Saturday, September 15, 2007

Door to Door Proselytism

Recently I had a very disturbing encounter with some door-to-door evangelists. They (actually it wasn't so much they as it was she, he just stood behind her) began their spiel by telling me about a bible study they were starting. I was immediately intrigued. I assumed this was a new neighbor who was starting a house church, or something of that sort. If someone in the neighborhood were starting a house church, I would at least want to know about it. So, I turned the porch light on and listened.

She began to tell me how the bible, not man, is the source of truth. She told me about how intellectual their bible study is. Apparently they really dig deep and they only use they King James Version, because that was the first, original version, which makes it much better than all the new versions that have been published recently. This was the first warning sign for me. I wanted to ask her why a translation of the bible published in 1611 was more authoritative than any other version we have today, especially since scholars have discovered other original manuscripts since 1611. Does the use of "thou" make the KJV more authoritative than any other translation? I really doubt it, it's really just a matter of preference. Of course, I didn't say this, I kept my mouth shut.

She also mentioned numerous times her passion for getting back to the model of Christianity presented in the New Testament, and her disdain for denominationalism. If it's not in the New Testament, they weren't gonna do it. She illustrated this by talking about baptism. She told me how she was taught that infant baptism was necessary for salvation and has heard that some denominations teach sprinkling is acceptable, but she quoted scripture after scripture about how immersion is necessary for salvation.

After 10 minutes of listening to her talk (without one mention of Jesus) it became pretty clear that she wasn't very interested in me. She was more interested in selling her version of Christianity, even though she apparently abhors denominationalism. After nodding incessantly (I'm a good active listener), I was finally able to jump in and let her know that I was a Christian and that we were on the same team. This apparently wasn't good enough for her. She wanted to know how I felt about baptism. I told her I believed that it was a symbolic act that represents a turning of one's heart towards God, and thus a change of behavior. She then asked what church I go to and what denomination that church was affiliated with. When I answered, she responded with, "That's what I thought. That's what Baptists believe about baptism (She never asked if I was a baptist, by the way). But it's not in the bible. You should read your bible and see what it says."

I was stunned. At this point it was pretty clear these two were not interested in sharing God's love with the East side, but were instead selling theology, and proselytism. So, gloves off, I asked them, "This is an issue [baptism] worth dividing over, isn't it? I just told you I'm a Christian. I don't doubt your faith. But you continue to question mine over the fact that I have a different belief about baptism. Should we be causing division in the church over issues of doctrine?" She had a lot of answers that I don't remember. This is where my active listening stopped.

She continued to argue her point. I asked her to leave. I'm guessing no one from my neighborhood will be attending their bible study. And sadly, if I were to ever host a bible study, my neighbors probably would't attend that either.


Todd Wold said...

Wow. We only get kids selling candy for hockey teams in the suburbs. It's no fun and it makes me fat.

Geez, I wish you would have kept going. That would have been great. You should have filmed it for some YouTube action.

Regardless of your religious flavor, the door-to-door days are over. (When was the last time you bought encyclopedias or vacuum cleaners from a foot-to-door salesperson?)

The KJV only types try to pretend the world is still in 1969. I have a love and hate relationship with KJV. I love some of the shakesperean turns of phrase and poetry, and I hate that we so often read the stories of jesus in an idiomatic fashion that turns people away from the word. Your answer to that was great.

Why do these people bother. They need to take a Dr. Phil pill and ask, "how's that workin' for ya?"

The Cook said...

Your soooo right. As soon as I hear a knock on the door, I wanna shut off the lights and hide. No matter how genuine, or sincere the 'knockers' may be, the packaging just isn't right. Very few people receive door-to-door types with an open-mind these days. That's why boxers who look like pit-bulls are nice to have around.