Christian should relate to Mormons like Christians related to Samaritans

Richard Mouw continues his long term, thankless work of trying to help evangelicals think about Mormons.

Relating to Mormons is not a simple thing.

  1. Christians are not very clear or well informed on Mormon belief.
  2. Mormons are culturally and religiously sometimes indistinguishable from conservative Christians to outsiders.
  3. Mormon accomplishments (mobilization, centralization, morality, visibility) are sometimes envied by evangelicals who are divided by denominations, etc.

I have a couple of Mormons that relate regularly to me and to my church. They know that we are not “their church” but I am in some ways more “their pastor” than they have in the Mormon church. In these two cases there are reasons why they have been excluded from the Mormon community.

As I continue to study the book of Acts, and the Gospel of John one of the things Christians learned to do was relate productively to Samaritans even in the midst of the conflict Samaritans had with the Jews.

Jesus in John 4 both showed a capacity to be clear about his perspective while also being willing to associate and enfold this sinful Samaritan woman in effect turning an entire community into a proto-church.

Mouw’s admonitions at the bottom of the interview are wise.

I have two rules for interfaith dialogue: First, don’t tell people what they believe; ask them and listen carefully to what they say. Second, don’t pit the best things in your perspective against the worst things in their perspective. For me, that has meant acknowledging to Mormons some of our evangelical defects, as well as admitting to some good things in Mormonism. We need to account for the many wonderful people in other religious traditions. Instead of just criticizing religious movements and their founders, we need to understand their teachings and the communities built around them.

About PaulVK

Husband, Father of 5, Pastor
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