Gone are the days of forcing your views on others and expecting to be respected simply because some words escaped your mouth:
And you go on to a story about a missionary who was killed by the tribe he supposedly intended to convert.
But where does this idea come from of "forcing" anybody to convert? Missionaries have often gone to foreign countries or remote tribes and stayed quite a while before anyone showed any interest in Christianity. They learn the language, translate the Bible into it, and talk to people about Christ. It is so far from any notion of forcing anything the idea is absurd. In some cases they have no success at all, occasionally the missionaries have been killed, (five young missionaries were killed by the Auca tribe of South America in the fifties just as they landed on their beach. A while later the wives of two of them went to the Auca and lived with them and took the place of their missionary husbands.) Sometimes missionaries were made into soup for a cannibal tribe. But when they do succeed it's by WINNING the people to Christ by persuasion, through preaching and so on.
Of course you would like the idea of leaving everybody to believe as they please but that completely ignores the fact that Christianity is the only way anyone can ever be saved to eternal life and that is the reason for the "great commission" Christ gave us, to take this good news to everyone in the world so that they would have the same opportunity we have had, to be saved from this fallen world into a happy eternity. This idea that we should just be nicey nice and never preach the gospel to anyone is actually a sentence to eternal misery for those we encounter. If we really love people we want the best for them.
abe: Read some bios of missionaries. Hudson Taylor was the main missionary to China, Adoniram Judson was the only one from America in those days. Just before the American revolution there was David Brainerd, a young missionary to a Native American tribe who befriended them, and lived in a tent through the winter praying for them, a short time before he died of tuberculosis.
If I recall your story about your conversion, you converted on your own after reading many numerous works of literature. There was nobody that converted you was there?
Many of the books I read presented the gospel so that they acted as the evangelists in my case. My first attraction to Christianity though, was through the Catholic "mystics" Theresa of Avila and John of the Cross, whose passionate love of God -- not His love of me or anybody's love of me -- was the winning influence.
And the whole point of Stiles article is that you can draw people closer through loving them and helping them rather than preaching to them.
Being a Christian example is described in scripture as loving one another as Christians are commanded to, rather than loving nonChristians, though of course that is also required, otherwise as a woman loving her husband no matter how he treats her. And dying happily for your faith is another Christian example that won many converts in the days of persecution. Of course we are to love our neighbors and that may make some converts, but you can love and befriend people and never get around to telling them about salvation too.
Sure, how we behave matters, but nobody is saved without being told about salvation:
Romans 10:14 How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?
A comprehending observer would realize that, however ill-considered Chau’s plan was, it made sense to him given evangelical assumptions about salvation and eternity. “Leave North Sentinel Island alone” makes perfect sense if what you believe about God has nothing to do with your eternal fate. If there is no afterlife (or if we can’t know anything about the afterlife) then what Chau was doing was the height of foolishness.
I don’t know much about the details of Chau’s faith per se, and he seems to have worked in some capacity for the All Nations sending organization. His diary entries suggest that he believed that reconciliation with God through Christ is the most important thing in life. It is a life-or-death issue for everyone, and thus something you’d lay down your life for. This is logical, if you assume what evangelicals believe is true.
The Journal‘s response to Chau’s death stands in stark contrast to the media coverage of Jim Elliot and the Ecuador martyrs in 1956. In particular, Life magazine gave enormously sympathetic (one might say fawning) coverage to Elliot’s death and that of his missionary companions in a spearing attack by Waorani Indians.
The difference in coverage surely has to do with the fact that Chau seems, at first glance, like more of a rogue actor than Elliot. But the contrast is also a gauge of how much American culture has changed in the intervening six decades. A national magazine such as Life in 1956 would at least resonate with the attempt to bring Western civilization to people they called “Stone Age savages.” But Life also faithfully represented Elliot’s evangelical agenda, as he explained that he and his colleagues were under divine commission to preach the gospel to all nations.
Six decades later, we live in world where academic and media elites are allergic to the notion that one culture is superior to another....