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christian and mormon logoRecently I received some comments on an old article I wrote about Mormons being born again. I reached out to a friend of mine I met through this website who is a pastor at Addisville Reformed Church in Pennsylvania.  I want to thank Doug Dwyer for taking the time to answer my questions and hope that it helps both Mormons and Christians from other faiths see where we have common ground.

1. What is your definition of a Christian?
Romans 10:9 speak of holding to Christ’s Lordship and his victory over the grave. Digging a bit deeper here I would say that a Christian is someone who has submitted himself (herself) to the lordship of Jesus Christ over their lives and has placed their hope and confidence in his atoning death and victory over death through his resurrection.
2.  Do you consider Mormons to be Christians?
I consider you a Christian. I have met Mormons who I sensed the Holy Spirit’s presence in their lives. I do not consider all Mormons Christians. Nor do I consider all Presbyterians or non-denominational or Catholics Christians. You have to live in the reality of Romans 10:9 and not all church going people, including Mormons, have sincerely done that.
3. Where do you see common ground between Christians and Mormons?
Wait-you just asked me if Mormons are Christians and then you ask me to speak of common ground between “Christians” and “Mormons” a bit confusing! Let’s change “Christian” to “Evangelical” as that is the group within Christianity that I identify myself with.
We share many things in common. Our culture, morals and worldview are similar. We both strive to know and love Jesus Christ. We both feel great concern for the direction our society is going. We both are the brunt of jokes by those in the world-with all the talk of tolerance Mormon and Evangelicals are not shown it by this society (I would say even more so Mormons). We both love our kids and want them to grow up to be God loving and people of integrity. We both look to the promised hope-Christ’s return. I imagine many Mormons and many Evangelical waking up in the morning and praying and hoping-perhaps today!
4.  Where do you see difference?
Joseph Smith and the restoration. Evangelicals may seem very judgmental to Mormons but we are officially apostates in the Mormon understanding of the church. We (Evangelicals) find it hard to get a handle on just what it is that you do believe. The whole exaltation concept just sounds strange. The fact that there are many gods seems to fly in the face of our Scripture. Your temples seem mysterious. Your understanding of Priesthood and your belief in the Book of Mormon and native people being somehow Jews-seems foreign to us. Aaron-when I have asked you about some of these things-like exaltation you say “to me it means becoming more like Christ-I really don’t think much about it beyond that.” I’m not sure what to make of it! Is it a goal to become a god or is that just some doctrine from the 19th century that is no longer spoken of.  That is just one example. There seems to be layers of Mormon teaching and thought-and because your beliefs are dynamic and evolving it is hard for us to wrap our brains around what you now think verses what was taught in the past. And what is still believed but not discussed very much-at least for now.
5. Where do you feel the greatest challenges are in building the gap between groups?
Because of our past history-we are suspicious of each other. Whenever Mormons and Evangelicals get to know each other-those old attitudes start to fade. When you begin to build relationships and get to know the person-it changes your opinion-I know it has mine.
Hatred grows when you dehumanize the other person.
6.  Where do you see a need for Christians and Mormons to unite in a common cause and why?
The push to redefine marriage and the homosexual movements success in turning their agenda into a civil rights issue and what all that means for our churches. In the recent issue with the BSA (my church holds charters to Cub and boy scout units-both my sons went through scouting-Dan is working on his eagle and David is an eagle scout) I looked to your church to help me work through this issue based on the recent vote. We both need to be united when it comes to Religious Freedom in this nation. Disaster relief-during the recent tornado in Oklahoma when I saw Mormons and Evangelicals working side by side doing cleanup and recovery-that was a beautiful picture for me. I hope some friendships were made!
7.  Is your perspective on Mormons the same as most Christians?
No-I have studied the Mormons and their story since I was in high school and have had a genuine love for them since then. Evangelicals are pretty ignorant about Mormons. They get the polygamous sects confused with your church all the time. Many think Mormons still have plural marriages-I set them straight about that. If many met and spoke to Mormons they would see them as being Christian. Among leadership I believe it is slowly changing and becoming more positive.
8.   What is the greatest thing Christians can learn from Mormons?
You do a better job in the discipleship of your children. Family Home evenings, seminary before school, service in the church and mission-we fall far short when it comes to raising our children in the knowledge of the Lord.
 Conclusion
I agree with everything Doug had to say and feel good that he sees some movement towards common ground between the faiths.  I feel that it is slowly moving to where Evangelicals and Mormons are “playing nicer in the sandbox” and as Doug states, even working side by side.
What are your thoughts on these questions?  Also, are there any other questions you would have asked?

I was out with the sister missionaries the other night visiting a family they are teaching.  The family is a great young couple just starting out in life in their early 20’s.  They are very new in their careers and have all the aspirations that young couples have such as: earning enough money to live comfortably, raising children, and making their dreams come true in life.

While I was there, I felt that I needed to ask them why they are meeting with the missionaries?  She said it is because she sees how happy people who have faith are and she wants that in her life and in the lives of her children.  Her husband, once was an active member of the Church of Jesus Christ (i.e. Mormon).  He said that he decided around the age of 18 that he wasn’t going to stay active as a member of the church.  However, after a few years he notices a void in his life and said that he also shares the same desire and knows he will “come back” someday.

They also shared experiences they have had learning about the Gospel from his parents, who are active church members.  We read scripture together and I shared some stories of my conversion.  He then shared a story of revelation that had come into his life at a young age and shared a witness of God answering prayers.  He also said he felt a desire to pray and read scripture with his wife, which they never have done.

jm_300_BOM3.p-P1.tiffAfter the meeting, I couldn’t help but think that this meeting must have been an answer to the prayers of his parents.  I also thought of my own conversion story as well as that of Alma the Younger’s in the scriptures, where the children, who are rebellious are saved through the faith and prayers of their parents.

Since you can read about Alma’s conversion story, I’ll briefly share my story and how it relates to my father.

My Conversion Story

After my parents’ divorce I became very rebellious at a young age.  Although I was very young, I was getting into some very bad addictive habits and I was angry at my father, God, and especially anything related to the Mormon Church.

One summer, my mother persuaded me to go and visit my Dad, which I did reluctantly.  The one thing I didn’t want to do was go to church, which I knew my Dad was actively involved in.  Upon my dismay, he told me that as long as I was staying with him, I had to go to church.  So I did and hated it.

However, after a few days I started to notice something and my heart started to change.  I noticed my Dad wasn’t what I thought he was and he actually cared for me.  I noticed a feeling of love and peace in his home that I hadn’t felt in a long, long time.  After staying with him for a couple of weeks, my heart had changed so much that I knew I wanted to live with him in an environment that was away from the bad friends and influences I had without a father figure in my life.  I also started reading scripture and praying and God softened my heart through the power of the Holy Spirit.

When I told my father all of this, he started to cry tears of joy and told me he had been praying for this to happen as he saw me slipping into a dark place.  As I look back on things, I realize that it was indeed a miracle because I had no intentions of ever coming back.  It was solely through my father’s faith that I was blessed with the grace of the Good Lord to experience what I did at that time and have experienced many times since then.

This message is to all of you parents out there who may have a child who has made some wrong turns.  My heart goes out to you as I am a father of young children.  At their tender ages, I can’t imagine them making bad choices as they are so innocent and full of love and life.  If you have older children who have strayed, I’m sure you see your older children and remember them when they were young and so close to God.  Don’t give up hope.  The lives of the young couple I met with this week with the missionaries, Alma the Younger in the scriptures, and my own life are testimonies that through the faith of parents’ sincere prayers, our children can return once again to light and truth from God.

Cleanse your Soul with Grace for Grace “Spiritual SOAP”

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