Last night I listened to someone try to explain how they would "witness" to their faith in a pluralistic culture. The individual couldn’t quite articulate it beyond saying dialog and conversation was more important than the four spiritual laws. Yes I know that’s nigh onto blasphemy for some. The whole time I couldn’t get away from my church planting training that says you need to be able to close the deal help someone cross the line. So now I’m thinking in our pluralistic world is is possible to witness without being a a bigot, evangelize without being obnoxious, share faith without being abusive?
Then I came across this in my email inbox this morning from the eBay atheist » Blog Archive » Ethics and Evangelism
Karen posted this on the Off-The-Map discussion board yesterday. There has already been some discussion of it there. I’m bringing it over here too since she’s asking some great questions. Do ethics matter when it comes to evangelism, or do the ends justify the means?
When I was an evangelical Christian, I was routinely taught to do pretty much anything necessary in order to “bring someone to Christ.” The idea was that the pit of hell was looming wide, so it was permissible to use many tactics that might be judged unethical in other contexts, in order to get a person saved. This included inviting them to church for a “neutral” service (such as a holiday pageant) that was really planned as an evangelistic event, complete with altar call. I consider that a fairly inoffensive example (though still troubling), but there was also much worse going on, including things that contributed to my leaving Christianity and religion in general. As an example, some friends and I have been chuckling over this evangelism video by actor Kirk Cameron.
I have real problem with these bait and switch type of events but they are pretty transparent and ridiculous, and the Cameron video is more laughable than troubling to me. So I’m not sure why that kind stuff caused here to become an ex-Christian. But the question arises for me did Jesus ever ask anyone to commit to anything like following him? How did he do it and what difference should that make to you and me? Is there something of value beyond the bait and switch mentioned above for us to learn from the way Jesus and his first followers shared faith. Or is that whole idea outmoded and irrelevant in our North American context?