Conventional Thinking: The year of the Mormon?
While it was not the first time a Mormon ran for U.S. President (others include Orin Hatch, Jon Huntsman and Joseph Smith himself in 1844), the 2012 election marked the largest number of votes cast (58 of 122 million votes went for Mitt Romney) for a Mormon in history.
Coupled with a visible Mormon-sponsored TV commercial campaign and a popular Broadway play called “Book of Mormon,” the Mormon religion was on the minds of most Americans in 2012. Was this just a flash in the plan, a passing fad, or does it represent something more significant?
If the Mormon’s Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS) had its way, it would be the sign of times to come. In fact, in an aggressive move, the LDS recently changed its policy to allow women to serve on missions at age 19 instead of 21, and men may serve at 18 instead of 19. This has already resulted in an upsurge of enlistees, and LDS officials hope for all the more.
While Southern Baptists have nearly 5,000 missionaries throughout the world, it has been reported that the Mormon church has some 55,000 people in the field at any given time. All of this momentum begs the question, how could a false religion be growing?
It is important to note for the record that, while its adherents claim it is the true religion of Jesus Christ, Mormonism is not compatible or consistent with the historic Christian Faith. In matters of primary doctrine and beliefs, such as the Trinity, the nature of God and salvation by grace, Christians are at an unbridgeable impasse with Mormonism. While we love Mormons, we cannot abide Mormonism nor let it pass itself off as Christian.
That being said, the surge of Mormonism worldwide, and in America in particular, is astounding. Here are a few things to keep in mind.
1) Short-term gains are not uncommon. The dust bin of history is full of religions that came and went, such as Mithraism and Zoroastrianism. What is popular today can quickly become yesterday’s news, especially in a society like ours. That being said, we should not assume that all gains will be short term. Islam, for example, swept across Europe and the Middle East more than 13 centuries ago and is still strong and growing today.
2) Truth wins. In Acts 5, the Jewish leaders wished to silence the apostles, but wise Gamaliel knew better. He said, “Men of Israel, be careful about what you’re going to do to these men. Not long ago, Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody, and a group of about 400 men rallied to him. He was killed, and all his partisans were dispersed and came to nothing. … For if this plan or this work is of men, it will be overthrown; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them.” (V. 35-39a) While it is tempting to think that deceptions can last, we know from the Scriptures that Truth will win out in the long run.
3) Let’s use the moment. If the so-called “Mormon moment” stays or go, we must be prepared as Christians to seize this opportunity to advance the Gospel. For example, when coworkers are talking about Mormonism, we would be served well to know about the religion’s beliefs, history and demographics. Bumper sticker logic no longer will suffice. Questions and conversations today about Mormonism could lead someone you know to Christ tomorrow. Let’s do as the Scriptures say: “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” (2 Pet. 3:15)
In the end, we should be thankful that the world is talking about things of an eternal nature, rather than the latest ball game or newest movie. Who knows, but the “Mormon moment” could be a springboard leading to the True Church’s finest hour.