Q: How should I answer people from other religions that come to my door?
A: When we are confronted by people of other creeds at the door, we need to determine just who it is we are speaking with. By what the person says, does he or she give evidence that he or she is Christian and is coming to your door under the heading of a “Christian” denomination? Or, is it obvious that the person at the door is representing a non-Christian group, what we call a “cult”? Trying to ascertain this important distinction is doing what our Lord says, “Watch out for false prophets. . . By their fruit you will recognize them” (Matt. 7:15, 16). Once you conclude whether you are talking with a confessing Christian or not, then you can better direct your response to the main point of contention between yourself and the presenter at the door.
Peter writes, “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect” (I Peter 3:15). We are to be ready and eager to present the Gospel truth to those who are earnestly seeking answers. Even though a person may appear at the door “well-versed” in his/her false religion, it may be that he or she is just ripe for the Gospel truth. (Keep in mind, too, that at the door the person may give no sign at all of taking to heart what you say, but it could well be the case that later on in his or her private study the truth you explained begins to take root.)
Frequently, though, the presenter at your door is such a staunch and hardened advocate of their brand of religion, that it would appear best simply to avoid a lengthy dialogue. To those wishing to deceive us, we are to be ready to close the door and keep away from them (Rom. 16:17).
We need to be well-grounded in our use of Scripture and continually brush up on our Lutheran doctrine. If it is someone from a different Christian denomination that we are visiting with, it is imperative to bring out those teachings in the Bible which set Lutheranism apart from a heterodox church body. Some prominent examples of these doctrines are: salvation by grace alone, universal atonement, the Means of Grace (especially the power at work in Baptism and the Lord’s Supper), original sin, predestination to salvation but not to damnation, church fellowship, and a non-millennialistic view of the last times.
With regard to the cults, let it be said that we ought to limit our response by sticking only with the biggest issue which separates us from the presenter at the door. How foolish it would be to waste important time with a Jehovah Witness person at the door, by getting into one of their favorite topics—a discussion of millennialistic events in the end time—when the most pressing need is “Who is Jesus Christ?” Other vital topics with people of the cults are: the Trinity, the Bible the only source of doctrine, the need for forgiveness and salvation, and the assurance of forgiveness and salvation through the redemptive work of Jesus Christ.