I appreciate the elders of Christ Community Church connecting with both Dr. Brad Wilcox and Dr. Steve Crane to set up a community meeting last night in the Civic Auditorium for conversation about God, gospel, and grace. It was titled an Evangelical – Mormon Conversation. The event was reminiscent of when Dr. Robert Millet and Pastor Greg Johnson got together for mutual discussion five years ago about their respective faiths.
Pastor Jeff Kennedy of Christ Community Church and Jay Hildebrandt, anchor newsman of Local 8 News, introduced the conversationalists.
Here is what I have learned about the speakers by looking on the web.
- Brad Wilcox is a professor in the department of ancient scripture at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. He is a prolific author, with some of his most notable books being The Continuous Atonement (2009) and Changed Through His Grace (2017). One of his most famous chapel messages is “His Grace is Sufficient”, delivered on July 12, 2011.
- Steve Crane is the Senior Minister of Eagle Christian Church in Eagle, Idaho and on the faculty of Boise Bible College. He has authored Is Mormonism Now Christian? (2010) and co-authored with his father, Ashamed of Joseph: Mormon Foundations Crumble (2011).
The Civic Auditorium filled up with people. I imagine 2000+ showed up to listen in on the conversation.
Pastor Steve asked most of the questions while Professor Brad provided most of the answers for what he believed in his LDS faith. Pastor Steve would follow by sharing some Scripture and his evangelical conviction.
Here are six highlights of what Dr. Brad Wilcox shared with us. To my LDS friends, please feel free to post any questions or clarifications. From this conversation, I have not included any of Pastor Steve’s reciting Biblical Scripture or his evangelical convictions.
- Nature of God – God and Jesus are separate beings. The Father has a body of flesh and bones and is the father of spirit children. He is literally the father of our spirits. The Father is a physical father to Jesus. God is very personal and tangible. The Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are three Gods but one in spirit. The Holy Spirit will someday take a body. There is not much to know of the Gods before the Heavenly Father of this world. There is the acknowledgment of many Gods but the worship of only one God.
- Jesus – Jesus was a part of the Godhead before he came to the earth and took on a body. Jesus atoned for sins by providing immortality for all. This atonement took place in the Garden of Gethsemane, on the cross, and climaxed in his resurrection. Dr. Brad Wilcox urged evangelicals to agree that LDS have a different view of Jesus but it is still the same Jesus.
- Humans – All humans preexisted with God and Jesus. And all were at different levels of progression before they were born on this earth. LDS will progress to the delight of their Heavenly Father but they will never become equal to Him.
- The Fall in the Garden of Genesis – LDS do not consider it strictly a punishment alone for Adam and Eve being sent from the Garden. Look at the consequence for Adam and Eve as more like being sent to school. God did not give them plan B. It was all planned. Think of how men and women fall, get back up, and get even better in their lives because of their falls.
- Salvation – It is not just a get-out-jail-free card. Neither is it just slipping St. Peter a $20 bill at the pearly gates and asking to get in. Salvation is not Jesus merely supplementing all the works that LDS do. It is the joy of reading one book after another given by the Heavenly Father. Consider the maintaining LDS covenants as inviting more and more grace into one’s life. Salvation is not being a spiritual couch potato but life transformation in being more like Christ. After death, audiences in spirit prison are invited to hear the LDS gospel. They have the opportunity after death to learn and to love Jesus. In accordance to their responses, the levels of heaven will be according to what they feel most comfortable with. Hell is very small. Heaven is very big. Brad Wilcox is big on grace.
- The Bible – LDS love and respect the Bible. It is rich in history that speaks of living prophets, that is why they follow living prophets for today. Amid the 90,000 Christian sects, denominations, or groups, the LDS prophet today provides God’s voice of unity. If today’s LDS prophet and apostles were directed to discontinue a practice in the Bible, they would follow their prophet.
Dr. Brad Wilcox urged evangelicals to open their thinking to a “much bigger picture” of God and progression of salvation in this life and life after death. Again, I did not share Steve’s part of the conversation. But Pastor Jeff of Christ Community Church mentioned they will seek to put the video coverage on their church website and provide video links by email to all who registered by email. Hopefully, that will spike your interest.
I love living among LDS neighbors and friends in Idaho Falls. I am convinced more than ever that God has me as his missionary in this city.
I love King Jesus. Send me an email, give me a call, or come by my office if you would like to talk about Him.
Grace to you all,