Edelen’s Theory of Inverse Evangelistic Zeal


The theory:

The more a Christian uses labels for perceived foes, the less likely that Christian will be to evangelize others, particularly those so labeled.

Talk to any Christian, especially someone who identifies as evangelical or born again. If that person descends to always labeling people in conversation who are believed to be working actively against Christian progress (feminists, homosexuals. liberals, humanists, etc.)Labels, the less likely that Christian will be to engage those perceived foes in an evangelistic context. Instead, those labels serve as a distancing mechanism that permits the Christian to relegate those perceived foes to an “enemies of Christ” context that excuses the Christian from evangelizing them and helping lead them to Christ. Also, in general, those same Christians will be less likely to engage all people evangelistically, even those who do not fall into perceived foe groups.

I’ve been a Christian for 35+ years now. The older I get, the more this theory seems to be true.

In summary, if you are the kind of Christian who tends to lump people into categories, you will have less evangelistic zeal.