Statement by the Baptist Church

 

Christ-followers emerge from Mormon area

By Adam Miller / Baptist Press
Friday, February 26, 2010 

PROVO, Utah (BP)--Drive an hour south of Salt Lake City down Interstate 5 and you enter a different world, says North American Mission Board missionary Mickie Kelly.

"People think I'm exaggerating when I tell them the kinds of things that go on here," said Kelly, a church planter in Payson, Utah, near Provo. "The spiritual darkness is like a blanket that you wear every day."

Around the well-kept homes and clean-cut families of Payson, a spiritual drawstring tightens under the influence of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS).

"Salt Lake City is 47 percent LDS," Kelly said. But, he added, the number doubles to 95 percent for Provo, which is home to the LDS-funded Brigham Young University and the LDS Missionary Training Center.

"People have left Salt Lake to move here and get away from the infidel, non-members, or Gentiles as we might be called," Kelly said. "In Utah County, the culture is Mormon -- every news channel, every billboard, everything they do is done to promote the church."

Originally from Oklahoma, Kelly and his wife Lorenda planted a church in Idaho, where they first experienced the grip the LDS has on its members.

"Out here it costs someone to come to Christ. It doesn't just cost them a trip to the lake or a couple of beer drinking buddies or a card game," Kelly said. "It costs them everything. They lose their families, they lose their homes, they lose their businesses, and so really at the same time that you invite someone to come to Christ you're thinking, 'Do I need to start a refugee ministry?'"

The Kellys say Utah is a daunting place to plant a church, but God has been faithful to bring several residents out of the LDS and into the Kellys' new work -- Crossings Church.

"I often pray asking God to take the word I've spoken and just seal it in their hearts, wake them up at night, don't let them sleep for weeks until they get real with God," Kelly said. "This whole thing is a testimony to God's sovereignty. Prayer has taken on a whole new meaning to me. It's my strategy."

From front porch conversations at night to chats at the local Wal-mart, the Kellys are making the true Christ known and people are receiving Him. Crossings Church has grown from three members to nearly 80 in Sunday attendance.

Within the first few months of their arrival, the Kellys realized they were in another country with its own culture, customs and way of receiving outsiders. Within the first week, the couple was able to share Christ with 10 LDS members who had come to their house during the evening to ask them why they were there.

"Many of them were hearing for that first time that Jesus wasn't just a man like them," Kelly said.

And there were people like Aaron Vickery, a former high-ranking, lifelong member of the LDS whose family had fallen to pieces and who knew the LDS teaching was wrong.

"I knew what they believed was wrong, but I didn't know what to believe," Vickery said. "Mickie heard about me when he was in Idaho and when he moved down here he called me up."

After several months, Kelly and Vickery spent all night talking about the Gospel. By morning Vickery had accepted Christ and wanted to join the church, which, at the time, met in Kelly's basement.

"It took me a long time. We'd been through Bible studies, and week after week these spoke right to me," Vickery said. "I finally decided it was time to accept the Lord."

For many in the area, it's still a long shot to get them on the front steps of a Christian church, but Kelly keeps praying and making Christ known.

"The whole thing makes me say 'Wow,'" Kelly said. "It's been the hardest thing I've ever done because you can't just go invite people to church. It's all been through prayer and conversations and watching God grow the church. It's been a 'wow' just to see Him move."

Adam Miller writes for the North American Mission Board. To view a video about Mickie Kelly and other missionary and chaplain ministries through NAMB and its state partners, visit www.namb.net and click on the "Missionary Focus" gallery.


Southern Baptist Convention warns Christians about teachings of Mormonism

Apapepress

February 15, 2007

By Allie Martin

Rob Bowman with the North American Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) says Christians need to be aware that the beliefs of the Mormon Church are inconsistent with biblical Christianity. As one Mormon candidate launches his White House bid, the Southern Baptist official is urging Christians to take advantage of materials his denomination offers that teach the truth about Mormonism.

As former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney officially announced his presidential candidacy this week, a cover story in USA Today looked at the beliefs of the Mormon Church, formally known as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Rob Bowman, manager of the apologetics and interfaith evangelism department of the SBC’s North American Mission Board (NAMB), thinks Christians would be wise to take an even closer look at the Mormons, lest any be deceived about the nature and tenets of that religious group. He says although the Mormon Church wages an expensive public relations campaign, using terms familiar to appeal to evangelicals, the core teachings of the church do not line up with scripture and are inconsistent with evangelical Christianity.

For this reason, Bowman says the SBC has for decades offered, through its various entities, information resources focusing on the Mormon Church. Many of these resources detail the differences between Christian and Mormon beliefs — of which there are many, the NAMB official observes.

For example, Bowman notes, "In 15 short years, [Mormon Church founder] Joseph Smith went from being a thoroughgoing monotheist, a believer in one god, to a thoroughgoing polytheist, teaching the existence of many gods." Also, he points out, the Latter-day Saints teach that humans can achieve godhood by joining the church and taking part in specific deeds and ceremonies.

Such divergent beliefs are among the reasons, the NAMB official asserts, why Christians must know the Bible, so as not to be fooled by non-biblical Mormon teachings. As for the Mormon Church members themselves, he adds, "Our concern is that they don’t really know the God of the Bible. So we’re concerned for their salvation."

The concern of Bible-believing Christians is that Mormons do not know the real Jesus of scripture, Bowman explains. The SBC’s desire, he says, is not only to see evangelicals learn about the differences between Mormonism and Christianity but also to see Mormons come to know Jesus and have an authentic relationship with Him.


Evangelical Theologian: Bottom Line is Mormons are not Christians

Michelle Vu

Christian Post Reporter

July 27 2007

Mormons believe in a false gospel and are not Christians, concluded one of the nation’s preeminent evangelicals in what appeared to be the close of an online debate over Mormonism.

 “Here is the bottom line. As an Evangelical Christian – a Christian who holds to the ‘traditional Christian orthodoxy’ of the Church – I do not believe that Mormonism leads to salvation,” wrote Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr., president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, on Wednesday evening.

“To the contrary, I believe that it is a false gospel that, however sincere and kind its adherents may be, leads to eternal death rather than to eternal life,” he stated.

Mohler’s response is part of an ongoing “blog dialogue” sponsored by the Web site Beliefnet.com. Since June 28, the evangelical scholar and prominent Mormon science-fiction writer Orson Scott Card have been debating whether Mormons can be considered Christians.

During the course of the debate, Card focused on whether Mormons are moral people, good citizens and why Mormon presidential candidate Mitt Romney should be supported by evangelicals. He emphasized that Mormons share many of the same values as evangelical Christians and believe Jesus Christ is the only path to salvation.

However, Mohler noted that whether a Mormon has similar moral values to evangelical Christians is beside the point because Beliefnet.com had asked whether Mormons can be considered Christians based on traditional Christian orthodoxy.

“It appears that we are not really discussing the same question,” noted Mohler in his latest blog response.

“The debate has never been about whether Mormons are good Americans or would make good neighbors,” he wrote.

“I dare say that most American Evangelicals and traditional Roman Catholics would find more in common with Mormons in terms of child-rearing, sexual morality, the protection of marriage and family, and a host of other issues, than they would with liberal Catholics or liberal Protestants,” acknowledged Mohler.

But Mormonism from its beginning has rejected traditional Christian orthodoxy, which is part of the core Mormon identity, pointed out the highly-respected theologian. The subtitle of The Book of Mormon is “Another Testament of Jesus Christ.”

“A ‘testament,’ that is, other than that accepted by the historic Christian churches,” Mohler highlighted.

Mohler – who is often seen on “Larry King Live” and other popular news show representing the Christian voice – concluded that Mormonism is not just another form of Christianity and is incompatible with “traditional Christian orthodoxy.”

Mormon defender Card readily agrees with Mohler that Mormons do not fit into the Christian category as defined by traditional Christian orthodoxy. However, he argues that Mormons should be considered “nontraditional Christians.”

“Despite our deep differences of belief over the nature of God and his plans for his children, we recognize that those who believe in the other Christian faiths have taken a giant step closer to fulfilling the intentions of our Lord,” wrote Card on Thursday. “They are, in heart and mind, Christians.”

He further added, “We ask only the same favor in return. Let’s take that word ‘traditional’ and make use of it. Instead of saying that we are ‘not Christian’…let us agree that Mormons are ‘nontraditional Christians.’”

Card looked back on Christian history when Protestant Christian denominations were not accepted as part of the traditional church according to the Catholic viewpoint, and was even condemned guilty of heresy.

He concluded: “Call us ‘nontraditional Christians’ and continue to encourage your communicants not to believe our doctrines. We’ll happily continue to call you ‘traditional Christians’ and teach people why they should believe our doctrines.”

The Mormon defender ended by calling for unity in a world where Christians are persecuted and expressed appreciation that Dr. Mohler affirmed that Mormons should be equally considered for American public offices regardless of theological difference.

 

Basic beliefs of Mormons explained

By Mike Licona

NAMB, Director, Apologetics and Interfaith Evangelism

Updated Monday, April 07, 2008

Mormonism started in 1830 with 24-year-old year old Joseph Smith Jr. According to Smith, he had several experiences, during which God, Jesus, and the angel Moroni gave him instructions. Part of the instructions was to dig up some gold plates buried by the angel Moroni around A.D. 400 on a hill just outside of Smith's town of Palmyra, New York. Smith dug up the plates, claimed they were written in "Reformed Egyptian," and that God had given him the ability to translate them. This translation became known as the Book of Mormon, an account of the ancient inhabitants of North America between 600 B.C. and A.D. 400.

Mormons have four sources of authority: the Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Pearl of Great Price, and Doctrine and Covenants. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has become one of the fastest-growing religions in the world. The church owns Brigham Young University.

Mormon beliefs are fundamentally different from biblical Christianity.

1. God. Once a human as we are now, and progressed to become God. He is one of many gods.

2. Man. Has the ability to progress and become a god just as Jehovah did.

3. Marriage. Polygamy is no longer advocated, although it once was encouraged.

4. Jesus. The son of God, but not part of the Godhead. Mormons do not believe in the Trinity.

Mormons are very sincere about their faith. Conversations with Mormon missionaries promise to be cordial. Mormon scholars, such as those at Brigham Young University, are well aware of the challenges which face Mormonism.

What do Mormons tell you when they visit?

When Mormons visit you, they usually will not focus on the doctrines previously mentioned. In fact, they probably will not even bring them up during the first few meetings. Instead they will seek to find common ground with you on many of the doctrines Christians believe. For example, they may begin by saying that God revealed the Old Testament through Moses and the prophets. Then Jesus came, was crucified and resurrected. His disciples wrote books and letters that became the New Testament. We all agree on these facts.

Then the differences begin. They will tell you that before Jesus' ascension into heaven, He appeared to the inhabitants of North America and gave them the gospel as well. His message and the history of these inhabitants from 600 B.C. to A.D. 400 are recorded in the Book of Mormon.

Furthermore, they will tell you that since the apostles were not replaced when they were killed, the Church went into apostasy. In other words, it abandoned the true faith, and consequently, a restoration was necessary. Mormons believe that God chose Joseph Smith to bring that restoration; therefore, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the true Church.

How to answer Mormons

Mormons are well equipped to answer many of the issues Christians bring to their attention and have answers adequate to silence the average critic. The Mormon missionaries who come to your door are cordial and will listen to what you have to say. Enjoy the opportunity to share your faith with them, but be prepared by having good answers. Although there are many issues, which you may bring to the Mormons' attention, focus on four that are of primary importance:

A. The Bible is reliable. Mormons claim that the Bible has been corrupted over the years as evidenced by the many different translations. How do we know that the Bible we have today is the same as it was 2,000 years ago? The original words of the Bible have been preserved with remarkable purity and that its accuracy has been confirmed by both history and archaeology. Variances among English translations do not call into question the preservation of the Bible over the years. Until you have shown this to a Mormon, it is useless to point out that some Mormon doctrines differ from the Bible. They will only respond that the Bible is unreliable.

B. There is no archaeological confirmation of the Book of Mormon. While the spade of the archaeologist has confirmed many places and peoples mentioned in the Bible, it has not been at all favorable to the Book of Mormon. Although Mormons will confidently assert that archaeology has confirmed the Book of Mormon's accuracy time and time again, professional archaeologists have arrived at quite a different conclusion.

C. The Book of Abraham is a fraud. The Book of Abraham is one of the books in the Pearl of Great Price, one of Mormonism's scriptures. Joseph Smith purchased some ancient Egyptian papyri and claimed it was an original book penned by Abraham himself while in Egypt. He translated it allegedly by the same gift, which God had given him to translate the Book of Mormon. Professional Egyptologists have translated the papyri since their rediscovery in 1967. Their translations bear no resemblance to Smith's translation, exposing him as a charlatan.

D. Evidence for Mormonism? Mormons are convinced that Mormonism is true because the inward testimony of God tells them so. If you are going to be effective when talking to Mormons, it is crucial that you address this issue. Otherwise, no amount of solid evidence, which testifies against Mormonism, will be of help to them.

(EDITOR'S NOTE - The North American Mission Board's apologetics web site, www.4truth.net, carries much more information about many brands of religion.

 

Romney's LDS faith makes him a 'cult' member, Texas pastor says

By Peggy Fletcher Stack
The Salt Lake Tribune
09/26/2008

   WASHINGTON - Evangelicals who believe the country needs a Christian in the White House but promoted Mitt Romney's candidacy during the Republican primaries were hypocrites, according to a Texas pastor.

    Romney, a Mormon, is not a Christian, the Rev. Robert Jeffress said, but a member of a "cult."

    "I believe we should always support a Christian over a non-Christian," Jeffress, pastor of First Baptist Church of Dallas, told a packed audience of journalists at last weekend's Religion Newswriters Association (RNA) annual meeting. "The value of electing a Christian goes beyond public policies. . . . Christians are uniquely favored by God, [while] Mormons, Hindus and Muslims worship a false god. The eternal consequences outweigh political ones. It is worse to legitimize a faith that would lead people to a separation from God."

    Jeffress made his remarks during a luncheon debate with Jay Sekulow, chief counsel for the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), a law firm and educational organization that focuses on religious-liberty issues. The DeMoss Group, a Christian public-relations firm in Duluth, Ga., sponsored the event.

    Sekulow, who also disagrees with Mormon theology but supported Romney's candidacy, argued he would rather have a president who promoted a conservative political agenda than one who shared his doctrinal positions. 

"Jimmy Carter ran as a born-again Christian," Sekulow reasoned, "but his presidency did nothing for the issues I care about."

    Mark DeMoss, the company's president, opened the session by describing his decision to lead Romney's outreach to conservative Christians. DeMoss said he had come to admire Romney, despite their theological differences, but was amazed at the vehement opposition to the Mormon's candidacy among Evangelicals.

    "When making the choice of candidate for president, I don't care how different the person's theology is from mine, just like I don't care about my doctor's theology or the guy's who built my house or the architect's," DeMoss said in an interview this week. "I'm challenging people who would oppose a Mormon because he's a Mormon, but I'm also challenging people who would instantly embrace a Southern Baptist because he's a Southern Baptist. Both conclusions are bad."

    DeMoss said he doesn't mind when people come to different conclusions about which candidate to support, but hopes as least "they're thinking."

    The lively debate seemed to prove his point.

    "It was one of the more spirited lunch discussions we've ever had at RNA," said RNA president Kevin Eckstrom, who noted that the journalist organization did not organize the event. "A lot of people were uncomfortable with what Dr. Jeffress said about Mormons, but what we were hoping for was something provocative that would get people talking, and certainly this did it."

    Many reporters said they had never heard the word "cult," which Jeffress repeatedly called the LDS Church, used so "freely and recklessly," said Eckstrom, editor of Religion News Service in Washington, D.C. But Jeffress used the same word to describe "Catholics, Hindus, Buddhists and virtually everyone else."

    It was useful for reporters to be aware of such strident views, Eckstrom said, because they are "completely mainstream in a lot of evangelical quarters."

    First Baptist of Dallas "is not a backwater pulpit somewhere. It is a major church in Texas and in Southern Baptist circles," Eckstrom said. "It's a huge institution and a lot of followers. He's not just spouting these opinions for himself but proud of the fact that he was going back to his congregation and declare every other religion was wrong, and at least 10,000 people hear this position every week."

    The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints insists that it is a Christian faith, though not a traditional brand of Christianity. LDS officials today declined to comment on Jeffress' statements until they see a transcript of the remarks, spokeswoman Kim Farah said.

 

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