The (Real) Book of Mormon
THE (REAL) BOOK OF
Here's perhaps the best the world thinks of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
(opening number of the 2014 Tony Awards)
The Broadway smash hit (from the creator of the scatological "South Park) spent two hours lampooning Mormons for being loopy and gullible optimists who swallow whole something completely man-made.
Sad to say, the South Park gang is just as lame as most Christians in trying to reach out to Mormons. Arguing is as pointless as mocking, and demeans both sides just as much.
Mark Cares has been a WELS pastor for his entire ministry among the Mormons of Idaho. He heads the Truth in Love Ministry (TILM). Anyone who has dear friends or family who are LDS should regularly consult TILM's website, tilm.org.
His book, Speaking the Truth in Love to Mormons, is and remains a classic in outreach to Mormons that is based upon understanding, compassion and, above all, listening to what they are saying. It is available from Northwestern Publishing House (www.nph.net) for a ridiculously low price.
This four week Bible study relies heavily upon Pastor Cares' work.
Official LDS ManualsWorks Referred to:
Achieving a Celestial Marriage, 1976
Book of Mormon Student Manual, 1981
Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual, 1981
Gospel Principles, 1995. The basic manual of the LDS church.
The Life and Teachings of Jesus and His Apostles, 1979. The LDS commentary on the New Testament.
Teachings of the Living Prophets, 1982
Temples of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1988
Sharing the Gospel, 1976
Ensign The official magazine of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Non-Official LDS Sources
Mormon Doctrine, McKonkie, Bruce, 1979, Salt Lake City.
Know The Goal
The Christian faith, and by Christian, we mean orthodox Christianity which adheres to the three Trinitarian and ecumenical creeds (Apostles', Nicene and Athanasian), all have as their goal the salvation of souls.
This is clear in the account of the Jailer at Philippi.
Read Acts 16.22-34 and answer the comprehension questions.
Who was in jail?
The Apostle Paul and Silas.
What was unusual about their activity while they were in jail?
They were singing hymns of praise to God.
How did it later affect the rest of the prisoners?
None of the prisoners ran away.
How bad was the earthquake?
It tore open the prison so that every prison cell was sprung open.
Given a chance, 100 out of 100 prisoners would make a break for it, especially before the days of electronic surveillance and tracking. The Romans had a harsh, but effective method for preventing prisoners from escaping. If a prisoner escaped, the guard, be he soldier or civilian, responsible for keeping the prisoner, was put to death. The jailer at Philippi, woken by the earthquake, rushed to the prison to see how bad it was. In the prison gloom, he assumed everyone had fled.
Why was the jailer suddenly interested in how to avoid going to hell?
He had been thinking that his life was going to be taken from him and he was going to hell.
How did being saved change the life of the jailer?
He was filled with joy that he and his family believed in Jesus and would live forever in heaven. He was so happy he treated Paul and Silas royally.
What is the goal of Christianity?
John 17.24 (page 1681) that we live with God in heaven, being where Jesus is.
Matthew 25.46 (page 1542) that we might live with God eternally
1 Thessalonians 4.17b (page 1840) we will be with the Lord forever
Revelation 21.3, 4 (page 1937) no more sorrow or pain in heaven. God will live with us and be our God.
What do you want Jesus to do for you?
I want Jesus to take me to heaven so I can live forever with him there.
What does "being saved mean to you? Explain it in your own words.
Jesus will rescue me so that I do not end up in eternal hell. He will take me to heaven when I die.
What are you "being saved from? Describe it.
I am being saved from an eternity of suffering in hell. Hell will be terrible, a place empty of all and any of God's blessings, a place filled with torment and torture.
How do we show that in our daily lives as individuals and congregations?
Our churches are called Beautiful Savior, our favorite hymns speak of Jesus as our Savior. It is one of the common names we use for Jesus.
"O Lord Jesus Christ, who will come in majesty to judge the living and dead and call forth all who are in the grave, either to the resurrection of salvation or to the resurrection of damnation, we implore you to be gracious unto us and to raise us from the death of sin unto the life of righteousness, so that when we shall depart this life, we may rest in you and, on the last day, be raised up to life everlasting and inherit the kingdom which you have prepared for all who believe in you. To you be glory and praise, now and forever. Amen.
"Prayer at the Graveside from The Pastor's Agenda, 1978
The Latter-day Saints
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints does not believe there is a hell in the sense of a physical and spiritual place of eternal torment in flames.
There are two ways in which hell are described:
That part of the spirit world inhabited by wicked spirits who are awaiting the eventual day of their resurrection is called hell. Hell will have an end.
Doctrines and Covenants, Student Manual, page 165)
Of course, those who enter the telestial kingdom, and those who enter the terrestrial kingdom will have the eternal punishment which will come to them in knowing that they might, if they had kept the commandments of the Lord, have returned to his presence as his sons and daughters. This will be a torment to them, and in that sense it will be hell.
Life and Teachings of Jesus and His Apostles, page 66
In your own words, what is this "hell in the telestial and terrestrial kingdoms?
The remorse of knowing you could be in the celestial kingdom if you had tried harder.
The Latter-day Saints teach that everyone will be resurrected.
As one cannot baptize himself, nor can he baptize others until he himself is baptized and ordained and given the authority, even so one cannot resurrect himself, but will be called forth by someone in authority. Men will be given the authority to perform this ordinance after they are resurrected, and then can resurrect others.
Ensign, April 1991, page 11
Who does the resurrecting?
Most people who know a little about LDS teachings relate this teaching to husbands
_calling their wives out of the grave_______________________________________.
According to Christianity, who raises the dead?
Christians think of one "heaven.
There are three degrees of glory in the heavens and men will be rewarded according to their actions on earth.
Gospel Principles, page 113
Looking at this diagram, what are the three LDS heavens?
And then there's _Outer Darkness________________.
The highest kingdom, the Celestial, will have three levels, two of which have been revealed. The highest one is the Celestial Kingdom of Exaltation and the other the Celestial Kingdom of Ministering Servants.
Of the total number of people who come to earth, those who earn celestial glory may be a relatively small percentage, but in numbers there will be millions who inherit the glory of the sun.
Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual, p. 358
Celestial or eternal marriage is the gate to exaltation. To fill the full measure of his creation and obtain eternal life a man must enter into this order of matrimony and keep all of the covenants and obligations that go with it.
The Life and Teachings of Jesus and His Apostles, page 130
Our exaltation depends on marriage¦.Heavenly Father has given us the law of eternal marriage so that we can become like him.
Gospel Principles, pp. 241f
What do you need to do to be in the Celestial Kingdom in Exaltation?
Be married with celestial marriage.
So if your LDS friend is talking about Celestial Marriage, he is also talking about _exaltation_____, because you cannot attain _exaltation___ without Celestial Marriage.
And being exalted in the Celestial Kingdom means you become a _god_____.
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 fullness and a continuation of the seeds forever and ever.
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 all power, and the angels are subject unto them.
Doctrine and Covenants, 132.19, 20
What if you are a faithful Mormon, but you were not sealed for eternity in the Temple?
How lonely and barren will be the so-called single blessedness throughout eternity!
Temples of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, p. 19
Exaltation means godhood, creatorship.
Ensign, August 1996, p. 15
As man now is, God once was;
As God now is, man may be.
The Life and Teachings of Jesus and His Apostles, p. 59
Drawing It Together
So what is the goal of a Latter-day Saint?
To be exalted, to reach godhead and become a god, the creator of your world.
How is this different from the goal of a Christian?
The Christian wants to live with God in heaven, not to be a god in his own heaven. The Christian will still be a person in heaven, living a wonderful life.
Why would it make no sense to a Mormon to have a Christian all excited about the resurrection from the dead through faith in Jesus Christ?
According to the Latter-day Saint it is foolish, for everyone is raised from the dead. That's why Jesus died and rose again on Easter Sunday.
What is an atheist's reaction to a Christian bubbling over with a confession of their faith in eternal life with God in heaven?
According to an atheist, it is foolish, for there is no life beyond the grave. All die and stay dead. Coming back to life is impossible.
How is that similar to a Christian's reaction to a Latter-day Saint bubbling over with a confession of their faith in Exaltation in the Celestial Kingdom?
Coming back as a god is impossible, just as an atheist thinks coming back to life is impossible.
Why is approaching a Latter-day Saint on the point of heaven not an effective way to reach them?
To them, everybody gets into a certain level of heaven. The goal is to get to the highest heaven and become a God. Anything the Christian faith can offer is second (or third) best to the LDS way of thinking. They are shooting on becoming a god.