Ministering to Mormons in Utah Day 1

This new series will be a daily account of the Utah Missions trip I co-lead with Kristeena Cardoza July 1-7th, 2012.  We went to help Mormons move away from the false beliefs of Joseph Smith and assist in their journey to find the Biblical Jesus.  Other members of the team were: Brandon Sims, Nick Perkins, Teresa Barlow, and Norma Puerta.

The Utah Missions Team consisted of volunteers from the post college group at Emmanuel Faith Community Church in Escondido.  I was asked to join primarily to help equip the team on how to share with Mormons.  We all raised support from friends, family, and members of the church.  Our objectives for the week were to 1) Grow in our understanding of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS); 2) Connect with various ministries reaching out to the Mormons; and 3) Engage in spiritual conversations with LDS.  We wanted to challenge their false beliefs.

I joined the team near the end of May and only had a month to get them ready for Utah.  I focused on both content and tactics.  I was asked to teach on Mormonism to the entire post college group for two consecutive Wednesday evenings.  The first evening I came as Mormon Elder Bruecker.  It was a great evening as I fooled many and had a few individuals angrily walk out of the room.  They thought I was a real Mormon and didn’t appreciate my attacks upon historic Christianity.  An intern chased them down and let them know who I was and they returned to the room.  One of my goals was to show the group the importance of knowing what and why they believe what they believe.

The night went great as there were at least 3-4 hands up the entire evening to ask questions and try to pin me down.  My experience with sharing with Mormons helped me escape all challenges.  What they didn’t know was how much I was struggling as I attacked my own beliefs; I felt like a heretic.  Finally, I revealed who I was and why I portrayed a Mormon.  I told them I’d return the following Wednesday to share why Mormonism is false and why our beliefs are solidly based on the Bible.

On consecutive Sunday afternoons, I met with the team only.  I focused on the doctrine of the Trinity and tactics in conversations.  On another training day we had James Wallace Warner come out to train the team.  He is an apologist with a great knowledge of Mormonism.  He runs the ministry web site called Please Convince Me.  James brought his son Jimmy to portray a Mormon based on his vast experience of sharing on the streets of Salt Lake City.  This was a turning point for our team.

I knew ahead of time Jimmy would act as a Mormon missionary so I decided to sit back and let the team ask all the questions and answer his challenges.  Our team applied what they had learned the last couple of months.  At first the team sat back too much and tried to be too nice.  James Warner, Jimmy’s dad, told them that if he was an observer of this conversation he’d have to say the Mormon was making the better case; they needed to step it up.  This invitation was all they needed, as they made stronger challenges the rest of the afternoon.

Over the years I have met with many Mormon missionaries and Jimmy acted just like any of them who have sat in my front room.  He was the best Mormon imposter I’d ever seen!  I later told the team he would be by far the toughest LDS they would ever encounter.

From this training I knew our main task was to become better listeners.  I told them they let Jimmy off the hook way too many times.  He made assertion after assertion and they let him get away with them.  They needed to ask the why question to force him to justify his conclusions.  Brandon said he was too focused on what to ask next, which got in the way of listening to Jimmy.  I listed at least 10 assertions Jimmy made that should have been challenged.  This experience helped me as their trainer to work more on asking the two main questions, “What do you mean by that” to get clarification and “Why do believe that to be true” to force the person to justify their belief.  This was the last training experience before we traveled to Utah.

Sunday July 1, 2012: Following a family wedding in Chico, CA I flew in from Oakland to Salt Lake City Utah (SLC) to join the team driving up from Escondido.  I met Russ East, founder of the Utah Partnership for Christ, at the airport.  His ministry provided the housing and agenda for our team.  We drove to SLC to meet the team at a restaurant.  After dinner we went to temple square to begin our trip with prayer.  Bobby Gilpin, an intern for UPFC and UK apologist, gave us tour of the LDS facilities and provided an overview of what the various buildings represented.  At each stop we then prayed around temple square for wisdom of speech, open hearts, and the empowerment of the Holy Spirit for our upcoming conversations with LDS.  We then returned to the “Blue House,” our housing for the week, for last minute instructions and sleep.

Go to Day 2 here

{ 2 comments… add one }
  • Britain July 23, 2012, 10:12 am

    Here is a link that explains why the Book of Mormon could not be false.

    copy and paste in the web address

    Please watch with an open mind and ask Heavenly Father in prayer if it is true. The Holy Ghost will testify of it’s truthfulness.

    I know Joseph Smith Jr. was a modern-day prophet and there is a Prophet on the Earth today by the name of Thomas S. Monson. I know this is true in the sacred name of Jesus Christ Amen.

  • Steve July 25, 2012, 2:51 pm

    Dear Britain,
    Thanks for your reference to an article by Jeffrey Holland. I did read the article. At this time I will focus on his 3rd reference which states: “Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon into English through the gift and power of God. He said that it is ‘the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book’” (History of the Church, 4:461). Joseph Smith said the Book of Mormon is from God and is the most correct book on earth. If this book is from God then what about the other scriptures you recognize, such as the Bible, Doctrine & Covenants, and the Book of Abraham. Are these also from God? What happens if there is a contradiction among these sacred texts?

    The Bible clearly teaches there is only one God. I can list 28 verses in the Bible that say there is only one God. Here are a couple of examples: Isaiah 43:10: “Ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me.” Isaiah 44:6, 8: “Thus saith the LORD the King of Israel, and his redeemer the LORD of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God. 8Fear ye not, neither be afraid: have not I told thee from that time, and have declared it? ye are even my witnesses. Is there a God beside me? yea, there is no God; I know not any.” The Bible has always taught there is only one God.

    The Book of Mormon also teaches there is only one God. Alma 11: 27-29: “And Amulek said: Yea, there is a true and living God. 28 Now Zeezrom said: Is there more than one God? 29 And he answered, No.” Alma 11: 44 “Now, this restoration shall come to all, both old and young, both bond and free, both male and female, both the wicked and the righteous; and even there shall not so much as a hair of their heads be lost; but every thing shall be restored to its perfect frame, as it is now, or in the body, and shall be brought and be arraigned before the bar of Christ the Son, and God the Father, and the Holy Spirit, which is cone Eternal God, to be judged according to their works, whether they be good or whether they be evil.” And also Mormon 7:7: “And he hath brought to pass the redemption of the world, whereby he that is found guiltless before him at the judgment day hath it given unto him to dwell in the presence of God in his kingdom, to sing ceaseless praises with the choirs above, unto the Father, and unto the Son, and unto the Holy Ghost, which are one God, in a state of happiness which hath no end.” The last two verses in the Book of Mormon also support the historical Doctrine of the Trinity. The Trinity can be defined as one God subsisting in 3 persons Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; co-equal and co-eternal.

    All verses quoted above state there is only one ontological (state of being) God. None of these verses talk about one God in purpose. They all clearly support the Bible teaches there is only being in existence called God. And when Amulek was asked if there is more than one God, the Book of Mormon clearly said NO; again dealing with a number and not purpose.

    However, this is not what your church teaches. We read in the Book of Abraham 4:1-4 “And then the Lord said: Let us go down. And they went down at the beginning, and they, that is the Gods, organized and formed the heavens and the earth. 2 And the earth, after it was formed, was empty and desolate, because they had not formed anything but the earth; and darkness reigned upon the face of the deep, and the Spirit of the Gods was brooding upon the face of the waters. 3 And they (the Gods) said: Let there be light; and there was light. 4 And they (the Gods) comprehended the light, for it was bright; and they divided the light, or caused it to be divided, from the darkness.” Over and over this book teaches there are many gods.

    All married Mormons who reach the highest heaven can become a god. D & C 132:19-20: “And again, verily I say unto you, if a man marry a wife by my word, which is my law, and by the new and everlasting covenant, and it is sealed unto them by the Holy Spirit of promise, by him who is anointed, unto whom I have appointed this power and the keys of this priesthood; and it shall be said unto them—Ye shall come forth in the first resurrection; and if it be after the first resurrection, in the next resurrection; and shall inherit thrones, kingdoms, principalities, and powers, dominions, all heights and depths—then shall it be written in the Lamb’s Book of Life, that he shall commit no murder whereby to shed innocent blood, and if ye abide in my covenant, and commit no murder whereby to shed innocent blood, it shall be done unto them in all things whatsoever my servant hath put upon them, in time, and through all eternity; and shall be of full force when they are out of the world; and they shall pass by the angels, and the gods, which are set there, to their exaltation and glory in all things, as hath been sealed upon their heads, which glory shall be a fulness and a continuation of the seeds forever and ever. 20 Then shall they be gods, because they have no end; therefore shall they be from everlasting to everlasting, because they continue; then shall they be above all, because all things are subject unto them. Then shall they be gods, because they have call power, and the angels are subject unto them.” There must be unlimited gods throughout the universe.

    As you can clearly see the Bible and the Book of Mormon teach there is only one God. Both books are clearly speaking of the nature of being and not unity in purpose. On the other hand both the Book of Abraham and Doctrine & Covenants clearly teach there are countless gods. This is a clear contradiction. If the Book of Mormon is the most correct book on earth then the Doctrine & Covenants and the Book of Abraham are false. Are you prepared to reject those books?

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Do Objective Morals Exist?
Answering Tough Questions
Counting the Cost
Is God the Author of the Bible?
God’s Holiness and Love Wins
Ministering to Mormons in Utah
Challenging a Jehovah’s Witness
What Ever Happened to Hell?
Accurately Interpreting the Scriptures
Understanding the Christian Worldview
Accused of Partnering in Wickedness
Set Apart Christ as Lord
Sharing with Knowledge & Wisdom
Becoming a Good Ambassador for Christ
How to Persuade Others

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