Missionaries at the Door

Missionaries

Most everyone has had contact with missionaries of multiple faiths who come knocking at the door anxious to talk about God and religion. Many are keen to ask them to leave before getting their back history or any sort of personal information. While most have heard about Mormonism and the Jehovah’s Witnesses, many are not aware of the theological basis for their proselytizing and the institutional expectations that drive them.

One of the fastest growing denominations in the country with a current membership hovering around 1.1 million, Jehovah’s Witnesses claim special and unique insight into the Bible and God’s purposes and will for people today. Each member is expected to proselytize on a regular basis. One can find them going door-to-door and two-by-two in any given big city or small town in America and increasingly throughout the world. They bare what they believe is a special message from God.

As a general rule, while they would like to come inside and talk, most just leave a few pamphlets called the Watchtower and Awake! Founded in 1870 by Charles Taze Russell in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania, Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that in order to be saved one must live a clean moral life, repent of one’s sins, study the scriptures and acquire knowledge about the true nature of God and his purposes.

Those who have been faithful in executing God’s will are awarded eternal life while others will be given a second chance. There is no hell for disbelievers as all are resurrected, but there are those who have sinned against the Holy Ghost whose consciousness will be annihilated at death.

Known as the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures Jehovah’s Witnesses believe they possess a purer, more original translation based upon the earliest known sources. This translation is the impetus for their teachings. Because of the severe restrictions on who can attain eternal life it is imperative for membership that the good word be shared and communicated so that everyone can get the opportunity to accept.

Other missionaries that may turn up at the front door are the Mormon Elders. Representing The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints with a membership of over 15 million, colloquially referred to as the Mormon or LDS Church, these elders come two-by-two with a message, while similar to the Jehovah’s Witnesses, is rather unique. They claim that God visited a boy named Joseph Smith in 1820 in a grove of trees in Upstate New York. The message given was that God would set up not only a true church, but also provide a new set of scriptures referred to as the Book of Mormon or golden plates. Mormons believe that the Book of Mormon is another testament of Christ to go side-by-side with the traditional canonical gospels.

Missionaries arrive at the door prepared to share a message that God has restored the ancient church they claim Christ originally set up but then fell into apostasy shortly after the death of the original apostles. The Church actively encourages all faithful young male members to go on two-year missions at age 18 right out of high school. Females, while not so encouraged, have the option of serving as missionaries as well but they have to wait until they are 19 years old.

Mormons portray themselves as a family oriented group of like-minded Christians whose first order of business is to live worthily so that these families can be sealed together for time and eternity. These sealings take place in what they refer to as temples similar to those found in the Hebrew Scriptures.

When the knock comes and missionaries are at the door, whether Jehovah’s Witness or Mormon, they are spreading a word they believe can result in salvation. While not everyone appreciates the visit and some see it as an intrusion, these missionaries have been taught that part of what it means to be a righteous person is sharing the message with others. While membership in formal religious organizations is waning both internationally and domestically, membership in these two movements appears to be growing.

Much of that growth is due not only to the large families that tend to come from both, especially Mormons, it is because of the active work of proselytizing that continues unabated. Next time there is a knock at the door there may just be a few missionaries there seeking not just a kindly handshake, but to save someone’s soul.

By Matthew R. Fellows

Sources:

World Religion News

Faithstreet 

Religious Tolerance

Pew

Photo By Greg Robbins – Flickr License

5 Responses to "Missionaries at the Door"

  1. Percy Malone   December 20, 2014 at 11:26 am

    It’s funny but NONE of them Preach Jesus Gospel… they are just looking for more members for their cults, the Bible comes after whatever their leaders tell them to Believe… Jehovah’s witnesses say Jesus is Archangel Michael…. but about 50 years ago they thought that Archangel Michael was the Roman Pope… and both times they say they were right.
    Mormons too … they believe Jehovah lives in planet Kolob and all he does es make “spiritual babies” that need a tabernacle (body) on earth…
    None of their believes were ever thought by the apostles nor Jesus.
    Time to stop to be a MORON.

    Reply
  2. Stephen Buck   December 16, 2014 at 11:22 am

    To Craig Perry and Mason Stevens
    While I am not a Jehovah Witness and do not agree with their teachings (many do not agree with mine either) your attempt to discredit them is in bad taste. You make it sound as though there are no redeeming qualities in the Jehovah Witness movement. I have known many of them and they have developed a culture that promotes Christ’s charge to go forth and teach all nations (Matt. 28). They seem to go about this responsibility with real sincerity and drive. Many other so called Christian groups fall very short in this regard. Any church, societal groups or government is not without flaw. And that goes for you and me also. They don’t seem to be all about money as many other Christian factions seem to be. Give them a break, your disagreement with them seems to be personal. Step back a minute and find the good ……..

    Reply
    • Sean   January 3, 2015 at 1:38 am

      Excellent comments, Stephen. They show balance and thoughtfulness. Thank you.

      Reply
  3. Sherry Akers   December 16, 2014 at 6:58 am

    Polite article. “Mormons” “claim the privilege of worshipping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privelege, let them worship how, where, or what they may. (Article of Faith #11)” Everyone deserves respect and tolerance of their relationship with God; ultimately, He is the only one whose opinion matters. He loves all of us and expects the same from us toward others.

    Reply
  4. Craig Perry Mason Stevens   December 14, 2014 at 8:04 am

    This article, although partially accurate, is not entirely accurate. Reading the comments below may give more fact based analysis, although some former members and active members are extremely biased and even disingenuous.

    The original Zion’s Watchtower Tract Society was formed in 1879, by its first president, William Henry Conley, with Charles Taze Russell as his secretary and treasurer. Russell later incorporated it, and changed the name to Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, after Conley’s death.

    Jehovah’s Witnesses must knock on doors as part of their faith, advertising what they think is “God’s Kingdom,” which is, in actuality, a manmade kingdom or government established now, here on earth, by a group of delusional men in New York who think they are “anointed,” and call themselves “Faithful Slave,” but are, in reality, masters of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Jehovah’s Witnesses follow these men for fear of expulsion, for thinking anything contrary to what they are programmed to think.

    Jehovah’s Witnesses call whistle blowers, those who point out the dark side, the hidden dangers such as unreported child molestation, “apostates,” and “mentally diseased.” They perceive any critical information about their “society” as “an attack from Satan,” and “reproach.”

    Jehovah’s Witnesses, in many cases, are clinically schizophrenic, because of the incongruent teachings they are forced to accept. For instance, they preach and have themselves convinced that it is wrong to force someone to choose between their way of worship and their family; yet, they will simultaneously shun anyone who leaves their “society,” including members of their own family, because they perceive resignation as “dishonoring God.” This incongruity, among many other incongruous tenets, causes cognitive dissonance, which leads to stress, which eventually develops into symptoms akin to schizophrenia.

    “No one should be forced to worship in a way that he finds unacceptable or be made to choose between his beliefs and his family” (Awake!, 7/2009, p. 29, par. 3).

    “Let us therefore have nothing to do with apostates or anyone who claims to be a brother but who is dishonoring God. This should be the case even if he is a family member” (Watchtower, 05/15/2012, p. 26, par. 13).

    The best thing Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, and those who wish to help them can do is to learn about logical fallacies, and how cult leaders will use them to trick minds. Here are some helpful links:
    http://www.orange-papers.org/orange-propaganda.html

    http://www.don-lindsay-archive.org/skeptic/arguments.html

    http://www.unc.edu/depts/wcweb/handouts/fallacies.html

    http://www.nizkor.org/features/fallacies/

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fallacy

    http://www.fallacyfiles.org/examples.html

    http://changingminds.org/disciplines/argument/fallacies/fallacies_alpha.htm

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_fallacies

    Reply

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