians to work out our salvation with fear and trembling. That denotes to me that grace and works are two sides of the same coin. One shows his saved condition by living the commandments, and when we obey, grace is granted unto us.
      We are Christians, we believe in Jesus Christ and recognize him as Lord and Savior, and that in a personalized way. I accept and teach Christ. I use the Bible, as well as the Book of Mormon to preach of Jesus Christ, and there has been only one Person identified as The Christ, so I am not preqaching another Christ.

  • Alma

    I think many Christians feel strong enough about their beliefs that they would die for them. It’s much harder to live for those convictions. Thanks for the perspective.

  • GoodGuyGary

    Good article, David. My question is, when will you and Nancy get baptised to be LDS?? I want to challenge you like the missonaries will do.

    • Tracy Hall Jr

      Gary, if we baptized all our friends, we wouldn’t have any friends left! Another Presbyterian friend, Thomas L. Kane, for whom Kane County, Utah, was named, comes to mind. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_L._Kane

  • Mark Evansa

    Very good points! As a Southern Baptist, I can’t recall a Southern Baptist (that I didn’t know) knocking on my door. For a while in my last town I was apparently on both the LDS and Jehovaah’s Witness prospect lists. I’ve known for years that they simply outwork us. You raise some additional points as to why they grow as they do.
    Another thing, I’ll bet not many of their ministers go into the ministry simply because it’s a family tradition or some other non-spiritual reason. I’ve had friends who went to Protestant semenaries who met fellow students who not only had no personal calling, but probably no personal relationship with Christ. While I seriously wonder whether our LDS friends actually have a saving relationship with Christ ( I pray most of them do.), I’ll bet those of them going into the ministry do so because they think they feel a real calling, not because ” all the (last name) men go into the ministry.”

    • Bridges of Peace

      @Mark Evansa — you can rest assured that the Mormon leaders are “called to the work.” None of the leaders are paid — it’s a laymen ministry. (Meaning, the leaders have to financially support them and their families through other means via personal careers — thus none of them are motivated out of financial reasons). This is a service. That is why David mentions that the members sacrifice a lot. It is a true sacrifice. Members do not seek out gaining a position and nor is it through a bloodline. (Mormon roles are not passed on from father to son, like you seem to think). They believe that God and Jesus Christ chooses the leadership in the church, these are called “callings.” (The Lord calls the prophet who is inspired t0 call apostles, etc.) And most of these callings (bishops, stake president, etc.), only last a few years — the positions are changing frequently so people have the opporunity to serve and to avoid pride, etc. It’s not uncommon for a bishop to be “released” from a calling and be asked to serve as a Boy Scout Leader, Primary teacher (for little children), etc. The callings are extended to the individuals and they could accept or turn it down, if they accept it they are “set apart” and given a blessing to assist them in their roles. Leaders of the Mormon church, don’t go through training or seminaries so many of the leaders are from very humble circumstances and rely on the spirit and faith they hold in Jesus Christ and God. Every member of the church is to have a calling. (Again, I must emphasize, individuals do not request positions, expect positions or prepare by going through special schools to “earn the right” to minister — unlike most churches. All the ministries are called through the Lord and not personal motivations.).

    • Julie

      Mark, I appreciate your comments, but I have one clarification for you. All leadership in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is lay ministry. This means there was no special training and no one receives a salary for their service. All church service is conducted by callings being extended for specific service (teacher, organist, Bishop, etc). Members respond with voluntary service until they are released from that calling and given another. Missionaries go out for 2 years at their own expense, thus making it a sacrifice of money as well as time and service to their fellowmen.

    • McKay Judd

      Mark, I am LDS and would like to clarify how Mormon’s enter the ministry. I believe when you are referring to entering the ministry, you mean lead a church congregation. If this is the case, no Mormons do this of their own accord. Instead it is a lay ministry, with a local congegrational leader, known as a Bishop leading the congregation (known as a ward). Wards are based on geography so that there will be between 300-600 members total attending worship services. One man from this group of members is called as Bishop, to be the spiritual leader of the Ward. He is chosen by other leaders, who are also called by leaders. And so it is with all position’s in the church, from nursery leader to Sunday School teacher to Bishop – these “callings” we believe come from God through his servants. As for having a saving relationshipo with Christ, here is how I personally feel: Jesus Christ is my Savior and without him I am nothing. Because I am so grateful for all he has done for me, I am willing to serve however asked at church, but more importantly I try to live a life emulates His – by trying to love all unconditionally and obey His commandments.

      If you are referring to the missionaries you typically see on the street (young 20 year olds in white shirts and ties) – then those are also volunteer and viewed as callings. They do not choose where they will serve, they fund the missionary service themselves (or with help from their family) for a period of two years. Hope that helps clarify the differences and how those that serve in the church are called to the ministry.

      • Mark Evansa

        Bridges, Julie & McKay,
        I stand corrected on the seminary point…I had just assumed LSD pastors went through a similar process as other Protestant ministers…feeling a calling or urging to serve, seeking God’s will through much prayer and then going through X number of years of seminary training. (And, as I said, many Protestant ministers in recent years seem to be skipping the first two steps & heading straight to seminary!) Your way of doing it would certainly avoid some of the pratfalls other denominations face: the ‘family tradition’ of ministry I alluded to, as well as the big-church pastors who sometimes fall in love with the trappings of success and prestige.
        That’s why I don’t jump into the theological debates on this board with both feet; I’m not well-versed enough in LDS beliefs to make an intelligent argument!

        • Lance in TX

          Mark,

          There is nothing wrong about not knowing how we do things: that is why we are here to help! Let me explain a little about how we are organized… And there is “LDS Pastor” in a ward (what we call our congregations). This is kind of long and if you are not interested, just skip it. Ok?

          Everyone in the leadership of the Church is volunteer and not paid. There is no religious Seminary like other religions. Almost every young male receives the Priesthood starting at age 12. They receive the Aaronic Priesthood and have specific duties in the Church based on age up until they turn 18/19. At this age they will be interviewed again and if they are worthy will be given the Melchizedek Priesthood. This allows them to hold different offices in the Church but also requires additional things from them. Everyone getting the Priesthood has to be interviewed by the Bishop and approved by the entire ward through a show of hands. The Priesthood is then given to the person by the laying on of hands, as it was done in the Bible. Only the men of the Church can be given the Priesthood.

          Our congregations are called Wards. You are assigned to a Ward based on where you live. We don’t choose which ward we belong to. Our address does. There are a lot of reasons for this, but basically it is because of responsibility of the leadership in the ward. Multiple wards are collected into a Stake and multiple stakes are collected into an area.

          In a ward, there is a Bishopric. This consists of a Bishop, 1st Counselor, and 2nd Counselor. Above that there is the Stake Presidency that consists of a Stake President, 1st Counselor, and 2nd Counselor. The members of the ward do not choose the Bishop. The Bishop is called by the Stake Presidency after a lot of prayer. It has to be a unanimous decision between the three of them. The person that is called is asked with his wife present and they are asked to pray about it together and decide. This is a HUGE commitment that involves usually over 20 hours a week (sometimes over 30) and late night calls, weekends, week long trips during the summer, etc… All with NO pay. This is a 4-6 YEAR commitment. The Bishop is responsible for EVERY person in the ward area (members and non-members). If both his wife and he believe it is the right choice to accept the calling, then he would pray about who his councilors should be and they are called the same way. Once all three have accepted the calling the entire ward is asked if they sustain the calling and if ANYONE says no (by a show of hands), then it is put on hold until the issue is resolved. If everyone approves it, then the new Bishop is put in place.

          There is a similar process for the Stake Presidency, all the way up to the Prophet of the Church who is called from the 12 Apostles. All very orderly, and all by the power of prayer.
          I hope this helps a little bit… If you have any other questions, ask!

          • Jonesy

            Very well put! Thanks for this simple explanation of Mormon “clergy”.

        • mark I. Ward

          I appreciate your last comment, “That’s why I don’t jump into the theological debates on this board with both feet; I’m not well-versed enough in LDS beliefs to make an intelligent argument!” Most of our critics are not well -versed in LDS beliefs, but that does not stop them from commenting and revealing themselves as being uninformed. The President of the Church is selected by attrition. When the President dies, the next most senior apostle of the Quorum of the12 will take his place. This is the Apostle that was chosen before all the others. We as LDS know who is next in line to be President and so we don’t have trouble with succession. We don’t have anyone campaigning for the position either. All members have an opportunity to support the new President by a sustaining vote. If you have questions of our beliefs it would be best to get some background and to study what it is we actually believe before speaking against it. In some cases, what you have been told we believe, we actually don’t believe it. The Mormon community has its own traditions and like any foreign culture, one needs to come to understand what is real and what isn’t. The best way to discover the reality of our culture is to ask questions with an open mind. It is also best to check official LDS sites for information regarding the question. I have found that most questions have already been answered by Mormon apologetics.

  • http://www.truthXchange.com Mary Eady

    Thanks for this article — it’s a cringe-worthy read from an Evangelical’s perspective. I wonder if you could push a bit further into a certain statistic? “Nationally, 84 million people self-report as evangelicals, but of that number only 19 million actually have orthodox evangelical beliefs.” How do the stats compare between those 19 mil and the culture? And what are the “orthodox beliefs” that define that group? I’d really be interested to know if the 19 behave the same as the other 64.

    • David French

      Mary, great questions. I think I’ll answer them in a follow-up post.

      • http://www.truthXchange.com Mary Eady

        Great — I can’t wait. Would you please let me know when you do?

  • Josh

    Thanks for that article. It was excellent.

  • http://None J

    “By their Fruits, ye shall know them.” or as my friends in the dirty south would say “the proof is in the puddin’. “

  • zerinus

    Hi, and thank you for your article. While your observations are certainly relevant and complementary to Mormons, I don’t believe they provide a complete explanation for the steady growth of Mormonism in the United States. As an observant Mormon, I think I can point to a more direct explanation—and that is the Book of Mormon itself. Almost everyone who becomes a Mormon, or joins the LDS Church, does so after reading the Book of Mormon and gaining a spiritual witness of its truth. Everything else falls into place once that witness is obtained. Without obtaining that spiritual witness, I think I can safely say that no one ever joins the LDS Church. But with that witness obtained, joining the Church becomes a foregone conclusion. Any attempt to try to explain the Mormon conversion rate that ignores or bypasses the role of the Book of Mormon will fail to provide the required explanation.

    • Lance in TX

      Zerinus,
      This is why all of the non-denominational and SBC churches in the area I am in constantly tell their members to NEVER read the Book of Mormon. I have friends that left their non-denominational church because of how the pastor treated LDS members.
      They say “Don’t read the Book of Mormon, that is how they get you…”

  • Doug

    David, you have some fantastic points. Above all, God wants us to bridge gaps… become a family… expel hatred from our thoughts and interactions toward each other. This article proves we can learn from one another, despite our affiliations. Only understanding and respect will allow God into our lives.

    “Try to understand men. If you understand each other you will be kind to each other. Knowing a man well never leads to hate and almost always leads to love.”
    ― John Steinbeck

  • Norman Johnson

    As I read David’s 6 reasons I thought of an additional point. I think Mark Evansa approached the same idea I felt. I found, as my children were growing up, that those children who had spiritual experiences, and recognized them as spiritual experienced, went on to develop strong spiritual relationships with God. My personal life is similar. When I reflect over my recent past, when I can recall strong spiritual feeling and when I feel I have pleased God with my choices, then I feel successful. When I reflect and remember quarrels, arguments, contention, or when I feel I have done wrong or displeased God, I do not feel successful. Then I want to repent.
    So I conclude that a Church that wants to grow must teach its members God’s will, as God has given them the ability to recognize his will, and then “ the fellowship of Christ” must offer members encouragement as well as the chance to repent and renew themselves. The teaching is done weekly as we gather together to worship. The repentance renewal can be done each time we partake of the emblems of the sacrament, or if you are “Born Again” that renewal would be each time you feel God’s pleasure at your life and resolution. In each case, the church grows when individual members have the chance to honestly view their standing before God and then vow to continue on their course or repent.
    We may list lots of activities, programs, and functions. But programs and activities in a church are really only of value if each activity, over time, helps someone to build stronger relationships with God.
    Now there are other things which enable the Church of Christ to grow, or which cause the Church of Christ to shrink. Paul, Peter, John and others wrote eloquently in the New Testament as they strove to strengthen the Church of Christ. I think David’s 6 reasons about why the Mormon Church grows is a good list. I just add my point that churches grow when individual members grow personally closer to God. And building a relationship with God is something anyone can do.

  • pagansister

    There are 2 LDS members in my immediate family—my brother-in-law and one of his 2 children. My sister remained a Methodist, and the 2 children were brought up in both churches. One chose to be a Mormon and one chose to be a Methodist. Both my sister and her husband are very involved in each of their churches—-and they sometimes attend the other. They have been married for 32 years, which proves that mixed religions can get along. As to whether LDS is “Christian” or not depends on who you ask. All faiths have their own beliefs, (or myths) which is why there are so many religions in this wide world. I expect that there are many raised Mormons who leave the church, and I know their are those that marry outside the faith—like my brother-in-law. Though they are nice to my sister when she visits the Temple, it is made quite clear she they feel she won’t meet the trusty ” Heavenly Father” when she dies since she isn’t a member of THE church.

    • Tracy Hall Jr

      Dear “pagansister,”
      Anyone who judges your sister, that way, even if they are Mormon, does not understand Mormonism. The only truth in that statement is that nobody goes back into Heavenly Father’s presence immediately upon death: we all wait in the spirit world for the resurrection — and the final judgement. Until that day, we can still accept or reject the ordinances of salvation.

      When it comes to soteriology, Mormons are perhaps the most universalist of all religions. We take Jesus’ parable of the sheep and goats quite literally. “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto the least of these, my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” (Matthew 25:31-46) http://bit.ly/NgKXws.

      In his only only recorded sermon, ca 400 AD, the prophet Mormon declared, “But charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him.” (Moroni 7:47) http://bit.ly/NgKVVs.

      Our Heavenly Father has created a level playing field for the salvation of all his children, and all who love him and demonstrate that love through service to their fellow men in this life will be able, eventually, to return to his presence.

  • Kristy A

    Thank you for this great article. I think another reason the LDS church is growing is that they are steadfast in living what they believe, not conforming to the standards of the world (which are slipping lower on a daily basis). Keeping the commandments of God and living a Christ-centered life keeps us anchored in this world of shifting values.

  • Lance in TX

    Excellent article!

  • Wendell

    By this shall men know ye are my disciples, that ye have love one to another.
    - Jesus.

    Jesus could have written more creeds, but he loved us in deeds. He could have defined the Bible canon or he could have coined the term Trinity. These he did not do, but he did command us to love one another as he has loved us. If we would honor him, perhaps we should focus more on what he did say than what he could have said, but did not.

  • http://www.sovereignfellowship.com/ Christopher Hansen

    I am a struggling member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Oddly enough the reason for my struggles is because I follow the declared never changed political doctrine of the Church:

    Message from the First Presidency, Improvement Era, August 1936, p. 488.:
    Latter-day Saints cannot be true to their faith and lend aid, encouragement, or sympathy to false ideologies such as socialism and communism. The official Church position on communism remains unchanged since it was first promulgated in 1936: “We call upon all Church members completely to eschew Communism. The safety of our divinely inspired Constitutional government and the welfare of our Church imperatively demand that Communism shall have no place in America.”

    President David O. McKay, The Instructor, Feb. 1956, p.34: Next to being one in worshiping God, there is nothing in this world in which this Church should be more united than in upholding and defending the Constitution of the Unite States. If members of the Melchizedek Priesthood allow the U.S. Constitution to be destroyed, they not only forfeit their rights to the Priesthood, but to a place in this highest degree of glory as well.

    Men like Mitt Romney and Harry Reid and Orrin Hatch are Socialists and have worked to destroy the Constitution instead of saving it. The vast majority of American Mormons don’t know enough about the Constitution to even try to save it and most are practicing Socialists and don’t even know it. President Benson admitted this and said the Elders were under condemnation for their failure to eschew Socialism. Most Mormons practice at LEAST the 2nd, 5th and 10th Planks of the Communist Manifesto even though we LDS have been repeatedly commanded to “eschew Socialism.” Instead most Mormons embrace socialism on several levels. They repeated reject the teachings of the Book of mormon and the latter-day Prophets on the subject of Socialism and reject liberty

    Sadly Mormons are very much like the Israelites of old that demanded a king and rejected God. Mormons have demanded Socialism and rejected God and the prophets so much so that the Prophets STOPPED warning the members about their “awful situation.”

    I don’t believe the Church is true but I believe the gospel is ture. The Church is the people and they are no more true than the seduced Nephites in the days described in the Book of Helaman were true or the Jaredites were true in the days of Shiz or the Israelites were true in the days of Samuel or Hosea. I believe that the Book of Mormon is EXACTLY what is claims it is and that Joseph Smith was indeed a prophet, seer and revelator. I believe that President Monson holds all the keys and has been FORCED by the members REFUSING to eschew Socialism and Communism to harken to the Socialist voice of the people just like the Prophet Samuel was forced to do. 1 Samuel 8:7 And the Lord said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them.

    I weep that Mitt Romney is a Socialist and therefore unfaithful member of the Church. I pray he will eschew Socialism like a faithful member must. I doubt he will be any better than that Marxist Obama. What Benson declared would happen in 1965 in General Conference will soon be upon us no matter which Socialist is elected.

    Great article by the way. I really enjoyed it and the comments. Especially the one with the quote by Joseph Smith about needing to give up everything. Try living in the USA without practicing the 2nd plank of the Communist Manifesto because you believe the Prophets told the truth and to be faithful you MUST eschew Communism.

    • Wendell

      I too am troubled that our Society has drifted as far as it has toward Socialism. However, equating Mitt Romney with a Communist is plain extremism. I am sorry you don’t also take into account President Benson’s later more congenial manner, remembering only his earlier firebrand style. Even Jesus understood this is a marathon and not a sprint.

      • http://www.sovereignfellowship.com/ Christopher Hansen

        Our society has not drifted toward socialism. It started being pushed after the communist Manifesto was published in 1848. We got the 2nd Plank of the Communist Manifesto in the USA in 1862. We got Communist Plank #5 paper money in 1862 also. Have you read the goals of the Communists that was published in the Congressional record. Almost every one has been implemented. We are not drifting. We have arrived at a Socialist State.

        Romney has been a key supporter of the planks of the Communist Manifesto as Governor and as a candidate for Pres.

        Romney supports the 2nd plank of the Communist Manifesto and does not oppose the Social Security system that President Grant said was in direct opposition to the teaching of Brigham Young and Christ. Social Security is generational theft and 100% socialism. Do you know what Romney’s position is on Socialist Security? How can you imply that Romney is not lending aid, encouragement or sympathy to socialism on that one Socialist doctrine alone?

        Romney supported RomenyCare on Mass. a government. That is pure Socialism on a State level.

        Romney supports the Federal Reserve System which is the Fascist version of the 5th plank of the Communist Manifesto. Will you deny this?

        The Church’s official never changed position is that you cannot be faithful and lend aid, encouragement or sympathy to Socialism.

        President McKay never toned it down. Neither did Grant or J. Rueben Clark Jr.

        The Prophets after Samuel and after the people had told Samuel they demanded slavery and a king, toned it down so much they never talked about the evils of a monarchy again. That is what has happened in the Mormon Church in these latter-days. The people demanded to be voluntary slaves to Socialism and God has toned down His prophets on the subject.

        Why beat a dead horse?

        The Mormons have spoken. They chose socialism. The support of Romney is just proof of this eternal indictment against Mormons. They are like the Nephites that were seduced into the plans of Gadianton.

        History is repeating. The secret combinations are in the US judgment seats. You have two Socialists running against each other. You have no real choice. Be aware of your awful situation.

    • Lisle Crowley

      Christopher, how do you define socialism and communism? I’m pretty sure the LDS stand against socialism followed the original definition of socialism as the government owning the means of production. I can’t find examples of even Mr. Reid supporting that definition of socialism, and especially Hatch of Romney. If you study Gov. Romney you will he is a follower of Adam Smith and some J.M Keynes, but does not embrace any Marxist philosophy. If you want to claim he is not constitutional, let me point out that the Constitution, while giving some power to the federal government, for the most part limit’s the power of the federal government. But it does give power to states. So Romney care is constitutional since it was enacted in the state, while Obama care was enacted federally. They are not the same thing. Since the only power Romney has had, beside being a citizen, was governor, he didn’t have the power to do anything unconstitutional. You can split hairs about the last statement, but you get my meaning. Everything he did as a governor was allowed by the constitution. And he has always been a free market capitalist. Not a socialist.

      • LMA

        I think we should be tolerant of Christopher. His heart is in the right place, even if his judgments are not well formed.

  • Jonathan

    I would like to add a reason. ->Ephesians 4<- There are too many christian churches and they keep splitting
    4:4There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling;
    5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism

    How do you keep a church together?
    11- 16
    11 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, 13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; 14 that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, 15 but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ— 16 from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.

    By prophet, apostles, and leaders of the church, which is ONE body. God and Christ and the Holy Ghost are ONE.

  • Noel

    I cannot understand who people can join the LDS church, since it has so much intellectual baggage to deal with. Their scriptures the Book of Mormon and Book of Abraham have no historical value and were created in the 19th century. They practiced polygamy in secret while denying it publicly (It’s called lying for the Lord). They told you in the past that the practice was discontinued in 1890 however historians have now uncovered information that it was continued in Mexico and on the high seas. William Clayton in his diary asked Smith about marrying another one of the Partridge sisters. Smith’s response was that he had received a revelation that one could only marry two sisters from a family. Smith then asked Clayton if he would speak to the remaining sister for him. The more delves into the speeches and diaries of these early lds church leaders the more strange nuggets of information you find out about them and their foibles. Don’t take my word for it, do some solid research on these matters. It’s not a matter of bias, its the facts.

    • Lance in TX

      Noel,
      After 1890, no new polygamous marriages were performed. Those in Mexican and elsewhere were excommunicated, just as they are today. They called themselves LDS or Mormon, but they were not and are not. Currently those that still practice polygamy are usually members of the FLDS (Fundamentalist LDS Church) and are NOT members of the LDS Church.

      As for the “baggage” you talk about.. Polygamy was kept secret in the beginning because of the already high level of persecution that was going on against the LDS community. It was a matter of PROTECTION. Perhaps you cannot understand the level that the LDS were being persecuted by other “Christians” in the name of God.

      As for the “historical value” of the BoM and the Pearl of Great Price (where the Book of Abraham are)… They were translated in the 19th century, not created as you state. We take it on Faith that they were translated correctly. None of us were in the Americas at the time and we do not know the location where the BoM took place other than where the plates were found.

      Please take the time to look at some of these web sites.
      http://taleof2nations.blogspot.com/2008/08/announcement-of-discovery-gary-vey.html
      http://www.fairlds.org/authors/ash-michael/archaeological-evidence-and-the-book-of-mormon
      http://the-book-of-mormon.com/
      http://www.bookofmormononline.org/evidence.html

      If you read the Book of Mormon with the real intent to learn of its truth you will find out it is true.

      Please cite sources for the other statements you make about the early church leaders. Most of what I have seen people cite are written by anti-Mormon people that rely on documents that are proven to be false, but they still push the anti-Mormon writtings as if they are true.

      • John L

        That’s “fascinating” cherry-picking Lance, however, where are the Hebrew inscriptions along side these depictions of white (pure) and dark-skinned (cursed by god) people?

        Moroni, Joseph’s sock-puppet, supposedly wrote in Mormon 9: “33 And if our plates had been sufficiently large we should have written in Hebrew; but the Hebrew hath been altered by us also; and if we could have written in Hebrew, behold, ye would have had no imperfection in our record.”

        If there is a single fact to support Smith’s claims about the authenticity of the Book of Mormon, Hebrew should be found in ancient carvings throughout the Americas.

        And yet, there is none. Even the Los Lunas Decalogue stone was debunked by Nibley and then his debunking has been expunged from Mormon apologetics like the Maxwell Institute website. But even if this was an example of an authentic, ancient inscription, the Americas should have a surfeit of these writings all over the continent.

        Nothing.

    • LMA

      This “lying for the Lord” thing is a smear. Mr. French in his article speaks of all of the hatred directed at him for saying nice things about Mitt Romney or the Mormons, and this comment is just an example of it. There is a cadre of really hateful, nasty, vicious people out there who consider themselves “countercult” ministers. As I’ve reflected on it, that cadre truly has the characteristics of a cult in terms of the monomania it exhibits. They don’t try to be accurate, they don’t try to be fair, they don’t try to be loving (1 Cor. 13:1-3). They just want to attack. They just enjoy the hate. Mr. French has started to see a smidgen of it, and I expect that it sickens him as it does me.

  • Deg

    I admire the French’s commitment to bridge the differences between evangelicals and mormons. As long as we take the time to consider each others point of view, understand the doctrinal differences and then allow our conscience make an honest choice with regards to which is a better path to follow and reach Jesus Christ for ur salvation then I don’t think God will honestly care. God will judge ultimately by what you considered right and wrong… but we should be careful enough to not deceive ourselves, nor is it right to uninvitedly point it out in others.

  • Carlos Weinheimer

    Free thinkers liberate themselves from theocracy. Much more is required of Islamists that eventually lead them to violent acts.
    Are Mormons truly happy?
    Christians become desillusioned with broken promises.

  • Jeff Kiser

    I appreciate the content and context of the article. As a covert to The Church of Jesus Christ do Latter-day Saints (Mormons) I have often been made aware of the doctrinal differences by my earnest Evangelical friends of other Christian faiths. While their voices are at times strident, I know their hearts to be loving, even as we disagree on points of doctrine. The focus on some of the cultural aspects are a reflection of the implementation of doctrine that Mormons hold to be very important. Among these are evangelicalism, from it’s outset the Mormon church has always desired to teach others it’s beliefs, and it has continued to always seek more efficient and organized ways in which to share the spirit. To properly share doctrine, one must understand it, hence early morning seminary for all young men and women, this in turn leads to a much clearer sense of orthodoxy. With less confusion, clarity of the importance of charity, family, love of ones neighbors and sacrifice are more easily embraced. Many Mormons who engage in missions, or helping people move, or fulfilling callings, do not cosciously consider such acts as sacrifice so much as something that simply needs to be done, and something in which much joy will be found. Ask almost any missionary about their mission and they will tell you it was the hardest and best two years of their lives. Every opportunity to serve is an opportunity for joy.

  • Ryan Hawkins

    David – excellent (and very well thought out) article.

    I saw your post about you and Nancy wondering how to keep this group going once the election is over [and once Mitt is president :-) . ] Perhaps you’ve already thought of this, but if so – I’ll echo it: My suggestion is to keep doing what you’ve done best – attracting conservatives of faith. (Maybe even change the group name as such.)

    It is a great forum to keep us all briefed on political issues that are important to us…and I’m sure you would have a few volunteers willing to help keep it going. (I know I’d volunteer.)

  • Cynthia

    David, I am LDS and currently have a church job as an organist for a Presbyterian church in my area. I actually attend two services on Sunday.:) I really appreciated your article because I’ve been trying to articulate the differences in the way we worship. I love the Presbyterian congregation. They love their hymns and sing with gusto. I enjoy the pastors sermon every week as well and the people are very kind a welcoming. I do think you made very salient points. The future is in the younger generation. The LDS church emphasizes programs for the youth and we put so much of our time and energy into putting on wholesome activites that will keep them engaged and also learning to serve God and their fellowmen.

    I am so appreciative of your support for Mitt Romney. Some of the mistaken idea that every Mormon will vote for Mitt, which is not true, however for those of us who understand the religious liberty that is at stake in this election we can’t help but realize that our children’s futures really do depend on electing a POTUS who understands and values religious liberty in our nation.

    • http://www.sovereignfellowship.com/ Christopher Hansen

      I am LDS. I must ask: Why would you support a man that has repeatedly supported socialism and anti-Christ political values?

      Income tax is Communist. Romney support it. The Federal Reserve is Fascist and Romney supports it.

      The Social Security system is Socialist and against the teachings of Christ and Romney supports it.

      The bank bailout were Fascist and Romney supports it. Romney supports undeclared foreign wars too. And the PATRIOT ACT and many other Fascist laws that destroy the Constitution and liberty of individuals.

      Why would any faithful Latter-day Saint support such a traitor to the Constitution as Romney?

      And Obama is just as bad or worse. But voting for the lesser of twin evils is still evil.

      LDS are to eschew Socialists not support them.

      • Terry

        Christopher…your claim about being LDS has many holes in it. Read the Articles of Faith, and you will find out why LDS pay taxes and support whomever they choose for president of the United States. Then come back with a better argument.

        • http://www.sovereignfellowship.com/ Christopher Hansen

          By all means. Pay those voluntary taxes that support murder around the world. Pay for abortions and welfare. Pay for Socialism and the loss of religious liberty. It is YOUR choice to pay taxes you do not owe. Most unfaithful Mormons (about 99%) do.

          Elder Benson in General Conference “Not commanded in all things”
          “And others will he pacify, and lull them away into carnal security, and they will say: All is well in Zion; yea, Zion prospereth, all is well – and thus the devil cheateth their souls, and leadeth them away carefully down to hell.” (2 Nephi 28:21)
          I like that word “carefully.” In other words, don’t shake them, you might awake them. But the Book of Mormon warns us that when we should see these murderous conspiracies in our midst that we should awake to our awful situation. Now why should we awake if the Lord is going to take care of us anyway? Now let us suppose that it is too late to save freedom. It is still accounted unto us for righteousness’ sake to stand up and fight.

          You sound like most Mormons “pacified.” But then that is what Benson said would happen to most Mormons.

          I have read and memorized the 13 Articles of Faith. I did it for Primary while my dad was Bishop and my mother was the Ward organist. I was married in the Oakland Temple. I baptized my oldest son in Lake Tahoe. I had to get special permission from the bishop to do it. It was a family reunion. I raised my youngest son from the dead with a priesthood blessing in 1998 after a car accident. Is my claim of being LDS still full of holes?

          I have also read the statements by the prophets on Socialism and use them when I fight the government and its never ending Satanic “Counterfeit Religion” of Socialism. (A CLEAR violation of the First Amendment and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act by the way. Did you know that the RFRA was supported by the Church and that Elder Oaks testified before Congress in favor of its passage. Do you know how to use it? But of course you have never even read it…have you.

          I also ran for Governor of Nevada on the political party ticket that Joseph Smith prophesied would come to be when America was spending its strength in foreign wars. It is the Independent American Party. You probably don’t know about that prophesy. Most practicing Socialists that claim to be faithful members don’t take the time to really study the prophets and the Book of Mormon warnings about secret combinations.

          Naturally the “good Mormons” voted for a Jack Mormon adulterer drunk Republican named Jim Gibbons and elected that pervert. By their fruits ye shall know them.

          You see I did take the time to study and follow the teachings of the prophets on eschewing socialism. I have obtained exemptions from Socialist Security and have letters from the IRS that I am not required to file a return. I haven’t filed a Marxist Income tax 1040 return in over 34 years. By all means report me to the IRS if you feel I am violating the law. But then they already know I don’t file. After all they are the ones that told me I am not required to file, in writing, 17 years ago. I followed what the Prophets told LDS to do. “Eschew Socialism.” Too bad you have not taken the time to do the study the Gospel like I have and liberate yourself with the RFRA from Marxist laws and the Satan’s Counterfeit religion of Socialism. How many quotes would you like. 10? 15? 40?

          The Federal Income system is voluntary. If you don’t believe me just listen to Mormon Socialist U.S. Senator Reid from Nevada. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H6q0slMhDw8 The U.S. Supreme Court said it was voluntary too and so does the IRS. I have about 20 quotes from the IRS on that too. Naturally you were too busy reading the primary version of LDS Doctrine to find out what the Prophets warned about repeatedly. Most Mormons never get past the milk version of the gospel.

          Maybe these can give you a place to start the repentance process I know they helped me to follow the doctrine of the Church concerning Socialism.

          President Marion G. Romney, in the First Presidency Message in the September 1979 Ensign, wrote: “Communism is Satan’s counterfeit for the gospel plan, and … it is an avowed enemy of the God of the land. Communism is the greatest anti-Christ power in the world today and therefore the greatest menace not only to our peace but to our preservation as a free people. By the extent to which we tolerate it, accommodate ourselves to it, permit ourselves to be encircled by its tentacles and drawn to it, to that extent we forfeit the protection of the God of this land” (p. 5).

          Too bad you practice the 2nd plank of the Communist Manifesto and pay that voluntary tithing to the counterfeit religion of Satan. You must be so proud.

          Elder Marion G. Romney General Conference, April 1966: “And now in line with these remarks for three things I pray:
          “(1) That the Lord will somehow quicken our understanding of the differences between socialism and the United Order and give us a vivid awareness of the awful portent of those differences.
          “(2) That we will develop the understanding, the desire, and the courage born of the Spirit, to eschew socialism and to support and sustain, in the manner revealed and as interpreted by the Lord, those just and holy principles embodied in the Constitution of the United States for the protection of all flesh, in the exercise of their God-given agency.
          “(3) That through faithful observance of the principles of tithing, the fast, and the welfare program, we will prepare ourselves to redeem Zion and ultimately live the United Order.”

          Elder Ezra Taft Benson — General Conference, October 1961
          It is significant that 118 years ago this month the Prophet Joseph Smith, after attending lectures on socialism, made this official entry in church history: “I said I did not believe the doctrine.” (History of the Church, Vol. 6, p. 33.)
          No true Latter-day Saint and no true American can be a socialist or a communist or support programs leading in that direction. These evil philosophies are incompatible with Mormonism, the true gospel of Jesus Christ.

          Mitt Romney supports dozens of Socialist programs.

          David O. McKay, Conference Report, April 9, 1966, pp. 109-10.
          The position of this Church on the subject of Communism has never changed. We consider it the greatest satanical threat to peace, prosperity, and the spread of God’s work among men that exists on the face of the earth. The entire concept and philosophy of Communism is diametrically opposed to everything for which the Church stands—belief in Deity, belief in the dignity and eternal nature of man, and the application of the gospel to efforts for peace in the world. Communism is militantly atheistic and is committed to the destruction of faith wherever it may be found.
          The Russian Commissar of Education wrote: “We must hate Christians and Christianity. Even the best of them must be considered our worst enemies. Christian love is an obstacle to the development of the revolution. Down with love for one’s neighbor. What we want is hate. Only then shall we conquer the universe.”
          On the other hand, the gospel teaches the existence of God as our Eternal and Heavenly Father and declares: “. . . him only shalt thou serve.” (Matt. 4:10.)
          Communism debases the individual and makes him the enslaved tool of the state, to which he must look for sustenance and religion. Communism destroys man’s God-given free agency.

          But vote for Dear Socialist Romney and pay that voluntary IRS tithing to help murder Muslim women and children around the world– and thus the devil cheateth their souls, and leadeth them away carefully down to hell.” (2 Nephi 28:21)

  • Louise miner

    This article blessed my life. Thank you for your thoughtful insights.

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  • http://mormonandgay.wordpress.com mormonandgay

    What a wonderful article. Thank you! It is refreshing to hear people speaking truth about our religion because they took the time to ask and get to know some of the members of our church. There is so much misinformation and misunderstanding, simply because people do not take the time to learn from the “horse’s mouth.” Thank you again!

  • TElden

    Thank you for a complimentary article to my church. I want to say two things about the Baptists. I respect their strong commitment to their religion. When I moved to the South, I was pleased that I could attend a community festival and find the attendees singing Christian hymns without any embarassment. On the other hand, I was shocked when I learned that the Baptists (who were famous historically for insisting on baptism for adults as opposed to infants) are not consistent even in requiring baptism for adherents because each local congregation decides what is required for membership.

  • Abraham

    I enjoyed the article. I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. My children attended a Vacation Bible School at the local Baptist church last week – (and this week they are attending the one at the Methodist Church!). I also grew up in Arkansas, where the First Baptist church in town was the center of the small town’s social, political, economic, etc… life.

    While there may be some points of understanding of Christian doctrine where the SBC and I disagree, I was really impressed by the church that put on the VBS. There were three differences that jumped out at me.

    1. Everyone who I came into contact with at that church didn’t care what church people went to, they were solely focused on coming to Christ, and accepting his goodness. We as Mormons often combine the Church, and the Gospel too tightly – whereas the Baptists I ran into didn’t mention their organization one time. One teenager who gave a prayer even prayed that “everyone here can find a good church home”. I guess this can be seen as a plus and a minus, but it does help explain maybe why church growth with the Baptists is slow – they don’t even care about people joining with them, they just want them to “be saved” regardless of where they attend on Sundays.
    2. I saw the benefit, and felt a downside to having paid local clergy. In our church, no local people are paid…we even clean our own buildings…the Baptist congregation clearly had several paid staff…one of the speakers even referred to the Pastor as his co-worker….for some reason that was off-putting to me having grown up with no one getting paid for service. But, on the other hand, it was nice to see how well run everything was because you had people who did it for a living, who cared about what they were doing, and could carry on good practices from year to year. In our churches, often its like everything starts over every few months because someone new is assigned to run the youth organization, or be the compassionate service leader, or teach the Sunday School. Again, this can be seen as a strength (congregational involvement) but also a weakness (sometimes people don’t give their all).

  • Garrick

    David, I just want to say thank you for the article. Also want to say thank you for being kind to the missionaries in your area, having walked miles in the rain and heat myself its amazing what a quick ride in the car means to them. Thank you.

  • Raymond Takashi Swenson

    David, as I recall, the news report for SBC net membership last year was a net loss of 150,000, around 1% in one year. If current trends in the SBC and LDS churches continue over the next 20 years, the number of LDS in the US (not counting the rest of the world) and the number in the SBC will be about equal. This is not triumphalism on my part as a Mormon, but an expression of my concern that as the religious commitment of many Americans devolvesd into a bland “spiritual but not religious” unaffiliated Christianity, the influence of government and its lowest-common-denominator secular power will increase. As government sets the moral tone for the nation, and the government becomes an advocate for secularism as it adopts an agenda compatible with same sex marriage, the loss of membership in real churches is liable to lead to a national tragedy. People who have no personal religious commmitment are often intolerant of those who do. They see the views of religious people as irrational and there is nothing in secularism to inculcate them with tolerance of diversity in religion. Secularists have no parable of the Good Samaritan to teach them to respect the goodness in the heterodox who do not embrace their atheism.

  • Liz

    I have great respect for the Baptists. One of the most powerful missionaries in my mission used to be a baptist. He knew his Bible and even speaking with a Southern accent in Spanish, he got your attention. Awful Spanish, plenty of spirit.

  • Liz

    I thought we’d be talking about Mitt’s speech to the NAACP. That was something else. The man is solid, that’s all I can say.

  • Gen

    Thanks for your article. I am LDS and grew up with many evangelical youth. Although we had lots of differences, I always appreciated their good examples and excitement about religion. My area had a very active youth program at the evangelical church, and my friends always seemed to be actively engaged in a good cause. They supported me in my efforts to be spiritually clean and chaste, which is an amazing blessing in high school these days.

  • Lorin Reeder

    I just wanted to add my thanks for ALL you do on this site. I am LDS and my best friend is Baptist. We love and respect each other and both above all Love our Lord Jesus Christ! We both attend each others church’s at times and love feeling the spirit. I just feel that our loving Savior can’t help being pleased with the great work of this web site and an article such as this. I hope this site continues in some fashion after the election. Thanks again!
    lorin

    • http://www.NancyFrench.com Nancy French

      Lorin — thanks so much for the kind words. David and I started Evangelicals for Mitt in 2006, but this is our personal blog that will go on after November! Stick around with us! We’re not going anywhere!

  • LF

    Thank You David for all you do and your service to our country. May your family be blessed and protected.

  • Ranger 43

    I remember doing a pastoral care residency about ten years ago at a hospital. I’m an Evangelical and met a teenage boy, a Mormon. Sweet kid. He was the first Mormon I’d ever met, and I wanted to find out about what life was like as one. He shared how he went to church three hours before school, then would come home and do his homework, then go back up to the church for more. He looked so exhausted, and I remember joking with him, “So when do you ever get to sleep???” I felt compassion on him because I wonder if he really had any friends or got to enjoy himself any. It was always work, work, work. I just wanted him to get a chance to catch his breath some, to have a little bit of fun during this time of life. His entire life was organized around church.

  • Paul

    David…great article. We Mormons have our struggles like everyone else, and your assessment is very kind. I do agree with your point that we have a relatively high commitment level. I have always figured there might be easier churches to belong to, but I also recognize the blessings that come when we commit to live our faith. On occasion my attitude has been less than what it should have been when I started a service project, but I always came away feeling fortunate that I had a role in helping someone else. None of us can match the perfect example shown by Jesus, but even our imperfect efforts to serve others brings peace and joy to ourselves as well. I have experienced it many times, but perhaps none so powerfully as when I served as a missionary in Colombia from ’73 to ’75. It was that experience that helped me see everyone as a child of God, with a hope that I might help them feel of His love. Giving up worldly things to serve God is truly a blessing!

  • Lance in TX

    David,
    You talked about how the LDS Church is countercultural. I agree with you!

    When my wife and I are asked about our culture and what culture we identify with, we always answer LDS. Being LDS is a daily activity, it is not just a Sunday thing.

  • Jackie

    I think the typos are ok…….however, your grasp of the LDS Christian status couldn’t be more wrong. Maybe Mormons are just kidding themselves, but they certainly think they’re Christian. Christ is their savior and redeemer. “Ye shall know them by their works”. You only have to ask the victims of Katrina if they were helped by the voluntary services of the church membership. It sounds like they take to heart the words of Christ that say,” in as much as ye do it unto the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me”. They sound like Christians to me.

  • http://community.foxsports.com/papaclinchsaint/blog Ed Klinche

    Having read a few but not all of the posts on this interesting article, I wanted to make a clarification about the LDS Church as Christian.
    We ( I speak for Mormons, who believe we are totally Christians) are classified as non-Trinitarians, because we believe God the Father, His Son, Jesus Christ, and the third member of the Trinity, the Holy Ghost are separate from each other. Trinitarian Christian faiths, on the other hand,which include Catholic, Orthodox, and most Protestant (including Evangelical) sects believe in the Nicean Creed of three in one, all being the same God, as it were.
    But Mormons are most definitely Christian by our own and rational definition, simply not the traditional way as perhaps 90 percent of the Christian world who are Trintarians. To claim that a a non-Trinitarian is not Christian for not accepting that Jesus is the Father and they are both one being is a fallacy. Likewise, us non-Trinitarians should never claim that Trinitarians are not Christian for having a different doctrine than us.
    Those who comment that we Mormons (yes, I am Latter day Saint) are a cult and therefore making me a a “cultist” or “cult follower” should investigate further what it means to be a member of the Church of Jesus Christ. A brainwashed cult versus the organization of a perfect being, as I believe it, have some profound differences, and yet there are a few similarities. Similiar to how the US Army or a business or any organization or institution might have commonalities.
    But don’t take my word for it alone: read and pray about the Bible and Book of Mormon, attend Latter-day Saint meetings and baptismal services, visit an LDS temple visitor center, or a temple openhouse in your area, talk and pray with the missionaries or other members who believe that Christ leads a modern restored Church headquartered in Salt Lake City. Read some books about Christian history and doctrine. And the “restoration” of the Church since 1820.
    Best of luck and God bless. I hope my clarification makes sense, and more importantly, is factual. I know lies are ultimately non-effective. Let the the truth be known.

  • BrentW

    I think Evangelical youth would respond to a challenge to show more commitment instead of trying to coddle them. I am LDS but I would love to see Evangelical youth out serving at least 12-month missions, even if they are primarily service missions rather than knock-on-the-door proselyting. It’s all about advancing the Love of Christ and the cause of Christ.

    • http://community.foxsports.com/papaclinchsaint/blog Ed Klinche

      Well put BrentW, and I as an active LDS since the 1970s have gleaned and absorbed much good Christian faith and love from people of all stripes: Evangelicals on TV, radio, in person and worship, many great Catholics, SDA, Amish, JW, AME, etc. and some Orthodox (Greek, Armenian, Coptic, etc.), Jewish, Muslim, Hindu and Buddhist peoples.
      We can all learn and grow together, and compliment each other’s faith and knowledge. Wow, faith and knowledge! Gospel certainly means good news, and I think it lies everywhere. The truth is out there, and I believe it resides in our heart if we are willing to listen and learn. Preach it, brother.
      Thanks again for the article. I hope you are able to learn more about the Church of Jesus Christ and develop your own walk with the Savior throughout your life. Blessings.

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  • Ohio Trevor

    David: Kudos for having the courage to say something kind about another religion – something we could all learn from. A wise man once said that we need to leave room in our hearts for religious envy. There is much I admired about other Christian faiths and the Evangelical movement as well – the reliance on prayer and the manner in which music is often used to minister and enhance your worship experience. As a convert and member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I have always believed that true followers of Christ are to be discerned not by the membership cards in their wallets but by what is in their hearts and how it translates into the way folks live their lives. Thank you.

  • Eric C

    I admit my bias as a member of the LDS church. Notwithstanding that bias, this is a very well written and fair assessment, in my opinion. Thanks for the kind words, and God bless!

  • Billy

    20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.

  • Billy

    As the article is pointing out it is the action of faith that is the fruit…. We are saved 100% by grace… It is the works that increases our faith in Christ and that is what the article is showing…our faith in Christ saves us ….the actions retains our faith in Christ…

    15 If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food,

    16 And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?
    James 2

  • http://freeldssheetmusic.org roger

    +1 for missions being great *for the missionary* to keep them strong afterward. There’s just something about doing gospel study for 2 hours a day then attempting to teach others the gospel for the rest of the day, for 2 years, that somehow makes you committed to the church for the rest of life. Another thing not mentioned specifically in the article is that the church “leaders” are all just lay members, anyway, so basically by giving everybody a “calling” (“responsibility”) it also helps keep membership up.

    • John L

      It’s called brainwashing.

      Anyone who sticks with this for two years is going to pay tithing for at least 20.

      • Lance in TX

        John,
        That is not true. I do know of a number of missionaries that fall away from the Church for a number of reasons. And tithing is one of the hardest parts for many LDS to follow.

  • Quinn

    Kudos for connecting with LDS friends. That’s how Jesus evangelized. Regarding the divorce rate, its comparable when you look at those who are active in their faith. It’s sad regardless, but Mormons have nothing to teach us in that regard. Regarding youth retention, I don’t think the control / authoritarian culture of Mormonism is the answer. If we want an increase in male suicides and female prozac usage, Mormonism can teach us a lot. That’s what we clearly find among LDS populations compared to Christian and non-religious groups.
    Trust Jesus, not Joseph. Jesus was clear that we are to make disciples. We overcome by the blood of the lamb and the word of our testimony (Rev 12:11). We become disciples as we return to our first love, submit to his Lordship, and partner with Jesus in discipleship growth. Then we’ll see parents becoming mini pastors in their home and leaving selfish, fleshly priorities in the past. Children will be grounded in the word of God and know how to walk in love, power, peace, and the sound mind of a spirit-filled believer. As such, we will retake territory lost to the enemy, not out of deceit or control, but in the power of God.

    • Lance in TX

      Quinn,
      Prove your statement: “If we want an increase in male suicides and female prozac usage, Mormonism can teach us a lot. That’s what we clearly find among LDS populations compared to Christian and non-religious groups.” That is a pretty strong statement that I cannot let sit. Prove your statement.

      As for your statement: “Trust Jesus, not Joseph.” We ONLY trust our salvation in Jesus. Joseph is a prophet, no more than Moses and the prophets of the Old Testament are. He is not our salvation. You do not know what we believe. Stop listening to your Pastor.

    • Lance in TX

      Quinn,
      I am going to DISPROVE your statement about male suicide. I want you to PROVE your statement with FACTS that you can soruce.

      “Young Mormon men living in Utah who closely adhere to the dictates of their faith are less likely to commit suicide than their peers who are less active in the church…”
      “…Suicide rates in each of the four age categories studied–15 to 19 years, 20 to 24 years, 25 to 29 years, and 30 to 34 years–were lower among active members of the LDS church than among less active LDS church members, nonmembers and males in the general US population, the report indicates.
      For example, the suicide rate among less active LDS church members aged 25 to 29 was seven times higher than among their active church peers. Nationally, the suicide rate among 20- to 34-year old males was 2.5 to 3 times higher than among active LDS church members of the same age. Suicide risk was also 3 to 6 times higher among nonmembers in comparison to active members of the LDS church.
      In addition, the risk of suicide among males aged 15 to 19 was three times higher among the less active church members than among their active peers, but the rate among the active youth was comparable to the national suicide rate.”
      Source: American Journal of Epidemiology 2002;155:413-419

      • John L

        Gee, Lance.

        Let’s ask you to PROVE Mormon and religious claims with facts!

        Right. You don’t have any.

        • Lance in TX

          John,
          I was talking about Quinn’s statements and I proved one of them completely incorrect. How about sticking to the topic at hand. Since you cannot, you attempt a direct attach on the LDS Religion. That is not what my response was about.
          Your response shows your bigotry and hateful heart.
          BTW: Did I attack your religion? No.

  • TimShawSr

    David and Nancy;
    It is with the deepest respect I want to thank you for the many wonderful articles I have read of yours the last year. Your true Christ like love for all people, your love for our country and concern for it’s future. I stand in awe of you, for you have taken the slings and arrows from all sides to support Gov Romney. You are like the bravest knights of the round table.

    Regardless of the risk, you have been willing to stick your head out of the foxhole while the battle raged. Not many have that kind of courage. I have noticed, and I for one so appreciate your sacrifice. May the LORD always bless you with the deepest desires of your hearts, and with his richest blessings of his love.

  • Ohio Trevor

    At first, I hesitated to share this article with friends. I don’t care for the title. After all, it’s not about brand X beating brand Y. Nevertheless, it’s so atypical to hear someone say something complementary about a faith other than their own that I had to share it. As I have grown older (and hopefully a bit wiser) I too have found much to be admired in other faiths. For example, my encounter with Hindus and Buddhists in Nepal was especially eye-opening. I can appreciate and even admire things about different faiths without feeling that I am somehow betraying my own religion. What’s wrong with a Baptist saying they admire the way Mormons kids attend daily seminary classes? Or about a Mormon admiring the way Buddhists meditate? Or about a Catholic saying something nice about the Muslims? My experience has been that most people, the world over, want to live better, happier lives, grow closer to God and to their fellow men. We would all do well to follow this man’s good example and be more gracious about discussing things in a respectful and truth seeking way. A wise man once said that we need to leave room in our hearts for religious envy. I believed that “true followers of Christ” are to be discerned not by the membership cards in their wallets but by what is in their hearts and how it translates into the way folks live their lives and treat one another. Christ himself said, “ye shall know them by their fruits.” I take that to mean NOT the membership cards in their wallets. I would not be surprised if, when Christ comes again, many of first knees to bow and tongues to confess that “Jesus is the Christ” are people very different than the ones we expect.

  • http://www.clobberblog.com Ms. Jack

    David French – I have not read all of the comments, but Howard H. was in the ball park. The church’s self-reported numbers do not provide an accurate measure of growth and membership, because:

    (1) Inactive members continue to be reported as members until their deaths are reported to the church, or they formally request to have their names removed. Very few ex-members do this. I have quite a number friends who no longer believe in Mormonism or attend church, but do not want to have their names removed from the rolls. In contrast, a lot of Protestant churches clear inactive members from their rolls every ten years or so.
    (2) If an inactive member’s death is not reported to the church, that person continues to be counted as a member until pretty late. I can’t remember the number—it’s over 100—Howard H. may have been correct about 120.
    (3) Unbaptized children who have had a blessing and naming ceremony are counted as members until they are 18 at least. My husband is LDS and we have one daughter. When she was born, nobody explained to me that a blessing and naming ceremony would mean the church would start counting her as a member. I assumed that would not be the case until baptism.
    (4) Missionaries often rush people into baptism as quickly as possible and then the new convert fails to assimilate into the church and drifts away. I saw several comments from LDS people denying that this happens, but it does. Look up “baseball baptisms” or the swimming pool baptisms that took place in Japan in the late 70s/early 80s. For my own part, my LDS friends began prompting me to take the missionary discussions when I was in high school. I repeatedly told them “no” because, while I was interested in learning about the church, I was sure I didn’t want to join it. I was quite happy being an evangelical Christian. Eventually, they said that taking the missionary discussions didn’t have to mean I was thinking of joining the church, that I could take them just to learn more about the church. Then I agreed to it. For discussions 1-3, I showed absolutely no interest in joining the church and asked a lot of questions. Yet on the 3rd discussion, the missionaries still urged me to get baptized. So don’t tell me this doesn’t happen. In any case, the point is, the rush to baptism really harms the church’s retention rates in some parts of the world. The records are full of “members” who got baptized then drifted permanently into inactivity not long afterward.

    Also, it’s not true that home teachers visit inactive members once a month, as one commentator said. My husband is an active member and we haven’t had a home teacher visit us in about a year.

    The LDS church may be growing faster than evangelicalism—I don’t know—but you can’t use the church’s self-reported numbers to determine that. You have to use surveys from organizations like Pew and CUNY which question individual people about religious identification.

    Anyways, you gave six reasons that young ex-evangelicals have given for why they left:

    the church is overprotective, their experience of Christianity is shallow, churches seem antagonistic to science, the church’s approach to sexuality is judgmental and simplistic, they wrestle with the exclusivity of Christianity, and the church feels unfriendly to those who doubt

    It seems to me that every one of these things could be said of Mormonism; some of them are even more pronounced in Mormonism. So why wouldn’t these things be problems for them as well as us?

    For the record, I’m an alumna of Brigham Young University and a member of the Evangelical Covenant Church.

    • LDS Teen

      In regards to your comment I do have to say that the LDS church does keep a record of your daughters Baby Blessing, however you don’t receive membership until you are baptized. At the time of your baptism you get a member number (which is how they keep track).

      Also in regards to your hometeachers not coming around. Have you moved? Has your husband attended church and, as we call it transferred his records. Once that has happened then the hometeachers/Bishop/elders quorum president tends to roll around.

      “the church is overprotective, their experience of Christianity is shallow, churches seem antagonistic to science, the church’s approach to sexuality is judgmental and simplistic, they wrestle with the exclusivity of Christianity, and the church feels unfriendly to those who doubt”

      These could apply to the LDS church however we are a Christian religion and do believe in respecting everyone. No one is perfect and we all make mistakes but I believe that most people are good in the world and in the LDS Church. Also, when it comes to the science… no where does it say that the scientific aspects aren’t true, there could just be a greater power that is behind the science.

      It is true that the Missionaries do push for baptism, however it is what they are there for. I don’t know what you would be doing if you were taking the discussions and not wanting to have contact with the church. That is kinda like going to a restaurant and sitting there for hours not eating and drinking. The waiters would ask you what to drink and eat and then finally the owner says either buy something or leave. I mean you went for a reason no? The missionaries are there to teach the gospel of Jesus Christ to others so that they can feel the joy it bring and allow you to come into the church. Just like the restaurant is there to give you food. If you didn’t want it then don’t take it.

      For the record, I have lived both in Provo, Utah (home of BYU) area and in Europe so I have seen both takes on the LDS church.

      • http://www.clobberblog.com Ms. Jack

        LDS Teen ~ When babies are blessed and named, they are counted in the membership statistics for the LDS church. 100% positive about this. I will see if I can dig up the source that I saw on this a year or two ago. Theologically, they may not be considered members of the Kingdom until baptism, but that isn’t stopping the church from counting them when it reports that it has ~15 million members total.

        Regarding home teachers: we have lived in this ward for over a year, and yes, my husband is active (attends church 2-3 times a month) and yes, his membership records were transferred promptly when we moved here. When we first moved into this ward, there was a single home teacher who came by once or twice (he never seemed to have his companion with him). He was a good guy. After he moved, the visits stopped. We were visited by the bishop once not long after we moved here. He is also a good guy.

        I don’t know what you would be doing if you were taking the discussions and not wanting to have contact with the church. That is kinda like going to a restaurant and sitting there for hours not eating and drinking.

        I believe there are beneficial reasons for learning about the religions of others, even if we are sure we do not want to convert. The more we learn about others, the more we understand ourselves. You seem to be saying that I should not have contacted the LDS church to learn about it if I didn’t want to join. Well, who should I have contacted then? Counter-cult ministries? Ex-Mormons?

        Bear in mind that taking the discussions was not my idea. It was something that was suggested by my LDS friends even though I specified that I had no interest in joining. If there was a better way for me to gather information about the church without someone trying to rush me into joining, then they probably should have suggested that instead.

      • http://www.clobberblog.com Ms. Jack

        Here is the source on children under 9 being counted in the membership records for statistical and reporting purposes:

        “For statistical and reporting purposes, the following persons are members of record and should have a membership record:

        Those who have been baptized and confirmed.
        Those under age nine who have been blessed but not baptized.
        Those who are not accountable because of intellectual disabilities, regardless of age.
        Unblessed children under age eight when:
        Two member parents request you create a record.
        One member parent requests you create a record and the nonmember parent gives permission.

        A person who is nine years or older who has a membership record but has not been baptized and confirmed is not considered a member of record. However, the bishop keeps the membership record until the person is 18. At that time if the person chooses not to be baptized despite being given every opportunity, the bishop, with written permission from the stake president, may cancel the membership record.”

        http://tech.lds.org/wiki/Membership_records

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  • Chase

    Wow! What a great article!!! I’m impressed. Here’s another great article to look at if you like this one!

    http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/news/54036926-78/church-lds-membership-growth.html.csp

    Enjoy!!

  • http://Yahoo Thea

    I totally agree with your comments Chris Pinson. Jesus tells us to love all people. But Mormonism is not Christianity. It has it’s own fine qualities I am sure. But the beliefs and their own special book that rivals the Bible makes it some new religion. And no present day Mormon prophet should over shadow the words and life of Jesus. Where they conflict on views of marriage, etc. Jesus words must take precedence. Joseph Smith must bow to the words of Jesus.

    • Lance in TX

      Thea,
      May I ask who gives you the right to define Christianity and exclude the LDS Church members?

      The Book of Mormon does not “rival” the Bible. It is a second testament of Jesus Christ and sits NEXT TO the Bible. It does not replace it or is not more important than the Bible. We study the Old Testament, New Testament, Book of Mormon, and D&C/Pearl of Great Price EQUALLY. We spend a complete year on each one in the order I stated and then we repeat.

      There is NOTHING in the Bible that states it is the ONLY source of Doctrine or Teachings.

      For that matter, which VERSION of the Bible are you talking about? The Catholic Bible (as defined by the Nicea Council?) or the Protestant Bible (KJV, etc) that has fewer books than the Catholic Bible? (think about that when you bring up the statement in Revelations about not adding or removing from the Book and trying to state that that proves you cannot add or remove anything…

      Also, NO LDS Prophet “over shadow the words and life of Jesus”.. NONE. Jesus *IS* the head of the Church. Jesus *IS* the Only Saviour of the world. Our prophets are the same as the prophets of the Old Testament, except they speak to us about issues TODAY. Every talk given by our prophets focus on Jesus and quote Jesus from the Bible, as well as the BoM.

      SO where is there a conflict on the views of marriage, etc?? Please show where a LDS prophet contradicted Jesus… Please show proof of your statements and not just what your pastor told you.

      Joseph Smith never put himself equal to or above Jesus. NEVER. Prove that he did. Site things we can look up and not what your pastor told you about our religion.

  • Dena Leichnitz

    @Howard, as a LDS member and a Family History Consultant for my ward let me correct some wrong information you have been given. The 120 years you spoke of is actually in reference to baptism for the dead. When doing our genealogy if we come across a nane in our family line and we have no death date for this person we cannot perform a baptism for the dead for them until 120 years has passed. This is to make sure we are not baptizing anyone who might still be living without their consent. We also take care not to duplicate names. This is done to maintain accurate records. So no we don’t intentionally inflate our numbers. Next, I think it is important to add our numbers outside of the U.S. is nearing twice what it is inside the U.S. In fact, according to Apostle Saiti, the African continent is seeing tremendous church growth and it has the highest retention rate. We are also one of the few churches allowed in China. The LDS church is indeed growing and the Gospel is indeed being shared the world over.

    • http://www.clobberblog.com Ms. Jack

      Yes, Howard was incorrect about members staying on the rolls until (1) they formally request to have their names removed, or (2) the church receives a death notice, or (3) they reach their 120th birthday.

      The actual number is 110. Inactive members stay on the rolls until they are hypothetically 110 years old, unless the church receives a death notice for them.

      http://www.rickross.com/reference/mormon/mormon268.html

  • Dale Anderson

    Thanks! I enjoyed the article and many of the comments about the article. It’s very clear that good Christian doctrine believed and followed changes people and the world. As a Mormon, I believe this is what I’m doing, but regardless of where or how the Christian doctrine is communicated or practiced, people and societies become better. I truly love to see the Christian doctrine preached and promulgated in the Evangelical community. Thanks again for sharing thoughts and ideas that can unit our Christian communities with common beliefs in Christ.

  • DougH

    Another great article, thanks. While the responses explaining why the LDS Church doesn’t take inactive members off the membership rolls do a fine job, those claiming that simply pointing at the number of members on the rolls as proof of the vitality of the Church do have a point – levels of inactivity can vary considerably from region to region, and retention can be an issue. A (very) rough indicator of the growth of the *active* members of the LDS Church is the increase in the number of wards – since those are based on geography and the size of the active congregation, having branches (the smallest LDS congregations) upgraded to wards and wards split is solid proof of increasing active membership.

    • anne

      Yes… and did you know that each day the LDS church builds a new meeting house.. it is actually a little more than one because at the end of the year the number exceeds 365 new meeting houses.. but close enough. This number includes meeting houses built around the world. Where do I get my information? My husband works for the church and is directly involved. The church is growing… and it is a wonderful thing. Also temples, as prophesied, now “dot the earth.” 90% of church membership live within 2 hours of a temple.. worldwide. And, the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ will continue to roll forth… We are preparing for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ as all Christians are… Let’s join hands and work together and put our differing interpretations of scripture aside… Great Article, but the title of the article bothers me a little. This is no competition. People of all faith should come together.. We believe we will all be there.. ALL Christians.. All who sincerely love and follow Jesus Christ will be caught up to meet Him when He comes again. We should come together…

  • http://biometricgunvaults.com Jennifer Foutz

    Wow. I’m really impressed by someone overlooking their differences in the theology and trying to focus on the practices they agree with. Yes, I’m LDS, but I think that evangelicals more fully embracing their own religion is fantastic! Many of my non LDS friends just refuse to be any religion and we NEED a more religious nation. It doesn’t have to be LDS, any religion will do. And while I do lean toward growing the Christian ones, any religion that teaches a strong belief system with the notion that the whole thing is bigger than you, and sacrifice is an important step in your growth and development, will do quite nicely.

    • DougH

      I wouldn’t go so far as to say ANY religion, there have been some pretty nasty ones throughout history. Still, I’m rather partial to Benjamin Franklin’s creed:

      I believe in one God, the creator of the universe.
      That he governs by his providence.
      That he ought to be worshipped.
      That the most acceptable service we render to him is doing good to his other children.
      That the soul of man is immortal, and will be treated with justice in another life respecting its conduct in this.

      That covers pretty much all the important points.

  • Laura

    This is an interesting article but I have one comment on #5. It states “Mormon leaders ask a lot of their members” which I believe is only partially true. It is really our Savior that asks a lot of His followers. It is Jesus who prompts, “Feed my sheep” and “unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required.” As LDS church members we try our best to follow the commandments, serve others and be a better parent, wife, child, sister, neighbor and citizen because this is what Jesus wants us to do. It is our devotion to our Savior that we act. And this is actually a wonderful cycle. As we try our best the Lord blesses us and then we try harder and the blessing just keep coming :)

  • Howard H

    thanks everyone for your responses. however, you are wrong. When you resign membership, you are still counted towards the total number of membership. your name still exists on the roles. it just has a mark, or an asteriks next to it, noting that you resigned. it is STILL counted in the total count, i verified this with a bishop. Please, find me evidence otherwise, you will be dissapointed.

    • Scott Stone

      Howard- I was just released after serving for 5 years as a volunteer Bishop in the LDS church and can state unequivocably that you are not correct about an individuals name not coming off of the membership roles and numbers when you resign your membership. Your facts are completely inaccurate.

  • Eric Jenson

    Wow. In a world full of fear and misinformation, it’s great to see a clear, objective view of Mormons. We are far from perfect, and no better than any other denomination, but we are willing to sacrifice and we are willing to go against the mainstream. We do believe in Christ as our divine savior and the only way to to heaven. We believe that ALL people will have the opportunity to accept or reject Christ–not just “Christians”. For those who did not hear of Christ in this life, they’ll get it in the next–they will not just automatically go to hell or “limbo” as I’ve hear some “Christians” teach. It wasn’t their fault that they were born in a non-Christian country. Anyway, thank you.

  • Diane Livingston

    Your article has made some important points. As an LDS gal, I have always admired people from all faiths who are devoted to Christ and trying to be Christlike. The programs of the LDS church do help to keep one on the path, but in the end what keeps me on the path of Christ is the gospel doctrine, pure and simple. I was challenged to read the Book of Mormon 3 times in 3 three months and I am in the middle of the 3rd time. If you want to know what can keep a person faithful to Christ to the end, read that doctrinal feast. It is simply amazing and true.

  • yatesbsy23

    It’s positively hilarious to see you people arguing about which version of your myth is right and which is wrong. The fact that various factions of Christians believe that “enemy” Christians that disagree with them are going to hell is *hysterical*!

    Seriously folks, keep this material coming; the secular, humanist population is growing in numbers every day… and we’re watching you. ; )

    • DougH

      In 1944 the Gallup poll found that 4% of the US did not believe in God. In 2007, the Baylor Survey placed the number of nonbelievers at the same 4%. I don’t think we need to worry about Christianity being buried by a wave of Secular Humanists anytime soon – cultural Christians are a much bigger problem.

  • c k weaver

    That was well put, but you better be careful or they will kick you out for not toeing the church doctrinal line.

  • John L

    David,

    I think you’re giving way too much credit to Mormonism based upon the “facts” you’ve given.

    The exodus from Mormonism is huge. The LDS church will not publish those numbers. I was a Mormon bishop and my experience indicates that people leave Mormonism by simply never coming back and those people are still considered members until they are 100 years old. Much of the church’s growth is now in the poorer, underdeveloped countries from the 80s and 90s where the church is now closing congregations.

    The Mormon church will not speak about the defections. The leaders hide the numbers because they are all about public relations…and billion-dollar malls.

    I’m certain that the exposure to facts affects Mormonism the same way it affects the other specious “truths” of other religions that have gone unquestioned for millennia.

    • Lance in TX

      Well John,
      Since you say you were a LDS Bishop, you know that the only reason the Church builds a new building is because the local wards outgrow the existing one and/or small branches grow to be a ward. As you also must know, since you were a LDS Bishop, that once a ward reaches about 400 active members the Church starts looking at splitting the ward and that by 600 the ward is split. In most cases it is split at about 500 people.
      With this in mind, the number of Church buildings grows by over 350 per year. This means that the Church is growing, not shrinking as you propose.
      I know in our area, in the last 5 years, we have split our ward and reorganized to balance the wards, and have even had to move a ward into another stake since our stake has 10 wards already and the Church tries to limit the number of wards in a stake to about 8. We are looking at splitting the stake in the next few years due to the growth.
      BTW: I live in North Texas and NOT Utah.. So don’t even say it is all because of Utah.

      But of course, you know all this since you were a LDS Bishop… Right??

  • Chris

    David & Nancy-
    Thank you for the article. As an active member of the Mormon church it is wonderful to read something from someone not of our faith that is honest, open, and kind. I love learning about other religions, other churches, and other people’s beliefs but I don’t always think that is the case for all people. Five years living in the Midwest and the deep South has given me plenty of opportunities. People don’t have to agree with us but we can all be civil, kind, respectful, Christ-like to each other. Thank you for the bridges you are building, you are welcome in my home anytime. In the comments above, the old Grace vs. Works debate comes out, please read Brad Wilcox’s talk from BYU about the subject, I think it gives meaning to some of the characteristics you mention in your article. As a member of the Mormon church, I am completely 100% saved by Grace, thank you!

    http://magazine.byu.edu/?act=view&a=2968

  • Abby

    It is so refreshing to read something positive about the Church I dearly love! I feel like I have chosen to live my life in a very specific way that makes me happy. I love meeting good people of other faiths who adhere to there own religious beliefs and respect me for mine. We can all learn from each other to be more tolerent and loving. We need to keep Christianity alive in this country.

  • Tom

    Mormons and a lot of others have the tendancy to make church attendancd the test of whether on is a good member or Christian and the comments on this page have that fault. On of my most active times as a Mormon Christian was when I was attending church only rarely. I am amazed at the tendancy of Christians to read those with differences out. To me very unChristian. And listen to me, am I guilty, probably.

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  • Raymond Takashi Swenson

    David, thank you so much for your clear-sighted observations of specific reasons why the LDS Church is growing, while many other churches are not.

    I just wanted to make one clarification, which you might remember next time the issue comes up. You had observed that “Mormons are orthodox” in terms of their own beliefs, but not necessarily of the “Apostles Creed”. I pulled up a copy of a Lutheran version of the Apostles Creed from Wikipedia, as follows:

    I believe in God, the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth.
    And in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,
    who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, and born of the virgin Mary,
    suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried.
    He descended into hell.
    On the third day He rose again from the dead.
    He ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty.
    From thence He will come to judge the living and the dead.
    I believe in the Holy Spirit,
    the holy Christian church,
    the communion of saints,
    the forgiveness of sins,
    the resurrection of the body,
    and the life everlasting. Amen.

    As a lifelong Mormon, let me state my personal view that, even though we do not RECITE this creed, we in fact believe in each of its assertions. Indeed, this can be seen most easily by comparing it to excerpts from the summary of LDS beliefs composed by Joseph Smith in 1842 which was made into LDS scripture in the Pearl of Great Price, where it can be found at http://www.lds.org:
    1 We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.
    3 We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.
    4 We believe that the first principles and ordinances of the Gospel are: first, Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; second, Repentance; third, Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; fourth, Laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost.
    6 We believe in the same organization that existed in the Primitive Church, namely, apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, evangelists, and so forth.
    7 We believe in the gift of tongues, prophecy, revelation, visions, healing, interpretation of tongues, and so forth.
    8 We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly; we also believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God.
    13 We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men; indeed, we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul—We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.

    A more extensive tour of LDS scripture would find additional affirmations of each of the lines in the Apostles Creed, IN ADDITION TO THE TEACHINGS OF THE BIBLE, WHICH MORMONS BELIEVE AS THE WORD OF GOD.

    The elements of the Apostles Creed have direct correlates in the New Testament, and Mormons believe the New Testament is the word of God and is a true account of our Savior, Jesus Christ. The statement “He descended into hell” corresponds to a passage in the First Epistle of Peter, Chapter 3, in which Peter explains that between his death and his resurrection, Christ visited the spirits in prison, so that they could be judged alongside the living, who would have the opportunity to accept or reject faith in Christ. Both Protestants who believe in post-mortal evangelism, and the Latter-day Saints, believe that Christ initiated the work of redeeming people who had died but had not had the opportunity to accept Christ as Savior during their mortal lives. This is seen by both groups as consistent with God’s justice, in not condemning people who lived before Christ or did not otherwise know enough about him to have faith in his atonement. For centuries this event was celebrated in Christendom as the Harrowing of Hell. It is the reason that Latter-day Saints believe that baptism on behalf of the dead, mentioned by Paul in I Corinthians 15:29, is a necessary ordinance to complete the salvation of those who have heard the gospel in the world of spirits who await the resurrection.
    The Apostles Creed does not contain the assertions about the nature of the Trinity–being three separate persons but sharing “one substance” and that God is “without body, parts or passions”, which seems to contradict the assertion in the Apostles Creed that Christ has a resurrected body and suffered on our behalf–which go beyond the plain terms of the Bible and are difficult to comprehend for many Christians. It is those particular assertions in the Nicene Creed which the Latter-day Saints have always found troublesome. Indeed, they are the focus of a critique of the Nicene Creed from Protestant theologians who support the theological theory of the Openness of God, who believe the Trinity is unified through perfected love, not by a mysterious and incomprehensible metaphysical unity that has no meaningful analogy in our observable world, and who believe that denying the reality of the love of God for us has harmed Christians.

    So in the future, please be aware that Mormons who have actually examined the Apostles Creed, and understand its difference from the Nicene Creed, are willing to subscribe to its propositions, and in fact do so every Sunday as they take the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper. In the prayer that is part of that ordinance, we Latter-day Saints promise that we will always remember Christ, and take upon ourselves his name, and keep his commandments to us, so that we may have the Holy Spirit with us always. I believe those are orthodox Christian beliefs.

    And by the way, Mormon belief in the ultimate deification of those who are redeemed by Christ is an ancient Christian teaching preserved in the Eastern Orthodox churches as the doctrine of theosis. I wish I had a dollar for every critic of Mormonism who has declaimed theosis as blasphemous, displaying their ignorance of its ancient roots in the teachings of the early Church Fathers like Irenaeus.

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  • susan cunningham

    When my children’s classmates say they are going to go to hell because they are Mormon, my children respond, “well then I hope we are right and you are wrong, because we believe that God loves all of his children and wants them all to receive the blessings of salvation” I hope we are right too because I sure do love all of my non-Mormon friends and family, but mostly I love being Mormon because it brings peace and happiness into my life with the teachings of Jesus Christ.

    • Lance in TX

      I always thought it was interesting when my daughter was asked by another child if they could see her horns… The other girl went to both Catholic and Southern Baptist churches (mom was one, dad was the other), and some of the things she had been taught by her pastors/priests included:
      - LDS have horns that come out after dark
      - All men have multiple wives
      - All women are told to stay home and make babies
      - We eat babies in our Temples

      You have to love the “knowledge” that others have of our Church…

  • http://ianvass.blogspot.com Ian Vassilaros

    This is so far down in the comments, I’m not sure who will actually read it, but here we go:

    The note about church discipline in other churches being close to zero is a critical point. We Mormons have an unpaid clergy. That means our families still eat whether our congregations are 10 or 600. When your income is directly related to butts in pews, you are loathe to exercise church discipline, else you get an exodus of people from your congregation in search of a more “accepting” church, or the congregation fires you in favor of a more lenient clergyman.

    Having unpaid clergy frees us from this conundrum, which allows us to take religious action against unrighteous behaviors.

    In absence of discipline, there is no accountability.
    In absence of accountability, there is no real commitment.
    In absence of true commitment, there is no sacrifice.
    In absence of sacrifice, no true faith develops.
    In absence of true faith, no deep roots grow.
    In absence of deep roots, there is no ability to endure storms and trials.
    Without the ability to endure, young people especially, but even older people, leave the church. It has become a barren ground where little fruit grows, and all because the church lacks the teeth to hold strict disciplinary councils for their straying members.

    Mormons are strong *because* we have no fear of disciplining our members. When the local church has to run like a business so that someone gets paid, they have lost the moral strength and ability to act as the prophets and Apostles as old could. None of the apostles were paid clergy. They were fishermen and tentmakers.

    • http://www.NancyFrench.com Nancy French

      (we read them all! Thanks for commenting. :)

    • http://www.NancyFrench.com Nancy French

      “Mormons are strong *because* we have no fear of disciplining our members. ”

      AGREE

    • Lance in TX

      SO very true.
      The other thing I think is important is that the idea of personal responsibility starts in primary classes (young kid classes, starting at about 3 or 4). We as members meet with the Bishop for every major step in our Church.. As people progress through primary to the different young men/women groups, through Elders Quorum/Relief Society, callings, Tithing settlement, PPIs, Mission applications, BYU applications, etc the Bishop is a part of your life and you are responsible for your behaviour in Church as well as out of Church.

      I know a number of people that belong to a large non-LDS Churches in the area and they have never met the Pastor. They know one of the associate Pastors, but they have never met the Pastor of their own Church and have been going there for years! I guess it is more imporant to have 8,000 members of his Church giving money than meet each of them. He makes a very good living from them.

      I guarantee that our Bishop knows EVERY SINGLE PERSON in our Ward BY NAME. Every Bishop we have ever had has known every single person in the ward. And they do not get paid one single cent to be the Bishop, although he arrives at Church at 6:00AM on Sunday for meetings, leaves about 4:00PM, and is there almost every single evening (except Monday) from 6:00PM until about 9:00PM for meetings with members and non-members who need help, advice, Temple recommends, etc…

  • Jacob

    Now what’s really interesting is this: Very few Mormons would self-identify as Evangelicals in that sort of a survey, but a large number of them would pass the Barna criteria listed for being Evangelicals. I wonder what the breakdown is of people who passed the Evangelical test but didn’t self-identify is.

    • Lance in TX

      You are correct. The reason is that when we hear “Evangelical Christian” that implies a non-denominational Christian. Most surveys list Mormon/LDS separately from Evangelical and thus we pick LDS/Mormon. Just like most surveys seperate Catholic, Southern Baptist, Methodist, etc…

      Do I do evangelizing? Sure! That is part of what we do. Do I see my Church as Evangelical? No. Restoration: Yes. It is about the semantics.

      This is the same issue as the word Salvation/Being Saved. Evangelical churches see the word Salvation/Being Saved and that means one thing (normally Living with God forever in Heaven). The LDS see Salvation/Being Saved as being resurrected (our Spirit being reunited with our Body and made Perfect/Whole) and we believe EVERYONE that has come to Earth (except Sons of Perdition) will “Be Saved by Gods Grace” (unlike Evangelicals that do not believe that). What LDS would see as the same as Evangelical Salvation would be Exaltation (Living in the presence of God for eternity in the Celestial Kingdom).

      It is all semantics. One of the biggest problem, I think, between Evangelical/Catholic/etc and LDS understanding each other and what we believe is that the words used to describe things can have different meanings due to the doctrinal differences. There is a whole list of them like this.

  • http://www.clobberblog.com Ms. Jack

    Another example of why the church’s self-reported numbers are wildly inaccurate:

    http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/blogsfaithblog/54497395-180/church-census-reported-latter.html.csp

    Retention is absolutely terrible in some countries, and the church’s self-reported numbers just don’t address that.

  • Noel

    Mormons claim that premarital sex is less practiced by LDS youth. There was an article in Dialogue:A Journal of Mormon Thought, by a socialogist who found that while lds youth had lower premarital sex rates than other religions there was s large minority of youth who praticed heavy petting. I understand that research done by Google found that the highest searches for Adult material was in Utah.

  • http://als.com kris larsen

    As an active LDS I enjoyed your article. One only need to read the Nicene Creed to determine the real reason Southern Baptists are leaving their church. It would be hard for me to establish a relationship with a “Father” that is so vague and unknowable. Jesus is our literal brother. God the Father is our literal Father. They are separate. Jesus was resurrected, showed himself to others, and lives today exactly as he did when he showed himself to others after the resurrection. God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ appeared to the boy prophet Joseph Smith as separate persons. This shocked the world and flew in the face of the Nicene Creed. Only when we worship God and Christ as separate and distinct beings, as the early saints knew him, will we understand the scriptural canon and establish a “true”, meaningful and long lasting relationship with them. When we try to worship a God that was defined in the creed by uninspired apostates we get confused. Also, there is a big reason why the LDS Church continues to grow; it’s true! As Joseph Smith said: “Our missionaries are going forth to different nations . . . the Standard of Truth has been erected; no unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing; persecutions may rage, mobs may combine, armies may assemble, calumny may defame, but the truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly, and independent, till it has penetrated every continent, visited every clime, swept every country, and sounded in every ear, till the purposes of God shall be accomplished, and the Great Jehovah shall say the work is done.”

    • http://www.prophecysociety.org Dan Bruce

      You were doing okay until you got to the part about God and Jesus appearing to “the boy prophet Joseph Smith.” Mormonisn thereafter became a religion based on added manmade scripture, something warned against in the Bible. As for growth, secularism is growing far faster than either the Mormon or Baptist church, but that doesn’t make it correct. If one disregards the truth of the Bible, what is gained by growth? Jesus himself said about those who evangelize apart from the truth, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you travel around on sea and land to make one proselyte; and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves” (Matthew 23:15).

      • Raymond Takashi Swenson

        Your political views are pretty unusual. In my experience I cannot think I have ever met another Latter-day Saint who has taken those positions. To the extent you claim they are positions required of Mormons by the teachings of the Church, you are just plain wrong. You are “looking beyond the mark”, creating all sorts of extra requirements that God himself does not require. To the extent you claim that you have the authority of God for ypur positions, you are taking the name of God in vain.

        • Raymond Takashi Swenson

          Somehow my comment in response to man who claims to be Mormon but refuses to pay income tax got appended to an unrelated comment.

          • bytebear

            Romney had no job for 10 years. He donated his entire salary for the 2002 Olympics and as Governor to charity. How do you pay income tax when you have no income?

      • Raymond Takashi Swenson

        Mr Bruce, nowhere in the Bible does God or Christ announce that God will never again call a prophet to write his words to mankind. Indeed, the prophecy of Christ’s Second Coming promises that Christ will return and reign. Surely he will issue rulings and teachings. Will they not be recorded? Will they not be the Word of God? Revelation itself declares there will be two prophets in Jerusalem just before Lord’s return. The entire body of the Bible offers example after example that God works by calling prophets down through the ages. If God is unchanging, as the Creeds declare, why would he become permanently silent?

        Mormons do nit embrace anything created by a mortal man as scripture. It must be created at the direction of God, as the Old and New Testaments were. The Book of Mormon attests that it is such a book, and it invites everyone to ask God whether or not it is true, after they read it and ponder its teachings about God. If you believe in a living God who loves mankind and continues to guide the course of history to accompkish his purposes, then ypu can be cinfident that God will answer your prayers as to whether or not the Book of Mormon is truly from God.

      • Lance in TX

        Dan,
        We do not disregard the truth of the Bible. We believe in and study the Bible as the Word of God. We believe that the cannon is not closed. That is all. No where in the Bible does it say that the cannon should be closed.

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  • Ken Howes

    The retention rate of members, among actual Christians–whatever the LDS is, it is not a Christian church–ranges from catastrophically low in “main line churches” like the PCUSA, Episcopal Church, UMC, ELCA to the revolving door of the “contemporary” churches to about breaking even in the “confessional” churches like the author’s Presbyterian Church in America, the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, the “continuing” Anglican churches and the Eastern Orthodox churches. The Roman Catholic Church goes up and down. It has gotten something of a shot in the arm because most of the arriving Hispanics are, if they go to church at all, Roman Catholics.

  • jim

    It’s interesting information. If we get to Heaven by the number of people in our church, let the Mormans win.
    I would rather have GOD, than a whole lot of people saying by church is better than yours because of numbers
    If you accept JESUS and ask for forgiviness that is what really matters.

    • David French

      Name one quality of Mormonism I listed in that list of six reasons that isn’t Godly.

    • Lance in TX

      Jim,
      We as LDS do accept Jesus and ask for forgiviness at all times. Repentence is critical to what we believe.
      If you do not realize what we have Jesus as the ONLY way to Salvation, than you have NO idea what we believe and maybe you should attend a couple of our weekly meetings on Sunday. It might do you some good.

  • Michael

    I see that the are Mormon’s really Christian occupies a good deal of this thread. If they say they are , I take em at their word. As to why Mormon sales are higher than Baptist, the Mormon fantasy is more coherent and generally more cheerful than the Baptist or for that matter, other competing fantasies in the Christian camp. Throw in the disciplined, regulated and insular life style, living among but not in the world at large and you have a scheme that competes at a relative advantage

    • bytebear

      Or it could just make them happy.

  • Joel Cannon

    David, I consider you my Christian brother and have great respect for the fine example you set. While my LDS church shred your retention challenges in this secular world, I am pleased that we can serve as a positive example of a few principles that are helpful. We ALL have lots of room to improve. It is encouraging to see our churches trying to cooperate more – I think we can certainly help each other accomplish compatible goals.

    Another program I did not see mentioned is Family Home Evening. The joke is that it is the only family argument that begins and ends in prayer – but all kidding aside, it a time where once a week we meet as a family to spend quality time together and focus on more spiritual ideas. In our home, we try and take turns letting the kids teach a short lesson (with mixed results). LDS.org has online materials to give you ideas. I think it would be perfect for your beautiful family. Worth a look if you are not familiar with the idea already.

    The LDS church spends a lot of money to create and distribute these kinds of subsidized materials – I expect that most of it would be compatible with your own beliefs.

  • Jeremy

    As a Southern Baptist minister, let me say that part of our ‘decline’ has to do with churches within the Convention more actively and accurately cleansing our roles of members who are either in sin or no longer active in the church. In light of 2 Timothy 4:3, I think it’s somewhat silly to tip our hats to a cult for drawing people in.

  • Eric B.

    And what’s the point here? 99% of North Koreans are fervent adherents to the “faith” of the Great Leader Kim.

    Funny, you require people to give copious amounts of time, fealty and money from the moment they are born and live in an insular and self-reinforcing world then most stay there is just human nature. I’m sure that Baptists who make their kids go to 6am Bible study and 4pm Bible study and donate 10% of their lemonade stand money to their church will also be sufficiently brainwashed that they never leave.

  • Dan

    Gerald McDermott clarifies the differences (why Mormons are not Christians) in this article…a worthy read.
    http://www.firstthings.com/article/2008/09/003-is-mormonism-christian-31

    • Raymond Takashi Swenson

      While you look for reasons to exclude Mormons from fellowship as fellow believers in Jesus Christ, ponder thus: The great majority of the 250,000 or so people who convert to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints every year have been members of traditional Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant denominations. They know what being a Christian in those traditional Christian churches is all about. Yet when they join the LDS Church, they do not believe they are leaving Christianity behind. Rather, they find in the Book of Mormon even MORE worship of Christ than they knew un other churches. Becoming “Mormon” is the perfection of all they learned as Christians. And they look forward to meeting Christ their Savior.

    • Lance in TX

      I think Christ will decide who is and who is not a follower of Him.
      Are you prepared to cast the first stone?
      Are you qualified to speak for Christ Himself?
      I don’t speak for Him. All those that say they follow Christ and behave like Christ asked us to, then they are Christian, even if they do not believe the same exact doctrine that I do.

  • Larry

    I am an LDS Convert. Joined at 19 years old, I am now 60. Thank you for your kind words. I pray you are successful in drawing your youth back to Church and really learning the fundamentals doctrines, while having fun and feeling the joy of the Holy ghost. Let us all try harder to remain clean

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  • Sarah Hannan

    When I was LDS, I was much more involved in church. I think the way Mormons socialize new members into the ward (church) has a lot to do with it. Asking members to give talks (sermons), fulfill callings (jobs in the church), etc., makes everyone feel like they’re more of a part of it.

  • S. Wright

    As a Christian who has lived and grown up in Utah I am the counter-culture. The truth is that the reason mormons go on missions, have larger families, do more in their church, etc. is because have a culture of oppression and guilt built into their theology and church structure.
    Mormons (particularly the men) are more or less pressured into going on a mission. The family and church pressure is immense (especially when you have a LARGE family all expecting you to go on a mission) and if you don’t go you are generally looked down upon and your chances of finding a wife to be properly sealed in the temple are greatly reduced.
    When the church issues a “calling” – marching orders – to one of it’s members, it is not to be ignored for there will consequences which may include being called into the bishops office for a verbal lashing. As one who has attended LDS service to indulge my friends I was appalled and amazed at how they keep their members constantly busy with “service projects” and work to do for the church.
    Let me also mention their mandated 10% tithing. I like to call it a church-induced tax because you have to bring your pay stubs into the bishop to insure that you haven’t been giving less than what is required. That is absolute oppression if you ask me. This is why mormons have money to fund missions, fund their own welfare programs, and build stakes and temples. They brainwash their children from a young age teaching them to sing songs in “primary” that give “praise to the man” – Joseph Smith – and the validity of “the prophet”. They get converts by running their youth groups (called “Mutual”) under the guise of Boy Scouts of America – giving young growing minds who are sitting on the fence something to do. As they grow older they are offered the chance to do something meaningful and glorious – worthy of the celestial kingdom – to go on a mission.

    The women are strictly taught their position in the church – inferior of that to men – and hence why their marriages stay together. You wouldn’t believe how many LDS church encouraged divorces occur when one of the marital partners discovers that their church is built on a foundation of lies and watered with a fountain of deceit.
    The author of the article is naive and clearly has only seen mormons as the innocent, outside, counterculture, service oriented people that they put on as a facade. He hasn’t taken the time to examine the motivation behind their seemingly altruistic, church-loyal actions. They are good at making you feel good when you do good and that is how they get people. You become part of a community, not a disjointed ugly mess of a church. Non of them are seeking Christ to save them, they only seek to feel good and save themselves. Work to follow the steps into the Celestial Kingdom so they can one day have their own universe to rule in eternity with their sealed partner. Mormonism is oppressive, works based, polytheistic, self-centered, cult-like, garbage. They are a people are close to the light but are blinded from fully seeing it. It is like they can see the Red and Blue but are missing the Green.

    My apologies for the long rant, but mormonism is a top down, follow the rules type organization. They are not to be compared with individuals who seek and believe in Christ Jesus. On the outside they may look pretty, and organized – but it is a death trap of the oldest kind.

    • Phil

      S. Wright, you’ll likely never read this (your post was 2 months ago), but I thought I’d comment on your comment anyway.

      “…is because have a culture of oppression and guilt built into their theology and church structure.”
      >>Sure, there are high expectations, but they are there to rise to them. You are never forced to do anything you are not willing to do. Sure, there may occasionally be awkward moments when people learn I didn’t serve a mission, but to say there’s a culture of oppression and guilt is a major overstatement in my view. That being said, no one here is perfect. I’m sure it varies by person/family/ward, but it isn’t built into the doctrine or church. Those living the doctrine will accept you regardless of your past choices. “In every way be good and kind, but never force the human mind.” (can’t remember which hymn that comes from at the moment)

      “Mormons (particularly the men) are more or less pressured into going on a mission. [...] and if you don’t go you are generally looked down upon and your chances of finding a wife to be properly sealed in the temple are greatly reduced.”
      >>There is some pressure/expectation to going on a mission. The decision is still the person’s choice to make and ideally the choice will be supported. I’m sure some families/wards put more pressure on them than others. I wouldn’t say I’m looked down on for not serving a mission. As for “finding a wife,” I’m sure there are those for which a mission is a must in a potential husband, but those who didn’t go on missions still get temple married too. I wouldn’t say the chances are greatly reduced so long as it is still desired.

      “When the church issues a “calling” – marching orders – to one of it’s members…”
      >>You do not need to accept the calling. Nothing bad will happen if you don’t. As for the “verbal lashing,” I’m sure it could have happened before (bishops are fallable people too), but I’ve never heard of it happening. You don’t even need to give your answer right when you are extended a calling, you can always think about it and get back to him.

      “…I was appalled and amazed at how they keep their members constantly busy with “service projects” and work to do for the church.”
      >>Again, you don’t need to do anything you are unwilling to do. If you are being pressured to do something you are against doing, you could always ask the bishop to be released from your calling and someone else will fill it. Being forced to be constantly busy and having multiple opportunities to serve are two different things. Free agency is a big deal in the church.

      “Let me also mention their mandated 10% tithing. I like to call it a church-induced tax because you have to bring your pay stubs into the bishop to insure that you haven’t been giving less than what is required.”
      >>Again, not mandatory (unless you want a temple recommend). And if your bishop is having people bring in pay stubs… direct him to the church handbook as that is NOT ok. It’s honor system as it should be. You don’t even need to have it paid at tithing settlement (end of year quick meeting with the bishop)… you just need to say whether you intend to be a full tithe payer or not by the end of the year. Also the 10% of your “increase” is not rigidly defined… could be net or gross… whatever you feel is right. You can pay it whenever you like. And you are not punished (beyond withholding the temple recommend) if you don’t pay a full tithe. People are given a record of their tithes that year at tithing settlement, could that be what you are referring to by “pay stubs”?

      “They brainwash their children from a young age teaching them to sing songs in “primary” that give “praise to the man” – Joseph Smith – and the validity of “the prophet”.”
      >>You could really argue that anything is brainwashing. And most religions I know of have hymns.

      “They get converts by running their youth groups (called “Mutual”) under the guise of Boy Scouts of America – giving young growing minds who are sitting on the fence something to do.”
      >>I’m sure some people convert purely for social reasons… is that not true of any other church?

      “The women are strictly taught their position in the church – inferior of that to men – and hence why their marriages stay together.”
      >>Everyone has their roles to fill, but to say that it is taught that women are inferior to men is simply not true. Far from it. As for “strictly taught their position,” there are some callings that only men can fill and there are some callings that only women can fill, but most could be filled by either gender and people change callings often enough. Yes, the higher publicity callings are generally male only, but the higher the publicity the more the responsibility and time needed… and you are still not paid for it. Also with the higher publicity callings, I’ve heard they are asked to think and pray about it with their family before accepting or rejecting the calling. (another example that it isn’t “marching orders”)

      “You wouldn’t believe how many LDS church encouraged divorces occur when one of the marital partners discovers that their church is built on a foundation of lies and watered with a fountain of deceit.”
      >>I’m sure some will pressure people to divorce (people are all different and imperfect), but I’d like to think most would be supportive of whatever decision is made and helpful regardless. Nice symbolism by the way.

      “…only seen mormons as the innocent, outside, counterculture, service oriented people that they put on as a facade. He hasn’t taken the time to examine the motivation behind their seemingly altruistic, church-loyal actions.”
      >>Surely there’s some confirmation bias in there. You can look at these actions with cynicism and distrust, or you can trust that they do what they do for the reasons they say they do them. “By their fruits ye shall know them.”

      “Non of them are seeking Christ to save them, they only seek to feel good and save themselves. Work to follow the steps into the Celestial Kingdom so they can one day have their own universe to rule in eternity with their sealed partner.”
      >>Again, you can either believe that they “believe in doing good to all men,” or that they are out to deceive. Cynicism and distrust vs. trust and optimism. Is your glass half empty?

      “Mormonism is oppressive, works based, polytheistic, self-centered, cult-like, garbage. They are a people are close to the light but are blinded from fully seeing it.”
      >>Nice analogy… you said you lived in Utah, right? As for those descriptors, I’m sure your experience differed from mine. People are fallable. They don’t always do the right thing. They are not always helpful or supportive. But I generally have not seen what you are describing, though I will address a couple of those adjectives directly.

      Works-based: Nowhere in mormon doctrine is it taught that you are justified by works. You cannot work your way to heaven. Ultimately we are saved through the Atonement of Christ and without which there would be no way to heaven. We do believe works are important. I could go into the different degrees of glory and such, but the way I’ve heard it best put is that people will end up where they will be most comfortable. So we want to change ourselves to be as perfect as we fallable creatures can be… which is a never-ending process of self-improvement.

      Polytheistic: Somewhere in this thread someone mentioned theosis, but I’ll ignore that. I know of one God. It was through His power all I know in this life was created. Are there more out there? I don’t know of them, but other beliefs make it seem likely.

      Self-centered: “By their fruits ye shall know them.”

      Cult-like: You mean like early Christianity in general?

      “My apologies for the long rant, but mormonism is a top down, follow the rules type organization. They are not to be compared with individuals who seek and believe in Christ Jesus. On the outside they may look pretty, and organized – but it is a death trap of the oldest kind.”
      >>Sure, the church organization is top-down, but that does not mean information and ideas can’t travel back up. Better organizations can better mobilize and serve. The doctrine is very much Christ centered and everyone is encouraged to find out the truthfulness of the dectrine for themselves through prayer and by reasoning it out in their minds. As for “death trap,” anyone can leave at any time. Agency is a big deal in LDS doctrine. There is nothing in doctrine or church policy meant to guilt trip or punish those that leave. Though fallable people will sometimes do mean things, we are encouraged to do as it says in D&C 121:41-43.

      41 [...] only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned;
      42 By kindness, and pure knowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy, and without guile—
      43 Reproving betimes with sharpness, when moved upon by the Holy Ghost; and then showing forth afterwards an increase of love toward him whom thou hast reproved, lest he esteem thee to be his enemy

  • ogrepete

    Good post. We’re all concerned about “losing” our youth. Losing even one to the seduction of the world/Satan is heart-breaking. :(

  • John W. Morehead

    I appreciate the attempt at contrasting states of affairs in Evangelicalism and Mormonism. As an Evangelical scholar and missiologist with a special focus of study and interaction with Mormonism, I’d make two observations. First, according to social scientific data and membership statistics, the LDS Church is struggling with gaining new members and member retention every bit as much as Evangelicalism. Those interested can contact me for a paper I presented at Sunstone Symposium with some of this data. Second, in terms of approaches to engaging Mormons and others with an eye toward persuasion, Evangelicals might consider moving away from evangelistic approaches that are one-way monologues, and are confrontational and apologetic in nature, and move instead toward relational and conversational ways of engagement. Not only does Evangelicalism fail many times in the areas you cite, but our focus on boundary maintenance, and an us vs. them mentality detracts from more fruitful avenues for engagement.

  • bytebear

    Just as the Trinity has three persons, Mormons simply use the term God to mean the Godhead or each individual member. It’s simply semantics. Saying Jesus is a God and Jesus is God may be heretical to non-Mormon Christians, but to Mormons, they know they mean the same thing. The Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants both use the phrase “Father, Son and Holy Ghost which is One God”.


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