Why evangelize?

I am taking a course on the Biblical and Theological Foundation for Mission right now. For class I am reading Newbigin's book "The Open Secret." He has an interesting quote in one of the first chapters. I am sure I am no where near the intended point by not going further into his argument with you (he soon after begins to help you in responding to questions such as these - I am not satisfied with the answers). But I think these are questions worth asking - at least of myself:
Why not join with the sincere adherents of all religions in seeking the fullness of the truth to which they all aspire?

Why not join with all people of goodwill in tackling the real human problems of hunger, oppression, sickness, and alienation, instead of seeking more adherents for your religious group?
How would YOU respond to such questions?


John said...

What is the fullness of truth? Don't the different religions disagree on certain "truths?" Some believe in many gods, others believe in no real god, others believe in a distant,unknowable god, still others believe god may be known, and others believe god can be known and has made himself known. How would we do that...aspire to fullness of truth when we are after very different fullness-of-truths?

The second quote is where I think Christ-followers have missed the boat and should get into gear with. Everyone should want to end hunger, poverty, oppression, etc...regardless of what you believe about God, a god, or gods.

Jonathan said...

Most excellent question. One problem with the sincerity argument is in the fact that one may be sincere, but misguided. That is true whether you seek to follow Jesus, Moses, Buddha, Joseph Smith, etc.

As to the second question:
Since I believe all good things come from God, therefore those who create good things are acting on His behalf. Therefore if something is being done which is good, we should seek to help it along instead of arguing with them about their motives. This may mean working to create an environment as conducive to the right motives as possible while providing ones' own examples of genuine love (whenever possible), and apologizing and making up for any attempts at love which fall short.

Later, we can explain that they are acting on God's behalf and that He will continue to work through them as long as they choose such. In the mean time, they can reap the benefits of following Jesus' commands, even in their "unsaved" state, and have their understanding molded so that they will eventually see the real truth for what it is when they are ready to do so.

All this assumes that we ourselves are not standing between them and God by providing a distorted view of who He is, but rather producing as clear and authentic a picture into His nature as we as clay earthen vessels can manage.