MRM’s Eric Johnson has written a book during the past year of COVID titled Introducing Christianity to Mormons. It will be published by Harvest House Publishers in September 2022. (Yes, it takes a long time to publish a book!)
It has been written because survey evidence shows how 45% of all people who leave Mormonism head to atheism, agnosticism, or nothing at all. Only 10% of those who leave end up in a Bible-believing Evangelical Christian church. These statistics are shameful.
You will hear much more about this book in the coming months.
For now, though, we’d like to introduce the first 700 words of the book that comes from the Introduction.
“Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.” – 2 Timothy 2:15
“I’ve never heard this before,” whispered the elderly gentleman who was wearing bib overalls and sporting a worn-out John Deere baseball cap on his mostly bald head. “It’s all a bit confusing.” [i]
It was a hot summer day in July 1987 in Manti, Utah. I was part of a short-term missions group sharing our faith in this predominantly Mormon state. In fact, more than 9 out of 10 residents in Sanpete County, Utah were “Mormon.”
For two years I had attended post-graduate seminary classes in San Diego, California. Desiring a different type of ministry experience, I decided to spend a summer in Utah. It was, I must say, a baptism by fire. If you take out a map and put your finger on the center of the state of Utah, it should land on this town of fewer than (at that time) 2,300 people. From my experience, most of the residents in this community had never been spoken to a Bible-believing Christian.
After answering my fellow missionary’s knock on their door, this octogenarian and his wife politely invited us inside. Sitting on their 1960s upholstered living room couch, I asked them how long he had lived in Utah. The husband replied, “All my life.” Telling us he was born just fourteen years after the Manti LDS temple was dedicated in 1888, he had followed in his father’s footsteps and became a farmer who never had a reason to travel beyond Salt Lake City located two hours away by car. The couple could get three network TV stations—but only, he said, if their roof’s antenna was positioned exactly right—though he admitted the feed still came in a bit fuzzy. Of course, the Internet would not become available for a few years more.
Knowing that there were no Christian churches in this entire county, let alone in this tiny town, I asked, “Have you ever heard of the TV evangelist Billy Graham?”
“Nope,” he responded with a shrug. As his wife handed each of us frosty glasses of lemonade, I sensed a golden opportunity.
“Could I share with you what the Bible teaches?” I asked.
“Sure,” he replied, “we have plenty of time.”
I gulped, fully realizing that this couple did not have plenty of time. Having had a stuttering problem in elementary school, I spoke in rapid-fire succession—bam, bam, bam. It was a technique I had incorporated during my early years as I tried to overcome a childhood disability. Meanwhile, I was oblivious to the couple’s confused body language. My intentions were right, but my form during the 20-minute conversation was akin to a locomotive careening out of control.
After we left, I realized that the information I hoped to convey had flown over their heads and crash landed in the heap pile of missed connections. This could have been the very first time anyone tried to share the Christian message with this lovely couple. Unfortunately, it would probably be the last time as well.
A few minutes after we left, my companion and I stood under the shade of a tree as we bowed our heads and prayed for this couple. That night, before I went to sleep, I vowed that I would improve my serve so I could better explain the Gospel in future encounters. Over the past three and a half decades, I have learned through thousands of conversations that it is possible to communicate Christianity in a way that most Mormons can understand. This is the reason I have written this book.
[i] The dialogues used throughout this book are based on actual encounters I have had since 1987. While the example from any single chapter could incorporate two or three different discussions, all are authentic. All names have been changed.