Saturday, August 8, 2015

Evangelizing or Proselytizing

         Similar to the "Redeeming the Time" posts, there is a distinction to be made in how to witness, to evangelize or proselytize. 
         Biblically speaking, evangelist is found in the Scriptures,  where proselytizing, or any form of the word, is no where to be found, so what's the difference between these two methods?

Here is the meaning and origin of the word evangelist:


Original: εὐαγγελιστής

Transliteration: euaggelistēs

Phonetic: yoo-ang-ghel-is-tace'

Thayer Definition:

a bringer of good tidings, an evangelist
the name given to the NT heralds of salvation through Christ who are not apostles
Origin: from G2097

TDNT entry: 14:16,3

Part(s) of speech: Noun Masculine

Strong's Definition: From G2097; a preacher of the gospel: - evangelist.

Because proselytize is not found anywhere in the Bible, here is the etymology and definition from an online source:

The word proselytize comes from the Greek language and the etymology or the "true sense" of it means converting someone into one's very own path or way of life. 

Proselytizing says that this is truth and I don't care what you think, you need to accept it and seems to have a more forceful connotation in trying to convert or somehow trying to make the person believe the truth and also seems to leave out the free will of man, when evangelizing is basically the act of heralding.  Evangelizing says that this is the truth and it's up to you whether you accept it.  The evangelist realizes that the final decision of whether or not a person believes is between them and the Lord and they don't have anything to do with that, and can't control that heart decision.  
       However,  a lot of Christians seem to have a mindset that they hold the truth and with that seems to come a mindset of proselytizing. We're still human and have a sin nature, but God's word is perfect and only God's Word can change the heart of man.
       I've known pastors that will prepare a message and then tell me that they are re-thinking it simply because they don't want to "go over the people's heads."  That thought is, not only arrogant, but statements like they "need to hear it" is along the lines of proselytizing, especially if that message is not exactly what God's Word says.
         Whether the truth of the Bible being evangelized is directed towards an established church or towards an unbelieving group of VBS kids, it is God's Word that will have the effect. 
     The truth of God is found in scripture.  There's a power in God's Word that is inexplicable and we can explain it in the most eloquent and clear way, but when the actual words are read by a person, it seems to have a supernatural effect. And rightly so since it is God's Word.

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