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Standing Together Ministries, founded and led by Reverend Greg Johnson, is a Utah-based organization that attempts to demonstrate the love of Jesus to Mormons through friendly dialogue, non-confrontational discussions, and joining with LDS people in community events, among other things. While it is desirable for all Christians to be polite and respectful when engaging unbelievers in discussions about personal beliefs, we at Equipping Christians Ministries feel Reverend Johnson has gone too far in promoting "friendly dialogue," to the point it has become doctrinally confusing to Mormons and Christians alike.
 

For those unfamiliar with the situation, Rev. Greg Johnson and Mormon BYU professor and apologist Robert Millet have a seminar, as well as a television program in which they politely discuss the topic of religion. This is a short description from their website;

Since their first meeting in April of 1997, Greg and Bob have fostered a genuine friendship and association. They have had many lunches together, traveled across the country together, and present a public seminar entitled, "An Evangelical and a Mormon in Conversation," where they communicate how they have maintained their friendship and at the same time discussed candidly their theological differences and concerns for one another. (www.standingtogether.org/dialogue.html)

Although Standing Together has many commendable goals, the method by which they attempt to reach those goals is dubious at best and disastrous at worst. For example, one of their projects is called "Mission Loving-kindness," in which they;
 
[S]ponsor a day of intercessory prayer and outreach during the LDS General Conference [on Temple Square]. Our ministry has secured public permits along North Temple Street for Evangelical Christians to line the public walkways to intercede in prayer for the Mormon people and to offer a witness of the love and kindness of Jesus Christ to all that pass by...
 
1. We will engage in intercessory prayer for LDS people and not doctrinal debate while involved in Mission Loving kindness.

2. We will offer greetings of kindness and smiles of love to those passing by on the walkways.

3. When asked why we are doing this by anyone, we will respond simply by saying, “We wish to offer a tangible expression of the love of Christ to our LDS friends and neighbors.”
(www.standingtogether.org/missionlk.html) (Emphasis added)
 
In light of the unfortunate fact that some people claiming to be Christians yell obscenities at LDS or wave "temple garments" (special underwear which Mormons believe are sacred) in the air, I understand why Rev. Johnson wants to develop and encourage a different approach. It is perfectly reasonable to want to distance oneself from such unkind and unloving tactics employed by brash or ignorant non-Mormons. The problem is one can be SO pleasant, "nice," and unobtrusive in presenting the true gospel of Christ, as to become ineffective and milquetoast in this eternally urgent matter. Notice in the above mission statement that representatives of Standing Together Ministries are not to engage in doctrinal debate, but to offer kind greetings and smiles. They are literally greeting LDS who are on their way to listen to false prophets preach a false gospel with, "Hello! Have a nice conference! Enjoy your meeting!" What they are cheerfully saying in essence is, "Have a nice trip to hell. Hope you feel good about your church on your way there!" Please don't get me wrong. The intent of those involved in this approach is one of genuine kindness. What they fail to understand, however, is that the Mormon they are greeting with "Jesus loves you! Have a nice conference!" is not going to feel compelled to learn more about biblical Christianity. He or she will most likely process that message like this; "Of course Jesus loves me; he's my spirit brother. And I will in fact enjoy conference because I'm going to hear the words of the true prophets! Oh my! Look at all these Christians out here wishing us well. The Lord is at work preparing their hearts to receive the [Mormon] gospel."
 
To a cultist, these "greetings of loving-kindness" are interpreted to mean that their church, with its accompanying beliefs and practices, is being accepted into mainstream Christianity; in this case, that Mormonism is being accepted by Christians. As Christians we must love the lost enough to confront them with the truth, not in an obnoxious manner, of course, but confront them we must! We are commanded to "earnestly contend for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints" (Jude 1:3). Yes, the gospel is controversial! Yes, we will encounter opposition! Yes, "the preaching of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing" (1 Cor. 1:18), but if we really love the Mormon people, we must boldly proclaim the message of salvation through grace alone by faith alone in Christ alone! We cannot stand by and just wish them well as they sit at the feet of false teachers that are leading them to spiritual death.
 
We are dead in our sins until Jesus Christ gives us new life! Lost is lost, whether the person is a Mormon, a Jehovah's Witness, an agnostic, or an atheist. The greatest barrier to receiving truth is the presumption that you already have it. One of the most difficult aspects of witnessing to a cultist is that they already presume to have the truth. Cultists believe at all costs. They do not let evidence get in the way. Everything is interpreted through the rose-colored glasses of their belief system. It is not loving-kindness to the lost when we link ourselves with an unbiblical belief system in matters of instruction and/or worship. Softening or watering down the gospel message to make it inoffensive is heresy. We can be loving and we can be kind, but we must always be truthful when telling people about Jesus. Sometimes the truth hurts, but I would rather have to come to terms with an uncomfortable truth, than be destroyed by a comfortable lie. When it comes to heaven and hell, ignorance is not bliss.
 
(Below is a letter I sent Greg Johnson of Standing Together Ministries. As expected, I have not heard back from him)
 
Dear Reverend Johnson,
 
I would like to share with you the impact your ministry has had on me personally. I was trapped in Mormonism for 26 years. Praise God, only by a miracle did He deliver me! There is no way that a few paragraphs or even a few pages could describe the oppression, the bondage, the spiritual darkness I was in. It’s really difficult for those who have not been in a cult to completely understand its members. There is a psychological and emotional dependence on the organization; be it the LDS Church, Watchtower & Bible Tract Society, Islam, or what-have-you. Over my years as a devout, temple-worthy Mormon, I had some occasional doubts, even fears, “What if the Church isn’t true?” That seems to be typical of most members. My LDS leaders told me the Church was true and I sought after the spiritual experiences that would “prove” its validity. If there were any doubts on my part, I was told it was due to unworthiness or some fault, or maybe a test of some sort, because The Church is perfect, The Church is True and one must just accept that on faith.
 
When something unexplainable would happen that would shake our faith, as Mormons our “cognitive dissonance” would not allow us to look at the situation in light of the facts, but rather, to mentally arrange the facts in such a way as to confirm Mormonism was true. For example, my sister-in-law was stricken with cancer. She had gone to her priesthood leaders, husband, and brothers for “priesthood blessings.” They laid their hands on her head and by the authority of their Mormon priesthood commanded her to be made whole. They told her that she would be healed without medical intervention. So, with the great faith she had, she refused radiation and chemotherapy. The tumor got bigger. She battled cancer for a couple of years and at the end, bedridden, body swollen, and deteriorating, she asked for another blessing. She was told she would be healed. Two days later she was dead.
 
The whole family was shocked, stunned in fact! How was this possible? This was the True Priesthood of the True Church that said she would be healed! Maybe…maybe---what if the Church wasn’t true? No, no! Impossible! There must be an explanation! Either the men giving her the blessings over the years weren’t really worthy or Kay’s faith wasn’t strong enough. Ah ha! Someone in the family was praying about what happened and “the Spirit” told them that the priesthood blessings DID come to pass; Kay had been truly healed, in the sense that the greatest healing of all was death! We all sighed with relief, “Whew! Close one! To think we almost doubted the Church!”
 
My husband and I are talented musicians and were frequently asked to sing in different ward and stake meetings all over the valley. I had been introduced to Sandy Patty’s music through my close LDS friend/singing teacher. At one lesson we listened to some of Sandy's songs and sat by the tape-player crying because they were so beautiful. I ran out and bought her tape and played it daily as I cleaned the house. I would stand at the kitchen sink weeping because the songs about Jesus made me feel alive in a way LDS music did not. I began singing Christian songs whenever I was asked to sing at church. Sometimes I had to change a few words to fit Mormon doctrines. Ward members would come up to me in tears afterward, asking about the song and where it came from.
 
It never occurred to my friend Pat and me that Sandy was singing about the Real Jesus and the Real Gospel and that maybe we did not have the truth. Instead, we arranged the facts to fit our presupposition that The Church was true. I would ask why it was that we were in the True Church and our LDS music did not woo, convince, and convict like Christian music; yet these gentiles (all non-Mormons are considered gentiles), not having the truth could write and perform such gripping songs about the Savior? We reasoned it was because the Lord would eventually bring Sandy Patty and other Christian artists into the Mormon Church, but for now He was preparing the hearts of Christians to receive the truth. Our goals as LDS singers were to establish ourselves in the Christian community to advance the Mormon gospel.
 
Because my husband was a piano teacher with a lot of students we sometimes were asked to play for private parties and got invitations to sing at some Christian churches. Obviously these churches knew little about Mormons and were not very discerning or they would never have asked us to sing in their services! We carefully selected LDS songs that would teach important Mormon doctrines; we felt it would be a great missionary tool to prepare the hearts of the congregations to receive Mormonism.
 
When Stephen Robinson came out with his book, “How Wide the Divide” and we occasionally saw Christian leaders speak at Mormon events, we did NOT think that Mormonism was moving toward Christianity! We thought “Heavenly Father” was drawing the Christian community to Mormonism in preparation for the Second Coming of Christ. We believed that Christians were soon going to accept us into the mainstream. Those events only served to validate our belief in Mormonism. If Christians were beginning to see Mormons in a more positive light, then it only “proved” The Church was true and we had the True Gospel.
 
I was serving as Relief Society President when I discovered, to my shock and horror, that Mormonism was not true! As my whole world crumbled around me and I despaired over whether there was ANY truth in the world and if there really was a God, Jesus Christ in His mercy, in an act of divine, redemptive grace, reached down and swept me up into His ever-loving, everlasting arms and saved me from spiritual death and hell. A person who has never been a Mormon can only imagine what someone in a false belief system goes through after discovering truth; the pain and agony of regret, lost opportunities, feelings of having wasted one’s life, the hurt, the anger, the self-recrimination, and more. As we were raising our nine oldest children (our tenth was born out of Mormonism, praise God!) we had been diligent to train them up in the Mormon gospel. We indoctrinated them, stressing over and over that the Mormon Church is true and it did not matter what so-called “evidence” there might be to the contrary, they could know for themselves by the “burning in the bosom” or other spiritual experiences. We warned them over and over that we were living in the End Times and many would fall away from the Church. We taught them to just have faith and believe because any science or “history” or anything that came out to try to show Mormonism wasn’t true, was just part of Satan’s plan to destroy Heavenly Father’s work of the Restored Gospel.
 
After I was saved, born-again, I spent months of tears, prayer, diligence, and effort doing everything I could to help my children could see the truth and come into a saving knowledge of the biblical Jesus Christ. Over the following two years five of my older children left the Mormon Church (the younger ones began attending Christian services with me as soon as I left). My second oldest son stayed devout LDS and served a two-year mission in Uruguay. During that time my husband and I divorced. Our Mormon relatives used this event as a “proof” that the Church is True; “See what happens when people leave the Church?” Never mind that there were some serious on-going problems unrelated to Mormonism that they knew about---no, to them, the real reason we divorced was because we “apostatized” from the One True Church.
 
I debated over whether to file for divorce while our son was still on his mission or to wait till he came home. We knew that no matter when we did it, his leaders and own cult thinking would construe it as proof the Mormon Church was true. If we divorced while he was still in Uruguay, his leaders would say directly or in a priesthood blessing, “Elder Crookston, Satan has a powerful hold over your family and is trying to destroy your faith. He’s doing all he can to get you to leave your mission early. The Church is true.” If we waited until after he came home, his LDS leaders would say, “Do you see how Heavenly Father preserved your parents’ marriage while you were on your mission? That’s because Heavenly Father blesses the families of missionaries in a special way. The Church is True.” We ended up just going through with the divorce because no matter when we did it, LDS family and friends would use it as a way to bolster their faith in Mormonism and show their children the Church was true.
 
All elders and “sisters” (female LDS missionaries) get a special priesthood blessing by their Stake Presidents before leaving on their missions and I’m fairly certain our son was told that if he would just stay faithful and loyal to the Church---going to the temple, paying his tithing, etc. --- his parents would eventually come back to the Church and we would all be one big happy eternal family. I was told in my patriarchal blessing as a convert at age 14, that if I would be faithful, my parents would eventually come into the Church and we would “all have the opportunity of being sealed in the temple for time and all eternity, blah blah blah,” so it would not surprise if my son was given the same line.
 
Can you see what psychological control the Mormon Church has over its members? My one son is going to wear out his life, working to obey every aspect of the Mormon gospel, so his parents and brothers and sisters will come back to the Church! I also worked and drove myself to try to keep every LDS standard over the years so that my parents would come into “the Kingdom.” When the years went on and they never accepted the “restored gospel,” I did not attribute it to Mormonism being false! I attributed it to my own unworthiness and failures. “If only I didn’t break down and drink a Coke on that long trip to stay awake. If only I had gone to the temple more frequently. If only this or if only that! Now my parents would only be going to the lowest kingdom and it was my entire fault for not being a better Mormon.”
 
I initially wrote that your ministry has had an impact on my family. Let me just say that thanks to your efforts to “Stand Together” with Mormons, two of my sons went back to Mormonism, in part because people like you, Richard Mouw, Craig Blomberg, and other well-meaning Christians who don’t know what they are doing, have legitimized Mormonism as being “just another Christian denomination.” My sons’ feelings are that since Christian leaders are teaming up with Mormons, it must mean The Church is True after all. And since people like Robert Millet, Stephen Robinson, and other “paid defenders” of Mormonism, have misrepresented Mormonism through slick words and disinformation, my boys have come to believe that there really is not a big difference between Mormon beliefs and Christian beliefs. Oh, and as a side note, my always-LDS son sees the return of his brothers to Mormonism as a “fulfillment of prophecy” and he’s going to be faithful to the end so his other siblings and his dad and I will someday return to The Church.
 
I don’t know if you are just naïve or perhaps you’re secretly LDS yourself with an agenda (1), but your “dialoguing” publicly with Mr. Millet is causing much confusion among Christians who are not grounded in the Bible and causing many Mormon souls to remain lost in a false religious system. It has also been undermining the biblically mandated efforts of counter-cult ministries by leading many who left the Mormon Church to return to it. (2)
 

I have tried to show you from a LDS viewpoint, having experienced it first-hand, how people in a cult think. As a normal thinking person, you can look at your ministry and goals from a logical, rational standpoint. But Mormons cannot think and do not think as you do! They have been spiritually blinded, as well as indoctrinated. Until you understand their mindset and way of thinking, all you will do is bring further damage and harm.

The average Christian in your audience does not understand. Unless a person has been a True Believing Mormon, especially as an adult temple-recommend holder, he cannot comprehend the emotional, psychological, and spiritual grip Mormonism has on a member. There are things as an outsider you will never know ---no matter how much of a friend Bob Millet or any other Mormon is. You will not be privy to much of the private discussions, “cottage meetings,” “underground” firesides, personal revelations (which members are told not to share with others), or any other event that only insiders can be a part of. Even within the LDS Church, there is an inner-circle that only the most “spiritually advanced” members are privy to.
 
As a former Mormon I am telling you that you do not know what you are dealing with. As much of a friend Bob is to you, his loyalty is to the Church, not to you or the friendship. If he has been told in a priesthood blessing by some General Authority that Heavenly Father is going to use his relationship with you to “do a great and mighty work in building the kingdom (the Mormon Kingdom) here on the earth,” he is NOT going to divulge that to you because it will be considered a personal and sacred matter. I have tried to tell you in this email, as I’m sure other former Mormons have tried to tell you, that you really don’t understand what you are involved with (3). It isn’t that you’re not intelligent; it’s just that you don’t appear to have inside experience. In any case, it seems that you will not listen.
 
How many Mormons do you personally know or are aware of who came to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ because of your and Millet’s TV or radio discussions? How many LDS do you know who, after hearing a lecture when you were on tour, have left Mormonism to embrace the biblical Jesus? How many Christians have you lulled into a false paradigm where they now just “live and let live” concerning their Mormon friends and neighbors instead of actively, boldly trying to reach them with the true gospel? There are many Christians who, after being presented with your materials or listening to you and Mr. Millet on tour, now see Mormonism as a different but acceptable belief system. People are going to hell while well-intentioned, but misguided Christians try to play pat-a-cake with the Mormon Church so LDS can feel better about their religion and its false teachings.
 
I don’t know what else to say. All I can do is shake my head in disbelief as I watch Standing Together Ministries make alliances with a pagan religion that brings spiritual death to its adherents. I’m asking you to “wake up and smell the coffee” (Isn’t it great to know we can drink coffee and still go to heaven?) and really examine what you are accomplishing in the long-haul. It takes courage to do what is right, even if it means Standing Alone.
 
You seem to be a sincere individual, passionate about your beliefs. Perhaps you will consider Paul's excellent counsel;
 

[Hold] fast the faithful word as? [you] have been taught, that [you] may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers. Titus 1:9

Now I beseech you, brother, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which you have learned; and avoid them. Romans 16:17

Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? 2 Corinthians 6:14-15

Your sister in Christ,
 

Tracy Tennant

 
 

1. Matthew 7:15 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves

2. Matthew 18:6 But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.

3. Luke 6:39 Can the blind lead the blind? shall they not both fall into the ditch?
 

 

 

"For I am not ashamed of the Good News, since it is God's powerful means of bringing salvation to everyone who keeps on trusting, to the Jew especially, but equally to the Gentile."

(Romans 1:16, CJB) 

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