Mormonism in a Nutshell
Tonight I went out with our full-time missionaries, Elder Prisbey and Elder Miklich, to teach a lesson to a gentleman who has been attending church with us for the past couple of months. As we entered the place where this man lives I recognized one of his roommates as someone I had previously known and, after briefly catching up with one another, she asked in an excited fashion, “So you’re a Mormon too?!” I acknowledged that I was, but had grown up Lutheran until I was a young man. She then asked the most basic of questions anyone could ever ask a Mormon:
“Whats the difference between your church and the Lutheran church?”
It’s a question Latter-day Saints face continually in one form or fashion. “What makes you different?” “Why do you have that book?” “Who was that Joseph Smith guy?” “What makes you different than Christians?”
We’ve heard them all.
Recognizing that this woman was on her way out the door and about to leave before the elders and I sat down to share our message, I gave her what I have deemed my “Mormonism in a Nutshell” sermon. I started by saying,
“Well, that’s a great question! I grew up Lutheran and recognized when I was young that the church that I was a member of was not similar to the church found in the New Testament. Lutherans, after all, are just Catholics without the pope. But I knew that the church I saw in the New Testament was not like my church, or any church that I knew of. That all changed when a couple of guys in white shirts and ties showed up at my door, and the rest you could say, is history.”
Everyone laughed noting the abundance of white shirts and ties in the room. Then I continued with the real meat of my nutshell,
“As Mormons we know that Jesus Christ came to the earth in New Testament times to die for our sins and provide a way through His grace to return back to Heaven. We also know that He established His church when He came. As taught continually throughout the Holy Bible, He called men and gave them authority to act in His name. This authority is called the priesthood. This authority is what gives men the authority to act in the name of God and perform ordinances such as baptism. Remember that even Jesus Christ went to someone who held proper priesthood authority to be baptized.”
Everyone nodded at this point remembering the story of Jesus Christ going to John the Baptist to be baptized. I pressed on,
“When Jesus Christ gave this authority to the apostles in the New Testament He established His church, as Paul taught, on the foundation of apostles and prophets with He Himself being the chief cornerstone. In the New Testament there were not different denominations of Christianity, there was, once again as Paul teaches, one Lord, one faith, and only one manner of baptism. When the apostles and the prophets died the authority to act in God’s name was no longer on the earth. The church of Jesus Christ no longer functioned as taught in the New Testament. This was predicted and it was known that it would happen, but when the men holding the proper priesthood authority died the church died with them. Of course, this doesn’t mean that Christianity died. In fact, we know that Christianity flourished, and that there are countless good Christian people in the world. But we as Mormons make the bold claim that the church of Jesus Christ has been restored, just like it was in the New Testament, and that God has called a prophet today. Since the Lord truly is the same yesterday, today, and forever, He has once again restored that priesthood authority to the earth to act in His name, and that authority is found solely in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”
Everyone in the room nodded, and then I concluded saying,
“It’s a big and bold claim: We are the one truth church. God still speaks and there are prophets today. But that is what we teach. That is the difference between us and other denominations. And that is why we come out and share it with anyone who is willing to listen.”
My mini sermon over, my old acquaintance smiled and said, “Well, I never knew that.” She then took a seat and listened as the missionaries taught the gospel with a beautiful simplicity and humility which I often lack.
Yes, there’s much that could be said about we Latter-day Saints. But, when it comes down to what our main message is, it’s pretty cut and dry.