I agree with Moroni 8:18": No. No, I don't!
by Rocky Hulse
August 2011With the best of intentions, there are a few ministries today that set out using a verse of Mormon scripture (Moroni 8:18) to get Mormons to question one of their foundational beliefs: That God was not always God. I would not argue with the use of the verse to make that point; I believe Moroni 8:18 does make this point when compared with the Mormon doctrinal position of God today compared to the time the Book of Mormon was printed. The problem with these well meaning individuals is that they have labeled this approach as: “I agree with Moroni 8:18.” From the perspective of agreeing with Mormon scripture, I take exception. I believe it is wrong to agree with that which is known to be false. Spiritual truth is not contained in any Mormon scripture. Period!
The foundation upon which Christianity is built is God’s inerrant word, the Bible. From the Bible, we are repeatedly warned to beware of false prophets (1) and false teachers (2). Is there any question within the community of ministries that witness to the Mormon people that Joseph Smith was a false prophet? Without question, the answer is: No! Is there any question within the community of ministries that witness to the Mormon people that Joseph Smith was a false teacher? Without question, the answer is: No! Is there any question within this same community that the Book of Mormon is an additional book of inspired scripture. Without question, the answer is: No, it is not scripture; it is a book of fiction.
The Title Page of the 1830 edition of the Book of Mormon lists the following statement: “BY JOSEPH SMITH, JUNIOR, AUTHOR AND PROPRIETOR.” There is no question that Joseph Smith produced the Book of Mormon and he is known to be a false prophet and false teacher. Why then, would I agree with anything that he wrote purporting to be spiritual truth? The supporters of the “I Agree With Moroni 8:18 Campaign,” then chime in with, “What about Paul’s use of the Greek poets in Acts 17.” The creators/supporters of “I agree with Moroni 8:18” are following this premise: “There are those today who use Acts 17, Paul’s Mars Hill encounter with the Greek philosophers to prove that truth is found elsewhere, and the Bible is not the only place that contains spiritual truth.” (3) This approach is flawed on two major counts in that they are saying: (1) Paul believed truth was found in the Greek philosophers; (2) spiritual truth is contained in Mormon scripture. They are wrong on both counts.
I encourage you to go and read the full article, Paul’s Mars Hill Appeal, written by “Let Us Reason Ministries,” provided in footnote (3). It is well written and I agree with the writer. I will provide some excerpts from that article to support my position; however, my minor quotes do not do justice to the complete article.
(1) Paul believed truth was found in the Greek philosophers:
In Acts 17:28, Paul quotes the Greek poet Epimenides, in his work, Cretica: “for in Him we live and move and have our being,”. He also quotes the Cilician poet, Aratus, in his work, Phaenonlena 5: “for we are also his offspring.”
Quoting from Paul’s Mars Hill Appeal: “Paul used another pagan source to confirm the truth of the Bible, not the reverse, he was showing them how their own poets had some knowledge (though corrupted) of the God he is speaking to them of that they do not know. If he was saying their poet spoke truth then he would be endorsing Zeus a false god, the very thing he was trying to prove to them….What he quoted was directly opposing the view of the Epicureans. Here Paul is citing poets who they respected and brilliantly turned it on their idolatry they now practiced. Paul has made a case that as men we have a necessary dependence on this God they do not know or see. He inserted their own poet’s statements as an added incentive to consider that their worship was wrong. He juxtaposed what was said in the past for what is being practiced in the present. If Paul meant they were actually God’s offspring He would be agreeing with the gods of Greek philosophy. He did not! This is poetry quoted, not doctrine, nor Scripture….He uses their poets point for a similarity of what he is conveying that is wrong, not what is right. Paul is using their own poet against their idolatry. He is not condoning their poet’s words as truth equal with the Bible’s revelation but dismantled their own view by using it as a similar point to present the Bible’s revelation.” (emphasis mine).
The attempt that proponents of the “I Agree With Moroni 8:18 Campaign” use to validate their use of Mormon scripture and saying they agree with it as Paul agreed with the Greek poets, is an improper exegesis of the Acts 17 text. Using Moroni 8:18 to show that Mormon doctrine is false is a worthwhile tactic; however, to agree with Moroni 8:18, giving it the validity of spiritual truth is wrong and is directly opposite of Paul’s use and intention at Mars Hill.
(2) Spiritual truth is contained in Mormon scripture:
Believing that spiritual truth can be contained in Mormon scripture is to believe that truth can come from error; it cannot. “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?” (2 Co. 6:14). Mormonism is a false teaching. Period! We are repeatedly warned as seen in footnotes (1) and (2) concerning those who would bring forth false teachings. There is no question that Joseph Smith, and all he produced, fits those Biblical warnings.
Part of the problem with the “I Agree With Moroni 8:18 Campaign” is a foundational ignorance that is sometimes displayed by those who are involved in ministry outreach to Mormons, but were never members of the Mormon Church themselves. Those who were never Mormons themselves, have studied greatly, and have done a great work in the Mormon community; however, all the reading and studying in the world cannot replace the first hand experience of having lived Mormonism. I spent 33 years on active duty in the United States Navy, 20 years of that time riding Navy ships at sea. Reading every available book or periodical about life at sea cannot bring a person to the reality of what it is like to sail aboard a modern naval vessel at sea.
These well-meaning individuals supporting the “I Agree With Moroni 8:18 Campaign” fail to consider the basic reality that Mormonism uses a different dictionary than the rest of the English speaking world. Mormonism’s definition of many religious terms does not match that of Mainstream Christianity. This failure stem’s from not having a Mormon indoctrination foundation. They approach the words of Moroni 8:18 from their English definition, vice their Mormon definition; this is a flawed baseline position. Even though the premise of this is to show that Joseph Smith’s concept of God in 1830 was more closely aligned with Christianity, and definitely doesn’t align with his later pluralistic teaching of multiple gods, and God being a changeable being, non-exMormons do not take into account the indoctrination aspect of the cult culture, nor the misuse of words.
The word “God” used in Moroni 8:18 does not reflect the God of the Bible. The word “God” in Mormonism, really means “Heavenly Father,” and is an exalted man who once lived on another planet in another universe and lived, died, was resurrected, and was exalted to Godhood and eventually became the God of this universe. That corrupted concept contains no spiritual truth as contained in the Bible.
The words: “changeable, unchangeable, and eternity,” all have a time component tied to them that does not exist in Christendom. Since Mormon doctrine has Heavenly Father existing in a previous world where he rose through the concept of “Eternal Progression” through eons of time to achieve Godhood and then create this universe for the “exaltation” (meaning the achievement of Godhood by those who are deserving Mormons) of his children he procreated to inhabit this earth, the words: “changeable, unchangeable, and eternity” only pertain to the dispensation (timeframe) of this universe, not time immemorial.
Understanding these two concepts helps to better understand where those of us who disagree with the “I Agree With Moroni 8:18 Campaign” are coming from. In our modern English vernacular, it appears that Moroni 8:18 reflects Biblical teaching. From the dictionary of Mormonism, it does not. So, to agree with Moroni 8:18, as if it were spiritual truth, is blasphemous.
In a local context, using the “I Agree With Moroni 8:18 Campaign” may cause some Mormons who are not fully indoctrinated to question their concept of God, and may appear to be a victory; however, in the bigger picture, to agree with the Book of Mormon is to pour fuel on the fire of the Mormon Public Relations machine that is trying its best to morph Mormonism in the minds of Christendom as just another Christian denomination; it is not.
Do not misinterpret my support of using Mormon scripture, the writings or sermons (talks, as they are called in Mormonism) of Mormon Prophets and Apostles, Mormon periodicals (Ensign, Era, Young Woman’s Journal, etc.), or Mormon Church produced materials (Sunday School manuals, Priesthood Manuals, Relief Society Manuals, BYU Religion course manuals, etc.), to counter the false teachings of Mormonism. I fully support the use of these materials, and I certainly quote from them on a regular basis in all facets of our ministry (Mormon Missions Midwest Outreach (MMMO)). What I will not do is agree with any quotation from Mormonism as being spiritual truth on par with the Bible. No part of Mormonism, even if plagiarized from the Bible, has a foundation of spiritual truth. Mormonism’s foundation is centered in Joseph Smith, a known false prophet and false teacher that the Bible gives us stern warnings about, as seen in footnotes (1) and (2). Anything therefore that emanates from Mormonism cannot, and is not, spiritual truth!
Another point that those who were never Mormon have no exposure to, and a true ignorance of, is the dogmatic indoctrination points that are spewed out upon family members when they dare to challenge Mormonism and attempt to share with their family the truth of God’s word as found in the Bible. Until you’ve stood toe-to-toe with your father, your mother, your brothers or sisters, and had them emphatically regurgitate the Mormon doctrinal points and proof texts, and call you a “Son of Perdition” if you don’t come back to the fold of Mormonism, you truly don’t “get it.” Believe me, “I get it!” I’ve been there, done that.
The bonds of Mormonism are so strong, so all encompassing, that reason, especially in the “family member leaving Mormonism” context, does not exist. In an emotional setting, a family member discussing why Mormonism is false with a Mormon family member, reason and good judgment are usually left by the wayside. In this type of setting, to use the phrase “I Agree With Moroni 8:18”, would be the equivalent of saying “I agree with the Book of Mormon.” It matters not that the context was to use Moroni 8:18 to disprove the current Mormon concept of the Godhead, all that is heard in the diehard Mormon is an agreement with the Book of Mormon. The indoctrinated Mormon brain shuts down and no reasoned, thoughtful argument can, or will be heard. I’ve been there more times than I care to remember, and only those who have been there can understand this awful predicament; nor have suffered the heartbreak the eventual end of the discussion/argument brings.
Using any verse in the Book of Mormon to disprove Mormonism is a worthwhile venture and a tactic I approve of and use myself. However, to use a verse of Mormon scripture, or a quote from a Mormon leader, or quote from a Mormon periodical, stating that you agree with that statement by placing it on par with the Bible as spiritual truth, is BLASPHEMOUS!
Use Moroni 8:18 all you like to disprove the false teaching of Mormonism. However, to agree with Moroni 8:18, is to give validity to Mormon scripture as equal with God’s Scripture, the Bible, and that is something that only those ignorant of the full scope of Mormonism would do. They do not understand the damage they are doing to those of us who are trying to witness to Mormon family members.
1 De. 13:5; 18:22; Is. 9:15; Je. 2:8; 5:31; 14:14; 23:16; Eze. 13:2; 22:28; Ho. 9:7; Mi. 3:5; Zep. 3:4; Zec. 13:3; Mt. 7:15; 24:11; Mk. 13:22.
2 Mt. 5:19; 15:9; 1 Ti. 1:7; 4:2; 6:3; 2 Ti. 4:3; Tit. 1:11; 2 Pe. 2:1.
Read and compare the two articles and the tone displayed in each article. Not once did I name another ministry or person in my article above. I expressed my opinion based upon my research.
Rob Sivulka, on the other hand in his article below found it necessary to attack us personally and use a captured photo from our TV show 'Truth Outreach' (the Elizabeth Smart kidnapping) which is found on our MMMO copyrighted website: Mormon Outreach TV shows.
Responding to Rocky Hulse's Critique of the Moroni 8::18 Campaign
My screen shot of the Hulses from one of their videos Rocky Hulse of Mormon Missions Midwest Outreach has written an explanation of why he disagrees with Christians claiming they agree with the Moroni 8:18 campaign on his Facebook page called “'I agree with Moroni 8:18': No. No, I don’t!” Moroni 8:18 is a passage in the Book of Mormon (BM) that simply says, “For I know that God is not a partial God, neither a changeable being; but he is unchangeable from all eternity to all eternity.” Many Christians, whether they claim to agree with it or not, have jumped on this to ask LDS why they don’t agree with their own scripture. Current LDS teaching is that “God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man… I am going to tell you how God came to be God. We have imagined and supposed that God was God from all eternity. I will refute that idea, and take away the veil, so that you may see” (Joseph Fielding Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 345 [pre-2002 editions]).
On August 18th, 2011 (8:18), many Christians used this date to post on their Facebook walls and other places that they agree with Moroni 8:18, and wonder why Mormons do not. The intent was to open up some dialogues with Mormons concerning the nature of God, and how they need to repent of their God who is an exalted man. The call is to trust, not simply the unchanging God of the Book of Mormon, but ultimately the God of the Bible. This We Agree with 8:18 campaign was the brain-child of Aaron Shafovaloff, who works with Mormonism Research Ministry and is also a board member for our ministry—Courageous Christians United.
Since Shafovaloff asked for some defense, I am writing this response to Hulse. This article will demonstrate that Hulse’s attack on the 8:18 campaign is inconsistent with his own practices, lacking biblical basis, is an appeal to authority, a confusion on the nature of truth, and divisive to the Body of Christ. I have been grieved at the un-Christlike statements being leveled at Shafovaloff, my brother in the Lord, by many individuals, and Hulse’s article fuels that fire. This is a fire that needs extinguishing.
Hulse claims that one can use LDS sources to show how Mormons are inconsistent. So when he uses LDS sources, he simply uses them to his own advantage. For example, when he started each of his TV shows on Mormonism, he favorably quoted Brigham Young. Husle said, “As always on this program we like to give a couple quotes that we think legitimizes what we do here. And the first one is from Brigham Young, and he said, 'I say to the whole world, receive the truth, no matter who presents it to you. Take up the Bible, compare the religion of the Latter-day Saints with it, and see if it will stand the test'” (e.g., see here). Hulse continued to use that passage from the LDS Journal of Discourses (JD) 16:46 (which by the way, Young thought of his own sermons as scripture in 13:95) to get LDS to do what he wants them to do. Hulse claimed, “We believe these quotes justify what we do.”
On the surface, anyone would naturally think that Hulse agrees with what Young said. However, Hulse is quite emphatic that he will not agree with any Mormon scripture. He says, “From the perspective of agreeing with Mormon scripture, I take exception. I believe it is wrong to agree with that which is known to be false. Spiritual truth is not contained in any Mormon scripture. Period!” Later he says, “There is no question that Joseph Smith produced the Book of Mormon and he is known to be a false prophet and false teacher. Why then, would I agree with anything that he wrote purporting to be spiritual truth?”
So at this point, one has to wonder, first of all, was Brigham Young’s statement a “spiritual truth”? If not, why not? Should it be called a natural or false truth? What in the world would that be? I will return to this point latter under the discussion of the nature of truth.
Second of all, how is what Hulse uses for his purposes in the JD deemed false if he uses it to “justify what we do”? It seems pretty clear that Hulse is caught in an inconsistency. He implicitly agrees with the JD quote--that we should agree with the truth wherever we find it--but he cannot agree with what the 8:18 crowd is doing.
Lacking Biblical Basis
Hulse critiques the support for 8:18 on the basis of Paul debating the Epicureans and quoting the pagan writers in Acts 17. Hulse argues, first of all, that Paul used their writings not to prove the truth of what they wrote, but to confirm the truth of the Bible. Then Hulse claims that if Paul were to claim they spoke the truth, then he would be endorsing the false god Zeus. Hulse implicitly agrees with a quote from a Let Us Reason Ministries article called “Paul’s Mars Hill Appeal”, which said, “What [Paul] quoted was directly opposing the view of the Epicureans. Here Paul is citing poets who they respected and brilliantly turned it on their idolatry they now practiced. …If Paul meant they were actually God’s offspring He would be agreeing with the gods of Greek philosophy. He did not!”
In response, just because Paul’s ultimate goal was getting his crowd to believe the Bible doesn’t entail that he did not also agree with what the pagans had written. Hulse simply begs the question that agreeing with some statement is equivalent to endorsing their false god. How does that follow? For Paul to endorse the pagan truths--“for in Him we live and move and have our being” and also “for we are also his offspring”--simply points out that making graven images is inconsistent with these truths. But in Hulse’s mind, they can’t be truths, since they are from pagan sources. Again, there is no good argument here why individual statements in pagan sources cannot be true. Hulse just has an immediate emotional reaction against anything pagan. There is nothing wrong with emotional reactions against paganism, but when that takes the place of good reason, then we don’t have any reason not to agree with the pagan statements.
Similarly, the 8:18 crowd also wants to confirm the truth of the Bible. They are not content to simply let LDS work out an inconsistency between the BM and current teaching all by themselves. The 8:18 crowd wants LDS to see that the BM is true when it agrees with what the Bible has always taught (e.g., Psalm 90:2). Just like Paul did not endorse his current audience’s false god, the 8:18 crowd doesn’t endorse the current LDS false god. Both Paul and the 8:18 crowd are drawing on truths from non-biblical sources that their current audiences should accept, and those truths are consistent or “on par” (to use Hulse’s language) with the Bible.
Next, Hulse argues,“Believing that spiritual truth can be contained in Mormon scripture is to believe that truth can come from error; it cannot. “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?” (2 Co. 6:14). Mormonism is a false teaching. Period!” The argument is extremely weak. “[T]ruth cannot come from error,” seems to be a reference to an errant source. But that is commonly known as the genetic fallacy. But just because I learned 2+2=4 from a witch doesn’t entail it is not true or that there are not any good reasons to believe it. Similarly, just because an individual like an LDS may come to hold 8:18 doesn’t entail that it is not true or there are no good reasons to believe that truth.
As for 2 Corinthians 6:14, legalistic fundamentalists often like throwing this verse out when they want other Christians to stay away from something they don’t like (e.g., music, democrats, clothing, dancing, certain scientific theories, etc.). Hulse uses this verse to scare people away from discovering any truth in the BM. Recall that the same author of this 2 Corinthians passage was the same individual who agreed with pagan sources in Acts 17 as well as 1 Cor. 15:33. Further, Matthew 5:45 is clear that we have at least the sun and rain in common with the unjust, so I don’t think that Hulse is being fair in using this passage. The context of the 2 Corinthians passage is simply talking about purity and not being corrupted by that which is unclean (cf. vs. 17). The passage has nothing to do with abstaining from seeking truth or wisdom outside the Bible, including pagan sources. I am not being unequally yoked if I believe or agree with the Satanic Bible that “dogma… is necessary (50),” for example, since Satan can go to hell as far as I am concerned.
Finally, the Apostle Paul was in agreement with the Prophet Amos who used and agreed with moral principles found within nature that the Gentiles were held responsible with. Amos preached to the Gentile nations that did not have the Old Testament. Nonetheless, they, like the pagans Paul addressed, should have known better. This should not surprise us, since Psalm 19 and Romans 1 is very clear about the knowledge of God revealed clearly to all in nature and outside the Bible. God is omnipresent, and His truth lightens everyone that comes into the world (Jn. 1:9). Proverbs tells us that wisdom cries out from the streets (1:20) and we are instructed to go and learn a lesson from the ant (6:6). It is simply beyond belief that unbelievers could not codify some of these natural principles into false scriptures or at least authoritative writings (e.g., the Code of Hammurabi).
Appeal to Authority
Having been LDS himself, Rocky seems repulsed by the idea of agreeing with anything Mormon. As a result of this baggage, he assumes that there is no truth in anything Mormon that he could agree with. To do so in his mind is to give validity to the Mormon Church. Further, he seems to generalize the 8:18 crowd as never living as Mormons, who obviously don’t know how to really deal with the LDS mindset. He says,
“Part of the problem with the ‘I Agree With Moroni 8:18 Campaign’ is a foundational ignorance that is sometimes displayed by those who are involved in ministry outreach to Mormons, but were never members of the Mormon Church themselves. Those who were never Mormons themselves, have studied greatly, and have done a great work in the Mormon community; however, all the reading and studying in the world cannot replace the first hand experience of having lived Mormonism. I spent 33 years on active duty in the United States Navy, 20 years of that time riding Navy ships at sea. Reading every available book or periodical about life at sea cannot bring a person to the reality of what it is like to sail aboard a modern naval vessel at sea.
These well-meaning individuals supporting the ‘I Agree With Moroni 8:18 Campaign’ fail to consider the basic reality that Mormonism uses a different dictionary than the rest of the English speaking world. Mormonism’s definition of many religious terms does not match that of Mainstream Christianity. This failure stem’s from not having a Mormon indoctrination foundation. …[N]on-exMormons do not take into account the indoctrination aspect of the cult culture, nor the misuse of words.”
Hulse goes on to tell us that he knows that Mormons really won’t have a problem anyway with 8:18, since it becomes reinterpreted according to the Mormon lens. This lens simply imposes current Mormonism onto 8:18. In effect, Hulse is claiming that given his insider knowledge, no Mormon is going to struggle with fitting 8:18 into their worldview.
In logic, we call this the fallacy of appealing to authority. Hulse is the enlightened one, since he has been on the inside and he knows better than all the rest of those in the 8:18 crowd.
There are at least three problems here. First, I personally know a number of former Mormons who have participated with or at least approve with the 8:18 campaign (including no less than Sandra Tanner of Utah Lighthouse Ministry). Are they now not as competent as Hulse? They have insider knowledge as well, but they think that 8:18 may be valuable for at least some LDS, including those who have been fully indoctrinated family members. Second, the 8:18 crowd is not as ignorant as Hulse paints them. One doesn’t need insider knowledge to realize the heavy indoctrination LDS go through. Third, Hulse’s authority is not on par with the Prophet Amos and the Apostle Paul, and we have already seen how they believed God could use truths from outside the Bible (regardless of the immediate source) that unbelievers should believe.
Confusion on the Nature of Truth
Hulse, as already stated, has said, “Spiritual truth is not contained in any Mormon scripture. Period!” He goes on to affirm that he uses LDS sources all the time for his purposes, but says, “What I will not do is agree with any quotation from Mormonism as being spiritual truth on par with the Bible. No part of Mormonism, even if plagiarized from the Bible, has a foundation of spiritual truth.” In fact, Hulse says that “to agree with Moroni 8:18, as if it were spiritual truth, is blasphemous.”
I agree with all the passages in the BM directly quoted from the King James Version of the Bible. I put those on par with the Bible, since they are actually from the Bible. So according to Hulse's logic, I am doing something "blasphemous."
Further, what is really meant by putting 8:18 on par with scripture? Does it mean that we think 8:18 is really scripture? No. But we still think it is a divine truth, since all truth is God's truth. 2+2=4 is not scripture, but it is still truth. John 1:1 is not more true than 2+2=4, and Ps. 90:2 is not more true than Moroni 8:18. So in that metaphysical sense, they are all on par. They are all truths that ultimately come from God, who is the giver of all good things. The Bible is the written revelation foundational for our judgments concerning other so-called later revelations. Galatians 1:6-9 is clear about that. This is an epistemic sense of priority.
So we do in fact put 8:18 on a metaphysical, not epistemic, par with the truth in the Bible, and we also put the KJV direct quotations in the BM on metaphysical par with the Bible. Hulse confuses a metaphysical sense of priority with an epistemic one, and then claims that those who put any LDS source on par with the Bible are “blasphemous.”
Further, he even claimed that simply agreeing with Moroni 8:18 is giving “validity to Mormon scripture as equal with God’s Scripture, the Bible.” Again, “equal” in what sense? As truth (metaphysically) or as the means by which to judge whether the Bible or any other revelation is true (epistemically)? Hulse doesn’t seem to be aware of this distinction, and as a result, he falsely assumes the worst of those involved in the 8:18 campaign when they put 8:18 “on par” with what is revealed in the Bible.
All truth is God’s truth. Every truth is ultimately a divine truth, regardless of the immediate source. If you doubt that, then what truth isn’t God’s truth? So if I find truth from an unbeliever, I thank him or her, but more importantly, God gets the ultimate thanks. That does not entail everything the unbeliever believes is true, and thus it is also not an endorsement of him or her. The unbeliever still needs to repent and submit to Christ.
Calling the 8:18 crowd “blasphemous” for agreeing with the spiritual truth contained in the BM and putting, not the BM, but that particular verse on par with Bible is really not conducive for unity among the brethren, let alone giving one’s brothers and sisters in Christ the benefit of the doubt. The 8:18 crowd are sincere believers who want to make a difference for the cause of Christ, and see more Mormons in the kingdom of God. The 8:18 crowd hardly even uses this method. They simply utilize it as a tool on particular occasions where they think it is warranted. They don’t even demand that everyone has to confront Mormons like they do. It is simply a different method of reaching the lost.
Unfortunately, as is often the case, micro-managers want to tell everyone how to do things. These guys want to regulate and promote their preferred method of reaching out to Mormons. As a result, these regulators end up putting God in a box. They assume God can’t work in some way they are not comfortable with. This means it is either their way or the highway… even going so far as to call one’s brethren “blasphemous” if they do things they don’t like!
This sows discord among the brethren. I cannot even begin to tell you how much controversy this has caused among those that utilize “stranger” or “confrontational” evangelism with Mormons! Confrontational evangelists have had in-fighting before, but never have I seen anything like this, and I have been a missionary to Mormons for almost 30 years now! Typically, the in-fighting is not among confrontational evangelists, but the in-fighting is within the Church—between the confrontational evangelists and those who evangelize exclusively within the confines of established friendships.
Since God’s ways and thoughts are higher than ours (Isaiah 55:9), and since the Body is made of various members, each gifted in various ways (1 Cor. 12-14), it should not surprise us that God oftentimes works in ways we are not used to. Given that there are many well-respected believers who claim to utilize 8:18 for the glory of God (including former Mormons), given that we are to walk in humility, knowing that we often don’t see as clearly as we think we do, and given that the arguments against 8:18 are “straining at the gnat,” we ought to be more gracious toward our brothers and sisters who support 8:18.
Since LDS are still people made in God's image, they still partake of common everyday truth and grace. Again, Mat. 5:45 says, "[H]e maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust." So we should expect that Mormonism gets it right in some areas. Even a broken clock is right at least twice a day. Mormons are right to hold we shouldn't abuse our children, for example. That truth doesn't originate from them. It originates from God from who is the Truth. But suppose I came to learn that truth from a Mormon, being raised by them. Am I no longer entitled to believe it is true? Or am I somehow validating Mormonism if I agree with them? Of course not! So the source of my immediate knowledge of a particular truth is quite different from the ultimate source of truth itself or my ultimate source of knowledge, since all good things ultimately come from God. God can use whatever immediate source to bring about whatever He wants (e.g., think of Baalam’s jackass or using King Cyrus as an anointed one).
So I think a reaction to even that statement about LDS and child-care shows how overly sensitive some of these in the anti-8:18 crowd are. I get that and I sympathize with that, especially with those like Hulse who used to be Mormon. My ex-Mormon wife tends to think in this overly reactive way, but she would never tell others that they could not use 8:18. Unity is more important for her.
Nonetheless, we are called to be charitable to LDS and respect them. It is just difficult to do that if one thinks there is nothing of value to them, including all their beliefs.
So I will extend grace to my overly reactive brothers and sisters, letting God take His time with them, and not forcing them to witness like I do. But I ask these brothers and sisters for the same grace to trust God with the way we use truth from not just the Bible, but also outside it. We both have the same goal, viz., we want Mormons to repent. Let’s pray for each other and focus our energies on getting people to come to heaven with us, particularly since people are going to hell every minute. Let’s not give the devil a foothold to waste anymore time on fighting amongst the brethren.
R. M. Sivulka
President, Courageous Christians United
August 29, 2011
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