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Mormonism 101: Examining the Religion of the Latter-day Saints

15 Jul

What makes Mormonism different from traditional Christianity?  Do the differences matter?  And if so, how can a traditional Christian believer most effectively explain those differences to their LDS friends? An enlightening journey through basic Mormon theology, Bill McKeever and Eric Johnson’s volume, Mormonism 101: Examining the Religion of the Latter-day Saints, is an honest and well-researched volume designed to help answer these questions!

McKeever and Johnson take their readers on an informative and enlightening journey through LDS history as seen through Mormon eyes.  Utilizing accepted Scripture and the teachings of the LDS church’s apostles and prophets they add scope to the Christian’s understanding of what their Mormon friends mean when they talk about concepts like “grace”, “salvation”, and “eternal life”.  Carefully comparing and contrasting LDS and traditional Christian views on subjects as varied as the nature of God and humanity, scripture, salvation, temple ordinances, and revelation, they provide believers with a basis for dialogue.  Then, through a series of “Witnessing Tips” placed after each chapter, McKeever and Johnson help their readers better understand how to apply the information they’ve learned in real-life situations: sharing the differences while demonstrating both love and respect.

A great primer for those interested in better understanding the LDS faith and effectively sharing their own, Mormonism 101: Examining the Religion of the Latter-day Saints is available in paperback for $19.80 or on Kindle for $12.10.

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Utah Lighthouse Ministry

4 Feb

“I have more to boast of than ever any man had. I am the only man that has ever been able to keep a whole church together since the days of Adam. A large majority of the whole have stood by me. Neither Paul, John, Peter, nor Jesus ever did it. I boast that no man ever did such a work as I.”  Bold words?  You bet!  If you’re like most of us, you’d be hard pressed to identify who spoke them… and you might be surprised to discover that they are found in an official account of a sermon delivered by Joseph Smith, Jr., founder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  Like many of the prophet’s teachings, these words come not from hearsay or the accounts of those who seek to destroy the LDS church, but from the records of the church, itself… in this case, History of the Church, Vol. 6, p. 408, 409

For many, claims like this, are sufficient to elicit suspicion.  After all, how many leaders of Christian churches would be so bold as to claim themselves capable of that which Christ, Himself was not?  Unfortunately, many modern members of the LDS church are unaware of the teachings of their founder and his early successors, choosing, instead to simply repeat the line that the Mormon church is Christian… merely a denomination of a larger faith.

It is for the purpose of addressing this claim and others like it that the Utah Lighthouse Ministry was established.  Created in 1983 by Jerald Tanner (a great-great grandson of John Tanner) and his wife, Sandra (a great-great granddaughter of Brigham Young), UTLM seeks to make teachings such as these readily available to both members and non-members of the LDS church in the hope of encouraging careful analysis of the doctrine of the prophets upon whose teaching the church was established.

Visit their website, and you’ll find a multitude of useful resources starting with Jerald Tanner’s testimony of his own journey out of MormonismView the stories of others who have left the LDS Church, then take a look at what they found to be a compelling case for their departure as you examine 3,913 Changes to the Book of Mormon as well as an extensive list of places in which the Book of Mormon directly contradicts the teachings of the Bible and view a few of the contradictions which exist within the LDS Scriptures.  Explore LDS Theology in-depth as you tackle topics from the test of a prophet to church teaching on the role of Lucifer.

Then, learn to effectively share your faith with your Latter-day Saint friends and family.  Check out a variety of FREE gospel tracts including Jesus and Joseph Smith, Testing the Book of Mormon, and The Fall of the Book of Abraham.  And when your friends are ready to leave, check out the comprehensive explanation of the process for removing your name from the church rolls.

The site is full of great resources from audio interviews and video clips to a selection of online books, so take your time.  Read the resources carefully and you’re sure to be ready to address the claims of the LDS church with your Mormon friends in a way that reflects both gentleness and respect!

Mormonism Research Ministry

14 Jan

Established in 1979, Mormonism Research Ministry is dedicated to helping both Christians and non-Christians navigate the maze of LDS teaching.  MRM strives to present the LDS Church in an honest and truthful light, drawing from the actual publications of the LDS Church and the writings of its prophets.  The staff at MRM seeks to present the case against Mormonism in a way that expresses their genuine love for the LDS people.

Visit their site and you’ll discover a variety of resources ranging from an A-Z Introduction to Terms and Issues Related to Mormonism to an overview of the LDS Church and Culture. Learn more about the origins and history of the Book of Mormon and delve into LDS teaching concerning the Nature of God, The Plan of Salvation, and the purpose of Temples. Subscribe to the Free Newsletter to receive up-to-date commentary on current LDS news and teaching, listen to episodes of the Viewpoint on Mormonism Podcast where LDS doctrine is discussed in-depth, and check out the opinions of staff members and guest on the Mormon Coffee blog!

Want to better understand what is currently being taught in Melchizedek Priesthood and Relief Society Meetings?  Join your LDS friends in 2013 as they study “Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Lorenzo Snow”.  Then follow along as Eric Johnson shares his thoughts on the text through a progressive commentary.

Looking to share your faith more effectively?  Why not check out the MRM Store where you’ll find a variety of well-researched books, DVD’s, PDF’s and MP3’s?  Haven’t got any money to spend?  MRM offers a variety of Free Tracts to help you walk your Mormon friends through the doctrines of traditional Christianity in a way that shows both gentleness and respect.

And, if you’re LDS and are currently struggling with the teachings of former and current church leaders, there’s help here for you too.  Check out the list of support groups or take a moment to Contact MRM directly where friendly staff members will do their best to help.

Whatever your viewpoint or your level of knowledge concerning the LDS Church, you’re sure to find the resources on this site both interesting and informative!

Grounded: Relating to Your Mormon Friends in Truth and Love

24 Sep

What is truth?  Does it matter?  If so, where do we go to find it?  Is Truth found in feelings or in facts?  And do the two ever coincide?  These questions mark one of the clearest boundaries between the LDS faith and traditional Christianity… and our answers to them can make a big difference in our ability both to stay grounded in our own faith and to clearly communicate that faith to others.

That is why the Western Institute for Intercultural Studies has taken over the task of marketing the “Grounded” youth group curriculum.  Throughout five sessions, young Christians will explore the fundamental differences between Mormonism and Biblical Christianity, finding answers to questions like these while at the same time learning the techniques necessary to develop fruitful and lasting friendships.  Throughout the series, youth are encouraged both to ask questions of their Mormon friends and to listen carefully to their answers while at the same time honestly and openly presenting their own faith.  Workbook devotions encourage teens to delve deeper into the Truth of God’s Word, enriching their spiritual life through both prayer and practical “good works”, while DVD interviews with LDS teens help students begin to see the world through the eyes of those whose theology and lifestyle often seem foreign to them.

Overall, I found that the materials took a refreshing approach to “sharing the truth in love” and believe that whether you study on your own, with your family, or in your youth group, the “Grounded” resources will help you learn to more effectively share your faith with your LDS friends!

The curriculum, including Leader’s Guide, Student Workbooks, and DVD segments is available for purchase through the Western Institute of Intercultural Studies.  I encourage you to “click” over and take a look!

Bridges: Helping Mormons Discover God’s Grace

17 Sep

Sharing God’s Grace and traditional Christianity with an LDS friend, neighbor, or family member can be a challenge and it doesn’t take most of us long to discover that if we’re going to present our faith clearly and effectively, we’re going to need some help… and possibly a new perspective.  That’s where “Bridges”, a curriculum distributed by the Western Institute for Intercultural Studies comes in.  In five sessions, participants begin to understand:

  • The Legacy of the LDS Church – How did it begin?  What shaped its culture and attitudes?  Which forces are influencing it as its members’ journey into the future?
  • The Theology of the LDS Church – How do its doctrines differ from traditional Christianity?  What influence do its teachings have upon the daily life of members?
  • The Journey out of the LDS Church – What obstacles face those who question and ultimately leave the church?  In what ways does traditional Christian community help or hinder these immigrants?
  • Bridging the Gap – How can Christians clarify key doctrines of the faith for those who use the same vocabulary, but assign it with different meanings?  How can our own “faith experience” aid believers in effectively sharing the Gospel with their LDS friend?
  • Community of Grace – In what ways can Christians help former LDS church members’ transition into Biblical Christianity?

Workbooks coupled with group discussion and DVD interviews with former LDS church members help students begin to thoughtfully process the difference between the Mormon faith and traditional Christianity while at the same time teaching believers to “speak the native language” of the Deseret.  Throughout the course, participants will learn to better understand what drives their LDS friends as they learn to more clearly and effectively communicate their own faith.

I highly recommend the curriculum to anyone who is ready to take on the adventure of sharing the Christian faith within the context of this unique culture!

Facilitator’s Guides, Student Workbook, and DVD material are available for purchase at: http://www.wiics.org/seminars/mormonism-adult-training.

Transitions: The Mormon Migration from Religion to Relationship

10 Sep

Those who have spent a large percentage of their lives in Utah and Southeast Idaho will be the first to tell you that Mormonism isn’t just a religion, it’s a culture.  The teachings of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints influence everything from the family to the workplace, from volunteer organizations to government and, most times, in positive ways.

Unfortunately, this intertwining of religious belief with every-day life can become a hindrance to anyone who decides to sever their ties with the church.  As members of the LDS church take their first steps into traditional, Biblical Christianity, they are often accosted by sights, sounds, and philosophies which (at times) differ greatly from those with which they are familiar.  Wading through the positive and negative aspects of LDS culture and its relationship to the Truth frequently leaves these new believers feeling as though they are “immigrants in a foreign land”.

It is for this very reason that the Western Institute for Intercultural Studies has produced the Transitions curriculum.  The series explores not merely the differences between LDS and Biblical Christian culture and theology, but also the emotional aspect of leaving behind that with which a person is most familiar.  Through interviews with former Latter-day Saints, Transitions addresses the effects which a change in faith has upon one’s view of one’s self and one’s place within God’s story and provides hope for those who are facing this transition, themselves.

The curriculum also has something to offer those who are already in a relationship with Christ and are seeking to ease the pain experienced by members of the LDS church as they transition to Biblical Christianity.  In listening to these believers discuss the frustrations they encountered as they shared their new beliefs with family and watching as they commiserate about their struggle to find a place within a traditional Christian congregation, your eyes will be opened to the many ways in which both churches and individuals can help and support these new brothers and sisters in Christ.

I found the materials both helpful and informative and hope that you will do the same!

The curriculum can be previewed at http://www.ldstransitions.com/preview where it can be purchased for either individual or church use.

Share the Son Ministries

14 May

This week, we’re highlighting a ministry that is very near and dear to my own heart.  During 2010 and the early part of 2011, I had the honor of working as Educational Assistant for Share the Son Ministries, helping Christians learn the cross-cultural techniques necessary to more effectively share their faith with their LDS friends and neighbors.  While I’ve moved on to other opportunities, I’d like to take the opportunity to share this excellent ministry with you.

Visit their website and you’ll find a multitude of resources designed to help you more clearly differentiate between orthodox Christian beliefs and those which are espoused by the LDS Church.  Their “Contrast Brings Clarity” handout compares the two in an easy-to-use, side-by-side manner while the “Rocks” displayed across the top of the page offer a more in depth look.  Want to do some research, yourself?  STS makes that possible, providing you with LDS Doctrine Study Tools direct from the source.  Each link is designed to help Christians gain both confidence and understanding, so the next time the missionaries come knocking at your door, you’ll be ready to give them an answer that demonstrates both gentleness and respect!

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