Many years ago my friend Dave and I took a tour of a Mormon temple right after a $5 million renovation had taken place. It was open to the public for just a short time; I finally had my chance to satisfy my curiosity about what was inside one of these massive structures.
The halls were lined with very friendly Mormons who answered all our questions. Many of them told us that we just might feel a “burning in the bosom” as we walked through their temple. This would be a divine invitation to join the Mormon faith.
I remember some ladies showing me the room where my “future bride” would prepare herself for our special temple wedding. The carpet alone in that room cost $600 a square yard! I also remember the baptismal font. It consisted of a large basin (think pool) in a massive room perched atop twelve life-sized oxen, similar to what was in Solomon’s temple.
As we approached the top floor and entered the Celestial room where the ceilings were etched with 22 karat gold I leaned over to my friend Dave. The only burning in the bosom I was feeling, I told him, was a desire for the celestial bathroom; my bladder was screaming. In any case, I never did feel the “burning in the bosom”. I left the temple that day more convinced than ever that I needed to somehow convert Mormons out of their delusion.
I read up on Mormonism and studied the contradictions in their books: “Doctrine and Covenants”, “The Pearl of Great Price”, and the “Book of Mormon.” I also learned more about Joseph Smith, Jr., the founder of this movement.
Armed with knowledge and arguments I entered into debate on various occasions with Mormons. I also bought Gospel tracts that were written specifically for Mormons and distributed them. I could argue and point out fallacies in their thinking. Not once, however, did I convert a Mormon out of his religion.
A little over a year ago, I met Bodie Hodge, Ken Ham’s son-in-law. Bodie had just delivered a lecture at the Creation Museum in Cincinnati, OH. We discussed the role of apologetics in Christianity and how public debates between Christians and evolutionists have often failed to win over the antagonists. We talked about another approach; one in which argument did not form the basis for debate, but love. Bodie told me how he much rather prefers to take visiting anti-creationists into his office and sit down for a conversation about the issues than to tear them to shreds in front of an audience. In other words, private discussion on the issues versus public humiliation and shrewd debate. Bodie told me of an evolutionist from South Africa who later came to faith; in part he believes, as a result of a closed-door meeting. Bodie had shared one-on-one with him in the context of compassion and concern.
In his book, “How to Win Friends and Influence People”, Dale Carnegie tells us that you can’t win an argument. If you lose it you lose it, and if you win it you still “lose” it. The person who lost feels inferior; he resents your triumph. In fact, you’ve lost any potential impact you may have had on him. In Carnegie’s words: “A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.” Avoid ALL arguments, says Carnegie.
A few days ago at my son’s soccer tournament we made a new friend. Callie had come to faith from a Mormon background and joined her husband’s church. It was the difference she noticed in Christians that compelled her to seek out a different belief system. She confirmed how disparaging arguments against Mormonism are simply a turnoff. For her it’s all about Christians’ love for others that wins out.
So let me ask you: have you ever won an argument? Have you ever pushed them into a corner, forced them to acknowledge that you’re right—but in the process lost a friendship and any impact you might have had in terms of determining their future destiny? You can be so right and yet ever so wrong.