10. Why do Latter-day Saints try to convert others?
10. Why do Latter-day Saints try to convert others?
believe that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints contains a fulness
of the gospel
of Jesus Christ and that this fulness is not found elsewhere. Therefore, they
feel a responsibility to make the message of the restoration of Christ’s Church
available to all who will hear. They profess to have received the same commission
from the Lord Jesus that he delivered to his followers anciently—to
preach the gospel to people of all nations (see Matthew 28:19—20; Mark
16:15—18; see also D&C 68:8). This is the basis for the missionary
system within the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
One president of the LDS Church expressed these thoughts
to those not of the LDS faith:
We have come not to take away from you the truth and virtue you possess.
We have come not to find fault with you nor to criticize you. We have not
come here to berate you because of things you have not done; but we have come
here as your brethren. . . . and to say to you: "Keep all the good that
you have, and let us bring to you more good, in order that you may be happier
and in order that you may be prepared to enter into the presence of our Heavenly
Latter-day Saints affirm that the answer to the world’s problems—starvation,
famine, disease, crime, inhumanity, and the dissolution of the family—is
ultimately not found in social programs or legislation. Instead, the answer
lies in the promise that God will change the hearts of those who have faith
in Jesus Christ. There is much good being done by people of many Christian denominations
to bring this message of Christ to a world that desperately needs it. Yet the
Latter-day Saints declare that there is more truth to be known, more power to
be exercised, and more profound fulfillment and joy to be found than is available
in any other church. As one church leader pointed out, "We seek to bring
all truth together. We seek to enlarge the circle of love and understanding
among all the people of the earth. Thus we strive to establish peace and happiness,
not only within Christianity but among all mankind."43
The restoration of the gospel came about as a divine response
to the famine in the land foretold by Old Testament prophets—not a famine
for bread nor a thirst for water, but a yearning to hear the word of God (see
Amos 8:11—12). The fundamental message of Mormonism is:
- There is a God. He is our Father in Heaven.
- Jesus Christ is the divine Son of God and the promised Messiah. Salvation
comes only in and through the redemption of Christ.
- Thus there is purpose to life. Our Heavenly Father has a plan for his children,
a plan intended to bring peace and joy to all the sons and daughters of God
through faith in Jesus Christ.
- God the Eternal Father and his Son Jesus Christ appeared to Joseph Smith
in the spring of 1820. This appearance began the restoration of the fulness
of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
- Heavenly messengers have restored sacred truths and divine powers. Through
those powers the church and kingdom of God have been reestablished on earth.
- God loves his children in this age and generation as much as he loved those
to whom he sent his Son some two thousand years ago. The Father’s perfect
love is manifested not only in the preservation of the Bible, but also through
modern revelation, modern scripture, modern apostles and prophets ordained
with divine priesthood powers, and an inspired church organization.
It is important to be a good person, a moral person, a person of integrity.
Latter-day Saints believe, however, that the gospel is intended to do more than
make us good persons. The gospel contains the power of God unto salvation (see
Romans 1:16), the power to transform good people into Christlike people, noble
souls into holy souls. The Church of Jesus Christ is the custodian of the gospel.
Christ himself has given his restored church divine authority and the truths
of salvation. So Latter-day Saints do not believe one can fully come unto Christ—and
partake of all the blessings he offers—independent of (or in opposition
to) the Church of Jesus Christ. They believe there is "one Lord, one faith,
one baptism" (Ephesians 4:5) and that the sacraments or ordinances of salvation,
administered by the priesthood held in his restored church, are prerequisite
to entrance into the kingdom of God.
At a time in which there is a waning of belonging and in accordance with the
scriptural command to share the gospel so that all might "come unto Christ,
and be perfected in him" (Moroni 10:32), the Latter-day Saints invite all
people to come home, to return to the family of God. The First Presidency of
the LDS Church in 1907 declared, "Our motives are not selfish; our purposes
not petty and earth-bound; we contemplate the human race, past, present and
yet to come, as immortal beings, for whose salvation it is our mission to labor;
and to this work, broad as eternity and deep as the love of God, we devote ourselves,
now, and forever."44
George Albert Smith, Sharing the Gospel with Others, comp. Preston Nibley (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book,
1948), 12, 13.
Howard W. Hunter, That We Might Have Joy (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1994), 59.
Cited in ibid.