An awful article appeared at The Gospel Coalition recently that talked about how to evangelize your Mormon friend. It is written by the wife of the pastor of Gospel Grace in Salt Lake City. This blog wishes it could be a fly on the wall when this article is passed around in the LDS Ward and further pushes people away from Gospel Grace. Liesl Counterman’s article contained a lot of ignorance about Mormonism. But what stunned me is that she didn’t even mention the Utah Lighthouse Ministry which is the most successful ministry in Utah that engages in evangelism.
“The principles of living greatly include the capacity to face trouble with courage, disappointment with cheerfulness, and trial with humility.”
“Perhaps the surest test of an individual’s integrity is his refusal to do or say anything that would damage his self-respect.“
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in[a] Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 6:23 NIV
Mormon Temple of Washington, D.C.
Why a number of former Mormons left the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Leaving Mormonism is something that is hard and difficult. Its a situation that many people do not understand or relate to especially if you come from outside the LDS faith. When you leave Mormonism you often leave your identity, and you can lose your marriage and be cut off from your family. I had a taste of Mormonism when I looked into it in college, where I came close to being baptized. At the time I was a naïve student in Montana and the experience that I went through was shocking, and stunning. And the challenges that come from Mormonism are indeed deep and full of contradictions. Let me recall one that I experience in Utah when I was flying through Salt Lake City. Well one day when I had along lay over in the airport I saw an article in the Salt Lake Tribune that made my jaw drop and showed the challenges of Mormonism. In an article about the brothel industry of Nevada the Salt Lake Tribune wrote about how the driving force for the brothels were Mormons who crossed the border to visit brothels because of the repressed life they lived in Utah. The article angered the Mormon Church leadership in Salt Lake and I was stunned to see such aggressive journalism. The Salt Lake Tribune was often a thorn in the side of the Mormon Church. So Utah and its Mormon culture are challenging. Its in that context that I saw an article at The Gospel Coalition that talked about evangelizing Mormons and it came from a church founded in Salt Lake City to reach Mormons. The article is named, “4 Ways to Witness to Your Mormon Friend.”
Lukus and Liesl Counterman and Gospel Grace of Salt Lake City
In 2012 Lukus and Liesl Counterman moved to Salt Lake City to plant Gospel Grace. Lukus previously pastored Wichita Falls Baptist Church in Wichita Falls, Texas. He completed his DMin from Dallas Theological Seminary and a PhD in Systemic Theology from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina. In addition Lukus also is an industrial chaplain at Hill Air Force Base in Utah, and has been a reserve pastor in the United States Air Force for almost six years. His wife is Liesl who is a good little complementarian who dots on her husband constantly. This is her first article for The Gospel Coalition, and hopefully her last.
Another Baptist Has Advice For Evangelizing in Utah
The other day Liesl Counterman wrote an article about the challenges of life in Utah and issues such as suicide and mental health issues which have been long documented. And then Liesl has four points of advice to make.
- Listen to their lives and not just their beliefs. Pay attention to what is happening in their lives
- Seek to love them and not just convert them. In thus section she speaks of learning to love others. Being involved in people’s lives and seeing them at soccer games and other events. To counteract insecurity you show unconditional love.
- Stand next to the suffering. Liesl claims that when Mormons suffer they have no where to turn. Suffering helps open the door to those being willing to listen to the Gospel.
- Share your struggles. Liesl talks about being open and honest about sin and failures. Mormons are not open to frank and personal discussions.
This blog would encourage you to read the article in, “4 Ways to Witness to Your Mormon Friend.”
Liesl Counterman is Naïve and Can You Imagine What Will Happen When This Article Makes it Rounds at the Local Ward?
When I was involved in Mormonism the following discussions used to take place. They would; speak about the Baptists and other evangelicals who would target them. And how they would be treated by those evangelicals who focused on converting them. Evangelicals would love to covert Mormons and they are strongly focused on them. But here is Liesl who writes an article about talking about unconditional love and evangelism. What is going to happen when this article is emailed around the Ward in the community she lives in? The person she offered piano lessons to? The person she spoke with at a soccer game. Now they are going to learn there is an ulterior motive and that Liesl Counterman gave that away because of how Baptists traditionally like to brag, which in this case comes in a Gospel Coalition article? Let me put in another away. She tipped her hand, and in the process undermined her husband’s ministry. Oh where is Tim Challies or John Piper to remind Liesl that her only purpose in life is to be practicing bedroom evangelism and outbreed thse heathen Mormons! 4 children is a good place to start!
Most Mormons Who Leave Traumatic Religion Often Don’t Want to be a Part of Religion Afterward
Leaving Mormonism can be traumatic for many people. When you leave Mormonism you not only leave your identity but in some cases people can lose families, marriages and more. There are spouses or husbands in a marriage who sometimes keep their unbelief quiet because they are afraid of a person in the marriage divorcing and they won’t be able to see their children again. So here is the question, why would a Mormon who leaves something traumatic want to get involved in Gospel Grace? When a lot of Mormons leave religion they tend to be done with religion altogether. They become more independent and avoid religion. Does Liesl Counterman understand this?
When the Naïve View of Neo-Calvinist Suffering Clashes with 150 Years of Mormon History
This part of the article I thought showed the naïve view of Liesl Counterman. She makes the claim that Mormons struggle with suffering and claims that suffering brings people to God by opening them up. Really? Well for many Neo-Calvinists suffering is a literal wet dream, and pure fantasy. It also shows that Liesl is an advocate for a particular strain of Neo-Calvinism and not Christian faith she claims to represent. No doubt Jonathan Edwards would approve, and that is about it. Okay maybe John Piper as well. For this blogger this reveals how off base the Counterman’s are. But I would actually draw from Mormon history that shows Mormon stories of suffering.
- Does Liesl know the history of the Mormons in Ohio? The issues with the Mormon bank, Panic of 1837 and the Mormons leaving Ohio?
- What about the Mormons and Missouri? Conflict with Missouri militia? And finally Governor Bogg’s order that Mormons leave Missouri?
- Then you have the Westward migration of 1847 until 1856. How many Mormons suffered and died migrating from the Midwest to Utah? Mormons still talk about this suffering today.
- Then after the Mormon war you have the era of polygamy. Mormons hiding out of fear and the suffering that took place during this time. Don’t get me wrong, Im not defending them just providing a history to show how off base Liesl is in her article.
But Mormons have struggled. When I looked into Mormonism I met some Mormons who were disowned or cut off from their family for converting into Mormonism. That is a lot of suffering that continues. As a suggestion maybe Liesl can spend some time reading up on LDS history before she writes another article for The Gospel Coalition. Just a thought to consider.
Why Does The Gospel Coalition Disregard The Utah Lighthouse Ministry?
And then in everything I read when she speaks about evangelism, Liesl Counterman drops the bomb in ignoring the messages and instruction of one of the most successful Protestant apologists in Utah. That of Jerald and Sandra Tanner of Utah Lighthouse Ministry? Even though Jerald had sadly passed away they have cut their teeth and their ministry is still active the last I heard. The Mormon Church has sued them in 1998, but hey also won the respect of many Mormons through their diligence and research of LDS history. I remember one time after I pushed back from Mormonism I spoke with Jerald Tanner on the phone, and I asked him what should people do? He said above all else love the Mormons. Instead of working on another Neo-Calvinist church plant, maybe the Countermans should spend a little more time learning from Sandra Tanner. Again just a thought…
This blogpost is a little harsh but after reading the article and reflecting on my own experience on Mormonism, what I once heard inside Mormonism and knowing the problems with Neo-Calvinist theology I thought it was worth some time writing a response. Many evangelicals like to descend on Utah thinking they will make a difference theologically. In the end they only cause more harm. And that is exactly what Gospel Grace is all about. After all their membership covenant is about as sacred as an endowment ceremony in the Salt Lake Temple. Or another way to say it having someone bless and anoint your genitals with oil. But to the LDS Church’s credit they changed the ceremony on 2005. Whereas Gospel Grace still plows forward. Got to love Baptists!