I have browsed these forums for a while, but I only just created an account. I’m a very traditional cradle Catholic well-versed in my faith, but I love reading the discussions about everything on this forum.
Currently, I have a Mormon coworker (LDS, not any of the reformed branches), who has been asking me about Catholicism. He even came to mass with me at Notre Dame cathedral here in Paris. From what I can tell, he is still very skeptical about our faith and quite rooted in his upbringing as a practicing Mormon, but I am thankful that he is at least curious enough to ask me questions and even come to the mass.
I have found my conversations with my Mormon friend both hopeful and maddening at the same time: the more I listen to him, the more I am convinced that Joseph Smith-- wittingly or unwittingly- basically copied the structure of the Catholic Church, but theologically, we differ so profoundly that I am amazed whenever any former LDS member finds his way to the truth in Catholicism.
Unfortunately, my friend has exhibited a lot of the typical Mormon traits (“either it’s all true, or it’s a lie, but you just have to have faith,” “you just need to read the Book of Mormon and ask God to reveal to you whether or not it’s true,” etc.), and when he has pushed back against my efforts to explain Catholicism, his arguments are the usual salvos we hear all the time (“The Catholic Church of today doesn’t look anything like the Church of the 1st century,” “there were plenty of bad popes so how do you trust what they say,” “the Crusades, the Inquisition,” etc., ad nauseam). When I’ve proposed looking at the historical record to examine the veracity and trustworthiness of Joseph Smith’s claims vs. the historical record which lends strong support to the Catholic Church’s claim to be the Church of the first century, he doesn’t seem able to understand my appeal to both reason AND faith and instead gets worked up about how I have to use just as much faith to believe that Jesus was resurrected (for lack of historical evidence) as he does to believe that Joseph Smith really did translate the golden tablets.
All of that being said, though, I think that the structural similarities between our Church and Mormonism intrigue him, and he himself asked me to compile a list of “Top 10” books about Catholicism that I would recommend to him, so I’m hopeful that he isn’t completely blinded by faith but is amenable to reason, as well.
Here’s the thing: I grew up in a protestant school, and most of my apologetics experience has come from explaining the faith to them rather than our more off-beat, quasi-Christian cousins in the Mormon faith. I know a lot of the big names like Peter Kreeft, Scott Hahn, Fulton Sheen, etc., but I was wondering if anyone has some recommendations specifically for approaching Mormons, especially writings that can offer a compelling presentation of such sticking points as the nature of God in the Trinity, the way grace works through the sacraments, and especially anything which can clearly show that the first 12 apostles taught the same doctrines that we do today.
Of course, it doesn’t have to be just books; I definitely want to include Fr. Robert Barron’s excellent Catholicism television series on the list, and any articles or videos you can think of would be most welcome.
Lastly, please pray for my coworker in his search for the truth. Based on our exchanges and how agitated and insistent he becomes when pressing his points, I have the strong impression that his faith in Mormonism is not as stable as even he might believe, else I don’t know why he would be willingly asking me for information about our faith. In my experience, Mormons tend to be discouraged from questioning their faith too much lest they be considered doubting, so I am encouraged by his continued dialogue.
Furthermore, my other Mormon colleague once remarked to me that when he visits the Sacré Coeur Basilica (my favorite church here in Paris, and incidentally, a perpetual adoration chapel), he feels a peaceful presence unlike any of the other churches he has been in, which astonished and greatly touched me, since he does not exactly understand the Real Presence of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament. I am convinced that, as Dostoevsky said, “Beauty will save the world,” and it is clear to me that there is a great Beauty reflected in our physical churches which draws people to the Beauty of the truth of our faith.
Merci beaucoup in advance for your prayers and assistance!