Ethics of Evangelism

Some of our students are on weekly mission placements that involve them in work with the Muslim community in Sheffield. Others take part in mission activity in Newham, east London, as one of our Spring Mission venues, where the local junior school children between them speak around 140 languages, and represent a dazzling array of faith backgrounds. What does it mean to engage in mission in such communities? Is it possible to honour someone else’s faith tradition, and yet still wish to see them come to a saving knowledge of God in Christ? This is a very unpopular position to adopt in today’s hyper-tolerant society, where a live-and-let-live philosophy feels threatened by any position that would seek to impose itself over another.

There is, therefore, a need for a careful study of how an evangelistic position can be ethically maintained in today’s plural society. The Ethics of Evangelism is such a work - seeking to address the issue from a position that will warm the hearts of many a person engaged in sharing Christian faith with people of other traditions. Thiessen demonstrates that it is possible to be a respecter of the person whilst still desiring to share Christ in such a way that may lead to their conversion. He takes seriously the philosophical and theological dimensions, yet remains able to equip the reader for effective evangelistic ministry. This is a vital contribution to the field of cross-cultural mission, recognizing, as it does, the proximity of alternative faith views and the resulting opportunities for faith sharing. I warmly commend it.