At an interfaith prayer breakfast held in Richmond, Va. a couple of years ago, popular motivational speaker Zig Ziglar ruffled some feathers by sharing his Christian faith with the audience. Actually, he went a little further than that – he invited members of the audience to become believers in Christ on the spot.
Now the audience included pastors and members of various Christian churches as well as some Jews and Muslims. It also included dignitaries such as the Governor of Virginia, the Governor-elect of Virginia, and several members of the Virginia General Assembly. While the Governor and Governor-elect expressed no concerns about what Ziglar did, some other members of the audience did and this has created a mini-controversy. Those who complained believe Ziglar’s actions were inappropriate for an interfaith gathering, made it seem to narrow in its scope, and possibly offended members of other faiths.
I have a problem with people who proselytize in public, engaging and querying strangers about their status as believers in Christ. Yes, Christians should share their faith, but not in such an over-the-top manner that makes people feel uncomfortable. In fact, I believe this kind of thing is counterproductive to the faith in that it causes people put their defenses up and sometimes even shun those who practice it.
There was gentleman who lived in my home town for many years who tried to convert people everywhere went; at the grocery stores, at the department stores, at the shopping malls, at the gas stations, at the hospitals, at the funeral homes – you name the venue, he confronted people there about the salvation of their souls. It got so bad he was even banned from some stores, malls, and hospitals! But that didn’t stop him; he kept right on until the day he died. He was likely responsible for many people coming to Christ – and many others being driven away!
However, with all of that having been said, I can see another side to the Zig Ziglar issue. It addition to his “alter call”, Ziglar also mentioned that Jesus was the only path to heaven. The latter upset just as many people in the crowd as the former, but it should not have. Christians have a right to express their faith and the belief that Jesus is the only way is one of the basic tenets of Christianity.
In John 14:6, Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: No man cometh unto the Father but by Me.” He did not leave any wiggle room here. Either He is the only way (as I and other true Christians believe) or He’s one of the biggest liars in the history of the world and not worthy of being followed or worshiped. Any kind of Christianity that teaches that other religions might also be right is false Christianity. Any Christian who thinks there might be others paths to heaven is ignorant of his/her faith.