I have a friend who became a born-again Evangelical Christian about two or three years ago. He’s a nice guy and I’m glad that it’s made a difference in his life, but in a way he kind of makes me crazy. He takes literally almost every conversation and turns it into a sermon. I could see how many would argue that this is very honorable and promotes the mission of Christ but the way he does it is so contrived and forced that it tends to make people (myself included) annoyed to be around him. I feel bad for saying this, but I can’t help but wonder if it is possible to be over-evangelistic or if what this guy is doing is totally appropriate. For an example he recently posted a paper on facebook that he wrote for his engineering ethics course about whether or not a certain engineering regulation should be enforced for overseas drilling. He took the opportunity to first give a long lecture about the nature of truth and explain absolute versus relative truth (which was already way off topic) and then answered the question more or less, while driving in the difference between science and philosophy and why each serves a different purpose, and then at the end he turned the paper into a huge altar call, talking about how he cares about the world and about the reader and how he wants the reader to have a personal relationship with Christ. I was cringing when I read it because it seemed so contrived and it just really didn’t seem to me like an ethics paper about drilling regulations was the most appropriate place to blare religious convictions. But at the same time I kind of feel bad for saying this because I know this guy is just trying to promote the gospel of Christ. What are your thoughts?
Sounds like a case of religious obsession.
My guess is there are deeper personal issues he is trying to avoid.
In the case you cited (the engineering ethics paper), I would consider that inappropriate. There is a time and place for overt Christian witness (as opposed to representing Christ by our behavior and example, which is something we should always do). If you are given an assignment for an educational course, you have an obligation to fulfill the requirements of the assignment, not take it upon yourself to transform the assignment into what you want it to be about.
We cannot be effective in evangelization without Christ’s direction. He will give us opportunities and open doors to witness to people, but we don’t have to make everyone and everything in our lives an evangelism “project.” That’s actually disrespectful to those around us who are not “projects” but people. The teacher reading this person’s paper will not be impressed that he wrote an entire paper off topic and wasted his/her time grading it.
“Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord.”
That approach may speak to a few, but it scares away many, I’m afraid. He’ll probably tone it down over time to a relatively normal level when he receives too much negative feedback. Have you tried telling him that he might be turning people away from the church and to target his approach to the person, rather than going out there with his God guns blazing?
Good point ltwin, Matthew 25. Required all the time is seeing the Lord in His creation of all. Social teaching of the Church.
I think the more you evangelize yourself through Gods grace the better equipped you are to evangelize anyone else. There is definitely reading required, I also believe the grace leads you to the reading and understanding be it through others often.
You’re asking a complex set of questions.
In his discussions with you, if it seems he’s harping on a point or neglecting all other topics or activities to try to evangelize you personally, you are free to point this out to him and gently let him know it is unacceptable.
Whether or not his paper is out of bounds is up to the professor. I recently “retired” from teaching college, and every class I taught, I had my students write papers, and gave a good amount of leeway as to what they wrote about. Their ability to be original and find a way to write about something they were interested in were also important while sticking to the topic.
In general, does this behaviour help or hurt, is it what we are called to do? Both/and and yes and no. lol To be wise as a serpent and harmless as a dove is a part of the meat of the gospel. To know how to talk to others and when is something to be learned… and also I believe evangelization is a gift, some people have it and some don’t. I feel that every believer is meant to be a witness, and is called to evangelize in their own way in their own lives. The “problem” comes in when someone is charging ahead and maybe not listening to the Spirit. We can even see Paul was wanting to go one place and preach and the Spirit directed him elsewhere.
I had a classmate like that once.
He’s now a universalist and works in a pro-abort “Christian” hospital.
Those who make the loudest noise are often drowning, not floating.
Wow. Quite the religious transformation.
In extenuation, he’s quite a nice guy. His problem was a lack of solid knowledge and formation (“catechesis”, if you will): he had memorized some standard “quickie apologetics”, and felt compelled to hammer us pagans / Catholics / secularists with it, but there wasn’t much beneath the surface.
As the book of Proverbs says, enthusiasm without knowledge isn’t good.
Send him a copy of your post.
The paper would make me cringe as well. All the information you have given is that he’s been a Christian for 2-3 years and I will answer based on what I know about that from first hand experience.
Becoming a Christian for the first time when feeling hopeless/lost is a mind blowing experience. You’re suddenly given a tremendous amount of hope and feel extremely loved that it makes you want to cry.
I remember about two years after I became a Christian there was this Catholic girl who’s school shared the same city bus as our public school. I really liked her, especially because I heard that she organizes Catholic events and all this other stuff that made her a genuine Christian.
Well, in the middle of the bus I tried to strike up a conversation about God with her and from then on she thought I was “weird” for talking about Him so openly. She was embarrassed to say the least, but I couldn’t comprehend how something that she believes in, and has given me so much hope could be embarrassing or “weird.”
From then on I was a little more careful when discussing God because I didn’t want to embarrass anyone. At this point I really don’t care because I have a deep understanding of my Faith.
So maybe your friend is still in that honey moon phase where he’s just so thankful and happy and wants to tell everyone about it.
We call it “convertitis.” It usually goes away within a few years. How it ends is pretty individualistic. One guy I know fell away from The Church and then came back and has toned it down since. I had it as a Roman Catholic, and didn’t loose it until I realized that converting everyone to Roman Catholicism wasn’t just a matter of explaining that faith correctly and that there were legitimate, true objections to it. I have another friend who still deals with it, but had to learn to cool it because he was getting in arguments with everyone left and right.
So he’ll probably outgrow it, but how he’ll get there will depend on him. You might try to warn him of the dangers of this ‘condition,’ emphasizing that you’re not trying to tell him to cool down his faith or temper his relationship with Christ, but that ultimately as a human being in time he is subject to the law of undulation (google that + Screwtape if you’ve never heard of it before) and that by tempering his vocalizations now he’ll ultimately preserve his faith, and the friendships that he is trying to save as well. That may or may not work.