Ethics of Evangelism or Proselytizing


This blog is about my recently published book, The Ethics of Evangelism: A Philosophical Defence of Proselytizing and Persuasion, published by Paternoster Press, in the U.K., and by IVP Academic, in the U.S.A. in 2011.

Why did I write this book?

Well, asking a philosopher why he wrote a book is a little bit like asking a mountain climber why he climbed Mount Everest.  Mount Everest is there to be climbed!  That is the way I felt about writing a book on the ethics of evangelism or proselytizing.  Indeed, I discovered that very little had been written on this topic heretofore.  So, I wanted to be the first to write a comprehensive treatment of the ethics of evangelism or religious persuasion.  What little had been written on this topic was in the main very critical of any efforts at evangelism or proselytizing.  When reading these objections against evangelism, I was disturbed by the fact that these attacks were often unfair and outright wrongheaded.  So again, I felt a need to answer these objections in the public domain by writing a book on the subject.  In part, my writing this book also grew out of my embarrassment as to what religious adherents sometimes do in the name of evangelism. Writing this book was a way of helping me to clarify this embarrassment.  I discovered that sometimes there is something immoral going on when religious adherents do evangelism.  I also discovered that Christians, and more specifically evangelical Christians, who are very much committed to evangelism, tend to skirt the subject of the ethics of what they are doing.  Indeed, one nearly gets the impression that for some evangelicals, evangelism is considered to be so imperative that the end justifies the means. Someone needed to show how terribly wrong-headed this kind of thinking is.  So I answered the call! Throughout my writing, I have been very concerned to bridge the divide that often exists between religious believers and those who are skeptical of religion.  I therefore wanted to write a book on evangelism/proselytizing that would at the same time be addressed to these two very different readerships.  Skeptics needed to hear a defense of evangelism or proselytizing, and religious believers needed to be told that not just anything is acceptable in trying to bring about conversions.

For the table of contents and endorsements of the book, see the IVP website:

For a recent review of the book, see one by A. Morgan as found on the Amazon books website:

The book can be purchased online from:  (in Canada, order from )



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One Response to “Ethics of Evangelism or Proselytizing”

  1. Stu Blyde Says:

    I do hope to purchase a copy of this book very shortly. Funds have been tight, but before the end of the semester.

    My heart is also centered upon reaching those who cannot understand why anyone would believe in God, by reaching those of Christ’s followers who cannot articulate their faith in ways which would really speak to the non-believer. How do we articulate our need and our duty to worship our God to people who can only see Christians making foolish and empty statements in a language no one but Christians (and I’d argue not even many Christians) even speaks. All we speak is church jargon. I’ve read a number of your blog posts now and I am convinced, after also sitting in your Worldview Studies class, that you have something very relevant to say to the church today, Elmer.

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