A Code of Ethics for the Christian Evangelist

Cultic Studies Journal, 1985, Volume 2, Number 2, pages 304-305.

A Code of Ethics for the Christian Evangelist

1. As Christians called by the Living God, we seek first of all to honor Him and His ethical standards in all of our private and public lives, including our efforts to persuade others to believe the good news about Jesus Christ.

2. As Christian evangelists, we seek to follow the mandate, motives, message, and model of our God who is always pursuing and reclaiming those who are lost in sin and rebellion against Him.

3. We believe all people are created in God's image and therefore endowed with certain inalienable rights, critical faculties, and moral obligations in relation to their Creator and Redeemer. Hence, we disavow any efforts to influence people which depersonalize or deprive them of their inherent value as persons.

4. Respecting the value of persons, we deem all people worthy of hearing the gospel of this loving Lord Jesus Christ. We equally affirm the inalienable right of every person to retain his own belief system, and the freedom of every person to survey other valuable options and convert to or choose a different belief system.

5. We believe the “rightness” or “wrongness" of persuasive means is determined largely from the way they are used in context and from the intent of the speaker. For example, the so-called “testimonial" device, the “card-stacking” device, the “bandwagon” device, the use of suggestion and pathos, and the appeal to recognized authorities and personal needs may all be decidedly ethical depending on how they are used.

6. However noble the gospel of Jesus Christ and the goal of the Christian evangelist may be, we believe that does not justify whatever means might be employed to that end. Hence, we disavow any coercive techniques or manipulative appeals which bypass a person’s critical faculties, play on his psychological weaknesses, undermine his relationship with family or religious institutions, or mask the true name of Christian conversion and related issues.

7. Insofar as it depends on us, we will also protect a prospective convert from making a decision for Christ based on ulterior motives, such as fulfilling a need to be accepted, developing new connections, escaping other responsibilities, or creating a psychological dependency on another person.

8. While respecting the individual integrity, intellectual honesty, and academic freedom of other believers and skeptics, we seek to proclaim Christ openly. We reveal our own identity and purpose, our own positions and sources of information, with no hidden agendas. That means no false advertising, no overpromising the by-products of the Christian life, and no personal aggrandizement from successfully persuading others to follow Jesus. Respect for human integrity also means no overly emotional appeals which minimize logical principles, publicly observable evidence, and personal authentication in coming to term with truth.

9. As Christian evangelists, we embrace people of other religious persuasions in true dialogue. “seat is, we acknowledge our common humanity as equally sinful, equally needy, and equally dependent on the grace of the God we proclaim. Furthermore, we seek to listen mutually and sensitively in order to understand, and thus divest our witness of any false stereotypes or fixed formula, which are barriers to true dialogue.

10. As Christian evangelists, we accept the obligation to correct one who represents the Christian faith in any manner incompatible with these ethical guidelines or who violate the legal statutes set forth by our federal and state authorities.