Howdy! I’ve run across a few instances where people outside our faith have been offended of our view on other churches. They specifically reference 1 Nephi 14:10. What’s the best way to handle that situation and possibly diffuse their hostility?
Just to get it out of the way, if people are given to hostility, very little that you say will have any effect. It’s what you do that will speak volumes to them. I have read of, and experienced for myself, several instances of hardened hearts being softened by seeing the pure love of Christ put into action by faithful members of the church. In such cases, it really is a matter of “They won’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” Take them on as a friendship challenge. Let them get to know you by seeing how you live, how you treat others, and especially how you treat those not of your own faith. In time, they will then be ready to hear what you have to say about that verse.
As for what I have to say about that verse, the use of the word ‘church’ in that verse is much more symbolic than literal. In that way, the misunderstanding comes out. In order to clarify what is being said, I would refer you to a later set of verses in the Book of Mormon;
14 Wherefore, take heed, my beloved brethren, that ye do not judge that which is evil to be of God, or that which is good and of God to be of the devil.
15 For behold, my brethren, it is given unto you to judge, that ye may know good from evil; and the way to judge is as plain, that ye may know with a perfect knowledge, as the daylight is from the dark night.
16 For behold, the Spirit of Christ is given to every man, that he may know good from evil; wherefore, I show unto you the way to judge; for every thing which inviteth to do good, and to persuade to believe in Christ, is sent forth by the power and gift of Christ; wherefore ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of God.
17 But whatsoever thing persuadeth men to do evil, and believe not in Christ, and deny him, and serve not God, then ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of the devil; for after this manner doth the devil work, for he persuadeth no man to do good, no, not one; neither do his angels; neither do they who subject themselves unto him.
18 And now, my brethren, seeing that ye know the light by which ye may judge, which light is the light of Christ, see that ye do not judge wrongfully; for with that same judgment which ye judge ye shall also be judged.
Here we see a more distinct explanation of which ‘church’ is which. After all, we as a church do not, nor have we ever, held a monopoly on righteousness. The Church was founded by converts, something we tend to forget. I also find it interesting that verses 14 and 18 say what they say, and when.
Even though we are aware of wickedness and evil in the world, we dare not forget that judgment is not given to us for a tool on each other, but a tool on ourselves. Only Christ has been given the power of judgment over this world. Thus the revelation given above is for our use as an introspective tool to see how consistent we are to what we know in the gospel. It is to be used to identify potential evil coming at us, that we may avoid it, or to identify the good that we are doing, that we may increase it. In all things we must follow the Savior Jesus Christ in reaching out to everyone around us, excluding nobody, and loving them and helping them as we can, and as they need.
Be patient with those who are hostile towards the church. Give them enough of a positive example, and they’ll come to you with several serious questions, possibly forgetting all about that pesky verse. May God be with you always