Respond to THIS! (and this, and this, and this…)

7 Jun

Sometimes I meet people who have clearly done some thinking about Christianity, and decided the evidence against it outweighs the evidence in its favor. A significant percentage of these people don’t hold one or even several objections, but seemingly every possible objection. They spout off claims about the reliability of the Bible, detestable actions by Christians throughout history, alleged contradictions in scripture, the arrogance of an exclusive claim, the non-existence of God, etc. My first few encounters with folks who had this sort of initial reaction were not great (to make an understatement).

For an example in written form, check out the comments on this post from a few weeks ago. In my responses I tried to succinctly answer a few objections but not deal with all of them (some were not great objections to start with). However, in conversation your approach should differ significantly for several reasons. First, you won’t be able to mentally catalogue all the challenges. You will inevitably forget something, or you will spend tons of time addressing one thing only to have your friend point to their giant list as if to say “your plate’s still full!” Second, many serious objections take careful study and consideration to answer. We can address whether or not it is arrogant to think there is only one way to God in conversation – but making a case for the reliability of the New Testament or the historicity of Jesus’ resurrection are harder tasks. (NOTE: I think we can sow seeds conversationally: make the point that it is possible that those things are true and then invite further dialogue). Third, you will feel less overwhelmed in taking on one objection at a time compared to a dozen.

Instead of standing there with your mouth hanging open and your eyes glazed over, I encourage you to stop your friend before he makes his list of objections. I’m not asking you to ignore his objections, simply to invite him to address them one by one. Your friend might get wound up and come out with something like this: “Well, Christianity has done more harm than good – and there isn’t any reason to believe it’s true anyways. And did you know Jesus wasn’t even proclaimed God until the 4th century? And the Bible has been rewritten so many times virtually none of the original stuff is in there….”

Try to stop them after their second objection. You can simply say something to the effect of “It sounds like you have a lot to say about this, and I’m interested to hear all of it. It would be easier for me, and more productive I think, if we could talk about these things one at a time.” Then start asking questions. The ‘more harm than good’ assertion is prime soil for the ‘what do you mean/how do you know’ line of questioning.

Some people will still get revved up and the best way you can help them is to listen, and not dismiss their objections. The only way to make sure you hear every one of your friends’ problems is to hear them one at a time. Every time she gets ready to go on an objection spree, gently affirm her interest in these topics and request that she give the two of you time to resolve each one before moving on to the next. Generally this will happen over multiple conversations so find some places that you both agree on for lunch!


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