If a gun is put to your head and you are threatened to convert to something like another religion, you lied out of fear. By swearing allegiance to that religion do you genuinely believe in their theology or are you just saying that to keep from being martyred? Can you choose to TRULY believe a new theology/religion under pressure or would you have to fake it only? Conviction comes from outside information that convinces you right? One can’t will their mind into receiving something that they aren’t convinced of internally. So it is really possible for someone to make themselves believe something? Don’t people usually only believe something they are told, not because they will themselves into believing it? Can you FORCE yourself to believe in Santa Claus despite believing the evidence that he doesn’t exist? If crusaders and colonizers ministered to non-Christians in love with the free option to reject, it would be more effective than threatening them in order to coerce conversion.
Believers are supposed to share the gospel and let others be convinced by the gospel itself. If they don’t believe then it is their loss. Matthew 28:18-20 says to “teach” all nations, not conquer and enslave all nations. One can not threaten a person with “good news” (the gospel). It doesn’t make any sense to say, “Christ died for your sins, now repent or die”. The natural response to that is, “well if Christ died for my sins why do you have to kill me?” Furthermore, you can’t threaten someone with good news. Imagine the doctor telling you that you are cancer-free while holding a scalpel to your neck. Are they trying to harvest your organs because you are healthy? Or a lawyer congratulating you on a victory in court, while holding a gun to your head. Are they trying to rob you? Good news brings hope to the hopeless, and therefore it cannot threaten anyone. It’s about speaking truth in love (Ephesians 4:15) and love is the opposite of fear (1 John 4:18, 1 Corinthians 13:4-7).
When you teach people they may not hear or receive and that is their problem. Not everyone who goes to school graduates, some people fail and drop out. Dropouts can’t say they weren’t taught when in reality they just didn’t care to listen and obey. Forced conversion is what leads to false converts who pretend to be Christian on the surface but keep the pagan traditions of their ancestors secretly. Those that have not abandoned sinful practices and false gods have not truly submitted to Christ, and they won’t inherit the covenant promise of being partakers in his eternal kingdom. Therefore the believers that force people with threats are not bringing people into the Kingdom as the great commission requires. God’s grace can extend and cause people to believe despite mistreatment on first contact but how many more people throughout could have been won over by love?
Is faith (belief in something) a work that you act on and can force, or is it something you are convinced of by evidence outside of yourself? Faith comes by hearing the word (Rom 10:14-17), and a person cannot believe something they haven’t heard before. Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”