How to Share

How Will You Answer the Questions?

Posted on by Reasons for Hope 315 in Case Making, How to Share, Loving God with your Mind, Questions | Leave a comment

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How Will You Answer the Questions?

Not long ago the lead singer of a Christian metal band told the world how he had become an atheist and this caused quite a stir on the internet. The band is The Order of Elijah and the singer is Shannon Low. He explained his deconversion on the band’s Facebook page. One of the things that bothers me the most about the story is how the Christian friends around him responded to some questions he began to have about God, Jesus and the Bible.

question-marks-300x300Rather than helping him with answers to these legitimate questions he was having, he says that his Christian friends would literally get furious with him for even addressing the questions. He says that sometimes he would actually lose Christian friends by simply pondering certain questions. Certainly this should not happen in the family of Christ.

God is Not Afraid of Questions and Neither Should We Be

As I have written here several times, I don’t think God is afraid of our questions. It’s natural that we have some questions about our faith and we should not fear asking them. Many of the initial questions Shannon Low had were about some of the prophet’s behavior, and the behavior of God himself in the Old Testament. These are valid questions, ones which many of us who follow Christ may not have great answers for off the top of our heads. However, a lot of good Christian thinkers have given a lot of thought and have written a lot about these questions over the years and there are answers. How much better would it have been if Shannon’s Christian friends had said, “You know, those are  good questions. Let’s read and work through them together.”

Without Answers from Christian Friends He Went Looking Elsewhere

Because his Christian friends weren’t prepared to answer his questions, or even to look for answers with him, he looked elsewhere and found Richard Dawkin’s book The God Delusion. He says that he learned things about the history of the Bible that he didn’t know before. He says, “I never knew that the earliest gospel wasn’t written until half a century after Christ supposedly died, or that Paul never read any gospels, or that there isn’t even any evidence from that time that Jesus existed.”

The reason he didn’t know those things was because they are untrue or misleading misinformation. It’s too bad that in his years as a Christian he didn’t learn more about how the New Testament came together so that he wouldn’t be swayed by this kind of misinformation.

Though a gap of 50 years would be very good by historical standards when it comes to ancient documents, evidence is good that the first Gospel was written well before that and the letters of Paul were written even earlier, about 25 years after Jesus’ death. What’s more, he quotes material that scholars have dated to as early as 5 years after the crucifixion. That’s why Paul didn’t read the Gospels, because he wrote even earlier, closer to the events. Paul was familiar, though, with the eyewitness sources of the Gospels to follow soon after. And the idea that there isn’t any evidence from the time Jesus existed is just plain untrue, as you can read here.

I’m not saying that I no longer have any questions about Christianity. There are still some things that can bring some tension. But when I consider all the evidence and put the whole case together, I believe that the case for Christianity is a strong case and makes the most sense of all the evidence there is.

Just “Giving Them to God”

Sadly, I think there’s one more way Shannon’s Christian friends may have failed him. Through a good portion of his life he struggled with an addiction to alcohol. He says, “I stopped trying to pray my alcoholism away and began combating it with real methods. I began confronting my problems head on rather than ‘giving them to god’” Now of course, I believe we should give our problems to God, we should trust in him and ask for his help. But that doesn’t mean that we should just pray and not combat them with real methods with God’s help. Maybe this is what he was hearing in his Christian circle, but prayer is not a substitute for getting counseling and therapy.

I think most of us would not say that prayer is a substitute for going to the doctor when you’re sick. It’s also not a substitute for getting counseling help when you need it. Yes, we pray and ask God to bring healing, physical, mental or emotional, but that doesn’t mean we don’t gratefully take advantage of the ways he’s provided to help with that healing.

Going along with that, I’d like to make one more application. I sometimes hear in the church that we don’t really need apologetics, we don’t really need to share the evidence for Christianity because people come to faith by the Holy Spirit and he can overcome any faulty opposing ideas they have. And while God can certainly do that, he often works through normal means.

If my daughter is sick, if her health is under attack by some disease, I could think, “I don’t need to take her to the doctor, after all God can overcome whatever is attacking her without any help.” But I wound’t do that because God has provided the doctors and all the knowledge that can be brought to help make her well, and I believe that making use of that knowledge is part of his plan.

Likewise, God has provided the knowledge that combats the attacks that are brought against him and against Christianity, and I totally believe that using that information is part of his plan to bring people to himself. But in order for that to happen we need to be sharing the evidence with them. Let’s not just sit back while God and Christ are under attack, as people around us are being fed misinformation that leads them further from him. Let’s be prepared to answer their questions and let’s be used by God in dispensing the truth, the evidence for the Gospel, the case for Christianity.

Thanks to William Lane Craig for his Reasonable Faith podcast on this.

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How to Share the Evidence

Posted on by Reasons for Hope 315 in How to Share | Leave a comment

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How to Share the Evidence

Since I started this blog at the beginning of the year I’ve shared a lot of evidence for the Christian faith. I’ve shared a lot of reasons for the hope that I have in Christ. Today I want to talk a little about how we who have hope in Christ are to go about sharing the evidence with others. This is because how we share the evidence is as important as the evidence itself.

1 Peter 3:15, which the name of this ministry and blog is based on says,

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It says that we’re to be prepared to defend our faith and to share the reasons, but it also says how we are to go about doing that. We are to do it with gentleness and respect. So what does that mean? What does that look like?

Be Humble

First, I think it means we are to be humble.  We shouldn’t come across as “know it all”s. There are things we don’t know. There are valid questions people still have about Christianity and they’re not all easy to answer. I believe there are answers but they aren’t all easy ones.  We’re all still learning and the people we talk with can help us to learn more about our faith.

This also means that we don’t belittle the people we talk with or those who hold other views.  We can point out weaknesses that we might see in other positions, but let’s not laugh at and belittle those who hold those positions.  We are to show respect to everyone.

Be Loving

It also means to be loving.  The motive for our sharing should always be love for others.  My intention in sharing the evidence on this blog is not to give Christians ammunition to use on people. We’re not looking to win arguments.  We’re just looking to share the reasons for the hope we have in Christ so that others too may see God’s love for them in what he has done for us.

Be a Good Listener

We need to prepare so we know what we’ll say to people and how to answer questions, but it’s also important to be a good listener.  If someone states another view, we should listen sincerely and ask questions to clarify what they’re saying.  You could say, “That’s interesting, how did you come to that conclusion?”  It’s ok to ask them for evidence for their theories and ideas. Maybe they’re thought it through and maybe they haven’t.  By being good listeners and asking questions, we might give them something to think about and they might give us some things to think about as well, which we aren’t threatened by.

Don’t Give Too Much Information at Once

This one is just a very practical one.  Don’t overwhelm people with too much information at once.  We should learn all we can so we can share, but let’s just share a little bit of information at a time and see how the person responds before giving them more.

Don’t Overstate

Don’t say, “I can prove that Jesus rose from the dead” or “I can prove that Christianity is true.”  Don’t set the standard too high.  We aren’t looking for 100% certainty.  There are very few things in life that we can know with 100% certainty.  With most things, we deal in probability.  None of us knows with 100% certainty that we put a man on the moon, but from looking at the evidence, I think the probability is high that we did.  So say something like, “I think the evidence presents a strong case. See what you think.”  Present the evidence and let them evaluate it for themselves.

Be Prayerful

Finally, be prayerful.  God has to be at work or nothing is going to happen.  I believe it’s Biblical to present evidence, but it’s only God who can open someone’s heart and mind to accept it.  Ask God to help you to prepare and ask him to use any opportunity you have to share with someone.

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