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Let It Be Known: Fear and Guilt as Foundation of Evangelism


Author(s): Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Publication (Outlet/Website): Medium (Humanist Voices)

Publication Date (yyyy/mm/dd): 2018/12/15

According to The Freethinker, one infamous international evangelist known as Ray Comfort is back on the controversy scene with claims describing the basis for evangelism: fear and guilt.

He, in a previous controversy, argued for the design in nature as evidenced through a banana and, thus, the hand of (the Christian) God must be present in the designs of living organisms. This stems back to Natural Theology (1802) by William Paley.

Of course, this was demolished as a hypothesis among scientists and professionals since 1859 with On the Origin of Species (1859) by Charles Darwin. Now, beyond this, the current controversy, rather minor in some ways, is with the term “evangelism.”

The Christian form of dawah or reaching out into the world to make converts for Christ. He was lamenting the ways in which this is an embarrassment for modern Christians as a term. In that, it becomes associated with, as noted, guilt and fear.

Comfort stated, “How then do you get a complacent body of believers excited about evangelism? The answer isn’t a pleasant one. It’s one that at first doesn’t even sound right. It’s the use of guilt and fear. If we ignore the obligation of evangelism, we are guilty of gross neglect.”

The response: of course, the use of guilt and fear tied to superstition, bigotry, and racism have been the staples of religious evangelism for a long time.

“We should be fearful as to whether or not we are playing the hypocrite, by having a form of godliness but refusing to obey the command of Jesus to reach the lost. In such a case, guilt and fear are not my enemies; they are my friends,” Comfort continued.

His central lament is the way in which evangelism, as a dirty word, has forced the dressing of an uncomfortable action and idea with more attractive language. But, as he and others in authority within some or much of the Christian church know, the use of guilt and fear can be necessary staples in the hard work of conquering minds, especially of the naïve and the young.


In-Sight Publishing by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. Based on a work at


© Scott Douglas Jacobsen and In-Sight Publishing 2012-Present. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen and In-Sight Publishing with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. All interviewees and authors co-copyright their material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

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