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Christians discuss ‘good’ and ‘bad’ evangelism
Peter Kenny, Religion News Service/ENInews
June 07, 2010
2 MIN READ TIME

Christians discuss ‘good’ and ‘bad’ evangelism

Christians discuss ‘good’ and ‘bad’ evangelism
Peter Kenny, Religion News Service/ENInews
June 07, 2010

EDINBURGH, Scotland — “Good

evangelism” and “bad evangelism” came under discussion when a diverse group of

Christians met to mark the 100th anniversary of the historic 1910 Edinburgh

Missionary Conference.

Antonios Kireopoulos, the

associate general secretary for interfaith relations for the New York-based

National Council of Churches, on June 4 used his keynote address to draw a line

between “good” evangelism and bad “proselytism.”

Evangelism is most harmful,

he said, when it “strives to make Christians from among people that are already

Christians,” and suffering under political difficulties.

Kireopoulos cited the

experience in Russia and other Eastern European countries after the fall of the

Soviet Union, when missionaries, “generally, but not only from evangelical or fundamentalist

Protestant communities in the U.S., took advantage of the weak.”

The Edinburgh meeting is

commemorating the centenary of the 1910 World Missionary Conference, which

marked the beginning of the modern ecumenical movement for church unity.

The organizers of the 2010

meeting include representatives of evangelical, Orthodox, Pentecostal,

Protestant and Roman Catholic traditions, as well as of the World Council of

Churches.

In Iraq, where Christian

communities had borne much of the suffering since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion,

there had been a “particularly egregious missionary effort,” Kireopoulos said.

“How much more powerful

would the witness to Christ have been if the missionaries sent to Iraq were

there to support the local Christians, to work with the local Christian

churches to foster reconciliation in their communities torn apart by war?”