Ongoing Conversations with Mormon Missionaries Part 5

The strategy for this meeting was for Dylan to present evidence against the Book of Mormon (BOM).  However, I was prepared for them to ignore the evidence and run to their testimonies (BOM is true and Joseph Smith was a prophet of God).  I was going to use 2 Corinthians 11:3-4 and 13-15, to try get them to realize they could be deceived by Satan.

Week 5:  Dylan and I met with the two Mormon missionaries, elders Baker and Livingston.  Dylan began to set-up his challenge of using the internet to find contradictions in the Book of Mormon.  He gave each of us a 3 page handout and said he founds lots online both pro and con and he printed out just a few items he wanted to discuss.  He asked elder Livingston how he felt when he was confronted with materials pointing out errors in the Book of Mormon.  Elder Livingston talked about being given a DVD called, “The Bible versus Joseph Smith.”   He gave a few highlights of the DVD.  He said a woman gave them tons of written materials from the internet.  There was so much information they just threw them away.  They’ve had other discussions about the problems with Mormonism.  Elder Livingston said they both weighed the evidence against their confirmation from God based on their prayers.  They both felt God confirming the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon to trump the evidence.  Dylan then said if evidence says the Book of Mormon is false and your prayers say it’s true, which one do you follow?  They said their prayers. God would not deceive them.

I finally spoke up and said to them, you say your keystone is the Book of Mormon but as I listen, the true keystone is God speaking to your hearts.  They agreed that their prayers for truth were vital.  I then began a series of questions to try to get away from the heart as a measure of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon.  Could the voice you hear in your heart be Satan instead?  From my perspective you have a limited view of Satan.  You think he only gives you bad thoughts.  Is it possible he could deceive you by working through good?

Let me show you an example from the Bible.  Turn to 2 Corinthians 11:3-4 But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ. 4 For if one comes and preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted, you bear this beautifully.”  Paul here was warning the church to be careful because there were false teachers among them.  He chastised the Corinthians for not resisting these teachers who brought a false gospel.

I said Satan is crafty and he could be leading you astray from the truth.  Is it possible the Mormon Church is proclaiming a false Jesus, a different spirit, and a false gospel?  They said yes.  If Dylan and I disagree with what you believe, there are only three possibilities; 1) you are right and we are wrong, 2) we are right and you are wrong, or 3) we are both wrong.  They agreed.

We then read further.  2 Corinthians 11:13-15, For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. 14 No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. 15 Therefore it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness, whose end will be according to their deeds.”   Could it be the Mormon Church has false apostles guided by Satan who is disguising himself as an angel of light?  I said Satan is crafty and a deceiver and maybe he has been fooling you by giving the appearance of good.  This passage also says Satan’s servants disguise themselves as servants of righteousness.  They servants are likely clean cut, going door to door, doing good things and yet, guided by Satan.  Is that possible?  And they said yes.

Elder Livingston then asked, how did Paul know who was false and who was true?  Dylan said the Bible tells us to test all things.  Therefore, testing would be one way to know.  I said here is where evidence becomes important.  God said in Romans 1 He had revealed himself with so much evidence in creation that humanity was without excuse for not believing in Him.  We could test God’s revelation by testing the Bible and the Book of Mormon.  I told them I have 6 lines of evidence that gives me confidence the Bible is God’s Word.  I asked them if they would like to hear it and they said yes.

I then launched into a teaching I have done over the years, where I use my hand to recall the 6 lines of evidence (see series: Is God the Author of the Bible).  The shortened version is the Bible is God’s Word because of 1) multiple fulfilled prophecies, 2) unity of the 44 authors writing 66 books, 3) writers wrote about the supernatural and supported their writings with their lives, 4) evidence supports the Bible is historically reliable, 5) it changes lives, and 6) the Bible has stood the test of time and answered the critics.   I then shared how the truth of the Bible led me out of atheism.  I gave my testimony of becoming a follower of Jesus Christ and finished with the gospel.  I reviewed each of the hand motions so they could remember them.

When I was done I could tell they were silently applying each of the 6 evidences to the Book of Mormon.  I told them I know what you are thinking; these tests could be applied to the Book of Mormon.  Elder Livingston said he loved the tests and was going to use them whenever he visited others.  I said this is a great opportunity to see if the Book of Mormon passes all the tests.

As we were wrapping up, elder Livingston revealed he is leaving Tuesday.  So we set our next date for Monday so we could have a final discussion and could exchange contact information.  Elder Baker said he would bring over the new missionary so we could meet him.

After they left Dylan said great, you are now equipping the missionaries on how to defend their faith.  We both had a good laugh.  The truth is both Dylan and I were happy because they were now ready to test the Book of Mormon.  And yet we were sad because elder Livingston was leaving and he seemed to be the most open to what we had to say.

Go to part 6 here

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{ 4 comments… add one }
  • Kelly Smith May 2, 2016, 9:33 am

    “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?”

    You have good intentions here but are being mislead and causing others to follow in your path, just as Saul did many years ago.

    One of the mistakes the missionary fell for though (amongst several errors in this article) is the idea that the feelings from Satan can be mistaken for feelings from God. They are as different as night from day. I know because I have felt both. Everything that is good comes from God and everything that is evil comes from Satan. But of course, Satan would have us believe otherwise.

    I have read the Book of Mormon every day for the past 30 years (missing only 54 days) and I can tell you that it is the Word of God and came from him. I know it is true. Please read it and pray about it with a sincere heart truly desiring to know and He will bear witness to you. Don’t put off the Holy Spirit until it has no place in you and you be found on the left hand of God.

    I wish you all the best.

  • Steve Bruecker May 2, 2016, 3:21 pm

    Kelly,
    Thanks for writing and sharing your experiences. It is the Bible that says Satan can fool people (2 Cor. 11). Satan can disguise himself as an angel of light. He uses “good” people to do his evil work.

    Let me address the issue of praying over the Book of Mormon to see if it is true. The Bible itself doesn’t approve of this method. Using James 1:5 is taking the verse out of context. This verse is about asking for wisdom when going through tough times and has nothing to do with gaining knowledge about a book. I have never prayed over the Bible to ask if it is true. Why? Because the Bible doesn’t support the method and I have EVIDENCE why it is the word of God. I have never prayed over any book to find out if it is true. I have never prayed over the book The Pilgrim’s Progress. Why? It is because it is a work of fiction and yet, it is loaded with spiritual truths.

    I have to be honest with you the Book of Mormon has all the markings of pure fiction with King James Version Scriptures added in. Make believe cities, geography, massive wars, etc. This is why I haven’t prayed over it. If something turns out to be false, praying over it will not change the truth. What I need is solid evidence of the historical reliability of the Book of Mormon. There should be tons of evidence, similar to the historical evidence for the reliability of the Bible. What do you have?

    Steve

  • Julia Stock May 2, 2016, 11:53 pm

    To all of my friends involved in this conversation,

    You all make really good points within this argument and I can see what you are going for here. There are a few problems with the ideas that you are purporting here, however, that will block you from ever yielding true results on this journey of testing out the Book of Mormon for truth. To give you some background, I am an English teaching major working to gain an education to give my future middle school students the best education that I possibly can. I am a return missionary from the Alabama Birmingham Mission, Spanish speaking, and I returned about two years ago. Since returning I have experienced a set of truly trying challenges that have tested my faith and patience in ways that I never thought possible. I don’t say this to be prideful, only to give background to the experiences that I am about to share.

    The Book of Mormon is the Keystone of Our Religion:
    The reason why the Book of Mormon is called the keystone of our faith is not because we believe our salvation rests on its being true. The principles taught therein is the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which principles the Bible shares in common with the Book of Mormon. We believe the Bible and the Book of Mormon to be the word of God and essential to our personal study that teaches us of our Savior, the Atonement, prayer and much more. So, you may ask, why isn’t the Bible considered the keystone as well? The answer to this question lies in the history of the coming forth of the Book of Mormon. We believe that a history of some of the early American peoples was kept, preserved, and compiled together, at the mandate of God, by a historian and prophet of that day by the name of Mormon, hence the name Book of “Mormon.” We believe this prophet was commanded to seal up this record until such a time as it could be safely translated. God the Father and Jesus Christ appeared to the boy that would be called to accomplish this translation, by the power of God, as the second witness to the restoration of Christ’s complete gospel. Now, if this book were to prove false then Joseph Smith could be considered a liar and a false prophet and the idea of ongoing revelation, that we believe helps our current prophet and apostles to lead and guide Christ’s church today, could also be called into question. Hence, we rely on the truth of this second witness as clear and undeniable evidence that God and Jesus Christ did appear to Joseph Smith and guided him to restore the complete truth and bring forth the Book of Mormon as a second witness to the truth found in the Bible. From personal experience, I also never felt the need to have to pray to know that either of these books were the word of God and but instead simply felt the spirit of each and knew they were meant to be studied to bring me closer to Him as well as Christ Jesus. I inherently knew this truth in the process of studying each of them in the attitude of prayer, questioning as I read and searching for personal revelation for my individual circumstances. I feel that study of both of these books, in addition to other good literature, read to augment my studies, brought me closer to God and taught me how to be a better person than I could ever have become on my own.
    See this site for more detail on the Book of Mormon itself for timelines and whatnot:
    https://www.mormon.org/beliefs/book-of-mormon

    The last thing I’ll say here as I do need to return to my scholastic studies will be to the spirit of deception and the tricks of the devil. I pose the question here that each of us must answer; if you can never tell the difference between the good or the bad angels, then how can we even know that any of the revelations of the Bible can be taken to be of God. If there is truly no means to tell this difference then, based on the evidence presented, I supposition that there is none and the world of Christianity is really being led by the devil. If this belief were to be maintained, the lack of a true difference to be known between the devil and his angels of dark disguised as angels of light throws the whole of Christianity and the question of right and wrong into the fire of confusion. I pose, however, that there is a distinct difference between an angel of light and one disguised as one. As Christ promises in St. John 15:7-8 (King James Version) “7 If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. 8 Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.” If His words abide in us, words of love, faith, peace, forgiveness, repentance, change, hope, and salvation, then shouldn’t a servant of the Lord God also be capable of communicating such doctrine and instilling our souls with peace? If they truly be of God then we can know it. Fear, anger, and hatred are not of Him, in fact, He instead commands us to fear not. “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness” (KJV Isaiah 41:10). For a God who emphasizes trust, peace, and fearing not, would it not then follow that He would not be responsible for anything that did? Returning to the verses of St. John 15:7-8 will also answer the question as to why prayer is an important part of a study of the scriptures. As we allow His words to “abide” in us, we are then encouraged to ask for anything and called as disciples of Christ as we glorify the Father to “bear much fruit,” which might be interpreted to mean “yield the result” of our study and prayers of faith. This is my last point that I have time to raise at this particular moment, but if you have any questions or counterpoints I would be happy to hear you out and respond.

  • Steve Bruecker May 3, 2016, 6:10 pm

    Julie,
    Thank-you for your passionate comments. You take what you believe very seriously.

    I never said we couldn’t tell the difference between Satan and the truth. My point was that since we disagree and our views contradict, then one of us is wrong and being fooled by Satan. Julie either you are being fooled by Satan or I am. How do we know who has the truth?

    The Bible says in 1 Thessalonians 5:21 (KJV) “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.” I like the NIV rendering of this passage, which says “Test everything. Hold on to the good.” The best solution is to test our belief systems. Since Satan is the author of lies, one of our belief systems will be shown false.

    Are you willing to test your beliefs via history and the Bible? I recommend checking out my evidences for the Bible, “Is God the Author of the Bible?” and “Unmasking the Deception of Mormonism.” In those later posts I give reasons why Mormonism is false and historic Christianity is true. I welcome you to show me where I am wrong.

    One of us is being fooled by Satan and it doesn’t matter how nice either of us are. All that matters is which belief system has the truth.

    Steve

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Do Objective Morals Exist?
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Counting the Cost
Is God the Author of the Bible?
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Ministering to Mormons in Utah
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Accurately Interpreting the Scriptures
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