Here’s a question all of us apologists have asked at least once if we are serious about presenting Christ to those who are steeped in a different worldview:
“How do I effectively show them that their worldview is false and destructive without alienating them or shutting them down completely from hearing the Gospel?”
The usual answer I hear is profoundly true: “Follow the leading of the Spirit, and do so with love and an attitude of peace” BUT it isn’t really a complete answer.
You see, God has given us tools to use, and it is foolish for us to either ignore them or fail to learn and be able to use them when appropriate.
One tool is that of the simple question. Simply asking pointed questions with the proper attitude can point out the fallacies and consequences of a worldview without being snarky or confrontational.
Remember, the goal of presenting the Gospel to those who are skeptical or even decidedly opposed to Christ is not to ‘make the sale’; it is to give them enough information and reality to think about for them to come to the point where they can clearly see who Christ is, and then decide whether to follow Him or not. It is God’s work to bring them to Him; it is our task to live our lives and present His truth in such a way that they will hear His voice.
Using questions is a very good way to do this. Put yourself, for example, in the shoes of someone who states that they refuse to believe in anything they can’t directly observe. Which approach do you think is least likely to make you defensive and antagonistic:
1) That’s nonsense. You cannot directly observe electric, but you make use of it every day. If you REALLY believed that, you wouldn’t bother to have electricity hooked up in your home, since you can’t directly observe it – only the results of it’s effect. God works in much the same way.
2) That’s interesting. How do you explain electricity?
If you choose response #2, you can follow their response by asking another question that will lead them to realize the fallacy in their belief without you having to be confrontational.
Using the question does two very, very, important things. First, asked with an attitude of wanting to understand the person’s viewpoint rather than tear it down, it forces them to either clarify their position or modify it. In most cases, you can do this without seeming confrontational, and unless the person you’re talking to already realizes that falsity of their stand, without making them angry.
Second, and most importantly, using questions to point them to the truth forces YOU to listen. Too often we get so focused on “presenting the Gospel” that we fail to listen and try to understand the pain that the one we’re talking to is going through and their real reasons for rejecting Christ.
You see, most times people will not state (or even consciously know) their ACTUAL reasons for rejecting Christ; the stated reasons are often a way of not expressing or dealing with the real, and very painful for them feelings or circumstances that have caused them to turn away from God.
Thoughtful questions are a way to break through the barriers they have set up and allow them to confront the problems they have with God that they don’t want to deal with.
And that’s what apologetics is about; refuting the philosophical or scientific objections to the faith isn’t the goal. That is just a way to get past those barriers to deal with the real, personal, and painful ways in which broken people (like us) struggle to accept God’s Good News in an evil, broken, and without Him, hopeless world.