Yes. As a Christian, I am commanded in the "Great Commission" to go forth and make disciples of others. Jesus says that He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life and that we can meet God only through Him. This doesn't mean that I wouldn't be sensitive to someone of another faith. But I will take any chance to "witness" about my relationship with Christ to someone who is interested. As a Christian, I believe that God's Holy Spirit opens the door for any such "encounter."
-- Dave Milam, Circleville, Ohio
No. I support sharing information about one's faith when asked, but I disagree with trying to convert others. I think the world would be a much better place in which to live if we all were more accepting of other's beliefs. Imagine a world where we celebrate our diversity instead of trying to eliminate others who have differing views.
-- Charles Miller, Washington
If, as a Christian, I believe that the only way to heaven is through faith in Jesus Christ, why would I not want to see others converted? Compassion for others, and ultimately their eternal destinies, mandates that I share this life-giving faith that can make one right with God.
-- Brad Jenkins, Harrisonburg, Va.
I do not believe in trying to force my beliefs on any other person. I've come to believe that each person's faith is just that, very personal. I also believe that God has infinite ways to reach out to and converse with all of us. Who am I to say that I have the definitive answers to the mysteries and wonders of life? I'm more inclined to try to learn more about another's faith than to denigrate it or express the notion that my faith is the only truth.
-- Jeffrey Young, Washington
Allah says in the Quran: "Invite all to the way of thy Lord with wisdom and beautiful preaching; and argue with them in ways that are best and most gracious; for thy Lord knoweth best who have strayed from His Path and who receive guidance."
As Muslims, we believe that we must obey this command. So the answer to your question is no. We do not try to convert, we simply invite and/or argue with others in the best possible way. It is Allah who guides (converts).
-- Paul Rockwood, Centreville
The way you phrase the question will determine the kind of responses you get. "Converting others to your faith" sounds intrusive and arrogant. But when you insert real faces and situations, it changes.
The more pertinent question is, how can religious people hold back from sharing the truths that have helped so many people?
Picture the insecure teen, spending money she can't afford on status-brand clothing that she hopes will bring social acceptance. Should she be told about how "man looks upon the outward appearance, but God sees the hearts"? Should she be told about the love of Christ, given freely and without measure?
How about the substance abuser whose bad choices have destroyed his marriage and family life? Shouldn't he be told about the unmerited pardon of God, purchased by Christ's atoning death?
The truths that religious people hold dear are revered and proclaimed, not because of dusty tradition, but because real lives are changed by them.
-- Victoria Schellhase, Gaithersburg
We teach by living example -- by how loving, ethical, compassionate and giving we are. People will ask questions -- "Why are you so happy in the face of difficulty?" -- and it's okay to share how faith is a part of one's life.
I have found that those who actively seek to witness or convert are taught a way of doing so and focus on the end result rather than on the process. For example, I have often been told, "If you don't accept Jesus, you are not saved and will go to hell." I'd much rather hear, "Love of Jesus has brought peace into my heart. Would you like to hear more?"
Faith is personal and should not be forced upon another.
-- Robin Champion, Washington
Next month's question: Is it appropriate for a political campaign to distribute voter guides in a house of worship and use a congregation's directory to contact voters? E-mail your answer (100 words or less) to firstname.lastname@example.org. Include a daytime telephone number. For more answers to today's question, go to www.washingtonpost.com/religion.