How to Respond to President Monson’s Death

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Earlier this week, President Monson of the LDS Church died. Mormons view him not only as their president, but also as their living prophet. They believe the living prophet receives direct revelations from God. In a famous speech at BYU a few decades ago, the then living prophet, Ezra Taft Benson, said: “Beware of those who would pit the dead prophets against the living prophets, for the living prophets always take precedence.” The dead prophets include all the biblical prophets including Moses, David, and Isaiah. Saying that the living prophet takes precedence is saying a mouthful.

This is not a dusty doctrine either. This speech and statement is still quoted frequently in official LDS church manuals. It’s difficult for non-Mormons to imagine how much Mormons revere their living prophet.

Therefore, if you want to have any relationship with your Mormon friend, the worst way to respond to President Monson’s death is with ridicule. This would seem obvious but, unfortunately, I have seen it happen far too often.

On the other hand, since he was a false prophet, we don’t want to, in any way, send a message that we respected him as a religious leader.

So how should we respond?

I have found it beneficial to focus the discussion, not on the person of the living prophet, but on the doctrines of prophets in general and the living prophet specifically. If done with sensitivity to their strong feelings towards their living prophet, you could talk about what the Bible says about prophets – especially how to determine which ones are genuine. Probably the most cited passage in this regard is Galatians 1:6-9. Another passage I often use is Deuteronomy 13:1-3. I like to use it because most Mormons have never heard it.

However, don’t stop there. Keep in mind that biblical teaching is always better than LDS teaching. So also here. Go to Hebrews 1:1-2 and bear your testimony about your living prophet, Jesus Christ. Share with them how Jesus gives you daily guidance through the living and active Word of God.

As you do this, don’t expect them to agree with you. But, again if done with sensitivity, you won’t burn any bridges with them while still testifying to the truth. And because you use God’s powerful word, you will be planting a seed of truth in them which they won’t easily forget. Who knows? It could be one of those conversations they will remember years later – conversations the Lord will use to convince them of the truth.

Friends, use this opportunity to speak the truth in love to your Mormon friends.