Recently I had a close member of my family give me a movie called “Joseph Smith vs. the Bible” (actually, they left it in my car). Since I’ve rarely had a Christian give me something about Mormons that wasn’t propaganda to try and convince Mormons they’re wrong, I really had no desire to watch it. However, I did browse around to see if there were any reviews on the movie so I could have an idea what it was about if my family member asked me again.
Just as I had thought, the movie, according to both Christian reviews and LDS reviews, the movie was heavily one-sided. The reviews do a good job of summarizing the movie and explaining what it is about, but in a nutshell, the host uses scripture to prove that Joseph Smith is a false prophet based on a few things he said such as the temple being built in Jackson County, Missouri (which it hasn’t been), and the Book of Mormon prophets saying Jesus would be born in Jerusulem rather than Bethlehem, along with a few other things. He does have a random LDS guy on there that he talks with who isn’t really an expert or knowledgeable on some of the anti-Mormon stuff out there, but other than that, it appears pretty one-sided to both Christian and LDS viewers.
As a practicing Mormon, I could get offended and throw the movie back asking my family why in the world would you think I would want to see this? I could even go further and start pointing out flaws in the Bible and prophets who fail the test so to speak. However, I do not think that is the appropriate thing to do.
When a Christian gives me anti-Mormon information, these are the steps I usually try and follow.
1. Try and see things from their perspective
If you are a Mormon, chances are the Christian is trying to help you “see the light” so to speak. Also, consider that some of Mormon theology is based on the fact that the Bible doesn’t have the complete truth, which is complete blasphemy for a Christian as the Bible is their source of authority on Jesus. Therefore, they are trying usually with good intentions (I try and give the benefit of the doubt) to help you get on the right path.
If you are a Christian, realize that a practicing Mormon will probably get a bit offended as for Mormons, authority comes from the voice of the prophets and by you attacking Joseph Smith, you are attacking a fundamental concept of their faith. Just as you fee offended when a Mormon may say the Bible isn’t completely true, the Mormon will most likely feel the same way with an attack to the Book of Mormon or Joseph Smith.
2. Do a bit of research on the book or movie, etc. before reading or watching it
For Mormons who receive the literature, if you feel comfortable watching it, go ahead and check it out. Pay attention to the message and the feelings you have as you watch. My experience has been that it usually is negative and not a positive experience as I feel it is usually trying to attack my faith and make Mormons look stupid. Therefore, I just politely decline.
3. Return the information to the person politely
If I do not decline the original offer, I usually give it back. When I return it, I acknowledge that they are trying to help me and I thank them for thinking of me. However, I simply say I have read the reviews of the book or movie and choose not to watch this.
4. Share testimony
After I give it back, I share a quick testimony. Something very simple like just saying that I’ve prayed and feel the path I’m on is the right one for me. Sometimes I don’t even go into the fact I’ve prayed and had an answer and I just simply state that I firmly believe the path I’m on is right and leave it at that.
I’m sure there are many of you out there who have been offered anti-mormon literature (or who have offered it if you aren’t a Mormon). For the LDS readers, what steps do you take? For Christians who may have given anti-Mormon literature out, what were your intentions and how the the LDS person react?