Mormonism and Christianity/Why preach to other Christians
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If Latter-day Saints are "really" Christians, why do they insist on preaching to other, non-LDS Christians?
Latter-day Saints preach to all for two reasons:
- The restored gospel offers blessings, knowledge, and ordinances unavailable anywhere else, despite the sincere and valuable efforts of other Christian denominations
- Just because someone is a member of a Christian denomination, does not mean that they have understood Christ's message or established a personal relationship with Him. Members of the Church of Jesus Christ might be able to reach someone who has remained an outward Christian, but as yet unconverted within.
Many Protestant groups have a mutual understanding regarding "sheep-stealing"—they avoid trying to convert members from other denominations.
Because the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will preach to all, and invite everyone to be baptized, this upsets or confuses some Christians. They presume that because we are willing to teach everyone, we must not really be Christian—otherwise, we would conclude that simply being a Christian of any denomination was "good enough."
Elder Dallin H. Oaks answered this objection:
- Elder Russell M. Nelson and I called on the leader of the Orthodox Church in [an Eastern block nation]. Here was a man who had helped keep the light of Christianity burning through the dark decades of Communist repression. I noted in my journal that he was a warm and gracious man who impressed me as a servant of the Lord. I mention this so that you will not think there was any spirit of arrogance or contention in our conversation of nearly an hour. Our visit was pleasant and cordial, filled with the goodwill that should always characterize conversations between men and women who love the Lord and seek to serve Him, each according to his or her own understanding...
- We introduced ourselves and our fundamental beliefs. We explained that we would soon be sending missionaries into his country and told him how they would perform their labors.
- He asked, “Will your missionaries preach only to unbelievers, or will they also try to preach to believers?” We replied that our message was for everyone, believers as well as unbelievers. We gave two reasons for this answer—one a matter of principle and the other a matter of practicality. We told him that we preached to believers as well as unbelievers because our message, the restored gospel, makes an important addition to the knowledge, happiness, and peace of all mankind. As a matter of practicality, we preach to believers as well as unbelievers because we cannot tell the difference. I remember asking this distinguished leader, “When you stand before a congregation and look into the faces of the people, can you tell the difference between those who are real believers and those who are not?” He smiled wryly, and I sensed an admission that he had understood the point.
Best articles to read next
The best article(s) to read next on this topic is/are:
- Roger Keller, "The Apostasy," FAIR 2004 conference. FAIR link
Dr. Keller is a former Presbyterian minister.