We had an interesting thing happen tonight. Becky was handing out tracts and saw a group of people walking towards her. She offered them a tract and it turns out that the group was from a Lutheran church in Denton Texas. The youth pastor, Ron Dupree, had heard me speak at a Lutheran workers conference at Concordia Lutheran Church some time last year. He was interested in Manti and e-mailed back and forth with Becky a couple of times about the possibility of them bringing a team up to Manti and having us do some training. Becky was freaked out when Ron greeted her by name, “Hello Becky.”
Totally unbeknownst to us, they had decided to come. There were a total of 10 people in their team. I thought it was funny that the first person they encountered on the street was Becky.
The beginning of my night was spent speaking with one of the local cops, Mark. I noticed that he had skateboard tape on the handle of his gun. Some times shooters will do that to help with their grip on the gun. Mark and I spoke about a lot of things, but not little of anything of a religious nature.
The only other conversation of note was with a guy named CJ. He was on the fringe of a small group of Mormons who were talking to a Christian from Salt Lake named Robert. The dude is a walking library. CJ was trying to jump into the conversation to break it up. I stood next to him and asked if he had a question for the guy speaking (Robert). He said that he really didn’t, he just wanted to make comments. I told him that I would like to hear his comments.
CJ was angry with Robert’s sign, Josephlied.com. He was telling me that we didn’t have an invitation to be there and that what we were doing was rude because we always started out with bad news. Mormons are always saying that we should just talk about what is positive in our religion without saying anything negative about theirs.
I pointed out that since this was a public event, we didn’t need an invitation to be there and then asked what if he served a mission. When he said he did, I asked him what the first lesson was about. He wasn’t sure what I was getting at so I reminded him about the apostasy. He then admitted that Mormonism would make no sense without the apostasy, i.e., the idea that all of Christendom was fallen. I asked him what the difference was in us starting out talking about the problems of Mormonism when they start out talking about the problems of Christianity. I think that was a new thought for him.
Later on in the conversation he said that he knows lots of Christians and that they always accuse Mormons of focusing on works and not grace. He tried to tall me that they believe in grace also. He then said, “We believe in grace too. Yes, we believe that you have to be baptized… and yes, we need to do temple works… and then there is performing the ordinances and keeping the commandments.” I interjected, “And all those other works.” He repeated, “And all those other works, but we really believe in grace!”
I thought it was very telling that he didn’t even see the problem with his last statement.