Summary: This is a Mulitple series on witnessing to mormons. The first lesson is background and termonology.
Witnessing to Mormons
March 8, 2001
Scripture: 1Timothy Ch.1:15-16 "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners-of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and recieve eternal life."
During these lessons you as a believer in Jesus Christ will gain the tools to help witness to a mormon. However some ground work will need to be laid, you should know the background or history of the mormon church to help you understand and answer questions.Maybe you know a mormon or have a family member that is a mormon, whatever the case this religion denies the Diety of the Lord Jesus Christ, denies the trinity and the Holy Ghost can only be in one place at one time. Typically when we are talking about Mormons we are talking about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints out of Utah. Usually these are the most common kinds of Mormons, also known as LDS but for us I will call them just Mormons that way during these lessons you will know who we are reffering to. You can literally spend thousands possibly even millions of hours researching mormonism. These lessons are going to give a brief overview and tools to help you witness the gospel. The one thing you need to understand is this: Mormons firmly truly believe in thier faith and that they are in authority over all non-mormons, so if you are witnessing to a mormon they may get very defensive.
What do you think of when you here the word mormon or mormons?(many wives etc. let the group discuss for a moment) Will see what you think of when you hear it at the end of these lessons, I know you will think differently. First we need some background on how this "mormonism" got started and what do they use as scripture. Also Christian terms are used but new meaning are put to them, for example when we say the "Gospel" referring to death resurection etc. mormons use the term gospel to mean mormonism.
Summary of information
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints
Founded by Joseph Smith Jr. 1805-1844
Purpose on this earth is to evangelize the world with the message of Jesus Christ according to Mormonism teachings; to baptize people that are dead to save them; for members to hopefully attain godhood and have a planet of each’s own on the basis of personal merit.
Source of Authority comes from personal revelations of Joseph Smith, Brigham Young and other presidents/prophets of the church who proclaims revealed teachings from God.
Some Occultic dynamics exist such as, necromatic(ghosts) the development of a sort of physic power is deemed as gifts of the Holy Spirit.
Scripture: Bible(as far as it is translated correctly by mormons) Book of Mormon(Which resembles a 1823 manuscript called A View of the Hebrews by Ethan Smith, no relation), Doctrine and Covenants, Pearl of Great Price. These are considered Mormon cannon but the words of any mormon president of the church is to be used as scripture but not always included as canon.
Authoritive literature for teaching; Journal of Discourses(early teachings) Joseph Smith History of the Church, Mormon Doctrine and Doctrinal New Testement Commentary
Background: The other mormon texts used as thier scripture will be explained in later lessons, but for this lesson we will focus on brief background information on how the church formed.
Founder was Joseph Smith J.r. Then he claims when he was 15 in Manchester NY a revival took place and sought to seek which one church he was to join becuase they all could read the same verse but not agree on its meaning.(JSHC13) He claims God the father and Jesus Christ visited him and he was to reestablish the "true christian" church on earth, while he was praying in some woods. He even says that God told him that all the doctrines were an abomination.(JSHC13-14) A few years after that he had been visited by yet another personage, this time it was an angel Moroni, who told him where a record of the lost jewish tribe the "Nephites" were hidden, but he would need to translate these plates with use of the thummim and urimm.These supposed plates would become the Book of Mormon. However some accounts say he plainly used a crystal ball inside of a hat, also known as seering. Joseph Smith was known to blaintly be involved in what was called "treasure seeking" where people would pay him to show them where treasure was hidden. However this turned out ineffective, and cost Smith some court cost’s and fines. The Biblical urim and thummim were two stones fastened to a breastplate used only by the high priest in the OT, not just one stone. We are not even sure what these were as the Bible does not say exactly what they are and they were only used on rare occasions but mormons will defend this till the end. However many witness’s do state that he had used a seer stone in a hat. David Whitmer in 1877 states "I will now give you a description of the manner in which the Book of Mormon was translated. Joseph Smith would put the seer stone into a hat, and put his face in the hat, drawing it closely around his face to exclude the light; and in the darkness the spiritual light would shine. A piece of something resembling parchment paper would appear, and on that appeared the writing. One Character at a time would appear under it was the interepation in english".(David Whitmer An address to all believers in Christ, by a witness to the Divine Authenticity of the Book of Mormon.PG12) It is very apparent that the Book of Mormon, by a mormons own words was translated by occultic or phychic ways. Once the church began (Church of Christ originally) they were being prosecuted pretty much every where they went. That led them to the Ohio area, Illinoise area, Missiouri area and finally under Brigham Young to Utah. You will learn later why they had to move so much. Many times it was becuase of teachings and beliefs such as Polygamy, temple rites or endowments and other things. Mormons believe that Joseph Smith was a prophet seer and revelator, that what ever he said is true. The whole doctrine relies on what other men say in the church as leaders or prophets, if they dont believe them even if it contradicts another prophet, then they are at fault. We will see examples of this later on in the lessons.