If anyone advocates a different doctrine, and does not agree with sound words, those of our Lord Jesus Christ, and with the doctrine conforming to godliness, he is conceited and understands nothing; but he has a morbid interest in controversial questions and disputes about words, out of which arise envy, strife, abusive language, evil suspicions, and constant friction between men of depraved mind and deprived of the truth…. (I Timothy 6:3ff).
Some people debating religion are this way, Paul. Conceited and ignorant, rabble-rousers and mean-spirited. I’ve sat across the table from them more than once. It’s no fun, as you know.
But some are sincere and faithful brethren trying to get this right.
Help us, Lord.
If you are a Southern Baptist, as I am, you may find yourself having a problem with the theology of some people whom you happen to like and respect as brothers and sisters in Christ. You respect them and would like to be closer friends, but this “thing” they believe and teach stands between you. So…
You ask if the two of you can discuss those differences. Not a debate, you insist, and certainly not an argument.
Some would say you’re being naïve for thinking you can have such a discussion without emotions entering into it, and the rhetoric heating up. But you decide to see if you can. The prize is worth the effort.
Understand going in that…
One. People don’t just believe doctrines; they have a whole belief system. And that system usually results in them flocking with others of similar beliefs, so that ends up becoming their culture, their entire world. And when you question their beliefs, in their mind you are undermining their entire set up. So, they quickly become defensive, as though you had attacked their mother.
A Mormon–someone belonging to the LDS faith (or system)–doesn’t just believe some things about Joseph Smith and some other things about the Scripture, which, if you can refute you have dislodged them from their errant beliefs (as you believe). They are part of an entire set-up. All their friends are in that system. So, for them to consider dropping their religion because they learned it was in error is also asking them to drop their friends and change their entire lives. So, helping someone transition out of that system becomes a huge process.
Lord, help us to be patient with each other.