When is persuasion an act of love and when it is coercion? When it comes to faith, what role should persuasion play? These questions have played in my mind since I was a teenager, making my first stuttering attempts to introduce friends to the hard, offensive, and life-giving message of Jesus.
More recently, I've explored the intellectual justification for what Christians call evangelism. I found the late, great Jean Bethke Elshtain to be the most clear and compelling voice in this space. A professor of political science at the University of Chicago and a towering public intellectual, Elshtain argued that freedom to evangelize was core to religious freedom. We cannot claim to believe in the latter without on the one hand restricting coercion, and on the other hand making space for persuasion.
Building on these thoughts, I wrote an article for The Gospel Coalition entitled, "Is it wrong to try to persuade others to change their beliefs?" Read it here and let me know what you think!