Last Updated:Friday - 09/24/2010
March 18, 2002
Tell the Good News
True Christianity says believers must proselytize
SPECIAL TO THE WCR
To observe that religious proselytization has become unfashionable in today's aggressively multicultural social ethos is an understatement.
Christian proselytization is the least fashionable sort of all, even, shamefully, among many nominal Christians.
The latter point is a curious phenomenon when viewed analytically because the central tenets of Christianity - that Jesus Christ was and is God the Creator incarnate and that his sacrifice on the cross is the unique and universal remedy to the human dilemma of original sin - would make evangelism an ethical imperative, even if Jesus himself had not mandated it in his great commission:
"Go into all the world, and preach the Gospel to the whole creation. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who disbelieves will be condemned." (Mark 16: 15-16)
Other religions may be able to affirm a "you believe what you believe, and we'll believe what we believe, and everybody will be OK in the long run" ethic, but a Christianity that eschews proselytizing is dysfunctional.
The definition of proselytize is to convert from one point of view to another, and spreading the Gospel - the Good News - is, along with prayer, worship and attempting to live a moral life, one of the essentials of faithful Christianity.
Christians are not commended to, indeed we are admonished against, hiding our light - the Gospel - under a proverbial bushel.
It was proselytizing that turned the ancient world on its head through the first five centuries A.D., when Christians were anything but bashful about sharing their faith.
Unfortunately, as John McDowell notes in his book, The New Tolerance, in the postmodern mindset it is no longer considered enough to simply live and let live, but rather it is now considered necessary to positively affirm each.
But, "we must all respect each others' beliefs" is a philosophically bankrupt and nonsensical notion, that if followed, renders belief untenable.
If you really believe that something is objectively true and right, then affirming something contradictory out of dysfunctional politeness or out of an ethic of multicultural tolerance is hypocritical.
We must, of course, respect each other as fellow human beings, but if you are concerned someone is following an ideological path that will lead him or her to destruc- tion, it is misplaced concern for the other's feelings not to at least attempt advocacy of a change of course.
Remember, Jesus said: "He who disbelieves will be condemned."
Consequently, if one purports to be a follower of Jesus, but declines making any effort to spare others the eternity in hellfire that Jesus warned is their fate if they remain unbelievers, out of politeness or political correctness, that is hardly doing anyone a favour or being a faithful exponent of Christ's evangelism mandate.
But trying to convert people of other faiths to yours is insulting theological arrogance, some will argue.
Well, all major religions implicitly affirm themselves to be right and others wrong about a number of important issues, and any such truth claims constitute, one supposes, a sort of theological arrogance, at least under the code of postmodern moral relativism.
So long as no coercion is used (and Christianity, properly understood, is not a coercive religion - coerced faith is an oxymoron), what is so horrendous about trying to convince others that their souls need saving and sharing your belief that Jesus is the Savior?
Viewed rationally, it would be more insulting for devout Christians not to share the Gospel with unbelievers, whether they be atheists or followers of other religions.
In 1 Peter 3:15, it says: "Be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you."
In a recent Atlantic Monthly column, P.J. O'Rourke recalls a dinner he had in London recently with British TV commentator Clive Jones and Jones' assistant, who P.J. describes as "an able and well-educated young woman who could not be convinced . . . that in the matter of moral values there was such a thing as a superior culture."
Even when reminded of the oppression of women in Muslim Afghanistan and Somalia, this young woman, true to the multiculturalist indoctrination her generation has been brainwashed with, insisted: "Of course I'm a feminist, but I resist the idea of an inferior culture."
And that, in a nutshell, exemplifies why it has become gauche and declasse to assert Christianity is divinely revealed truth, or to proselytize non-Christians with the Gospel.
It's bad enough neopagans buy into this taboo, but nominal Christians who think proselyt-izing is optional, or worse, that there is something wrong with it, need to re-examine the essentials of their professed faith.
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