question and response

Is Christianity the only missionary religion?

I have had the opportunity to lead the Builders Sunday Morning Small Group for three weeks studying the gospel according to Mark. This question was from the final class meeting.

Is Christianity the only missionary religion? The answer is no.

From the Wikipedia entry for missionary – “A missionary is a member of a religion who works to convert those who do not share the missionary’s faith; someone who proselytizes.”

From this entry and others, I was able to find a few a little more information on particular religions.

Religions that have missionary efforts

  • Buddhism
  • Christianity
  • The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
  • Islam
  • Jehovah’s Witnesses

Religions that do not have missionary efforts

  • Hinduism
  • Judaism

This is certainly not a comprehensive list of religions, but perhaps gives an idea about the division. Some religions are more comfortable with pluralism, which has a direct impact on whether they carry out missionary efforts. This was an interesting question for me to research as I had not really thought about this question before. Thanks for the question!

Citation – Wikipedia contributors, “Missionary,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, (accessed May 5, 2008).

3 replies on “Is Christianity the only missionary religion?”

How does comfort with pluralism affect the likelihood of a religion having missionary efforts?

Is it that a religion not comfortable with pluralism would seek to reduce it by converting everyone to their religion? Or would comfort with pluralism make someone more likely to interact with people of another religion?

I could see it either way.

Michele – Great question. I think that more comfort with pluralism may lead to less urgency around the need to convert others to one’s own religion.

Witchcraft has no missionary effort – the belief is that there is no ‘one true way’ and therefore everyone’s spiritual experience must be different.

Witchcraft is pluralistic – our lack of ego about the veracity of our faith, and the admitted differences within the faith in terms of belief, mean that acceptance of other faiths is built in.

I don’t think comfort with pluralism necessarily prevents a religion having missionary tendencies – it may lessen the urge. A need to convert others can perhaps be boiled down to discomfort with alternative belief systems; uncharitably, I’ve always suspected that the requirement to think about other faiths makes some people highly uncomfortable. Hence the imperative to attempt to convert. Like an oyster turning an irritating grain of sand into a pearl, perhaps!

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