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Introducing Christianity to Mormons

Truth Talk / Stu Epperson
The Truth Network Radio
September 28, 2022 7:00 pm

Introducing Christianity to Mormons

Truth Talk / Stu Epperson

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September 28, 2022 7:00 pm

Stu interviews the author of the book "Introducing Christianity to Mormons " Eric Johnson. Learn about Eric's exciting experience, of bringing the Gospel to the Mormon community.

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Hi, I'm Joanne Vickner, Memaw with It's Storytime Memaw, an answered prayer for stories that point children to God on the Truth Network for kids. Your chosen Truth Network Podcast is starting in just a few seconds.

Enjoy it, share it. But most of all, thank you for listening to the Truth Podcast Network. They have big smiles, they knock on your door, they have a religious zeal, they actually get on bicycles and do what many Christians don't do. They go door-to-door and they offer what they think is the truth.

But is it? What do Mormons believe? What's going on in Salt Lake City at the Temple Mount, at Brigham Young University, at the heart of Mormonism? Well, one man has written a book to reach out to these folks in a loving, gracious way. The book is entitled, Introducing Christianity to Mormons. The author is Eric Johnson, and Eric is on Truth Talk right now. Eric, what a treat to have you with us today on Truth Talk.

Thanks for having me on, Stu, I appreciate it. This is a book that you sent me, and I read, and I thought, what a wonderful tone. Because people get wonky about religion. What is it that the ultimate diplomat said?

Who was it that said it? Don't ever talk about religion and politics, right? And so, you start talking about people's religion, you start, in the case of Mormons, you start making fun of Joseph Smith.

Well, whether it's true or not, what you say, you're going to offend somebody. So as believers, we want to share the gospel. The gospel should be the offense. The preaching of the cross is foolishness to them that are perishing.

So you have put together a book here. What drove you, what encouraged you, led you, stimulated you, to write, Introducing Christianity to Mormons? Well, that's a great question, and I would say that I don't want to be the enemy of the Latter Day Saints.

I want to speak the truth in love, as Paul talks about in Ephesians 4. Look, if somebody tells you that you have something green between your teeth, that's bad news. But there's a way to fix that, and that's the good news.

You can take that out, go to your mirror, and how many of us will walk through an entire day with lettuce in between our teeth? And nobody said anything because they were kind of embarrassed to say something. Well, I think we as Christians have something that is so valuable. We have the gospel according to the Bible, and it's good news because it's salvation by grace through faith, and it's not by works. So I don't want any Latter Day Saint to feel like I'm trying to push anything down their throat or to unnecessarily criticize. Certainly, I don't agree that Mormonism is the same as biblical Christianity and what the Bible teaches. But I want to be able to lay out the case for Christianity in a way that somebody who has an LDS mindset will be able to understand, because we have the same language, Stu, that's our problem. We use the same words. We need to be able to understand what a Latter Day Saint means when he says, God, Jesus, salvation by grace, all things that they agree with, Scripture.

It's completely different. You need to know those things, but you also need to know the Christian gospel to present that to them so that they will best understand. He's an author, he is a radio host, has his own radio program on the wonderful Truth Network station KUTR Mighty 820 across Salt Lake City, across the whole Wasatch Front Provo, 95.3 FM as well.

And we're so honored to have Eric Johnson with us. The book is introducing Christianity to Mormons. The subtitle, A Practical and Comparative Guide to What the Bible Teaches.

Eric, I want to commend you on making something simple, keeping the cookies on the eye level on the shelf there, because a lot of folks, they like to know, and they hear a lot of loaded words. Well, if you talk to a Latter Day Saint, you say, well, do you believe in Jesus? Of course I believe in Jesus. Do you believe the gospel? Of course I believe the gospel. Do you believe heaven?

Do you believe in heaven and hell? So they're going to check off all the major tenets, but the words are different, and the meaning is different, and that's where it gets tricky. And so tell us about how you navigate all of that for folks listening. Maybe folks listening have played Bible ping pong for hours with their Latter Day Saint friends, and they're like, how do I get through to them?

How do I get through this armor? It seems like we're just talking past each other. You're right, Stu.

That is our problem. We use the same terms, but we do have different meanings to them. Now they have their own unique terms as well.

But what I did in this book, every time I used any kind of a unique term that was important, I didn't really spend a lot of time discussing that and defining it in the chapter itself. I take them through the italicized word back to the glossary, where I put together a dictionary that will help you understand what does it mean when we say grace. I mean, the idea of grace in Mormonism is God's enabling and power to keep the commandments. Well, that's completely different than Christianity, which says it's actually what provides forgiveness of sins through faith alone. And so whenever you're in doubt, when you're talking to a Latter Day Saint, my recommendation is to ask, what do you mean when you say salvation by grace alone? And you'll see, when they start talking, you'll understand, well, salvation by grace is certainly believed in Mormonism as well as the atonement, but only for the ability to get to one of three kingdoms of glory that all people get to go to. There really isn't a hell in Mormonism.

It's just these three different degrees. The goal is to make it to the top kingdom, called the celestial kingdom, where godhood or eternal life takes place, where you can be with your family forever. But they don't believe that you are what's called exalted, or get eternal life through faith alone.

It's going to require a lifetime of works. One leader called it, perfection has an achievable goal. He said that God doesn't give commandments that can't be kept, which is true according to their unique scripture. They do believe in the Bible. It is the word of God, as far as it's translated correctly is how Joseph Smith, the founder, put it. Also the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price. So he was using those three unique scriptures to support what I believe Mormonism teaches, that you must keep the commandments of God continually, and unless you do, God says, where I am, you cannot go. That is found in Doctrine and Covenants, section 25, verse 15. Wow, so you start out with chapter 1, the Bible, God's special revelation.

How important is it to lay down quickly the source of authority? Especially when you're talking to Mormons who, they say they do, but they really don't believe the Bible because they can immediately say, well, we don't like that interpretation. Yeah, they do have that in their scripture, and Latter-day Saints certainly will go to the Bible to support unique doctrines. For instance, 1 Corinthians 15, 29, they use that to support the idea that you can be baptized on behalf of dead people in a Latter-day Saint temple.

Yeah, I mean, that is something that is so important to me. I spent the first two of the 10 chapters talking about the Bible, its authority, its infallibility, its inspiration, how archaeology and the history help support the idea that we have an accurate Bible. Fortunately, in Mormonism, Joseph Smith said that the Bible is true as far as it is translated correctly.

What is meant by translation? If you ask a Latter-day Saint, what does that mean? They'll say, well, many corrupt priests came in and fixed things and changed things. Well, when you take a look at the amount of biblical evidence, everything from the Dead Sea Scrolls for the Old Testament, we have the whole scroll of Isaiah. It's the same as the Masoretic Text a thousand years later. And if you look at the New Testament, we have over 5,000 Greek manuscripts. We have complete copies of the New Testament from the 4th century.

That's something amazing. How would a priest have been able to get in and change all 5,000 of those, plus the 24,000 in other languages, plus all the writings of the Church Fathers who used to copy the Bible word by word. So, unfortunately, for many Latter-day Saints, that Article 8 gets in the way. There's the distrust of the Bible. And when they leave Mormonism, they don't want to read the Bible.

They don't want to look to Christianity. And that's unfortunate. Wow. And we want to talk to those folks, too. We want to learn more about Eric Johnson.

We're going to take a quick break. The book is Introducing Christianity to Mormons. The author is Eric Johnson. The subtitle is A Practical and Comparative Guide to What the Bible Teaches.

In these chapters, I mean, you've got some great chapters. The Bible, God's Special Revelation, the New Testament, Trustworthy and Reliable, Chapter 3, The Existence of God, Reasonable Reasons for Belief, The Nature of God, Chapter 4, Attributes Worthy of Worship, Jesus, Savior of His People, Chapter 5, Chapter 6, The Resurrection, The Cornerstone of Christianity, Chapter 7, The Trinity, One God, Three Persons, very, very important, Bedrock Doctrine of the Faith, which is not part of the Latter-day Saint belief system, Justification, Chapter 8, and Sanctification, Chapter 9, Growing in Faith, Chapter 10, and a bunch of appendix, a bunch of Scriptures, and how you can get the book and more about the author. Why would this man go this route? What about his testimony? How did Eric come to know the Lord? Eric, can we ask you that on the other side of the break? Sure.

And for those that can't hang around or maybe want to come back later and listen to the whole broadcast by way of our podcast, our Truth Podcast Network, introducingchristianity.com. That's the website for more on the book. Is that right, Eric?

Did you get the website right there? Yeah. Okay.

Just for the book for folks to go watch a little video and get the whole enchilada. Proverbs 11, 30, The fruit of the righteous is the tree of life, and he that winneth souls is wise. How are you winning souls to Jesus? What about souls that are of a false variation, a false belief that looks close to Christianity but is far, far away?

I'm on today. A special guest is on with us. We're on Truth Talk, and we're talking to Eric Johnson, the author of the book, Introducing Christianity to Mormons. This is a great read. And by the way, this book will help you beef up on your theology. Eric, it's important that we know not just what we believe but why we believe it.

So you're kind of doing a deeper dive with people that buy this book, huh? I think it's important that every Christian knows what he or she believes, that they would own their own faith. I taught in Southern California for close to two decades. I was a Bible department head of a large Christian school in El Cajon, California, and I taught juniors.

I thought it was so important to be able to help them understand how to own their own faith because we were losing so many who would graduate and then go to atheism or agnosticism or nothing at all. And that's what's happening in Mormonism as well. People are leaving the LDS church. They're not running to Christianity. About 10 percent, according to the surveys, say that people become Christians, evangelical Christians, after they leave Mormonism. But 45 percent become atheist, agnostic, or nothing at all.

No hope whatsoever. So that's what I want to do. I want to help the Christian understand the power of our product.

I graduated with a degree in advertising marketing from San Diego State. I'm not trying to minimize the gospel itself, but we have a product that is incredible. The Bible is true, the evidence for that, the idea that there is a God, I think there's great evidence for that as well, and that Jesus is the Savior, but it requires your faith. And so I want to be able to share that with everybody I ever run into.

Yeah, so that's so encouraging. And there's so many Mormons out there that struggle with their faith because they see videos like the Book of Mormon in the Bible. They see videos like the Bible in archaeology, and they're like, you just can't make this stuff up.

Where did this come from? So if you bludgeon and you hit them with all this evidence, and they say, okay, I'm done with Mormonism, well that doesn't solve the deep problem of the soul, Eric. What do we say often when we're teaching folks how to share their faith?

It's not about winning an argument, but about winning a soul. How will this book help people be equipped to better win souls and not just arguments? One of the things that I do, Stu, in each chapter is I include a story, a real-life story.

I change the names if I remembered the names. But encounters I've had with different people, mainly Mormons, and to be able to use those encounters in each chapter to show how the information can be used. I think the information is valuable, not just for Latter-day Saints, I think this is valuable for anybody, for us to be able to have that hard question given to us, who is Jesus praying to in the Garden of Gethsemane? Well, that's one that will stump many Christians, but it's not that hard to explain that Jesus was praying to the Father, but the Father and Jesus are not the same person.

There's three whos and one what, and so I talk about this idea. It is an incomprehensible doctrine. We can't fathom it, but that's the way God is. God is transcendent. He is above our thoughts. We are not going to be able to fully understand who He is. We can't understand Him being eternally in existence, but that's what is taught in the Bible.

We can't understand how three and one, but I think when we get those kinds of hard questions, we need to be able to have answers. That's what 1 Peter 16 says, it says to always have an answer for everyone who asked you to give the reason for the hope that you have, but we're supposed to do it, it says, with gentleness and respect. And I hope when people read this book, I hope they see that I have tried to be as kind as I can while I'm still trying to be straightforward. We call it compassion and boldness.

Yeah, I love it. Tell us a little bit about your work with MRM and with your radio program, because folks may want to go hear your podcast and your broadcast on the radio. Yeah, Mormonism Research Ministry, the website MRM.org has been around since 1979, founded by Bill McKeever, who's still the president of this organization. I work with him.

We both live in Salt Lake City area of Utah. We've been on 820 since 2011. We had a radio show when we were in California back in the early 1990s when they were going to open a temple. So for about three years we did a live show.

This is a taped show, we thought that would be better, and it's 14 minute shows per day. We have over 3,000 in our archive. If people want to go to MRM.org slash podcast, there's an index there that will take them to all of our shows. We try to hit the cutting edge issues, and hopefully people who listen to it will learn a lot about what it's all about, but also what's happening right now.

What are current affairs and what are the leaders saying right now. The website also includes a number of excellent articles. We have different features on there. We have videos as well. So it's a great resource, and anybody who wants to learn more about Mormonism, we invite them to go there. That website is MRM.org, and then the book we're talking about that Eric, who works with that ministry, Eric Johnson, our special guest today, is introducing Christianity to Mormons.

Eric, what's your big passion? Take us up to 5,000 feet. People are obviously going to have to get into this book, and it's going to really help them. It's really helped them develop a heart of compassion and understanding for what Mormons believe, so they can reach them with the good news of Jesus Christ, who is the only solution.

But take us to your endgame. What do you want everyone listening, when they get ahold of this book, what is it you want to be the endgame on that? I would like everybody who reads this book to understand that we are commanded, I was just reading Romans 12 today, and we're commanded to sacrifice in our love for other people. If we have the truth, and we hold it to ourselves, and we don't tell somebody because we're too embarrassed, or, well, Mormons are Christian too, well, when you look at their doctrines and see how every single teaching of this church denies or distorts the fundamental teachings of Christianity, every single one, I mean, yes, they have the same language, but they mean different things, then I think it's due that we need to be able to have the ability to present the biblical gospel in a way that a Latter-day Saint could understand. So if you have Latter-day Saints in your lives, at work, in your neighbors, maybe your family like I do, I have family, you want to be able to communicate in such a way that they can see that you really do care about them. It's not about winning the debate, because that's not going to get anywhere, but at the same time, it is about presenting the truth in a way that is much different than the way the Latter-day Saint understands it. Well, we're so grateful you took some time to hang out with us today, Eric Johnson. The book is Introducing Christianity to Mormons.

The website for that book is simply introducingchristianity.com. Please share this podcast, this broadcast with your friends, your Christian friends, your Mormon friends. Eric, quickly, what do you say to the Mormon listener out there?

I'm sure, I know we have a lot of Latter-day Saint listeners that listen to our Truth Network stations, our many affiliates across the country. What's your appeal to them right now? Your challenge to them in terms of weighing out the truth of what true biblical Christianity is versus Mormonism, what they have followed their whole life? What would you say to them?

Look at all sides of the issue. I have done that in my life. When I was 16 years of age, I saw that Jim Jones in 1978 had a thousand people drink poisoned Kool-Aid, and that just really threw me, because I grew up in the Christian church. So I started looking at all the different religions, reading their scriptures, talking to the adherents. I would challenge Latter-day Saints.

The possibility that you could be wrong is there. You don't know everything. Read the Bible in a way that you've never read before. Read the book of John. Read the book of Romans. Ask yourself as you read those books, is this the same as what my church teaches? And I think an honest person would say, no, the gospel is so different than what Mormonism teaches.

Wow. And the gospel of what Jesus Christ has done for you. It's not about what you have done or can do for you. And I think it's Nephi, or Nephi, that verse that says, in the Book of Mormon, it says, you're saved by grace after all that you can do. That's 2 Nephi 25, 23, which is a lot different than Ephesians 2, 8, and 9. We're saved by grace through faith.

This is not of ourselves. It is the gift of God, not by works lest any man should boast. 2 Nephi 25, 23 says, yes, you're saved by grace. You get one of the three kingdoms of glory. But to get exaltation, you have to do all you can do.

But nobody can do that. And that's, by the way, the master of deception, the evil one, the great schemer in his crafty wiles. 2 Corinthians 10 talks about how he comes as an angel of light. Think about angel, angel of light, what we're talking about here today. And he deceives, so he puts a little bit of grace in there, but then he just throws enough little of the bad stuff, of works.

And it's like, you know, I heard once that rat poison is like less than 1% poison, because they're not going to eat something that doesn't taste good, right? And so that's how the enemy works, and we're, as 2 Corinthians 2 says, we're to be aware of his schemes. And I love how you graciously confront darkness, but shine the light in your book, Introducing Christianity to Mormons. Eric Johnson, you're a blessing, man. Thanks for hanging out with us today on Truth Talk. Thanks for having me on, Stu. The website, again, introducingchristianity.com, and be sure, please download this podcast. We have a whole podcast network, but later on we'll make this available, and you can pass along to all kinds of your friends as a blessing. And then listen to it and have a conversation, have a cup of coffee, have an ice cream or a yogurt or a smoothie shake, and talk about what's really important, who is Jesus, why he came, and how he only can change your life and heal your deepest pain and forgive your sins. God bless you.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-01-01 05:41:55 / 2023-01-01 05:50:51 / 9

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