Evangelical Christian leaders unanimously affirmed the Christian responsibility to share the gospel, or good news, with everyone, including members of other religions. In the November Evangelical Leaders Survey, one hundred percent approved of evangelizing persons who are faithful practitioners of non-Christian religions — many with impassioned remarks, such as “Absolutely!!!” One even asked, “Are you kidding?”
“Sharing the good news is what we do,” said Leith Anderson, President of the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE). “We believe faith in Jesus transforms lives for the better, so of course, we want to share it. From our perspective, holding back would be selfish.”
In addition to “yes,” most respondents included additional comments. Many noted Jesus’ words found in John 14:6, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Bill Hossler, President of the Missionary Church, commented that Jesus’ disciples made a regular practice of sharing their faith, as shown in the book of Acts.
Bill Lenz, senior pastor of Christ the Rock Community Church, added, “If we truly believe what Scripture teaches about Christ being the only way to the Father and the only way to salvation, how can we not share the gospel with those of other religions? In my opinion, the question is not if we should or not, but how.”
Denominational leader John Hopler, of Great Commission Churches, said that Christians are to seek the salvation of all, but are to do so with love and wisdom — a comment shared by many respondents.
“I could not be true to my own faith if I did not share its truth and its urgency,” said David Neff, editor in chief of Christianity Today. “At the same time, I recognize that my role is that of witness. Only the Holy Spirit converts people. And thus, when dealing with people of other faiths, I tell them that I will not try to convert them, but that it is important for me to witness to them and let the Spirit do its work.”
The term evangelical comes from the Greek word euangelion, meaning “the good news” or the “gospel.” Historian David Bebbington notes the expression and demonstration of the gospel in missionary and social reform efforts as one main characteristic of evangelicalism. Others include the belief in personal transformation through a “born-again” experience, a high regard for the Bible as the ultimate authority, and a stress on the sacrifice of Jesus Christ as making possible the redemption of humanity.
The Evangelical Leaders Survey is a monthly poll of the Board of Directors of the National Association of Evangelicals. They include the CEOs of denominations and representatives of a broad array of evangelical organizations including missions, universities, publishers and churches.