Q: I sometimes hear church people and even pastors speak derogatively towards other denominations, and towards anyone who believes differently than they believe. How can they do this while claiming to live holy lives? It doesn?t seem very Christlike.
One young pastor had a few people attending his church (not members) who held some views that were incompatible with Nazarene doctrine. He sought advice from the late William Greathouse on how best to deal with them. Greathouse said, "Don't go out with your sword drawn trying to slay sectarian dragons, but patiently, carefully, and humbly explain what we in the Wesleyan tradition believe to be taught in the Scriptures."
That was sage advice, and I believe it applies to the situation about which you write. You are correct that speaking derogatorily of others doesn?t seem very Christlike. It is a poor way to present the gospel and an ineffective way to win people to one's church.
It is much more winsome to live by the Apostle John's declaration, "God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God (1 John 4:16). Love wins. Speaking disparagingly (even if it is speaking the truth) may drive away.
No one has an absolute corner on all truth. Most denominations have some element of truth in their belief systems. We acknowledge in kindness and with appreciation while presenting our own beliefs "patiently, carefully, and humbly."
Rob L. Staples is emeritus professor of Theology at Nazarene Theological Seminary.
Holiness Today, May/June 2011
In each issue, a forum of pastors, laity, theologians, and church leaders respond to your questions on subjects such as doctrine, theology, Christian living, and the church. Send your questions to Holiness Today, Church of the Nazarene Global Ministry Center, 17001 Prairie Star Parkway, Lenexa, KS 66220| E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. The editor regrets that all questions cannot be printed, acknowledged, or answered.