Wednesday July 4, 2012: As a service project we spent the day at the city’s 4th of July celebration at a park in Ogden helping with the Community Church’s game booths and raising money cooking hamburgers. As I worked one of the booths I met a young girl who came out of Mormonism and was now a follower of Christ. Her LDS parents “accidently” allowed her to go to a Baptist summer camp for a week. She accepted Christ and then left the Mormon Church. She is now working on helping her LDS family find the true Jesus.
During our early evening cooking time we divided into two shifts. I was assigned the early shift as rover. I decided to be the host and talk to people standing in line as they waited for their burger or hot dog to be cooked. I introduced myself to many people but didn’t get into a single conversation with a Mormon. That was okay as our main purpose was to help raise money for the local church in Ogden and the ministry of Utah Partnership for Christ.
After cooking for hours we began packing up at about 8:15 pm. Two young men rushed up to us and said they were starving and could we fix them two burgers. We said no problem. As usual I began to chat with them as their burgers cooked. I found out both were Mormon and one had just got off his mission. His name was Britain and he said he loved to talk to people of other belief systems. We discussed the Trinity and council of Nicea. At the council I told him the church overwhelmingly voted against Arianism, a belief similar to Mormon teachings that Jesus was a second god. The early church called this belief a heresy. Even though we didn’t agree, he seemed to enjoy our interactions.
Then out of nowhere 3 Mormon missionaries walked right up to me! It seems they were called into action by Britain’s friend. As they descended upon me, our team then moved into action to join in on the discussions. Two missionaries (Elder Pali & Elder Samia) went with me and we discussed the Book of Mormon, missing archeological evidence, missing cities in the Book of Mormon, and the fact of zero manuscript evidence. Interesting was when I confronted them on the lack of historical evidence for the Book of Mormon Elder Pali said they have the history of the Native Americans, which were the descendants of the Laminites in the Book of Mormon. I asked, aren’t you aware of the DNA findings? Scientists have confirmed through DNA testing the Native Americans are from mongoloid heritage and have no Hebrew DNA. This supported my conclusion the Book of Mormon has no historical evidence. I asked does this bother you. Elder Samia said no. He said he just takes this lack of evidence by faith. I said your definition of faith is not what the Bible teaches. Hebrews 11:1 “Now faith is the substance [or assurance] of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” I then defined Biblical faith as trust supported by evidence. I said blind faith is not Biblical faith.
I then talked about the free gift of grace and how they carry the burden of following the LDS rules and commandments. It is similar to wearing a backpack filled with things you’ve been told you have to obey such as temple duties, tithing, the Sabbath, etc. I said this is a burden I don’t have to bear. I said Jesus took the burden from me by living the life I should have lived and dying on the cross to pay the penalty for my sins; grace is a free gift.
One of them replied in his heart he knows the Book of Mormon is true and Joseph Smith was a prophet of God. I then responded “truth trumps feelings.” When they heard those words they were silent, stunned as to how to respond. I said Jesus told us to believe the truth and the truth shall set you free. I said grace will set you free. You can take off the backpack of good works and simply trust in the finished work of Jesus. To them this seemed too easy and preferred the backpack filled with works to the grace offered by Jesus. I told them I will continue to read the Book of Mormon and I wanted them to read Galatians and John. I said Galatians deals with the problem of adding works to grace. As we parted they said they would read those books.
As we were ending our conversations we took a team picture with the three missionaries. I have stayed in touch with Britain through email. He commented on the web site to challenge me after reading my account of the Utah trip day 1. Hopefully, we will continue to discuss these important spiritual issues.