Wednesday, October 24, 2012


As you may know (I've mentioned it often enough) I've just written a book called The Saved Saint intended to promote greater tolerance, friendship and understanding between Latter-day Saints and Evangelical Christians.

And very timely it is if this article in the Baptist Times is anything to go by. We Mormons are used to this sort of abuse, of course. From Governor Boggs' extermination order in 1838 to the declaration by megachurch Pastor Robert Jeffress that “Evangelical Christians should not vote for Mitt Romney because he’s a Mormon, therefore not a real Christian,”  it's a case of same old same old.

So it's good to remind ourselves that not all evangelical Christians subscribe to these views. Some already know that people who worship and follow Christ as their saviour are entitled to be called Christians  even if they happen to attend a much-misunderstood church. My co-author on The Saved Saint is just such a Christian, and when I brought the Baptist Times article to her attention, she responded by writing this letter to them. Which, by the way, they are going to publish:

Dear Sir

I have to say I read the above article with deep disappointment.

I became a Christian, over twenty years ago, as a disengaged single-parent, through the love and acceptance I found within my local Baptist Church, who cared more about my heart than my words.  I became a founding member of a Mayland Baptist Church before a new career opportunity moved me to London and I joined Bonneville Baptist Church, now All Nations, in Clapham South. I currently attend a Vineyard Church, where I am Outreach Pastor, but maintain my Baptist links by studying with Spurgeon's College through distance learning for my theology degree. In composing my response I wanted to ensure that you understand my deep, deep respect and love I have for the Baptist tradition of Christianity.

It is this respect that has led to my disappointment that you would be prepared to print such an outdated and one-sided article as that titled Evangelising Mormons by Bobby Gilpin, printed on 17th October.  The arguments he uses against The Church of the Latter Day Saints are outdated and ill researched. President Snow served from 1898 to 1901, well over 100 years ago, I do not feel it is fair to try to influence people's opinions on any organisation or denomination by quoting such historical leaders, I am sure I would not have to look too hard to find many other Christian quotes from the period with all kinds of opinions from a wide range of subjects we no longer agree on. Quite apart from anything else our own doctrine says that God became Man, he was called Jesus.

The quote given from The book of Mormon in 2 Nephi 25:23 'For we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.'

 is actually akin in meaning to the Biblical Isaiah 64:6

'All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.'

It is basically saying that no matter how brilliant we are we still need grace  in order to be saved.

My understanding of  President Spencer W Kimball's rather damming statement that Mr Gilpin quotes is in fact the LDS equivalent to our own denomination's discussions on James, one cannot simply live as you like, sinning with impunity saying 'its ok God forgives me anyway.'

One of my closest friends is a member of The Church of the Latter Day Saints and, you can be sure, I looked carefully into their doctrine to see if she needed to be 'saved' however, given that all Churches have some incorrect doctrines as an inevitable consequence of the fall, I took my criteria from Romans 10:9-10:-

'If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. '

Using this criteria and having had frank discussions with my friend and her husband and having visited her church on several occasions I can say that the Latter Day Saints I have met never stop declaring with their mouth that Jesus is their Lord and they believe wholeheartedly that God raised him from the dead. There are many things I disagree with within the LDS doctrine and I will not be joining their church however I strongly recommend them to you as Christian brothers and sisters with much to teach us about forgiveness and forbearance.

I praise God for the gift of evangelism He has given to Mr Gilpin but I would like to see him concentrate his efforts on the many, many millions in our world who are truly without Christ and also to hold 2 Tim 2:14 in his mind as non-Christians, seeing those they consider Christians arguing are not pulled towards the Father but rather have their preconceptions about the hypocrisy of the church confirmed and harden their hearts just that little bit further.

Thank you for taking the time to read this reply and I look forward to seeing more balanced and up to date articles appearing in your publication.

Yours in Him

Hellen Riebold

And that's why we wrote The Saved Saint together. You can buy it via this link.


  1. Thank you for sharing this. Sometimes I forget that there is still so much misunderstanding in the world. What a great letter, and we are so fortunate to count Hellen as a friend!

    Reading the article made me think of Matthew 7:16: "Ye shall know them by their fruits." We wish that Gilpan would apply this scripture to us, and that is how we learn to tolerate, be friends with, and even admire other people of faith, no matter what church they belong to. We need to be united, not divided. We fail if we pick at each other instead of strengthen each other.

    I just have to share that Elder Holland says it much more eloquent than me in the August 2012 Ensign: The articles is from an address he gave to Christian leaders last year. I love how he calls for friendship and unity. At the end he bears his testimony of Jesus Christ in a way that is clear for evangelicals to understand (and not misunderstand), and I love his example and leadership on this topic.

  2. Great post. I found it interesting in the article that one man says " They think they know the true God and the true Gospel, but they are headed for eternal destruction and they don't even realise it.'

    How judgmental of him. He doesn't appear to believe in a loving God who will do anything to have His children come home if they desire. LDS people, whether someone agrees with their doctrine or not, do believe in Jesus and that He is the Savior. It would seem that would be enough to avoid "eternal destruction". Furthermore, we as LDS people believe that all will have the chance to accept the Savior. It seems that the LDS people believe in a loving God, not one who is anxious to send His children to hell.

  3. I found your article by following the link from the antiMormon web site “Mormon Coffee”. If you know anything about Mormons and coffee, you will understand the put down the blogs title is.
    “A Response to Hellen Riebold’s Unfounded Rebuke of a Christian Brother”

  4. Hi there Anna and Hellen, I saw your response and have put together some thoughts on what you said, I will be passing this to the Baptist times also.


    Bobby Gilpin

  5. I once did a blog post regarding the question of whether or not Mormons are really Christian, and I got some very interesting responses. One thing I hadn’t realized is that there are many Christians who base their opinion of Mormons not being Christian on the fact that we believe God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost to be 3 distinct and separate beings, as opposed to parts of a single God. They define a Christian as one who holds to the Nicean Creed, and consider the LDS doctrine to be polytheism. There’s a very thorough talk by Jeffrey R. Holland entitled, “The Only True God and Jesus Christ Whom He Hath Sent” that addresses that definition and how it relates to the LDS doctrine.

    I think in that particular case it’s a situation where we have to agree to disagree. I define a Christian as one who believes in Jesus Christ as their Savior and Redeemer and tries to be like Him, and others define a Christian as one who holds to a particular set of specific doctrines. It’s just something you have to define for yourself and know that others may not agree with your definition.

  6. Kasey, I'm with you. I became a Christian at the age of 14 in an evangelical church, and as far as I am concerned I am still a Christian even though I've been a Mormon for almost 20 years now. I never renounced Christ, I seek only to draw closer to Him.

    Anyway, everyone else, can I respectfully suggest that if comments are going to turn into discussions then this is not the most effective or convenient place to hold them. I suggest the Saved Saint page on Facebook because we set it up to be a forum for discussion of issues raised by the book. The link is

    Thank you.

  7. I'm loving this discussion and the various responses to it on the web. It's always interesting to discuss religious differences. I'm always curious about this topic and I like to hear other people's opinions. Though I prefer to focus on what we believe that is similar. I remember going to a Baptist vacation summer school as a child and I loved it! I liked the activities and I loved the religious lessons and even the sermon from the preacher. I remember agreeing with everything he said, even though I'm Mormon, he said nothing that was contrary to what I was taught. I rejoice in our similar beliefs and am proud to call any Christian my brother or sister in Christ.

    1. I went to vacation Bible school too! And I send all of my kids to a Baptist preschool and have never found anything taught there that was so contrary to our doctrine that it concerned me. I love that preschool because everyone there is warm and kind and I know my children are learning the same good Christian values I teach them at home.

  8. Helen Riebold: You state that it's not appropriate to quote Mormon leaders from a hundred years ago. Why not? Especially since many Mormons of today still firmly hold to the theology behind the Snow couplet "As man is God once was. As God is man may be." Our Bibles inform us that God has always been God and was never a man (Psalm 90:2). Our Bibles inform us that only God is God and no man ever will be. Consider God's testimony in Isaiah 43:10: Ye are my witnesses says the LORD... before me there was no god formed, neither shall there be after me.

    I wonder, if you knew that they did hold to that theology would you consider that in itself to be problematic? The theological ramifications are staggering and deeply heretical. God was not once a mere man and man is certainly not deity-in-training. God is forever God and we are forever creation.

    P.S. I learned of this post through a post by a Christian brother:

  9. "understand my deep, deep respect and love I have for the Baptist tradition of Christianity" So what does God think about this so-called tradition? In Mark 7:13I read what Jesus says "Thus you nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And you do many things like that." The Apostle Paul says Galatians 1:14 "I was advancing in Judaism beyond many Jews of my own age and was extremely zealous for the traditions of my fathers." BUT HE HAD GOT IT ALL WRONG as we learn. isaiah 1 vs 14 warns us that God hates them deeply "Your New Moon festivals and your appointed feasts my soul hates. They have become a burden to me; I am weary of bearing them"
    We need to read and read again through the Bible (and only the Bible) and establish that our only hope is a LIVING faith in Jesus Christ. Psalm 146:3 says "Do not put your trust in princes, in mortal men, who cannot save" Forget tradition. Forget all man-made religions Come straight to Jesus - He alone is our mediator. Denominations / cults? Galatians 3:28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus"

  10. I read Mr. Gilpin's article and saw nothing inaccurate about it. One thing that I did see that was inaccurate was Mrs. Riebold's claim that Lorenzo Snow's doctrine is outdated. She also claims that Mr. Gilpin's article was "ill researched."

    In my research I found that next year the LDS Church will release a new official teaching manual titled, "Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Lorenzo Snow." On page 83, Snow speaks of a revelation he claimed to receive.

    “As man now is, God once was:
    “As God now is, man may be.”

    On page 84, this is called doctrine.

    The new manual is already posted on one of the Mormon Church's web sites.

    Before someone makes unfounded claims about what the Mormon Church does and does not teach, what is inaccurate and what is outdated, it might be a good idea to check official sources such as teaching manuals. If Lorenzo Snow's couplet is outdated, why is the Mormon Church going to teach it as doctrine in Sunday school classes next year?

  11. It is a big stretch to say that the article "Evangelising Mormons," is abuse comparable to the extermination order. It sounded more like the Christian evangelists were more interested in saving souls, not killing them.

    A more likely comparison of "evangelizing Mormons" would be a pair of missionaries knocking on doors.

    Tolerance is not coming to agreement with each other. In fact, by definition, there can only be tolerance when there is disagreement. If both sides agreed, there would be nothing left to tolerate.

    Ms. Buttimore and Ms. Reibold believe Mormonism is Christian, while Mr. Gilpin does not. Is it be possible that Mr. Gilpin could be tolerant and at the same time seek to have respectful discussions with Mormons about the specific topic in which they disagree? Of course he can, or else by the same logic, this post about "tolerance" would be intolerant.

  12. I think to fully understand what we mean by Tolerance, and how it can be achieved, you need to read our book.

    1. Do I really have to read a whole book to get a definition to one word? If you mean something other than how the word is normally defined, then I for one would have appreciated an explanation to the title of the blog.

      Like Red said above, tolerance is not agreement. You can only tolerate that with which you disagree. Yet when Christians disagree, they are called intolerant. Huh?

      What was it exactly about Mr Gilpin's article that you found intolerant?

  13. I am an evangelical and our family has been dear friends with a family from the LDS church for many years. I found it quite interesting that Helen and I have come to such drastically different conclusions. Since our paths first crossed with this family I have been earnestly studying their faith (using official LDS teaching tools such as the online version of Gospel Principles) and also earnestly studying my own faith...all in humble prayer for wisdom and discernment before the Throne of Grace. I never want to misrepresent another's beliefs and I felt it was very important to study for myself so that we could have clear and educated conversations. And I found that this process was extremely edifying for our whole family as we delved deeper into the Bible and had many discussions about why we believe as we do. The Lord used this time to send our roots deep into His streams of living water, refine our faith, and grow our compassion and earnest desire to reach the lost.

    Throughout this study I never saw a shred of evidence that the LDS church is just another Christian denomination. We use very similar language...but when I looked below the surface of those words I found that we meant very different things. The burden on my heart for this family and all of those in the LDS church became very heavy.

    Yes, Mormons sincerely follow Jesus Christ...but he is not the same Jesus Christ of the Bible. Yes, Mormons have a gospel...but it is not the same gospel of the Bible. Throughout the New Testament we are warned that there will be false christs and false gospels and admonished to test everything by God's Word. I've done that with the teachings of the LDS church and I agree wholeheartedly with the article in the Baptist Times. Evangelicals need to be reaching out in love and respect to their Mormon family members, friends, co-workers, etc. with the hope of complete forgiveness, cleansing of all sins, righteous standing, adoption into God's eternal family, and the infinitely precious gift of our Father's undeserved grace alone, in Christ's perfect life, death and resurrection alone, by Spirit-wrought faith alone. The work has been done. "It is finished." (John 19:30) And what He starts in us at the moment of our conversion He will be faithful to complete in us "until the day of Christ Jesus" (Philippians 1:6). "And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit" (2 Corinthians 3:18).

    Our desire to reach everyone (including Mormons) with this rock solid hope is not intolerant or abusive. It is called love. Love wants to protect and always rejoices in the truth (1 Corinthians 13:6-7). I assume the LDS missionaries that come to my door do so because they believe they have a message that I need to hear. I believe that I have a message they need to hear. And as "[i]t is written: 'I believed; therefore I have spoken.' With that same spirit of faith [I] also believe and therefore speak" (2 Corinthians 4:13).

    In closing, please remember that members of all religions experience persecution to some extent. There have been countless members of my own faith who have been imprisoned, tortured, and many times murdered for holding fast to their convictions. Let's please reserve words like "abuse", "intolerance", "persecution", etc. for situations that rightly deserve them. I never consider it abuse when Mormon missionaries or our friends want to share their faith with us or disagree with what we believe. I assume they are doing so in love and sincerity. Certainly, there are people out there who are mean-spirited...from all faiths. But I don't believe the people described in this article fall into that category.

    Thank you for your time. I'm grateful to have been directed to this site and will be praying for you. :)

  14. Thanks for your thoughts, Keith, James 1:5 and Red, I think there is a massive misuse of the word tolerance here.

    I think we are going to need to see Mormons move on from their misuse of this word and concept "Anti-Mormon", and that all who speak against the Church must be lying and deceptive etc, before we can move on in our discussions and understanding of each other.

    As this is a smoke screen that is too easily used to help Mormons be able to ignore any challenges to the truth claim of the Mormon Church.

    Also Anna as much as I am sure you want to sell your book, pointing people in that direction rather than respond in a post you authored and therefore started this whole discussion with does make you appear to be very desperate.

  15. On the other hand, I have bought your book today and am looking forward to it so please don't take that too negatively.

  16. Ultimately, I think the point that Anna and her friend were trying to make was that though we Mormons haven't accepted Christ the way you define it, and you Evangelical Christians haven't accepted Christ the way we define it, there are millions upon millions of people out there who have not accepted Christ as their Savior in any way, shape, or form. Why not focus on those who have yet to know Him at all? Why not live the way He would have you live, and let others who define their conversion to Christ a different way than you continue in that path?

  17. If someone hasn't accepted Christ truly, they have not accepted Him at all. As He even said, you are with me or against me, its fairly black and white.

    Please be assured the absolute mass of evangelical Christians are not worried about Mormons at all. Us horrible evangelical Anti-Mormon types that actually love you more than you can know are a minority, but we are here to stay :)

    1. We heathen Mormons aren't going anywhere either . :) And so we must be tolerant of each others definition of accepting Christ. I call Christ my savior, the only being able to return me to the presence of the Father, because of His infinite grace and mercy. His was the last and great sacrifice for fallen mankind. How I choose to worship Him and follow His teachings may be different than defined traditional Christianity, but He is still my God, my Lord, my Savior and my King.

    2. Thanks for that Megan, who knows maybe we can get on and talk some more as time goes on. If there is one thing in tolerance I am ALL for its how cool Mormons are.

      I wish I could hang out with you guys all day everyday,and although sadly I think you are in a faith that is robbing you of the simplicity of Christ's message I can appreciate you believe it like crazy and only want to be in the right place. Thanks for the response.



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