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Biblical Interfaith Meetings – the 3rd Way using Land, Wood and Mohler

October 28, 2013

From the first Biblical interfaith meeting in 1 Kings 18 when God’s Prophet Elijah met with the prophets of Baal, to the Apostle Paul revealing the true identity of their unknown God to the Greeks in Acts 17:23, and I have recently learned a number of Christian leaders have purportedly found a third methodology to successful interfaith meetings with Mormons.

At the invitation of Mormon leaders a number of Christian leaders have agreed to speak at the Mormon’s most prestigious school, Brigham Young University (BYU). Starting this past September and continued into October 2013, the BYU Universe student news service has headlined, “Interfaith Lecture Series a huge success on BYU campus.” (Source) The series has done so well the plans for more meetings in 2014 have already been announced. Here are some of the Christians leading the charge so far:

-          Dr. Richard Land, President of Southern Evangelical Seminary of Charlotte, NC on September 6th
-          Dr. George O. Wood, General Superintendent of the Assembly of God September 16th
-          Dr. Albert Mohler, President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary on October 23rd 2013.

Mormon students have been filling their auditoriums by the thousands over the past couple months to hear these men speak!

So are these Christian leaders bringing the Gospel of the true Jesus Christ, and reveal the Mormon god is no god at all? According to at least one of the Mormon leaders organizing these meetings the answer is, no. The stated purpose of these interfaith lectures is,

“…not to discuss the differences in doctrine between the LDS church and other religions, but rather is to build on common values and to encourage students to take an active part in defending family, their faith and community. “It’s about what we do have in common and what we can do to strengthen our society and our families,”said BYU Dean of Religious Education, Brent Top.  (Source: BYU Universe)

In light of that stated purpose, should Christian leaders accept the invitations and speak at these interfaith meetings at this Mormon university? Apparently these men did not take issue and seized what they believe to be an opportunity given them by God.

“BYU students arrived at the Wilkinson Center in hoards to hear a lecture by Richard D. Land, President of the Southern Evangelical Seminary Sept. 6 [2013].  … We were pleasantly surprised when so many students arrived to listen to the lecture. About 1,000 BYU students crammed into the Wilkinson Student Center, filling one lecture room and two overflow rooms. … Land was the first of many religious leaders to address BYU students in this series. The new lecture series, “Lectures on Faith, Family, and Society,” is a series focused on bringing people of all different faiths together based on common values: family, faith and community.” September 16, 2013, Interfaith Lecture Series a huge success on BYU campus, (Source: BYU Universe)

Top, introduced Dr. Land,

“…as highly qualified to instruct on these issues. “Dr. Land is truly an example of what each BYU student and faculty member seeks to be — a disciple scholar,” Top said.” September 18, 2013, Baptist minister shares beliefs with a BYU audience (Source: BYU Universe)

Next on September 18th 2013, came Dr. George Wood, Assembly of God General Superintendent,

“A recent push by the Quorum of the Twelve to promote religious freedom has led to much interfaith discussion and many opportunities, including this second lecture of the Faith, Family, and Society series. Before Wood took the stage, Professor Andrew Skinner, of the Department of Ancient Scripture, introduced Wood as a man of incredible faith and devotion. You can feel the Spirit of God with him when you shake his hand,” Skinner said.” September 17, 2013, Assembly of God CEO addresses BYU students. (Source: BYU Universe)

According to the discernment site TruthKeepers.com Dr. Wood received a prolonged standing ovation at the finish,

“I went on then to share my experience of faith, and ended by noting that faith is not subjective but is based on the objective reality of Jesus Christ risen from the dead. The students listened in rapt attention and when I was finished, gave a prolonged ovation. I leave the results to the Lord.” Statement credited to Dr. Wood. (Source: TruthKeepers)

Most recently on October 21, 2013 Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr., President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, presented a lecture called, “A Clear and Present Danger: Religious Liberty, Marriage and Family in the Late Modern Age” Source, October 23, 2013, Southern Baptist shares beliefs with a BYU audience. (BYU Universe)

And the rooms filled again. The Holy Spirit must have been moving for these men to speak at this center of Mormon, Latter Day Saint education right? The Mormons ensured their leadership was represented on stage with each of the lecture speakers so the students would know the lectures had their support,

“Each of the lecture speakers in this series were accompanied by a general [Mormon] authority.” (Source: BYU Universe)

For Mohler’s lecture, on stage with him was, Richard G. Hinckley, an emeritus seventy for Wood, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and for Land I cannot find a statement or records since those arranging these interfaith lectures decided NOT to record them. (Source: TruthWithSnares email with BYU public contact and response)

Perhaps these lecture speakers believe they are walking in the footsteps of once famous preacher D. L. Moody. D.L. Moody said he was preaching against sin in the strongest way to the Mormons when at their Tabernacle in Salt Lake City. Here is what D. L. Moody reportedly said just over 100 years ago,

“I commenced on sin. I believe Mormons are just as much sinners as the rest of us. I bore down as hard as I could on sin; and when I got through, I said:  “You have heard this. Do you want to break with sin? Are you tired and sick of sin?” I said, “Take time to consider; don’t act on the impulse, but just consider. If there is one in this house that wants to break with sin, I am going to ask you to rise and stand while I pray. I put it fair and square, and gave them perhaps five minutes before I brought them to a decision, and do you know, almost the whole crowd rose! Tears rolled down their cheeks.” (Source: D.L. Moody, Sermon 120 Moody’s Latest Sermons)

Even the well-known D.L. Moody while rightly calling Mormons to repentance failed to mention they must renounce their false prophet Joseph Smith and his false gospel. Perhaps these Christian leaders speaking in 2013 are seeing Mormons abandoning a host of unorthodox and blasphemous teachings  and now they are going to their knees in sorrow and tears before the One True God of the Bible. Perhaps they are repenting before our God who in the strongest language condemns them, and other cults like theirs.

Why is pointing out the Mormon god is a false god so important?

The Bible specifically warns of supposed angels from heaven preaching another Gospel. Mormons claim Joseph Smith’s vision of an angel named Moroni brought him God’s word in 1827. But I believe my Bible,

Galatians 1:8 But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.

The Bible says Mormons are ACCURSED, but these speakers must know something none of the rest of us do. Their new third way of interfaith meetings must use some hidden method, they must be witnessing a real change in order to have some of the Mormon’s highest leaders there on stage with them. They must be seeing a genuine turning to the true Jesus Christ of the Bible. The God who is part of the Trinity that the faithful Mormon rejects — right?

Just like in the 1800s with D.L. Moody, and possibly why other preachers have NOT gone to the Mormons that is, until men like Ravi Zacharias started working with BYU back in 1994 (approximately). Bible believing leaders have mostly shunned Mormons and not met on “commonalities.” I believe even D.L. Moody was duped by the Mormons of his day, and we are not seeing these Mormon students leaving BYU and coming to our churches as a result.

I believe we will continue to see more Moroni angel idols raised, not razed upon new Mormon temples.

I believe unless God, author of the Holy Bible is a liar, (not the god of multiple so-called bibles of Mormons/LDS), these Christian leaders may think they speak for God, but they cannot be. They think they are doing God a favor obeying Him by the leading of the Holy Spirit (according to what I read from them) and even making friends of Mormons. (That is not the same thing as being friendly towards or showing Christian hospitality.)  These actions are the opposite of what the Bible teaches us to do with our spiritual enemies. The Bible says in,

James 4:4 “Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.”

 I can hardly believe what I have been reading, these key leaders of a Biblical Christian persuasion making friends of God’s enemies?  That is what I see and what I am reading. Adding to this, Wood in his presentation offered words of consolation to the Mormons,

Wood said, “Like the LDS we were a very marginalized minority, and even persecuted,” Wood said. “We had preachers that were tarred and feathered and driven out of town because we had this experience that others didn’t understand.” (September 17, 2013, Assembly of God CEO addresses BYU students, BYU Universe)

Wood validates to what I read is really revised Mormon history (from the Mormon’s perspective) that I believe is a very tainted history of persecution. Mormon history stands in direct contrast to the history I read pointing to citizens who were reacting to driving the Mormon hoodlums (criminals) out of town – a far cry from religious persecution. (For more here is one source: Are Christians persecuting Mormons?)

During his message,

“Wood spoke of an experience he had two years earlier with Mormon Apostle, [one of their Quorum of Twelve Apostles], Elder Holland, at a conference in Utah.  In response to a question from Wood, Elder Holland expressed that his greatest worry about the young generation was that they would grow coarse to the values and principles taught by Jesus Christ.

“His response immediately bonded my heart to him,” Wood said. “Any Assembly of God preacher could say the same thing. We just absolutely share that in common.” (Source: BYU Universe)

By befriending Mormons, the Latter Day Saints who follow the teachings of their prophet Joseph Smith, I believe Dr. Mohler and other Christian speakers make themselves “…coarse to the values and principles taught by Jesus Christ,” by making friendship through perceived commonalities of marriage and family more important than our differences in scriptures to these enemies of God.

In that key portion wherein Dr. Mohler refers to the Gospel, he said,

“This is what brings me to Brigham Young University today. I am not here because I believe we are going to heaven together. I do not believe that. I believe that salvation comes only to those who believe and trust only in Christ and in his substitutionary atonement for salvation. I believe in justification by faith alone, in Christ alone. I love and respect you as friends, and as friends we would speak only what we believe to be true, especially on matters of eternal significance. We inhabit separate and irreconcilable theological worlds, made clear with respect to the doctrine of the Trinity. And yet here I am, and gladly so. We will speak to one another of what we most sincerely believe to be true, precisely because we love and respect one another.”

I believe Dr. Mohler’s intellectual defense of accepting the invitation to speak at BYU, was an egregious error. While I certainly agree with Dr. Mohler and others about the dangers facing all faiths that hold traditional views of marriage and family, there are many reasons why Bible believing Christians do not follow their examples. Here are Seven of My Top Reasons Not to Speak at Mormon Interfaith Meetings.

Dr. Mohler and the others who are willing to unite on a generic common ground with Mormons, it begs the question, does that indicate they will follow this same path with every other religion/cult out there holding to traditional values?

The foundation of the Gospel was not built by meeting on common ground with any other religious belief system in the world, the opposite is true.

John 15:18-19 “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before [it hated] you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.”

Mormonism is a gospel of man, it is of this world not of Christ, or of the God of the Bible. It is not as Dr. Land said of Mormons prior to this lecture series,

“I do not think Mormonism is an orthodox Christian faith, with a small O. I think perhaps the most charitable way for an evangelical Christian to look at Mormonism is to look at Mormonism as the fourth Abrahamic faith. (Source: Apprising Ministries of Pastor Ken Silva) [Bold emphasis mine]

Mormonism is a cult. Dr. Land does these lost souls no favors by saying it is not. These Christian leaders have in my opinion forgotten key scriptures warning them of this dangerous ground. Remember these?

Galatians 1:10-12 “For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ. But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught [it], but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.”

2 Corinthians 11:4-5 For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or [if] ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with [him]. For I suppose I was not a whit behind the very chiefest apostles.

2 Corinthians 11:12-15 But what I do, that I will do, that I may cut off occasion from them which desire occasion; that wherein they glory, they may be found even as we. For such [are] false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore [it is] no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.”

Dr. Mohler, and other speakers, I believe you validated the Mormon leadership by calling them “friend,” you have stepped into a snare set by those who follow one of the greatest con artists of the 19th century, Joseph Smith the inventor of the Mormonism. While working to defend the family, and morality, you forget the most important thing is to earnestly contend for the faith; the basic tenet of Biblical discernment – you have erred.

Jude 1:3-4 “Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort [you] that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.”

The Mormons were founded by men befitting these scriptures – Joseph Smith and Brigham Young, unless you believe their version of history to be correct?  I am not saying I am perfect and that tomorrow someone may trick me in some manner. However, I know what I am saying to be true, and if you are sticking close to the Word of God alone then you also know what I say is true.

Dr. Land, Dr. Wood and Dr. Mohler – If you are reading this I want you to know I wept for you!

Why such a hard message about Mormons some ask it is because the Bible teaches “accursed” in Galatians 1:6-9 means,

Strongs Exhaustive Concordance, “331 ἀνάθεμα anathema an-ath’-em-ah” is the strongest condemnation a person can have. “… A thing devoted to God without hope of being redeemed… therefore a person or thing doomed to destruction 2a) a curse 2b) a man accursed, devoted to the direst of woes”

These speakers know the Mormons worship a false God, a false Jesus with a false Gospel the Bible specifically calls accursed. They are using misguided notions that some common social issues where cults and other religions agree can be legitimate rallying points for the true and only God. Have they forgotten we live in a day where many lines that separate Christianity as an exclusive faith are being blurred at every turn?  Is there really room to wiggle to say let’s get together on marriage, family and sexuality with Mormons? These Christian leaders got their eyes off the ball and are in real theological trouble. The Bible must be the last word in this matter!

Galatians 1:8 “But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.”

Dr. Mohler’s closing words left open a door that should not be open without repentance being said,

“I come as a Christian, and I come as one who is honored by your kind and gracious invitation. I come in the hope of much further conversations, conversations about urgencies both temporal and eternal.”

At the conclusion of his speech, Mohler spoke frankly about some of the fundamental differences between LDS doctrine and Southern Baptist doctrine. He said they should not get in the way of defending the commonalities between them.

“Mohler said, Mormons and evangelicals “share love for the family, love for marriage, love for the gift of children, love of liberty and love of human society. We do so out of love and respect for each other and out of the gift of a growing and genuine friendship.” “It has been my great privilege to know friendship and share conversation with leaders of the LDS Church, such as Elder Tom Perry, Elder Quentin Cook and Elder Todd Christofferson,” he added. While Mohler’s noteworthy speech once might have been considered rare, today it fits within a larger framework of interfaith outreach.” (Source: Deseret News)

“I’m not here because I believe we’re going to heaven together. I do not believe that, and yet I am here and gladly so,” Mohler said. “Your faith has held high the importance of marriage and family. Your theology requires such an affirmation, and it is lovingly lived out by millions of Mormon families. That is why I and my Evangelical brothers and sisters are so glad to have Mormon neighbors. We stand together for the natural family, for the natural marriage.” http://universe.byu.edu/2013/10/23/southern-baptist-shares-beliefs-with-a-byu-audience/

It is one thing to have a Mormon neighbor it is another thing to join with them as friends as these men are doing. While I completely agree on the dangers our world presents they are nothing new and other leading men of faith have not crossed the chasm that separates the Bible believing Christian from the Mormon cultist.

According to the Deseret News more of these meetings are planned in 2014:

In January [2014], the Deseret News has confirmed, [Ravi] Zacharias will return to Temple Square to speak from the Tabernacle pulpit again. He also will appear at BYU as part of the same lecture series as Land, Wood and Mohler.”

“Mohler will return to BYU on Feb. 25 to deliver a nationally televised, campuswide forum address.”

Another discernment site article looking at Zacharias and his involvement here: The Smoldering Ash Heap of Ravi Zacharias Ministries. (Link here).

Closing thoughts

The article Mormon Church Is Now Christian, by Apprising Ministries in 2007 is just as applicable today with these current leaders,

“Oops, I guess all these distinguished apologists in this “consortium of Christians” missed this bit of information about the LDS church from Dr. Walter Martin, widely regarded as “the father of modern Christian cult apologetics.” It was only in his classic textbook The Kingdom Of The Cults Dr. Martin warned the unwary that:

“it is evident for all to see that Mormonism strives with great effort to masquerade as the Christian church complete with an exclusive message, infallible prophets, and higher revelations for a new dispensation that the Mormons would have us believe began with Joseph Smith, Jr. But it is the verdict of both history and biblical theology that Joseph Smith’s religion is a polytheistic nightmare of garbled doctrines draped with the garment of Christian terminology. This fact, if nothing else, brands it a non-Christian cult system.

Those who would consider Mormonism would be greatly profited by a thoughtful consideration of the facts and evidence previously discussed [in this book], lest they be misled into the spiritual maze that is Mormonism (259, emphasis added)” (Source: Apprising Ministries)

Even if Dr. Mohler or other leaders are really working surreptitiously with the rest of the conversation, especially on the matters of eternal urgency that is not the Biblical way and I can tell you how that will go. We need to speak with the boldness of the Prophet Elijah,

1 Kings 18:21 “And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? if the LORD [be] God, follow him: but if Baal, [then] follow him. And the people answered him not a word.”

Or as Apostle Paul as he boldly presented the Gospel and suffered greatly for it,

Acts 26:26 “For the king knoweth of these things, before whom also I speak freely: for I am persuaded that none of these things are hidden from him; for this thing was not done in a corner.”

And as the Apostle Luke said,

Luke 11:33 “No man, when he hath lighted a candle, putteth [it] in a secret place, neither under a bushel, but on a candlestick, that they which come in may see the light.”

The Gospel should not be hidden. We must declare the clear Gospel of our God and Savior – reminding them of the jealous God we serve that loves us so dearly.

Exodus 20:5 Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God [am] a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth [generation] of them that hate me;

From all appearances these leaders were allowed to speak within some preset confines; and the Mormons made it a point to state they had a “general authority” present. The ground rules were unacceptable because they would not to approve a true Gospel message. It appears to me if these leaders had deviated to share the Gospel in a clear fashion, sharing they are sinners and need to repent of their false beliefs they would have been shown the door and not invited to return in 2014. I was ready to commend Dr. Mohler if he had taken that step of faith and told him so in an email that appears to have fallen on deaf ears?

The only hope for the Mormon is to hear the whole truth that the God we worship, and His only Son Jesus Christ can save us.

Romans 3:24-25 “Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth [to be] a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;”

Ephesians 2:8-9 “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: [it is] the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.”

For more related articles to these interfaith meetings and gatherings on common grounds:

Why The LDS/Mormon Church Will NEVER Be Part Of The Body Of Christ
An answer to the efforts of people like Greg Johnson (Standing Together), Richard Mouw (Fuller Theological Seminary), Craig Hazen (Biola University), Ravi Zacharias (RZIM) and many others who are attempting to forge some kind of “Evangelicals And Mormons Together” alliance out of thin air by Sandy Simpson, 10/26/05

For more on the dangers of Mormonism:

A Chart and More Showing the Differences of Christianity to Mormonism from Stand Up for the Truth

The Problem with Witnessing to Mormons – Stand Up for the Truth

Similarities to things already tried in the past in the name of “common ground”:

Herescope: Manifestos, Declarations and Covenants

Herescope: A Covenant for Civility – A New Order of the Third Way

Other articles on this topic From Truth With Snares:

Southern Baptist Leader Dr. R. Albert Mohler to “Dialogue” with Mormons!?

Charismania Gone Nuts – AOG Together with LDS!

National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) Or “National Association of Neo-Evangelicals”?

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