2007-07-11 - Summer Questions
2007 #5 ~ Dealing with Cults
Exodus 5:9, "Pay no attention to false words."
Today's question: "How do you respond to representatives of cults who come to your door or approach you in a parking lot?....I would like to respond in a way that gives them food for thought, rather than incites an argument, and stand my ground while quickly dismissing them. I do care about the fact that these people are grossly misled (I was raised in another cult as well) but often don't have the time to engage them. I also don't want to fall into the trap of being engaged by them because I know that's what they want to do. Any suggestions??"
I have trimmed down your question some, but I hope I have left enough to give a general idea. I want to first of all thank you for this question, because it hits home with just about everyone reading this. What do we do with Jehovah's Witnessess on the beach boardwalk (where I seem to encounter them), or Mormons at the door? We want to winsomely share the love of Jesus with them, but they are trying to share with us. I guess what I would first point out is that what they are trying to share with us is a threat to our faith commitments - and to others' eternal souls. They are not bringing us, or anyone, the message of hope in the grace and mercy offered in Christ's death and resurrection to all those who come to Him by faith, seeking forgiveness for sin. They offer nothing of the kind, and it doesn't matter what they say they are offering. At the root of all these cults is a works righteousness, in which the sinner saves himself/herself by attachment to their church. It is not the free offer of the Gospel in Jesus that they are peddling. It is salvation by works, and salvation by any means outside of Christ is a counterfeit, made-up, phony, sham, fake, bogus gospel.
You are right that these cults seem to come at the most inopportune times. I guess that is, as they say, the way it goes. I don't think we need to "beat ourselves up," when we simply dismiss them and go on our way. I think most of the times, that is exactly what we should all do. Please remember that, as young as these recruits often look, they have gone through a long period of training in how to engage you in conversation, keep the conversation on their terms and - most importantly - how to handle any responses from those who say they are Christians. Most of us have not had such training, and it would be best for us not to engage them. It is probably best to simply say, "No thank you," and shut the door or walk away.
If you are going to engage them, I would suggest you keep it quick. Here is what I suggest. Say something like the following, "I consider myself a Christian, but I don't believe you are. I think you are in a cult. I don't desire to have a discussion with you, and I don't want any of your material, but let me leave you with one thought. In the final judgment, by the teachings of your own church, I am going to be fine. I will not suffer God's eternal wrath in hell. However, if what I believe is true, in the final judgment, you will be condemned and sentenced to eternal damnation. In other words, if you are right, and I am wrong, we are both going to be OK. But if I am right, and you stay in your cult, and you are wrong, you will burn forever in hell - and I will be with the saints in glory. Either way, I am fine, and thus you really have nothing to offer me. I will stick with my faith. Thank you," and then I would walk away.
I hope this is somewhat helpful, but most of all, I would encourage Christians not to engage them. As you say, it is what they are seeking. You are not doing God a favor by keeping them occupied. You may be doing harm to yourself. You are not keeping material from getting to another by taking it from them. They keep track of how many fliers and tracks they give out, and by taking them, you are only encouraging them to print more. Thank you for your wonderful and practical question.
Soli Deo Gloria,