I have developed a relationship with an elderly Colombian woman whose belief system seems to be rooted in pentecostalism. There are so many doctrinal errors in her views of the Bible that I find it difficult to know where to start with her. Issues range from her view of a woman’s role in the Bible (and thus submission) to women preaching to the primary emphasis on the work of the Holy Spirit. She claims to know the Bible well, even to the point of being an “evangelist/preacher” herself; she refuses to go to church (because the Pastors are largely not filled with the Spirit, teaching is boring, and she doesn’t believe in tithing); and am finding resistance to my challenge to her of her view of Scripture. Can you guide me as to where, biblically, I need to focus my conversations with her? I don’t want to get into a debate with her. My goal is to guide her in the Word effectively so that the truth can permeate her false thinking. (If this topic has already been addressed and I missed the post, kindly direct me to it! I did find the post on baptism of the Holy Spirit.)
This is a great question. I have a few also. Is it possible to inquire about and study any resources she may give you so you would know more about her beliefs as this could aid in conversing more fruitfully? Would it be possible to start a conversation with her by pointing to Jesus and the fact that He was full of the Holy Spirit? Maybe asking her what her thoughts are regarding the way He displayed the work and fruits of the Spirit in His life? Would she be open to a Bible study with you? Sometimes I have asked people if they wanted to do a Bible study so I can learn more about and understand their views.
Talking about the mundane and everyday things can be a great way to develop more trust, reveal to her the kind of person you are and build into the relationship. God is present in the mundane and the majestic.
I will be praying for you to have guidance from the Holy Spirit regarding what His plan and path is for this relationship.
Grace and peace,
These are great thoughts/questions! Thank you so much for providing me with this insight! I thank God that I have already established a position of trust with this woman, but I do think your recommendation for looking to better understand what informs her beliefs is helpful. Regarding the Bible study option, would you let her decide what book to study, do a topical study, or should I suggest a biblical study on the topic of the Holy Spirit?
I would want to read her recommendation of what she would pick to study by myself. The reason being, if it is clearly unscriptural then, would I end up spending all my time with her trying to kindly tell her it’s incorrect, damaging the relationship, and shutting down the whole point of the study to start with? Reading beforehand could also give you more insight into her perspective of God and the best approach to take. If you pick the book, you can start with a Biblically sound base point and are already ahead of the game. I would definitely start with an area of interest for her.
Having said all that, probably the best answer to your question is to ask the Lord to lead you in the right direction. I will commit to pray with you and ask for His clear guidance concerning what His will is for the next step.
I would love to know how this pans out, but only if you would like to share. No pressure!
Grace and peace,
Hi Cecelia, Mary Beth, and anyone else checking in!
I appreciate that both of you are looking to help people to better understand the Word of God and what who the Truth is. Earlier today, I was thinking about something completely different and how powerful it is to consider that which unites us over that which divides us. In Matthew 12:22-28, our Lord tells us how a kingdom (in the case of this discussion, I would apply this to the Kingdom of Heaven) divided against itself will come to destruction. In Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis shares the idea of the universal Church as a hallway with many rooms. The hallway, representing the core beliefs that are universal to every Christian, is a nice place to be, but the gathering and enjoyment comes in the rooms, representing the different types of churches. As my young son pointed out to the misinterpretation of Matthew 19:24 that rich people cannot get into heaven, “It is all about what you believe about Jesus.” My suggestion is to begin with what is essential and unifying, " that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved" (Romans 10:9, NASB). Perhaps through the open, honest, and respectful discussion, one or the both of you might change what you think about the Word. I say, maybe the both, because from my experience, people do not respond well to being told they are wrong without the other side also allowing themselves to be vulnerable to realizing misinterpretations. Additionally, I am tentative about the idea of evangelizing to members of other denominations, since Jesus even says in his letter to the church at Sardis that those believers of different denominations (“You have a few names”), have their names in the Book of Life (Revelation 3:1-6)
Thank you for you openness and honesty,
Thank you, Ben, for your response. I will definitely consider your suggestions. I appreciate your thoughtful reply.
I agree with Cecelia. Thank you for taking the time to reply and your advice on approaching this precious woman with sensitivity and love. Wise words!
Grace and peace,