by James R. Spencer
As published in the Pentecostal Evangel
July 18, 1999, pp. 18-20
I was suddenly and sovereignly saved out of Mormonism in 1974 while driving to work. As an active Mormon elder, my "religious experience caused quite a stir in my community, which was more than 80 percent Mormon. My wife threatened to divorce me and would have done so had the Lord not intervened. (That story is told in Beyond Mormonism: An Elders Story, Chosen Books, 1984.)
Eight years after my conversion, I was pastoring a Pentecostal church in a heavily Mormon community Idaho Falls, Idaho. For the past 10 years, I have ministered exclusively in the area of the cults.
I have encountered people in most, if not all, of the so-called non-Christian cults: Jehovahs Witnesses, Moonies, Latter-day Saints (Mormons), The Way International and the New Age movement. The most frequently asked question is , "How do I reach my mother (or brother, sister, son or daughter) who is a Mormon (or Jehovahs Witness, etc.)?"
This question is asked with a sense of frustration and hopelessness, often born out of fruitless arguments which turned into emotionally draining, if not violent, confrontations.
When a person enters a cult, he or she is cut off from the rest of the world at least in the area of religion. My friend, the late Walter Martin, author of The Kingdom of the Cults, said those captured by the cults can be normal in every area except that of religion. Every cult develops effective strategies to isolate its members from outside influences. I have talked to many intelligent Latter-day Saints who are closed to any discussion about matters of faith.
They refuse to read any books, listen to any tapes or encounter any arguments about Mormonism. Instead, they attempt to put me in touch with their missionaries young men and women who are trained to ignore all arguments and stick to their canned presentations.
Those of us who encounter people snared in spiritual deception need to develop patience. Christians often make one of two mistakes when confronted with a loved ones unreasonableness: They become combative or look for a way to gloss over the differences.
Often Christians, when they find a friend or relative has joined a cult, become overly combative. The inconsistencies of the cult seem so obvious. When the convert does not listen to reason, the Christian becomes argumentative.
On the other hand, some Christians retreat to a position of what appears to be ignorant oblivion. Often they are motivated by fear of confrontation. Sometimes they immaturely assume that confrontation is unloving. "Im just going to love them," they say.
Both responses are wrong. They are also fruitless. God requires that we warn our neighbors, but that we do so in love and with truth. My slogan for ministry to the cults is: "Truth without love is too hard; love without truth is too soft." Christians are more likely to err on the side of being too soft than too hard. It is easy to cover our fear of confrontation by telling ourselves that in doing nothing we are loving. Walter Martin referred to this kind of delusional thinking as "nonrockaboatis."
Love must be tough. The "power of God unto salvation" is not contained in human love; rather, it is in the announcement of the gospel (Romans 1:16).
The gospel, by definition, is a matter of telling. It is communicated by word. Yes, our actions do sometimes speak louder than words. If we act
Witnessing to those in
spiritual deception will require maturity, patience and finally information.
unloving while we tell the truth, we hinder our message. But we cannot convey the message without telling the message. And the message of the cross of Christ will always be at cross-purposes with the message of the cults. Confrontation is a necessary part of evangelism.
So witnessing to those in spiritual deception will require maturity, patience and finally information. We will have to pay the price of educating ourselves to the beliefs of the cult system we encounter.
Three things you can do
First, determine to preserve the relationship. Commit to approach the subject carefully and prayerfully. Remember that all ministry comes through a spirit of brokenness. Arrogance and anger have no place in ministry. It is appropriate to be mad at the devil, but
you need to be compassionate toward those he has deceived.
Second, prepare by learning where the cult group has violated the revelation of God in Christ. That may require talking to a knowledgeable person or doing research. The Internet has valuable material.
Third, look for an opportunity to confront the error It is not necessary to know everything ~ about the group, but pick a key doctrinal issue and become conversant in it. Then look for an opportunity to ask questions such as: "I understand that Mormons believe
men can become gods. Is that true?"
Deception is deceiving. The victim of cult teaching may inadvertently, if not purposely. attempt to deceive you. In the example above, for instance, a Mormon may say, "Of course, we dont believe men can become gods." However, if you were to ask the following, the answer would be yes: "Do you believe this famous Mormon quotation: As man now is, God once was; as God now is, man may become ?"
I wish there was an easy way to rescue your deceived loved one, but there isnt. Do not give up. The work of rescuing loved ones from the cults is like digging gold nuggets from a stone wall it is very hard work, but the nuggets are worth the effort