I just got finished talking to a pair of Mormon elders coming to my front door. Honestly, I was tempted to not even talk to them: to quote 2 John 10, and ignore them. However, since I have been studying evangelism through Way of the Master and other sources, I decided to talk to them.
They were, as usual for Mormons, very nice young men. They were respectful, and seemed honestly appreciative that I knew a fair bit about the Bible. I also admitted to them that I had not made an extensive study of their religion. Besides, as I noted, even if I came up with a bunch of places where the Book of Mormon contradicted the Bible or where their prophets have issued false prophecies, they'd no doubt have a list of responses to each objection.
Rather, I tried to focus on two ideas. First off, that I had no particular reason to believe the Book of Mormon. When they brought up the fact that we needed help to understand the Bible and apply it to our lives, I agreed to a certain extent. However, I continued, I have many other good books by good, God-fearing men like John MacArthur and Charles Stanley - why should I listen to this Book of Mormon? They did not attempt to convince me of the supernatural source of the Book of Mormon - which is not supportable on objective grounds anyway - but rather said to look at the fruit. I then responded that it seems to me that these men have powerful ministries, helping thousands of people to become Christians or become strengthened in their faith and holiness. That's the kind of fruit I can believe in.
I then mentioned that, I simply cannot believe that there was no true church or religion on earth until Joseph Smith came along in the early 19th century to rediscover it. Jesus said that the gates of hell would not defeat His church, and I was being asked to believe that - at least for awhile - the gates of hell did in fact defeat the church. So they asked whether I thought that we needed continuing authority for functions like baptizing and prophesying. I responded no, that Scripture makes it very clear that Jesus Christ is the chief Cornerstone, that He built His church on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, who wrote the Bible.
They started talking about the "burning in the bosom" to authenticate the truths in the Book of Mormon, to which I said that I did not see any Biblical authority for this. They said that the Scriptures say that we should ask of God, who will lead us into truth. In response, I pointed out that it seems to me that God gave us many ways to "ask" of Him and be lead into truth - talking to Godly friends, reading the Bible, reading good books, etc. - and to their credit one of them agreed. He said he just meant that for some people the burning in the bosom applied, including for him.
The second idea I tried to focus on throughout the entire encounter is the basic truth of the Gospel: that every one of us is a sinner, and we are deserving of hell. When I spoke to them, I didn't realize that Mormons don't really believe in hell as a destination for any of us. I have since read about that and will bring it up in my next Mormon encounter. To that end, I led them through the Way of the Master "how many lies have you told in your life ... what does that make you?" stages. They admitted that they were liars and thieves and adulterers-at-heart, and said they needed Jesus to save them.
But it was a pretty easy admission. At one point they talked about God will give us faith after we make the effort to know Him and follow Him. That strikes me as the core of every man-made religion: that we make the effort first, and God saves us afterward. It seems to me it's at home just as much in Mormonism as it is in Arminianism or Catholicism. Now, I hasten to say: it's taken to a more logical extreme in Mormonism; that's why I would call Mormonism a heresy and the Mormon church a cult but not Arminian/Catholic ones. But that old desire to do it ourselves, to take some credit for our own salvation, is in every one of us. Only an honest reading of the Bible - and having our eyes opened by God - shows us that all our good deeds are truly like filthy rags.
It was quite a long conversation - and I have not done a very good job relating it all - and they wanted to follow up at a later date. Not wanting to enter a long-term discussion, I demurred, but ended by saying that I believe that we are not where we are by accident, that God appoints our times and places. I said I believed that God had brought them here for a purpose. And it was God's purpose that we examine ourselves, "make our election sure." The one who seemed the more experienced agreed, and promised that he'd honestly ask God to show him the truth if I would do the same. I agreed. I have no problem with that. They also gave me a Book of Mormon and pointed out some passages to read.
I just pray that, in addition to God showing me more and more of His truth (which I truly do pray for!), that He opens up the eyes of these two precious young men to their own true state, to the own desperate wickedness, and their need for the Savior as He opened mine. And not the son of Jehovah god who had advanced, through eternal progression, into a state of godhood and of the celestial mother, not the spirit brother of Lucifer; but the one and only begotten Son of the only and living God, Jesus Christ.