Believest Thou That There is a Great Spiritthis is God

Bryan Richards

Ammon again demonstrates good missionary technique. He builds upon the knowledge base of the investigator instead of attacking his belief system. Ammon could have said to Lamoni, "well your fathers' tradition of believing in a Great Spirit is all wrong. In actuality, the Father has a body of flesh and bones so the concept of God as a Spirit is not correct." Instead, he finds out Lamoni's level of understanding and then begins to build from there; Paul uses this same method on Mars Hill (Acts 17:22-31). There is no reason to tear down his belief system and start from scratch. This will only offend him.

When missionaries teach other Christians, this is an important principle. It is tempting at times to go into long discourses about why this or that sectarian doctrine is wrong. This is usually unnecessary. A Christian investigator often has a lot of light and knowledge which just needs some molding. This is the pattern that Ammon demonstrates. President Hinckley demonstrated his sensitivity to other Christian beliefs when he was asked why the Mormon's don't uses crosses.

Gordon B. Hinckley

"I responded: 'I do not wish to give offense to any of my Christian brethren who use the cross on the steeples of their cathedrals and at the altars of their chapels, who wear it on their vestments, and imprint it on their books and other literature. But for us, the cross is the symbol of the dying Christ, while our message is a declaration of the living Christ.'
"He then asked: 'If you do not use the cross, what is the symbol of your religion?'
"I replied that the lives of our people must become the only meaningful expression of our faith and in fact, therefore, the symbol of our worship.
"I hope he did not feel that I was smug or self-righteous in my response." (Be Thou An Example, pp. 85-6)