What of the




Defending the Truth




Regarding Pastor Jeffress

When a critic attacks the Church, I look first for a logical weakness, an exaggeration, or an overstepping of the bounds of propriety. I ask at what link in a logic chain can I change the way the audience views whatfs going on – what the issue is really all about?

The attack on us by Pastor Robert Jeffress couldnft serve as a better example:

  • First, he used a word that in religious circles is equivalent to an ethnic slur, and America pounced on him. (I thought Ifd never see the time when a liberal such as Anderson Cooper of CNN would be defending the Church, but the Lord works in mysterious ways.)
  • Then he lamely suggested he meant gtheological cult.h Googling that phrase turns up a paltry 695 hits, almost all of them referring to the Jeffress story itself, whereas the word cult harvests over 13 million. Not very good evidence that people carried this unique category of cultism in their heads before the reverend spoke, let alone concluded that thatfs what he intended.
  • Next, his attack put us in the spotlight. Companies spend billions to attract eyeballs and ears, and our antagonist provided them for us for free. In a world where apathy is a greater hindrance than antagonism, what a gift.
  • Finally, he dealt to our strength by saying we are different from his brand of Christianity, and in fact arenft Christians at all, a point on which only 14% are definitely sure is the truth.

The last one is especially important because hefs already done part of our work for us.

I have told clients for decades that there is no persuasion without contrast. Similarity messages may be informational, but are rarely powerful. Differentiating messages, on the other hand, carry power and stimulate thinking.

We have tried to persuade people for years that we are Christians, that we believe the Bible, and that we follow Jesus Christ. But baptisms remain flat because every Christian church can say the same things. Even if the whole world knew that we follow the Savior, why should they be motivated to change religions?

As a parallel, no political challenger ever won by saying, gIfm as good as the incumbent.h Similarly, margarine sales didnft take off six decades ago until its makers quit saying gIt tastes like butterh and began saying gIt tastes better than butter.h

Maybe we Mormons are in the same situation. We gain little if we try to curry favor with those of other faiths by emphasizing similarities. It is futile, unproductive, and wastes money. Our pastor friend has stirred people up about differences and they deserve to hear our differentiating responses.

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