Some people think this type of work takes a lot of brain power. The truth is that often it is quite boring. Sure, there are things to work out like how to quickly get people’s browsers to find your new blog home, , but once you’ve figured that out, it is mostly a matter of banging on a keyboard and double-checking for typos.
Those moments provide time to think.
Well, I was going to keep quiet about it, but I guess since I’ve been asked a few times about Victor Kubik’s accusations on proselytizing, I feel somewhat compelled to respond. Obviously, it has caused a stir amongst some.
Have COGWA members been proselytizing UCG members to change organizations? Perhaps. I certainly cannot speak for each and every individual out there. However, I do notice that the COGWA leadership has stressed on more than one occasion that COGWA members should not be doing so. “They need to make up their own minds,” seems to be the refrain.
Supposedly, Kubik’s letter cited such things as inviting someone out to dinner “to talk”, inviting someone to services or some such other thing. I suppose something like that can be seen as proselytizing if the other party is not a good friend or they weren’t all that close to begin with. In fact, I would personally advise against such things unless you know the other party really desires to get together with you because it really could appear wrong. However, people who meet once a week and attend various events together for years cannot be expected to just part their friendships either. They will likely talk about shared acquaintances and circumstances, which may or may not lead to talking about the current situation.
If these things are “proselytizing”, then certainly UCG needs to look in their own backyard before pointing the finger. Yes, I have heard of some people “invited to dinner”, literally, and were persuaded to return. That’s what makes the accusation so ironic.
Let’s step back a moment and ponder something, though. What is “proselytizing”? Do the Churches of God proselytize? Is it wrong?
What Is Proselytizing?
proselytize or proselytise (ˈprɒsɪlɪˌtaɪz) — vb to convert (someone) from one religious faith to another
~ proselytize. (n.d.). Collins English Dictionary – Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition. Retrieved March 21, 2011, from Dictionary.com website: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/proselytize
The Random House Dictionary (ibid) adds: “or attempt to convert” to the definition. Obviously, the references to proselytizing in this case are more towards attempts.
However, is this really a conversion from “one religious faith to another”? If I look at “proselyte” in the Random House Dictionary, I see that a proselyte goes from one “sect” to another, but is that even accurate?
When both groups keep the holy days, seventh day Sabbath, clean and unclean meats, avoid pagan religious customs, etc., then what is being changed about the beliefs?
Do the COGs Proselytize?
If the COGs don’t proselytize, then why are groups constantly jockeying for position on WGN? Why is literature being placed upon newsstands? Why purchase all that radio time?
I mean, think about it.
Is Proselyting Wrong?
I think the above should illustrate it’s not proselytizing that is wrong. However, can you do it incorrectly? Or, more to the point, can you do it wrong? Like anything else, yes, you can do it incorrectly.
To use an extreme example in order to make a point, the crusades were about control of the Holy Land and converting Muslims to Christianity. It was often literally done at the point of a sword. That is not the type of “conversion” we should be seeking either for ourselves or for others.
HWA often quoted the saying, “A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.” The point is that if someone doesn’t want to believe something, they will not, no matter what evidence you present.
So, what we really seem to be talking about here is picking off believers from other groups, sort of the way that David Pack was trying to do right before UCG split.
We know from Paul’s writings that this happened in the first century as well. He soundly condemned those who sought a following after themselves. The difference seems to be, however, is that the ministers he was condemning were teaching heresies, such as Gentile circumcision and Gnosticism.
However, does that either justify or condemn trying to woo those who might be of similar mind? While I would say it does neither, the fact remains that it puts one on thin ice.
So, given the above, here are just some random thoughts that have been going through my mind. You may agree or disagree.
1. What is the basis of your friendship with the other person? Are you sure you want to tamper with it?
2. What is your motive?
3. Is the other person a deeply converted Christian? If so, are you sure you want to tamper with that?
4. If you’re in UCG, do you pray for the people in COGWA? If you are in COGWA, do you pray for the people in UCG? Why or why not?
5. Are you putting yourself in the dangerous position of judging another’s salvation?
Life is short. I was just looking at some old pictures. One dear friend stood out in my mind, and I won’t see her again until the resurrection. Make good use of the time you have left and the relationships that God has placed you in.