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.