World Religions - Evangelical Missiology

World Religions

What are some of the the Christian/Evangelical approaches to encounters with people in countries with another statistically dominant religion?

Christian Approaches to World Religions

The Following is excerpts from Scott Moreau's book on "Encountering World Religions", Baker Academic, ISBN 978-0-8919-4920-0

"What attitudes and approaches should Christians, and missionaries in particular, have toward the multitude of non-Christian religions of the world?


"One important step that Christian missionaries should take is to become students of the religions that are so important to those among whom they work. This involves study and observation"

"first, what kind of role should you take?"

"second, what does it mean to take other religions seriously?" (Moreau 282)

"missionaries can take on different roles in their attempts to reach others for Christ, but that questions about the legitimacy of their roles must also be discussed" (Moreau 283)

"seven roles that the missionary can play in relating to those of other religions. Although each of these roles has advantages and disadvantages, missionaries at different times in their ministries may need to take on a number of them" (Moreau 283)

Seven Roles:

Advocate of a New Religion

"In taking on this role, the missionary respects people of other religions but is willing to continuously and gently prod and challenge them to consider the consequences of belief system and practices. Paul's sermon before the Aeropagus (Acts 17) models this approach. He expressed appreciation for the beliefs he found, but he used them as a stepping stone toward the teachings of Christ" (moreau 286)

"As advocates of a new religion, missionaries approach non-Christians in a spirit of charity and humble acceptance of the fact that they do not know all truth- indeed, all missionaries have much to learn. At the same time, however, missionaries possess not only some truth; they possess the very truth granted by divine revelation" (moreau 286)

"As they do so, they must remember that it is not their job to see that those with whom they dialogue accept the truth. That is a role that God reserves for the Holy Spirit, who alone works in the hearts of people" (moreau 286)

"though missionaries may temporarily take on the role of seeker, they eventually must move beyond that role to engage non-Christians by calling them to Christ. To do any less is to deny the fundamental nature of Christ's command to disciple all nations" (moreau 286)

Apologist / Antagonist

"Many among previous generations of missionaries assumed that this was the only role that a missionary should play." (moreau 286)

"A potential weakness in taking this tole is that the missionary's opposition to another religion may turn into inappropriate attacks and unnecessary demeaning of its adherents." (moreau 286)

"A missionary can be uncompromising without being vindictive or mean-spirited. By focusing energy on positively living and teaching the truth rather than constantly attacking lies, missionaries will be more effective in encouraging people to change allegiances and follow Christ" (moreau 286)


"adopted the habits, practices, and rituals of the adherents of the religion." (moreau 283)


"Over the course of Christian history this tole has been judged inappropriate for the missionary because typically it involves deception, which is unbecoming to a follower of Christ" (moreau 283)


"one who explores religious teachings with the intention of considering conversion." (moreau 284)


"ethical issues arise that make it difficult for the missionary who has no intention of conversion to adopt this role in a non-Christian setting." (moreau 284)


"emphasis on interreligious dialogue. Dialogue essentially refers to an interpersonal exchange in which neither side tries to convert the other, though both seek to learn about the other and to teach the other about themselves" (moreau 285)


"Many missionaries do engage in fruitful dialogue with non-Christians. But ultimately the role of explorer, if no persuasive element if allowed, falls short of God's call to Christians to invite people to repent, turn to Christ and worship God" (moreau 285)


"outsiders whose job is to accurately describe or report the religion they encounter. They may be thought of as social scientists of religion who try to be as objective as possible" (moreau 285)


"Specialists essentially are reporters who go beyond the normal reporting method and specialize in one religion or one aspect of religion" (moreau 286)