Saturday, August 2, 2008

Missionary Activity = Agression?

While looking for information on a Christian child sponsorship organization, I stumbled across an interesting site called What I 'stumbled' onto, actually, was a "blacklist" of Christian organizations deemed "aggressive" against the culture and religions of other countries. Turns out that my own denomination, the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod is on that list.

Although directed primarily against Christian mission activity in India, the site's purpose appears to be to educate people that all missionary activity is inherently aggressive and dangerous. They state:

"Christians believe that they have been commanded by Christ to go and “save” (convert) the people of this world. This is also supposed to give them special merit when it comes to the day of final judgment.

While there are many Christians who today do not believe in this exclusivity, there are a still large number of misguided Christians who still believe that in the exclusivity of Christianity and the concept of saving souls.

It is this misguided belief that causes breeds a hatred and intolerance for other religions. and from this hatred, these Christian Fundamentalists begin their aggression to convert. And often they will go to any means to convert even if it means violence.

This website seeks to educate the world about the atrocities that conversions bring and to bring this aggressive nature of Christianity to an end."

Aside from the theological errors and misunderstandings of Christian belief (e.g. the special merit supposedly earned by Christians for their missionary activity), they also unfortunately paint all missionary activity as potentially violent and harmful.

The primary problem of Christian missions, according to them, is "exclusivity." Some churches don't believe in this, and therefore they are good. However, if you believe in what the Scriptures day, namely, that there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we might be saved (i.e. the name of Jesus), then you are a fundamentalist who will stop at nothing, ethical or otherwise, to achieve your goal of conversion.

Unfortunately, Christianity, if it takes the words of Jesus seriously, cannot be anything but exclusive. That, however, does not mean it is against the right of people to believe as they choose. It also does not mean that we will go to any means necessary to effect a conversion. These are stereotypes of Christians and only serve to bring about the same animosity and aggression against Christians that this group is supposedly fighting against in the first place.

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