Evangelism is a term very similar to “Jihad” in terms of public relations. It is a term cherished by those of us “inside” Christianity, but despised by those on the outside. Christians may think “spreading the Gospel,” but to others it means “socially awkward situations where you pressure me to accept YOUR beliefs.” Some on the progressive side of Christianity have suggested we should just stop proselytizing [converting] all together, conservatives often respond “What’s the purpose of our faith if aren’t trying to spread it?” I suggest the problem is the term “evangelise” itself.
I am growing stronger in my belief of universal salvation. If God truly loves each and every one of us, and I believe he does, then he will eventually somehow find a way to bring us all back to him. I know this goes very counter to many in mainline congregations today. Their theological foundation pivots around heaven, hell and eternal punishment. Like many evangelicals I used to mock the statement “since God is omnipotent and he clearly said he wants all of us to come to him he will make that happen”.
Since theology has been developed over the centuries by well-meaning men (and I do mean men) it is more a reflection of what man wants God to look like than who God might actually be. I like the old saying that “God made man in his own image and man returned the favor”. I am just not one to put God in a nicely fitting theological box. God is much more than ANY man can begin to fathom. He doesn’t need me, or anyone else, to tell him who he is or what he can do.
Evangelism, that is saving people for an eternal hell, just doesn’t have much sway with me anymore and maybe the word is just too tainted to use it for the real purposes of God. God gave us clear directions in what he wants us to do through the words of Jesus Christ. As the last, and most often omitted portion, of the Great Commission says, he wants us to teach others to obey what he commanded. He wants us to teach others by our actions what “being” a follower of Jesus Christ really means. As another old saying goes “action speaks louder than words”.