Original Research

Considering the evangelism mandate in the face of interfaith dialogue in South Africa

Mathias Yuvan Shunmugam, Marilyn Naidoo
Theologia Viatorum | Vol 48, No 1 | a237 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/tv.v48i1.237 | © 2024 Mathias Yuvan Shunmugam, Marilyn Naidoo | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 12 February 2024 | Published: 05 July 2024

About the author(s)

Mathias Yuvan Shunmugam, Department of Philosophy, Practical and Systematic Theology, College of Human Sciences, University of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa
Marilyn Naidoo, Department of Philosophy, Practical and Systematic Theology, College of Human Sciences, University of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa

Abstract

Evangelism is about forming Christian identity, but what is important is how to sustain Christian identity in a religiously pluralistic society. Can one cultivate dedication to a specific religious tradition without vilifying, assimilating, or relativising other religions? It is crucial to recognise that fostering healthy relationships with the religious ‘other’ is a critical element of ecclesial mission in the contemporary global context. As much as Christians need to be educated in intra-religious identity formation using evangelism training, they also need to be prepared for inter-religious dialogue. This article questions the role and purpose of evangelism in a post-colonial South Africa by firstly exploring the historical role of evangelism and thereafter uses current examples from interactions with the Hindu religion to reveal the way in which evangelism perpetuates outdated colonial values. It argues for the need for inter-faith dialogue as well as considers how Christian communities could engage interfaith dialogue.

Contribution: The article considers the interplay of the Christian mandate of evangelism with the need for Christians to live in plurality and religious diversity. It places at the forefront the neglected need of inter-faith dialogue essential for social cohesion in broader society.


Keywords

interfaith dialogue; pluralistic society; evangelism; social cohesion; South Africa; religions.

Sustainable Development Goal

Goal 16: Peace, justice and strong institutions

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