cover image Pushing the Faith

Pushing the Faith

Martin E. Marty, Martin E. Malty. Crossroad Publishing Company, $19.95 (190pp) ISBN 978-0-8245-0871-5

In this age of charismatic gurus and Bible-thumping televangelists, prose lytismthe art and practice of winning convertsis hardly dead, as these 11 erudite essays demonstrate. The contributors are theologians, religious historians and social scientists, assembled by Marty ( Modern American Religion ) and Greenspahn (co-editor of Uncivil Religion ). They argue that proselytizing has been surprisingly episodic among Christians, that historically Jews have been far from anti-missionary and that American Protestants are sharply divided into evangelistic and nonproselytizing camps. Missionary zeal fuels tensions between different faiths, and this book grapples with the moral dilemmas of promoting a particular religion in a pluralistic society. Moving from conversion in the Roman Empire to recruitment techniques used by Reverend Moon's Unification Church, the essays probe the emotional and historical pressures that underlie the impulse to convert the noncommitted. (July)