The conversation was typical. They started by asking me what I believed. Then they proposed their view about Joseph Smith being a modern prophet and that the priesthood has been re-established. Then came the famous question, "Have you prayed about the Book of Mormon?"
It fascinates me to no end that people place religious truth into an entirely different category of knowledge. As I commented last July in a post about that very issue (read here), we place religious truth in a merely experiential arena of knowledge. So when I ask the LDS missionaries about praying whether or not Roman Catholicism being the true church or the Methodists or the Watch Tower or a Hindu church or an Islamic church, and I get a warm fuzzy feeling telling me that one of those churches are the one true church, they simply revert back to praying for the heart burn feeling of confirmation, even though that heart burn feeling might be from having too many enchiladas for lunch.
Any time I appealed to the Bible, they used the old "That is your interpretation verses another interpretation" argument. Now of course, that is an argument that presupposes that the New Testament is unclear. This of course means God can't speak clearly. Now it begs the question. How do we know we are interpreting the Book of Mormon correctly, or Joseph Smith for that matter? Is God really unable to speak as clearly as Joseph Smith?
I decided to bring up the passages of Scripture that challenge this false presupposition. Here are a few of them. Deuteronomy 13:
1 If a prophet, or one who foretells by dreams, appears among you and announces to you a sign or wonder, 2 and if the sign or wonder spoken of takes place, and the prophet says, “Let us follow other gods” (gods you have not known) “and let us worship them,” 3 you must not listen to the words of that prophet or dreamer. The LORD your God is testing you to find out whether you love him with all your heart and with all your soul. 4 It is the LORD your God you must follow, and him you must revere. Keep his commands and obey him; serve him and hold fast to him.
Where in Moses' teaching does Moses place knowledge in the mere esoteric category? Does Moses teach that we should pray about the Book of Mormon? The passage is quite clear. We are to test what prophets teach against the Revelation God has already given through Moses.
Of course, you will say, "How do I know Moses is a true prophet?" The answer is quite simple. The Revelation Moses gave was not in some secret room. Instead, God invaded history with all kinds of signs, not the least of which was the Crossing of the Red Sea. Perhaps if Joseph Smith parted the Missouri or Mississippi River, the LDS missionaries might have something to stand on.
In the New Testament, the Gospel according to Luke starts wit this:
1 Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled[a] among us, 2 just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word. 3 With this in mind, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I too decided to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, 4 so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.
Where does Luke say something that would teach we should pray about his Gospel? Nowhere! Instead, Luke appeals to historical events that he personally has investigate and confirmed by eye-witnesses in order that Theophilus could have certainty outside of himself, a certainty that would not be based in some esoteric religious experience but a certainty that would be based squarely in the world in which we normally live.
Paul's charge to Timothy contains a most sufficient passage. 2 Timothy 3:
But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, 15 and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
This passage is quite clear. Scripture is sufficient. We do not need another supposed God-breathed source. But could there be another source? One last passage from the writer to the Hebrew Christians chapter 1:
In these last days we have the full Revelation of God in the Person and Work of the Son of God. There is simply no need to go any further. There is no need for other prophets of other revelatory sources. We have all we need in Jesus Christ and His Apostles as preserved in the Apostolic writings in the New Testament and the Hebrew Scriptures.
In conclusion I think more passages could be presented, but I think it should suffice in these brief arguments that searching for truth through esoteric means is one Christians need to learn to be consistent within their worldview and evangelical missionary endeavors. If we believe Mormons are wrong simply on the level of "praying about the Book of Mormon", then we should not attempt to evangelize using similar means.
However, if we agree with their esoteric viewpoint, then we have no basis for evangelizing people to come to our faith. Of course this may explain why so many Christians accept the false premise of Mormonism being just another Christian faith. But Mono-Theism, by definition, can never be compatible with Poly-theism, no matter how esoteric one gets.