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Robert Millet would do things differently if he were carefully strategizing how fellow Mormons could best pursue interfaith contacts.

"I probably wouldn't have started with evangelicals," said the Brigham Young University (BYU) professor, considering the antagonism between the two groups since Mormonism's beginnings. "If we can have more civil and respectful relations with evangelicals, we can do it with anyone."

Not many years ago, evangelicals would have deemed substantive contact with Mormonism equally improbable. Yet since 2000, small scholarly teams of Mormons led by Millet and evangelical teams led by Fuller Theological Seminary president Richard Mouw have managed to hold 17 intense, closed-door dialogue sessions. The latest, held in mid-October at Wheaton College, centered on proselytism, a topic on which the two sides are intense rivals.

Millet said this is the only ongoing doctrinal dialogue with any outside religious group that occurs with the knowledge—though not yet public authorization, much less participation—of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' (LDS) top leaders, whom Millet advises on ecumenical strategy.

The talks are not the only breakthrough. LDS president Thomas S. Monson and his two counselors permitted Standing Together, an alliance of 90 Utah evangelical churches, to use the historic Salt Lake City Tabernacle for a September 13 revival meeting. Throngs of evangelicals and Mormons enjoyed gospel songs and prayed together.

The emcee, Standing Together president Gregory Johnson, called the event "historic." Evangelist Nick Vujicic said it was "one of the most memorable nights" in a ministry that has taken him to 25 nations, and warmly thanked the LDS leaders.

Mormon leaders specified ...

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Most Improbable Dialogue
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November 2009

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