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10 Reasons We Cannot Fellowship with the Mormon Church Part 1

Viewpoint on Mormonism / Bill McKeever
The Truth Network Radio
August 8, 2021 9:29 pm

10 Reasons We Cannot Fellowship with the Mormon Church Part 1

Viewpoint on Mormonism / Bill McKeever

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August 8, 2021 9:29 pm

MRM’s Aaron Shafovaloff talks to Bill McKeever about the research he has done on missionary efforts in Utah over the past century and discusses why Christians should still not be open to having fellowship with the LDS Church.

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In their own words, a collection of Mormon quotations compiled by Mormonism Research Ministries Bill McKeever is a valuable resource when wanting to know what Mormon leaders have said on a given topic.

Pick up your copy at the Utah Lighthouse Bookstore or In 1979, Mormonism Research Ministry has been dedicated to equipping the body of Christ with answers regarding the Christian faith in a manner that expresses gentleness and respect. And now, your host for today's Viewpoint on Mormonism.

Should Christians fellowship with members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints? Welcome to this edition of Viewpoint on Mormonism. I'm your host, Bill McKeever, founder and director of Mormonism Research Ministry, and with me today is Aaron Shafawaloff, my colleague at MRM. Aaron, you've been doing a lot of research into the history of missions in the state of Utah. One piece of information that we're going to be talking about this week is a, I guess you could call it a pamphlet, a statement called Ten Reasons Why Christians Cannot Fellowship the Mormon Church. Tell us why you felt it was important to start digging into this history of missions in the state of Utah. So a little story. I'm at seminary right now in Kansas City, and I'm learning how to use a tool called Zotero.

This is just the nerd part of the story. And this tool helps me collect references that I can then import to create bibliographies and then footnotes. So I'm just getting ready to write papers, basically. And I thought, well, I should learn to use this tool by creating a master bibliography of every evangelical source I can find that engages Mormonism that's published. That's notable.

So I'm going down this path and I get to like 130 resources and friends like you are helping me add more resources. And I look at my list and most of it's post 1960. And I think, you know, I've got a few things on my radar prior to this, but I actually don't know much about the history of Christian missionary engagement of Utah and the Mormon people.

I know there's stuff there. I just spent 15 years in Utah doing evangelism, but I just don't know the sketches of famous notable evangelists and church planters, apologists out here. So I start looking at footnotes of stuff written in the 1960s.

And it puts me on a path of learning about some pretty neat people. John L. Smith, John D. Nutting, who was a minister from Cleveland, Ohio, who spent some time in the 1890s pastoring a church here in Salt Lake City. There's actually a historical house still here dedicated to him.

He goes back to Cleveland, Ohio, with his wife and kids. And he has established the Utah Gospel Mission. And so he would take trips out to Utah. It's been a whole year at times in a wagon, three guys to a wagon, doing stranger evangelism, handing out pamphlets, sharing the gospel, up and down Utah, talking to tens of thousands of people.

I start learning more about earlier efforts, even prior to Nutting. And I start learning about the Presbyterian school system, where all these Presbyterians, especially women, single women, were coming out here to be school teachers in these schools that were attached to Presbyterian churches. At the time, sort of the primary mission strategy of Utah for reaching all these polygamous families and their children. And up until 1890, it was very successful. This is an area where Utah is getting statehood.

It's at least formally and publicly dropping polygamy. And they're getting a public school system. They're seen as more Americanized and ready for enculturation into the rest of America. And the whole movement of Christian missions to Utah Mormons shifted.

And that's when we get to what we're going to be talking about. There was a lot of attention in America on Utah with respect to politics. Churches in Utah found it especially appropriate to communicate to the outside world why the Christians in Utah were not fellowshipping religiously with the Mormon Church or with Mormons. You mentioned the subject of politics in B.H. Roberts. Brigham Henry Roberts becomes very prominent in this whole story because he is going to run for Congress as a Democrat. And there were concerns about him running, as there would be concerns later on when another man runs by the name of Reed Smoot.

It was B.H. Roberts' job, you might say, he was commissioned to respond to this statement that was put out by the Christians in Utah, Ten Reasons Why Christians Cannot Fellowship the Mormon Church. I was actually kind of disappointed in some of his rebuttals to the arguments that they were making.

I thought a lot of these statements were very legitimate. But you have to remember when reading this, we're talking about the turn of the century. So a lot of the issues back then would not be issues that we would talk about today, such as Adam-God, for instance, or as you brought up, the plural marriage issue. Wilford Woodruff had signed the manifesto in 1890, promising the federal government that they would no longer engage in plural marriage or solemnize new plural marriages, even though that was not a truthful statement. Wink, wink.

Yeah, right. Though there was a lot of dishonesty going on. There was a lot of suspicion.

And so this is, I guess you could say, a result of that. This is a phenomenal document, Ten Reasons Why We Cannot Fellowship the Mormon Church. It's initially written by the, I think it's called the Presbytery of Utah. And only a year later, the Congregational Association of Utah, those are the Congregationalists, that's another form of Protestants at the time. And at the time, these are, as far as I can tell, theologically conservative, faithful Christians, and also the Baptist Associations of Utah.

This is in 1897 and 1898. They sign on to this Presbyterian document. So there's a multi-denominational unity of the churches in Salt Lake City with a really well-crafted document. Now, with all these groups working together on this, this document is going to be reprinted a number of times, and so this information is being disseminated now in multiple circles, you might say. But one thing that I find fascinating is this Ten Reasons statement was reprinted in the Deseret News in Salt Lake City on July 8, 1921. That's strange.

I need to look. I'm not sure if somebody paid to have it printed, or if there was some sort of interest an editor had in reprinting. I don't know how on earth it ended up in the Deseret News. But B.H. Roberts sees it in the Deseret News, and he ends up delivering a sermon at the Tabernacle in Salt Lake City on July 10, 1921, the contents of which end up being printed in the Deseret News.

But B.H. Roberts expresses some concern. He writes this, one of the reasons impels me to the consideration of these Ten Reasons, and that is since they are published to the world, issued in tract form, and as I understand it, by the associations named as sponsors for them, and reproduced in our own church newspaper. I think that something is due in the way of explanation and defense to the youth of our people, that they should understand how far in these Ten Reasons we are misrepresented, and how far they may state the truth concerning our faith and doctrine.

So he was concerned that this would have some influence, even on the youth of the LDS church. In this statement, I'm going to quote from it. It says, There is, however, a line of demarcation that Christians cannot overlook, that they cannot disregard.

That fidelity to truth and duty requires the presbytery of Utah to emphasize at this time. The question is purely a religious question. It goes to the very root of Christian belief and duty. It concerns all men alike who profess the Christian religion and desire to promote the glory and honor of the name of Christ. I like that that statement is in there because many people misunderstand when we say fellowship.

We're not talking friendship. We're not at all saying we should look at the LDS people as somehow enemies. This is purely a doctrinal position showing how the LDS church, though it claims to be Christian, claims really to be the only true Christian church on the face of the earth, and that's one of the arguments that they're going to respond to.

But I think that's important that people know this. We're not saying you can't be friends with Mormons. You should be friends with Mormons. Why wouldn't you be friends with Mormons? They're great people. They're very nice people. Some of this comes from 1 Corinthians 5 where Paul says, I'm not telling you not to associate with people of the world in general.

You have to go out of the world. What I'm telling you is if somebody is a swindler or an idolater or an adulterer, not to have essentially religious table fellowship with them. The portion of the statement that I just read that says, It is not that Christians entertain ill will towards Mormons as neighbors and citizens, nor are they averse to cooperating with them in the work of moral and social reform and in the promotion of temperance. I've had many people ask me, should we get involved with the Mormon church when it comes to social issues? I've always expressed caution on that. I'm not saying that we shouldn't. I think there are times when it's probably prudent to do something like that. When it says in the work of moral and social reform and in the promotion of temperance, you had mentioned something to me that you thought that statement might be a bit of a jab at BH Roberts personally.

Why do you think that? Well, as far as I understand, he was not for the temperance movement, which is interesting. I don't think the LDS church at this time was necessarily a strict teetotaler.

We should probably explain, because there's a lot of people who don't remember that in our history, that there was a strong movement against the use of alcohol and drunkenness. It was the trifecta of the suffrage movement, the anti-polygamy movement, and the temperance movement was sort of overlapping. The anti-polygamy part of that especially being aimed at the LDS church. The statement that I was reading goes on to say, therefore, the question is before us and before the public, why cannot Christians walk in fellowship with Mormons in religion as they do with each other?

And thus begins the 10 reasons. Do you think that much has changed outside of the fact that yes, this mentions plural marriage, it also mentions Adam-God, which is still pretty fresh in our American history and in the history of the LDS church. But do you think over the course of many years since this statement came out in the late 19th century, that these reasons are still something that we as Christians should take seriously today? Every one of them is still relevant in some fashion, especially when we think about the high standard that Christians and the Bible holds those who claim to be prophets and apostles to. If somebody claims to be a prophet or an apostle, we look to them as someone that the Lord will, if they're true, will protect from speaking egregious, atrocious, heretical things about God and the gospel. The authors of this document hold LDS apostles and prophets to that kind of standard. In a way, they seem to take the statements of the leaders of the LDS church in some cases much more seriously than even they take them. And I think that's really what's frustrating sometimes is the LDS church claims that they have prophets and apostles guiding the church today. These men are led by the Spirit of God. God speaks directly to their prophet. But yet down the road, if you were to ever quote some of these leaders, you'll find very quickly that some Latter-day Saints tend to just roll their eyes and say, well, I don't take that seriously. So in a sense, you might say that we as evangelicals do take our prophets and apostles, the ones mentioned in the Bible and New Testament, much more seriously than many Latter-day Saints. Tomorrow, we're going to take a closer look at the actual 10 reasons why Christians cannot fellowship the Mormon Church. Thank you for listening. If you would like more information regarding Mormonism Research Ministry, we encourage you to visit our website at, where you can request our free newsletter, Mormonism Researched. We hope you will join us again as we look at another viewpoint on Mormonism.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-09-16 22:08:36 / 2023-09-16 22:13:48 / 5

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