I have been meeting with an older man (mid-70’s) and a younger man (mid-30’s) for several weeks now. They are Jehovah’s Witnesses and the conversation has been going very well. I have been praying that God would open their eyes. However I am having a discussion with another member here at this forum who thinks that God doesn’t want to call people out of their religions into anther one, aka “Christianity”. He doesn’t have a problem with Christ, but he does have a problem with Christianity. What do you all think? Do you think that a sincere Mormon or JW already knows Christ and therefore doesn’t need any witnessing? I guess it must come down to what it means to be “in Christ”. Thoughts?
I think that the issue is less about a replacement of religion, and a growth in the knowing of Truth.
The doctrines of the Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Mormons on the nature of God, and subsequently their view of God, and then their actions based on those views - I find to be disturbing, and personally to be deviant from Truth. These deviations cause road blocks and hindrances in their growth in knowing Him who is Truth. It is here that witnessing is important, sharing what we know of the Truth with those whom the Truth loves, saves, and wants them to know Him better.
It is a complicated issue, because relationships are complicated. But as far as the religions of other people go, Truth is a person, not a system. That person is the one who draws men to seek Him, otherwise they wouldn’t. But for us in witnessing, we are ministers of the reconciliation and so we are called to share Good News, Testimony, and to share what we know of Truth, our experiences with Truth, and to grow in Truth and to know Truth better, and more truthfully in spirit and in truth.
I would say…this is the fundamental problem with religions and denominations that are Christ influenced, that is, influenced by the figure of Christ; is that the religion is not the person, not the figure. But the peripheral “stuff” that springs out of people’s thoughts, hopes, dreams, ideas, practices, and general habits read into, and read out of - the relationship one has with the person of Christ.
The quality of the relationship is the key factor. A distant relationship that is more or less an acquaintance with Christ will lead inevitably to a religion that expresses that distance. A relationship with Christ based on the religion, will inevitably be a vapid one. People do not need to be called out of religions into other ones, but rather people need to be called towards deeper and closer relationships with the figure - which will change the religion around that figure.
Take for example, our change. Going from Endless Hell theology to Universal Reconciliation, our religion has significantly changed as well as our doctrines, our understanding, our hopes, thoughts, dreams, practices, and habits surrounding the figure have changed. However, the figure - Christ, has not changed. The faith; Jesus, has not changed.
God, has not changed. We, have changed.
I agree with Lefein.
I trust that many Mormons and JWs do have a relationship with Christ, and thus are “in Christ” from the “present” perspective, though I trust that all are ultimately saved “in Christ” from the “eternal” perspective. I share with them like I share with any other disciple of Jesus. And concerning sharing with others who are not followers of Christ, I gladly share with them my faith in Christ also. Ultimately though, I trust in God to open our eyes to see Him better, open our hearts to draw closer to Him, and open our minds to understand Him better. It’s ultimately up to Him to reveal to us the truth concerning everything including the truth concerning His nature and ourselves.
As Lewis said somewhere, Christianity is like a wheel. The closer we are to the center, the closer we are to each other.
In one of The Narnian Chronicles, perhaps it was The Last Battle, one of the Calormene, a servant of the wicked god, Tash, meets Aslan. The Calormene is much afraid, realizing that he made a big mistake is serving Tash instead of Aslan. But Aslan re-assures him with these words: “Do not be afraid my son. All your life you have been doing good, serving other people. You believed that you were serving Tash. But I receive all of your service to Tash as if it were service to me!”
P.S. I’m relating this by memory, and so it may not be particularly accurate.
I think you would find that there would be way less JW’s who had a relationship with Christ. I witnessed to many JW’s and their theology is literally a bit hostile toward Christ. They think Christians over-emphasize him very much. In fact, in a recent visit to their website, the first thing that I came across about Christ introduced him as being a “created being who was inferior to the father”! In their theology there are no longer any people being “born again”, “in Christ”, or part of the “new covenant”. They think that that has already been filled by the 144 thousand and that the remainder are not in the covenant with Christ. Salvation comes from John 17:3, “taking in knowlegde of Jehovah”. As a result they will try to pay lip service to Jesus when meeting with you, but eventually they will be trying to discredit him to you in many ways. As a result, Christ isn’t very revered in JW circles and a “personal relationship” with him is seen as being weird and irrelevant. I have known Mormons over the years who did seem to genuinely love Christ, though. This changes of course as you get to religions that do not include Christ as part of their theology.
I think what people are saying here is that we don’t want to convince people to just trade one religious system for another, but to call them to follow Christ Himself. That should be the focus of our evangelistic efforts— whatever religion a person professes to hold, to show them Christ is the important thing, not necessarily to convince them of Christianity. A true Christianity should be the outcome of people all trying to follow Christ – being disciples together – but too often we just integrate people into our established system of religion and think that’s the same thing.
LOL – am I making any sense? is this what others are thinking too?
Didn’t realize that about JWs. So it’s kind of a weird Gnosticism, eh? Obviously anything people trust in besides Christ will eventually disappoint and not get em to God. Thanks for sharing your experiences with them.
Makes perfect sense to me!
Despite the fact that I spend my time writing thousands of pages of apologetics for ortho-trin Christianity, I actually agree with you.
I agree with you completely.
This is one of the reasons that I left the Instititional Church over six years ago. It was more about keeping the numbers up in our group, then just making followers of Christ.
And I believe that if they truly seek and follow Christ, all other false beliefs and religious trappings will fall away.
I think that makes perfect sense! One of the main problems with old-style missions (and many modern missions still) is that they were trying to take other cultures and turn them into western style Christianity. So you had tribal Africans going to a building, sitting in rows of chairs, wearing suits/ties, etc. and having “western church”. Many no longer do that today, but there is still the ECT
***This is one of the reasons that I left the Instititional Church over six years ago. It was more about keeping the numbers up in our group, then just making followers of Christ.
And I believe that if they truly seek and follow Christ, all other false beliefs and religious trappings will fall away.***
Besides ECT, what are some of the trappings of the evangelical church today?
Most Christian IMO are ignorant as to how the church got to where it is today and how much of current church practices are due to simple accumulation of traditions, with little or no biblical grounds to stand on. Everything from church buildings, order of worship, tithing, Christian education and the Pastor (sorry guys, I know there are some of the clergy on this forum here, this is not a personal attack on you guys ). I believe that history is repeating itself today. Contemporary Christianity has fallen into the error of both the Pharisees and the Sadducees.They have added a ton of humanly devised traditions that have suppressed the living, breathing functional headship of the Lord Jesus Christ in His church.
I would highly recommend Frank Viola and George Barna’s Pagan Christianity? as a good place to start if you are interested in shaking loose of a few millinium of traditional baggage. Then read Frank’s book Reimagining Church to see a biblical view of the original intent for the church, where the body of Christ is an organic, living, breathing organism that is free to be the expression of its heavenly Head.
I’m pround to be a free range chicken today
I’m not out of the closet yet and am going to a conservative Baptist church. My daughter is really plugged in to her youth group and is making great friends. My son is not that plugged in yet. My wife is not on the same page as me. She is somewhat open to what I have to say, but at the same time she is the kind of person who doesn’t question God. So she doesn’t have a problem with ECT. She doesn’t like it, but can accept it if it is true. I’m trying to convince her, but so far she is agnostic. She is afraid of the chaos that will happen if she pursues this and changes her mind and we “go public”. Anyway, this is off topic, sorry.
I hear you brother. My wife is not on page either when it comes to EU. She is still questioning the whole thing for about the same reasons as your wife. Even with our home church, after all these years, she is still wondering if we did the right thing sometimes.
It’s hard to cut the cords of traditions.
I will be keeping you and yours in my prayers
Grace and Peace