This past weekend I saw the newest batch of Mormon missionaries walking along the street. I immediately pulled over and was willing to risk being late to get home so that I could talk to them.
I began the conversation with my ritual question: Do you think you serve the greatest god? If I could show you a god who is greater, would you convert?
To their credit, they didn't want to take the bait. One of them tried to dodge by saying that he believed only in the god who burned truth in him. The gist of the conversation went like this:
Mormon: I only know truth if it is confirmed by the Holy Spirit.
Me: Has the Holy Spirit subjectively confirmed that 2+2=4?
Mormon: Not that I know of.
Me: So 2+2 does not equal 4?
I thank him for being epistemologically consistent. That only allowed me to show how foolish his worldview really is. Truth becomes quite slippery if it is subjectively confirmed in extra ordinary ways (i.e. burning in the bosom).*
Eventually we did get to my original question. I then posed the challenge, "Where is your god?" I always like hearing their responses on this one. Since their god has a body, they ultimately don't know where he is. They may say, "In heaven," but they really are just guessing.
Herein lies their dilemma: What comfort is a god who is not guaranteed to be near? Like Baal on Mt. Carmel, the god who isn't there doesn't answer prayer or aid you in your time of need.
In contrast to this, to use the words of Francis Schaeffer, we serve the God "who is there." He is a Spirit (John 4:4) and omnipresent. Therefore he is never able to "leave us nor forsake us."
[By the way, if they happen to give you grief about their "holy Spirit" being omni-present, just say, "I'm talking about the god you worship. You don't worship the "holy Spirit," do you? That's idolatry because the holy spirit in Mormon theology is a different god than Heavenly Father."]
*We believe that the knowledge comes only through the Holy Spirit too. However, we do not need extra-ordinary displays of the Spirit's presence to confirm it (i.e. burning in the bosom). God reveals all truth, for all truth is God's. Though the Spirit reveals it to us, it is always objective because it comes through the simple means of creation and/or His word. So, ultimately, truth is not left to the whims of our personal, inward experience.
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Matt is blessed to be a husband, father, and pastor in Ashland, Ohio.