Friday, January 25, 2008

A theological moment on my way to lunch

I decided to walk down a couple blocks from my office to grab a sandwich for lunch. The walk makes me feel virtuous enough to get away eating a half sub for lunch, LOL.

On my way I was approached by two young men wearing identical dark winter jackets. They were well groomed, bright eyed and I knew they were Mormons before I saw their name tags reading Elder so and so.

I must admit I'm conflicted on the subject of Mormons. In my experience they are some of the nicest, politest, hardest working folk I've ever known. They seem to have a commitment to their faith that goes beyond what most Christians seem to have. By and large they are just likable folks. Back in the day when they were the hot pop stars I'll even admit to a small crush on Marie Osmond.

But I think their theology is rubbish. I feel bad saying that. There's enough trash talking and slagging on one another's theology in the Episcopal church over the last 5-10 years to make me never want to be around it again. But the fact remains. I know enough about LDS theology to know that it doesn't work for me at all. As a Christian I believe in a bunch of stuff that is just so obviously delusional to the secular world view that I avoid mocking other folks for believing in things that I just can't wrap my mind around. In the end I'm still left with my complete rejection of the basis of their faith.

No doubt some will point out that I should be "counter-evangelizing" them. To save them from this incorrect theological stance. Sorry can't go there. It would waste my time and theirs. That's my personal decision and I can live with it.

But it doesn't relieve me of the tension I feel between my personal like of them as people and my theological dislike of what they teach. And that's the tension of the moment standing on a cold, breezy corner in January, all of hunched against the cold.

So I do what I always do. Tell them I've spoken with LDS missionaries before (true), that I'm familiar with their beliefs (true), and that I own a copy of the Book of Mormon (true). I tell them that I'm a youth minister in the Episcopal church nearby and that I'm on my way somewhere (all true). Then I chat with them for a moment. Ask how long they've been in town, how they're bearing up with the weather (without going into details these guys were obviously from warmer parts of the country). I listened to a little bit of their pitch, made it clear I wasn't interested in a longer conversation on the subject, shook hands with them both and said good bye.

That's probably more time than most folks gave them this afternoon as they wandered through downtown. I hope it's at least as polite or more so than average. In that I think I responded in a Christ like manner.

Should I have done a little theological wrestling to try and turn them? I don't know but there wasn't a call in my heart to do so in that time and moment. They're so very serious and I don't feel the need to open up a new frontier of serious religious issues. I have enough of my own. Maybe being greeted cordially by a person of a different faith (yes, I think the LDS understanding of Christ is different enough to warrant calling it a different faith)on a cold wintry corner is what was needed at that moment. I don't know. In the moment I went with what felt right.

They were a nice couple of guys and I wish them well on their journey in faith. My prayer is that God will continue to work on their hearts and bring them to where it is He has planned for them.

And the sub was really good!


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