What of the
Defending the Truth
For members of the Church, missionaries, and investigators
As members of the Church, missionaries and investigators we may have experiences with people, especially those who consider themselves Evangelical Christians, who will try to convert them to another Church or religion. When these people attack the Church or distort its teachings, here are some things we should remember and some things members can do and say.
1) What we must remember:
a) Christ said, "He that hath the spirit of contention is not of me, but is of the devil....” III Nephi 11:29. This warning is directed to us, members of the Church, as well as to others who are not members. We cannot have the Spirit with us if we have the spirit of contention.
b) Joseph Smith’s admonition: “Go in all meekness, in sobriety, and preach Jesus Christ and Him crucified, not to contend with others on account of their faith, or system of religion, but pursue a steady course. This I delivered by way of commandment, and all who observe it not will pull down persecution upon their heads, while those who do shall always be filled with the Holy Ghost; this I pronounced as a prophecy.”
c) No one can speak what is false (even well meaning members of the Church) by the power of the Holy Ghost.
d) God loves even those who attack his church and his people.
e) Christ admonished us to, “...love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them who despitefully use you and persecute you.” III Nephi 12:44.
f) “A soft answer turneth away wrath.” Proverbs 15:1
g) Don’t hesitate to apologize if you have acted improperly, or even if you haven’t, you can honestly say, “I am sorry you feel upset.”
h) Don’t hesitate to acknowledge your own ignorance.
i) It is right to be gentle and kind, but also very firm in defending truth.
2) In any meeting with such people, insist on setting some Ground Rules
a) Insist any meeting begin and end with prayer. If it can begin with a hymn, that is even better. Suggest both sides pray. Here is what might be included in a prayer by a member of the Church.
i) Our Father in Heaven. We love thee. We love thy Son, Jesus Christ.
ii) We are seekers of truth. We know we need thy guidance to find truth. Wilt thou kindly bless us to be worthy of the influence of thy Spirit as we talk with each other.
iii) May we respect each other. May we avoid contention which drives away the Spirit. Help us avoid any anger or loud voices. Help us to listen to each other’s hearts as well as voices.
b) Insist on an agreement that if anger or contention comes up from anyone, the meeting will end immediately.
c) Insist that you and only you, as a believing member of the LDS Church, teach the doctrine of the LDS Church and that the other person, and only he or she, explain the beliefs of his or her Church or religion.
d) State something like this, “Let’s agree that neither of us will say anything that we don’t personally know to be true.”
3) Seek Common Ground
a) Bear testimony of Jesus Christ, the Atonement, and the teachings of the Bible.
b) Express gratitude for God’s love, for the Atonement of Jesus Christ, for the scriptures, especially the Bible.
c) Express gratitude for those who preserved the scriptures over the many years.
4) Other Suggestions
a) Say how you admire and appreciate the early apostles including Paul, Peter, James, John and others.
b) Explain how you are trying to follow the two great commandments, loving God and your neighbors.
c) Express gratitude for your family, for good people everywhere, for life itself, for the beautiful world, etc.
d) Invite the other person to express his or her testimony, to tell what he or she knows by the power of the Spirit to be true.
5) If appropriate, here are some other good questions to ask:
a) What is your intention in meeting and talking with me?
b) Are you really interested in knowing the doctrines of the LDS Church?
c) Have you read any of the Book of Mormon?
d) If the answer is, yes, “Have you prayed to know if it is true?”
e) Do you want to know if the Book of Mormon is true?
f) Can you bear testimony that you know by the power of the Spirit that the Book of Mormon is not the word of God?
g) Do you love God with all your heart?
h) Do you know that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the Savior of the world?
i) Do you represent Jesus Christ? And if the answer is, “Yes,” ask, “How shall I know that you are true messengers?”