Friday, October 28, 2011

Dr. Jeffress, Mormonism and dialogue

A few weeks back,  Dr. Jeffress, pastor of First Baptist Church of Dallas, Texas caused a stir by calling the Mormon religion a cult before the national media.  Was this the correct avenue to take?  I took a survey shortly after Jeffress statement with a group of men, and half said Jeffress did the right thing.  Being a pastor in the same denomination, I will have to disagree with Dr. Jeffress and the men in my survey.  I could never match the intelligence of pastor Jeffress, but believe he was mistaken by stirring the pot in this way before the national media.  I am not disagreeing with Dr. Jeffress theological assessment concerning  the differences between Mormonism and Orthodox Christianity, but feel his branding of Mormonism before the national media does nothing but kill all possible dialogue between Mormons and those who fall within the Orthodox beliefs of the Church.

The Apostle Paul when dialoguing with others was conscious of his audience and tailored his discussion so that dialogue could take place.  In Acts 17, while speaking to the Greek philosophers, Paul never once mentions Scripture, but instead addresses the people on their level.  In fact, Paul's knowledge of the Greek thinkers allowed him to connect with the people by quoting two poets that the philosophers would have known about.  Paul said nothing offensive to block dialogue, but went out of his way to present the gospel such that people could respond.  In dialoguing in this way Paul gave freedom to the Holy Spirit to convict the hearts of the Greek thinkers, and this is exactly what happened.

When engaged with others, it is my opinion that dialogue needs to be open and free.  Anytime, dialogue is hindered by personal blocks, it makes the spread of God's Good News that much more difficult.  Paul stated, "To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some (1 Cor. 9:22)."  For Paul, the truth of God would never be compromised, but at the same time he realized the importance of keeping the communication lines open so that people could come to know the Messiah.

Two weeks ago, some Mormon missionaries came to my door.  We had a wonderful conversation.  I was asking a lot of questions and am praying that we can further the discussions in the future.  I realize that my worldview and the Mormon worldview are worlds apart on many different levels.  I choose to dialogue with my Mormon friends, because I believe so strongly that they are not in line with God's truth.  Because of my belief, it is important to keep the dialogue lines open, and not shut them off in any way.