If you have read my previous post about What I Believe then you know I am a Christian.
Living in Gilbert, AZ our family is surrounded by many faiths but the Mormon faith (LDS, Latter Day Saints) is very prominent here. We have many friends, co-workers and even extended family by marriage that are Mormon. We love and cherish them dearly. We however do not believe in the same Jesus that they do and this comes up often whether it is socially, online or even in church sermons done at Sun Valley that have triggered discussion on the topic with our Mormon friends. Don’t get me wrong these discussions, for the most part, have always been very civil, very polite and very courteous. They always have ended with simple friendly agreements to disagree. So why do I need to blog about this? Because, to me it matters. And to my Mormon friends it matters too. The differences matter, they do, if they did not then there would not be an “LDS church” and a “Bible teaching church.” It is far from being just differences in style- it is fundamental differences in doctrine that separate the two. Anyone who truly believes that the differences ultimately do not matter is not giving you the full version of their faith and or they may not even know it themselves.
Mind you, I am not a Mormon religion expert and I know there are thousands of articles proclaiming the differences between New testament Christianity and Mormonism intent on pointing out the flaws – that is not my goal. The whole reason I feel compelled so strongly to even write this post is to just put the beliefs side by side so the differences speak for themselves. I know my Mormon friends believe that when they evangelise to me, my husband or my sons, that it is in love because they too want “conversion” of a heart just as badly as I want it. So this post is not to make any of my Mormon loved ones think that I want them to stop talking to me about religion–just as much as I hope they do not want me to cease in speaking to them about how Jesus has changed my life. Nor do I want it to wedge or push anyone away from me, I just feel like we need to stop pretending that the “elephant in the room” is just not there. Why now? Honestly there are many reasons that now feels like the right time- a recent dialogue on Facebook from Mormon friends, learning that our son’s girlfriend is being baptised into the Mormon church in a couple of weeks and most importantly I feel called to write this.
Now as my sons are beginning to grow into men who will be eventually dating and marrying it is vitally important that the distinction be clear and non-confusing. Having one son who will be a sophomore and another going into 8th grade it is very apparent the level of influence that the Mormon church has within our school system. I am not talking about teachers, administrators or even through the local school board – I mean literally AT the schools themselves. Especially the high schools- the Mormon church has this very, very strong influence on high school campuses here in Arizona because it is often the Mormon church who has strategically donated or significantly reduced the cost of land for schools to be built on- and then always, across the street, there is a Mormon Seminary building. I can not think of a single public high school in the entire east valley that does not have an LDS seminary across the street (or even within the same campus) as it. LDS students often leave campus during special release agreements so their seminary education can “complement their secular learning” (wow- if our church had that kind of pull imagine what we could do with it?– how on Earth is this so under the radar of the anti “even a sniff of religion” in school peeps?)- Droves of LDS students take their lunch breaks (one of the most social times of the school day at the seminary and there are often special events like tailgate, parties or bar-b-qs planned to invite others to. It is a huge draw for students who are unchurched, especially those without cars since it is very easily accessible and with a built-in social network that you do not want to be left out of (if all of your other friends are going over there) it is really effective. Tyler has a strong, sincere and unwavering heart for Jesus- he also has autism. You can see how we, as his parents, feel compelled to get on our knees regularly asking for his heart to be protected from deception or any kind- but especially, most importantly of his faith.
This post is also for Connor-(who I am pretty much talking to directly since he reads this blog regularly) Con- as you begin to navigate your teen years and start to make those friends that will really leave a lasting imprint on your youth it has been fun to watch you test out friendships. Of course we want our sons to be surrounded by people who have similar values, those with strong pillars of character and who are genuinely decent, kind and generous people. We want you to know that you can be friends with people who have different faiths than us- Jesus wants us to love one another. He himself socialized with sinners so it’s not wrong to be friends with or to think someone who happens to be Mormon is a nice person- they likely are very much so. Also don’t feel like you have to convert them either. If God wants to use you to speak truth into someones life- he will empower you to do so. Just be friends- just know that there are many techniques that are used to be enticing (just like how SVCC does special outreach events) etc. so if you ever are feeling pressured or pulled to anything let’s talk it over.
Anyways- so as you can see I am very convicted for personal reasons about this post. The momma bear in me is very present, but even more present is Jesus who I trust is guiding my thoughts, helping me to flush this all out and providing me with an incredible sense of peace about the entire topic. I began writing this post several days ago and have taken the time to prayerfully consider what it all is that I want this post to say. I had at first envisioned a grand comparison chart type deal but I truly feel unprepared to tackle it that way. Instead, I think I will just embed the sermon Chad Moore from Sun Valley Community Church did in 2014 that really hit on the Big Differences well It is 39 1/2 minutes long but very well done- very cordial, kind and clear. Chad’s sources were direct from local Mormon leaders here in AZ that met with Chad as he prepared for this series as well as direct from their own books. The three key points touched on are:
1. Different Foundation
• LDS believes: The KJV Bible (correctly translated), Book of Mormon, Doctrines and Covenants, Pearl of Great Price, The Prophet
• New testament Christianity believes: The Bible
2. Different Theology
• LDS believes: “Father” is literal, no Trinity, Pre-mortal Existence
• New Testament Christianity believes: “Father” is metaphor, The Trinity, Jesus IS God
3. Different Gospel
• LDS believes: Resurrected by grace, but saved (exalted to godhead) by works, including faithfulness to church leaders, Mormon baptism, tithing, ordination, marriage, and secret temple rituals. No eternal life without Mormon membership.
• New Testament Christianity believes: Salvation is by God’s grace through Jesus, not an individual’s works.
What’s the Difference?
Mormonism, Islam, New Age Spiritualism, Catholicism, Protestantism, so What's the Difference? With all the varying faiths around us, what are we to believe? What do the other religions really teach? In this series we’ll examine why we can believe the Bible, what other religions teach and how to talk to people of other faiths.
6 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— 7 not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. 9 As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed. 10 For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ. Galatians 1:6-10 (ESV)