Throughout my years of being a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and maybe through faults of my own, I have had many discussions (or attempted discussion) with many Anti-Mormons. You know the ones who spread so much hatred towards the Prophets, and our teachings, and spout their hatred online in blogs and forums. I have always tried my best to stay civil with them, and in the past have fallen into their traps and began arguing back. Here is one of the good things that Bruce R. McConkie taught in his encyclopaedia of “Mormon Doctrine.”
“Except under very unusual circumstances, debates play no part in the approved system of presenting the message of salvation to the world or of persuading members of the Church to accept a particular doctrine or view. Almost always a debate entrenches each contestant and his sympathisers more firmly in the views already held. “Debates, envyings, wraths, strifes, backbitings, whisperings, swellings, tumults,”—all these Paul describes as evil. (2 Corinthians 12:20; Roman’s 1:29.)
Rather, the Lord has directed, the Elders are to “declare glad tidings,” that is, to explain, expound, and teach the restoration. “And thou shalt do it with all humility,” he directs, “trusting in me, reviling not against revilers. And of tenets thou shall not talk.” (D&C 19:29-31.) There are to be no arguments about peculiar doctrinal concepts that people may have; the Elders are simply to explain their message and bear testimony of its truthfulness.
If a situation arises in which the Elders cannot in honour refuse a challenge to debate an issue, as when by withdrawing from the discussion they would lose their investigators, then it may be proper to go ahead and engage in the debate or discussion. In such instances, if the Elders are as informed as they should be, they always come off victorious. The truth is with the Saints, and truth will stand of its own self.”
(-Bruce R. McConkie)
I have however, learnt a lot in the past couple of years, and that is to make sure that I don’t become Anti Anti-Mormon, as it just harbours to many bad feelings, and I ended up not liking the Anti-Mormon people very much, which is totally contradictory to the loving Gospel of Jesus Christ. Even Joseph Smith was totally opposed to arguing and fighting back against his persecutors.
If only we could show those Anti-Mormons love, respect, and kindness, I am sure that deep inside they will ponder and begin to question themselves regarding how unkind they have been to members of the Church. I have had one positive experience since I stopped arguing with them. Last year I was a member of one of those “Biblical Christians vs Mormon debate (although at times they just seem like Mormon bashing groups) sorry I mean “discussion” groups (yes some Latter-day Saints can be just as argumentative as our critics), and I received a message from an Anti-Mormon lady, who was Anglican by faith, about how much evil Joseph Smith supposedly taught in his translation of the Bible. She was accusing Joseph Smith of purposely changing verses in the Bible to suite his own, adulterous and greedy agenda. She then accused me, and wanted to know “how in the world can I defend and follow such an evil and demonic individual.”
Instead of me just arguing back, calling her ignorant ect, I chose to respond to her message, first of all with a very polite greeting, and then I spoke a little about Joseph Smith, his history, and the Restoration of the Gospel. I then asked her to show me those verses that Joseph Smith “changed,” and I will be happy to discuss them with her. Long story short, she eventually calmed down, and told me that she has not actually read the “Joseph Smith Translation” of the Bible, and that she would buy one and read it. But, what amazed me the most was when she told me “thank you for being patient with me, and for talking the time to discuss my concerns with me.”
I didn’t actually hear from her again after that, although I have tried to message her, her Facebook account doesn’t seem very active anymore, but at least the seeds were planted, and she had a somewhat good experience discussing religion and faith with a Latter-day Saint. Hopefully she will be more receptive to learning more about the restoration.
It wasn’t what I was saying to her about the true Joseph Smith that changed her perception; it was rather the fact that I showed her Christlike kindness, and I didn’t judge her that helped her to change her perspectives, even if it was just a tiny bit.
So yes, no matter whom they are, or what they’re saying about our faith, us Latter-day Saints must always show kindness, compassion, and love to every single one of God’s Children. Most Anti-Mormon’s just don’t know what “Mormonism” truly is, and many have so many questions, even if they are going about it in the wrong way, so we need to be there to show them what our faith truly is all about…Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, and his fully Restored Gospel.