Written by Mark Cares
Christians and Mormons often end up talking past each other. A huge contributor is that Mormonism defines many important words uniquely. For example, Mormonism’s 8th Article of Faith states: “We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly.” The word “translated”, according to any dictionary, means to change words from one language into another language. But this isn’t what the article of faith refers to. Instead it is talking about how the Bible was transmitted. The following is from an article on lds.org explaining the 8th Article of Faith.
“And although errors do appear in various renderings from the original Hebrew and Greek, the bigger issue is that in the delivery of the ancient texts to the present day, “many plain and precious things [were] taken away” (1 Nephi 13:28). So, as the Bible texts were transmitted to us, certain teachings were lost” (Liahona September 2015).
This is just one of many examples of Mormonism’s unique definitions.
Besides differing definitions, there is another way Christians and Mormons are on different wavelengths. Mormons are on the “feelings” wavelength while Christians are on the “Bible” wavelength. With the result, they often don’t communicate. It too often is like trying to listen to a FM station on an AM radio.
This regularly occurs with the people who talk with LDS missionaries. The missionaries repeatedly ask them how they feel about the teachings the missionaries share with them. Or they are repeatedly asked to pray about the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon.
This is understandable once we understand Mormonism teaches that “most revelations to leaders and members of the Church come through the whisperings of the Holy Ghost” (True to the Faith, p. 141). It is further explained: “He prompts us through our feelings. Although we often describe communication from the Spirit as a voice, that voice is one that we feel more than we hear” (Ibid, p.144). This feeling, when it comes in connection to the Book of Mormon, is often called a “burning in the bosom” (D&C 9:8).
Christians, however, believe the Holy Ghost works through and reveals truth through the Bible. Instead of praying about the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon in hopes of getting a good feeling about it, we determine its truthfulness by comparing it with the Bible. The same holds true for all teaching. The question important to Christians is not how we feel about a certain teaching, but rather how a teaching lines up with the Bible. In other words, we are on a completely different wavelength.
This doesn’t mean communication between Mormons and Christians is impossible. Just recognizing and acknowledging the different wavelengths is a huge step forward. We can carefully explain the differences. When Mormons want us to respond on their wavelength, we can patiently remind them of those differences. For example, we could say something like this. “As I mentioned before, I determine the truth of anything by comparing it to the Bible. So, I won’t pray about the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon. But I would appreciate it if you would summarize its teachings because I want to make sure I understand them correctly.”
Another way to get on the same wavelength is by emphasizing the positive feelings the true gospel gives you. Although we don’t determine truth by our feelings, we can testify to how truth has affected our feelings. In other words, it’s not that we know something is true because we feel good; we feel good because we know the truth. What we can especially talk about is the total confidence we have that we will live with Heavenly Father for all eternity. We can be so confident because it doesn’t rest on what we do but on what Jesus did for us. Or we could talk about the joy we experience knowing the Lord watches over us and provides for us – not because of our worthiness but because of Jesus’ worthiness for us.
Sharing our faith in this way is often more attractive than sharing bare biblical truth. Expressing our joy and confidence have often acted as a magnet attracting Mormons. And it also causes us to regularly think and thank the Lord for the huge difference he has made in our lives.
In fact, why don’t you find somebody today to share your joy and confidence with?