(Non-Mormon) Christians converting to Mormonism

Two-part question.

(Non-Mormon) Christians: Can you see yourself ever converting to Mormonism? Specifically, do you think you could ever accept the “mythology” (for lack of a better word) of the book of Mormon, especially the bits about Native Americans being a former tribe of Israel? If not, would that be a sticking point, or could you comfortably join a Mormon church while not believing in their mythology?

Mormons: Does the church teach a specific strategy for converting Christians? If so, how does that strategy cover teaching people the alternate Mormon history?

I couldn’t, even when a practicing Christian. The Mormon set of historical beliefs is simply too far from what I’ve learned to be even close to believable.
I did hear about a guy who joined the Mormons because he admired their lifestyle, especially the family-friendly part of it. But I couldn’t see myself joining a faith I really didn’t believe in.

I am an exmormon. It may come as a surprise for you to learn that mormons already consider themselves Christians. Therefore, when they are teaching the gospel to potential converts, the emphasis is on Jesus Christ. There is no “alternate” mormon history; mormons consider the Joseph Smith/Jesus in the Americas story to be supplemental to the bible, not a replacement story. Mormons will teach their ideas about Christianity and then will add the bits about JS & Jesus in the Americas.

So I would say your basic premise starts off with a bit of being uninformed.

The Mormon history is alternate compared to real history (my opinion). So yes, it’s alternate, at least to what most non-Mormons currently believe about Native Americans. It may be supplemental to the bible (and therefore not contradictory), but at some point I imagine a Mormon is going to have to say something along the lines of “By the way, everything you think you know about how the Native Americans got here is wrong. Here’s the real story.”

And I’m fully aware that Mormons consider themselves Christians, hence my parenthetical caveat. I’m also aware that many Christians disagree with that categorization. I’m trying not to pick sides.

Thanks for the response though. It definitely helps answer the first part of my question. I’m still curious about the “adding bits about JS & Jesus in the Americas.” Is there guidance on the best way for Mormons to do that? Do they expect a pushback on those ideas?

No, I cannot see myself accepting that God the Father was an exalted man who achieved Godhood thru obedient faith in his Father God. The Israelite descent of Native Americans & Jesus’ visitation to them is the least of my difficulties with LDS teaching. The 180 degree re-defining of Deity is my major difficulty.

Mormon missionaries are trained in a facility called the Missionary Training Center, affectionately referred to as “The MTC.” Basically, (I was not a missionary and did not go through the MTC) missionaries are trained to address how that information is conveyed and how to address any pushback or concerns that might arise. Essentially, the Book of Mormon is the story about how the Hebrews allegedly made boats, came to the Americas and waited for Jesus to visit and enlighten them. (really long story short) All the missionaries really do is encourage potential converts to read the Book of Mormon and then pray to find out if it is true. If the potential convert receives spiritual confirmation that this book is true, then the baptism is scheduled. First, the missionaries have to teach about divine revelation and how each and every person can tap into that spiritual knowledge.

I don’t really remember being presented with straightforward “So the Hebrews came to the Americas and became the Lamanites…” kind of story. It was more "Here’s what else Jesus did and if you don’t believe us, just pray to god until you feel like it’s true. If you do not “feel the spirit” then you either didn’t pray with sincere intent or your heart has hardened and closed off to the feelings of the spirit. Something is wrong with you if you don’t see it our way.

Wow, thanks for that Dogzilla! Very enlightening post.

You’re welcome. Be prepared for active believing mormons to come to this thread and point out everything I got “wrong.”

::shrug ::

Guess I wasn’t sincere enough in my prayers. :wink:

I am in agreement with FriarTed here. Even if I accepted the Book of Mormon as a parable, like Jonah, the notions about God as exalted man and so on don’t make sense to me.

I am actually reading thru the Book of Mormon as part of a resolution to familiarize myself with the sacred writings of other faiths. I have read the Bible all the way thru, several times. I then read the Tao-de-Ching, the Tripitaka, a translation of the Koran that the Saudi embassy was kind enough to send me, and am now plowing my way thru the Book of Mormon. Rather heavy going, but I have not seen any reference to the origins of God. I believe that comes from one or other of their official books. Not sure if I will try to get thru that.


So, if I’m understanding this correctly, the Hebrews made boats and came to the Americas, which up until then had no human inhabitants. Is that correct?

Then Jesus came to enlighten them. So what went wrong? When the Europeans got here, they didn’t find a bunch of Christians. There must be something in Mormon doctrine that attempts to explain this.


eta: Ah, I learned something else from that wiki page. Apparently the existence of Hebrews in North America doesn’t preclude the Asiatic migration, and the LDS church doesn’t deny the accepted scientific explanation for (most) Native Americans. Interesting. I did not know that.

Based on responses to previous threads on this subject, I am moving this thread from IMHO to Great Debates.

There was a recent editorial change in the Book of Mormon in 2006. The text has changed to imply that lack of denial for the accepted scientific explanation.

From here, the Church-sponsored news organization.

This changed has caused much debate among exmormon and apologist groups, as you can imagine.

ETA: Note, I do not think that missionaries bring this sort of thing up with investigators to the church. I would be interested to see how they respond to the well-informed investigator who uses their Google Fu to ferret out more facts than are being presented in the missionary discussions.

It’s not in the Book of Mormon. As far as I know, it’s not in the Doctrine and Covenants, and it is only hinted at in the Pearl of Great Price.

The doctrine came from a famous sermon by Joseph Smith, which includes “God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man, and sits enthroned in yonder heavens!” and “You have got to learn to become Gods yourselves, the same as all Gods before you have done.” It was further preached and elaborated by LDS “Prophets, Seers, and Revelators” for a while, although there have been times when the LDS church has tried to pretend the doctrine wasn’t ever taught.

When I was LDS, I certainly believed that God was literally our father, and thus it was only natural that we would become like him. I was taught to interpret various verses in the Bible and other LDS scripture so as to support this viewpoint. But when questioned about it in Time Magazine and elsewhere, the late President Gordon B Hinkley repeatedly denied knowing whether it was true or whether it was being taught.

Funny that a “Prophet, Seer, and Revelator” can pretend to be unaware of what is being taught in his church, and can claim ignorance about whether his predecessors properly understood the nature of God.

Good to see you, Rhodes.

Thanks for the info. I was more or less aware that later prophets can add to, or reinterpret, doctrine as they feel led to do. That for me runs into many of the same issues as papal infallibility.

I am trying to read the BoM with as few preconceptions as I can manage.


Always a pleasure, Dogzilla.

I was a missionary, and I fully endorse Dogzilla’s description. Back in the 1990’s, the missionaries taught from 6 memorized “discussions.” This helped to keep the conversations on topic and hit all the points that the Bretheren felt were most relevant to a potential convert. More recently, they have ditched the memorized discussions so that missionaries can rely more on “the Spirit” to teach. I assume there are still a few topics that had to be taught before baptism.

We basically taught people to read the Book of Mormon, pray, interpret their feelings as a sign from God, repent, and get baptised. If someone had difficult questions, we’d figure they had been deceived by “anti-Mormon literature” and move on to the next potential convert, or we would encourage them to keep praying until it all made sense.

There was no specific strategy for teaching Christians, at least not in regions where everyone was familiar with Christianity.

Dogzilla did a great job describing what LDS missionaries do. A few years ago, the LDS church issued a new handbook of sorts for missionaries. It’s called Preach My Gospel and is available for free download at that link in a number of languages.

Regarding the bit about the editorial change: That was in the foreward to the Book of Mormon. In other words, it wasn’t a change in the scripture itself.

I actually found that reading the original 1830 edition of the Book of Mormon was easier than reading the updated version – it is laid out more like a traditional book, without the versification. And the language seems much more 1820’s-ish to me – more authentic, if you will, like something written or translated by a person living back then.

No, because I like beer too much.