The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is changing. Once a marginal, persecuted sect isolated in the frontier regions of Utah in the 19th century, the movement popularly known as “Mormonism” has entered the American mainstream. Out with the “old”, in with the “new”.
Years ago, the stereotypical Mormon was a clean cut, college-aged student wearing a white buttoned-down shirt and a name tag, riding down your street on a bicycle. Now he is a professional business executive, a famous entertainer, or even a presidential candidate. In the “old” Mormonism, a Mormon was someone who wore weird underwear and perhaps thought that he might become a god of his own planet someday. Now in the “new” Mormonism, he is happily married and upholds traditional and wholesome American family values and loves his country. Sure, Mormons still have the bicycles and the underwear, but now they are those good-looking neighbors next door who always seem so nice and friendly and hug their kids…. Yeah, come to think of it… in my experience, every single Mormon gal I have ever met has been really cute.
But the Latter Day Saints (LDS) are changing in other ways, too. True, new membership rates indicate over 14 million LDS members worldwide and that number is steadily rising. However, the rates for active membership are actually in decline. LDS General Authority Marlin Jensen has stated that “attrition has accelerated in the last five or ten years.” Some research shows that even since the early 1990s, for every new Mormon convert there is at least one Mormon who leaves the church or simply becomes inactive. The LDS movement is hemmorraging, and hemmorraging fast. Out with the “old”, and in with the “new”. What explains these changes? How can evangelical Christians respond to the changes within Mormonism when doing apologetics? Continue reading