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April 26, 2012


“The Real Gospel”: Speaking to a Mormon Congregation

To my surprise, one of the local Mormon churches asked me to speak at a special dinner gathering last week. They billed the night as a “fireside” chat. The theme was “I Believe in Christ”. The idea they seem to have intended to promote is that Mormons and Christians share the same faith in the same Christ.  I was very clear in advance that I wouldn’t say what they wanted me to say, I’m certain they were disappointed in my presentation. 

It’s an honor and a privilege to be here this evening and I’m full of gratitude for your kind invitation, warm welcome and especially the pork. Who made the pork? It was awesome. Thank you. I’ll have a hard time not taking a nap while speaking I’m so stuffed.

I have enormous respect for Latter Day Saints. Not only are we allies in many of the cultural battles of the day, but personally speaking, every Latter Day Saint I have ever met and every LDS person I know now is full of integrity, hard working, zealous in the pursuit of his faith. I’m so thankful for the virtue and honor you display in your daily lives. You are, in many ways, a living model and portrait of what Christians ought to be.

And I include your missionary endeavors in the list of things I admire about you.

Some Christians get offended when LDS missionaries come round. I’m not. You treasure your faith. You find great meaning and purpose in the beliefs you hold so dearly and you want people to share what you treasure. That’s an act of love.

I see a number of missionaries here tonight, so please accept my invitation…come to my house 356 Conklin Avenue, you’ll always be welcome.

As I was saying, I see your missionary work as an act of love. I hope that you’ll hear my words in the same way because I am here tonight for the same reason and purpose you send your missionaries. I treasure the gospel given to us through Jesus Christ and I want to share it with you. Good Shepherd has been praying for you since we received this invitation. I don’t know many of you, but The Lord I serve, Jesus Christ, knows everything about you and loves you all very much. 

And it’s in his name and on the authority of his word and out of the eternal love that he has for you, that I’m called, as his servant, to say to you with a broken heart that the “plan of salvation” that you follow will not and cannot lead you to eternal life with the Father. I say this with great sorrow, but the gate your prophets and teachers have directed you toward is the wide one that leads to the outer darkness. 

I’m going to spend some time at first explaining why that is. I’ll be using the KJV version of the bible along with Joseph Smith’s translation and I’ll also be taking you to a few passages from the Book of Mormon.

Jesus says in Matt 7:13-14: “13 Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: 14 Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” (KJV)

The outer darkness, eternal punishment, is not for the few, says Jesus, but for the many.

Let me explain why it is so.

One of the most important commands Jesus gives - and one I believe you value greatly - is found in Matthew 5:48:

“Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.”


Joseph Smith translates it: “Ye are therefore commanded to be perfect, even as your Father who is in heaven is perfect.”

3rd Nephi 12:48 reads: “I would that ye should be perfect, even as I, or your Father who is in heaven is perfect.”


Note the tense of the word “be” in all three passages. It’s present tense, not future.

I have six kids. When I say “be good”. I don’t mean: “when you grow up”. I mean now.

If you’re habitually late to work and your boss says, “be on time”, he’s not saying, “I want you to engage in a process that will eventually bring about your punctuality.” He’s saying: “Be on time now.”

Likewise, Jesus’ command is not: “Engage in a process that will someday lead to perfection.” It’s not, “Strive toward becoming perfect in the far future, perhaps sometime after we die but before the final Judgment.”

No. It’s be perfect now, in this life, in the present.

In that same sermon Jesus reveals what perfect looks like.

Has anyone here ever looked at someone of the opposite sex lustfully? Jesus says: “whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.” (Matt 5:28 KJV)

How about anger, anyone here ever feel angry toward someone without cause? Jesus says “whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment” (Matt 5:22 KJV)

Jesus says we will be judged not only by our actions, but also by our inner thoughts and desires.

“those things which proceed out of the mouth, come forth from the heart; and they defile the man.” (KJV Joseph Smith Translation of Matt 15:16-18)

Perfection is not skin deep, it must be complete, inside and out. And the measure he uses, as we have seen, is not a human measure, is the perfection of the Heavenly Father.

And Jesus commands this perfection now, in the present.

You might say, alright starting now I’ll be worthy,

But be careful, one sin of desire or action is all it takes to destroy your efforts. James says, “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.” (James 2:10 KJV)

To entertain a lustful thought for example, is not to violate a minor, inconsequential technicality. It is to break the entirety of God’s law and stand, as James says, guilty, condemned.

You might think, surely God can’t expect complete perfection in the present? Who could do this?

But in 1st Nephi 3:7 in the Book of Mormon we read this: “the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them.”

In one of the teaching manuals officially approved by the LDS Church called “Life and Teaching of Jesus and his Apostles”, we read:

“Some people say, “Perfection? Why that is impossible!”... Yet would the Lord give us a commandment that was impossible for us to keep?...doesn’t he…prepare a way for us to accomplish what he commands?  The Sermon on the Mount is the Lord’s blueprint for perfection. p.57”

So 1. Jesus commands you to be perfect now, not in the future. 2. He defines perfection as inner as well as outward purity, sinlessness that is measure by the perfection of the Father.  And 3. your scriptures tell you you can be perfect.

Search your heart, your thoughts, desires, are you there? Are you perfect? Do you honestly think you’ll be perfect now, in this life?

We often play down the danger of sin, thinking of it as rule-breaking, ranking the rules in order of perceived importance to us. But the bible teaches that all sin is a direct assault against God. After committing adultery with Bathsheba, David wrote a confession to God in Psalm 51. In that psalm we find these words: “Against thee, thee only, have I sinned” (v.4 KJV)

He sinned against Uriah, Bathsheba’s husband, against Bathsheba, and against Israel, but David sees that his sin is really against God

Now it’s one thing if I offend an equal. If I punch my fried in the nose, he’ll punch me back and we’ll beat each other up and that will be it.

But what if I punch a police officer in the nose?
 
If I do what you tell me not to do, no big deal. If I do what the US government tells me not to do, I could go to prison.

Consequences are tied to the authority of the one we offend.

What consequence is there for the one who offends the infinite eternal almighty God? There’s only one answer. It is an eternal consequence. “The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity 42And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth” (Matt 13:41-42)

This is why Psalm 24:3-4 tells us: “Who shall ascend to the hill of the Lord? 4He that hath clean hands (complete outward purity), and a pure heart (complete inward purity)...”

This is why Jesus says in the text I quoted earlier that the gate of destruction is wide and populous - we sin every day and each sin is an offense against God. No one follows Jesus’ plan. Nobody is perfect as our Heavenly Father is perfect.

I’m happy to use that “we”. I know my heart, I know my thoughts. I know the selfish ways I behave. I do not follow the law of Christ.

So if the good news of the gospel is: “Jesus has paid for my sins and now I pay him back by following the plan that he gives me to gain eternal life with the Heavenly Father…” then I’ve no hope. And neither do you.

Why?

Jesus commands perfection now. I’m not perfect. Neither are you. And the fact is as I think you will acknowledge, no one here will achieve perfection in this lifetime.

If the gospel is as I’ve heard some of your prophets say, “Do all you can do and then God will do the rest.” Then we’re without hope.

Why?

No one does all he can do.

1. Jesus commands that we be perfect now. 2. Nephi says God will not command what is impossible to accomplish. 3. We are not perfect now, nor will we be.

Therefore, necessarily, you and I are not doing “all we can do”.

So what hope do we have?

Turn to Hebrews chapter 10:10-18. We’ll look at vv10-14 first.

“We are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. 11And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: 12But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down on the right hand of God; 13From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool. 14For by one offering he hath perfected forever them that are sanctified.” (KJV)

Any offense against an eternal God warrants an eternal penalty. We have so completely offended that there is no crawling back from the pit - we cannot pay the price. But Jesus’ sacrifice, being himself eternal God and perfect man, was so complete, that the whole system of God’s justice was satisfied and we have been made perfect.

“By One Sacrifice he hath perfected forever those that are sanctified.”(14)

“Hath” is past tense. In Greek this phrase is in the perfect tense which refers to something completed in the past that has ongoing effects.

So By Jesus One Sacrifice we were made perfect - take note of the passive language here, this is something done to you by Another - and will always remain perfect.

Who’s done the work here? “He” hath perfected.

Jesus has done the work

We asked in the beginning: How can anyone be perfect? With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible. Jesus himself makes us perfect through his sacrifice.

The result of his work is found in vv17-18 “their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. 18Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin.”(KJV)

No more offering. Jesus is not our creditor. There is nothing to pay back. There’s nothing more for you or me to do to complete his work. There is no more offering for sin.

The book of 1 Nephi was right. God doesn’t command what he does not also provide a way to accomplish.

You can have the perfection Jesus commands now. Not a perfection of your own - that would be impossible - but the perfect life of Jesus and the perfect sacrifice of Jesus counted as yours.

You can today enter into life with the Father that begins now and never ends. Your Father who loves you stands ready to embrace you. He sent his Son to make the way. Here’s what you must do:

Let go of all hope in yourself - in you proving yourself worthy. That road will end in the outer darkness. You cannot do it. You cannot save yourself. Instead set your hope, your trust, in Jesus the Christ and in the perfect work that he accomplished for you.

And if you do this, his promise is that today you will today be perfect in the sight of the Father - not on the basis of perfection that is your own - but on the basis of the perfection that Jesus himself gives to you.

“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9Not of works, lest any man should boast.”(Eph 2:8-9 KJV)


In closing let me illustrate the difference between the gospel of Jesus Christ and any “plan of salvation” that depends on human effort, striving or worthines

Pretend you’re an orphan living in an orphanage. One day a man comes, takes you to his home, and says: “I’ll make you my son on the condition that over the next month you obey all of my rules and never do anything to displease me. Otherwise, it’s back to the orphanage.”

What would you do? You’d work and striving to save yourself from the orphanage, longing to stay in the house. You would be living with anxiety and fear, never sure of the man’s love for you.

But let’s pretend a man comes to you in the orphanage and says: “Son, I’ve already paid all the fees and signed all the paperwork. I’ve done all that needs to be done. If you’re willing I’ll take you home to be my son. Your life will change, I’m going to train you to be mature, there’ll be hard times, but I’ll be with you. You will be my son, I’ll be your father and there is nothing you can do that will ever change that.”

What would you say?

That’s what the Heavenly Father has done for you through his Son Jesus Christ. He has paid the full price, signed all the papers. And this evening he invites you to be with him forever in his exalted home.

(This sermon follows the broad outline and uses some of the illustrations suggested by Truth in Love Ministries)


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41 comments

A really excellent presentation, Father.  You may have led some people into the light, and I pray you did.

[1] Posted by Katherine on 4-26-2012 at 10:37 AM · [top]

What a wonderful presentation of the good news.  Well done good and faithful servant!!

[2] Posted by B. Hunter on 4-26-2012 at 11:44 AM · [top]

RE: “And it’s in his name and on the authority of his word and out of the eternal love that he has for you, that I’m called, as his servant, to say to you with a broken heart that the “plan of salvation” that you follow will not and cannot lead you to eternal life with the Father. I say this with great sorrow, but the gate your prophets and teachers have directed you toward is the wide one that leads to the outer darkness.”

Wow.

Matt—you have a lot of courage.  Thanks for saying what you did—particularly the explanation after this truly “divisive and unloving” opening statement.

[3] Posted by Sarah on 4-26-2012 at 11:51 AM · [top]

Nice. When do you suppose you will be asked to speak to the Mohammedans that bought your old church?

[4] Posted by via orthodoxy on 4-26-2012 at 12:18 PM · [top]

My neighbor, who is the head of Lutheran Charities, grew up in Salt Lake as, I think, a Methodist, but he is quite well acquainted with the LDS.  We had dinner at their house a couple of weeks ago and the conversation turned to the LDS.  He said flat out that LDS is not Christian, that they use all the same terms, but that they mean different things from what we would normally understand them to mean.

I’ll admit that I am almost completely ignorant of the LDS and their theology, but like Matt, I greatly admire their character, faith and forthrightness.

[5] Posted by Jeffersonian on 4-26-2012 at 12:27 PM · [top]

Fr. Matt,

Thanks for that sermon.  I spent 16 years traveling to Utah for Air Force Reserve duty about a month out of each year and worked with many LDS.  I do admire them for the same things you do.  I knew that Mormonism is a heresy and studied what I could of them.  I never was presented with their plan of salvation directly though understood them to be a “works” based religion.

I thank God that you stood before them and said what you did.  May many of them be saved.

[6] Posted by BillB on 4-26-2012 at 12:44 PM · [top]

Excellent Matt, really excellent.

[7] Posted by Festivus on 4-26-2012 at 12:47 PM · [top]

Matt - what an excellent and moving presentation of the Gospel.

Thank you for taking the time to deliver this with truth and love.

[8] Posted by Jackie on 4-26-2012 at 01:45 PM · [top]

Slightly rephrasing your concluding remarks:

Pretend you’re an orphan living in an orphanage. One day a man comes, takes you to his home, and says: “I’ll make you my son on the condition that over the next month you obey all of my rules and never do anything to displease me. Otherwise, it’s back to the orphanage.”

This is an offer founded upon the notion of “free will”. There are pros and cons to the choice. What would you do? Perhaps you’d agree, committing yourself to work and strive in order to save yourself from returning the orphanage. Ever longing to stay in the house permanently, you would always tremble with anxiety and fear, never sure of the man’s love for you.

But now let’s go back and imagine a different scenario. Let’s pretend the man comes to you in the orphanage and says: “Son, I’ve already paid all the fees and signed all the paperwork. I’ve done all that needs to be done and now I intend to take you home to be my son. Your life will change, I’m going to train you to be mature, there’ll be hard times, but I’ll be with you. You will be my son, I’ll be your father and there is nothing you can do that will ever change that.”

What would you say? Is refusing the offer even a choice that you possess? No.

The second man is Christ. The first man is an impostor.

[9] Posted by Aaytch on 4-26-2012 at 01:46 PM · [top]

Aaytch,

Let’s please not turn this thread into a discussion of the nature of predestination. Suffice it to say that I believe that if one chooses to follow Christ, it is because one has already been chosen to follow Christ. NO one can come to the Father unless the Father draw him (John 6:44)

Nevertheless the vehicle God uses to draw his elect is the will. He draws us to himself not against our will but through it. And this drawing often seems like “choosing” in the crudest sense of the word.

But, as I said, let’s not take this off topic please. No more predestination comments.

[10] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 4-26-2012 at 01:51 PM · [top]

Let me add congratulations on a truly inspired address, but particularly I commend the beginning of your talk where you state what we have in common and what you respect about those belonging to the church of LDS.  I have several friends belonging to the LDS and we know we have grave theological, doctrinal differernces but there are many things we hold in common and they know I pray for them.  On a [hopefully] humerous note related to predestination, I am reminded of a friend in a fierce debate who declared “I am predestined to exercise my free will”.

[11] Posted by Capt. Father Warren on 4-26-2012 at 03:19 PM · [top]

Good and faithful presentation. 

I have never had the following used by an LDS member, but those who are heavily into inclusivity often ask if you know the full name of the church, and when you get to “Church of Jesus Christ….” part they go “Ah HAH!”  QED

My reply is to ask them if they know the full name of the most brutal dictatorship on the planet today, North Korea.  The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is neither a democracy or a republic, and has little to do with the people.  The air goes out of their balloon quickly.  What impresses me is not the brilliant incisiveness of my wit, but that their argument is so shallow that it works.

[12] Posted by APB on 4-26-2012 at 03:40 PM · [top]

Fabulous job!!!  Reminds me of Walter Martin’s methods with Mormonism and other cults.  Prayers that the Holy Spirit will use your and your parishoner’s testimonies to lead many to the true and living Jesus, true God and true man, eternally co-uncreate with the Father and the Holy Spirit.

[13] Posted by Milton on 4-26-2012 at 03:44 PM · [top]

Fr Matt

An outstanding presentation, extraordinarily well done. I am reminded of several things. A local RC priest invited a number of local pastors to breakfast at his rectory. Two LDS bishops came, one I knew. Mormons show up. I too respect their life style choices. Sr Priest who was my mentor described Mormons as Christian but heretical. When you say “use the same words but have different meanings,” I am reminded that Jeffrey Steenson said the same thing about discussions in the Episcopal HOB before he left for Rome. Joke: Excited cardinal to the Pope: “Good news and bad news!” Pope: “Let’s hear the good news.” Cardinal, “Christ has come again!” Pope: “What could possibly be the bad news?” Cardinal: “He bought a house in Salt Lake City.”

[14] Posted by Don+ on 4-26-2012 at 03:59 PM · [top]

On a [hopefully] humerous note related to predestination, I am reminded of a friend in a fierce debate who declared “I am predestined to exercise my free will”.

Or the story about the Presbyterian that fell down the steps, stood up and said, “Well, I’m glad that’s over with.”

[15] Posted by Jeffersonian on 4-26-2012 at 04:05 PM · [top]

Dear Matt+,

So wonderful. Really so wonderful. Thank you for the witness of courage and graciousness in a difficult setting. I pray that the Lord will move mightily in the hearts of those in attendance.

[16] Posted by Fr. Mark on 4-26-2012 at 04:08 PM · [top]

Bravo Fr. Matt! Bravo!

Yours in Christ,
jacob

[17] Posted by Jacobsladder on 4-26-2012 at 04:40 PM · [top]

Matt, nicely done. I don’t suppose they will ask you back.

Did anyone ask you about baptism?

[18] Posted by Ralph on 4-26-2012 at 04:48 PM · [top]

With such a clearly spoken witness of the Gospel evidenced here, I can see why TEO became such a poor fit for Fr. Matt!

[19] Posted by elanor on 4-26-2012 at 05:31 PM · [top]

Matt+
Thank you for your faithful witness.  I am inspired.  I’ll be sharing this with the town pastors.  We have a large LDS presence here in Colorado. 
Would you share a couple examples of the responses by the discomfited patriarch?

[20] Posted by Theron Walker✙ on 4-26-2012 at 06:24 PM · [top]

Matt,

What a wonderful opportunity God provided for you. Praise God!

Father,
Thankyou for the opportunity you gave Matt to proclaim your gospel. I pray that that seed that has been sown will fall on good soil. Please grant faith and repentance to those who heard and Father, thankyou for empowering Matt to preach your word faithfully. Please help us all to not be ashamed of the Gospel and we praise you that the gospel is your power to save all who believe. In Jesus name. AMEN.

[21] Posted by Josh Bovis on 4-26-2012 at 06:40 PM · [top]

Hi Theron+

The patriarch centered his response on two points:

1. The LDS Church is ‘the’ true Church and the only teaching authority…so it really didn’t matter what I said since my church has no authority.

2. On the basis of that authority Mormons enter into a covenant with Jesus to follow the plan he gives us to become “worthy”. We must follow that plan. And so we “do all that we can do”.

It was somewhat difficult to follow. He had remarks prepared but felt he needed to respond to my points so it was probably less organized than he had planned.

[22] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 4-26-2012 at 07:27 PM · [top]

Once about every three years, OPC’s General Assembly meets in Grand Rapids.  One year we had a delegate from a OPC parish out in Utah speak to us.  He told us that Evangelicals typically get it wrong when they engage Mormons.  They go with the, “Jesus can save you and then be your brother,” tack.  He explained that this wrong because it doesn’t get under their skin.  His method of engaging was to ask them what they thought of a God who destroyed the world with water.

[23] Posted by J Eppinga on 4-26-2012 at 08:24 PM · [top]

On the other hand, he was a tough pill to swallow.  I’m an Evangelical, and I had a tough time sitting down.  And he didn’t preach about evangelizing Mormons, as we had been promised, either. 

Well said, Matt+, you tough hearted servant, you.

[24] Posted by J Eppinga on 4-26-2012 at 08:30 PM · [top]

Thank you Matt+, this was really interesting and inspiring to read.

I reckon you are still more popular with the Mormons than with Katherine Schori…

[25] Posted by MichaelA on 4-26-2012 at 11:11 PM · [top]

Matt,

Thanks for having the courage to do this. Thanks for doing it in a winsome way. Thanks for giving us a model to follow. I pray that the seeds planted that evening will bear much fruit for the Kingdom of God.

Al

[26] Posted by alethuontes enagape on 4-27-2012 at 08:10 AM · [top]

22 Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: “People of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. 23 For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: to an unknown god. So you are ignorant of the very thing you worship —and this is what I am going to proclaim to you.

Acts 17:22-23

[27] Posted by flaanglican on 4-27-2012 at 08:24 AM · [top]

Matt+,

Stay fearless.

[28] Posted by meh130 on 4-27-2012 at 08:50 AM · [top]

I liked the intro….

Technically, if the topic was “I believe in Christ”, there are a number of less confrontational ways the talk could have been presented. I find people are more likely to throw up their guard when they are informed within a minute of a speech’s beginning,  that the “plan of salvation” that you follow will not and cannot lead you to eternal life with the Father…”  .

Then again, God does save us through the foolishness of preaching.

Be blessed

Seraph

[29] Posted by seraph on 4-27-2012 at 10:40 AM · [top]

I find people are more likely to throw up their guard when they are informed within a minute of a speech’s beginning,  that the “plan of salvation” that you follow will not and cannot lead you to eternal life with the Father…”  .

Do you mean you actually preached that to somebody and got a negative reaction?

Or do you mean that someone preached that way to you, and you reacted negatively? Are you saying that you would be open to reconsidering your views if people spoke to you differently?

If what people believe is antithetical to the Gospel, won’t there always have to come a point in diaglogue with them when you will have to make known to them the sharp discrepancy between it and what they currently believe?

What are the details of the “technically” that you allude to?

[30] Posted by SpongJohn SquarePantheist on 4-27-2012 at 11:56 AM · [top]

I was particularly struck during the Patriarch’s talk by three things.
First, he appeared to be speaking exclusively to his own congregation. My bet is that he had been planning to deliver a more evangelistic address to those of us visiting, but could not leave Matt’s talk in the air to undermine his own congregation and so he was talking to them, instead of to us.

Second, by his closing line which was
“I tell you this not by the interpretation of scripture, not by reason, not by logic but by My Experience”.
At which point all we from Good Shepherd giggled quietly to ourselves.

And third, when he leaned over Matt, pointed his finger at him and said, “We DO do all we can do” and then pausing, gazed out intently over all of us assembled. Trouble was, the pause was sufficient to bring Matt’s words, ‘we Don’t do all we can do,’ back into the mind’s eye so that the two statements stood side by side. Unwittingly, I think, he gave the whole room a chance to reflect, where, if he had had his druthers, I bet he would rather we Not have time for that kind of thing.

[31] Posted by Anne Kennedy on 4-27-2012 at 01:09 PM · [top]

Mormons place great faith in their own ‘burning in the breast’ when they read the scriptures or reflect on their own experience, so the patriarch’s telling his people about his ‘experience’ would have a meaning to Mormons that it doesn’t to ‘gentiles’.

They sure are a ‘peculiar people’, aren’t they?

Jim of Olym
grew up with Mormons in california

[32] Posted by rdrjames on 4-27-2012 at 02:47 PM · [top]

Matt: As someone who lives in the mission field of Utah, I wish that more folks approached conversations with active LDS folks in that way. Broadly speaking, you:
1) Expressed sincere love and friendship, and affirmed common ground;
2) Stuck to the majors (the person of Jesus, and how one is saved only through his work on the cross). I’ve witnessed far too many Christians who harp on polygamy or make fun of LDS garments.
3) Said what you had to say on their turf, using the KJV and referencing their Scriptures.

When it comes to relationships with LDS folks, we have found that planting seeds is HUGE. Very rarely will an active Latter Day Saint hear what you said and say, “Oh, he’s right!” and choose to follow Jesus that day. We hear many stories when seeds of doubt were sown, they grew below the surface to the point where the person became disillusioned and left the LDS Church, then often it would be years before they would step foot in a Christ-centered church.

Very encouraging story.

[33] Posted by Utah Benjamin on 4-27-2012 at 03:39 PM · [top]

What a wonderful sermon! The Holy Spirit was speaking through you.

[34] Posted by GlassDarkly on 4-27-2012 at 06:41 PM · [top]

You have prayerfully and lovingly began a lifelong journey into a new environment, one where the old, old Story will be welcome by those drawn only by the scent of Love.

Vaya con Dios, mi hermano. . .the harvest is white.

[35] Posted by Bob Maxwell+ on 4-29-2012 at 03:58 PM · [top]

Like many others here, I applaud Matt for the courage to speak in love and honesty to an LDS gathering. I have an unusual perspective because despite having been an evangelical Christian for many years, I am very tempted by the LDS church and their teachings. I understand all of the heresy arguments and I ultimately agree, but I find Mormons as people to be extremely appealing and I find their church community to be the best I have ever encountred, and I find their theology to be fascinating, and I find their extra scriptures to be intriguing. I know the testimony of ex-Mormons and the research that shows the Book of Mormon and other aspects of their history to be false. Yet I have sometimes felt that I wish it were true. I came within 2 days of being baptized LDS 2 years ago, but I have had a number of LDS investigations before and since. I can’t seem to stay away from them. I see it as a temptation to the sin of a particular heresy. I have actually used many of the argments that Matt used when I have spoken at length with certain missionaries and other LDS folks. I have asked questions and presented viewpoints that they could not answer or explain away. I hope I have sown seeds. Having been part of a number of mainline protestant and other theologically liberal churches, I see LDS theology as no more heretical than theirs. Yet, even so, heresy is heresy and cannot be condoned.

[36] Posted by KarenR on 4-30-2012 at 12:52 PM · [top]

KarenR,

Flee sister… as an alcoholic needs to avoid the bottle. Your description scare me for you.

Zanglican

[37] Posted by FrDrEd on 5-3-2012 at 12:52 PM · [top]

At long last!  I am admitted to the elite corps of commentators on the threads of Stand Firm.  Thank you Matt and Greg for facilitating.

Although this string is getting long and the underlying post is aging, I wanted to try to recapture some thoughts I originally tried to post last Saturday just before the Facebook comments were closed down.  (Matt explained this was necessary due to profanity on other articles.  People do have a difficult time with decorum on blogs.)

In the original post on the talk to the Mormons, there was a lengthy prefatory note that gave some of the atmospherics of the evening.  My concern was the tone of that note which struck me as perhaps a bit too celebratory of the fact that the Mormon patriarch was so outraged.  I noted that people are sometimes outraged by the Gospel and that was always very sad.  Jesus, I said, outraged the Pharisees but I don’t think he went and high-fived with the disciples afterward. I further commented that I wondered whether it was good pastoral strategy to report on that rage and further extend the humiliation the patriarch felt that night. The ultimate danger was to undo the work of the sermon with the preface.

Matt saw the point immediately and was already in the process of both apologizing to the Mormons and editing his post to remove the passage in question.  (If anyone wants to see the original it is still available in Google cache.  One of the problems with the Internet:  more durable than the tablets of Sinai.)  I congratulate Matt on both the revisions and the apology.  It takes courage to acknowledge when one is wrong.

At any rate, I think this episode points up one of the more important challenges and responsibilities of Christians in the blogosphere:  how do we make our points without sounding like the pagan blogs?  I will certainly bear that in mind as I follow all the good work going on here at Stand Firm.

[38] Posted by BrentOrrell on 5-4-2012 at 11:22 PM · [top]

Hi Brent,

Welcome to SF. Just for future reference, “tone policing” or turning a thread toward a discussion of tone is against our commenting policy.

The reason I removed the opening section of the original post is not because I was “high-fiving” and then realized I was wrong to do so. I removed it because it was perceived as ‘high - fiving” by the Mormons. I apologized for giving that impression.

So, that having been said, the discussion will now get back on topic which is the sermon I preached in the Mormon church.

[39] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 5-5-2012 at 07:19 AM · [top]

Hey Matt,

I think this is a fine article, and helpful. I wish you would create a booklet on this subject. I fear that many people are making bedfellows out of members of the LDS, for political reasons, which is fine of course, but are assuming there are no religious differences, or at least no more so than are found among various Christian denominations…I feel there should be more clarity.

[40] Posted by FrVan on 5-5-2012 at 09:48 AM · [top]

Thanks, Matt. The peace of the Lord be always with you.

[41] Posted by BrentOrrell on 5-5-2012 at 09:54 AM · [top]

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