- Mark Mittelberg begins this chapter with a great story of Ronald Reagan’s debate with Walter Mondale, the turning of the tide in Reagan’s campaign was the seminal response to the question about his age (73 at the time). His response:
Not at all, and I want you to know that also I will not make age an issue of this campaign. I am not going to exploit, for political purposes, my opponent’s youth and inexperience!
- Reagan turned a perceived weakness into a strength. Incredible.
From Defense to Offense
- Be prepared to give a good answer 1 Peter 3:15.
- We don’t have to defend ourselves, offense scores as well 2 Corinthians 10:4-5, our battle is well beyond this world.
- Nobody is neutral: everybody is making a claim to something
- The atheist claims there is no God
- Other religions support their version
- Christians defend their position
- All of us should be willing to give a defense for what we believe, but learn to turn defense into offense without being offensive–therein lies the challenge.
- Stop merely answering our friends’ questions and start asking them a few key questions of our own.
The Questions Revisited
- What makes you so sure that God exists at all–especially when you can’t see, hear, or touch him?
- How do they account the the existence of the universe? Is it eternal?
- How did it become so precisely fine-tuned?
- What is the basis to say anything is ultimately right or wrong?
- Didn’t evolution put God out of a job? Why rely on religion in an age of science and knowledge?
- How do you explain where the primordial goop originated?
- If they maintain that evolution and God are compatible, what have they done to discover who God is?
- Why trust the Bible, a book based on myths and full of contradictions and mistakes?
- What specific myths are you referring to? Which contradictions bother you the most?
- Would you be willing to explore that in detail with me?
- Everyone know that Jesus was a good man and a wise teacher–but why try to make him into the Son of God, too?
- Have you ever read the Gospels for yourself? Why don’t we both read and discuss them?
- Demonstrate that we are genuine lovers of truth, unafraid to look at the real evidence and to follow the facts where they lead.
- Remember, the truth is on our side! Matthew 7:7-8
- How could a good God allow so much evil, pain, and suffering–or does he simply not care?
- Remember there is an appropriate time to dive into this discussion–not in the midst of tragedy
- What is your alternative? No God? If no God, what meaning do pain and suffering have?
- Hopefully our friends will understand that it’s better to grapple with the problem of evil than to deny it through atheism or Eastern pantheistic philosophies.
- No one suffered more than Jesus Philippians 2:5-11
- Why is abortion such a line in the sand for Christians? Why can’t I be left alone to make my own choices for my own body?
- Are you 100% certain that it’s not a living human child inside the womb? If not, what is it?
- The least of these Matthew 25:45
- Why do you condemn homosexuality when it’s clear that God made gays and that he loves all people the same?
- Jesus was full of grace and truth John 1:14, we should lean toward grace without relinquishing truth
- Recall the Samaritan woman and how Jesus handled the conversation
- Given Jesus’ strong and positive explanation of God’s plan for marriage, what do you think he would say about gay sexual relationships?
- Do you see anywhere in Jesus’ words or teachings of the Bible where homosexual behavior is condoned?
- Don’t wield biblical truth as a weapon or as a way to put up a wall — that’s the opposite of our desire here
- & 9. How can I trust in Christianity when so many Christians are hypocrites? And why are they so judgmental toward everyone who doesn’t agree with them?
- Hypocrisy and judgmentalism are problems for some Christians. Jesus agrees with you on this point. Since you’re on Jesus’ side, why not learn more about him and show us how to be a better example for others?
- How about you: do you ever struggle living up to your own ideals–or God’s?
- If they are aggressively taking their position, perhaps you can ask, “how is that different from what you are doing right now?
- Everyone thinks their opinion is right, the question quickly becomes, “how do you know you’re right?”
- Why should I think that heaven really exists–and that God sends people to hell?
- We can’t directly access heaven right now, but we can listen to the One who died on the cross and rose from the dead: John 8:23, 11:25
- In light of Jesus’ divine credentials, why wouldn’t you believe what Jesus taught about heaven and hell?
- If you’re not going to believe Jesus, who are you going to believe–and why?
Back to Where We Started
We need three things in order to appropriately put the information into action: preparation, prayer and proximity.
- Preparation. Reading this book and taking notes, discussing it with brothers and sisters in Christ, is all part of preparation.
- Prayer. Keep praying for your friends, family members, co-workers, etc., and keep praying for yourself, that your knowledge and understanding would increase–even that God would open doors to opportunities to use this knowledge.
- Proximity. I hope you will no longer shy away from opportunities to get close to people who are far from God.
Remember the purpose of this study is not just to answer question, rather, it’s to lead people to Jesus! We want to help them find not only answers and truth but also the One who said,
I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.John 14:6
Go with confidence and a sense of urgency, knowing that the time is short and the information you have to share is life giving.
I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ. It is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes.Romans 1:16