“Why are the Mormons so unified and the Christian church so broken?” S.M. suddenly asked as we sat in a coffee house after a long day. He and the pastor must have had one of those conversations again.
“Because they are mission-orientated. From their birth, it’s all about evangelizing the world into Mormonism. That, and family. Family is also very big in their church.” I sipped my tea. I love how coffee houses do their tea. There are two bags in each cup. Often, I have made note of the brand, but later find out it’s a brand you have to order online.
S.M. had ordered a Pumpkin Spice Latte. He’s usually a coffee-only, give-it-to-me-black kind of guy, but occasionally he does something unpredictable. “And Christian’s aren’t mission-orientated?”
“Not in the way Mormons are.” I watched a group of teenagers walk through the door. One had a lip piercing. How do you drink or eat with a metal hoop in your lip? I continued talking, ” The religion itself says you have to in order to be clean. It says so on their own website. If they deny it, you only have to look to see that it’s like a politician talking…very much double talk. You have to do good works to get to heaven. Of course, heaven is a complicated thing for them.”
“How do you mean?”
“When I was a little girl, I recall the worlds they taught in Sunday School.” I said. “Heaven is so complicated. As complicated as their religion.”
“John 3:16.” S.M. said. “That’s all we need to do is believe that Christ died for us. Heaven is so clearly described in the Bible.”
“First of all, they don’t believe in hell. Their version of hell is not the Bibles’.” I sipped my tea. They make the tea very hot. I took out my new smart phone. “Let me show you.”
S.M. leaned close to me. I smelled his aftershave. Even after all these years of marriage, I still find him sexy. More than that, I find him a wise and strong person. I pulled up the website and show him, even read it to him:
“Mormons believe that this life is only one part of an eternal existence. Life will continue but it is not known by anyone exactly what that life will be like. However the purpose of this life is to determine our station in the next. Mormons believe there are degrees of glory rewarded after the Judgment, according to the faith and obedience of the person during their life (John 14:2; 1 Corinthians 15:40-41). The glories of heaven differ like the glory of the sun differs from the moon, and the moon from the stars. Everyone will receive some degree of glory, but only the faithful will receive the highest glory with the possibility to become like God. Mormons also believe that all people who ever lived will have the opportunity to accept Jesus Christ and thus inherit the greatest kingdom of God. After death all go to a spirit world where they associate with others who have lived on earth. Here, believers of Christ preach the gospel to those who did not receive it in life, and those that accept it can be saved by having the ordinances of salvation performed for them by proxy on earth. This is the Mormon practice of baptism for the dead, which is performed in Mormon temples.”
“Wow. Totally opposite of scripture.” S.M. looked thoughtful. “I don’t think that’s what John 14:2 meant regarding heaven.”
I gesture to another site that I had bookmarked. “The thing to remember is to look into the meaning of the verse using hermeneutics.” I read off the screen from a site called CARM (Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry):
“Jesus is not telling us that heaven has compartments, or that we will have little places in which to live. In the ancient culture, a father’s house was where the extended family lived. Rooms were often added on as the family grew through birth and marriage. What Jesus was doing was using the present day illustration of a loving, tight, family community. So, Christ is saying that He is preparing a place for us in heaven where we will dwell with God in close communion with Him, and that there is room in heaven for all whom God calls to salvation.”
Salvation is believing now in who Christ is, and if you don’t believe in the Christ of the Bible, you do not know Christ. I’m also telling S.M. about this. He suddenly sat up straight, his chair scraping against the floor.
“I’m thinking of…wait.” He dug out his phone and tapped the screen. “I know what scripture I’m thinking of. When Jesus said…Give me a moment.” Then, he read:
“Jesus answered, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you have really known me, you will also know the Father. From now on you know him and have seen him.”” (John 14:6-7)
S.M. looked triumphant. I praised him for his ability to find it so quickly. So I googled the verse for the background to find out what Jesus meant.
“I wrote about the Trinity, but this article is fascinating.” I began reading a short paragraph:
“The first truth we need to understand is that Jesus is one Person who has two natures a divine nature and a human nature. In other words, Jesus is both God and man.” (from here)
“So they think they are like us.” S.M. said.
“Yes. The whole, I am Mormon, I am Christian thing bugs me. So that’s why I write about the Mormon definitions to dispel that notion completely. Plus, Mormons don’t believe the Bible is accurate except for one translation. So if you don’t believe the Bible, anything is possible in how you invent the spirit world. It’s a different world.”
Our conversation soon moved away from Mormonism to our church.
And on the way home, watching the passing scenery, I thought, Church isn’t broken. It’s being remade into what God wants church to look like. Humans make mistakes. They are not God. They will never be God. The building of church made by human hands can often have people who may not always reflect the God of the Bible in the way we need them to do so, but you and I can learn from the remnants left in the shadows of secularism, programs, and traditions by changing ourselves first.
Mormons have strong families, serve their community, and have a strong mission-orientated nature. Even some Christian leaders have acknowledged the strength of our churches depend on the strength of our families. Our families are weak, compromised at times, and need to be whole again. Ex-mormon believers can bring a sense of family, service, and missions back into the Christian church while discarding the unbiblical notions of the Mormon church.
But church will never be perfect, will always disappoint, and no one can love us as well as Jesus. Once we get that in our minds, we find a more gentle attitude towards those who act out in church or those who may not love us according to our individual love language.
My friend often says she recognizes her desire for community as a reflection of her dysfunctional past. All she wants is to be loved and accepted, to be given a sense of belonging, within her church home. Because her family did not give her that sense, she seeks it now in her church.
But we have to recognize that people can’t love like we wish they would, but Jesus loves us so much that He took the cross in our place. He gave us a choice.
But you have to make a choice in this world, because there are no second chances in the next.