I may have already shared this but wanted to post it again for sure for fear I may have left some out.
This is a conversation, in it’s entirety, that I had with a high school friend who is now a pastor in a church in Washington:
I am going to be doing a comparative study between Christianity and Mormonism to our youth in about a month. Would you mind have a dialogue with me about your faith and answering any questions I may have. I know that you are zealous about your faith and I would appreciate your input.
Jed (name changed)
Great to hear from you. It seems like yesterday that [a friend] and I were watching you get married – how long has it been now? Hope things are going well.
I’d love to help you out in any way that I can with your study. I am a bit confused about the title of comparing Mormonism to Christianity since Mormons believe and worship Jesus Christ as our Savior, and that only in Him, and through Him, can we be saved. We believe He came to Earth, taught the truth, was crucified and died on the cross, was buried, and three days later was resurrected as an immortal being and that He lives today. We believe that through the atonement of Christ, all mankind can be saved by obedience to the laws and ordinances of His gospel.
As a “Mormon”, I would definitely consider myself a Christian.
I’m happy to answer any other questions and appreciate you asking me.
So funny, we have been married for 10 years and I just watched the wedding with my kids last night and saw you and [our friend] sitting in the back row. My memory about you was the surprise party we had for you at at your little red house by Minico and I got you a John Elway poster when you loved the Raiders. Think it was on a great sale so my mom got it..lol.
I appreciate you being willing to respond to my questions and have an open dialogue about the Mormon faith.
I contrast Mormonism to Christianity because the Jesus Christ that is central to both of our faiths seems to be a different Jesus. If my friend were to ask me about Nate Moller and I begin to give him an explanation about everything I know about you and at the end of the conversation he tells me everything He knows about Nate Moller and there are a great deal of contradictions than I would have to conclude that we are talking about different Nate Moller’s. But those are some of the things I wanted to ask you about throughout our dialogue and maybe you can clarify some things for me.
The first question I have for you is this: If someone were to come up to you and ask this question, “What are 2-3 of the greatest pieces of evidence that you have that supports your LDS faith, what would you say? Cuz we both know that there are many people of many different faiths that are zealous for their beliefs and have strong feelings that support it. So what pieces of evidence can you turn to without appealing to your strong feelings or confirmation through prayer?
You about lost me as a friend with that poster.
It was so fun growing up together. Sports, school, and all the recess drama! Good times!
I’m surprised we never talked about these topics before.
I’ll be happy to share my thoughts on this question and have one for you too:
How do you define “Christianity”?
My answer coming by tomorrow some time.
The name “Christian” was first used at the church of Antioch in Acts 12:26 according to the Bible. They were men or women who believed and accepted with faith who Jesus Christ was and what he had done for them on the Cross and through His resurrection from the dead. These men and women had walked with Jesus Christ, talked with Jesus Christ and they knew who He claimed to be. Who He claimed to be are written in the Word of God, the Bible. Any man who redefines Jesus Christ from who He claimed to be in the Word, has created a new Jesus Christ.
So this leads to my next questions for you:
1. Tell me where Jesus Christ came from?
2. According to the Bible, who did Jesus Christ claim to be?
3. Was Jesus Christ perfect, absent of all sin?
I really believe the key to understanding some of our differences is in understanding the person of Jesus Christ. In Him and Him alone lies all Truth.
Sorry about not getting back to you sooner.
I’ll do my best to answer your questions, although I don’t consider myself a “theologist” by any means. First, the “evidences” you asked about…
I guess one of the best ways to answer this question is through a favorite scripture from the Bible:
Hebrews 11:1 “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”
Mormons believe that the first principle of the Gospel is Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. For me, faith is “evidence” that what I believe is true.
One of the ways I’ve increased my faith in Jesus Christ and in His teachings is by serving an LDS mission for two years in Santiago Chile. As a missionary, I taught the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the Chilean people, the majority of which already had a strong belief in Jesus Christ as well. As we taught them about Jesus Christ and testified of his birth, life, teachings, death, and resurrection, the Spirit testified that what we were teaching was true. What we shared seemed to clarify some of Jesus Christs teachings in a way that helped them follow Christ more fully. I know it was not my “expertise” in teaching that converted these people, but that the Holy Ghost testified to them that what we were sharing was true.
The changes I saw in the lives of these humble people was a testament to me of Christ’s divinity and healing power in the lives of ALL His children, not just a chosen few. He wants us all to be happy and serve and honor Him throughout our lives.
Another “evidence” I have that supports my LDS faith is the Book of Mormon, “Another Testament of Jesus Christ”. I’ve read and studied this book, in conjunction with the Old and New Testament, since I was a young boy; and, just as talking of Christ causes me to feel the Spirit, when I read and ponder the teachings found in the Book of Mormon, I feel of its truth. Another favorite scripture I have is James 1:5 – “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not, and it shall be given him.”
When I’ve put this scripture to the test with an open heart and mind, I’ve received answers confirming my testimony of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon. I’ve seen the power it has to clear up many doubts and mis-interpretations found in King James version of the Bible. “We believe the Bible to be the word of God, as far as it is translated correctly. We also believe the Book of Mormon, to be the word of God.” (LDS Article of Faith #8)
The final “evidence” I have is found within the walls of my home. I know that when I am doing my best to live the teachings of the Gospel, I’m blessed in more ways than I can count. I’ve been blessed with a beautiful family who I love. As we teach our children and live our religion, we feel the hand of God in our lives. The blessings aren’t always tangible things, but I’m learning all the time about the importance of recognizing God’s hand in all of my blessings.
I know that Jesus Christ came to the earth. I know that he lived a perfect life, free from sin or transgression. I know that He was Jehovah of the Old Testament, our Savior and Redeemer and the Holy Messiah of the New Testament. I know that He is the light, the truth and the life, and that no man returneth to the Father, but through Him. I know that He invites all of us to follow Him and to keep His commandments. I know that he is our advocate with the Father and that we’re saved by grace after all we can do.
I know that as I live my life as close to Him as I possibly can, that I’m given direction and answers to my prayers. And finally, I know that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is Christ’s church restored again on the earth in preparation for the second coming of the Savior.
I hope that I’ve answered your questions and you can have a better understanding of what I believe.
I haven’t heard back from him since (my last response was March 26, 2011).
I sent him a message today that said this:
Wanted to say hello and see how your comparative study between Christianity and Mormonism went.
Hope my responses to your questions helped.
Go Yankees in 2012…
I shared parts of this experience today with the new families we home teach. Not only does an experience like this cause me to want to be more prepared for these types of discussions, but it also encourages me to read the scriptures in a different way – striving to find answers from the word of God that solidify my faith in Jesus Christ and his Gospel.
One of my favorite scriptures is this one from 2 Nephi 25:26:
And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins.