Pillar 3: focus on Mormon stress points
This is absolutely critical, but it’s done so rarely. Christians commonly want to talk about everything in Mormonism which bothers them. Things like its' additional scriptures, its' rejection of the Trinity, and its' teaching that people can become gods. The problem with these and similar topics is that the vast majority of Mormons aren’t bothered by them. And if they aren’t bothered by them, they won’t bother discussing them with you. In fact, they will want to get away from you as quickly as possible.
Stress Points to Mormons
Most react quite differently when you talk about the things in Mormonism which cause them stress. Instead of trying to end the conversation, they are eager to continue it. We typically focus on three areas:
- A person’s worthiness before God. The themes of worthiness and perfection are common in Mormonism. They must be worthy to receive any and all blessings. Thus, worthiness is on the minds of most Mormons. And many, even many active members, frequently have doubts about their worthiness. Perfectionism causes great stress for many. It is engrained in Mormons that they have “divine potential” and thus can be worthy before God on the basis of their own merits. To show the impossibility of this, we need to talk about how even one sin makes us guilty of everything (i.e. James 2:10). Only after they have come to grips with the severity of even one sin can we share how Jesus has earned our worthiness for us and gives it freely to us. In this way, we strive to make this stress point a rest point in Christ.
- Forgiveness from God. Most of the time when forgiveness is talked about in Mormonism, it focuses on a person’s duty to forgive another. Rarely does it talk about God’s forgiveness of people. And when it does, it must be earned (see quote from Spencer Kimball in #1 above). It is obtained only after a person has gone through the “painful process” of repentance. Many Mormons have a hard time believing God forgives us freely and completely in Christ. Even though they struggle to believe it, most don’t mind talking about it – especially those who are troubled by their sinfulness. And the more we can talk to them about it, the more chance the Holy Spirit has to work through the powerful gospel to change this stress point into a rest point in Christ.
- Living eternally with Heavenly Father. We word it this way very intentionally. Mormonism teaches that almost everybody goes to heaven, but only those who go to the celestial kingdom will live with Heavenly Father. So, talking about going to heaven with a Mormon is a pointless exercise. On the other hand, focusing on living eternally with Heavenly Father is often quite productive. It’s productive because it too is a stress point for many Mormons. A Mormon leader recently related how he asked a gathering of a couple of hundred Mormons, “who wants to live eternally with Heavenly Father”. All raised their hands. He then asked how many thought they were going to achieve it. Only one raised his hand. The best most Mormons can say about living with Heavenly Father is that they hope they will. Very few are confident they will because, again, it all depends on their worthiness. Here too we can strive to make this stress point a rest point in Christ.