Funerals are Revealing
One of the things many Christians and Mormons have in common is that they struggle to see the vast differences in their beliefs. Although these differences are significant, they often aren’t seen because both Mormons and Christians use common theological words but define them differently. This results in a lot of confusion, misunderstanding, and often anger.
Over the years, I have experienced all the above. This is why we at Truth in Love Ministry continue to study Mormonism to understand it accurately. That’s why we continue to explore how to communicate biblical truth in ways which emphasize the differences in our beliefs. This is so important. Most often, only when both parties acknowledge there are differences, can there be productive conversations.
One place where the differences become clear to me is at funerals. I have attended and conducted many Christian funerals. I have attended Mormon funerals. Talk about different messages being sent!
Accompanying the February 2018 issue of the Ensign magazine was a 32- page tribute to Thomas S. Monson, their prophet who recently died (you can read it here). As I read it, the first thing which struck me was that it stated, more than once, that his favorite Bible passage was Acts 10:38, especially the phrase Jesus “went about doing good”. It emphasized how, all his life, he tried to follow Jesus’ example of doing good. This plainly was the funeral’s main message.
To be fair, Christ’s atonement was also mentioned repeatedly. But it surely wasn’t in the spotlight. It was referred to more in passing than expounded on. In addition, Mormonism views the atonement drastically different than Christians do (Here’s a link to a blog post explaining their view of the atonement).
As I read the tribute, I thought of the many Christian funerals I have attended, including some of prominent church leaders. Yes, their achievements were mentioned but they were not stressed. Center-stage was Jesus’ atonement. Jesus and what he did for us was what was in the spotlight. I can’t think of one Christian funeral I attended where Jesus was even mentioned as being our example. In striking contrast, they not only talked about but focused on Jesus being our substitute. The comfort given was not that the departed was a good person. It was that Jesus lived perfectly for him and then died for all his sins. The deceased’s trust in Jesus’ good works and not his own works was the reason given why the mourners could rejoice that he was now living with Heavenly Father forever.
Biblical Christianity and Mormonism proclaim two entirely different messages. These differences need to be acknowledged and discussed. For nothing less than people’s eternity is at stake.