DOCTRINES of the FAITH
Bruce F. Levi was raised in Mormonism in Idaho’s Treasure Valley, was a Mormon Missionary in Germany and graduated from Brigham Young University.
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Why People Leave Christianity for Mormonism
by Bruce F. Levi, ICARE Ministries
First of all, mankind’s fallen, depraved nature (Jeremiah 17:9) tells him he must earn God's favor. One can readily see this in the fact that virtually all the religions in the world, except Biblical Christianity, teach that “salvation” (or the ultimate state of being) is earned by man's own effort.
Cain tried to please God with an offering that was of his own thinking and efforts. Cain wanted to do it his own way and offered the produce that he had grown in his own garden (Genesis 4:3). But God rejected Cain's offering because it was not of faith. On the other hand, God accepted Abel's offering because it was made in faith in what God had already laid out as the acceptable way: animal sacrifice (Genesis 4:4). God had previously come down and killed animals and made clothes for Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:21) to replace the clothing of leaves that Adam and Eve had made with their own efforts. Natural man wants to cover his sins with his own works like Adam and Eve and Cain.
This concept of earning God's favor by works is reinforced as mankind sees how the world operates. One must work to earn money for food, housing, etc. Man then wrongly applies this method in an effort to please God. In the capitalistic, materialistic culture in the U.S.A. people who work hard can earn a lot. These so-called “successful" people are admired and respected. Earning rewards is reinforced greatly by the natural world system. It is therefore "only natural" that people become Mormons. Mormonism finds a ready-made audience in the American people whose culture and economic system allows one to work hard and earn much. It’s actually a wonder that more people don’t become Mormons. Mormonism takes this natural thinking that one can earn God's favor to its logical extension by offering man a way to earn the ultimate reward for his own efforts: Godhood. This idea is appealing to many. Cults and cult-like, abusive churches offer their members a “ we’re in a special club and have what others don’t have” position. This is very clear in Mormonism. People want to be special and Mormonism offers a way to be special.
But God's ways are not the natural ways of the material world, are they? God's ways are not man's ways (Proverbs 14:13). It is by faith that we please God (Hebrews 11:6). Abraham believed (had faith in) God and God accepted this faith and declared Abraham righteous (Genesis 15:6; Romans 4:5). This concept of faith in God was emphasized even more in the New Testament with such statements as: “Whatsoever is not of faith is sin” (Romans 14:23). Salvation is by faith (John 6:28-29) clearly and simply.
Secondly, Mormonism mixes enough Biblical language in with its gross errors so that it has the appearance of being Christian to those who do not have all the facts. This camouflaging of error with truth attracts many people who might otherwise stay away form Mormonism. Mormonism uses all the Christian terms: God, Jesus, Holy Spirit, Faith, Repentance, Baptism, Salvation, Heaven, Hell, etc. so that, on the surface, it appears to be Christian. However, in reality Mormonism has radically different definitions for all the Christian terms it uses. These definitions are not readily disclosed to the unaware Christian. For example, Mormonism teaches that Jesus Christ died for all the sins of the world. But, its teachings on who Jesus is, how and when His sacrifice took place, and how this is applied to mankind are not Biblical. The LDS Church builds church buildings that look "Christian." But, when one looks beneath the surface, one can see that Mormonism is actually falsehood that is camouflaged to appear Christian.
Thirdly, during the past three decades, the leaders of the Mormon Church have been telling the world, and its own members, that it is Christian. This is a significant departure from its statements during its first 150 years which Mormonism openly disavowed being Christian. Of course, its official story of how God and Jesus appeared to Joseph Smith still claims that all other churches, all other religious teachings and all other religious leaders are false. I believe the top leaders of Mormonism are intentionally deceptive in this regard and are like wolves in sheep’s’ clothing, sneaking up on the unaware sheep. The LDS Church employs clever public relations and advertising techniques to attract people to it.
A book written by a Brigham Young University (the Mormon university in Provo, Utah) professor asserts that Mormonism is obviously Christian. I see a lot of word twisting in that book. Mormon leaders continually emphasize the superficial similarities between evangelical Christianity and Mormonism while at the same time they downplay and obscure the great and many dissimilarities regarding virtually all key doctrines including who God is and the way of salvation. Because rank and file Mormons are “trained” (brainwashed?) to believe without question in their church leaders, most Mormons are often not even aware of these differences. So, when a Christian tells a modern-day Mormon that Mormonism is not Christian, the Mormon regards this comment as ludicrous. He may even regard it as an outright lie and become greatly offended. For this reason, we tell Christians to avoid the direct, in-your-face, argumentative approach to witnessing. Instead, we recommend helping them see the impossibility of their salvation system. Help them realize the logical conclusion of their teachings on salvation so they can see it is impossible and, importantly, that they are sinners. Only sinners can be saved (1 Timothy 1:15). So, we must help the Mormon understand that he is a sinner. And, since Mormonism teaches that man is good by nature, this can be a daunting task. This is what Jesus did with the rich young ruler (Matthew 19:16-22), the lawyer (Luke 10:25), and the woman at the well (John 4:7-26).
Fourthly, the Mormon Church has about 55,000 full time missionaries who are quite zealous, very active and trained in clever, emotional sales techniques. These proselytizing efforts are directed almost exclusively at Christians. Mormonism does not attract, nor does it attempt to appeal to, many Muslims, Jews, Hindus, or Buddhists. The formal lessons, which the Mormon missionaries employ to teach people in their own homes, are designed for use with people with Christian backgrounds. These lessons are psychologically manipulative in that the missionaries present half-truths and outright falsehoods and then ask the seeker to make important decisions based almost solely on emotions and feelings.
The Bible tells us that unsaved people are under control of Satan and his demons, whom are cunning and deceptive. Our enemy is not the Mormon, but the Devil who has power over them (Ephesians 6:12). The battle is to win the soul of the Mormon to faith in Christ, not win the intellectual argument. If each of those 55,000 Mormon missionaries converts only four people per year, the Mormon Church would grow by 220,000 coverts per year. In addition to the full time missionaries, each member of the Mormon Church is strongly encouraged to convert as many of their friends, neighbors, etc. as possible. The actual number of converts to Mormonism has actually exceeded 300,000 per year in recent times.
I read a true story recently of a Christian couple who began looking for a new Church after they were treated rudely by an “older, more mature” member of their local Church. The Mormon missionaries came along at that time and readily drew these uninformed “seekers” in to Mormonism. Fortunately, these folks came to realize their error and escaped Mormonism, but only years later after much heartache and difficulty. Unfortunately, escaping is not easy and is rare.
Every year over a quarter of a million people forsake their Christian upbringing and join the LDS Church, while only a small percentage of them leave Mormonism. Even fewer become believers in Christ for salvation. We are not here to simply make ex-Mormons, but to be God’s instrument in their salvation. This is important to keep in mind whenever we speak with a Mormon. A woman we met recently while getting our family photograph taken, told us her family’s story. They had to quit their jobs, sell their home, and escape quickly from Oklahoma to get away from Mormonism. Even several years later, these folks have a fear of Mormonism. This is typical of people who escape from any cult or from cult-like and abusive churches. Fortunately, they are now attending a Christian Church here in Idaho.
Fifthly, at the same time that Mormonism has been making this monumental and deceptive effort to appear Christian and employing a huge missionary (sales?) force, evangelical Christianity has been de-emphasizing doctrine. As a result, many people in Christian Churches simply do not know enough about either the Bible or Mormonism to understand that Mormonism is not Christian. An example of this is seen in the seeker-friendly church (Willow Creek and others) movement, which majors on fellowship, fun and appealing to people’s desires above Biblical teaching.
There has been much “easy believism” going on. People are encouraged to “give your life to Christ” without an understanding of their own depraved sinful nature. How can they be giving their life to Christ, since natural man is dead in trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1)? Therefore, there are many ideal targets in Christianity that can be fairly easily misled by a savvy Mormon missionary. I know, for I personally converted at least six people while a Mormon missionary in Germany in the 1970’s. It was quite easy to convert these folks to Mormonism. Fortunately for me, there were some Christians in Germany who did understand Mormonism and were used by God for His glory when they witnessed to me.
Now, having been a born-again Christian for over almost 30 years, I see a great lack of Bible study and discernment among Christianity. Again, it is no wonder people become Mormons. What is a wonder is why many more do not become Mormons. There is an almost complete lack of discipleship and training in Christian churches and families. By and large, Christians are not reading the Bible, analyzing the culture and philosophies around them and doing anything about it. Here in the Boise, Idaho area, Mormonism has grown by about 50% in the first decade of the 21st century.
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Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost. – Titus 3:5