Chapter Seven

Expanding the Encounter

"I read your book… three times in two days. My husband was furious. He told me to get that ‘anti’ book out of our house. He said if I left the Church, he’d leave me. I was crushed… I don’t want to lose my husband…. If I’m excommunicated from the Church, my father-in-law will be one of the brethren present at the court to judge me.
"I would like to… talk to a pastor about these things, but my brother-in-law made it quite clear that if I do I will be excommunicated….
"For some reason through all this, I can’t shake the feeling God cares…."—Robin

When I was in the Navy we were on patrol in the South China Sea during what was then known as the "Laotian Crisis" (which would escalate into the Vietnam War). One day we were called to General Quarters; a two-man reconnaissance jet had gone down and we were being sent out to rescue the crew.

We did save the co-pilot, who told us this grisly story.

It seems the pilot of the jet was one of the best in his squadron. He could fly in and out of places under the noses of enemy radar without being shot down. But this time the plane had been hit and the men had to ditch it.

The pilot, in his determination to fly better than anyone else, had earlier rigged his seat belts in a special way so that he could better take the G-forces of his aircraft. When the two man bailed out, the explosive charges that blew their seats out of the plane worked fine. They were blasted clear of the craft. The co-pilot released his seat belt and his seat fell away into the ocean as he parachuted slowly down. But he watched with horror as his pilot struggled to release his modified seat belt mechanism. He watched helplessly as the pilot, unable to get free from the heavy seat, plunged into the sea and sank.

I thought of that experience one evening years later, after I had been born again and was reading the book of Romans. Paul is writing to the Church of Christ in Rome about his brothers, the Jews. What he said is what I feel about my Mormon people:

My brothers, how I wish with all my heart that my own people might be saved! How I pray to God for them! I can assure you that they are deeply devoted to God; but their devotion is not based on true knowledge. They have not known the way in which God puts people right with himself, and instead, they have tried to set up their own way; and so they did not submit themselves to God’s way of putting people right. For Christ has brought the Law to an end, so that everyone who believes is put right with God, (Romans 10:1-4, Good News Bible).

The mistake the Jews made was to re-rig the seat belt. God had provided for their safety through the Law but they’d tinkered with, expanded, explained, re-rigged their own protection. They so badly wanted to do the right thing that they did the wrong thing.

And that is the mistake the Mormons have made. Wanting to do right is not the same as doing right.

I remember reading a newspaper article telling of a young babysitter who put the baby in the bathtub and then plugged in a radio and set it on the edge of the tub. The baby-sitter wanted to entertain the baby during the bath. She wanted to do right. Her intentions were good. But the radio fell into the bath water; the baby was electrocuted.

The babysitter’s actions were not dishonorable – they simply were wrong. God has provided the sacrifice of Christ, and our faith in that sacrifice, as the payment for sin. Mormonism and other cults that rewrite the rules may be very well intentioned, but they are wrong. "There is a way," the Bible says, "that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death" (Proverbs 14:12).

 

The Ministry of Reconciliation

Growing up in a little town in the badlands of Wyoming, I used to hear our town whistle blow six times a day so everybody knew what time it was. When the noon whistle blew all the dogs in town would start howling and the townspeople would check their watches to see if they were correct. If not, they changed them, "reconciled" them to the standard set at the center of town.

The Bible says we Christians are called to the task of "reconciling men to God in Christ" (see 2 Corinthians 5:18). Reconciling men with God means causing them to make adjustments so they are no longer out of kilter with God. Men are born out of step with God because, in the Garden of Eden, our ancestors chose to move in disobedience to God. The harmony Adam and Eve had with God was destroyed.

Dr. Robert Grange, a research scientist who has been cited seven times by NASA for "creative development of technology," says there is evidence that the Fall in the Garden may well have disturbed the genetic code. He suggests that the misery of human nature (our inability to live in peace, our terrible psychological problems, our propensity to sin) may be tied up in our very physical nature – as a direct result of the Fall.

Our job, as disciples, is to bring people to Christ in order to restore the right relationship between man and God. Sometimes, as in Mormonism, it’s necessary to shake people loose from false theology, to make them aware that the system in which they are trusting is unable to save them.

When we deal with cultists, sometimes the Word of God has to destroy before it can rebuild. When God sent Jeremiah to the Israelites, he was sent to "uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant" (Jeremiah 1:10).

As we destroy the false religious system of the cultist we also have to present the Gospel to him. We chop out a piece of false doctrine and we replace it with the truth. It is like rebuilding a highway: The new construction rips out the old highway a little at a time, replacing it with new. Eventually the old road is taken out of commission entirely.

 

Spiritual Warfare of the Highest Order

It is well to remember that unless God does a supernatural work, no one can be saved (see Matthew 19:25-26). Before being born again, people are spiritually dead (see Ephesians 2:1) and blinded by Satan (see 2 Corinthians 4:4).

Therefore, it is absolutely necessary that as you witness you pray for the Holy Spirit to lead you to the words that will penetrate the veil of blindness, words that will make their way into the cultist’s mind.

We minister intellectually, with words. We put information into the conscious mind of the hearer. We preach sound doctrine to him and combat philosophical and spiritual error. But there is another dimension that is beyond our pale – the spiritual dimension. Our only weapon there is prayer. So, for me, it is useful to visualize the hearer’s "inner man" as divided into conscious and subconscious or spirit and soul. We reach the conscious or soulish level. God reaches the unconscious or spiritual realm. (See Chart A: "Cooperating with God in Soul-Winning" on page 74.)

 

Reversing the Process

The process of coming into Mormonism is a reasoning process. The Mormon missionary takes you down a railroad track – his carefully prepared railroad track. He takes you into areas of discussion that are new to you. He asks you esoteric questions you have never considered. He is confident and well prepared. Your objections are, necessarily, ill-prepared, because you have not had time to think through and discover the flaws in his reasoning.

I experienced this process myself. I was bright enough but I was not a Christian. And I was needy – I needed stability in my life. The Mormon message of assurance and stability and clean living was appealing to me. I needed to come out of sin. I was sick and tired of my lifestyle. What I needed was Christ, but what I got was a loving group who thought they had truth, but who in reality had emptiness and deception.

These were dear people who had been programmed with faulty information. They were innocently in error. And they, in turn, programmed me with the same error.

The Bible talks about "sophisticated reasoning." Worldly philosophy that can take us captive," and warfare against "spiritual wickedness in high places."

The only solution, the Bible says, to this kind of error is to "demolish strongholds… arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the [accurate] knowledge of God, [to] take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ" (2 Corinthians 10:4-5). The Greek in that passage tells us that the "thoughts" the apostle Paul is talking about are "designs" – carefully constructed arguments with our spiritual destruction as their end.

Mormons are won to Mormonism by carefully constructed arguments; they will be won out of Mormonism as we take the arguments apart, brick by brick. They will come out the same door they went in.

The question is, who will respond to the cults? Mormon missionaries give two years of their lives to preach a gospel they innocently believe to be God’s plan of salvation but which, in reality, was forged in the fiery councils of hell to lead men to eternal damnation.

Who will educate themselves to combat the cults?

Whom can God send?

Who will sit down with Latter-day Saints and take apart the sophistication of the devil, line upon line?

If you are to be one of those, then the next sections of this book will be a crash course to educate you to encounter Mormonism – and to win the encounter.

Chart A

We input witnessing information in the form of Scripture, testimony, and reason. Sometimes the process seems to be going nowhere.

But the energy of the witness, coupled with prayer, cooperates with the Spirit of God to produce a climate in which the hearer may choose life. A climate in which the door to salvation can be opened.