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Baptists Coming Back to Utah to Evangelize Mormons


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Here:

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ST. GEORGE, Utah (BP) -- Church leaders and members are invited to Utah's Desert Ridge Baptist Church for training in evangelizing members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, slated for Sept. 7-8.

"We love our neighbors in Utah, and to love our neighbors it is important to understand what religious beliefs they hold," Rob Lee, executive director of the Utah-Idaho Southern Baptist Convention, told Baptist Press.

"This conference sponsored by Desert Ridge Baptist Church is an opportunity to get a better handle in how to share the love of Jesus in terms that will help you communicate biblical truths that conflict with their belief system," Lee said. "What better place to learn than in Utah, where Mormonism is central to the culture and embraced by the majority of residents."

Oi.  I remember the last time our Baptist friends attempted this.  A large convention in Salt Lake City.  It included the publication of The Mormon Puzzle: Understanding and Witnessing to Latter-day Saints, extensively reviewed by Daniel Peterson here.  Dr. Peterson's assessment of this effort was . . . not good:

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The curriculum materials prepared by the Southern Baptist Convention distort and misrepresent the restored gospel. It is regrettable that a large and wealthy American religious denomination would officially issue such misleading and antagonistic propaganda as this video and this literature and would encourage its members to use it in formal instruction. Although these products are indisputably an improvement over the more inflammatory charlatanism of such cranks as Ed Decker, the SBC has forfeited a marvelous opportunity to further understanding of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints among American evangelical Christians. Worse, I fear that the Mormon Puzzle materials feed contempt, anger, and hostility. To have done so, unfortunately, seems both harmful to life in a democratic community and, more troubling still, fundamentally unchristian.

I hope our Baptist friends do a better job this time.  But I'm not holding my breath.  Here's why (from the article):

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The event is to be live-streamed on the church's YouTube channel: DRBC Videos from Desert Ridge, located in the city of St. George in southwestern Utah, with a metro population of more than 150,000 people.

"People wanting to reach Mormons is the target audience for this event," said Michael Waldrop, founding pastor of Desert Ridge and a recent first vice president of the Utah-Idaho convention. "We hope to increase the awareness of the need to evangelize as well as to increase the effectiveness of our witness to Mormons."

Bill McKeever, founder of Mormonism Research Ministry, will be one of the keynote speakers of the conference titled "Sharing the Good News with Mormons: Practical Strategies for Getting the Conversation Started." MRM According to its mrm.org website, MRM has been "challenging the claims of Mormonism since 1979."

McKeever will speak at 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 7, "on the type of references we can use when talking with Mormons about what they believe," he told Baptist Press. "There are a lot of sources Christians can use that Mormons should respect, and thus have a more convincing witness."

From 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, McKeever continued, conference participants will be learning "at least three different strategies they can use when talking with Mormon friends" -- "how to use questions, how to get Mormons to think through what they've been told and how to respond to Mormon missionaries when they come to the door."

Oi.  The Baptists are asking Bill McKeever to instruct them on how to reach out to Mormons?  Bill McKeever?  Of "Mormonism 101" fame?

Yeah, not gonna hold my breath as to this being a positive thing, either for the Baptists or the Mormons.

Back to the article:

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Forgiveness is a key issue, McKeever said.

Mormons are taught if they repent and confess all their sins and keep all the commandments, they will get forgiveness, but "I don't know one Mormon who has done this," McKeever said. Thus, a cloud of doom hangs over Mormons.

"We are going to talk about this in depth, that this is one of the real pitfalls of Mormonism," he said, adding, "They're not a truly New Testament church. They deny or distort all the basic truths of the Christian faith and are outside the realm of Christianity."

McKeever had a caution for Christians interacting with Mormons.

"While we may be fully understanding of what Mormons are supposed to believe, not all Mormons believe what their church teaches," he said. "The reason they stay in, they feel the church is true regardless of what they believe."

Gentle probing rather than accusation about their beliefs is the way to witness to Mormons, McKeever said.

This just demonstrates the inherent flaw in McKeever's dialectic.  Nothing here speaks to the merits of the doctrines of the Baptist faith.  All he wants to do is tear down what Latter-day Saints believe.  This just does not work.  When I was a missionary in Taiwan, I taught the six lessons that outlined the basic precepts of Mormonism.  No need to bash Buddhism, Daoism, Atheism, and all the other -isms out there.

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"The probability is that people who stay Mormon are not going to learn New Testament truth about how a person receives forgiveness," he said. "The Mormon Church robs its people of assurance, an assurance that only comes when a person is justified by faith."

Eric Johnson, coauthor with Sean McDowell of the book from which the conference title is drawn, will be another keynote speaker. Sharing the Good News with Mormons was released June 5 by Harvest House Publishers, with bonus chapters available on the Mormonism Research Ministries website: mrm.com and on the book's website: sharingwithmormons.com.

The "Good News" espoused by McKeever and Johnson and such appears to have very little to say about the merits of the Baptist faith.

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The websites note, "Every relationship and situation is unique, and that's why these essays from respected scholars, apologists, and pastors -- including Sandra Tanner, Robert Bowman, David Geisler, Bill McKeever, Mark Mittelberg, J. Warner Wallace, Lynn Wilder and others -- lays out a variety of creative methods for sharing the gospel effectively so you can initiate authentic conversations, respond with compassion and clarity to Mormon teaching, [and] understand your Mormon friends and find ways to keep the dialogue going."

Waldrop said the conference is the first time Desert Ridge Baptist Church has undertaken a Mormon-specific evangelism training event, "though we regularly schedule evangelism training and strive to provide instruction and encouragement for gospel witnessing. St. George is on I-15 in southwest Utah, so it's an easy drive whether you're from California, Nevada, Arizona, and of course all the Rocky Mountain states, where Mormonism spread out from the Salt Lake area."

This is the other aspect of McKeever's dialectic that is deeply problematic: specifically targeting another religion for evangelism.  I am glad that we don't do that.  There may be exceptions to the rule here and there, but overwhelmingly our missionaries share our beliefs and issue invitations to join us based on those beliefs.  Tearing down prospective members' existing system of belief just isn't what we do.  As Pres. Hinckley so eloquently put it: "Let me say that we appreciate the truth in all churches and the good which they do. We say to the people, in effect, you bring with you all the good that you have, and then let us see if we can add to it. That is the spirit of this work. That is the essence of our missionary service."

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David Bernstein, associate pastor of Desert Ridge and a current member of the UISBC Executive Board, was instrumental in setting up the Mormonism evangelism training event, Waldrop said.

"When I first arrived in this area almost five years ago, I knew very little about the LDS [Mormon] system, much less how to witness to them," Bernstein told Baptist Press. "I continue to need training, information and encouragement and so does the church in general.

"When I got some information from MRM, it was clear that these were the go-to guys for this," Bernstein added.

Christians who know at least one Mormon often grapple with the need to share the truth of Jesus with them, of showing what God's Word teaches, Waldrop said. "This two-day conference will answer questions like, 'But where do you start? How can you convey the biblical Gospel boldly and clearly, speaking the truth in love?'"

No cost or pre-registration is required for the conference, though a love offering will be taken to help recover the church's expenses. No meals will be provided but several restaurants are within a two-minute drive of the church. Lodging is available throughout the St. George area.

Hmm.  I wonder how big this event will be.  Are Baptists really so interested in this that they'd take time to drive a substantial distance to attend an event like this?

Thanks,

-Smac

 

 

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7 minutes ago, smac97 said:

Hmm.  I wonder how big this event will be.  Are Baptists really so interested in this that they'd take time to drive a substantial distance to attend an event like this?

In my experience, people are willing to put in a drive/money to go a long when they know what they what to hear and are going to get that precise thing-- aka these events attract and preach to people who already think like this.  So all in all, the net effect is small: a small group of people already thinking these skewed things have a pow-wow to keep thinking these skewed things.  

The casual Baptist/person who just wants to know what LDS believe isn't going to spend a weekend or drive 100+ miles to find out.  

The Baptist that already knows what actual LDS beliefs are also isn't going to spend a weekend or drive 100+ miles to join the skewed pow-wow.

 

 

Personally, I have a lot of good Protestant friends.  The Protestant faith is a strong one, bringing much joy and goodness and Christ to those believers.  It makes me really sad when some Protestants try to evangelize by through away that goodness and instead rely on lies about what another person believes.  No no-- instead share the great goodness you have Baptists!

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22 minutes ago, smac97 said:

I wonder how big this event will be.  Are Baptists really so interested in this that they'd take time to drive a substantial distance to attend an event like this?

Thanks for sharing.  I am a member of a Baptist congregation and can confirm there is enormous interest in reaching the LDS community, specifically areas that don't have a local Baptist [or similar] congregation available.  

I plan on making an annual visit (1500+ miles one way) with several other area Baptist congregations to help share what we believe with LDS friends.

We have the same ethic as LDS Christians; while we appreciate LDS values and the many positive elements they possess, we hope to share the truth in love.

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1 minute ago, Free in Christ said:

 

Thanks for sharing.  I am a member of a Baptist congregation and can confirm there is enormous interest in reaching the LDS community, specifically areas that don't have a local Baptist [or similar] congregation available.  

I plan on making an annual visit (1500+ miles one way) with several other area Baptist congregations to help share what we believe with LDS friends.

We have the same ethic as LDS Christians; while we appreciate LDS values and the many positive elements they possess, we hope to share the truth in love.

If that's the case what do you have to offer that LDS are lacking? :) Just that LDS don't have the same Jesus? Or that we believe in a works based Grace? Because I can't tell you how many videos I've seen that go over this. I'm afraid you guys will be wasting your time. The LDS church will offer much more because they offer exaltation, do you? I am trying to hold onto a belief in Jesus, but because the churches out there can't just get along, or just go on a personal relationship instead of needing everyone to belong to a certain religion because it's the only true one, that's when I want to run. I am currently LDS and enjoying the social part of that, I don't believe in religions, they're manmade. 

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14 minutes ago, Free in Christ said:

Thanks for sharing.  I am a member of a Baptist congregation and can confirm there is enormous interest in reaching the LDS community, specifically areas that don't have a local Baptist [or similar] congregation available.  

I plan on making an annual visit (1500+ miles one way) with several other area Baptist congregations to help share what we believe with LDS friends.

We have the same ethic as LDS Christians;

That has been my experience.  And yet Bill McKeever insists on denying our Christianity:

"There are a lot of sources Christians can use that Mormons should respect..."

"[Latter-day Saints] deny or distort all the basic truths of the Christian faith and are outside the realm of Christianity."

These just aren't one-offs, either.  This premise is baked into Mr. McKeever's entire approach to us.

14 minutes ago, Free in Christ said:

while we appreciate LDS values and the many positive elements they possess, we hope to share the truth in love.

Thank you for your kind words.  I wish that you folks had chosen a better guide to Mormonism than Bill McKeever, but I hope you enjoy your time in St. George.

Thanks,

-Smac

Edited by smac97
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13 minutes ago, Jane_Doe said:

Personally, I have a lot of good Protestant friends.  The Protestant faith is a strong one, bringing much joy and goodness and Christ to those believers.  It makes me really sad when some Protestants try to evangelize by through away that goodness and instead rely on lies about what another person believes.  No no-- instead share the great goodness you have Baptists!

It's a matter of perspective - what you know or don't know.

Suppose one evening, you were sound asleep in your bed and someone smashed into your home, grabbed you and threw you out the window.

Heavens!  What's wrong with you, right?  What a horrific thing to do to someone.

Would you feel that way if you discovered your house was on fire and you were completely unaware?

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5 minutes ago, Tacenda said:

If that's the case what do you have to offer that LDS are lacking? :) Just that LDS don't have the same Jesus? Or that we believe in a works based Grace? Because I can't tell you how many videos I've seen that go over this. I'm afraid you guys will be wasting your time. The LDS church will offer much more because they offer exaltation, do you? I am trying to hold onto a belief in Jesus, but because the churches out there can't just get along, or just go on a personal relationship instead of needing everyone to belong to a certain religion because it's the only true one, that's when I want to run. I am currently LDS and enjoying the social part of that, I don't believe in religions, they're manmade. 

I'm glad you asked!  Because it's a bit off-topic, would you mind if I sent you a message?

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4 minutes ago, smac97 said:

Thank you for your kind words.  I wish that you folks had chosen a better guide to Mormonism than Bill McKeever, but I hope you enjoy your time in St. George.

Thanks,

-Smac

Well, personally, I've never even heard of Bill McKeever or seen his movies or books or whatever.  We just share what Jesus Christ has done for us. 

Should we do more??

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1 minute ago, Free in Christ said:

Well, personally, I've never even heard of Bill McKeever or seen his movies or books or whatever.  We just share what Jesus Christ has done for us. 

Should we do more??

Nope.  I admire the approach you espouse.

Thanks,

-Smac

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My advice, Play music they hate as loud as possible.  Baptists hate Wagner, so I suggest Ring of the Nibelung and my personal fav, Lohengrin.  The irony, they hate Wagner so much yet they always play the bridal chorus at weddings.  Nice double standards there Baptists lol.

 

Pleeeeaaaase start with this one on a 3 hour loop, send out missionaries to harass them when you do lol.

 

 

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2 minutes ago, Jane_Doe said:

Except these events don't do that.   All they do is lie to Baptists about what LDS believe (as evidenced in their own write up in the event http://www.bpnews.net/51322/in-mormonheavy-utah-church-slates-witness-training), which just turns folks away from these churches/people.

So, probably important to explain (for those who may not be aware), Baptist congregations aren't "connected" or affiliated with each other like LDS congregations.  Their views, teachings and, to some degree, doctrinal definitions can vary greatly from congregation to congregation.  They don't have a single set of official doctrines or statements of faith, but they do for the most part agree on the fundamentals (i.e. salvation, etc)      

Joining a Baptist church won't do SQUAT for you in God's eyes.  It's as useless as last week's weather report.  Likewise, baptists believe that being baptized in water doesn't do anything either (unless perhaps if you happen to have a bar of soap).  These are just outward formalities that indicate something within.  We do these things and everything else we do as a reaction to being saved.  Also interesting, obeying the commandments to most baptists (myself included) is completely optional, but typically encouraged.  Obey only if you want to only because you love the Savior.

Very very different indeed...

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LDS evangelize to Baptists, so why shouldn't the Baptists evangelize the LDS?

It might even show a softening of the Baptists towards LDS. Many Baptists I have known had no interest in talking with, praying with, or worshipping with LDS in any way. They thought we were too lost. So maybe in their eyes there is hope. That's an improvement...I guess ;) 

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1 minute ago, Free in Christ said:

So, probably important to explain (for those who may not be aware), Baptist congregations aren't "connected" or affiliated with each other like LDS congregations.  Their views, teachings and, to some degree, doctrinal definitions can vary greatly from congregation to congregation.  They don't have a single set of official doctrines or statements of faith, but they do for the most part agree on the fundamentals (i.e. salvation, etc)      

I am aware.  In the last three town's I've lived in there as been a nearby "Bethel Baptist" church with a little brick building, pointed gray slate roof, and white steeple topped with a cross.  And all three of them teach different things than each other (I having visited them all several times).   Some folks in these three churches and other Baptist churches I've visited are shining examples of Christ in many ways.  Some folks are totally failing in that regard but really striving, and completely honest about it.  Some are... suffice it too say I've met some very unpleasant people there.

The best witnesses there of the Baptist faith (and Christ) were/are those that show real love and honesty.  Several of my close friends fall into that particular Baptist bucket.  :)

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It is interesting they are trying to learn something about Mormons to better be able to work with us.

As far as I know we don't make any effort at all to instruct our missionaries in what other religions believe before sending them out to try and convert them. I spent most of my mission in a predominantly Catholic area and never had any formal instruction in what they believe. 

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9 minutes ago, CA Steve said:

It is interesting they are trying to learn something about Mormons to better be able to work with us.

As far as I know we don't make any effort at all to instruct our missionaries in what other religions believe before sending them out to try and convert them. I spent most of my mission in a predominantly Catholic area and never had any formal instruction in what they believe. 

How would learning RCC theology help? We're not supposed to be opposing any other faith, only teaching our own. That being said, it's not a bad idea to teach missionaries about the cultural aspects of the dominant religion, I suppose. On my mission in Germany, not knowing much about the Lutherans or Catholics didn't seem to have any negative repercussions. None of our investigators, of either faith, seemed to worry about our ignorance. The few times we got into negatively comparing their beliefs with ours we did not have any positive results.

 

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20 minutes ago, Jane_Doe said:

I am ALL for learning about other faiths.  When I go to learn about Baptist faith, I go to a Baptist church and ask/listen to what the Baptists there say they believe.  Same with Catholics, Methodist, etc.  Get things straight from the horse's mouth.

Every time I've seen church A tell you what church B believes, they get major things wrong, doing great disservice to people at both churches.  I am very happy we LDS don't do that and instead am happy to visit other churches to learn straight from them directly.

Seems to me that when you have a scripture that says this:

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 I was answered that I must join none of them, for they were all wrong; and the Personage who addressed me said that all their creeds were an abomination in his sight; that those professors were all corrupt; that: “they draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me, they teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof.”

That we are telling people in our church what other church's believe.

 

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2 hours ago, Free in Christ said:

So, probably important to explain (for those who may not be aware), Baptist congregations aren't "connected" or affiliated with each other like LDS congregations.  Their views, teachings and, to some degree, doctrinal definitions can vary greatly from congregation to congregation.  They don't have a single set of official doctrines or statements of faith, but they do for the most part agree on the fundamentals (i.e. salvation, etc)      

Joining a Baptist church won't do SQUAT for you in God's eyes.  It's as useless as last week's weather report.  Likewise, baptists believe that being baptized in water doesn't do anything either (unless perhaps if you happen to have a bar of soap).  These are just outward formalities that indicate something within.  We do these things and everything else we do as a reaction to being saved.  Also interesting, obeying the commandments to most baptists (myself included) is completely optional, but typically encouraged.  Obey only if you want to only because you love the Savior.

Very very different indeed...

I appreciate evangelical outreach efforts.  However, the above beliefs are not, and cannot, be right.  

The First Century Christians, those taught personally by the apostles and those taught by those taught by the apostles, have made it very clear in their abundant writings that concepts such as eternal security, "optional" baptism, predestination, and "optional" keeping of the commandments are heresies (many having their roots in various gnostic beliefs).  "Saint" Augustine attempted to import said beliefs into Christianity hundreds of years after Christ died, along with all sorts of wrong doctrine (e.g., unbaptized babies cannot go to heaven),  but most of them never stuck until Martin Luther dug Saint Augustine up.

I think Evangelicals are very nice people, but their doctrines are simply historically completely incorrect.  Your plausible choices are Catholicism or Mormonism.

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Easy.

Just ask them why they believe the Bible is true in the first place.

They won't have an answer.

Ask they how they know they are "saved" and MAYBE they will say something like "I know in my heart".

Then you tell them what you "know in your heart"

I have never met one who has even thought about why they consider the Bible to be "God's Word" they simply accept it without a reason.

So if any of our Baptist friends want to answer that, I am open to a discussion.

The only possibility is that they accept the Bible for the same reason we accept the Bible AND the Book of Mormon.

You feel it is right in your heart.

Then they will raise the history issue- that Jerusalem exists therefore the Bible is true.

Nope.  Doesn't work

The Bible itself shows that there were many who saw Christ in the flesh and did not believe or who mocked him on the cross.  They had full knowledge of Christ as a historical figure and yet did they accept the atonement in their lives?

Nope.

History doesn't convert anyone to the gospel.

All that is left is a testimony "in your heart"  In the unlikely event they accept that, they have no choice but to shake hands and part friends- which is exactly what they are!

I am glad they are doing good works!  ;)

 

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