Saturday, March 15, 2008

Observations on Evangelism

I know this may be a post too far given all that has been discussed here on evangelism, but I had an experience today which seems relevant.

Two smartly dressed young men with American accents called on me today.

Them: "We'd like to talk to you about the book of Mormon."

Me: "Yes, come to the church where I minister tomorrow and we can continue the conversation then."

Them: "We can continue the conversation now."

Me: "Actually, we can't. I'm sorry."

Them: "Would you like a copy of the book of Mormon?"

Me: "I am a teacher of religious studies, I have one at school. Would you like a New Testament?

Them: "We are theological interns. We have one."

Further forays on both sides for a few minutes.

Me: "Let's cut to the chase. Do you think you have any more chance of changing my mind than I have of changing yours?"

Them: "Probably not".

Me: "Thanks for calling."

My hunch has often been that evangelism is a dialogue of the deaf, much as that exchange was. (No one, under any circumstances, at this point post me a list of Biblical injunctions to evangelise. I know. They're a given.)

Am I, at my stage in life, with my Christian commitment, experience and calling and with my academic background going to become a Mormon? No. Are those guys going to become Christians? Unlikely. Is my friend Asim with his cradle Muslim experience and committment going to become a Christian? Probably not. Will my friends Kuljinder and Jagtar with their cradle committment to Sikhism and all that goes with it become Christians? I doubt it. At least, because they have a faith stance, not through a couple of attempts at evangelism on my part. We are in a long term relationship. I will continue to talk and to witness by my life, but I have no expectations of conversion. Cross cultural conversion are rare. It is about more than faith: it is about family and cultural identity and if you are secure in all that, and you aren't searching........

Atheism is a faith stance which we tend to ignore at our peril. Someone's Atheism is likely to be as stubborn to my Christianity as my Christianity was to the Mormons.

I draw no conclusions from this.

I do not dismiss evangelism, nor witness.

The Holy Spirit will blow where she wills.

Its a tad more complicated than it was ever presented to me when I was a teenage evangelical.