Thursday, March 5, 2015

In for the Long Haul

Travis Kerns is a missionary for the North American Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention with "a Ph.D. in applied apologetics with a focus on Mormonism from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary." According to this article he has come to Utah as part of the "Send North America church planting initiative."

At the end of the article there is a telling statement:
"In 18 years of doing this, I've only seen two people convert from Mormonism to Christianity," said Kerns, who notes that on average it takes from two to seven years for most Mormons to convert, the majority being closer to seven years. "Being around leaders of the LDS church to share my faith with them drives everything that I do."
Since Mormons are Christians, Mormonism is part of Christianity. Kerns would probably take offense if someone talked about converting someone else from being a Baptist to being a Christian. Kerns does not realize that Mormons find this sort of statement offensive. It would not be the first time that someone with a Ph.D. in a living religion had no clue about the actual religious believers in the religion he had studied (for another example see here). I wonder if his degree counts as being in Mormon Studies.

What is more interesting about this statement is the numbers reported. They provided an anecdotal match to what some sociological studies have observed, which is that most Latter-day Saints do not leave the Church to become born-again Christians; they leave to become irreligious. I observed a number of years ago (here on pp. 197-198):
Ironically, the result of evangelical countercult “evangelizing” among Latter-day Saints is that those who do abandon their faith usually become nonreligious rather than evangelical. Rather than adopting evangelical belief, they abandon belief altogether. In this sense evangelical “evangelizing” can result in people ceasing to believe in Christ.
As a friend of mine said:
May he be received well.  May he be successful in leading faithless people to faith in Christ.  May the people of Utah treat him kindly.  May he have no success whatever in seducing faithful Latter-day Saints away from the Restored Church. 
At the rate he is going it will take him only 450 years to plant a Church.