Stay clear of Theological Debates.
Have you ever gotten into a conversation where you silently wondered to yourself, “Why did I ever get into this conversation in the first place?” Maybe you were witnessing to someone who just wouldn’t let things go, and the conversation just felt like it was going around and around in circles? This happens all to often for a missionary. When they are trying to get a meeting with a church, they are sometimes asked the wildest things, and it’s all because there is a theological hobby horse being “rode hard and put away wet.”
When I first started out as a missionary, I was one time asked about my viewpoint on “alien baptism.” The approval for getting a meeting with this church hung in the balance of my answer to this question. My reply was, “Sure. I think aliens can get baptized if they want to, as long as they profess Jesus Christ as their Saviour and king. I don’t see anything wrong with that.” I thought he was asking about fruit pickers and migrant workers. However, that famous Oak Harbor, WA pastor had a theological hobby horse he was riding.
Missions work is difficult in the first place. It is like a pioneer going into the raw forest and carving out the beginning of a small village or town. There really is no time to go around and around with someone about whether to use this axe or another axe. He just needs to get the tree cut down some way so he can start getting the land cleared and grow crops.
Hobby horse jockeys will eat up your valuable time arguing about needless things. Their mission is not the outcome. Their mission is the argument itself. They seek nothing other than to argue their hobby horse as if it were some profound wisdom. They can waste their entire Christian life on earth and while they are at it, waste other people’s lives as well.
Missions minded Christians should avoid being drawn into a situation where they are wasting their time on mindless theological debates. There are many more important things to do.
Mindless theological debates include:
- Dealing with Mormons whose mission it is to convert you to Mormonism.
- Being the subject of a Jehovah’s Witness so they can earn points to get to heaven.
- Wasting time with a homosexual who is trying to show you from the Bible that God likes homosexual preachers and churches.
- Going around and around with a Charismatic who is trying to justify his “speaking in tongues.”
- Getting involved with “Christian” political campaigns.
- Arguing morality with the immoral.
- Debating with a silly Atheist who doesn’t believe in God, but gets upset if you do.
- Arguing with Campbellites about the belief in baptism for salvation.
- Dealing with a Baptist Brider who wants to convince you that the church is the bride of Christ rather then the body of Christ.
In short, it is getting drawn into a debate over the things of God with anyone who does not really have the mind to want to learn something from you. (i.e. if they are curious and want to listen, that is one thing. But if they are only interested in “verbal sparring”, that is another story altogether.)
The reason that a mission minded person should not allow themselves to get drawn into such practices is because he simply has a mission; a mission that is to go into all of the world and preach the gospel to every creature. A mission minded Christian is someone who is concerned with the eternal destiny of the lost, not “alien baptism” or any other silly thing. Those unwarranted debates only suck time away from you doing your assigned job. AND, if the people who want to argue with you are Christians as well, then they too should not be wasting their time. If they didn’t have you to argue with, maybe they would become bored and just work on leading someone to Christ.