Does God Really Love Mormons?
Last weekend was General Conference. Aaron, Brandon and I met downtown (as well as a handful of other evangelistic brothers and sisters) to share and proclaim the Gospel amongst the droves of LDS people in and around Temple Square. Aaron and I were holding signs that simply displayed our “Godlovesmormons.com” URL.
We had many interesting reactions–both to the signs, and to our preaching. But the most disheartening interaction that I had all day was not with an angry security guard or a confused LDS youth, but with another “street evangelist” who was handing out printed flyers that had a large photo of Joseph Smith’s seer stone on the front. The man passing out the flyers walked right up to me, paused while he read my sign and asked sarcastically, “So you think God loves people who hate Him, huh?”
What followed was a short, but discouraging interaction where I found myself trying to defend the statement “God Loves Mormons.” His primary challenge was that God does not love unbelievers. Let me begin, not by invalidating his claim…but by genuinely considering the charge. In fact–despite the sarcasm–his opening question was a good one. Additionally, there are a few things that we agreed upon almost immediately (to his surprise–it seemed):
First, I agree that unregenerate people cannot love God. They are enemies of God (Romans 5:10, Colossians 1:21). The kind of “good” that is required for a person to love God (in their flesh) is impossible (Romans 8:7-8). In our natural state, we are spiritually dead (Ephesians 2:1). This is why we need to be born-again…to become spiritually alive (John 3:5-6). Before God saved me, I hated Him. I was His enemy. The same can be said of all of us before being regenerated.
Second, God is not obligated to love us. He is the Creator and we are His creatures. We are not naturally His children…but His creation (1 John 3:10). He does not “owe” us love/mercy/goodness or anything that we might find desirable. If God’s love were obligatory, then He would be indebted to us. Anything good from Him could be considered an “entitlement” rather than a “gift”, according to similar principles laid out in Romans 4.
Third, God does not love everyone in the same way. Why did God choose, make covenants with, protect and deliver Israel in the Old Testament? Deuteronomy 4:37 says, “Because he loved your fathers and chose their offspring after them”. God had a special kind of love for Israel that He did NOT have for the rest of the people in the world. He did NOT love Egypt in this way. Or Canaan. Or any other people group for that matter. His love for Israel was unique.
Additionally, God’s wrath is real. He intensely hates all sin. The Psalmist writes, “you hate all evildoers…the LORD abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man” (Psalm 5:5-6). David proclaims, “God is a righteous judge, and a God who feels indignation every day” (Psalm 7:11). Paul even quotes the OT prophet Malachi, when he writes, “As it is written, ‘Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated'” (Romans 9:13). However you look at these verses, it would be inaccurate for us to deduce that God loves all people in the same way.
SO, HOW CAN I SAY–WITH CONFIDENCE–THAT GOD LOVES MORMONS?
Just to be precise…there are at least two ways that we can biblically defend this statement.
- God Loves the Elect. Many people who do not love God today, will someday repent, believe and be saved. The Bible refers to that group of people (those who will be in heaven) as the “elect” (Romans 8:29-33). Perhaps the most concise argument for this point is made by a simple reading of Romans 5:8:
“But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
For whom did Christ die? Sinners. When did He die for them? While they were still in their sin. Why did Christ die? To demonstrate God’s love for the sinner. Therefore it is certain that every [current] Mormon who is of the elect is loved by God.
For the record, this is actually the point that was in my mind when I initially began the website. Living in Utah, I have many Mormon friends and neighbors whom I have come to know and love. Over the past 3+ years here, I have met many people who used to be Mormon but are now Christians–some of whom have even become believers in the short time we have lived here! We had committed to pray for the Mormon people more than a year before moving to Utah, and see these new conversions as answers to those prayers. I believe that the reason God brought us to Utah is to be a part of the work that He is already doing in the lives of MANY Mormons that He loves, and is drawing to Himself. It is those Mormons that are our “primary target” (to use one of my beloved military terms–oorah).
When I say “God Loves Mormons” the picture that pops into my mind is that of God-exalting churches filled with ex-Mormons tearfully singing praises to God for their new-found salvation…praising Him for extending His love to them, even while they were deeply entrenched in the deceptions of the LDS church.
When I made this point to the man who presented the challenge, he actually agreed with me. I found that interesting because by this admission he undermined his point that God does NOT love people who hate Him. In fact, he agreed that God does, in fact, currently love many people who hate Him (as long as they are among the elect). He then leveled a new charge at me: “Then that sign is misleading. It should say ‘God loves ELECT Mormons’. My response to this new charge brings me to my second point:
I’m running out of time today…but when I return, I will argue my second point: God Loves the non-Elect.