Typical evangelism for any religion involves someone going out at some degree of expense and risk to share what one believes to be true. It is a pretty simple and logical concept: If you think you know the true path to forgiveness, joy, peace and eternal life and you truly care about others, then of course you’ll want to share the Good News (regardless of how you define it).
However, some people hold the view that all religions are equally valid paths to God. As I was reflecting on the discussions on the Jesus is still the only way thread, I was reminded that people who hold that view should have a completely different model of evangelism. Wouldn’t it be most loving for them to send “reverse missionaries” to encourage everyone to follow their local religions? After all, consider the persecuted people around the world who could avoid pain, suffering, economic loss, prison and even death if they just held beliefs more palatable to their culture.
For example, you’d want to send people to Christians in India, N. Korea, China, all Arab countries and more to explain to them that Hinduism/Islam/Buddhism/etc. are just as good and that they should leave Christianity to maximize their comfort and happiness. If you follow any organizations like Voice of the Martyrs you are probably familiar with how much Christians suffer for their faith in many parts of the world. Why suffer like that if other religions are just as good?
And loving universalists (those who believe everyone is going to Heaven, regardless of what they believe) should go to China to encourage people to be atheists.
What a tragedy that hundreds of thousands or even millions of Christians died unnecessarily for their faith over the centuries. They should have just recanted and gone with the local religion, right?
What I’ve found is that religious pluralists and universalists do no such thing. They typically think their “home religion” is correct (why else would they belong to those denominations?) but are afraid to offend someone or risk rejection for sharing their view, or perhaps are unwilling to work to learn their beliefs well enough to defend them.
Shouldn’t false teachers who insist that all religions lead to God lend their time and money to being reverse missionaries? Yet I never hear of them undertaking such efforts to reduce the “needless” suffering of Christians around the world. Real faith is behaving as if what you say you believe is true. Yet these folks don’t follow through to the logical consequences of their worldview. This is one of the easiest ways to spot false teachers.
Of course, since I hold the view that Jesus is the one way to salvation then it is on my heart to share that with people.
If you encounter “Christians” claiming that other or even all religions are valid paths to God, ask them simply and politely if that means we should end Christian evangelism efforts and “evangelize” people to follow whatever “valid” religion will result in the least persecution for them.
13 thoughts on “Reverse missionaries”
There are a few alternative “universalist” versions besides your #1:
(1) “everyone is going to Heaven, regardless of what they believe” (the one your wrote of)
(2) Everyone’s faith (or even lack of faith) offers avenues to improve themselves.
(2a) Which can lead to heaven
(2b) Which lead to a better society even if there is no heaven
(3) Christ can use a person’s faith or even lack of to guide them to submit to love and practice forgiveness with humility so that at death they can realize that though they believed in the wrong faith, nonetheless they are then ready to recognize Christ to enter heaven which is only possible by acknowledging the work of Christ.
You are right, missionaries from many religions– not just Christians, may be wasting their time with converting people to their particular theology if any of these are true. But by I think it is important to realize that 2a and 2b and 3 also exist.
Many universalists and pluralist hold their soteriological views not because of fear of confronting or correcting others, but because they think there view is correct. To claim they hold it because they are afraid to confront, is as weak as claiming that you exclusivist believe what you do because you love confronting and damning the opinions of others.
Sabio, you missed the entire point of the post. Christianity is true and all other religions are demon-inspired and false, but that wasn’t my point. My point was that even those with the false belief systems noted aren’t acting consistently. Oxymoronic “pluralistic Christians” should be reverse missionaries and tell people to just follow their local customs.
Yes, that is a belief system — a classically non-Christian and therefore false belief system.
Another un-biblical false belief system.
That wasn’t my point, though anyone with those views is indeed wasting time. My point was that if they really held those views they would “evangelize” much differently. The fact that they don’t is more evidence that they have a made-up religion.
BTW, C.S. Lewis believed something very close to # 3, but then you should rightly consider him a heretic.
Lewis was usually right, but not on that point.
If by “at death” you mean, that point at which someone is about to die, and comes to Christ at that point, you wouldn’t find too many opponents, as death bed conversions are not necessarily insincere.
But if you mean after the point at which someone expires, not a chance.
Yeah, Marshall, it seems Lewis believed there were further opportunities even after physical death — but like I said, many felt that is heresy.
He would say that God is not limited by physical death as to when he reveals information or judges. But I know humans want it that way.
God wouldn’t necessarily be limited by physical death, but He also didn’t communicate that in his word. He said that all die and after that face judgment. There isn’t a hint of 2nd chances.
That’s odd how you “know” humans want it that way. I’d love to see as many as possible in Heaven, which is why I work to spread the truth of the Good News that you can be forgiven for your sins and have Jesus’ righteousness imputed to you if you repent and trust in him.
The Bible is quite clear, but even if it wasn’t it seems foolish to criticize someone for erring on the side of caution. After all, if the universalists are right then the worst thing Christians have done is “misread” the Bible and make people unnecessarily squirm a little bit in this life. But that “sin” is obviously forgivable as well if everyone goes to Heaven. Same thing for the other false belief systems you noted.
I haven’t read a lot of Lewis’ stuff, but he is hardly the be-all and end-all for all things Christian. More to the point, I doubt your understanding of his beliefs. There’s nothing Biblical of which I can think that would support this. Furthermore, what humans want isn’t necessarily relevant to what they believe is the case. In this one, we don’t necessarily “want” that death is the cutoff point for accepting Christ, but simply acknowledge how it is. The truth is that people like you want it differently, know it can’t be, and add that to your list of self-deceptive excuses for rejecting what you know to be true.
I will ignore the ad hominem attacks. But my point was simple:
— Many Christians have different views of the afterlife. Many insist their view is orthodox.
— Many Christians consider themselves Universalists or Pluralists.
— Theology is man made, no matter what you claim. Theology always springs from desires.
Those simple point ignored the point of the post. No one is denying that other views exist.
“Christian pluralist” = oxymoron. The ignorance of those who claim such is astounding. The 100+ passages pointing to Jesus’ exclusivity for salvation plus countless commands in the Bible not to worship other gods should convince anyone of that, but most holding those views don’t read the Bible or take it seriously. They just make up their own gods.
That begs the question and assumes atheism, of course. You are partly right: All religions but one are man-made. The one true God revealed the one true religion.
If you have any further comments please ensure that they relate to the actual post and not the comment thread non sequiturs. Thanks!
Are your referring to this ad hom? “But I know humans want it that way.” I don’t think my response qualifies as an ad hom since it was pointed at the conclusion drawn from your comment. You assume that some Christians want their theology to reflect a personal preference. You also seem to assume this is commonplace. But what atheists reject about Christian beliefs, or beliefs in any deity in the first place, is the requirements set by whatever deity is in question. What the atheist wants is in conflict with the teachings of a given religion, so they reject it, for it is not what they want.
Yeah, I want stuff to make a minimal of sense, or I reject it. If you want to call that a foul, and the folly of Atheists, then so be it.
I think you miss the motivations behind universalism (not really). It is to get all you can while you’re here and enjoy your life to the fullest, cause after all, it’s all about me. Any “work” to HELP anyone is outsourced. Helping the poor? Let the government extract compassion from my neighbor. Spreading the good news? The good news is “I don’t have to think about my ‘neighbor’ “.