Responding to: ‘I’m a Christian, But I Don’t Want to Force My Religion on Others’
You’re in a conversation and someone says, “I’m a Christian, but I don’t want to force my religion on others.” What would you say?
In a pluralistic world where everyone mistakenly believes their truth (based on subjective opinion) is the truth, it’s not surprising that some of us — even Christians — fear imposing our personal opinions (including what we think about God) on others. But this hesitancy mistakes both the nature of truth and the nature of Christianity. In fact, if Christianity is objectively true (regardless of anyone’s opinion), we ought to be eager to share the truth about Jesus. So, the next time someone says, “I’m a Christian, but I don’t want to force my religion on others,” here are three things to remember:
The Christian Faith Cannot, by Definition, be Forced
Despite what you may have heard from skeptics, Christianity was never spread by force or coercion — just the opposite. Christianity grew — and continues to thrive — due to persuasive evangelism. A “forced decision” is an oxymoron. When someone decides to trust Jesus as their Savior, it’s just that: a genuine decision. True belief, the kind of trust that results in a saving faith, must be formed freely without force or coercion. That’s why our goal is to convince rather than compel. God’s not interested in coerced declarations. He’s looking for true decisions. For this reason, Christian belief cannot be forced — by definition.
Christianity is a Cure, Not a Cookie
Most of us would consider it foolish to waste energy trying to persuade others about our favorite dessert (I happen to prefer chocolate chip cookies). We recognize dessert preferences as subjective truth claims that vary from person to person. If someone you loved was dying of tuberculosis, however, I bet you’d spend some time trying to convince him or her that the cure (an antibiotic cocktail including Isoniazid) is more than simply a matter of opinion, especially if they held the personal view that aspirin was the cure. Remedies like Isoniazid are not a matter of subjective opinion — they are objectively true for everyone, whether we personally agree or not. Christianity, if true (and its veracity is the best inference from evidence), cures our spiritual death, just as Isoniazid cures tuberculosis.
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People may claim there are other religious remedies (just as your family member may mistakenly prefer aspirin), but the world’s religions make contradictory claims about the nature of God and salvation. They can all be wrong, but they can’t all be right. That’s just the the nature of contradictory claims. So, while you might find it pointless to share your subjective opinion about cookies with the people in your life, you’d be irresponsible, cruel, and evil if you didn’t tell them about a cure, especially if you knew they were dying.
Everyone Has the Right to Share Their Passion
How many of your friends simply can’t wait to tell you about their favorite movie, song or sports team? Does their excitement force you to agree? Of course not. But this doesn’t mean you would prohibit them from sharing their passion. We instinctively recognize that excitement does not necessitate agreement, and all of us have the right to share our enthusiasm. C. S. Lewis once wrote: “Christianity, if false, is of no importance, and if true, of infinite importance, the only thing it cannot be is moderately important.” If others can share their excitement about a movie, we should be allowed to share our enthusiasm for the most important truth anyone could ever know.
So, the next time you’re sharing the truth of Christianity and someone says, “I’m a Christian, but I don’t want to force my religion on others,” remember these three things:
- The Christian faith cannot, by definition, be forced.
- Christianity is a cure, not a cookie.
- Everyone has the right to share their passion.
This article is transcribed from the script J. Warner wrote for the What Would You Say video series.
J. Warner Wallace is a Dateline featured cold-case homicide detective, popular national speaker and best-selling author. He continues to consult on cold-case investigations while serving as a Senior Fellow at the Colson Center for Christian Worldview. He is also an Adj. Professor of Christian Apologetics at Talbot School of Theology, Biola University, and a faculty member at Summit Ministries. He holds a BA in Design (from CSULB), an MA in Architecture (from UCLA), and an MA in Theological Studies (from Gateway Seminary).
Copyright 2022 ColdCaseChristianity.com. Republished with permission.