One hot evening in May 2016, I was putting away the lawnmower in our garage as I noticed two young ladies standing on our front porch. My wife and oldest son were pointing them over to me saying, “He’s the one you want to talk to.”
They came over and introduced themselves as sisters of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. As we stood in the driveway, we engaged in very agreeable conversation about the Trinity, whereby they explained they believed in three separate persons—Father, Son and Holy Spirit—and I countered with a brief explanation that it’s one God in the Trinity; Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
When it became apparent we weren’t quite speaking the same language (though it sounded very similar,) I went to my car to bring them a Greg Koukl CD on the Trinity. I figured Greg could do a better job of explaining things than I was doing. The sisters immediately rejected it, saying while they were on their mission, they were not allowed to listen to any media, watch any media.. nothing. But they were allowed to have conversations with people.
By then my amused wife had come out to remind me it was bedtime for our kids. The missionaries and I set up another time to talk. I suggested exactly one week later, which I knew would give me more time to get clear on the Mormon position. The good sisters agreed and the date was set. As they left, they thanked me for “being so cool.” Apparently, they had been run off before by un-Christ-like Christians who hurled insults, calling them agents of the devil.
As I began to study Mormonism, one thing became clear. This was not Christianity. It sounded like Christianity and walked like Christianity, but it brought twists and contortions to God’s Word that plainly don’t exist when one spends time in textual analysis of the original Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic.
Through study, it also became apparent many missionaries run at first signs of conflict or Christian resolve. This was something I did not want. To quote a spiritual mentor of mine, “No contact, no impact.” Someone had cautioned me against letting them into my home, but as I discovered, this is caution for those Christians who are relatively new to their faith. While I was only about 7 months old from my born-again commitment, I was steeping myself in the works of Greg Bahnsen and Greg Koukl.
Over the next four weeks, the sisters and I met once a week. Their next visit, they brought another, older couple. The husband represented a member of the Mormon priesthood. As we sat in my home office, I sat on the hearth, deliberately and symbolically positioning myself between them and the inferno. By the end of that meeting, we had established introduced the concepts of Joseph’s failed prophecies and the notion that the apostasy meant Jesus and the Apostles failed to establish a meaningful church.
The third meeting messed me up. Just the three women this time, they took 20 minutes to show me a DVD on the origins of Mormonism, told “Little House on the Prairie” style. I wasn’t prepared for this and—though I agreed to watch the video to gain a deeper understanding into the marketing machine that is Mormonism—we parted ways that night with heaviness on both sides. One of the sisters was coming to the end of her mission and would be going back home to Arizona that next week. “Well, I suppose I’ll at least be able to see you in heaven after this life,” she said.
The stakes are different for we Christians, however. For me, I felt a sense of urgency to meet one last time; to speak into these girls and witness to them as best I could. In my own mind, I had not witnessed well this meeting. That night, I wept as I prayed for the four Mormons. Of the sisters, I knew their parents had to be wildly proud of them; I know I would be if they were my daughters.
For our last meeting, I had resolved to become more aggressive. This time, it was just the two sisters who appeared at the door. As the song goes, “by the blood of the Lamb and the words of our testimony,” I poured into them as best I could my own journey from Catholicism to agnostic to regenerate born-again. Through 15 pages of notes, I did my best to respectfully bring them back to the authority of the Bible, the nature of God and Jesus, and the differences between our notion of heaven and hell. Still, it wasn’t enough time.
As we parted, I let them know this would be the last meeting for a while. All the research and preparation was taking a toll on the rest of my work. They understood and we shook hands. We have kept in touch and I will continue to point them toward the truth of Jesus Christ and God’s Word. This blog post and the posts to follow are a part of that effort.