Monday, April 24, 2006

Legitimate Non-Biblical Question # 2

What is the right thing (and I realize it's probably subjective to each person) to do when you see either Mormons or Jehovah's Witnesses coming down your street to witness to you?

Am I right to even be asking this question at all? As a Christian, I feel I really don't have much to worry about in talking to people whose flags are flying under a different God than mine. At the same time, since both groups claim the word Christian when describing themselves -- or at least I've heard "Christian" as a description even if the headquarters of either group do not make that claim (I"m not sure whether they do or don't) -- that makes it a different conversation than discussing Christ (who is a figure in both religions) with say, an agnostic, atheist, Muslim, Hindu, etc.

I'll be honest. I cringe when I see them coming - it seems I'm usually mowing the lawn or working outside when they come. With the Jehovah's Witnesses, it usually isn't that big a deal - you accept a track from them and they walk on. With the Mormons, and usually it's younger kids (about 18-22 years old), who come on fire wanting to witness to you about their church, the prophets here in the States, God, etc., those boys'll talk to you. I've still got a Book of Mormon that a pair of suit-cladden bikers gave me.

To make the situation stickier, a lot of times I'll have either worked with or for Mormons (as I do now), been friends with them in the past, or at least have acquaintances that I respect that are Mormon. It's hard for me to just want to send them on their way, but inside, that's probably what I want to do.

Different Christians I know have different responses:

1) Some avoid them like the plague, won't accept anything from them, and shut the door on them if they solicit. Not so ironically, those same tactics are used on Christians as well, sometimes (even more ironically) by other Christians.

2) Some jump right in to argue, counter-witness, prove where they're wrong, and call for the witnessing kids/adults to repent there on site.

3) Some take the subtle witnessing tact. They invite them in, invite their elders to their house, trade scriptures, offer Christ's hope, generally with little success.

4) I've been a member at a church that has invited Mormons to the church under the guise of genuine discussions, and then has basically shown a filmstrip on how Mormonism is a cult and then went to # 2 on the list in calling for them to repent and convert. It was pretty ruthless, and despite what I believe, if the roles were reversed, I'd have been pretty pissed (sorry if that's offensive).

5) The easy way: Just throw out the word "Trinity" and watch them run.

Of course, I'm not denying that we have to talk to people, witness to the Gospel, and show them God's love, but I'm not sure a ten minute conversation while they're trying to solicit you is the best time for that. It seems like that's a time, more than likely, where heated arguments are going to take place and people just get more entrenched in their own beliefs. Then again, you may never see these people again, and if they're willing to talk religion, then why not proclaim the Christ of the Bible and the Gospel that leads to Salvation?

What do you guys think?

10 comments:

codepoke said...

First!

(Since there are prizes for that now.)

I'm pretty straight with them. I tell them who I am, what I do for a hobby, and ask them if they want a long talk in which I will not be convinced. :-)

Rich said...

That sounds reasonable.

Your prize is a blue suit and a bike. It's coming your way.

DugALug said...

Rich (Oh Schmoo of Schmoo's)

That codepoke is such a kidder!

Back to the question at hand:

I do try recognize that these people are convicted enough to commit to going door to door and being humiliated, yelled at, cursed at, and/or rejected.

All of them prepare their workers by saying that this is what Jesus said would happen when you preach the truth.

That being said, I try to let God direct my conversations. In Auburn, I somehow was so irritating to some Jehovas witnesses that they came back 2 more times, each time with a higher 'brother' in their church. I may have baffled their understanding of their Gospel, but no one came to know the Lord. I don't know if I acted in the flesh or the Spirit that day. I pray that at the least, I sowed some seeds that someone else will water.

These days, I tell them up front that I am a devout Christian (the 'devout' means I don't just attend church on holy days). I am very happy with my faith, and I am not looking for a change. I will not accept their literature, but I will pray for them.

If they pursue it further, I will answer their questions (trying to temper my answers with honesty and love). All of the time I continue to pray to myself... something to the effect of 'please God give me wisdom.' or 'please let me speek Your truth.'

Again, I have had no converts, but I have been blessed to know I can see the looks on their faces when I can take their bible (usually Jehovas witnesses), and take the scriptures they are quoting and put them what we like to call 'context.' And it nulifies the thrust of their message. I used to do this with the 'let me show you attitude.' Today I do it by posing the questions back at them. By doing this, I am not acting like their judge: it is between God and them.

Again, this needs to be tempered with love.

God Bless
Doug

Rich said...

Are you saying you've grown up, Doug? Because I can hardly believe that!!! Just kidding, of course. You've grown by leaps and bounds since college... and who woulda guessed?

I credit it all to your wife.

DugALug said...

Rich,

Me too: I credit my wife for most things that are good in my life... that Christ didn't already take care of. Oh and there is just so much more to go!

But 'grown up' might be the wrong word... how about I am doing things that resemble maturity. That is probably a tad more accurate. Plus I don't put shaving cream in people's shoes anymore.

-Doug

Rich said...

Plus I don't put shaving cream in people's shoes anymore.

It's the little things that mean everything.

Also, I was joking. If there's any credit to mention, I credit it all to God, not your wife (whom God also gave you). Not that she didn't do her share... I know she did.

DugALug said...

Rich,

I like to think that my wife has bore her burden well. She is a glutton for punishment. I thouroughly prepared her for having actual children (by being me) so our two girls have been pretty darn easy.

She is a living saint.

-Doug

Maeghan said...

I have not encountered any lately. Some years back, I had turned them away telling them I am not interested. But if I meet them now, I would hear them out and ask them (or counter them with) questions. I do not know enough about them but I think I should know enough of Christianity to talk to them. But as Doug said, must be tempered with love.

Danny Haszard said...

Know your enemy i was a JW and went door to door for 33 years!
Tell them to get lost and don't ever come back.-Danny Haszard

P&S said...

Perhaps, it will sound trite, but I think that the need of the moment principle applies here.

When used with the Spirit's prompting, I think many different responses may be appropriate. But He'll know your spiritual maturity and the particulars of the situation better than you.

In any case, spiritual armor is certainly required. 'Course we should have that on anyway, right?