So why would missionary work ever be considered unethical or wrong?
Forced conversion and coerced aggressive evangelism is wrong (in my humble opinion.)
Missionary work and evangelism in and of itself is not wrong but a very noble, kind and necessary thing to do in my humble opinion, but in the way that it’s carried out, if done by force, coercion or trickery, that is wrong.
I have not seen the movie Silence which is about Portuguese missionaries entering Japan during a time that the Japanese were trying to eradicate Christianity from the island.
For me my feelings are this about entering countries that do not welcome Christianity to convert people as a missionary.
Why not enter countries that welcome Christianity and go there instead?
I get it, there are people starved for Christ and in need suffering in silence because they do not have access to people who are trained and educated clergy to guide them in their Christian path.
At the same time, it is possible to live as a secret Christian and silently practice prayer to oneself. At the same time there will be things asked of Christians to do that may be against their religion in a country that is something else and when they refuse it will become obvious.
For example, I could be outed if someone told me to throw the Eucharist on the ground and stomp on it with my bare foot. Even though for Protestants it is simply a symbol of Jesus’ body, as a person who was raised Catholic, we believe it becomes the actual manifestation of Jesus’ flesh and due to that thinking, I cannot desecrate something held so sacred, even though to someone else it’s just regular bread.
If my life were threatened if I did not do it would I do it? I probably would, assuming that God would forgive me considering the circumstances, but I would do it with reluctance and remorse.
The writer of this movie was asked if he thought present day Americans have the same faith and strength within their own Christianity as these Portuguese missionaries and he said no.
The thing is Christianity in the United States is complicated. It’s also the majority religion and supported and dominates many aspects of our society even though it’s dwindling. I do not know what it’s like to have my Christianity threatened or live in a place where it’s banned. I hope never to know those feelings personally.
With that being said, I thought of the various stories of school shooters who would ask people before they were shot to death to renounce God.
If I renounced God and was shot to death, I would die in shame and well, I would fear for rejection from God for rejecting him. We are to love God and serve God more than our own lives. That’s really, really, really difficult, even though Jesus sacrificed himself for us. Can I do the same? I’d be lying if I said I could automatically do it without fear or reluctance.
I think most Christians struggle with doubt. I would not want to lose my life for nothing, but at the same time I do not want to die and then realize I was wrong and it is too late. If God is a God of mercy then wouldn’t God understand the predicament of my situation? The problem is that even though Jesus lived in a human body, he was still divine. Jesus never knew what it was like to die with the knowledge of not being able to return.
Jesus knew that even when he was crucified that he would come back to life. Mortals don’t have that reassurance. There are the few people who have made claims t seeing the other side and experiencing God after near death experiences.
Is missionary work benevolent and is evangelism benevolent?
For me I am more of an “I’ll evangelize only when asked.” If someone asks me about Jesus I will more than gladly speak to them about Jesus but if they do not then I won’t. It’s not that I never bring up Jesus but I more so live my life as an example of Christ rather than announcing that I am a Christian follower through a mega phone screaming “Join me or Burn!” Which I think is extremely counter productive, inappropriate and just plain wrong.
I saw an Episcopalian calendar with a fish in a tank on the sandy beach that said, “We offer Christ.” That is was Christ is supposed to be. Christ is a choice and and offering for a better life. Jesus never forced himself or his teachings upon people. It was an open invitation for all. That’s why it baffles me how people can ever get the convoluted idea that forced conversion is ok.
Furthermore if Jesus knows our hearts then he would know that the forced converts don’t really believe in him. He would know that they are just doing it to save face and survive.
My father, a pastor, explained that some people view saving people as watching people drowning and throwing safety floats to them. When people say they do not want Christianity, it is like a drowning person denying that safety float insisting they’d rather drown.
That’s not how I view it. I don’t view denying Christianity as that eminent. I also have met people who aren’t necessarily interested in being in heaven in the first place and that’s the seller. If you don’t even want nor care about heaven, then what’s the point right?
I wouldn’t say that I believe wholly in ominism, the belief that there is truth in every religion and that we just have different paths, but I would say that I am a partial ominist. I believe that there is truth within various religions but not all.
I do believe in different pathways, I do believe in spirituality and the universal ties that bond us. I believe in nature and all of those things come from one source: God.
Some may say that being this open means I am not a true Christian because Christians believe in one way, one God, one key, one truth. If I believe there are other truths, then am I not a Christian? What I believe is that those other paths can lead to the same destination, God.
Jesus becomes an issue however because in Christianity he is the key and other religions don’t believe that although they may believe in God such as Islam and Judaism.
To me I believe that there are several pathways to God. I chose mine and others will choose theirs. While I do believe there is one key to God I don’t believe that there is simply one door and I do believe that perhaps that same key can fit into several different doors.
Yes, I do believe that people need Christ in their lives. Christ is God and God is Christ. Whether they believe in that or not, I think believing in God is at least significant.
Is it close enough to make it to paradise, or does it simply need to be Christ alone and nothing else?
Honestly, I ponder that question every day. I think there is something very valid and alive in other religions. There are many similarities and benevolent acts. I mean think of a color comparison: If Jesus is the color red and other religions are maroon, vermilion, pink and scarlet, are they not red?
They are variations of red. They are still red. Just because they are not purely red doesn’t mean that they aren’t red. Is pink red? Pink isn’t red but it has red in it. Red is a part of pink. Pink cannot be pink without red.
Anyway, I digress.
Let’s think of evangelism as a room.
Is it only ok for me to invite someone by standing outside of their room and asking, or is it wrong to enter their room and ask.
Some would say that merely asking from the outside is already intrusive and a call is less intimidating.
Some say evangelism is wrong and people should simply exist living their lives according to Christ and that people will flock to them by their life’s example and the church’s outreach.
Honestly I really don’t have an answer here. I am just presenting a question of ethics.
Is it intrusive and wrong to do missionary work, especially considering the global scarring from colonization? Even if I have benevolent intentions, I cannot erase the harm that Christian monsters have committed in the world past and present to people who were indigenous innocents.
Like I said, Christ is meant to be an offering and a choice, not shoved down someone’s throat by force and I never do that. I show Christ through love and compassion. If someone wants to receive Christ wonderful, if they don’t I will pray that they find Christ in their lives at some point.
I want people to know and share that unconditional love of Christ. It has greatly changed my life and I want it to be in the lives of others. It’s available at any time at any point for anyone. It’s a beautiful thing, even if other Christians can be so ugly.
And it’s a real shame that this atrocity has occurred. It is a hurtful reminder every day.
So is evangelism and missionary work ethical?
Yes, if presented as an offering, not an obligation.
*In my humble opinion*