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The Politics of Proselytization

A pluralistic religious landscape means proclaiming the Good News to persons of other faiths requires considerable finesse.

Evangelizing persons of other faiths, or even committed atheists, agnostics, or freethinkers, is tricky business in our pluralistic and increasingly politicized religious landscape. In Western cultures where tolerance is preeminent among public virtues, such efforts are generally met with scorn, chastisement, and much journalistic gnashing of teeth. In other parts of the world, interfaith gospelers are subject to far worse than a tongue-lashing from the cultural gatekeepers. Such activity may win them spots in jail, or cost them and their families their livelihood, if not their lives.

Recently we have dipped our editorial toes into the chaotic waters of interfaith relations, whether they take the form of a dialog, as touched on in Richard Mouw's piece, or conversion-seeking proclamation, as argued for in Stan Guthrie's recent editorial on evangelizing the Jews. Having read both pieces, it's clear that Mouw shares the evangelistic imperative born of love highlighted by Guthrie, and that ...

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