THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN DIALOGUE, DEBATE, AND EVANGELISM
Interreligious Dialogue - Is held separately from debate and
evangelism. It involves a meeting (or series of meetings) between scholars
from two or more religious communities. The meetings consist of discourse
on key components of the religions that may need clarification for the
members of the communities. Discussion of the religions is included, but
conflicting claims to truth are not debated. Dialogue should ideally precede
debate and evangelism, although the latter two encounters are frequently
what inspires dialogue.
Religious Debate - Is held separately from formal dialogical
encounters. It is, in effect, a form of evangelism: the purpose is to convince
the audience of the superiority of one's religious position. Unlike typical
evangelism, the debates are highly structured, with opportunities for both
participants to present their positions and formally rebut the positions
of the other participant. Audience participation is frequently allowed
following the official debate.
Evangelism - Is held separately from formal dialogical encounters.
The purpose of evangelism is to convert others to one's religious position.
For Christians, this involves sharing the gospel with non-Christians. The
modes in which evangelism can occur are endless, although many participants
differentiate between formal evangelism and "lifestyle" evangelism. Evangelism
usually occurs, unlike formal dialogue and debate, in informal circumstances.