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Faith Dialogue


Greg Johnson believes in truth and he believes that when people with differing world views dialogue in the spirit of genuine love and respect incredible things can be discussed. While raised in the Mormon faith, Pastor Greg has spent the last 22 years as an Evangelical Christian, and the last 11 years in full time Christian service in Utah. His philosophy of inter-faith dialogue is that "honesty and civility lead to relationships of integrity."

Traditional forms of outreach to the LDS have largely focused on apologetic confrontations that have lead to a great deal of tension between members of the Mormon faith and Evangelical Christians. When two people are determined to prove each other "wrong" and to persuade the other that only there position is valid, they tend to communicate aggressively, often not realizing how polemical they are becoming. Greg believes that only when we honor I Peter 3:15 (all of it), which says we are to give an answer for the hope that lies within us, but to do so with gentleness and self respect, can we truly communicate with others our conviction of Jesus Christ. While individuals should not compromise their faith understanding simply to be a peace with others, we surely can learn from the Bible that we are to love those who are different than we are, even theologically different, and that doing so does not suggest that we accept their teachings or views. If Jesus could tell us to love our enemies in the Sermon on the Mount, and if Jesus could tell a story where the Samaritan is the only one called "good," and we know that Samaritans were certainly not an appreciated group of people to the Jewish community, then how is it that Latter-day Saints and historic Christians struggle so to be friends and to communicate?

Pastor Greg has taken his convictions regarding an approach of dialogue and genuine diplomacy to the streets with his good friend, Dr. Robert Millet, professor of Religion at Brigham Young University. Dr. Millet, former Dean of the Religion program at BYU, author of over 40 books, and current Richard L. Evans Chair holder, is a first rate Mormon scholar and theologian. Since their first meeting in April of 1997, Greg and Bob have fostered a genuine friendship and association. They have had many lunches together, traveled across the country together, and present a public seminar entitled, "An Evangelical and a Mormon in Conversation," where they communicate how they have maintained their friendship and at the same time discussed candidly their theological differences and concerns for one another.

"We need to try harder as Evangelicals," says Pastor Greg, "to love people we say we love (the Mormon people), but who often feel that we (Evangelicals) despise them and their faith. Not too long ago, for example, I witnessed an Evangelical passing out evangelistic tracts at the LDS Salt Lake Temple, while an LDS woman was screaming at him, 'why do you hate us,' as he yelled back, 'I don't hate you, I love you.'" When the person we say we love thinks we hate them, somehow we are failing to make our point, and it would behoove us not to insist that such people simply do not understand us, but rather that we should probably attempt to communicate differently to them hoping that we can more effectively reveal our Christian love for them. If you would like to know more about "An Evangelical and a Mormon in Conversation," please read the newspaper transcript from Logan, Utah where Greg and Bob presented their seminar to a packed audience at Utah State, which was a co-sponsored by the Campus Crusade for Christ campus group and the LDS Institute of Religion. One could also read "How Wide the Divide?" by Robinson and Blomberg to better understand this philosophy of outreach.

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