Son, if you died tonight, do you know where you’d go?
A kind-hearted middle-aged man asked me this question for the first time when I was in high school, many years ago.
I remember the time and place, though neither of those matter much anymore.
What is of consequence as I look back is that that man (if we might assume the very best of him),
believed something deeply and thoroughly.
And as a consequence of his core conviction as a certain brand of Christian fundamentalist,
He acted accordingly—and with much integrity.
This man was neither trying to colonize me nor condescend upon me. Rather, according to his worldview—and according to his understanding of God and God’s saving action—this man approached me, concerned with my soul, out of nothing other than selfless Christian Love, expressed from his thoroughly fundamentalist context, in which his whole heart, soul, mind and strength was fully contextually immersed.
If he had held such strong convictions about a God whose saving action depended upon a human act of responding to the “good news” as this man understood it (i.e. saying the “sinners prayer” on the reverse side of the tract), and had not attempted to share that “good news” with me, he (by his inaction) would have been making my damnation more and more secure—an act, from his cultural and cultic context which would have been quite the opposite of love.
Though I disagree with this man’s theology, and therefore his motivations and ultimately his actions (among other things), I often think of him as my first encounter of one from outside my circle of family, friends, and Sunday school teachers who sought to share something he found valuable—indeed, salvific—with me, and he is forever in the back of my mind when I consider my perspectives on the baggage-laden term “evangelism.”
More on this later…
In the meanwhile, here is something I wrote for the "what we believe" section of the church website. Pretty stock stuff, but certainly such beliefs make "evangelism" look radically different.