Contemporary Thinking on Conversion and Persecution: A Survey of Recent Missiological Compendia

In: Mission Studies
Christof Sauer Evangelische Theologische Faculteit Leuven Belgium

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This essay surveys the state of research regarding the ample relations between conversion and persecution as reflected in two recent missiological collections of essays, namely Freedom of Belief and Christian Mission (2015), and Sorrow and Blood: Christian Mission in Contexts of Suffering, Persecution and Martyrdom (2012). The systematic categories emanate from examining conversion as a human right in the framework of freedom of religion or belief, with the guidance of the un Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief. The essay covers missiological reflection on the right to convert; not to be forced to convert; and to try to convert others by means of non-coercive persuasion. It also discovers a lack of reflection on the rights of the child and of his or her parents in this regard. This is done against the background of the challenges to the enjoyment of these rights in various contexts and from multiple parties, often taking the form of harassment, discrimination or persecution. It becomes evident that a Christian theological and missiological perspective adds important further considerations to the human rights perspective on conversion and religious freedom or persecution.

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