Relating to Other Religious Groups

Relating to Other Religious Groups

Rel groups
 
            It is no secret that some members of our faith are uncomfortable when leaders, local and worldwide, engage in conversations with other religious groups. A suspicious spirit tends to manifest itself, but is there really a need to be overly concerned? Research and observations would seem to suggest that there could be some benefits to engaging others of various religious faiths.  Accordingly, I share some suggestions that may prove beneficial when meeting with such persons.
 
Be Prepared to Give a Reason for the Faith
            The Apostle Peter encouraged believers of his day to "always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear" (1 Peter 3:15, NKJV). If our doctrines and position statements are biblical, then shouldn’t they withstand scrutiny and examination? I would think so.
 
Shared Beliefs
            For the most part, we share many doctrines in common with evangelicals, according to William Johnson in his book Embracing the Impossible.  These are the Inspiration of the Scriptures, the Incarnation, Virgin Birth, Atoning Death, Resurrection of Jesus, the Second Coming, Evangelism, the New Birth, and the Life of Piety Manifested in Prayer, Bible study, and Christian Witness. So for starts, it would be good when conversing with other groups to start with commonality, or where we agree. It allows for exploring areas such as the Sabbath, Ellen White, the State of the Dead and the Sanctuary -- areas where there are noticeable differences.
 
Unafraid to Mix
            It is said of Ellen White that she addressed temperance movements often during her time. Certainly, we have valuable knowledge, especially on health and family life that need to be shared more widely and aggressively.   I confess to you that I was rebuked, though gently by a prominent Baptist preacher, for the local Seventh-day Adventist Church for being too silent on what he termed as valuable health information. Quite frankly, we can do more. Accordingly, let's get involved in community activities and be willing to share this knowledge in less judgmental and condemning manners.
 
More Convinced
            Having the opportunity to share my conviction on the Sabbath and diet, among other areas, has been informative to persons I have had to relate to on boards and in influential places. In the book Embracing the Impossible, William Johnson shares a full chapter on discussions with other religious faiths such as Lutherans, Evangelicals, and Church of God Seventh-day. In fact, you should know that because of such meetings, Walter Martin and Donald Barnhouse, editors of Eternity magazine, have changed their earlier position on Seventh-day Adventists, no longer regarding them as a cult but as genuine Christians. God wants us to be His ambassadors daily, always ready to give a reason for the faith that lies within. It is my prayer that you and I will prove faithful.