Sometimes when Evangelicals and Mormons discuss religion, sparks fly, but later this week promises a different kind of conversation.
On Thursday, June 8, evangelical Pastor Steven Crane and Brigham Young University professor Brad Wilcox will sit down to discuss the commonalities and differences between Evangelical Christianity and Mormon Christianity.
The event, “An Evangelical-Mormon Conversation” will be held from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Civic Auditorium in Idaho Falls.
“Expect a fun evening,” Rick Lum, pastor at Christ Community Church, told EastIdahoNews.com. “We have some great music and different groups that will be performing before the conversation gets going.”
Crane and Wilcox will discuss topics such as God, Jesus, scripture, the Atonement, Heaven and Hell, the Fall of Man, and salvation.
“We have agreed that our purpose would be to promote healthy dialogue and discussion between evangelicals and Mormons, to model proper conversations, and to bring clarity to the issues in an attempt to learn what we each actually believe,” Crane said. “We are not interested in arguing or debating, but having a genuine, loving conversation about the unique aspects of our respective faiths.”
Christ Community Church in Idaho Falls is hosting the event.
“We are praying that this will be a comfortable setting for our LDS neighbors, a time to listen together concerning matters of utmost importance to both of our respective faiths,” said Pastor Jeff Kennedy of Christ Community Church in a letter. “We are not looking for ‘gotcha’ moments or for a ‘winner.’ We are hoping and praying, rather, for enlarged respect and understanding.
Crane is the senior minister at Eagle Christian Church in Eagle. He received a Master of Arts in Practical Ministry from Pacific Christian College and a Master of Divinity in Theology from Lincoln Christian Seminary, and a doctorate from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in 2007. Crane also teachers part time at Boise Bible College.
Wilcox is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and a professor in the Department of Ancient Scripture at BYU. He authored such books as “Changed Through His Grace” and “The Continuous Atonement.”
Wilcox served a two-year proselytizing mission for the LDS Church in Chile. Although he mostly grew up in Utah, he spent some of his childhood living in Ethiopia. He and his family also have spent time in New Zealand and Spain, where he directed study-abroad programs for BYU.
“What I hope to see and what we’re praying for is that we have conversations that extend beyond the evening,” Lum said. “In other words, that Evangelicals will invite LDS friends and LDS will invite Evangelical friends then at the end of the evening discuss the very natural question: ‘What did you think about what they said?’”