Should Christians Force Their Religion On Others?

What Would You Say?

You’re in a conversation and someone says, “I'm a Christian, but I don't want to force my religion on others.” What would you say? We live in a pluralistic world, and we all have the tendency to believe that our subjective opinions, what’s often called “our truth,” is the truth. So, it’s not surprising that so many – even Christians – fear imposing their religious views and personal opinions on others, including what we think about God. But this hesitancy reveals a major mistake that many make, about both the nature of truth and the nature of Christianity. In fact, if Christianity is objectively true (regardless of anyone’s opinion), we should be eager to share the truth about Jesus. So, the next time someone says, “I'm a Christian, but I don't want to force my religion on others,” here are three things to remember: Number 1: The Christian faith cannot, by definition, be forced. Despite what you may have heard from skeptics, Christianity was never spread by force or coercion - just the opposite. Christianity grew – and continues to thrive - due to persuasive evangelism. A “forced decision” is an oxymoron. When someone decides to trust Jesus as their Savior, it’s just that: a genuine decision. True belief, the kind of trust that results in a saving faith, must be formed freely without force or coercion. That’s why our goal is to convince rather than compel. God’s not interested in coerced declarations. He’s looking for true decisions. For this reason, Christian belief cannot be forced – by definition. Number 2: Christianity is a cure, not a cookie. Most of us would consider it foolish to waste energy trying to persuade others about our favorite dessert. I, for example, happen to prefer chocolate chip cookies. You might prefer a certain kind of cake or ice cream. But we recognize that dessert preferences as subjective truth claims that vary from person to person. If someone you loved was dying of tuberculosis, however, I bet you’d spend some time trying to convince him or her that the cure (an antibiotic cocktail that includes Isoniazid) is more than simply a matter of opinion, especially if they held the personal view that aspirin was the cure. Remedies like Isoniazid are not a matter of subjective opinion – they are objectively true for everyone, whether we personally agree or not. Christianity, if true (and there’s evidence that it is), cures our spiritual death, just as Isoniazid cures tuberculosis. Many people claim that there are other religious remedies (just as your family member may mistakenly prefer aspirin), but the world’s religions make contradictory claims about the nature of God and salvation. They can all be wrong, but they can’t all be right. That’s just the nature of contradictory claims. So, while you might find it pointless to share your subjective opinion about cookies with the people in your life, you’d be irresponsible, cruel, and evil if you didn’t tell them about a cure, especially if you knew they were dying. Number 3: Everyone has the right to share their passion. How many of your friends simply can’t wait to tell you about their favorite movie, song, or sports team? Does their excitement force you to agree? Of course not. But this doesn’t mean you would prohibit them from sharing their passion. We instinctively recognize that excitement does not necessitate agreement, and all of us have the right to share our enthusiasm. C. S. Lewis once wrote: “Christianity, if false, is of no importance, and if true, of infinite importance, the only thing it cannot be is moderately important.” If others can share their excitement about a movie, we should be allowed to share our enthusiasm for the most important truth anyone could ever know. So, the next time you’re sharing the truth of Christianity and someone says, "I'm a Christian, but I don't want to force my religion on others," remember these three things: First: The Christian faith cannot, by definition, be forced. Second: Christianity is a cure, not a cookie. Third: Everyone has the right to share their passion. For What Would You Say, I’m J. Warner Wallace.

“Person of Interest: Why Jesus Still Matters in a World that Rejects the Bible,” by J. Warner Wallace


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