The Unauthorized Investigator's Guide to
The Church of JESUS CHRIST of Latter-day Saints

How To Investigate Mormonism

 

An investigation of Mormonism wouldnít be complete without actually inviting the missionaries over to your home and listening to the discussions. The missionaries bring with them the distilled essence of the gospel of Jesus Christ, taught with the aid of the Holy Ghost by those who have been called and set apart to gather Godís elect.

Personally I donít believe that, but that is their claim. I do believe that the missionaries present a unique view of Mormonism. Furthermore, I think we can all agree that if the church is true, then listening to the missionaries will significantly increase the odds that you will be able to figure that out. So if you want to give the church a fair shake, you have got to listen to the missionaries. And letís face it. Everything the missionaries teach is extraordinarily basic, so listening to them should be one of the first things you do. 

Taking the missionary discussions is a unique learning experience, so some preparation regarding the experience per se is helpful. To prepare yourself for the discussions, I suggest you learn about the missionaries, their sales techniques, and the underlying pattern of the discussions. You should develop your own tactics for dealing with the missionaries that is in harmony with the missionariesí tactics for dealing with you.

Before your first visit with the missionaries, I strongly suggest you read the set of essays at www.lds4u.com under the topics The Missionaries and The Discussions. That will be enough to make you an expert investigator and to see how much fun studying Mormonism with the missionaries can be.

After you read those 2 sets of essays, you will be prepared to listen to the missionary discussions.

I would suggest you read each discussion on line before the missionaries present it.  Think about the principles, think about what makes sense and doesn't make sense, read any of the related links that interest you, and make a list of questions that you'd like the missionaries to address.  Don't try to overwhelm the missionaries with questions though.  Have the list of questions with you, and try to fit them into the discussion naturally.

Between visits with the missionaries, read the passages from the Book of Mormon that you promised to read.  Pray about it.  Read about related issues on the Internet. And think about it.  Be sincere, but also be intellectually honest.

Preparing for the discussions as opposed to going into them cold will accomplish several of things:

    1. It will make your visits with the missionaries more pleasant. The missionaries are required to interact with people in very specific ways. But typically, their hosts arenít aware of all of the nuances surrounding the customs and rules of the missionaries. This can lead to awkward situations where the missionaries are forced to either compromise their standards or control the visit more than guests should have to. If you know their standards, the teaching environment they want you to provide, and your role as investigator, the visit should be very pleasant for all parties involved.
       
    2. It will boost your confidence. Once you know the missionariesí objective, strategy, and tactics, you can focus on the message they present rather than having to worry about how they may be manipulating you. Youíll understand exactly what they are doing at every moment, and when you see how well you can predict what theyíll do next, youíll be able to relax and focus on their message.
       
    3. You will be prepared to respond to the commitments they ask you to make. As you will learn, every time they teach you something, they will put you on the spot and pointedly request that you commit to something. Some of the commitments are innocuous, such as when they ask you to read a chapter of the Book of Mormon or to pray about it. On the others hand, some of the commitments are quite serious, particularly the commitment to get baptized, which comes astonishingly early in the discussions. If you know what commitments are coming and when, then you can prepare for how you will react when they put you on the spot.

 


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If you have a question or would like to discuss these topics, I suggest that you go to a Mormon-related bulletin board (here are some recommendations). If you'd like to contact me with comments or feedback, you may send an email to analytics@lds4u.com.