@anon65845839 I think the reason we avoid the word ‘proselytize’ is in keeping with Paul’s injunction to become ‘all things to all men’ that we might ‘by all means save some’. There is no need to offend people for no reason if we can avoid it simply by avoiding an unnecessary term.
1 Cor 9:20-22 - To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. 21 To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. 22 To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some.
I also think that while there may be people who say ‘don’t proselytize’ only to promote their own agenda, it behooves us as Christians to humbly consider what might actually bother someone about this term. Possibilities include:
- throughout history people have been violently forced to convert - families have been separated, blood shed - all in the name of making proselytes
- to proselytize someone assumes that our view is better than theirs - doesn’t that seem arrogant?
- the person may have had past experiences with street evangelists or Christians who said very mean / condemning things to them and left a bad taste in their mouth
Of course as Christians we recognize that truth matters and that Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. We also know that any attempt to convert people forcefully goes against Jesus’ teaching. But people outside the Church may not be aware of those realities.
So as apologists we should be humble and assume the other person may have reasons for disliking this term that are legitimate within their own world view. Then we should engage them in a way that helps them see that Jesus is about sharing the truth in love rather than shoving the truth down peoples’ throats.
I Peter 3:15 - But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,
I agree with you that many people misunderstand the fact that all people proselytize and it is unfair to label only one group as attempting to propagate its world view. But our job as apologists is to help people move from where they are towards Christ and the way to do it is humility and respect, as Peter said.