How not to invite Mormons to your church, part 2
Recall we learned in part 1 that discrediting Joseph Smith, the Book of Mormon and the Book of Abraham is a dangerous tactic since the Mormons who are swayed by such evidence have an annoying tendency to continue this same line of reasoning and ask hard questions about Jesus.
The next obvious tactic — to avoid general skepticism — is to disprove Mormonism through quotes from the Bible. Mormons believe the Bible to be the word of God, so naturally they’d be interested to know that the Bible contradicts their beliefs, right?
There’s one glaring problem with this tactic, though: The Bible contradicts itself. It doesn’t need Mormonism’s help. (Here are some funny ones I found recently; it doesn’t take much work to find tons of others.)
To be impressed by a proof based on Bible quotes, you essentially have to believe that the Bible text points to one set of beliefs and not another. If it weren’t obvious that this is false, it can be seen by the plethora of different Christian sects that believe different things yet all hold the Bible to be the only source of authority for determining God’s word. Even interpretations many Protestants seem to agree on (like salvation not being dependent on one’s good works) don’t necessarily agree with what the Bible says (see this article, for example). Really the Mormon belief that God would provide additional direction and clarification seems pretty logical compared to the belief that God would leave people to their own devices to try to tease the meaning out of this book.
In extreme cases, Christians will merely point out how their own church’s interpretation of a given Bible story is different from the Mormon interpretation and imagine that that is damning evidence against Mormonism. A good example of this is a recent post on “Mormon Coffee” here (not trying to start a cross-blog war, just providing some constructive criticism). Keep in mind that if you’ve been immersed in one religion your whole life, your own beliefs seem perfectly reasonable and every other religion’s beliefs look completely insane. So you might get the idea that holding the two up side-by-side would convince anyone that your beliefs are the ones that are right — including people from the religion you’re comparing yourself to. But if you step back a little and try to see this type of exchange in perspective, you’ll understand why it doesn’t work.
In short, if you’ve whipped out your Bible to point to your favorite anti-Mormon zinger verse and your Mormon friend is left scratching his head in bewilderment, it’s likely that you’ve stumped him on a meta-level: He’s trying to figure out why you think that’s a convincing argument.
Part 3 of “How not to invite Mormons to your church” will cover waving garmies in their faces and dressing up as Satan: stay tuned!!! 😀