We’ve all been there. The conversation is flowing, everyone is engaging, and things are moving along, well, nicely.
But then a question threatens to derail the conversation or stop things dead in their tracks. When sharing our faith with our friends, our colleagues, or our family, it’s helpful to have a few things in mind to keep the conversation on the rails and avoid the traps. Here are some top tips for defeating the defeaters to help you to share your faith more effectively.
1. Answer The Question
It may seem obvious, but when a question is asked, we should do our best to address it directly.
Yes, there may be a question behind the question etc. but taking the time to answer the question being asked shows consideration for the questioner and a willingness to engage with the topic on the table.
This may mean doing some research, reading a few books, and involve us saying, “I don’t know, but let me do some research and get back to you.”
Many people see a huge credibility gap within Christianity. Let’s make sure we’re doing our part to present the case for our hope (1 Peter 3:15) in a straightforward and clear manner, treating the question – and by association the questioner – with the respect they deserve.
2. Recycle The Argument
The philosopher A. C. Grayling would have us believe the many people believe in God for psychological reasons, that belief in God is akin to believing in fairies.
We’ve looked at this argument before on this blog and have seen that this can be argued both ways. That is, people may believe in God for psychological reasons or likewise they may not believe in God for psychological reasons.
This argument may appear at first glance to pose a problem, but when we examine it, we realise that the very same argument may be employed to defeat the objection.
Recycling: good for the planet, good for the apologist.
You may have heard the Indian story of the blind men and the elephant. The story depicts a room with an elephant in it and some blind men. These men can feel a certain part of the elephant and from that the try to describe to each other what they feel.
One man has a leg and thinks he has a pillar. One has the side and is convinced it’s a wall. Another has the tail and believes it to be a rope. Yet another has the ear and mistakes it for a fan, and, finally, another man things the tusk is a stone.
This illustration may be used someone in attempt to demonstrate that the many faiths/truth claims of the world are like this room with the elephant and the men. We are told that we each have a grasp on some aspect of the truth, but we are only feeling a part of the truth. In this view, Christianity may be, perhaps, the ear, but it’s not the whole thing.
But wait just a minute. We haven’t been told the whole story. We have left one person out of the account, namely the narrator. For this story to be retold we must have an observer who can see the whole picture! And if the narrator possesses the whole truth then what is the story really saying?
William Lane Craig has said that the problem of pain and suffering is,“undoubtedly the greatest intellectual obstacle to belief in God.”
This particular questions poses a great challenge (and I believe a great opportunity) for the Christian. It’s a problem to be wrestled with, thought much of, and answered slowly and carefully.
But it’s also a question that every worldview must answer. The challenge is not unique to the Christian but common to everyone, everywhere. It’s not so much of a guided missile aimed at our camp as an asteroid headed for the planet.
Christianity has good answers to offer to everyone who ponder this question and when seen in this light we can move towards commending Christianity to our friends, and away from just defending it. Reframing the question leads us to talk about the benefits of the answers and gets us towards Jesus.
Talking of Jesus … There may be times that you feel that the conversation is getting away from you. That the carefully crafted route that you hold in your mind is not going exactly to plan. Thoughts have fallen into a hole and are continuing to burrow with greater speed than repressed men in need of beer.
It’s at times like these that it’s good to remember why we’re even in conversation in the first place. Put simply, it’s all about Jesus. We can talk/discuss/argue about philosophical/historical/theological points and these are good. But the goal of all of these is to clear the way to talk about Jesus.
The Apostle Paul said that, “if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain.” (1 Cor. 15:14) If Jesus really lived, really died, and was really raised to life, then that’s a game changer.
Meeting Jesus was the changing point of our lives. In our efforts to proclaim His name let’s make sure we’re talking about him a whole lot.
These notes are from the talk ‘Beer Mat Apologetics’. Drop the Demolition Squad a line if you would like us to speak at one of your events.