SLMAW 011 – Being Right is Not Enough with James Walker

James WalkerWhat You’ll Hear:

    • James Walker was a fourth generation Mormon but could not be assured of his salvation and then put his faith and trust in Jesus Christ alone
    • His mother and sisters became Christians but it was more difficult with his father.
    • James was helped by the Watchman Fellowship ministry.  He later became a volunteer and eventually the President of the organization and has spent over 20 years in this apologetics ministry

  • The most bizzare belief system he’s come across is that Jesus is actually a mushroom
  • The greatest threats to Christianity come from Islam as well as religions that are very similar to Christianity but in fact are not Christian
  • James has found that it’s not enough to be right.  We have to take into account the whole person when sharing the Gospel and to show that we care and act in love

Intro

James Walker is a former fourth generation Mormon with over twenty five years of ministry experience in the field of Christian counter-cult evangelism, apologetics, and discernment.

He has been interviewed as an expert on new religious movements and cults on a variety of network television programs including Nightline, ABC World News Tonight, and The News Hour with Jim Lehrer.

He has spoken at hundreds of churches, colleges, universities, and seminaries throughout the United States and internationally.

Rev. Walker holds a BA in Biblical Studies and an MA in Theology (Summa Cum Laude) from Criswell College in Dallas.  He is an ordained Baptist minister and a member of the International Society of Christian Apologetics (ISCA), the Evangelical Press Association, and serves on the Board of Directors of Evangelical Ministries to New Religions (EMNR).

Q&A*

Tell Us About Growing Up as a 4th Generation Mormon and Becoming a Christian

I was born and raised LDS Mormon, had a good experience, believed the Book of Mormon was the word of God and Joseph Smith was a prophet.  I held the Aaronic priesthood.  I held the customary positions and participated in the Baptism of the dead in the temple in Salt Lake City.

I had Christian friends.  Some of them were negative and bashing, but most were patient and understanding and shared key verses with me.  At age 21, I realized that I had not received forgiveness of sin, could not be obedient to all the Mormon laws and ordinances and so was not certain of my salvation. I then put my faith and trust in Jesus Christ alone.

What Was That Like, Where You Came to Christ and Yet Your Closest Friends and Families Were Still Mormon?

It was difficult.  It’s always hardest with family.  The ones you love and are closest to are the hardest ones to talk to about things like this.

My mother and my 4 sisters all came to Christ and left Mormonism.

My father was different.  He had all these plans for me in the Mormon church that I had ruined.  My parents were divorced after my Mom left the Mormon church.  We spoke rarely.  In the last 5 years before he died, I had the opportunity to share with him the true Gospel.  I don’t know if he received it or not.

I’ve learned that it’s more important to be relational and to say “I have a problem, can you help me” than to just tell people why they’re wrong.

God made us as a whole person.  We are the emotion and the intellect and we have to appeal to the whole person.  I tell my staff that being right is not enough.  You have to win not only in the area of truth but in the area of feeling and relationship and emotion and reach that whole person.

The old saying is true “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”  When I was Mormon, some Christians spoke to me in such a way that I thought they were trying to make me look foolish.

Tell Us How You Got Involved with Watchman Fellowship and What That Ministry is Involved In

I was getting confused between what I had learned as a Mormon and what I read in the Bible.  I was at a Christian bookstore and the woman working there put me in touch with the founder at Watchman, a new ministry.  When I went to their meeting, I found they understood the terminology gap with Mormons, that was very helpful.

I became a volunteer, went on staff full time in 1984 and became president in 1994.

We take our name from Ezekiel 33 where God places a watchman to guard the city.  We deal in defending the faith, apologetics, in interfaith evangelism.  We try to get a handle on what the various religions are about, and help Christians reach out in love to reach out to others in these religions.

Define For Us 3 Terms: Religion, Cult, and Apologetics

Religion has a supernatural worldview, an ultimate deeper reality.  It’s an attempt to make contact with God and build a relationship with God.  It’s an organized attempt to find your place in the universe spiritualy.

Our evangelical definition of a cult is a group that claims to be Christian but deviates from the essential doctrines of Christianity.  What makes us brothers and sisters in Christ is when we agree on the essential doctrines, those would include who is God, who is Jesus Christ, how do we have forgiveness of our sins.

For example, Jehovah’s Witnesses claim to be Christian but believe that Jesus is not God in the flesh, but actually the angel Michael who dies on a stake and never rises from the dead bodily.

I almost don’t use the term cult anymore unless I can first define it, because of what happened in 1979 in the jungles of South America where many people were killed and committed suicide under Jim Jones.  Then what happened in Waco, TX.  The term cult took on the connotation of suicidal/murder group.

Apologetics means to have a reason or defense of the faith.  Scripture says we should have a reason for the hope that is within us.

What’s the Most Bizzare Belief System or Theology You’ve Come Across?

One of the PhD researchers involved in the Dead Sea Scrolls named John Alegro started a religion in California based on the idea that Jesus is actually a mushroom.

He argued that the New Testament was written in code, and when it talks about Jesus it’s talking about taking halucinagenic mushrooms.  His book is called the Sacred Mushroom of the Cross.

What Belief System is The Greatest Threat to the Gospel of Jesus Today?

In some ways, the biggest threat is the one that looks the closest to Christianity but deviates from essentials.  As far as looking at the future of Christianity and even western civilization, you’re probably looking at Islam.  When Islam becomes prominent Christianity becomes illegal.

Why Are There So Many Denominations Within Christianity and Is That a Good or Bad Thing?

This is not a new thing.  In some ways it’s harmful in the sense that you don’t want to exclude people or not fellowship with them on secondary issues.

On the other hand, it becomes a strength of Christianity because it allows for that diversity.  You don’t have to agree on everything to be a Christian.  Differences can be healthy and you don’t want to break fellowship off of that.

We often let the pendulum swing too far in one direction or the other.  One extreme is that as long as we’re all seeking God it’s the same.  It’s disrespectful to both religions, for example, to say that Christianity and Islam are the same religion.

The other extreme is to say that you have to agree on every minor issue.  Eventually there’s only going to be one true Christian and that’s you.

The phrase from one of the founding church fathers applies: unity in the main things, freedom in smalls things, and all things in love.  We don’t want to be all truth and no love, nor do we want to be all love and no truth, which is not true love.

Spirit Round

What is the Greatest Misunderstanding Men Have About Their Work?

For men, compartmentalizing, where they don’t see a holistic understanding of who you are at work, home and at church.  Also, when they wrap their identity, self worth, and who they are with their job.  Then when you lose your occupation, you lose your identity.  Our identity is in Christ.

Talk About Dealing with Someone Difficult at Work

When you’re in a secular job, you often think that if you would work in a Christian ministry everything would be great.  Then you find out that you’re working with sinners.

We’re all sinners saved by grace.  Remember that the disciples were always sniping at each other.  We haven’t really progressed beyond that.  The beauty is that God works with that.

Just like with Peter, God can work with someone for example who has a firey temper.  Don’t expect perfection from other people.  Don’t be surprised by it, that will help you overcome it.

Talk About Excelling in Your Job

Our work is ministry.  This is one of the ways we glorify God.  Paul said that if you’re a slave (like an employee today), you’re glorifying God in every aspect of your life.

What About Integrity?

It goes back to not compartmentalizing.  You can’t clock out from being yourself.  You are who you are 24/7.  We’re all tempted.  In Greek there’s one word that’s used both ways, trial and temptation.  In English, you have to translate it one way or the other.  One reason for that is that every trial we go through has an element of temptation.

So when we lose our job, we’re not making our quarterly goal, when sales are down, or whatever way we’re measured in the workplace, there’s always a temptation to take a shortcut or do it the wrong way.  But when you’re able to resist that temptation, that’s when you get that victory and grow in your character and in your relationship with God.

Name One or Two Principles from the Bible Relating to Money and Finances that Every Spirit Led Man Should Keep in Mind?

It’s about stewardship.  As a Christian man, none of it belongs to you.  You have access to the checking account, but it’s not your business.  It’s your Master’s business, which is Jesus Christ.

Give Us One Tip for Sharing the Gospel at Work?

When you’ve been out of the secular workplace for a while, you realize all the opportunities you used to have that you don’t have anymore.  If you’re not careful, everybody around you is going to be Christian.  You have to be intentional to be around unbelievers.  I used to do most of my reading at a coffee shop and have had fantastic conversations over the years.

For the Christian man in the secular workplace, who are you praying for, that you can take to lunch.  One of the best questions I ask someone is “do you consider yourself a spiritual person?”  Just start a list of 2 or 3 people you’re praying for.

What is Your Favorite Scripture and Why?

2 Corinthians 11:3-4.  A warning the Apostle Paul gave that just as Adam and Eve were deceived, deception is possible for all Christians.

What Can You Recommend For the Commute to Work

You can turn your car or at the gym into a classroom.  With audio books, biographies are great and it’s not technical stuff.  One I read recently was “Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus”.  Another in the area of apologetics was “The Faith of Christopher Hitchens”.  He was a very sharp tongued atheist.  It was written by a Christian who debated him and became friends with him.  It was a whole different perspective on Christopher Hitchens.

How Can We Contact You?

www.watchman.org.

email: jwalker@watchman.org

twitter: @jkwwfi

* Q&A answers not word for word, they are paraphrased and abbreviated

Summary of Links from Episode

Ezekiel 33

1 Peter 3:15

James 1:12

James 1:2

2 Corinthians 11:3-4

Watchman Fellowship

email: jwalker@watchman.org

twitter: @jkwwfi

Seeking Allah Finding Jesus

The Faith of Christopher Hitchens

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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