Spreading News of the Restored Gospel

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June 8, 2009
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man-with-megaphoneLatter-day Saints know that the gospel has been restored through a prophet.  It is a knowledge that uplifts and gives life and meaning to everything we do.  It is powerful and comforting to know Heavenly Father has again opened access to heaven and reaffirmed that Jesus is the Christ, His Son. With that knowledge comes a desire to share it with everyone.

Here is our dilemma:  Who will believe us?  How do we share it?

Most of us are hesitant.  We have spent time building good, strong relationships with our neighbors and coworkers, and there is the fear that if we broach the topic of religion, if we invite our friends to a church meeting or to a missionary lesson that our friendships will dry up.

Since Mormonism is such an integral part of our lives we’re worried that a rejected invitation equals a rejected friendship.

I’d like to ask you, our non-Mormon readers, to imagine yourselves in a scenario.  You are talking to a trusted Mormon friend and somehow the LDS Church comes up.  You talk for a few minutes about it pleasantly, but not in much depth.  Then your friend invites you to learn more, maybe saying something like this:

We’re having the missionaries over for dinner on Wednesday.  It’s their job to teach people about the Church, and I’d love for you to learn more.  Will you come over for dinner and a short lesson?

What would you be thinking and feeling?  What would you say?  Be honest.

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28 Responses to “Spreading News of the Restored Gospel”

  1. I’m biased because I’m not a non-mormon so much as I am a former mormon…but here’s how it works.

    Many people are content with their lives. So, they aren’t seeking out something new. When people presume people must be miserable or missing out on something because they aren’t Mormon, then this is rather presumptive and arrogant. It would be one thing if we were there for friends who were in need and wanted some kind of assistance (then we could say, “Oh, yeah, my church might be able to help.)

    But the church instead reaches out to people. Missionary tracting, members inviting friends to see the missionary…and it often times ignores that people are fine without this intrusion.

    Consider when an evangelical tries to insist that Mormonism is wrong and that it is a cult and you just can’t see, but you have to get out. You feel attacked or angry. You feel that the only reason your evangelical friend really cares about you is because he sees you as a project to convert. He doesn’t respect your current beliefs, because he believes them to be inferior or wrong.

    I think this is what nonmembers feel.

  2. Thaddeus

    Andrew, thank you for your comment. I’d like to know more about you. Did you grow up in the Church? When did you leave it?

    The difference that I see (and I can’t help look through my biased Mormon glasses) is that Mormons don’t believe that other religions are wrong, just that we have some more to offer. More clarity.

    We try not to attack. We know how it feels to have our faith put down.

    We make invitations. It’s as if we are drinking an icy strawberry lemonade and we want to share it. Perhaps our invitations could be interpreted as attacks on their choice of beverage… This is the kind of feedback I’d like to hear. Does anyone else feel threatened by the invitation in the post?

    I agree with your sentiment exactly when it comes to making someone a project. Your love and your friendship should always come first and shine through.

  3. oops. accidentally double posted (feel free to delete the first instance of my message).

    I grew up in the LDS church…but it never clicked for me. So, it wouldn’t make sense to say when I “left it.”

    I think even with the way you rephrase it, it is still arrogant. Because of course, you might believe that Mormons have the *most* to offer. That exaltation is the *most* we can achieve, etc., So, even though you publicly say, “we don’t believe the others are wrong,” you do believe, “but *we* are more right.” And that’s just as bad.

    For example, let’s take the icy strawberry lemonade. If someone politely refuses your strawberry lemonade, we think nothing of it. We most certainly don’t think that the icy strawberry lemonade has “more to offer” than every other drink ever, and that the eternal price of not drinking the strawberry lemonade is receiving a lesser glory of pleasure after you’ve partaken of the strawberry lemonade and endured to the end after you’ve recognized strawberry lemonade as the truth. We do not pretend that strawberry lemonade fits everyone, and that it would be best for everyone, and people should put down the “natural tastes” (which are an enemy to strawberry lemonade) and endure in faith with strawberry lemonade, even if they don’t like the flavor or are allergic to it.

    So, it seems it’s rather different indeed.

  4. Thaddeus

    Andrew,

    The lemonade is just an analogy for having something of value and offering it rather than keeping it for yourself. If you want a better, more consistent beverage analogy, see this one.

    “but *we* are more right.” And that’s just as bad.

    Isn’t this the gist of any online discussion? Apply your standard to yourself in this conversation. You believe yourself to be more right than me. Isn’t that just as bad?

    Any argument or invitation can be delivered arrogantly or humbly. Any argument or invitation can also be received arrogantly or humbly. It’s especially hard to convey one’s tone through pure text. Andrew, maybe you perceive arrogance in my words, and I apologize. I always hope to phrase my words carefully, but it’s not easy.

    Believing that the restored gospel of Christ is the true and living church does not, in and of itself, make me arrogant. In fact, offering it to everyone I can seems to me to be the least pompous thing I could do with it.

  5. Dave

    Andrew,

    You know, it’s true that people can be happy without the gospel. But that doesn’t mean that they couldn’t be more happy with it. And believing that what makes you happy would make other people happy, while perhaps “presumptive and arrogant,” is the basis for all kindness and love and charity and good things in this world.

    Should we be offended any time anyone offers us anything, thinking it will make us happier? Absolutely not. What a terrible world that would be. If I saw a new movie that I loved, that I was convinced was the “absolute best” movie that has ever been made, should I be afraid to tell people to go see it? Would doing so be arrogantly presuming that they aren’t fully satisfied with their current movie-watching choices?

    It’s not the fact that we think we have something to offer that sometimes makes people mad. It’s the nature of what we’re offering. Unlike movies and lemonade, religion is a very deep, personal, defensive thing (politics too, for some reason). It concerns the whole universe and purpose of life and future of everyone. But for the same reason, we should be even more interested in having everyone know about it. It should be treated with care, I agree. Like Thaddeus said, it’s all in the delivery.

  6. re Thaddeus:

    Yep, I was waiting for that. Christianity (and by extension, Mormonism) ultimately asserts that it IS the right religion. It IS the one with water that will give everlasting life, etc.,

    Let me compare my position to yours. As I said, if someone has some issue, and they feel that the Mormon church is right for them, I say go on ahead. So just because the church isn’t right for me, I don’t pretend to be so arrogant as to say it’s not right for anyone, a claim that is unsubstantiated. So, if you can’t see the difference in that, Thaddeus, then I apologize…I’m just answering your question with something you might not have heard, but it’s up to you. If you do not accept, I won’t think you’re somehow worse off for it, or that you’ll have eternal consequences, etc., This is markedly different from the standard LDS theology.

    I would argue instead that the content of an argument can be arrogant just as much as the delivery is. No, your belief that the church is the true and living church is not by itself arrogant. However, to extend this globally and universally, to claim eternal truth in a one-size-fits-all manner, just strikes of arrogance regardless of how one dresses it up. Why is it arrogant? Because it presumes and assumes too much. It is an extraordinary claim that does not have extraordinary backing (yet). It may have subjective and individual backing, but not quite enough to make it universally sound.

  7. re Dave:

    Again, this is a standard position, but it doesn’t match universally with reality. Yes, some people could be happier with the gospel. Then again, some people could become a lot sadder with it. Mileage may vary. We need not try to fit people all under one very constricting measure.

    I disagree with you, however. What you bring up is the flaw of the golden rule. “Do unto others as you would have done unto you.” Actually, let me suggest a better rule: “Do unto others as *they* would have done unto *them*.” This requires work, because it requires empathy, whereas the traditional golden rule and what you suggest doesn’t require any empathy at all..rather, it requires introspection into what you enjoy, and then you make the claim that what’s good for you is good for everyone else. This normally doesn’t cause any problems, but there are marked instances when it does (for example, what if in some level, you are markedly different than another?)

    I’m not saying we should take offense when people offer us things. Please don’t misconstrue our offer. Their intentions are noble, even if their actions are misguided. Similarly, an “anti-mormon” who chastises the church has noble intentions (they SERIOUSLY believe Mormons are “deluded” and should come to the “real” Christ), but I think you and I would both agree that still, their actions are misguided. And you should agree with me that instead of them taking a golden rule approach (because many antis would say, “Well, if I were Mormon, I would want someone to tell me I was wrong…”)…you would want them to take my approach…instead of looking at what they want, look at what we want.

    If you have your absolute best movie and you want to promote it, fine. But don’t be surprised if and when people find that it wasn’t the greatest movie for them, or in fact, the movie was actually offensive. Don’t be so presumpuous as to assume that if someone doesn’t want to hear you talking about your absolute favorite movie all the time that this represents a problem with them, because you have the ‘truth’ that your movie is the absolute best. Instead, I think you should realize that tastes differ. There isn’t an absolute best movie for everyone.

    I mean…this is my point. I think that all of us should be especially aware, as Mormons or people who have grown up Mormon, what it’s like to be around people who are peddling things that they think are “absolutely true” and “will improve our lives,” if only we will look away from our current beliefs and at those other things. And I would think that we would come out of this with an acute awareness that different people have different experiences, different things that appeal to them, different things that disgust them. We cannot continue to pretend as if we know best for everyone because some one path works well for us, even if the scriptures we read or the general authorities we listen to say that.

  8. Andrew,

    You hit on a point I regularly encounter from people of all belief structures, and that is the notion that different people have different “truths”. You bring it up in your last response to Thaddeus with statements such as “to claim eternal truth in a one-size-fits-all manner, just strikes of arrogance regardless of how one dresses it up.” In conversations with my friends on the topic of religion, I find it striking that the LDS belief in eternal truth itself is so rare. I have often read about people debating the nature of eternal truth, but my own personal conversations are much more centered around its very existence, which I find odd. It seems clear to me that certain things we say as facts are either true or they are not, regardless of belief. For example, the idea that seasons are caused by the tilt of the earth and it’s orbit around the sun is either true or it isn’t. If it is true, then whether or not you believe it really doesn’t change its veracity. If it is not true, then something else is true.

    Now let’s take something a little closer to home. The Book of Mormon states that it is a record of the ancient inhabitants of America about their dealings with Jesus Christ. It seems to me that such a statement doesn’t leave much room for middle ground, but many people say things to the effect that this is our truth, and some people have other truths. Such a notion, to me, seems ridiculous. If it is a true statement then it is true regardless of whether you believe it. I grant that not all true statements are true in all circumstances. For example, if I say that sticking up your middle finger is likely to offend somebody, that is true in this country, but not in others. There is nothing that causes us to extend the truth of the Book of Mormon “globally and universally” except the logical fact that if it is true at all it’s true for everybody. This is why, as you’ve all pointed out, religion isn’t an arena where tastes and preferences play the role they do in things like our choice of movies or beverages.

    So, I challenge anybody to a duel of logic. If you can find flaw in my logic, then you win. Here it is: I assert that the Book of Mormon is truly a record of the ancient inhabitants of the Americas, and that Joseph Smith’s account of how it came to be is true and accurate. Here’s where the logic comes in: If my assertion is true, then it is true regardless of personal belief on the matter. If it is true, then the Book of Mormon “puts forth the doctrines of the gospel, outlines the plan of salvation, and tells men what they must do to gain peace in this life and eternal salvation in the life to come.” Again, if this is true, it’s true for everybody, and I think the significance of this is clear.

    You can argue with my initial assertion all you want, but I won’t even entertain a debate on the subject until you agree with the logic I outlined above. Once you understand this simple fact, you’ll understand why we put so much stock into preaching the word, and why we don’t consider religion a matter of “opinion” the same way we do clothing, food, language or other aspects of culture.

  9. Steve

    Actually, I disagree. Most groups are going to have an objective, one-size-fits-all universal truth, rather than a subjective, personal truth. This is why most groups gasp in horror at the idea of things like subjective morality or subjective experience. They gasp in horror at the idea that what’s right for them may not be right for everyone.

    I do agree with you, however, on the latter part of your first paragraph. True things *should* be true regardless of if you believe them or not. However, in a subjective realm (such as religion), objective truth becomes increasingly less worthwhile than what is subjectively validated. Obviously, there is objectively only one truth…whatever it is…relating to God. It could be the Mormon idea…it could be another Christian denomination’s idea. It could be some non-Christian religion’s idea. It could be that there is no god. So, as we sit here, there is one idea that IS true, but the thing is: we have no idea which. Regardless of our mass ignorance, do you see how this doesn’t affect anything? We still *do* have contradictory belief systems that can’t all be objectively true…and I think it’s because when it comes to religious beliefs it *is* subjective and personal experience that matters more. Regardless of if someone is as wrong as two left feet, as long as their life is improved and they are happy…these are more important than truth.

    Same is true for the particular claims of Mormonism. Quite frankly, you’re right in that objectively The Book of Mormon is either a historical document or it is not (let’s just ignore all the ways that it could be historical but in a different way — e.g., not in the Americas, a much limited area, etc., etc.,) However, from a religious aspect, where subjectivity is king, it doesn’t matter if the BoM is historical or not. It matters not a lick if it is historical or not. People will either believe in it or not regardless of the true nature of it. And it is that belief (or the lack thereof) that really matters.

    People would like to hope that their beliefs are based in fact…we’d like to hope that, if our ideas were shown to be false, we would be able to see that and abandon them. But things don’t work out so well…it all pays homage to subjective experience as king.

    Here is the issue though. We confuse the subjective and objective. After all, the General Authorities probably would like better if the BoM was objectively true. They would like for Heaven to be a literal, actual place rather than an allegory that rings well with some but doesn’t with others. So, for apologists and the brethren, objectivity and universal truth do matter. But this produces artificial stresses on the religion.

    So, as for your argument, I agree with the validity of your premises. Rather, I am highly suspect of the soundness of the premises — your assertions are presuppositions made on faith, which there’s no problem with that, but just to let you know, it’s arrogant to presuppose them as if they are uncontroversial premises. You find no problem with accepting these premises as uncontroversial because that is the nature of faith and belief, so obviously, you won’t consider it in the same as other aspects of culture.

    A counterargument. If your assertion is true, then it is true regardless of personal belief on the matter. If it is true, then the Book of Mormon “puts forth the doctrines of the gospel, outlines the plan of salvation, and tells men what they must do to gain peace in this life and eternal salvation in the life to come.” This premise is falsified because in fact, personal belief on the matter does actually matter intensely in the BoM issue, thus making it rather like clothes and culture. The BoM demonstrably does not put forth doctrines that allow people to universally and regardless of belief gain peace in this life…and so from there, we don’t even need to continue further to consider the unknown about the life to come. In fact, the BoM requires belief in it for it to even possibly be true, as is discussed in Alma 32, and even then, it still doesn’t 100% always live up to its promises.

  10. OK, I got it! To simplify my point

    Steve

    I ultimate agree with your claim that there is some universal/objective truth. This is uncontroversial.

    However, I would assert that in the religious realm, we are not well-equipped with the tools for discovering this truth and instead we are better equipped with more subjective, personal tools. In other words, we are not seeking truth, but we are seeking something that makes sense to us (and our mileage varies).

    So, the assertion that any one religious claim is the objective and universal truth is arrogant because we are not well-equipped with the tools to back up these claims, and these claims are so extraordinary that they require a lot of what is already scarce validation to not be arrogant claims.

    However, since we are well-equipped for subjective validation, intuition, etc., it is not extraordinary to find validation for subjective experiences. These subjective experiences, however, can be and are often contradictory and exclusive (e.g., the subjective validation of Catholicism doesn’t work well with the subjective validation of Islam…but both are possible and both happen). We cannot, then, export subjective experiences as objective validations, but they do just fine as subjective validations.

    So, my argument…your premises are valid (e.g., I don’t find fault with them)…but the soundness (e.g., their truth) is in question. Because this soundness is in question, to assume their soundness is uncontroversial is arrogant.

  11. Thaddeus

    So you’re saying that if the Book of Mormon is truly an ancient document, then Joseph Smith’s story checks out and God did establish the only true church through him. It follows. You just don’t believe the Book of Mormon is an ancient document.

    Can you explain what you meant in the comment before about “it doesn’t matter if the BoM is historical or not“? Are you saying that it’s impossible to know whether the book is historical? That any conclusion on the matter is subjective?

  12. Actually, Thaddeus, even that is too much of a simplification.

    Let’s say The Book of the Dead is truly an ancient document. Does it follow that Joseph Smith’s story check out? Actually, no. That does not mean it has anything to do with Joseph Smith’s explanation that it formed part of the facsimiles for the Pearl of Great Price. This must be independently verified.

    However, Steve made two presupposed assertions: 1) The BoM is an ancient document and 2) Joseph Smith’s story as it relates to it is truthful. These have to be tested and verified independently, of course. (Also to be tested independently: that Joseph Smith’s future revelations were prophetic, that Brigham Young was prophetic, etc., etc.,)

    So, I don’t happen to believe the BoM is a truly ancient document, but also, even if it was, it wouldn’t necessarily follow that Joseph’s story about it checks out (and this is actually…exactly the case with the Pearl of Great Price, unfortunately…although apologists have come up with crafty explanations around that, as to be expected.)

    So, let’s look at my last comment (the shorter of the two in a row, because I think it was the one that allowed me to clarify my thoughts more). We are ultimately not geared for truth. Perhaps it’s impossible to know whether the book is historical, perhaps it’s just improbable, perhaps any number of things. Regardless of the truth or falsity, however, we *are* geared to subjective experiences. So, let’s say the book is utterly and completely false. Does this mean that one couldn’t have a spiritual experience about it and believe it to be true? And believe it to be helpful? Here, we get into word games about what’s so great about truth — when really, what might matter is pragmatism. This is what I mean by, “It doesn’t matter if the BoM is historical or not.”

    Basically, even if the BoM is utterly false, it still demonstrably changes many lives for the better. Furthermore, even if it is utterly false, people will be convinced of its utter truth. This is not representative of objective facts, but rather of subjective experience…which is more important for people. Indeed, because of our dearth of evidence, conclusions about historicity are more indicative of subjective biases than anything objective. History is narrative fallacy…what fallacy we take tells us more about the historians than about what actually happened.

    To conclude…don’t get too caught up in Steve’s argument. I don’t think your argument should be to show that the BoM is historical and Joseph Smith’s story of its origin is truthful. 1) I think this is too much for anyone to handle and 2) I think it misses the heart of religious experience. Rather, you should be showing how it changes life for the better…and if you find that it does not seem to be changing someone’s life for the better, consider why that might be so. Consider what assumptions you’re making that are too rigid to be helpful anymore.

  13. BTW, sorry everyone…I know I need to cut down my comment lengths…

  14. So, now that the little logic chain has been agreed upon, let me just put forward my feeling that once you understand what it means that the Book of Mormon is true, you will understand why we do what we do concerning missionary work.

  15. Andrew,

    After reading and rereading your responses, I think I’m beginning to see what you’re trying to say.

    Whereas science is an objective means for society to obtain knowledge of certain universal truths of the physical world, true religion is a subjective means for a single person to learn certain other universal truths. In this case, only those who perform the tests will learn them.

    I have learned some incredible things through my personal religious hypothesis testing. I can testify of what I’ve learned, but I can’t directly transmit my knowledge or even bring the evidences of my faith to the table. I can only encourage others to do the same experiments I have done.

    My testing has led me to the conclusion that Joseph Smith indeed spoke to God and restored the Church with authority and revelation. I make invitations for people to do the same experiments I have done: read the Book of Mormon and the Bible, and pray to know if they are true.

    I suppose it could be considered arrogant if I expected them to believe me because of my own subjective experiences, but I’m not asking them to do that. I’m asking them to consider the possibility and to find out for themselves.

  16. re Steve:

    Yet you haven’t addressed my claims. Your logic claim essentially fits for every single religion out there. Rather, all it shows is that logically consistent arguments are logically consistent. Not that it is reasonable to believe they are sound and true.

    I have especially shown that it is unsound to believe a religion is true (except on a personal level) based on subjective experience.

  17. re Thaddeus:

    This isn’t what I’m saying. Rather, religion is a subjective mean for people to discover personal truths…not universal truths. And, here’s the kicker: not everyone who performs the test will discover the truths, because in fact, the truths are specifically not cause->effect as an objective, external truth is. They are personal and depend on the way the individual is built.

    The things you’ve learned through your religious hypothesis testing may be incredible, but they only tell us about YOU. They don’t necessarily tell us anything about the external world…in the same way, the things a Muslim learn through his religious hypothesis testing may be incredible, but again, they only tell us about HIM. They don’t tell us anything about the external world. Your spiritual experiences do not objectively and universally validate Mormonism in the same way that a Muslim’s spiritual experiences do not objectively and universally validate Islam…but this is ok, because both a Mormon and a Muslim can live with it only being subjective validation. The problem occurs, however, when one or both groups becomes arrogant enough to assume that their subjective validation actually is objective and universal validation — because in actuality, the two different conclusions are at odds with each other. As Steve points out…only one can be objectively true.

    If you would like to personally believe that Joseph Smith’s story is as it was, then that is fine. If you would like to invite others, then fine. But if and when your invitation fails to achieve the same results as it has for you (because people are different and react subjectively different to different religions…one religion does *not* fit all), then perhaps you should have the integrity to realize that it does not fit all…it may not be objective truth.

    It almost seems to me as if you have never seen someone who EARNESTLY took the Book of Mormon challenge yet did not get any confirmation…who EARNESTLY devoted his or her life to the gospel and wanted it to be true, but no matter what, it simply did not resonate. If you haven’t had this kind of experience or seen someone who has, then it can be easy to act as if the religion has a 100% repeatable, reliable track record, rather than just being one of many. But if you have, or if you ever have, I would hope that you have the compassion to see your friends have true joy rather than struggling with something that does not work for them simply because you have come to a conclusion or Steve has come to a conclusion (through a logical leap — remember even if Steve’s premises are conceded…the fact is that he hasn’t backed them up. He hasn’t backed up how he *knows* they are true…rather, he simply sets them true to make the argument work and he *believes* they are true based on reasonings that really don’t establish truth at all) that they are true.

    This is what I’m saying. This conclusion is arrogant. It leads to incompassion. It is unyielding. It holds people back.

  18. Andrew,

    I wonder if you remember the initial premise of the argument that was begun so many comments ago. My purpose here is not to confirm the veracity of any claim or precept except the one set forth in the original post. My purpose is certainly not to counter each and every one of your arguments. Indeed, were I to do that this post would quickly degenerate into your personal soap box, which I fear it already has. I’ve read your arguments and counter-arguments, and while a few of them are sound and warrant solid debate, very few of them relate to the initial premise of preaching the gospel. Your responses consistently sidestep and evade rather than directly counter, and all your comments rely on argumentum verbosium to be of any credit at all. Therefore, I will not counter any argument except those which are germane to the subject matter. This is why my last response was so pithy. I repeat the point that our approach to missionary work is appropriate considering our belief. The nature of that belief isn’t being argued at all, and in fact you say more to support our adherence to missionary work than to contend with it. This is likely the last I will say in this post unless I have a compelling reason to do otherwise.

  19. re Steve:

    I knew I’d be called out on my verbosity, so I apologized in advance for it. I don’t mean to try to create an argument based only on a wall of text.

    Let me be quite clear for you.

    You have no way of claiming the veracity of any claim or precept using spiritual witness. You have not shown that you have any way of claiming the veracity of any claim or precept using spiritual witness. So, as such, your logical exercise, while valid, cannot be taken as sound. As such, your conclusions about spreading the news of the restored gospel are not yet justified. Appropriate to your belief, you will still continue your approach to missionary work, but you will continue to be seen by others as arrogant and presumptive in your approach, and you will only hinder yourself in your efforts if you cannot understand *why* (it’s *because* of the nature of the belief, which is something you are not arguing at all).

    You don’t need to post any more. If you are content with the results of your attempts to spread the gospel, then that’s really all that matters and nothing I say really matters. If you are content with the press that the church has, the light its missionary efforts are looked in, etc., then that’s really all that matters and nothing I say really matters. But if not, then all I’m offering is a different perspective, that if perhaps you could just consider it for a second, you could find something that can help improve and focus your approach. I am not your enemy, even if we disagree on many issues.

  20. I’m sorry, but I realize I should have mentioned that the reason I’m probably not going to comment more is I don’t think I’ll have time. I’m leaving town soon and I have some things left I need to do. No, Andrew, I don’t think of you as my enemy. I’m actually quite enjoying our debate. I figure a position you can’t defend is rarely worth having, so I appreciate a good debate. If you reply to future posts then I’m sure we’ll be able to rub shoulders again.

  21. malachi

    Well I have been reading the comments to this post and although interesting they seemed to veer from the initial question proposed.

    I have privately investigated the church through the web and online missionaries at mormon.org. I have even visited the sites in Palmyra as I live rather close by, I have met missionaries out in public (and at the sites) but rarely have I had anyone come to my door and I am failry sure that I do not know any mormons.

    I read the BoM and took the challenge, having been raised by a protestant pastor and having found the denomination of my youth unsatisfactory I was (and maybe still am) willing to give the LDS a shot. There were brief moments where I thought I was on to something with the BoM but they faded rather quickly. The missionaries I met were too agenda driven (i.e. get through the lessons and get a commitment for baptism) and that frankly was a huge turn-off.

    I would much rather have someone I knew who was mormon talk to me personally about their faith, how it effects their life, I don’t want to feel like a customer at a used car lot with a pushy salesman trying to move the car that’s been sitting for a while on me…

    So make it more personal, don’t invite me to meet the missionaries, tell me instead about you, let me meet your family, invite me to your Sunday service let me see mormonism in action….

  22. Malachi,

    Interesting choice of name. Sadly I agree that too many if not most missionaries are very agenda-driven, much to the detriment of the church. Also, I will be the first to agree that the comments got off topic. Email me.

    [email protected]

  23. Dave

    Malachi

    Having been a missionary myself, I can agree with you that a lot of times we get waaay to driven by goals and an unnecessary sense of urgency. You’re right about how we should go about it.

  24. Bus Gillespie

    I hate your site. Every time I offer a comment it informs me that it sounds too spammy; none of my comments have any links nor have I eaten any spam for some years. I’m done commenting if I get the same message after this one!

  25. Thaddeus

    Malachi, thank you for responding! This was the kind of feedback I was looking for in my article. Missionaries can be pushy, but it’s also been my experience that some people are more comfortable talking to the missionaries than entering a Mormon household or going to a sacrament meeting. Anybody else want to weigh in with their assessment?

    Malachi, where are you in your investigation of the Church right now? Just picking it up again? I’d love to hear more about your search.

    Bus, you are so funny. How did you get it to work? The problem might be that your browser doesn’t have Javascript and/or cookies turned on. Call me if you have questions.

  26. Christian

    I think my response to this situation would be as it always has been. I would accept the offer, and I would love to sit and have a short lesson. I really enjoy hearing what other people believe.

    I’ve had many missionaries come to my home and have been very rude, and have taken many things that I have said out of context. I’m not going to lie. But I also realize that not every missionary is like this, and if someone is willing to share with me about their religion (the central part of one’s life) I am willing to listen to what they have to say.

    I would also hope that I could express my opinion as well, but if I don’t, I would still gladly listen to all that they had to say. This may not be the fairest answer though because someone could spit in my face and I’d still open the door give them cookies and listen to them. Haha.

    But seriously, If someone did claim to truly believe something and never asked if I wanted to learn about it, I would doubt that they really believed it. I may not agree with everything someone believes but it’s always nice to get the information straight from them rather than surfing the web trying to figure out what someone’s talking about when they say “Family Home Evening” or “General Conference.” Haha. Although I do think it’s important for missionaries to realize that there are people who want to learn more so they have accurate information while they may not have a desire to join the church. I think that’s legitimate, and sometimes missionaries disregard that and it makes people who were trying to do right and get information from the source feel really bad. 🙁

  27. Brian

    Jim Jones had a great ideas as well. Communal living and sharing alike was a nice dream. Thankfully, because of him the rest of the world will be watching Mormons and the like. I have no doubt that if the LDS church required its members to join together and do something for the church the members will do it. Let’s hope their intentions remain good.

  28. Thaddeus

    Brian, I understand your concern. We are likewise concerned with people who devote themselves to charismatic fanatical leaders. You should be a little heartened to know that no mass suicides have ever been instigated by the LDS Church since its founding almost 200 years ago.

    I also hope you realize that comparing us to Mr. Jones’ sect doesn’t exactly engender goodwill between us. Please read our comment policy.