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Greater Atlanta Area

Country: United States
State or province: Georgia

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Clarence Burkholder

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Which will it be? Your church or mine?

April 6, 2020

Amos, a Mormon student at a big university in Georgia, wanders by a St. Paul Street Evangelization table one day on campus. He’s curious about the Catholic faith.

“Free Rosaries!” the SPSE evangelist, Clarence, says. Amos responds, “I am of a different faith.” Flashing a friendly smile, Clarence quips, “How do you know what faith I am? Is it the Rosaries?” A chuckle or two and the ice is broken. One Mormon, one Catholic get down to matters of faith.

Clarence asks Amos about his Mormon beliefs. Amos, it turns out, is very inquisitive and asks Clarence about his own beliefs. Going deep quickly, Clarence throws Amos a challenge: “Should I join your church or should you join mine?” Amos laughs and adds, “I think both of us have a preference, but I think it is always worth discussing.”

"Well," said Clarence, “Let me challenge you the way that I would challenge any Mormon. In the Book of Mormon, you have revelation after the death of the last apostle.  With all other Christians, public revelation ends with the death of the last apostle. However, Mormons believe revelation concerning salvation follows the death of the apostle John.”

Clarence says, presents a big problem.

“The Mormon revelation that you have contradicts history—like the twelve apostles, the Latter Day Saints you have in this country. There is no history for it,” Clarence notes. “We have history for the original twelve apostles going back to Jesus Christ. Also in the Catholic Church we have history. The Mormons may say that they have history, but they don’t have reliable historical evidence, including archaeological evidence. We Catholics do, however.”

Amos pauses and stammers ''ah uhhm." His beliefs are being hit head-on _ and hard.

Clarence isn't bullying or knocking Amos over the head. In gentleness and love, he's just pointing out a glaring inconsistency with Mormon beliefs. He's read up already on the Church of the Latter Day Saints, knowing and praying for Mormons he might meet __ people like Amos to lovingly guide into the one, holy, apostolic and Catholic Church.

Mormons believe some unusual things, Clarence knew from his study. They insist God didn't create the world out of nothing. They adhere to baptizing certain dead ancestors. They hold erroneously that Jesus wasn’t eternally God, and even abide by the notion that each planet has its own god. Notions and more that contradict Catholic Truth, as Clarence explains.

"Amos," says Clarence, “Mormons contradict much of Christian public revelation that ends with the death of the last apostle, John. Catholics have a whole lot of revelation after the death of the last apostle. But it's private revelation, meaning it doesn’t add to our knowledge of salvation.”

Now Amos is thinking hard, challenged perhaps like never before by a Catholic evangelist. “Um hum," he manages to say.

Clarence tells Amos where he can find Truth with a Capital T: “Christ gave us a Church established with the original twelve apostles and that Church is the Catholic Church. It started with the twelve apostles and Christ also gave them ministerial gifts, of which one of them is to protect the Truth. This gift is not in your church. In my church this gift is present to protect the Truth, the essence of what the apostles gave us for our salvation.”

What's more, Clarence adds: “I need my Church shepherding me. Part of the shepherding is the Truths that have been preserved from Christ and the apostles. I need to be shepherded because I have a fallen nature. How does that sound?”

Amos, enlightened, says, “I think that is great.”

Then comes the kicker as Clarence asks, “Then will I see you at church on Sunday?” “Probably not,” Amos says with a laugh. "But I hope I will see you around. If I do, I will stop by. It was terrific.”

He's been challenged to think about his own beliefs. But it comes not by shouts from an evangelist's bullhorn, and certainly not by put-downs of Mormons or their beliefs.

As Amos says goodbye, he tells Clarence something unexpectedly: “You taught me about things I didn’t know ... I enjoyed talking to you, a practicing Catholic, informing me about your Catholic faith, which I find invigorating.”

"Awesome," says Clarence, surprised by the gratitude of a seemingly chance conversation.

Unexpectedly, in a moment of God's choosing, Amos has met with Catholic Truth. And one day the seeds planted this day may bring forth a blossoming of conversion and faith.