A lot of non-members across the country are trying desperately to attack the LDS church. Unfortunately, they are using the worst methods possible to do so, methods which will expose people to the doctrines of the church and may lead to an increase in the number of baptisms into our church.
Let me help my readers see which arguments are going to explode in their face.
- The Bible. If you’re going to attack the LDS church with Bible doctrine, you’re not going to win. The only way you can convince someone that the LDS church is wrong is to pervert basic Bible doctrines so horribly that the Bible comes to mean something it is not. I can’t imagine why anyone would want to belong to a church which threw out every doctrine which could prove the LDS church true. Besides, LDS members don’t like arguing about doctrines in the Bible. They’d rather persuade people by the Spirit, which is the biblical way people are converted. So while you’re busy beating people across the head with the Bible (intellectually speaking, hopefully), we’re going to be quietly inviting people to “Come and see”. Why do you think it is your church isn’t doing so well while ours is continually growing in every corner of the globe?
- The Book of Mormon. Any honest assessment of the Book of Mormon will reveal that not only did Joseph Smith not write it, but nobody else in Western Civilization did either. Simply by examining the text, it is clear that it was written by a race of men who spoke Hebrew and who were intimately familiar with the Law of Moses, exactly as it claims. The doctrines contained within not only do not contradict one word of the Bible, but support it and clarify it such that the Bible becomes much more valuable than it otherwise would be. Reading the book does change lives for the better, universally. If you bring attention to this sacred record, your listeners might be interested in reading it for themselves. Unfortunately, I don’t know many people who have read the book and have not joined the LDS church, so you would be wise to leave it alone altogether.
- Maligning Joseph Smith. Unfortunately, outside of the records created by anti-Mormons of Joseph Smith’s time, Joseph Smith’s legacy is not only flawless, but saintly. I’d be glad to talk about Joseph Smith. I am sure you don’t want to hear what I have to say, but people who are wondering what all the fuss is about do. When they realize who Joseph Smith really was, and why people even today call him a “fraud” or worse, they’ll come to realize what a powerful personality and force for good Joseph Smith was in the 1800’s. Hint: There was a real possibility he would have been elected president, had he not been assassinated. Yes, assassinated, since he was a political leader.
- Maligning any LDS Prophet. You may find faults with one or two prophets, but once again, good luck carrying your attack on the church on the backs of those faults. Our prophets stand second to none in their charitable work and contributions to the world. I’ll gladly stand up any one of our latter-day prophets against any contemporary religious leader. The fact that you can only find fault with them when you compare them to perfection is testimony to their righteousness.
- LDS practices and doctrines, past or present. The two “worst” examples of Mormon doctrine can be seen in polygamy and our policy of blacks and the priesthood. Even then, these are easily defended by scripture and by virtue of those engaging in the practice. You don’t have to look very hard to LDS adherents who were black and forbidden from the priesthood yet who defended the doctrine. If you feel like this is your best attack vector, then at the heart of the attack you will stumble upon the one key element of Mormon doctrine: our reliance on God’s word and revelation. If you want to attack that, you have to overturn religion completely.
- The sacred ceremonies in the temple. I think some people find it easy to mock what we do in the temple or the sacred temple garments we wear under our clothing. However, once again, the curiosity of your listener will eventually drive them to learn more about these sacred doctrines and practices, and will likely lead to their ultimate conversion. I can’t tell you how many people joined the church simply because of our doctrine regarding salvation for the dead. If you want to make that the subject of your attack, you’re actually attacking one of our most powerful doctrines, and unwittingly furthering our missionary work in the process.
- Our code of health. We don’t smoke or chew tobacco, drink alcohol, or drink coffee or tea. Many of us choose not to drink even caffeine. We abstain from drugs, unless there is a medical reason. We knew about these things back in the 1820’s. We knew what the cigarette companies are hiding long before anyone else grew suspicious. We also know about the conspiracies to overthrow the free will of men through alcohol, coffee and tea. In a matter of time, you’ll come to realize what a great waste these things have been to our society, and wonder why nobody else paid attention when the Lord’s chosen prophet condemned these things so long ago.
- Our financial standing. The LDS church is not poor. 10% of our income goes to the church in the form of tithing, in addition to charitable contributions such as fast offering. The LDS church is miserly with its money, because the Lord told us to be. However, we are also building up and establishing the physical things necessary to do the work of God in these days. The fact that the church is financially successful is a testament to the truthfulness of the work. Or would you expect the Lord would create an impoverished church to prepare for his Second Coming, and provide relief for the impending disasters that will prelude his coming? If we really didn’t believe in the church, the financial statements of the church would reflect this.
Now that I’ve outlined how not to attack us, allow me to share with you how you can convince someone to not join the church.
- Attack the weaknesses of individual members of the church. It isn’t hard to find less-than-perfect individuals in the church. Identify their weaknesses, and magnify them. When people see how mortal and imperfect members of the church are, they will not want to be a part of it. That is, unless they have truly adopted the Savior’s edict to forgive others.
- Point out how much work you have to do if you join the church. You can do this with backhanded complements, such as “Mormons devote up to 40 hours a week in service to the church, in addition to their family and community.” Regardless, people are genuinely scared of the amount of work we ask people to do and how much they will actually do. We are not a lazy church, and the lay members don’t do much laying about.
- Deny God and the Power of God. If you cut out spiritual manifestations of the Holy Ghost, then what ground have we got to stand on? Enough said.
- Lie about the church and its members.You can always invent things. You don’t have to be particularly smart to do so. Try to come up with something that isn’t completely outrageous. For instance, accusing Joseph Smith of committing adultery is pretty far-fetched, and most people just ignore the claim outright. However, accusing members of lying about what they claim to be true is pretty straightforward, and makes us look like we are crazy.
I should caution you: The Lord is real, and he is going to weigh your every thought, word, and deed. I believe he will be particularly less generous to those who purposefully step forward to thwart his work. So you had better be dang sure that we don’t represent the Lord or that he really, really doesn’t exist before going on the attack in these ways.
I should also caution you: When people discover your deceit, you will lose all credibility altogether. Quick, can you name anyone famous who published lies and falsehoods about Joseph Smith? Can you even name the president of the United States who refused to give redress for the saints under the persecution via the Extermination Order? Can you name the presidential candidate who was promised by Joseph Smith to become president, if he should simply stand up for the saints, but who instead decided to abandon the church in the hour of need? If you can remember these people, tell me what defining characteristic they possessed which would be considered good?
You’re free to chose your path. If you want to join the ranks of nay-sayers and finger-waggers against the church, then you’re free to do so. Or you can find out for yourself what the church really stands for and what we truly believe by meeting with the missionaries of the church. While you’re free to choose your course of action, you are not free to choose the consequences of those actions.