Evangelism as Deception

Evangelism as Deception January 18, 2019

Something that has bothered me for some time, even when I was in that world, was the way we were taught to think about, and go about, sharing our faith with others.  Our “witness” was more a strategy, a plan, a method, than it was anything about just “being” living, and walking through this life in love and service to others.

We’ve all encountered the faux niceness, smile, and eagerness of those who approach us to sell us something.  We are used to it when out shopping.  And, after all, people are just trying to make a living.  The buyer and seller know what is going on.  We have credit cards and they have things to sell us.  They see us coming; we see them sizing us up.  It’s all part of the game.

But what are we to make of this same mentality when it comes to “selling” the gospel to someone?  I can hear the objection.  “We are not selling anything, we are sharing our faith because we are told to and such is how people are saved.”  It is too easy though to turn this around.  We could easily have every advertiser, every salesperson, every company tell us they are not trying to “sell” us anything.  They are simply sharing their faith in their product, what it has done for them and others, and how it can be our “savior” in this one instance and area too.

It’s hard to differentiate the two in practice.  They look like the same thing.  The difference though is one is done rather openly, or we are at least not shocked if we become aware of some stealth and deception.  However, the other is done with stealth and deception, by design, in what was initially thought by us to be an authentic attempt to be-friend us.

What I mean is that most of us, in most casual social and non-programmed settings, try to be as honest, as open, and as transparent as possible when approaching or interacting with other people.  We hope there is a space where neither is trying to manipulate, sell, influence, sway, persuade, teach, preach, or move the other in their direction.  We want a space where each can just “be” and simply enjoy the interaction, the company of the other, in mutual respect and peace.  There are no hidden agendas or expectations.

There can be no deception in those moments if we truly want to connect with someone beyond the superficial.  The problem is that evangelism understood as a mandatory method of verbal presentation undercuts this notion of transparent honest interaction and being with someone.  Whenever we see another person as an “opportunity” to tell them something we think they need to hear, we act deceptively if our “friendship” our kindness, our interest in them is only for that reason—a reason that is withheld from them initially.

I should note this is also the case if we are waiting for them to ask us a spiritual or religious question.  Even if we never bring it up, waiting for them to, the deception is still present if this is our main reason for our interest in them.

I call this soft evangelism.  Of course, there are harder, more open types.  Going door to door.  Handing out tracks.  Street preaching.  Billboards.  In a way however, I find these methods more honest.  It is clear what is happening.  They have something they want to tell us.  They are not telling us they want to know us, or be our friend, or help us outside this message (although maybe they do), they just need to tell us something.  Once they have done that, their main purpose is accomplished.  Have a nice day.  At least there is no deception here as far as motives.

Soft evangelism, the type that feigns friendship, that is built entirely on the idea of an “end-game” of “sharing” the gospel- is deceptive.  It sees people as, “opportunities” “goals” even if subliminally, or ways to help the sharer feel he is being obedient to Scripture.  It becomes something we can scratch off our list, like prayer, Bible reading, or church attendance.

I realize evangelicals will object to my description.  Their response might be: If we love people and don’t want them to go to hell, then we should tell them about Jesus, and we are commanded to do so in the Bible.  My response: Then be open and honest about it.  Tell people upfront that such is the main reason you are talking to them, made contact, approached, or want to get to know them.

In other words, tell them it was as if you were walking by their house and saw it was on fire.  You ran in to tell them, so that they might be saved.  You didn’t run in to become their friend, to help them with bills, with chores, or the loss of a loved one.  It was really just about the fire.  And tell them you are doing this because you are commanded to and if you don’t, you are being disobedient. Also tell them if they don’t respond, “correctly” before they die, to what you tell them about Jesus, they will spend eternity in hell.

At least it’s being honest.  Now there is no need to become their friend or find out how we might really help in their life, their life in the here-and-now.  There is no need now to make conversation, wherein we have to try and move the conversation in a spiritual direction.  Our work is done, and both parties know where they stand with each other.

In my view, any attempt to be-friend, or interact with another person for any reason beyond their being another human worthy of our attention, respect, and love, is deceptive, no matter the supposed good intentions as to ends.

Approach and receive people out of an honest and open love, with no agenda or hidden motive.  Anything else is unworthy of them, and the gospel.

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Matthew

    Great post. This does beg a question or 2 though:

    1. How are those moving out of conservative evangelicalism/fundamentalism supposed to go about sharing their faith?
    2. If the Gospel is not about being saved from an eternity in hell, what then are believers so compelled to share and why?

  • Al Cruise

    1 . By living it out first without words. Mark Twain said ” Always do right. This will gratify some people and astonish the rest ”

    2. The Gospel is about transforming oneself , becoming the Kingdom of God , as described by Jesus. Threats of punishment or simply believing a certain doctrine do not promote transformation, just like laws against criminal activity, enforced by jail time and the death penalty and do not prevent murder or criminal behavior. Creating an overall society that promotes voluntary transformation without threat, politically or religiously, is the way to share the Gospel.

  • Matthew

    Thanks Al Cruise.

  • map

    Jesus talks about producing “fruit.” In nature fruit provides something for those eating the fruit, but the real purpose of fruit is to spread the seed. But, the seed is a natural part of the fruit, of our love and expression of the Kingdom. The difficult part for most of us is trusting the Spirit to begin the transformation in those to whom and with whom we serve. How we see “salvation” really does make the difference in how we approach evangelism. I prefer “lets follow Jesus together” to “if you die tonight where will you spend eternity?”

  • Robert Conner

    Sharing the “message” of evangelical Christianity, eh? Here’s some recent evangelical sharing…

    http://new.exchristian.net/2019/01/the-second-cyrus-and-his-court-eunuchs.html

  • Ocelot Aardvark

    You must understand Mr. Conner, that 81% of Evangelicals voted for TЯ☭itor-TЯ卐mp. That means there are 19% who did NOT.

    Anyway, Jesus Christ explicitly warned us about false prophets, wolves in sheep’s clothing and those who will throw you out of ‘their’ church, even kill you, if you don’t follow every evil path they lead you down. – Matthew 7:15, Luke 14:11, John 16:2 (there are many other verses to warn us).

    Today’s “Harlot of Babylon” ‘christian churches’ and their nefarious ‘leaders’ are doing just that.

    It is not Jesus Christ who is bringing these false message to the churches, but Satan. Consider this passage:

    2 Thessalonians 2:9-12

    9 – “The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with how Satan works. He will use all sorts of displays of power through signs and wonders that serve the lie,
    10 – and all the ways that wickedness deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.
    11 – For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie
    12 – and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness.”

    This pretty much explains why so many have been deceived and led away from the True Christ and His messages and commandments of Love.

    Furthermore, God in Revelation 18:3-4 … warned us about today’s apostate churches:

    3 – “All the nations have drunk the wine of the passion of her immorality. The kings of the earth were immoral with her, and the merchants of the earth have grown wealthy from the extravagance of her luxury.”
    4 – “And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.”

    This however, does NOT tell us to forsake our Heavenly Father, our Lord Jesus Christ or the Holy Spirit. You can leave/forsake the false teachings from those treacherous false prophets, who have infected the Christian Church … but you can still remain a Child of God and the Light, through Christ our Savior.

  • Robert Conner

    I’m assuming the 81% of evangelicals who voted for Trump and continue to support him despite mounting evidence of Russian connections and his compulsive lying would be a better audience for your post.

  • Ocelot Aardvark

    That’s true. But they will not listen, they are too far gone in their delusion and beyond redemption.

    Some have shown up right here in this Forum and continue to spew their outrageous lies and worship of TЯ☭itor-TЯ卐mp – in spite of mounting evidence already revealed, and Scriptural evidence, from their own Holy Book.

    As previously posted above, their cultish worship of the Beast is prophesied in the Scriptures:

    2 Thessalonians 2:9-12

    9) “The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with how Satan works. He will use all sorts of displays of power through signs and wonders that serve the lie

    10) and all the ways that wickedness deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.

    11) For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie

    12) and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness.”

  • Good article. I had this way of thought for a long time. Glad to say I see things differently now. Love and accept people, live a life of Godly love everyday. Let the Spirit work in the lives of others.

    https://donewithreligion.com/2017/09/20/friendship-with-ulterior-motives-2/

  • PurpleAardvaark

    It’s like Amway: every person you encounter is a potential customer and potential dealer.