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Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Does God motivate all evangelistic zeal?

Does the zeal to convert others to our way of thinking or advocate for a particular cause always have a Divine origin? Is it possible that other motivations exist that might better explain some of our evangelistic zeal? It seems to me that sometimes we are much too quick to ascribe noble or Divine origins/inspiration to our motivations for trying to impress our views on others.

To be sure, we do read in Scripture that Christ told his followers to "go and make disciples of all the nations." (Matthew 28:19) But is that always the motivation behind Christian evangelical efforts? Were Christ's instructions to his disciples the motivating force behind the Spanish Inquisition and the Crusades of the Middle Ages? Was that the motivation behind all of the persecutions of European Jews by Christians? Was that what inspired the Smithfield Fires and the Salem Witch Trials? And how do we explain the evangelical zeal of Atheists to promote their ideas?

Is it possible that ego could be behind some of this evangelical zeal? Could some of this fervor be rooted in our own insecurity about what we believe? Are we sometimes attempting to reinforce our own beliefs by encouraging others to reach the same conclusions that we have reached? Are we afraid of standing alone - being the only one who believes something?

Do we really just want to save someone from Hell or the Lake of Fire? Do we really only want to rescue someone from error, delusion or there own stupidity?

A few days ago I had the opportunity to see the movie God's Not Dead. In the movie, a young college student feels compelled to challenge his atheistic Philosophy professor's assertion that God does not exist. When asked about why he felt compelled to carry out this challenge, the young man responds that he feels the need to defend God. Does God need defending? Why would a college professor feel the need to attack the concept of God? In short, were either of the central characters motivated exclusively by noble or Divine reasons for doing what they did?

Maybe a little self-reflection is in order? Why do we feel the need to defend or advance our views? Why are we so afraid/concerned about views that differ from our own? Is my acceptance or rejection of your views of paramount importance? In the grand scheme of things, does it have any significance or importance? What do you think?

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