Friday, April 8, 2011

When Someone Challenges My Christianity

Whenever someone asks me if I am Christian (or claims that I'm not), I try to say something like:
"That term ('Christian') means different things to different people. I believe I am a Christian, but I'm not sure if you would or not. Do you have a few minutes to listen to me explain my beliefs and see if you think I am?"
If they are serious and really want to know, they will listen - or pick a different time to do so. If they aren't interested in making that decision for themselves (or have made it already), they will turn me down - and that will be it. No debates, no hard feelings, no arguments, no change from before the question was asked. Nothing gained, but nothing lost. 

We had a training meeting for the bishops in our stake a few years ago, and one of the points that was made to them was to invite in such a way that it is easy for the other person to say, "No." Don't challenge; rather, invite - but give them a dignified and easily accessible way out in the invitation itself.  

That's what I try to do when someone questions my Christianity.


Richard Alger said...


Anonymous said...

Once at work, as I walked past a small group of people, one of them asked me if Mormons were Christian. I replied that Christ taught that you will know them by their fruits, or to put it as Forrest Gump might say: Christian is as Christian does. I then turned to one of the men and asked, "Am I a Christian?" He replied that I was the best Christian he had seen in his life. Then I said, "Gentlemen, we need to ask ourselves if others can tell that we are Christians by observing our actions."

Papa D said...

I like that approach, Anonymous.

I should add a disclaimer here:

This post describes how I deal with someone with whom I can talk face-to-face. It's MUCH harder to take this approach online, especially when it's obvious that the other person alreasy has a well-established opinion that Mormons are not Christian. I should walk away from most of those discussions earlier than I tend to do.

One of my favorite responses is an internal one that was suggested by a good friend: "Is it I?" If someone says we are a cult, it is good to consider if I have acted "cult-y" in some way; if someone claims we are not Christian, it is good to consider if I have been un-Christian lately.

Joshua, if you read this, please accept it as a bit of an apology for my lack of patience sometimes with your attacks. I should be more charitable and slow to respond.

Adolfo said...

In sports, I have often heard that one should always lead by example. I feel that this can be applied to any aspect in life, especially in situations where one is constantly faced with misinformation. The best way to educate the misinformed is not by words, but by actions.