The furor surrounding Brit Hume’s encouragement to Tiger Woods to convert to Christianity shows us that the prevailing sentiment of our culture is adamantly opposed to the idea of evangelism.
As Christians, we must recognize that before we can make a robust defense for the Christian faith, we may have to clear the air by making a case for evangelism in general. After having listened to some of the remarks made about Brit Hume, I have compiled a list of common objections to “proselytism” and why each of them are unpersuasive.
Objection #1: “Brit Hume’s remarks indicate that he thinks Christianity is superior to Buddhism.”
Response: Of course, he thinks Christianity is superior. Otherwise why would he remain an adherent to the Christian faith?
In the same way, I would expect a Buddhist man to think that his religion to be superior to Christianity. If the Buddhist doesn’t consider Buddhism to be superior, then why not convert to whatever religion he thinks issuperior?
It is not arrogant to believe that your religion is superior to others. We should assume that religious people believe their faith to be superior.
Furthermore, if you believe no religion is superior to another,you are putting forth a viewpoint that you believe to be superior than the “religious superiority argument” you condemn. Thus, you fail to live up to your own demand.
Objection #2: “Christianity looks bad when Christians talk this way. Christians should not publicly and actively proselytize people of other faiths.”
Response: If Jesus calls us to make disciples of all nations and to preach the gospel, then Jesus is calling us to evangelism/proselytism. The issue is not about the way Christianity looks before the world. The question is whether or not someone can be a faithful follower of Jesus Christ and not evangelize.
To the person who says, “It’s arrogant to proselytize”, I say, “I consider it more arrogant that you think I should followyou in this area rather than Jesus Christ, who I claim as Savior and Lord.” It is the height of arrogance (and prejudice) to tell a Christian, “You should not follow Jesus Christ in this area.”
Objection #3: “Brit Hume implied that Buddhism is deficient in some way.”
Response: The assumption behind this objection is that all religions are equally valid. But that assumption is not so easily proven.
Do we really want to argue that no religion has any deficiency? That every religion is equally good (albeit in its own way)? Such a view is very disrespectful to the adherents of other religions. Buddhists know that they are not Christians. Christians know that they are not Muslims. By assuming that every religion is equally valid and good, you are downplaying the significant differences between these faiths.
Don’t patronize people and act like their differing views don’t matter. They do. They know they do. We know they do. Let’s agree on the fact that there are substantial disagreements and leave aside this nonsense that we all believe the same thing.
Objection #4: It is arrogant for Brit Hume to assume he believes in the only true religion and to try to lead people to the Christian faith.
Response: Is it? Most people in the world today do not believe that all religions are equally valid. In fact, most people believe that their religion is the correct one.
So by saying that it’s arrogant to insist your religion is right… well, that’s an arrogant statement too. You’re telling me that the majority of the world is wrong and you are right. Sounds oppressive.It’s also ethnocentric and prejudiced to believe that we in the enlightened West have figured out that all religions are the same and the poor, mindless Christians, or Muslims, or Hindus, or Buddhists across the world are still in the dark, thinking they have the only light.
Objection #5: Brit Hume’s attempt to evangelize Tiger Woods shows how exclusive and narrow-minded fundamentalist Christians are.
Response: Actually, no. True evangelism takes place because the call of salvation is radically inclusive. We are to call all people everywhere to repentance and faith: people from every tongue, tribe, and nation; people of every color, ethnicity, and background; yes, even people who claim other religious identities.
The truly narrow-minded, prejudiced Christian looks at a Buddhist like Tiger Woods and stays quiet about Jesus. Their silence says this: Jesus isn’t for you.
On the other hand, the evangelistic Christian recognizes the radically inclusive call to salvation. It is because of the exclusive nature of Christianity that the offer of the gospel is so radically inclusive. Christ calls all people everywhere to repentance. Forgiveness in Jesus Christ is available for all… even Buddhists like Tiger Woods.