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DISCERNING THE MORMON CHURCH
YOU'LL KNOW THEM BY THEIR FRUIT

By Cal Fullerton, July 22, 2011

Anybody can say they follow Jesus,
but their deeds prove whether they really do or not. (i)
—Melody Green



Various estimates have placed the number of existing cults at seven hundred to five thousand. Someone said there isn’t one truth Satan hasn’t imitated.

Bishop Earthquake Kelley tells us in his book Bound to Lose Destined to Win that witches pretend to be devout Christians and receive supernatural information about people. He also mentions a demonic illusionist who wears a cross around his neck. Even more surprising, is that his dad was an adulterer, a powerful voodoo priest, and a physical abuser of his wife and child. However, as unbelievable as this might seem, he was also a Baptist preacher, who knew exactly what the Bible says—he read it from cover to cover seven times! (ii)

In view of Satan’s continual counterfeits and simulations, how can we know the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) isn’t another cheap imitation? How do we know it isn’t a dead religion serving an entirely different Jesus with a message void of the life of the true Christ?

Obviously, we need a reliable way to test the authenticity of groups claiming to represent the one true God. Fortunately, God didn’t leave us helpless: he put a reliable test in his Word:

Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. . . . Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.

Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my father.

LDS leaders are widely regarded as false prophets in sheep’s clothing who say “Lord, Lord” in vain. Jesus tells us that if Mormon leaders are false prophets, we will know them by their bad fruit. And if they are true servants of the Lord, we will know them by their good fruit. We won’t have to judge them; we will just know them.

To finish the story of Earthquake’s dad, he spent six months in jail after beating up a girlfriend. When his Baptist church realized what kind of man he was, they kicked him out. His corrupt fruit exposed him. The written Word of God says in many places that fruit inspection is a surefire identification tool given to us by our Father. Paul said the people under his ministry were his letter of recommendation (2 Cor. 3:1-3). That’s because the good behavior of the people who believed Paul’s message constituted evidence that Paul’s message was from God.

Paul also used the fruit of his own life to defend his ministry: “Make room for us in your hearts. We have wronged no one, we have corrupted no one, we have exploited no one” (2 Cor. 7:2). First Timothy 3:2-12 tells us to observe fruit to choose leaders for the church Leaders must be respectable and trustworthy; they must not love money, indulge in much wine, etc.

I feel the same goes for picking candidates for governmental offices. One commentator discussing political campaigns said, “We ought to get away from the character issue.” What? That’s the most important issue!

Jesus himself even told us not to believe his message unless we see him living right! He said, “Do not believe me unless I do what my Father does” (John 10:37).

When a congregation is faced with the possibility of having to discipline someone with disfellowship, again, fruit—in this case grave sin—is the cause for the disfellowship (1 Cor. 5; 2 Thess. 3:6; 2 Tim. 3:2-5; Titus 3:10-11).

One thing Jesus will do at his return is put on the white coat of a fruit inspector. His appraisals of us on Judgment Day will be based on what we said and did, because our actions are indicators of our faith or lack of it:

Matthew 12:36-37
I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.

We can see then that fruit inspection is vital to the operation of the kingdom of God. (See also 1 John 1:6; 2:4-6; 3:3; Gal. 5:19-21; Jas. 1:27.) It is the decisive way to distinguish unbelievers from believers:

1 John 3:10
This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother.

Why fruit inspection is distrusted

I believe one reason the value of fruit inspection is dismissed is that many of us are not confident we can distinguish good fruit from self-righteousness. In Matthew 7:15-16 as quoted above, Jesus makes a distinction between sheep’s clothing and good fruit. In that verse, clothing represents religious activity or an outward appearance that is not empowered by Christ living inside the person. Thus, sheep’s clothing is a counterfeit of godliness and comes from nothing but the natural, While good fruit comes from the grace of God—his presence—in the heart.

Jesus gave us direction and he expects us to be able to distinguish artificial fruit from the real. He said we can identify even the wolves in sheep’s clothing by their fruit.

Another reason the value of fruit inspection is disregarded is that many churchgoers don’t know Jesus personally. This is especially true among the more traditional and liturgical Christian denominations. Unbelievers have not been transformed by the grace of God, so naturally, they wouldn't see transformation as a requirement.

Perhaps some who discredit fruit inspection are baby Christians who know there is little fruit in their own lives. Thomas à Kempis (1380-1471) was a Catholic monk whose book Of The Imitation of Christ has been translated into more languages than any other book except the Bible! (iii) Andrew Murray quoted Thomas à Kempis as saying,

There are many who imagine that to imitate Jesus Christ is a special advanced state in the Christian life, to which only a few elect can attain; they think that one can be a real Christian if he only confesses his weakness and sin, and holds fast to the Word and Sacrament, without attaining any real conformity to the life of Christ; they even count it pride and fanaticism if one ventures to say that conformity to the likeness of Christ is an indispensable sign of the true Christian. (iv)

Kempis wrote in the 13th century, yet it is still true today. It especially applies in non-charismatic circles where Latter-day Saints are more often publicly denounced. The grace of God isn’t “a license for immorality” (Jude 4) or just “a cover-up for evil” (1 Pet. 2:16). It changes us. The great revivalist of the 1800s, Charles Finney, said, “True saving faith always brings a change in conduct.” (v)

I’ve observed that some people discard the value of inspecting fruit when they see Christlike character in people they think can’t possibly be Christians—such as Mormons! They temporarily adjust their theology to suit their purposes at the moment.

Satan as an angel of light

Another reason we devalue fruit inspection is that we know Satan masquerades as an angel of light.

However, just as there is a difference between sheep's clothing and fruit of the Spirit, there's a difference between masquerading as light and actually becoming light.


The devil can put up a front. When he speaks, he makes believe he is God. I repeatedly catch myself unconsciously listening to the devil’s criticism and imagining God is frustrated with me. However, Satan cannot change his nature—if he could, he would no longer be the devil. And he can’t free his children from their slavery to sin, nor does he want to. John 8:44 tell us, “There is no truth in him.” I’ve never read anywhere in the Bible that says Satan ever did anything right.

He masks himself by putting on an act, and causes those under his control to do the same:

2 Corinthians 11:13-14
For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light.

Neither do the devil nor his pack of unbelievers do anything upright in the eyes of God. Although they may have been trained by the discipline and example of their parents to follow a moral code, their motives are still selfish. Have you ever noticed a simple “thank-you” does wonders for the old nature? Charles Finney said, “The natural state of men before conversion is pure, unmingled selfishness.” (vi) Natural men and women are not trying to make God look good, they’re not animated by the Holy Spirit, and they’re not trusting our Father for a reward. Rather, their hope is in such things as the temporary pleasures of sin, including the honor and promotion of this world?

Since the motives of the unconverted are amiss, the only option they’re left with is disguise. Jesus said we will be able to see through disguises. “By their fruit you will recognize them” (Matt. 7:16).

A doorman at Jim Bakker’s Heritage Grand Hotel at Heritage USA, told the story of a pastor of a Methodist church who visited the Christian resort. This was in the 1980s, just after Jim Bakker resigned as head. The resort had a replica of the original Upper Room. In this room they held communion, fellowship meetings, and so on.

During a communion service this Methodist pastor was asked to help pass the bread and wine. It must have been to everyone’s surprise when during the meeting the pastor decided to become a Christian! He said he came to Jim Bakker's empire by way of curiosity.

This man had been putting on an act at his church. Although he didn't realize it, he was masquerading as an angel of light. He gave the talks on Sunday, counseled the troubled, and if you walked into the pastor's office you might see a nameplate holder on his desk saying “Pastor So and So.” He was playing the part. Proverbs 21:29, GNT, says, “Righteous people are sure of themselves; the wicked have to pretend as best they can.”

In spite of this pastor’s religious activities, he could not have had the love of Jesus in him because Satan is unable to give his children what he himself doesn't have.

Some sins won’t become public until judgment day (1 Tim. 5:24 AMP), but the inner character of an unbeliever will leak to the surface one way or another.

John G. Lake’s (1870-1935), “Divine Healing Institute made Spokane, Washington—as documented by the United States Government the healthiest city in the world.” He said that fruit inspection was “the ultimate and final test . . . the only test of the Spirit that Jesus ever gave.” (vii)

Why fruit inspection works

Outside of God—who is approached only through Christ—no one has any power to be truly good. Jesus said, “No one is good—except God alone” (Mark 10:18). He also said, “No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. . . . I am the vine” (John 15:4-5).

I asked the Lord to give me a word for this article. The following thoughts came to mind:

What other evidence can there be? says the Lord. For the Christian life is a life of the Spirit. The fruit is the outer manifestation of the Spirit. . . . I am Spirit.

We know from experience that we can’t overcome sin without the help of the Lord Jesus Christ. Now and then someone offends me and I find myself rehearsing the offense and a root of bitterness starts to grow. If the presence of the Lord in my spirit is at a low ebb, I often struggle or find it impossible to stop that tormenting rehearsal. I can only exclaim like Paul, “Oh, what a terrible predicament I’m in! Who will free me from my slavery to this deadly lower nature?” (Rom. 7:24 LB). But if the Spirit is sufficiently present, resisting those tormenting thoughts is much easier. I can exclaim, “Thank God! It has been done by Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom. 7:25 LB).

There is no power outside God to overcome sin.

"However," someone may say, “how can fruit inspection be a dependable guide when most believers are immature in the faith and many unbelievers are decent, respectable people?” That is a good question. So let’s look at a couple of Bible principles that greatly diminish this problem.

To whom much is given

The Mormon Church instructs their members to read, believe, and apply to their lives the teachings of the Bible. Although the Church also often encourages them to believe what we know are misinterpretations of the Bible, nonetheless, a devoted Mormon does read the Word of God.

Furthermore, God holds them responsible for what they hear:

John 15:22 (Jesus speaking)
If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin. Now, however, they have no excuse for their sin.

If Mormons who do everything their Church tells them to do were not Christians, they would have no excuse for rejecting the Lord. Therefore, their sin would be great, and the rottenness of their fruit would be great, which in turn would make identification of them relatively easy.

God’s discipline can result in bad fruit

God tells us in the book of Romans of people who "although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened" (1:21). Therefore, God "gave them over" to their sinful desires (Rom. 1:24). This is a form of God's discipline. It increases the ungodly behavior of the people who remain unrepentant.

We can see this in the story of King Saul. When he rejected the Lord’s clear instructions, God withdrew his Spirit and allowed an evil spirit to annoy the king (1 Sam. 15:23; 16:14). The evil spirit eventually made Saul want to kill David (1 Sam. 18:10-11, 25)—much worse than the spirit I had! The discipline of God, in allowing the evil spirit to torment Saul, brought a pronounced display of rotten fruit in him.

Once in a town near us a deranged man walked into a pharmacy and, tragically, shot his wife to death. According to the newspaper, he then casually returned to the parking lot to wait for the police. As police cars gathered, he waved around a .44 caliber Magnum and a .22 caliber pistol, threatening to kill his three-year-old granddaughter! After he began to shoot at the police, the police had no choice but to kill him. During this crazed man’s rampage he carried a worn Bible and yelled, “Praise the Lord.”

Apparently he was mocking Christianity. It seems an evil spirit had taken control of him—similar to the way King Saul was overtaken. This incident reminds me of the fortuneteller of Acts 16:17 who announced that Paul was a servant of the Most High God. Paul finally forced the evil spirit to come out of her in the name of Jesus.

We don’t know what led to the tragic undoing of the man who killed his wife, or whose Bible he waved. But the fact that the Bible he carried was worn, and that he yelled, “Praise the Lord,” might cause us to suspect he had firsthand knowledge of the Word of God. If the Bible belonged to his wife, he likely had firsthand knowledge of Jesus Christ by seeing Christ in his wife.

Whatever the situation, this murderer, like King Saul, could be an example of the type of cold hardheartedness that would develop in Mormons if they were always meditating on the Word of God and claiming to be Christians but never applying it to their lives. Their bad fruit would be more prominent than that of an average naive unbeliever.

Latter-day Saint leaders quote the Bible frequently during church services, in Sunday school, and in their books. And we know the Word of God always changes people. If people apply the gospel to their lives, they change for the better; if they don’t apply it, they change for the worse. Mormons are either finding the real Jesus and growing in him, or sinking to the place of excessively bad character.

The Amplified Bible brings this principle out (you know—the version Joyce Meyer uses!):

John 9:39-41 AMP
Then Jesus said, I came into this world for judgment [as a Separator, in order that there may be separation between those who believe on Me and those who reject Me], to make the sightless see and to make those who see become blind.

Some Pharisees who were near, hearing this remark, said to Him, Are we also blind?

Jesus said to them, If you were blind, you would have no sin; but because you now claim to have sight, your sin remains. [If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but because you insist, We do see clearly, you are unable to escape your guilt.]

The point is that if the Mormon Church is totally unchristian, the immoral conduct we would see among Mormons would be more defining and revealing than the immoral conduct we see among ordinary, ignorant unbelievers. Therefore,

the reliability of inspection of the fruit of Mormonism is greater than the reliability of observing a group of agnostics or atheists who are not pretending to know Christ at all.

The real fakes

Adolf Hitler said he believed in God, (viii) but the deplorable fruit of mass genocide didn’t speak well on his behalf!

The Reverend Jim Jones was officially ordained as a minister of a Christian denomination, and beginning in 1959 his church was called the People's Temple Christian Church Full Gospel. (ix) But again, fruit inspection yields definitive results: Jesus doesn’t tell his reverends to kill members of the U.S. Congress or end the lives of those under their care with cyanide-laced drink! According to insiders, Jim Jones seduced other men’s wives and instigated twelve hour work days. If the over nine hundred people he murdered or who committed suicide under his command had been fruit examiners they might not have been deceived.

Jesus’ test proves reliable.

Although Islam denies Jesus was the Son of God, they do believe he was born of a virgin. They also claim to believe Jesus was a prophet and they call him “Messiah” because Messiah means “anointed” and they believe Jesus was anointed to do what they believe he did. But flying into New York’s Trade Towers on September 11, 2001, was not what Jesus would do. Disowning or stoning members of one’s own family because they convert to Christianity is, sadly, not a product of true spirituality.

Jesus said the Pharisees were “like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men's bones and everything unclean” (Matt. 23:27). Despite their outward beauty, fruit inspection was a reliable guide for evaluating them. Jesus said to them:

Matthew 23:23
You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill, and cummin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness.

We can distinguish the Pharisees’ outward beauty from the fruit of the Spirit. Their “beauty” included wearing boxes containing Scripture verses on their foreheads and arms, and adding long tassels on their robes (Matt. 23:5). Their “beauty” was sitting at the place of honor at banquets (Matt. 23:6) and traveling around to win converts—for hell (Matt. 23:15).

A majority of non-Mormon Christians feel the Mormon Church is a facade—religious people with many rules and regulations but without any saving faith in Jesus. They think Mormons are pretenders. If that's so, why doesn’t their reputation match the other pretenders, such as Adolf Hitler, Jim Jones, radical Muslims, or the Pharisees who condemned Jesus? Such questions caused in me a suspicion of the prevailing view of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I realized that something didn’t add up.

God’s Word says the law apart from faith increases sin. “For when we were controlled by the sinful nature, the sinful passions aroused by the law were at work in our bodies, so that we bore fruit for death” (Rom. 7:5, emphasis mine). First Corinthians 15:56 says, “The power of sin is the law.” If so, one must ask, ”Why isn’t adherence to Mormonism increasing sin in Mormons?”

The Holy Spirit’s help

The Holy Spirit is a great help in discerning who is authentic and who is not. World-renowned Bible scholar, F.F. Bruce, wrote, “It is love that fosters the growth of true knowledge and discernment.”x Where the love of God is not present, there is darkness and blindness.

I believe most Christians have underestimated the power of darkness to deceive even themselves. The nature of deception is such that when we are deceived we don’t know we are deceived. We can see some blemishes in our character but we can’t see that we are deceived in some areas.

I had a fair amount of contact with Mormon missionaries before God opened my eyes. Because I had decided that Mormonism was completely void of Christianity, Satan was able to put a veil over my eyes so that I couldn't see Jesus in them.

While driving across a southern state, I happened to tune into a radio talk show hosted by Bob Larson. A horrible situation was being exposed. A mother and her daughter were on the phone. The mother was in the occult and planned to sacrifice the daughter on Halloween. The daughter had apparently reluctantly agreed to yield to that despicable Satanic ritual. The mother's perception of love was perverted to the point that she claimed her plans were inspired by love for her daughter!

That story was an acute reminder that without the Holy Spirit’s help, we can hold a distorted image of what the fruit of love is. In fact all of us fall way short of a complete revelation of the awesomeness of God's love. Consequently, our concept of good and bad fruit is incomplete. Acts of self-interest can be mistaken for love.

At one time I regularly attended a Bible study at a “Partial Gospel” church—as opposed to “Full Gospel.” It was a traditional, non-charismatic fellowship. Thank God for “Partial Gospel” Christians, but these believers seemed to have little awareness of the presence of the Spirit. They constantly interrupted each other—you hardly had a chance to say anything unless you barged in. When they did speak, it usually wasn’t from the Spirit, but just their opinion.

One young man seemed to have much more wisdom and spirituality than the others. He didn’t say much, but when he did it was profound and authoritative. His words should have made everyone pause to ponder, or ask for elaboration. “Counsel in the heart of man is like water in a deep well, but a man of understanding will draw it out” (Prov. 20:5 AMP). But instead, the busy commotion would quickly resume and his valuable insight was lost to the wind.

To see Christianity in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we need to become discerning, able to distinguish wisdom from whims. And discernment doesn’t arrive in full bloom the moment we’re born again.

Hebrews 5:14 [emphasis added]
Solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.

What is good fruit?

Galatians 5:22-23
The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

James 3:17
Wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy . . . impartial and sincere.

Good fruit also includes

  • humility (Col. 3:12)
  • quickness to forgive (Col. 3:13)
  • compassion, sympathy (1 Pet. 3:8)
  • thankfulness toward God and people (Col. 3:15)
  • positive thinking (Phil. 4:8)
  • fairness (Col. 4:1)
  • honesty (Prov. 12:17)
  • keeping your word (Ps. 15:1-4)
  • generosity (Ps. 37:21; Jas. 1:27)
  • hospitality—especially toward believers in need (Rom. 12:13).

What is bad fruit?

Galatians 5:19-21 NEW CENTURY VERSION
The wrong things the sinful self does are clear: being sexually unfaithful, not being pure, taking part in sexual sins, worshiping gods, doing witchcraft, hating, making trouble, being jealous, being angry, being selfish, making people angry with each other, causing divisions among people, feeling envy, being drunk, having wild and wasteful parties, and doing other things like these.

Bad fruit also includes

  • murder, adultery, theft (Matt. 15:19)
  • homosexuality (Rom. 1:27)
  • lust (1 Pet. 4:3)
  • laziness (2 Thess. 3:11-12)
  • greed, deceit, arrogance, meanness, indecency, insults (Mark 7:22)
  • lies (Col. 3:9)
  • prejudice (Luke 10:25-37)
  • bragging (1 Cor. 13:4)
  • complaining (Jude 16)
  • bitterness (Eph. 4:31)
  • fighting, disorder (2 Cor. 12:20)
  • revenge (1 Thess. 5:15)
  • malice (Col. 3:8)
  • worry (Matt. 6:25-34)
  • depression (Rom. 3:16)
  • love of money (1 Tim. 6:10).

Which set of attitudes best describe Mormons in general, and especially those who are most committed to their faith?

Faces

Proverbs 15:13 LIVING BIBLE
A happy face means a glad heart; a sad face means a breaking heart.

When Mormon Christians talk about their relationship with Jesus, their faces reveal their sincerity.

Happiness, depression, purity—they all show up on our faces. Sometimes I look in the mirror to see whether my thoughts are on the upswing or the downswing. Sometimes I’m surprised by what I see!

Ears

Understanding

Not only do true Christians listen to the Word of God, but the Spirit of God is progressively giving them revelation of the Word of God:

1 Corinthians 2:14, 16
The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. . . . But we have the mind of Christ.

Therefore, we can ask, “Do Mormons comprehend spiritual principles that cannot be comprehended without Jesus in the heart?”

Talk

Although saying “Lord, Lord” is not enough, we know that people who love Jesus like to talk about him. Parents like to talk about their children because they love them. Perhaps when you first fell in love, your mate was your favorite topic. “For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks” (Matt. 12:34).

We use this method of fruit inspection all the time without realizing it. At the grocery store you may talk to someone in line at the cash register when the subject of God pops up. When you get home you tell your husband you met a Christian. Why did you think that? The person talked excitedly about something Jesus did for her. You saw fruit.

Unbelievers don’t usually talk excitedly about something Jesus did for them!

One exception was a beggar on the streets of New York City who pretended to be a follower of Jesus in his attempt to coerce money from me. When he realized I was a Christian, he kept mixing “Praise the Lord” into his speech. The peddler probably would have deceived me if the man behind him had not quietly shaken his head.

But, you see, that’s not the norm, and if I had tested him by asking him about his relationship with God it would not have taken me long to detect something askew.

Keep in mind, I’m not advocating judgmentalism—that was dealt with in another article. We’re scanning an entire institution of people for a general sense of their pure spirituality or lack of it.

Love is in the air

Jesus said, “For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them” (Matt. 18:20). Even in the midst of one Christian alone the atmosphere is infused by the fragrance of God. “Thanks be to God, who . . . through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him” (2 Cor. 2:14).

When you’re in a room of people who are gossiping, complaining, and speaking unbelief, you can soon sense the empty, hopeless spirit of the world trying to infest your own spirit.

Love and hate are in the air. When visiting a Mormon church, let your spirit discern the atmosphere. Ask yourself, "Do I feel the peace of God? Is my faith strengthened? Am I drawn toward God or away from him?”

Of course, if you only focus on what’s wrong, your discernment will short-circuit.

*************

MORMON FRUIT

A field trip

The best way to see if the fruit of the Spirit of our Lord Jesus Christ can be found among Mormons is to be brave and take a field trip to the nearest Mormon chapel (called a “ward” or “branch”) on Sunday morning. It was while visiting the Joseph Smith Memorial in South Royalton, Vermont, in 1987 that God divulged to me that Jesus lives in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

During your trip, ask the Lord for discernment. Ask him to help you pinpoint the essential doctrines of the Christian faith while you weed out the error for your own protection.

Incidentally, I’m not recommending that you join the Mormon organization. My wife and I are merely trying to bridge the gap between us and them for the sake of unity in Christ’s body.

Children are included during the primary worship service (called a “sacrament meeting” after the sacrament of communion). This allows you to keep your children close by.

Typically the meetings have two or three assigned speakers and last about seventy minutes. Once a month at the LDS chapel near us, attenders are encouraged to come to the front to share what God is doing in their lives. Tears are a common manifestation of the Spirit during these times!

After the sacrament meeting, we always attend a class, partly because we find the classes more uplifting than the primary meeting—yes, uplifting!—roughly eighty percent of their teaching is consistent with evangelicalism.

Mormon elders

The quickest way to get in touch with the heart of Mormonism is to become acquainted with the most committed Mormons, such as missionaries (called “elders” although they’re usually young). They reflect most fully the effect Mormon teaching has on people.

Missionaries are official representatives of Salt Lake City headquarters, and are usually the only full-time ministers available. (The bishop, who is the leader of the congregation, is not a full-time minister.) The missionaries will try to convert you of course, but for a limited time they’re also happy just to answer your questions.

When welcoming missionaries into our home for a series of meetings, we almost always find them courteous, respectful, patient, and very good listeners. No doubt that is partly due to their training, but genuineness is also apparent.

Various witnesses

Some people would have you believe Mormons are cunning and deceitful. This has not been our experience at all. We find them quite straightforward about their beliefs.

A Mormon friend of mine has a respectably high level of maturity in the Lord, making him a shining example that someone can believe everything the Mormon Church teaches and at the same time have a quality relationship with the real Jesus.

One man recognized the truth about Mormons when he saw their children. Before visiting Salt Lake City in 1875, he had accepted the false gossip circulated in the East about them. As he rode through town he saw long lines of waving and cheering children and asked to whom they belonged. When he was told they were Mormons he replied, “I have been deceived.” (xi) This man was Ulysses S. Grant, then president of the United States of America.

Time magazine stated that although “many Americans remain suspicious of them . . . Mormons are known for family centeredness, hard work and clean living.” (xii)

Even those who consider Mormons far from the truth, have spoken of their good character. For example, Pat Robertson wrote, “Mormons are some of the most exemplary human beings, especially in regard to their behavior patterns. . . . The Mormon church is a prosperous, growing organization that has produced many people of exemplary character” (xiii)

Roman Catholic Bishop William Weigand stated, “As the former bishop of the Diocese of Salt Lake City, I can attest to the fact that followers of the Mormon faith are a good and generous people with a long history of commitment to family and giving to community causes.” (xiv)

Should we give the devil credit for all that? I would much rather give credit to the suffering, death, and resurrection of our Lord Jesus to set us free from the power of sin.

Jesus said we’d know the wolves in sheep’s clothing by their bad fruit, yet Mormons are not generally known for bad fruit. That observation, along with several others, led me in the 1980s to suspect that the popular condemnation of the LDS was shortsighted.

John 13:35
By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.







(i) Melody Green, David Hazard, No Compromise (Eugene, OR: Harvest House, 2000), 226. (ii) Bishop Curtis “Earthquake” Kelley with Diana Stone, Bound to Lose Destined to Win (Cleveland: CopperScroll, 2007), 17, 26-29. (iii) Thomas à Kempis, Of The Imitation of Christ (Springdale, PA: Whitaker, 1981), 3-4. (iv)Andrew Murray, Like Christ (Springdale, PA: Whitaker, 1981), 38-39. (v) Charles Finney, Crystal Christianity (Springdale, PA: Whitaker, 1985), 97. (vi) Charles G. Finney, Crystal Christianity, ed. David L. Young (Springdale, PA: Whitaker, 1985), 34. (vii) John G. Lake: His Life, His Sermons, His Boldness of Faith, rev. 1995 (Fort Worth: Copeland, 1994), back cover, 53. (viii) “I believe in God. . . .” Statement to Ward Price. In Max Domarus (2007). The Essential Hitler: Speeches and Commentary. Wauconda: Bolchazy-Carducci Publishers, 21, cited in “Adolf Hitler's religious views.” Last updated Dec. 8, 2011. Wikiquote: http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Adolf_Hitler%27s_religious_views (Jan. 7, 2012). (ix) Jan Groenveld, “The People’s Temple,” http://www.caic.org.au/biblebase/apocolyptic/jones.htm (January 4, 2012). Also, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peoples_Temple. (x) F.F. Bruce, New International Biblical Commentary: Philippians, NT ed. W. Ward Gasque (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1989), 36. (xi) B. H. Roberts, A Comprehensive History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Century One, (Salt Lake City: Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1930), cited in Gordon B. Hinckley, Truth Restored (Corporation of the President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1979), 127. (xii) Mike Allen, “Can a Mormon be President?” Time, Dec. 4, 2006, cited on pewforum.org. (xiii) Answers To 200 Of Life’s Most Probing Questions (Nashville, Camden, New York: Thomas Nelson, 1984), 136-37. (xiv) Bishop William Weigand, “Catholic Bishop Decries Religious Bigotry Against Mormons,” Nov. 7, 2008. Newsroom: http://www.mormonnewsroom.org/article/catholic-bishop-decries-religious-bigotry-against-mormons (Feb. 4, 2012).

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