What can a Christian do to make any progress in discussions about God with people who disagree?
This is a huge question and a stumbling block for an awful lot of Christians. They say they want to share their faith and yet they are afraid of doubts, questions and objections. How can these be dealt with?
Simply, that is how.
Just ask questions.
Let me give you an example of an atheistic approach to rejecting Christianity and then point out a few good questions to ask about it.
So when somebody comes up with something like this, what should the Christian say?
The answer is simple. Just start asking questions. Here are a few you could ask the atheist:
- Are you saying God is absent from His Creation? If so, then prove this assertion. Of course the atheist is going to have to try to prove the absence of God. There are two important things to note about this question and the likely answer you will receive:
- First they will almost certainly demand that you provide some kind of proof for God’s existence and presence. Refuse to do so. They have made an assertion – God is absent – and they should have to prove it. This is called the burden of proof and it always rests with the prosecution and not the defense.
- The most common answer will probably be to refer to the presence of evil/suffering/pain/injustice as a proof for the absence of God. Then you will be challenged to prove how God could allow such things. Do not be tricked! Instead, demand that they prove how the existence of any of these things requires the absence of God.
- Are you saying God has the right to judge people for their actions? This is a much more personal strategy to take. The reason for this is so that you could follow up with the question “And how will God judge you?” Of course, they may disagree and say that God does not have the right to judge. Again, ask them why this should be the case. If God is the teacher then He has the right to judge the class. The answer to this line of questioning is likely to be that the atheist feels God has not left sufficient directions for them to follow. While this sounds noble or right, it is utterly wrongheaded. Again, do not be tricked into making an explanation. Rather, you could ask how they know none of the textbooks are correct. What standards would they suggest for judging religions?
- What does the classroom tell us about the teacher? This whole picture provided by the atheist sounds really great as a way of caricaturing religions. Yet it starts with a huge assumption which the atheist will not be very comfortable with. The assumption is that the universe (the classroom) has a purpose (instruction) and a destiny (final exam) and a judge (the teacher). In light of this assumption you could simply ask them what the classroom says about the teacher. In the Christian religion, the Bible makes it plain that some things about God can be known by Creation. So ask the atheist – who might now be horrified at the assumptions they built into this scenario – what the very existence of the universe tells us about the Creator of that universe.
These are just a few questions you could ask in response to something like this. The real key is to answer objections with questions. As a strategy this has a number of advantages. One of the most obvious is that it is not offensive to ask questions. Provided that you act genuinely interested, most people are quite content to let someone else listen to their opinions for a while. Play up to this tendency! Ask questions so that you, as the saying goes, “Give them enough rope to hang themselves.”
The second advantage of this strategy is that you will learn about the person while you are asking questions. Most importantly, you will learn where their real objections to belief in God come from. This is the area you will want to concentrate on. Consider a simple example:
I met a woman on the street the other day. She was very angry with God and spent a long time talking about how God was unjust and not fair. “How could God allow so much suffering?” she demanded. When I questioned her about her own suffering she revealed she had cancer. This changed the whole conversation.
This is the beauty of questions. Imagine learning this kind of thing about someone! You would immediately change your way of speaking and the focus of your conversation. Probably your efforts would become much more effective.
What strategies and tactics can Christians use to be more effective in their evangelism?
Question the Doubters.