Saturday, June 07, 2014

When the Mormons or Jehovah's Witnesses Come Knocking

Many followers of Christ are hesitant to engage Jehovah's Witnesses or Mormons that come to their door because they are not sure what to say.  

In this featured article, apologist and speaker Alan Shlemon shares an excellent strategy that he used when two Mormons came knocking on his door:

"My goal from the start was to direct the encounter and prevent my visitor from dragging me onto his turf.  So, before answering any questions, I kindly made him aware of the circumstances of our encounter.  I pointed out he had just come onto my property, interrupted my day, and was encroaching on my privacy.  And he wanted to ask me questions?  No.  I told him I will ask the questions and he will give the answers.
So I asked him two important questions. You can ask these questions too (or some variation of them).

1. If you discovered you were mistaken about your faith (Mormonism, Jehovah’s Witness, etc.), would you be willing to change your religion?

This question is critical because it exposes their heart.  They are presumably there to show you you’re mistaken about your faith and should change it after they show you the truth.  They should also be willing to extend you the same courtesy.  If not, then I point out their unreasonable stance and thank them for coming to visit.  Believe me, I’ve had many people answer “no” to this question.  I try to avoid spending my time with people who are not genuine truth seekers and are not willing to follow the evidence where it leads.

2. Can you offer me three objective reasons or evidences for why you believe Mormonism is true?

Notice this question immediately shifts the burden of proof on them, where it belongs.  It takes the pressure off you and puts you in the driver’s seat.  Remember, they’ve come to you.  You’re under no obligation to jump through their hoops and answer their questions.  Just be sure to keep them on track and not let them deviate from the question at hand.  Mormons often ask you to pray and ask God to reveal the truth to you.  This is not an objective reason or evidence.  So don’t let them get away with offering it as an answer.
Notice I said nothing that afternoon that required even a modest education of Mormon beliefs or apologetics.  I simply used my tactics.  As a result, I was never in a defensive mode.  I was able to draw my visitor onto my turf by making them answer the tough questions and shoulder the burden of proof.
Another way I make an impact without knowing anything is by engaging in fact-finding.  I ask dozens of questions all related to the theme: what do you believe and why?  At Stand to Reason, we call this the Columbo Tactic.  This line of questioning serves many valuable purposes:
  • It educates me about a religion I know little about.
  • It allows me to know and understand the person’s unique beliefs about their faith.  Remember, not every Mormon, Jehovah’s Witness, Muslim, etc. believes the same thing about their faith as other adherents.  Instead of reading a book, I can simply ask them.  I’m now less likely to misrepresent their beliefs, especially if they differ from the religion’s established teachings.
  • It keeps me in the driver’s seat and out of the hot seat.
  • It engages the visitor in meaningful dialog, showing genuine interest in their beliefs.
Having shown you how to make an impact without knowing anything, this is not a license to live in ignorance.  You can multiply your impact as an ambassador if you know a few key things about different religions or worldviews."

The entire article can be found here.

So, the next time they come knocking, you'll be ready!

Courage and Godspeed,



Anonymous said...

Easy question. We're ready

Chad said...

Hello Anonymous One,

Then by all means, go ahead and answer #1!


Brian said...

I got these questions a few times as a Mormon missionary, but usually I had barely started to respond when they interrupted and started yelling (incorrectly) about what I believed-

If I found out that what I believed was wrong, then by golly, I would change my beliefs. However, this acknowledgement doesn't make me any more wrong than if the question was never asked in the first place. I've "tested" my faith multiple time, and with study and prayer, believe I've gotten answers from God. The missionaries invite you to do the same.

Chad said...

Hello Brian,

Thank you so much for taking the time to respond. I greatly appreciate it and hopefully we can learn from each other during this interaction.

I'm sorry to hear that people were rude to you when you tried to share your beliefs. I assure you that I have had very cordial, educational conversations with the Mormons who come knocking on my door!

You wrote "However, this acknowledgement doesn't make me any more wrong than if the question was never asked in the first place."

Could you explain what exactly you mean here? I'm not 100% sure I understand.

Further, would you like to take a crack at question #2?