While I applaud all efforts to evangelize Mormons, I do not believe that Dr. George Wood (General Superintendent of the Assemblies of God) engaged in such an effort when he spoke to Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and BYU students. I read his explanation of involvement carefully several times. In my opinion his words do not match reality. While he claims to have been led by the Holy Spirit, the Mormons perceived his words to be favorable to the point of endorsement. A case in point is the article in BYU’s online magazine, The Digital Universe, concluding that Dr. Woods inferred, God is playing a role in all religions and that Christians are more united than they sometimes think. Dr. Wood erroneously stated that the release attributed the statement to him. Instead, it was the perception of his speech by Mormons. Further evidence of Dr. Wood’s effect on the Mormons is evidenced by Professor Andrew Skinner of the Department of Ancient Scripture that remarked, You can feel the Spirit of God with him when you shake his hand. For one to recognize or feel a kindred spirit in someone filled with the Spirit of God, he would need to be indwelt by the same Spirit. Dr. Wood also said of Mormon elder Jeffery Holland, His response immediately bonded my heart to him. What impression were the Mormons actually receiving from Dr. Wood?
It is clear that what Mormons were feeling in Dr. Wood was not the Spirit of God, but a spirit of comradely acceptance, cooperation, and social ecumenism. Dr. Wood states as much when he declares that he met with several LDS leaders and a few members of the BYU Law School and Religious Education faculties regarding common concerns: religious liberty, how to work effectively to resist the cultural and secular pressures to push persons of faith out of the public square, the increasing coarseness within secular culture and the pressure that exerts on youth; as well as issues related to abortion, homosexuality, same-sex marriage, and end of life concerns. This opportunity manifested after Dr. Wood and a number of evangelicals met in the Utah governor’s mansion for an address by a top LDS leader. Dr. Wood goes on to state, If evangelicals, Roman Catholics, LDS and others can stand together on issues of marriage as between a man and woman, right to life, and religious freedom – our country and culture will be better for it. That may or may not be true, but will Mormons be better for this unity by social gospel? Will the millions of professing Christians that they proselytize be better for it? Will the kingdom of God be better for it? To all those questions I answer with a resounding “no”. To believe otherwise is to focus on the temporal rather than the eternal perspective.
God did not call His church to unite and consort with cults (or pagans) to save the world from the consequences of the fall. He did not instruct us to join with diabolical people to build a better society. He called us to expose their works of darkness and reveal the path to deliverance through Jesus Christ. Sadly, it appears that Dr. Wood has done more to validate Mormonism than he has to expose it as a dangerous and extremely deceptive cult. By his gregarious and unabashed courting of their cooperation on social issues, he has marginalized their heresy and to a great extent elevated them to a degree of equality with Christianity. Many AoG members may fall victim to their evangelism as a result of this validation. They will not be able to discern Dr. Wood’s intent. All they will know is that he favored Mormonism with his title and office.
In my opinion, the interfaith (another term for ecumenism) agenda of Standing Together, the group Dr. Wood associates with, is no different than what the heretical Emergent Church is engaged in. The vision of Standing Together is: Advancing Biblical Unity and Spiritual Transformation in Utah. In their values section, they state: We affirm that there is one Church in Utah that meets in various locations. When churches love and pray for one another, our witness for Christ is credible and effective. Unprecedented unity will contribute to healthier local churches and transformed lives by the thousands. Spiritual Transformation is a pagan system of beliefs and practices that is invading Christianity at an alarming rate. It has been touted by New Age and professing Christian leaders as the bridge that unites all religions. They also claim to have a biblical basis for what they call Interfaith Dialogue, but the link was inactive. It is clear from the Scriptures that God wants us to evangelize the lost properly, not to assemble with and form alliances with them. He commands us to expose the unfruitful works of darkness, not gloss over their heresy and sins with warm bonding words of empathy and communion. A true interfaith dialogue begins with distinguishing the difference between light and darkness. Such a dialogue must present the Gospel of Christ Jesus that calls people out of darkness into His marvelous light.
In closing his response, Dr, Wood commended the Mormons for their kindness and respect. He also presented a statement by Pastor Ray Smith who commended him for speaking in their language (Story, Faith, and Family). Their language? I must inform Pastor Smith that true Christians have the same if not greater affinity for story, faith, and family. In fact, true Christians have a much better quality of faith because our God is the true and only God. We have a better family because true Christains love our wives as the true Christ loves the church. We have a better story, the greatest story ever told, the Gospel of Jesus Christ. On the other hand, Mormonism is an example of delusional obeisance to a heretical con artist and one of the worst family men in modern religion, Joseph Smith. Further, I could not under any circumstances agree to uniting with them on the issues of religious liberty when they hold millions captive in spiritual bondage. I could not in good conscience join them on issues of morality when they have no compunction about spreading a deadly deception that has resulted in multitudes entering eternity unsaved. To do so is an indication of how weak and non-discerning many professing Christians have become.
In conclusion, I believe that it is obvious the Holy Spirit was not involved in this event. After two years of involvement with Mormons, Dr. Wood has made some dear friends, bonded with LDS leaders, won their respect, and incited them to believe that they have achieved one of their major goals, acceptance by mainstream Christianity. One could hobnob with a group of atheists in the same manner, speak at their conference, and leave them with the same impression. It all adds up to one thing, i.e., there was no conviction by the Holy Spirit at that meeting. However, Dr. Wood claims that he was led by the Holy Spirit. I find it difficult to believe that a group of people immersed in great darkness, deceived and most likely possessed by demons, would feel comfortable, accepted by, and a kinship with the Holy Spirit. I also doubt that the Holy Spirit would pass up an opportunity to convict such a group of their lostness and bondage. Conviction is the primary work of the Holy Spirit.
And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment: (John 16:8 NKJV)
Although sinners may feel a Christian’s love, acceptance, and compassion for them, they will also feel conviction. I do not believe that it is possible to be anointed by the Holy Spirit without sinners being convicted. Further, I do not believe it is possible for a Spirit-filled believer to speak to a group of deceived and delusional sinners without his or her words being anointed unless the believer has somehow quenched the Holy Spirit. If ones agenda is to gain respect, cause people to feel comfortable and accepted, and to establish a bond of friendship and communion, there will be no conviction in that one’s words. In fact, that agenda is carried out by thousands of Christian preachers every Sunday morning. Some of them, such as Joel Osteen, Rick Warren, Judah Smith, and other pastors of mega churches, are masters of speaking without a hint of conviction. They convert a great number of followers, not of Christ, but of them. Accolades from sinners after one speaks are the hallmark of a dead message, enticing words of man’s wisdom, lacking the demonstration of the Holy Spirit and power.
Dr. Wood apparently believes that he was led by the Holy Spirit to spend two years with an Emergent group currying the favor of the LDS. But remember, this is the same Dr. Wood that invited a New Age guru, Ruth Haley Barton, to speak at the General Council. He is the same AoG leader that promotes Spiritual Formation and its deadly heresy Contemplative Prayer. It is the same Dr. Wood that supports Emergent heretic Rick Warren. This is the Dr. Wood that engineered and ensconced into the AoG an ecumenical agreement with the Roman Catholic Church. Now he joins with an ecumenical/interfaith group to socialize with and give validity to Mormonism. In my opinion, Dr. Wood is in lockstep with the Emergent Church Movement and will continue to carrying out what he believes is God’s agenda to turn the AoG into the largest New Age denomination in the world. His clever response will be sufficient for individuals that need only the skin of a reason to continue supporting him. For the ones that discern by the Holy Spirit, it falls well short of an adequate explanation.