My honest, first reaction, is to tell them to take a hike, that we are not interested. I mean, we are eating dinner. But my wife gives me a stern look and says, “This would be an opportunity to share the Gospel.” So, she leaves me an out: She tells them they can come back at another time, and we pick 4 pm on Saturday. And of course, they agree to come back. I am sort of hoping they’ll forget.
After they left, my wife and I were a tad perplexed by their opening line about “mother god.” My initial thought was to think it may be an awkward reference to Mary. The gal told my wife she was with the “Church of God.” The only “Church of God” I was familiar with are the variety of Pentecostal denominations that use “Church of God” in their names, for example, Church of God in Christ.
My web search pulled up at least four related Pentecostal groups with “Church of God” in their name. I further couldn’t find anything substantive with the phrase, “mother god.” If they happened to come back, my strategy would be to allow them to define their beliefs, ask pertinent questions about their doctrine, and steer them to the Gospel proper.
Four O’clock arrived on Saturday and about seven minutes past the hour, two fellows come to the door. Both of them were neatly dressed, Hispanic gentleman, one from El Salvador, and the other from Mexico. The one from Mexico had been the older guy who had come earlier in the week. The young gal wasn’t with them. We brought them in, had them sit on the couch, and offered a glass of water.
My wife had to excuse herself to nurse the baby, so I was left alone to begin our discussion. I immediately asked them, “Okay guys, tell me about this “mother god” thing.” The fellow from El Salvador (who did pretty much all of the speaking) tells me to turn in my Bible to Revelation 22:17.
Let me pause here a second. One apologetic rule of thumb: if a person begins defending his “beliefs” by starting in the last chapter of Revelation, you can be fairly certain you are about to hear some seriously bad doctrinal error.
My “spamdar” immediately began whistling in my head as he read Revelation 22:17, And the Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come!” And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely.
He says, “See how it says ‘the Spirit AND the Bride say come’? Sometimes ‘the Bride’ can mean the Church, but here this ‘Bride’ is inviting people to come and drink of the living water of eternal life. The Church doesn’t invite people to ‘eternal life’.”
I asked, “Why not? Evangelism is the invitation to eternal life in Christ, right?” Additionally, I saw no contextual indicators suggesting that “the Bride” here is an individual, divine person of equality with God the Father. He then takes me to Revelation 21:9, 10 which says, Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls filled with the seven last plagues came to me and talked with me, saying, “Come, I will show you the bride, the Lamb’s wife. And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God,
“The new Jerusalem,” he proclaims, “is God the mother.” Again, I drew him to the larger context and pointed out 21:2,3 which tells us this Jerusalem is said to be the holy city where the people of God will dwell. John is not saying this new Jerusalem is a divine, feminine being like God the father. But he retorts, “Well, take a look at Galatians 3:26, which says, ‘but the Jerusalem above is free, which is the mother of us all.'”
I sat amazed at such distortion and twisting of Scripture. I explained to them that Paul says in his epistle that he is speaking figuratively about an historical event in Genesis between Sarah and Hagar and drawing a comparison and contrast between the old and new covenants. Paul is not attempting to teach that there exists a divine, feminine goddess of sorts who is equal to God.
Undeterred, he jumps all the way back to Genesis 1:26ff., where it reads, “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, according to our likeness…” “The word ‘God’,” he says, “is Elohim and he has to be speaking to God the mother, because Elohim is plural and he includes himself with another being, the ‘us’ and ‘our’ in the verse.”
By this time, my wife had rejoined us and she quickly clues in to what the two guys are saying. She stated something like, “Guys, this ‘mother god’ is something utterly foreign to the Bible and it seems like you are building this flimsy doctrine on some out-of-context verses that do not teach anything close to what you are saying they say.” We explained what the Bible means by creating man in God’s image, how our image is marred by sin, and our need to be restored to God because of our sin.
Our conversation went on for about 45 minutes or more, but we were able to ascertain the following points they were trying to convince us the Bible teaches:
There is God the Father and God the Mother. Apparently, two deities, one male and one female. I tried to ask them about the persons of the Trinity, but there seemed to be a bit of confusion on their part.
God the Father and God the Mother gave “birth” to all humanity. This is akin to Mormonism and their views regarding spirit babies and the like.
One is saved by keeping the ten commandments. We got into a lengthy discussion about the law, the place of the law in a believer’s life, and how the law relates to the new covenant. They seemed to have contradictory views of the 10 commandments, claiming at one point Jesus had to “fulfill” them, which they take to mean (at least as I understood what they were saying) Jesus had to finish them out because they weren’t perfect. That point was lost on me a bit, because a little later, they both agreed that we needed to keep the 10 commandments perfectly in order to be saved. But that begs the question: if the 10 commandments weren’t perfect before, why would we need to keep them now?
They insisted on keeping the Sabbath as Saturday worship. They basically held to the same views as Seventh-Day Adventists in regards to Saturday worship. We got into a bit of a sharp discussion about the absolute necessity to worship on Saturday. I pointed out a few passages to them regarding how Christ did away with the ceremonial regulations concerning the Sabbath, and on account of Christ’s Resurrection on the first day of the week, the Christian church recognized Sunday as the time to come together for worship. My take on their reaction was that this was the first time they had heard these arguments.
At any rate, our conversation primarily had these points as a focus, and then I said, “Okay guys, the real issue before us is how you think a sinner is made right before God, correct?” They respond by telling us to keep the 10 commandments. I took them immediately to Romans.
Beginning in Romans 1, I explained the thesis of each chapter, how both gentiles and Jews are equally condemned by the law (the 10Cs), and that no man can keep it perfectly as the end of Romans 2 says. I then explained from Romans 3 how ALL men, no matter who they are, are sinners pursuing rebellion against God and His ways and that the only hope man has to escape God’s divine wrath is if something happens to us. That something I explained was God sending Christ to live a perfect life according to the law, taking our sin away on the cross, and and imputing His righteousness to us.
My wife says, “There are only two religions in the world,” and the one fellow from El Salvador says, “I know there are hundreds of religions.” My wife says, “let me explain: either man attempts to make himself right with God with his own efforts, which in principle is every religion on the planet, or God makes men right before Him with His own effort, which is what God has done through Christ.” I got the sense that neither guy had heard that explained to them before.
I then left them with Revelation 20 about the Great White Throne, and explained how all religions lead to God. If you base your hope on your own works to make you right before God, you will be judged by those works, and according to Scripture, your efforts will fail, because no sinner can do any amount of good works to make himself right before Holy God.
With that, we said good-bye and let them go. They were both cordial with us and even asked if they could come back. My wife was very unmissional and said if they chose to return, they needed to understand we believed they were unsaved, ensnared with a soul damning cult, and our efforts would be to evangelize them. The guy from El Salvador took my email contact info, so we will see what happens.
I leave the interaction with these guys in the hands of the Lord. My goal was:
– First, I wanted to let them present their beliefs in their own words, as wack-a-doodle and non-Christian as they may be.
– Second, to ask them questions regarding their doctrine forcing them to defend it. Looking back on our conversation, I believe I could have done better in this area. Perhaps ask a few more probing questions regarding their understanding of God, man’s sin, and what they believe Jesus did on the cross.
-Third, was to prevent being side-tracked, and bogged down, in peripheral areas, like haggling over whether a person should go to church on Saturday or Sunday.
– And then fourth, to present the Gospel of salvation that was grounded in the text of Scripture. The results of its efficacy being left to the purposes of God.