Comparative Evangelism

Most of my (non-family) attention is divided between politics and religion, and I’ve been thinking about the similarities and, especially, the differences between the evangelism in each.

For Christians, of course, evangelism is an important and serious business, mandated by God Himself in His “Great Commission.”  Political types also seek to make converts, but not to the same extent:  Since they are not trying to save individual souls but just to win elections, the focus is on the low-hanging fruit of increasing turnout among the already converted, and perhaps persuading those on the fence to vote the right way.  The effort to convince a stalwart opponent to change his mind, on the other hand, is dismissed as unworthy of the trouble — something no Christian would do, even when confronted with a die-hard atheist.

But there’s another reason for the difference in the relative efforts.  A Christian evangelical really has to convince an opponent of just one thing, namely that Jesus is God, and that boils down further simply to persuading someone that He rose from the dead that first Easter morning.  Succeed in that, and everything else follows.  But persuading a liberal to take a conservative position is likely to be a lot more complicated; what’s more, changing someone’s mind on one issue (say, antitrust policy) may well not persuade them on other issues (abortion, say, or tax cuts).  So, for Christian (versus political) evangelism, not only are the payoffs bigger but the trouble is less.