Utah: Home of the Latter Day Saints (3)
Salt Lake City Missions Journal: Monday, March 12 2007
Today was spent in Temple Square and the surrounding grounds. After less than 6 hours of sleep for the third consecutive night (up till almost 2) we piled into the cars and drove 48 minutes to Salt Lake City proper. Brian, Kasey, and Roderick read the book of Hebrews out loud on the way down; it seemed appropriate. Christ is the ultimate priest, who sat down at the right hand of God because He fulfilled the requirements of the Law through the sacrificial death of Himself. It was encouraging to start a day of evangelism by reminding ourselves of the greatnessof the God we serve.
Ron gave us some walkie-talkies to stay in communication together during the drive. I drive like a native of Los Angeles. Probably scared the pants off some Utah drivers. We got to Temple Square and were given basic instructions on what to do, where to go. Rod and I teamed up went to the Museum of Church History first. We walked around, looking at artifacts from the houses of the first converts. One thing which intrigued me the most was Joseph Smith’s pistol. When he was murdered by a mob, he fired three shots and hit two people who traditionally died shortly thereafter (their death is unconfirmed by records.) We later saw a movie and talked to people who denied that Joseph Smith used the gun at all, but died without defending himself. Rod and I decided to just cruise through the rest of the museum because there wans’t anyone to talk to. I did get to move a small piano to make room for a dance. I’m not sure if that counts as “aiding and abetting” in the eyes of the TMC dance policy. I’ll know if the dean calls me!
It was easy to imagine myself as a government agent on some special mission. I was in Temple Square for one subversive reason, and if the LDS security knew who I was and why I was there, I’d be escorted out in an instant. One of the sisters approached Rod and asked where TMC was (his sweatshirt). That led to a conversation about Christ, the Bible, etc. I wandered around and prayed with all my heart that the woman might be broken by the Spirit. She wasn’t, but the Gospel was proclaimed.
We left, then went to go see a film about Joseph Smith. As we were waiting, we wandered into their geneology center. For the record, I have no LDS ancestors. But I got into a wonderful conversation with Sister Davis, a young, attractive missionary who was very kind, softspoken, and intelligent. I don’t know how the conversation started; she was showing me around ancestors.com. It basically started centered upon human works and love for others. I talked about how we do good works out of our love for God, and all good works stem from that, not from any desire within us. She said, “Hm. I’ve never thought of it like that.” She was very open and very responsive to questions, and asked several of her own. She asked me about those who never hear of the gospel and how could a just God send people to hell. I basically walked with her through Ephesians 1: the love of God, the election of believers, the death of Christ, the joy of the blessings He has given us. I could see in her eyes she was thinking. I did most of the talking, and kindly preached the Gospel. She said that others had talked to her before, and it sounded like she didn’t have a great experience with it. It kills me sometimes to think of the damage I could potentially do by sharing the Gospel in an unloving way. I can only beg that the Lord would give me patience and a firm control over emotion and passion. I was very kind and very patient during the whole conversation. No fire and brimstone.
Rod and I have very different tactics. He is so blunt it makes me cringe sometimes. But I beat around the bush too long and often consequently sell short the truth for the sake of amiability. We really make good team together. Sister Davis didn’t quite like the doctrine of predestination, but I could tell she was thinking. We also talked about Total Depravity, as they believe that infants are sinless. Talked through Romans 5, how only God can cause us to want to do good works. She asked me what I thought of LDS and if I hate them. I said no. I love LDS. I’m concerned for them, because we don’t worship the same Jesus. I took her through Galatians 1:6-9, said the Book of Mormon teaches a different Gospel…no trinity, a Heavenly Father who is not the unique God found in the Bible. She challenged me to read the Book of Mormon with open heart and mind, and I the same with the NT. She assured me she did, but her eyes gave the truth away. She was thinking, found me different. Praise God. I really felt the LORD directing my words. It was a tremendous conversation, and I pray for Sister Davis.
I was amazed at the compassion and kindness I felt toward her. No anger or frustration, just kindness. It was random to have a conversation in the genealogy center, but then again life is not random. There is a sovereign God seated on the throne, and that sovereignty directed me to talk to Sister Davis. She was due off her shift, so our conversation ended. She was replaced by a Sister from Spain. This new sister was hard as nails, and I didn’t get a chance to talk due to her much, but Brian and Kasey were able to witness to her later. As I was talking to Sister Davis, Rod was talking to another sister. Just as I left, security came up and told him to leave, not to proselytize. If a sister pushes the security button, you know they are tired of answering questions. Not sure who pushed the button. Rod thinks it was Sister Davis or the Spanish sister on me. Possibly. Getting kicked out by Mormon security isn’t the worst thing ever.I would never strive for it, but if love dictates me to say something hard, I will do it for the sake of the Gospel.
The Joseph Smith movie was beautifully done, but misleading. Joseph Smith was exalted, and Christ was diminished. I almost broke into tears of grief when Joseph Smith started healing people. The movie stole glory from the Lord, God of Heaven and Earth, and gave it to created beings. There were many LDS were sobbing all around us. It was awkward, and sad to see people so enraptured with a lie. Thank you God for my salvation. For unblinding my eyes.
After lunch we took a tour of their conference center. The center seats 21,000 people and has no supporting pillars in the sanctuary. It was truly amazing to see. Our tour guide was a retired WW2 vet who could have passed for 20 years younger. We questioned him slightly about the LDS belief that we will one day become gods through keeping the ordinances. He didn’t want to talk about it too much, so we respected that. It obviously made him uncomfortable, but not because we were caustic. He bounced back well! He was such a pleasant man who is so wrong and going to hell barring a miracle. Dean, I pray your soul might be saved from the wrath of God. It is hard to see so many nice people who are so wrong and have been deceived. It is hard to make them uncomfortable and cause them pain and risk budding friendships over doctrine, but I am willing to do so for the sake of their souls.
The Temple, what a magnificent and beautiful building.
The angel Moroni adorns the top pillar of the temple.
Joseph Smith. I believe this is inside the Joseph Smith Memorial Building.
Four people in a two seater truck leads only to disaster. (Keenan)
After a long day… (Heather, Jennifer, Mia, Leslie)
Eric, a man for all seasons.