Thursday, 27 November 2008

Equipping the Cults to Deal With the Church - 05

The Prejudice is Petulant

Everyone was milling around after the meeting when an elderly member of the congregation approached me with a tale of having Jehovah’s Witnesses at the door. He had witnessed to them but, apparently, to no avail. Frustrated, he exclaimed, “It’s a waste of time witnessing to these people Mike!” Aghast, I looked at him as if to say, “You can say that - to me?” Seeing the nonplussed look on my face he quickly said, “Oh, you are different Mike.”

I am different and that is because he knows me. Prejudice of the negative kind is the product of ignorance. When a stranger stands on your doorstep sharing views you find alarming, displaying attitudes you find irritating and calling at times you find inconvenient it’s like shutting the door on an irritatingly persistent salesman. But the situations are different as chalk and cheese. The one wants to talk about brushes while the other wants to talk about God.

I often ask people to think of who in their street or community they would wish to witness to had they an opportunity. Now imagine if that person turned up on your doorstep with a Bible and asking if you would like to talk about God. Would you expect it to be a walk in the park? Wouldn’t there be awkward questions? Wouldn’t you expect to deal with misunderstandings; to have disagreements? That is what happens when a Jehovah’s Witness calls and yet...

There is a prejudice against the cultist that is deep-seated and petulant and I think it is based on a mixture of the unreasonable fear we have already discussed and a peevish impatience with the fact that it isn’t “easy”. Like my elderly friend, most Christians just expect witnessing to “work”, the truth to be so blindingly obvious when they pronounce it and the Mormon or JW to be as impressed on hearing as to have the scales fall from his eyes. When “it doesn’t work” that way Christians convince themselves that the JW is being deliberately obdurate; then the shouting begins.


We were doing some Saturday morning outreach in a city centre church, inviting people to come in, have a coffee and take a rest from their Saturday shopping. Inevitably, some visitors were Christians from out of town in the city for the day. One man came with his family and I sat with them for a few minutes making polite Christian conversation. As people are wont to do when they find out my involvement in cult ministry, he began to regale me with his favourite story of an encounter with a Jehovah’s Witness.

He informed the hapless Witness on his doorstep that he was a local Christian pastor and went on to tell him in no uncertain terms what he thought of his religion, ending, “Now leave that Satanic Bible on the doorstep, come inside and let me tell you about Jesus!” Would it surprise you to know that the Witness turned and walked away? It surprised the pastor who shook his head and expressed his amazement at the stubborn obduracy of the average JW.

It is as though we, in our minds, put up shibboleths as tests of orthodoxy for the people we meet. We pronounce the truth and then pronounce them condemned if they do not immediately recognise and declare it their own. We need to accept that Mormons and JWs cannot ‘pronounce shibboleth’, or pass the tests we put up and we need to move on. They are not deliberately and knowingly stubborn. They do not secretly know but deliberately twist the truth. They are deceived by the god of this world and are dead in their trespasses and sins; we need to tell them the truth they do not recognise, show them the life that they don’t have, and point to a better way.

Ask yourself what do you think of the Mormon/JW standing at your door? What is the Mormon’s or JW’s position before God?

Gen.1:26-31 - The person standing there is the pinnacle of creation, made in God’s image

Gen.6:5-6 - The cause of God’s greatest sadness and regret and a broken image

Jn.3:16 - Yet the object of God’s costliest gift with the possibility of being a restored image

Do we appreciate who we are talking to? How can we so summarily judge and so easily dismiss that which God created, grieves over the most and gave the best of heaven to restore?

Previous posts:
If These are Christians
The problem with the Church
The Problem with Anti-Cult Ministry
The Fear is Irrational

Future Posts:
The Prejudice is Petulant
The ignorance is Inexcusable
The Indifference is frightening

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