Discourse with Mormons

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I am a student at the University of Washington, and as a student at a large, public, and fairly liberal school, I see an incredible amount of “Christian” religions that solicit to students. I myself am very active in the Newman Center on campus and recieve a lot of resources on how to defend Christ’s Church. Of course, I also check Catholic.com for info. Anyway, today, while I was heading home from classes through our student union building, I saw a Mormon table set up, and, knowing that they would come to me, I went to them. The first question I asked the two “Elders” at the table were if they believed if the Bible was the Word of God. Obviously, they responded yes. Seemingly interested, I asked who determined that it was the Word of God, and when they meekly responded that some anonymous men decided this, I told them that in fact, Christ’s One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Chruch had 400 years after Jesus’ death and ressurection. I continued breaking down the Mormon “faith” (if that is what lies by the Evil One could be called) and questioned the massive battles that were supposed to occur in North America, the Book of Mormon (written by the Dan Brown of the time, Joseph Smith), and finally the Mormonism (for NO church deserves to call itself the church of Jesus Christ of latter day saints) idea that Christ’s Church was destroyed in an apostacy a century after Christ’s ressurection. About to explode at this time, I held my passion in, and replied that Christ had said to St. Peter that death (a.k.a. Satan) shall not prevail against His Church until He comes again in glory. They then said something that I will never forget, even though I had told them that there is an unbroken line of popes since St. Peter, even though there are 800 million Catholics on every continent of the Earth, but only Mormons in North America, they said that “out of all the Christian religions only Catholics and Mormons claim to have been around since Christ.” Utterly appalled (Catholics do not claim that we are Christ’s One Church, we are in fact Christ’s One Church, and Mormons aren’t Christian) at this, I said that I hope that they turn away from such lies and I will pray for their souls to God and left.

I know that nearly everyone has been confronted by a Mormon (or vice-versa). How have some of you responded to their twisted lies, their selfish religion, their anti-Catholic theme, and what are some resources (books, tapes, letters, etc.) that are good to defend (which is sad that the Truth must be defended, but such is the world today) Christ’s Church from deceptions dressed in a white shirt and black slacks?
they said that “out of all the Christian religions only Catholics and Mormons claim to have been around since Christ.”
Such a claim is really ludicrous, even though it is routinely made by Mormons.

It totally fails to take into account the Orthodox Church, which is the world’s second-largest denomination of Christians. It also fails to take into account the several Fundamentalist Protestant bodies who claim that their church survived 2000 years underground.

And Mormons themselves don’t claim that their church has been around since Christ. They claim that the Apostle John never died, and a Great Apostasy happened and the true Church disappeared until resurrected by Joe Smith.
The book “When Mormons Call” by Isaiah Bennett is a good start (link for description on catholic.com)

When talking with Mormons I have used your basic approach with a slight addition:
0. Pray for charity from the Holy Spirit
  1. confirm they agree on inerrancy of Bible as God’s word, confirm THEY believe the BOM is also scripture that is consistent with the Bible
  2. confirm THEY believe in a great apostasy around 100AD
  3. ask how/when the NT was canonized. As you experienced they typically do not know - so I take the time to talk about the various 4th Century councils where the canon emerged
  4. ask them how an apostate Church could magically get the canon right (some great confusing answers usually emerge at this point)
  5. I usually go after their belief on eternal progression - working through the inconsistencies of their position on eternal progression with the unchanging nature of God and showing how they are making the same error as Adam and Eve in wanting to have God’s knowledge - which introduced original sin into our world.
The book provides a lot more detail and is a good reference.
I have a friend that is Mormom and I am tying to figure out how to approach the subject without utterly offending her and driving her away. :confused:

Living in Utah, I have faced mormong all my life, at work, at school, recreation… etc…etc…etc. You just can’t escape it here. LOL Mormonism is a truly amazing religion and culture. I have found the best way for me to talk to them, is first, know their teachings better than them. Many of them do not fully realize what the church has taught, and what some of the implications of the teachigs are… Second, Make sure you are comfortable not just talking about apologetics, but also let them know of the personal relationship you have with Christ and how it has changed your life. Mormongs call this bearing your testimony, and its very powerful in the LDS Church. Finally, Challenge, challenge, challenge. Often they have taken what they have been told and never questioned it. Challenge everything… ie. in your example, ok… if the Mormon Church has been around since Christ, who was a prominent member in the early 1600’s? (ps. Since the church was not founded till 1830, they will struggle with it), then you have the opportunity to show them how the real church would not ever leave the earth and be restored, and how you can name successive leaders and saints all the way back to Christ. If nothing less it will cause them to think about how it could be true that they have been since Christ, when they can’t name a member of the Church in that time period.

This prompts me to ask a question I posed in another thread, but I think it got overlooked.
Are we supposed to defend our Faith by approaching Mormons first?
Or do we wait until they approach us, and then bombard them with the Truth?
I have heard from my priest that I should wait until people approach me, but somewhere in this forum site I have read “what is the point of fishing in a fish bowl?”
Taking the first step and walking up to a Mormon when I see them walking down my street, and start questioning their religion, seems to me to be “stirring” for lack of a better word.
Is spreading the Truth all about being “right”?? As that is how I seem to feel when trying to defend my Faith, that I am right, they are not, but that makes me feel sad.
Hard to explain, hope someone understands
Love Kellie
Well… I will give you my thoughts. Mormons are not Chrisitans in the traditional definition of the word, althought they would strongly disagree. That being so, I have no problem approaching them first, much like I would any other non-chrisitian person. However, if I approached everyone I knew that is Mormon, I would not have time for work or family… LOL I work in a buildnig with 400-500 Mormons.

I think that it just depends on the circumstances. For example if I see a pair of Mormon missionaries walknig down the road, especially in the summer or winter, I will stop and give them a ride to where ever they are going. Although I am approaching them, I usually don’t say anything abuot religion, just try to help them. More often then not, they will notice something, a rosary, crucifix, ie. and they will start up the conversation… 🙂

At work, same thing… If it comes up, I jump on it, as long as that door has been opened… however, I dont go up and start the conversation with them if it is not in the context of my relationship with them.

As St. Francis said, Preach the gospel aways, when necessary use words. There are many ways that we can evangelize to persons who belong to other faiths (like the Mormons). Sitting down and striking up a debate is definitely not on my top 10 list. Sure, we should be prepared to explain and defend our Catholic faith when asked or challenged. I have found people to be much more receptive to hearing the truth about our Catholic faith when they see something that they repect or desire in a practicing Catholic. With a stranger, like the Mormon canvassing the neighborhood, one suggestion would be to bring them a bottle of water, and tell them that you are praying for them (then DO pray for them). If asked, be sure to let them know how much you love your Catholic faith. Often there is no need to go any further. The encounter will definitely have an effect. Think of what would happen if the next 20 Catholics they meet do the same…
Dr Paul,
Speaking as an ex-mormon your post really hit the nail on the head. We must realize that you can’t use logic to convince a Mormon that their faith is wrong because their faith is based on feelings. To a Mormon, their greatest spiritual asset is their testimony…a testimony based purely on feelings. You can’t debate or argue with that. Rather, as you say, demonstrate through your actions the love of a true Christian and plant a seed. If the seed lands in fertile soil it will sprout. It did in me.

Thanks for all of your (name removed by moderator)ut. I will definitely change my tune the next time I encounter Mormons.
I also recommend “Inside Mormonism” by Isaiah Bennett. Good book!
As a student at a university at one time in my life I still remember the passion of youth. As a Catholic, I agree with the intent of your discourse but your letter seemed to lack compassion and respect. It is important that we, as Catholics, never lose or fail to show respect for others. They are also loved by God. I recently had an encounter with a former Morman. Some of their customs are very different from ours. I am curious however, in their claim to be Christian. I have always considered them to be Christian, but recent statements made by others have led me to question this. Do you know if the Catholic Church considers the Mormon Church to be Christian?
My understanding is that it is not considered Christian by the RCC… and I know here in Utah, as a result of that, Mormon Baptism’s are not accepted as valid. Even though otherwise the form would be.

I think you could start by remembering these people are mis-guided and should be treated with respect and love.

“They will know we are christians by our love”
Dr Paul makes some nice points. Props.

I think it is important to emphasize some of the similar aspects between Mormons and Catholics. One of my best friends is Mormon, a close work associate is Mormon, I have many Mormon clients, grew up with several Mormons, and even played basketball on a Mormon Church league team!. I have had a lot of regular life experience and contact with Mormons, and I have always greatly admired the importance they place on the value of the family unit.

In my experience, many Mormon couples are still very much in love, after many years of marriage. Their bonds with their children and the relationships of the extended family is also to be admired and respected.

I have also always had great respect for the almost forced vocation undertaken by all Mormon young men to serve their church by going on a two-year mission as “elders.” I somewhat envy this mentality, and have often thought what that type of conviction might do to Catholicism if a similar program were undertaken in our faith. It would sure help, at the very least, improve the catechization and formation of those youngsters involved in the “mission”!

I am very argumentative by nature, and I am constantly tempted to share the faith with the zeal of a defense attorney, lining up exhibits, trying to use appropriate and cogent syllogisms, daydreaming about Aquinas and Augustine… Yet I have to remind myself of how Christ would have (and did!) interact with those who felt he was misguided, flat-out wrong, or simply crazy. Then I remember how simple his message is: Love.

Love those who hate you (BTW, a wide majority of Mormons do not hate Catholics), love those who disagree, love those who would do you harm.

For most Mormons, their greatest asset is their sincerity and child-like faith. There is a slavishness to their church and tradition, a pre-existing reverence for the sanctity of marriage and family, a willingness to serve, that gives us an opportunity to share our faith and help them become wonderful Catholics! I am convinced that the best way to earn their allegiance to the Catholic Church is to act in such a way that will cause a reciprocal reverence for our way of living.

An interesting story, and then I’ll pipe down. I always make it a point to reach out to Mormon elders, and I rarely talk religion with them. When they come to my house, I offer them something to drink, and do my best to simply offer them kindness (often while they stand at the threshold to my home, a statue of St. Francis staring at their knees).

On September 11, 2001, I left my office at around 7:30 or 8:00 a.m. (Mountain Time); by the time I reached my house, I noticed some elders riding their bikes through my neighborhood. I picked up my son from school, and when I got home, the elders were half a block away, looking a little lost. I invited them to my home. They hadn’t heard yet about the events in New York. They sat on my couch for almost 2 hours, watching the TV with my family, trying to comprehend how the world was changing. We didn’t talk about religion. We just talked about where we were from, what our families were like, and what we could make of that tragic day.

I don’t know if they thought about whether that day, and those unforgettable moments were shared in the home of Catholics. I know I’ve thought often about their presence in my home that day, and in a critical time of ontological impact, I just hope that we were good and charitable examples of our faith.
I think your right Brian… the sad thing is that many of these kids they are sending out are not ready… and a little warmth a friendship goes a long way.

I had a pair one time that came to my house… I immediately invited them to come in, even before they had a chance to really introduce themselves… LOL They kinda looked inside wondering if they were walking into a trap.

We had a great talk, I showed them my collection of books, specifically older LDS books and materials. It wasnt long before they were coming over and asking if they could borrow books and materials to use in their meetings, and devotionals etc. LOL They never really tried to convert me, or have “lessons” with me, they just liked comnig over to get away from… well… the Mormons I think… LOL

I am sure it would be valuable to be able to go somewhere or to spend some time with someone who doesnt have expectations of acting a certain way, or teaching, or preaching or anything… just time to socialize.

I have weekly bible studies with two Baptists and two Mormans. I have never had their conversian as my goal. I have approached the studies with three goals.
  • Learn more about the Bible. Some of their insights are valuable. although almost always totally lacking in historical facts.
  • Show how much a Catholic can (and does) love his faith. It surely is a great gift.
  • Finally, show there is a reason for what Catholics believe. We don’t simply blindly follow the pope. We follow the pope because he is a great gift to us from God. The pope’s teaching are incredibly logical and loving at the same time.
My Morman friends probably aren’t on the verge of becoming Catholic, but they do realize that a lot of what they have been taught about Catholics is untrue.

God Bless,
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