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Featured Proselytizing: What is it and is it a good or bad thing?

Discussion in 'Religious Debates' started by adrian009, Aug 10, 2019.

  1. adrian009

    adrian009 Well-Known Member
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    Proselytizing can mean different things to different people. Some people may feel a duty to proselytize as part of their faith. Others may use the word in a pejorative way to criticise others who 'teach' their faith to others while insisting on being above whatever they perceive the word to mean.

    So what is proselytising? To me it means trying to convert people from one religion or worldview to another. Personally I wouldn't try to convert anyone to my religion, but if someone had questions about my faith or were interested to learn I would certainly help them. If someone wanted to join my religion, if I believed they were sincere and understood what my faith was about, I would certainly assist them in their journey to become part of the worldwide community of my faith. So none of this I would consider proselytizing. I would avoid any manipulation, coercion or deception which certainly runs contrary to the truthfulness and trsutworthiness that is at the foundation of any genuine religion.

    Proselytizing on religious forum is against the rules btw. Some of you may be aware of rule 8:

    8. Preaching/Proselytizing
    Creating (or linking to) content intended to convert/recruit others to your religion, spirituality, sect/denomination, or lack thereof is not permitted. Similarly, attempting to convert others away from their religion, spiritual convictions, or sect/denomination will also be considered a form of preaching. Stating opinions as a definitive matter of fact (i.e., without "I believe/feel/think" language, and/or without references) may be moderated as preaching.

    RF Rules

    I've certainly experienced a great deal of proselytizing during my time on RF and have been accused of it myself.

    So what is proselytizing to you and is it a good or bad thing.
     
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  2. Eddi

    Eddi John 3:16

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    I think there is a time and place for proselytising

    Just not on these forums, I am glad there is a rule against it here

    Personally, I find it annoying. If I was interested I would ask
     
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  3. SomeRandom

    SomeRandom Still learning to be wise

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    It’s annoying
    You found your religion. Great. Try converting me to something more beneficial. Like a new brand of whisky/bourbon/brandy I haven’t had yet. Or I dunno, a better supplier of geek merch than I use now or something. I mean honestly. Something useful.



    ;)
     
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  4. osgart

    osgart Nothing my eye, Something for sure

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    If its forceful its a bad thing. Otherwise expressing the desire for your intended audience to convert, and thenceforth making your case to them, in and of itself is not a bad thing provided its about getting at the actuality of living and the reality of existence.

    I would rather allow it then disallow it.
     
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  5. adrian009

    adrian009 Well-Known Member
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    Kinda of reminds me of an old rap video ...

     
  6. SomeRandom

    SomeRandom Still learning to be wise

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    Well I can destruct myself, I don’t need others to do that for me :D
     
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  7. Augustus

    Augustus the Unreasonable

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    It's just advocacy of a cause with the intention of bringing others around to your way of thinking. It's an inescapable part of the human condition and we all do this to some extent.

    As with all such things, it's more about the when, where, why and how, and understanding the fact that people may be less willing to hear you advocacy than you are to give it.
     
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  8. Vinayaka

    Vinayaka devotee
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    In my view, it ranges from the overt to the subtle. An analogy to the subtle variety might be when movie makers add violence or sexuality to the movie, but it doesn't add anything to the actual gist of the movie. It's only there to attract a greater audience. Excessive quoting of scripture is like this for me. It adds nothing to the discussion, and is often not even on topic.

    Individual posters who don't seem to be able to say anything without mentioning their faith, I also find guilty of it. Surely we can say something without that constant. For example, you didn't mention your faith in the OP, as the topic is proselytising, not your faith.
     
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  9. pcarl

    pcarl Well-Known Member

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    Clearly a bad thing, it corrupts giving witness through evangelizing.
    While the word "proselyte" was originally used to designate a person who became a member of the Jewish community by believing in Yahweh and respecting the Law of Moses, and subsequently, in early Christian times, for a person of another faith who converted to Christianity, proselytism in later centuries took on a negative connotation due to changes in the content, motivation, spirit and methods of "evangelism".



    Some of the characteristics which clearly distinguish proselytism from authentic Christian witness are:

    Unfair criticism or caricaturing of the doctrines, beliefs and practices of another church without attempting to understand or enter into dialogue on those issues. Some who venerate icons are accused of worshipping idols; others are ridiculed for alleged idolatry towards Mary and the saints or denounced for praying for the dead.

    Presenting one's church or confession as "the true church" and its teachings as "the right faith" and the only way to salvation, rejecting baptism in other churches as invalid and persuading people to be rebaptized.

    Portraying one's own church as having high moral and spiritual status over against the perceived weaknesses and problems of other churches.
    d) Taking advantage of and using unfaithfully the problems which may arise in another church for winning new members for one's own church.

    Offering humanitarian aid or educational opportunities as an inducement to join another church.

    Using political, economic, cultural and ethnic pressure or historical arguments to win others to one's own church.

    Taking advantage of lack of education or Christian instruction which makes people vulnerable to changing their church allegiance.

    Using physical violence or moral and psychological pressure to induce people to change their church affiliation. This includes the use of media techniques profiling a particular church in a way that excludes, disparages or stigmatizes its adherents, harassment through repeated house calls, material and spiritual threats, and insistence on the "superior" way to salvation offered by a particular church.

    Exploiting people's loneliness, illness, distress or even disillusionment with their own church in order to "convert" them.

    https://www.oikoumene.org/en/resources/documents/commissions/mission-and-evangelism/towards-common-witness

    Correcting erroneous statements about ones religion is not proselytizing.
     
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  10. SalixIncendium

    SalixIncendium सच्चिदानन्द
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    Proselytizing, for me, is to offer unsolicited information about one’s worldview with the intent of altering the worldview of another.

    Unless one has objective evidence that their worldview is the correct one, I don't see how proselytizing could ever be a good thing.
     
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  11. stvdv

    stvdv Well-Known Member

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    If someone shares enthusiastically about his faith, I am fine with it
    If someone belittles other's faith in the process, I rather avoid the person
    In a way they stopped the communication already themselves

    Whenever someone believes "My way is the Highway ... for all"
    Proselytizing will almost always end up in belittling the faith of the other

    I believe that everyone's (non) belief choice can lead to the highest goal
    No need to convert to a specific religion for that
     
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  12. 9-10ths_Penguin

    9-10ths_Penguin 1/10 Subway Stalinist
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    I'd agree with that definition. I'd also say that the Baha'i practice of "pioneering" is a form of proselytizing.

    Generally bad, I think.

    Part of this is because I think that proselytizers - if they're approaching what they do ethically - take on an extra burden to make sure their beliefs are true.

    When someone's religion is just a matter of their own personal faith, they're pretty free to adopt whatever standard for their beliefs they feel is appropriate. However, when they start asking other people to rely on the truth of their beliefs, they now have a duty to those other people to make sure that those beliefs are demonstrably reliable.

    This duty includes not just soul-searching by the proselytizer to confirm that their beliefs are sincere; it also includes exploring their justification for those beliefs, including considering whether the justification really does justify the beliefs. IOW, an ethical proselytizer would have a decent grounding in both epistemology in general and the justification for their religion in particular.

    IMO, any proselytizer who can't give a detailed, rational explanation for why the beliefs they're peddling are reliably true is acting unethically.

    ... and in my experience, proselytizers who can do that are few and far between.

    On top of this, I think that any proselytizer who isn't open to being convinced of the other person's beliefs is acting in bad faith, IMO. If someone were to have an honest conversation about which beliefs are true, the proselytizer would be just as open to conversion as he hopes his mark would be. It would be hubris on the part of the proselytizer to assume that their religion is better justified than someone else's belief system until they heard that person explain the justification for their beliefs.
     
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  13. stvdv

    stvdv Well-Known Member

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    Someone claiming "my religion is the best for everyone" is indirectly claiming that he knows all other religions, practiced all and experienced they were wrong. Not such a smart claim to make, knowing we only have 100 years to study everything. Beside that, I find it also rude and lacking Love, compassion and empathy.
     
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  14. adrian009

    adrian009 Well-Known Member
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    You’ve certainly thought a lot of proselytising and have a clear idea of what it does or doesn’t mean to you. I think we have different ideas about where that line is and that’s fine by me. The analogy of gratuitous violence or sex in a movie is a useful one. I see no reason to be specifically mentioning my faith or singling out another faith for criticism with the OP of this thread. As you recognise this thread is about proselytising and related ideas. It will be interesting to hear what unfolds.
     
  15. SalixIncendium

    SalixIncendium सच्चिदानन्द
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    I am truly eager to hear one specific member's perspective on this topic. I won't mention the member's name, but I'm certain a few know who I'm talking about.
     
  16. Aupmanyav

    Aupmanyav Be your own guru

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    And you know what these proselytizers provide as the evidence of their belief - quotes from their own books. Circular reasoning.
    Kudos, Friend.
    Do the proselytizers care about that? For some it is their profession and livelihood. They have to.
     
    #16 Aupmanyav, Aug 10, 2019
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2019
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  17. adrian009

    adrian009 Well-Known Member
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    That’s useful to understand the historical context and the changing face of evangelism within Christianity.

    This statement from the World Council of Churches certainly addresses a major problem within Christendom where we have multiple denominations with competing and contradictory claims to be the one true way and the lengths one church will go to exalt itself over another. Two huge problems remain.

    1/ A significant number of churches don’t subscribe to this unified view.

    2/ It doesn’t address Interfaith relationships at all and clearly places Christianity as the one true religion above others including Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism and Judaism.

    I agree.
     
  18. adrian009

    adrian009 Well-Known Member
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    I agree.

    IMHO humanity needs to urgently move beyond this idea there is only one correct religion and learn to have constructive conversations to enable better appreciation of religious diversity and the truth that lies in most of the world religious traditions.
     
  19. SalixIncendium

    SalixIncendium सच्चिदानन्द
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    I think it would be better still to be silent about one's worldview unless they are sharing with other like-minded people.

    Religion should be a personal thing, not something to be promoted. Too many conflicts resulting in harm have resulted from the latter.
     
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  20. 9-10ths_Penguin

    9-10ths_Penguin 1/10 Subway Stalinist
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    Mentioning your faith doesn't necessarily mean you're trying to convince others of your faith.
     
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