SFL Flashback: Witnessing to Presbyterians

soulwinning

In the “us vs. them” world of fundamentalism anyone who is not a fundamentalist is eyed with a great deal of suspicion of not being a true believer. Narrow is the way and few non-Baptists there be that find it.

This distrust and general ignorance about other Christian denominations leads to the interesting situation of fundamentalists spending their time preaching to the converted. It goes something like this…

Fundy: “Hello, we’re here from Saved, Sanctified, Separated, and Suit-Wearing Baptist Church and we just wanted to know if you go to church anywhere.”

Presbyterian: “Well, yes I’m an elder at Westminster Presbyterian Church.”

F: “That’s great! So if you were to die today, where would you spend eternity?”

P: “I’d be with God for eternity.”

F “Are you sure about that? Belief in the Pope doesn’t save you, you know.”

P: “Uh…we don’t…”

F: “And what’s more you can know for sure that you are saved without worrying about losing it.”

P: “Well, being a Calvinist…”

F: “Oh, you’re a Calvinist! Well that doesn’t save you either!”

P: “I never said…”

F: “Have you ever asked Jesus to come into your heart?”

P: “That phrase has some serious theological issues there that…”

F: “Theology won’t get you into heaven either, my friend! Have you ever walked an aisle to a good old-fashioned altar?”

P: “We don’t really do that….”

This may continue until the Presbyterian in a fit of desperation invites the fundamentalist in to chat over a beer. All that remains is to watch the fundy shake the dust off his shoes and depart in search of someone easier to evangelize. Maybe they can find a Methodist…

81 thoughts on “SFL Flashback: Witnessing to Presbyterians”

  1. I have the apparently weird opinion that people who are already Christians don’t need to be converted. I know that many Baptists believe that the rest of us aren’t the right kind of Christian, but I’m not so sure they’re the right kind, either.

  2. There’s one part that was left out, near the beginning:

    F: “…we just wanted to know if you went to church anywhere.”

    P: “Yes; I’m…”


    F: Well, that’s good. We aren’t trying to get anyone out of their church. More important that where you go to church is where you will spend eternity. Do you know for sure that if you died, you would go to heaven?”

    And the rest of the conversation.

    The times when I allowed myself to be guilted in going out door-to-door, the above statement always irritated me – it is an outright lie. We WERE trying to get people to leave their (bad) church and come to our (good) church. We were preached at that it was VERY important where one went to church.

    Darrell, this conversation is like many that I’ve heard.

    Enjoyed the Methodist slam at the end.

  3. Doubt that anyone would dare want to knock on our doors, because we have rescued a dingo and female pit bull from certain death and very much large and in charge of our house.

    They are visually scary and make a lot of noise. In truth, the pit bull is a lap dog and loves people and her tail as it wags can hurt you.

    But, to a person that may ring the door bell, they will decide to let the heathen be undisturbed. πŸ™‚

    As for our fundy, do you think they would refuse, if they needed hospitalization, of going to any number of them – the hospitals that are -that may have the name Episcopal, or Catholic, or Adventist, or Methodist, or Presbyterian? Perhaps they would go to their chain of hospitals, started by the fundies? Just think of the myriad ways of evangelizing while en route to and while in the hospital?

    The point is: the fundies have not contributed anything to and for the betterment of the nation or people and should well leave alone us that want nothing to do with them. Show me one hospital, one school, one anything that in a hundred years will speak of their good will, their compassion and their humanity.

    1. You may just spark a movement of adopting pit bulls in neighborhoods plagu–er, visited by door-to-door Fundies. Probably work with Jehovah Witnesses too! πŸ˜€
      Once a Witness came round to talk to my Mormon neighbors, starting a discussion show-down that ran over two hours. πŸ™„ Never did find out who won that one.

      1. Even a cocker spaniel will do; the last time I had JWs show up, I’d just got back from taking my cocker puppy to obedience training. It having been muddy, she’d just got a rinse down.

        Picture a wet partly-trained friendly dog and a new dog owner who hasn’t yet realized that the dog will rush to greet any new person. They were very nice about getting wet paw-prints on their knees, but they didn’t stick around.

    2. Anyone who’s ever had a pit knows they are some of the friendliest Robson the planet. My friends had one and the only real danger to visitors was drowning from puppy drool. πŸ™‚

      1. That’s often, but not always, true.
        “Pit bull” is a vague term that refers to any of a whole family of breeds and cross-breeds.
        Many pit bulls I have met are, in fact, extremely friendly and gentle dogs, but some are very aggressive and territorial dogs, which, coupled with their size and strength, has led to human fatalities in some cases.

        I don’t know anyone who has had a pet Dingo, but my understanding is that they are only semi-domesticated, so they should be handled with care.

  4. We had an IFB family come to our door. I smiled and said I was a United Methodist and glad we were on the same team. I got the pittiful look from the wife. LOL

    There is a section in the book “Unchurched” where the youth group goes door to door to get brownie points, and the author of the book said he met a Roman Catholic woman, who was very nice. They asked if she was going to heaven when she died, and she said she hoped so. They thought they had their gateway in, and she said something to the effect of that is what the blessed hope is – to spend eternity with God.

  5. I cannot remember how many times I was the instigator of conversations such as this one. I was a combination of zealotry and profound ignorance.
    I was perfectly happy to ignore the teachings of Jesus in the Gospels “he that is not against us is on our part”.
    It shook me up when I first began to interact with non-Baptist Christians at work. It was an article of fundy faith that they were deceived and ignorant of the Scriptures. I found that some of them had a deep knowledge of the Scriptures. I am grateful to them for putting up with my fundy blathering and remaining my friend in spite of the numerous times I showed my ignorance.

    1. That was me as well. When I started working outside the home (gasp – as a single female!) I ran into people that according to fundy doctrine should have been evil sinners on their way to hell, but many knew their Bibles and were more gracious than most people in the church. They were even willing to put up with and overlook all my fundy goodness. It was one of the things that got me questioning IFB church doctrine.

    2. The only reason the Bible-Believing(TM) Fundies HAVE a Bible to believe in is that when years AD were in the low three digits, the bishops of my church (RCC/EO before the split) prevented all the Shirley MacLaines of the time from rewriting the Bible in their own image.

  6. I used to get Jehovah’s Witnesses every year, but I haven’t seen one in about five years. The last JW asked me about a verse in Timothy, and I invited him inside, poured him a glass of water, and took down my Bibles (plural) to go over the passage together . . . he left so quickly–guess I had gone too far off script! πŸ˜†

  7. Wow! I’m a Presbyterian elder and I had this exact same experience. Almost word for word. There was nothing I could say that would convince them. They kept saying “Have you asked Jesus into your heart?” To which I would say, “Jesus is the Son of God and my savior. My faith is in him alone for my salvation.” After which they would look befuddled and then repeat the question like my answer was spoken in Italian.

    1. Just the day before yesterday two JWs came to the door and offered me their booklet “what the bible really teaches.” I told them I was working on a master’s in theology and that probably wouldn’t help me. They just managed to look very confused before they drifted away.

  8. I love this. And, I love the fundy idea that you’re either a fundy (a true believer) or you might as well be Catholic (everyone else). Presbyterian, Methodist, Lutheran… You’re all Catholic. πŸ˜‰

    1. It’s an effective way to chase off Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses also. Sometimes I just don’t feel like engaging them in conversation (I’ve never seen it end well) and offering them alcohol is a shortcut.

    1. I did the same thing – to my poor grandparents! My grandmother – Bless Her Heart – was most patient with me even though I was insistent that they were going straight-to-hell unless they did the RRR (RomansRoadRoutine)… Lost my first girlfriend the same way… πŸ˜₯

  9. I’ll leave the same comment that I left on the first one. https://www.facebook.com/notes/i-am-an-independent-fundamental-king-james-bible-believing-baptist/us-and-them-originally-posted-by-my-friend-bro-josh-akins/376102889607

    and yes the FB page is I Am An Independent Fundamental King James Bible Believing Baptist.

    If you are not saved the fundie way then you are not saved. If you are not saved with a soulwinner present it’s doubtful you are saved. If you are saved using any perversion that is not 1611 King James inspired version then you likely are going to hell and don’t know it. If you baptize with a sprinkle rather than fully immerse then you will be consumed by the fires of hell for sure!

  10. Darrell, It is amazing how you are the very thing you criticize. You blast the fundamentalist for being narrow-minded, judgmental, and all inclusive in their view of others. This latest post just serves as an example of your generalities of Fundamentalism. I must agree that there are many just like this, however, there are also fundamentalist that have moved away from these things. How are you any better, or more superior in your judgements? I am without apology an IFB, but I also realize that there are many believers that are not! Revelation Chapters 2 and 3 show us 7 churches, some hating the doctrines of the other, yet Christ walking in the midst of them all! One of the churches even had Jezebel running things, yet Christ walked in the midst. It does not mean that Christ was putting His approval on all the wrong, but He still claimed all 7 churches! I am what I am because I think I’m right, just as you are what you are because you think you are right! What is the difference? How come you can come down hard on the IFB for intolerance when you are just as intolerant as they are? Jesus asked, “What do ye more than these?” I ask you the same question. If you are the bigger person, than why not act like it? If not, then just be honest about what you are and how you despise IFB. I can live with honesty, even if I totally disagree, but what I do not like is for someone to hide behind super-spirituality, putting on the facade of compassion when in all reality its the same hatefulness that has about destroyed the IFB. There are many IFB, such as myself, that do not look at standards, or what we do to determine our spirituality much less our salvation. I’m a sinner, who has been saved by the grace of God and try to show the love of Christ to the best of my ability to EVERYONE, regardless of their beliefs. I do not have to agree with them to love them, pray for them, or even help them. So for all your talk of being enlightened and freed from the IFB spirit, what I perceive on this sight, ❓ is the same spirit, just in a different direction. I think both spirits are wrong. Just my opinion and respectfully request a reply. ❓

    1. How come you can come down hard on the IFB for intolerance…

      Because we have lived under the iron thumb of the IFB cult. NO, not every church that calls itself IFB is a cult but the movement itself lends itself to cultlike activities.
      The whole one man rule, lack of accountability to anyone is the starting point allows, no, in fact draws men of lesser character to the pulpit of these islands of of religious isolation. These men claim to be Calledβ„’ of god. Most are Acts 4:13a qualified only, they merely claim the b portion of that verse. Yet they stand in the pulpits and calim that they speak for their god in all matters and to question them is to question God himself.

      You ask how we can come down so hard on intolerance? Because we have lived it under the dictatorial rule from such pulpiteers. That and the Iron fisted rule of the weaker brother that is found in the IFB bunkers. The cult like mentality that one is able to project their standards and opinions upon others in the name of Christ. While you are drinking the koolaide you cannot see it in yourself and you go on acting as if God is so fortunate to have you on his side to point out to others all their sins. Yes, their god is lucky indeed to have such zelots to fight against the external manifestations of sin.

      Yeah we’ve lived under that crap so that’s the answer to your question.

      1. Yes, their god is lucky indeed to have such zelots to fight against the external manifestations of sin.

        Must be a weak and puny god if he has to depend on his fanboys to fight for him all the time. Can’t he do anything on his own or what?

        This attitude is especially prevalent among the Spiritual Warfare fanboys. They have made Satan so powerful and omnipotent that God would be defeated without the Spiritual Warfare fanboys fighting 24/7. Maybe that’s why they’re so shrill — they’ve made Satan so omnipotent and omnipresent that deep down inside they’re afraid they picked the losing side.

        The Inquisition could have nailed these guys for the heresy of Attributing too much Power to the Devil.

    2. While you say that these are generalizations of IFB, I know that many of Darrell’s posts are to a T the experiences I had in the IFB. So he has really nailed the particular type of IFB circle I was in. You say hatefulness has about destroyed the IFB. I agree, because from the pulpits I would hear other churches getting bashed, people in the congregation being insulted, and a lot of preaching time given to standards and how we weren’t being good enough, belittling us instead of expounding Scripture to us. During many sermons I did not need to open my Bible. So yes, hate is alive and well in the IFB, even against each other. And that is all I ever experienced in the IFB, and if there is anything different in the IFB, I never saw it. I do hope the IFB is destroyed, perhaps I would say instead that I hope it just fades away. Because it is based on man and his efforts and man-centered theology, and may I say that this is certainly not limited to the IFB.

    3. Your error comes from thinking you’re right. The most profound moment of C.S. Lewis’s The Great Divorce (a book of wonders, BTW) comes when the Redeemed Theologian tells his fellow, “of course we’re all wrong!” (approximate quote – I am far from my copy at present) We choose our denomination based on many things, but to assume that you or any denomination has a corner on truth over the others is a step down the wrong road.

  11. Darrell, you nailed the script I used at my church for door-to-door. We really didn’t know what to do with already converted Christians who were not of our stripe. We even went a few rounds with Southern Baptists trying to convert them.

  12. Thank God I left fundamentalism. I am a very indecisive person and usually have some sort of regret over my decisions. But leaving this? I have never, never looked back. That’s how I know it was the right thing to do.

    I used to have this conversation in the OP, including Guilt Ridden’s addition, every Thursday night. I am non-confrontational and came to dread Thursdays. In fact, now that I think about it, I came to dread Sundays and Wednesdays too….

  13. wow. I had a much abbreviated version of a similar conversation way back in high school (WHILE I was lifeguarding — guess the lives of the swimmers weren’t nearly as important as guaranteeing the safety of the soul of the guard πŸ™„ )

    I only half remember it — being, ya know, occupied with DOING MY JOB — but I remember finally telling the lady, “Well, I’m Catholic” and her replying, “That’s ok, Jesus loves you anyway.”

    That was the point that I began ignoring her entirely . . . but admittedly more out of offense than out of being a good lifefguard. 😳

      1. …And I’m guessing that there was (gasp) MIXED SWIMMING!!! (Hides Innocent Eyes – – well, maybe peeps a little to make sure I saw what I thought I saw…) 😳

  14. I have just begun attending an episcopal church that a friend of mine (female) is deacon. The Rector is also female. I enjoy the sermons and receive so much from them. I enjoy taking communion also. However, being saved and raised in a fundy church, there is still a tinge of guilt for attending a church that is “teaching heresy”. I can find no where they are NOT biblical. I have asked soooo many questions just to make sure. they are not the evil church I was brainwashed to believe they were. All that being said, I still feel a little guilty and hope I am not deceiving myself or being deceived. I am, however, going to continue attending this church. It is the first time in my life that I want to go and look forward to it.

    1. I’m Episcopalian now also. Been there about 2 1/2 years, was confirmed last April. There is a lot that my former churches termed ‘idolatrous’, but I’m feeling more like they are gestures of respect and personal devotion.

      The creed is basic, and ancient. The teaching in services is useful to me in my life. And most importantly, this church is the first place I’ve been where I can feel the genuine presence of God.

      It is hard to write over the old messages. It can take time. But I really feel like this is where God wants me. I’m something of a refugee- I turned my back on the church in ’92, and have only now found my way back. This is where I belong.

      1. I’m in central Florida.
        I have not attended a church for many years. Gun-shy. The first thing I noticed about the episcopal church was that not once did the Rector say or imply anything negative in her sermon. It was uplifting and I remember it!!!! Yesterday she talked about praying. Again, it was uplifting. I never felt like a child being scolded by a parent. I can’t wait to see what they do for Christmas Eve. I’m actually excited. It also helped to read your comment. To know I’m not the only fundy exile out there taking a giant leap into a new adventure.

        1. I had similar experiences. I walked in the first time with James. a couple of people recognized him because he was on the Diocese Council. They welcomed me, asked my name and a little bit about me, and seemed genuinely interested. When I went back the next week by myself, THEY REMEMBERED MY NAME.I’ve never had that happen in any other church

        2. I think you’ll like the Christmas Eve service a lot – but just wait till we get to the Easter Vigil! That’s the real high point of the church year. (Which is why we celebrate Easter for fifty days straight – we don’t stop until Pentecost.)

          I started out in an unbearable fundy church too. So glad I found my way to the Episcopalians – it’s great to want to go to church.

    2. I can relate so much to your post. I remember when I began attending a Catholic church and I would pray before I went in: “Lord if this is wrong let me know, I just want to do your will, don’t let me be mislead” and other fretful prayers. All this AFTER I had been out of Fundie land over 34years! That stuff is ingrained in your soul. Now though I am so thankful to be in a church where God’s presence is felt and where I have learned what true prayer is. I was also shocked that Catholics read Scripture. For Sundays ours is printed out for us so we don’t bring our Bibles or we would be jumping around from book to book. We have short readings from several books each Sunday and then the Priest ties them all together. Not just one verse and then the Pastor preaches his version of what that means. Hang in there, you are going in the right direction. It really does take a while to get “Fundie” guilt out of your system.

      1. Thank you so much for the encouragement. You are right, it takes many years and then maybe not until I’m in heaven, to shake these fundy issues. It helps so much to be on this journey with so many other.

        1. You might want to read the book “Evangelicals on the Canterbury Trail” by the late Robert Webber – it really helped me “sort out” things that set my feet in “The Anglican Way”…

          Blessings!

  15. My uncle died recently, and at his funeral, I learned that he was a “Ruling Elder” of the local Presbyterian Church. I had known he had some kind of lay leadership position, but I hadn’t known his title. It amuses me to think of my uncle, who was not pretentious at all, as a “Ruling Elder,” wearing an ermine-trimmed robe and a crown, and holding some kind of Presbyterian scepter. His wife is still a Ruling Elder in the same church, I believe.

  16. Due to my proximity to a Mormon church, a JW assembly hall, a SBC church, and 2 IFB churches (they used to be the same church but split last year and now occupy different buildings on the same property), this is a daily occurrence for me. Everyone is polite except the IFB people.
    My favorite thing to do is guess which church the people are from. One throws tracts at me and one doesn’t, but I can never remember which is which. I have guessed wrong in the past and freaked out my visitor for implying they go to the “other” IFB church.

    Seriously, doorbell rings on Saturday, I know its the IFB evangelists. Telling them I am a pastor doesn’t seem to phase them, and telling them I went to seminary only seems to irritate them. I must have been marked because kids no longer come to my door (after I talked theology with one once), but adults come nearly every week.

    I guess I’m on my way to hell if I don’t go to their church. So it’s kind of a tossup which fate would be worse.

  17. I still remember how shocked and offended I was when I first realized that the fundies I was surrounded by at my bible college would dare to assume I was saved or didn’t have a relationship with Christ just because I didn’t go to the same church or believe in a strict Calvinist doctrine. I grew up a Lutheran and was naive enough to think that all Christians loved and accepted each other.

    After that first year of college, I learned not to share much about myself, because I knew that if I revealed I wasn’t exactly like them, to them I would be a heathen in need of saving.

    1. “Swear alliegance to the flag,
      Whichever flag they offer,
      NEVER LET ON WHAT YOU REALLY FEEL…”
      — Mike & the Mechanics, “Silent Running”, 1976

      (If there’s any song that cries out for a mash-up video using footage from the original Red Dawn, “Silent Running” is it.)

  18. F: β€œTheology won’t get you into heaven either, my friend! Have you ever walked an aisle to a good old-fashioned altar?”

    Have you ever noticed that the churches who do the Altar Call are non-liturgical churches WITHOUT an actual physical altar?

    1. When I was a small child, I thought the communion table at the front of our Baptist church was the ‘altar.’ I kept waiting for something to get sacrificed on it (whatever that looked like), but nothing ever did. They just served cracked Carr’s biscuits and Welch’s in teeny little cups.

      One time the deacons did burn their last bank statement when the addition’s debt was retired, though. That was pretty cool.

  19. Gosh. This is kind of an eye-opener for me, even though I guess I kind of suspected that the fundy attitude was indeed this exclusionary.

    A few Saturdays ago, my younger son and I were sitting on a bench outdoors in beautiful, bucolic downtown Walnut Cove, NC, waiting for hubby to pick us up so we could all go to breakfast at the Olympic, a wonderful Greek restaurant where the food is half-Greek, half-Southern, and the background music is pure Country (only in NC!).

    Soulwinners were out in force on the street corners. (They usually are there on Saturdays.) They seemed like nice people and all, but I kept praying that none of them would bother us. Well, we were too tempting a target, so one guy did come over. He asked if we’d yet received any Gospel tracts. I said no. So he handed me several for good measure. Then he left us alone, for which I was grateful.

    But afterward, I thought, “Why did he just ASSUME that we had never heard the Gospel before?” (I’m sure he had no idea that we were Catholics. I wear several saints’ medals, but I had my poncho wrapped around me to fend off the wind, so I don’t think any of my Catholic paraphernalia was visible.)

    Anyway–why DO these soulwinners just assume that everyone they approach is (a) not Christian, (b) not their kind of Christian, and (c) completely ignorant of the Gospel?

  20. “In the β€œus vs. them” world of fundamentalism anyone who is not a fundamentalist is eyed with a great deal of suspicion of not being a true believer.”

    I DO believe we are going to see Catlicks in heaven too! Surprise, surprise.

  21. Jesus said this about Darrell’s cute slam against soulwinners. “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” Matthew 7:13-14 Also read Matthew 7:21-24
    Jesus is exclusive. He said, most will not make it to heaven. Most who follow this website will not make it to heaven. Most people in the world will not make it to heaven. “THAT IS WHAT JESUS SAID” “…few there be that find it” Maybe this is why soulwinners approach everyone and take nothing for granted. Don’t kid your self and think the opposite “Wide and broad is the way that leadeth to life”, especially if you have believed in a false gospel. Thank God someone is concerned about my soul. Proverbs 11:30

    1. Love the selfrighteous air and creative application of Scripture. Typical Fundie stuff. I remember it well. Figure out what you want to believe and interpret the Scripture accordingly. It was such an eye opener when I got out from under that yoke of “work work work or you aren’t truely saved”. And they say Catholics have a Works gospel! πŸ˜€

    2. But your very point seems to make an argument AGAINST the typical behavior of the IFB regarding soul-winning. While I think it is wise to not assume people are believers, many churches practice soul-winning techniques that push people to repeat a prayer right then and there and then they tell them they’re saved, thus perhaps offering false assurance to people who may have no true understanding of the implications of following Christ nor any repentance and who later show no fruit of the Spirit at all yet the church claims them among the “500 people saved this year”. The church’s need to have high numbers causes them to claim people saved when, as you say, the way IS narrow and those people may not have trusted at all but simply prayed a prayer because they’re easily manipulated or they just wanted the guy on their doorstep or accosting them on the sidewalk to go away.

      1. Amen to that Pastor’s wife! That is exactly what I think happens. I used to bring people to special services and get so excited when they walked the aisle to “accept Jesus” only to see them never go back to a church again or tell me they no longer believed it. I can see where the desire to just get them to leave you alone would drive you to do it and then get the heck out!

        1. When I was 15 or 16, our youth group at church (Assemblies of God) made a special weekend camp trip to one of the camps in the area, I forget what they called it. Second night it was obvious that this was a “we rolled you all out here to ‘get the Holy Ghost’ and we’re not leaving until you do”. (I wished I’d have kept that $35 I wheedled out of Dad. It would have gone a long way on instrument rental and reeds.) They ganged up on my best friend first. What I witnessed was nothing short of bullying. She was trying so hard, and nothing happened. It was like watching a woman in labor and you know the child is malpresenting. I think she finally broke and blathered out something sufficiently incomprehensible that they could high-five each other and shout it out like the score at a Sonics game (Dated myself there πŸ˜• )

          I wasn’t dumb. I was a frightened teenager who wanted to go to bed. I made something up. Chalk one up in the “Something might be wrong here…” column.

          My beloved tells me that when he was ten he went forward at an altar call, more out of curiosity than anything else, at the Baptist church his mother played piano in. No instruction in the faith. The older man that met him there gave him a prayer to recite- by rote, every word had to be perfect, like a magic spell or incantation. He was so disillusioned he didn’t come back for more than 30 years. And now he’s an Episcopalian.

          Anyone else see any similarities?

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