The Clear and Present Danger of Evangelisation

I am finding myself severely limited in my time for blogging these days. I hope it is only a temporary situation. Nevertheless, I find that I am commenting only only 5% of the things that I think “I should blog on that”.

One thing that I thought “I should blog on that” today is the rather immoderate and irrational fear of what is popularly called “proselytisation”, but is, in fact (as I said in an earlier comment) merely Christian evangelisation – Christians doing what Christians do. This fear is particularly evident in the current debate on Religious Education in schools. The fear is that if Christians are allowed to speak about their faith to those of tender age, the well-being of the said “tender aged” may be under threat.

Are the secularists fearful that the “childish beliefs” of Christians might actually be appealling to their children? Are they afeared that the mere chance that their offspring (or anyone else’s) might overhear the Good News of Salvation in Christ Jesus would be enough to ensure that they will be enraptured by it and commit their little hearts to it? Such things happen, of course. Childhood conversions are not unknown. Cardinal Arinze, who converted to Christianity at the age of 9, a good case in point.

Is there something in the ethics statutes which says that one should preach the Gospel to All Nations, but not to those under 18? (It would seem from this article and this one that even some Christians think the answer to this question is “yes”). Or is it that the parents of these little ones are worried that little Johnny or Jilly will come home asking difficult questions about life, the universe and everything for which they have no answer?

I would be the first to agree that IF proclaiming the gospel actually posed a danger or a menance to the well being of children it should be curtailed and declared to be a legal practice only for consenting adults. But really, I mean, fundamentally speaking, does Christian evanglisation really pose any such danger? If so, perhaps a reader would be kind enough to point out to me what that danger actually is?

About Schütz

I am a PhD candidate & sessional academic at Australian Catholic University in Melbourne, Australia. After almost 10 years in ministry as a Lutheran pastor, I was received into the Catholic Church in 2003. I worked for the Archdiocese of Melbourne for 18 years in Ecumenism and Interfaith Relations. I have been editor of Gesher for the Council of Christians & Jews and am guest editor of the historical journal “Footprints”. I have a passion for pilgrimage and pioneered the MacKillop Woods Way.
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3 Responses to The Clear and Present Danger of Evangelisation

  1. Susan Peterson says:

    The thing is that those children have parents. And if it horrifies them that their children might become Christians, in a secular state they have the right to object. I think Christians also have the right to object if their children’s Christianity is being undermined with materialist assumptions about the nature of being, but apparently it doesn’t work both ways.
    Susan Peterson

  2. Alexander says:

    Well, David, I suspect your question is rhetorical, but I think their behavior is perfectly reasonable and exactly what you should expect from people.

    I think the vocal secularists behind this push will probably have a certain view of history—one that is full of Christian hatred, violence and evil. You probably also fundamentally disagree with certain Christian rules and practices, particularly on sex and sexuality. If you truely agree with their positions, it would be hard to understand how one could evangelise children without lying or teaching them to be a bigots. Whether you succeed at teaching them to be bigots is immaterial; surely everyone would be apalled if a teacher came into the classroom and offered heroin to the students, even if not one of them accepted.

    I would think they also hold the very reasonable opinion that many children in school won’t have the knowledge or skills to fully understand the way people communicate and won’t necessarily realise that something bad can be presented positively without lying by missing facts.

    I think as long as you remember they have beliefs (i.e. they can be wrong), it’s very easy to understand how they can be so worried about evangelisation in schools.

    But there’s also self-interest; if they can take the oxygen away from Christianity, they can perhaps kill it. If they reckon they have the power to do this, what possible reason would they have not to try?

    • Alexander says:

      Oh—there’s also a bit of American “Separation of Church and State” in it to; secularism of this sort is a fundamentally American religion, and naturally attempts to spread its values even to places like Australia, where we have settled on a far more positive compromise.

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