Apologetics–It's About the Conversations
by Rick Schenker, President of Ratio Christi
Do you find most “methods” of evangelism forced and uncomfortable? We all know the Great Commission, yet how many Christians are regularly engaged in making Christian disciples of their family, friends, neighbors and co-workers? From what I can tell, the average Christian goes year, even decades, without even a single convert to Christianity. I find that many were very zealous to talk about their Christian experience at first, but after a few rejections they give up for a lifetime.
Rejection is a tough thing. But even worse than rejection is the feeling of inadequacy one feels when they do not have any answers for the anti-Christian sentiments of those with whom they were trying to share the Gospel. Even the so called “friendship evangelism programs” don’t help when we don’t have an answers for all the excuses people give for not wanting to become a Christian. Think about all the excuses people give for not wanting to become a follower of Jesus Christ. Here is a list that I have heard from friends and family over the years:
Religion works for some people, but not for me.
I never like to discuss religion, it only causes disagreement.
You have your views, and I have mine.
No one really knows the truth.
Religion is a private matter.
I just want to have fun.
Today the list includes a lot of regurgitated anti-Christian propaganda from people like Richard Dawkins including:
Science has disproved the Bible.
The Bible is a nice book of ancient literature, but that’s about it.
The Bible is not historically reliable.
God does not exist.
There are no absolute truths.
Jesus never really existed.
Jesus was a great teacher—that’s all.
Jesus never said,” I am God.”
Miracles do not happen.
Christians are just like everyone else.
Why would a good, all powerful God allow so much pain and suffering?
All religions lead to God.
Christianity's exclusive claim to truth doesn’t make sense to me.
Christianity was borrowed from pagan mythology.
No one deserves to burn forever.
Christians only care about Heaven.
You just have faith.
Jesus is a copycat.
No one knows what the Bible really says.
There are 30,000+ Christian denominations.
Evolution answers everything.
God allowed something bad to happen to me.
The Bible is not scientific.
Science and religion are at war.
Christians want to control the government.
Christians are intolerant.
Christians are too obsessed with homosexuality.
Christians are too obsessed with abortion.
You have no evidence for God.
The Di Vinci Code proves that Christianity is just a man made religion.
You just believe because you were born in a Christian country.
I'm a 'spiritual' person.
Christians are boring.
Prayer doesn't work.
Christians show a double standard; they don't accept miracles in other religions.
How could you believe in a God that...
- condones slavery
- sanctioned the rape of young women
- ordered the genocide of Canaanite peoples
- sends good people to hell.
Jesus can’t be the only way to heaven.
Christians find something they can't explain and then they just plug "God" in as an answer.
All Christians are stupid!
What is in the Bible was voted on at the Council of Nicea.
Jesus wasn't viewed as divine at first. That view evolved over time.
The New Testament was copied like the telephone game - each person passing it on changed something
There are contradictions in the Bible.
How can you think miracles described in Christianity are true and not miracles in other religions?
You Christians pick and choose what you want to believe in the Bible - for example, you eat shellfish and worship on Sunday, not Saturdays.
Christianity can't be true with there being so many denominations; the Bible can mean anything you want it to mean.
Most Christians I know are stumped by such statements and questions. We need to be able to look at all these as valuable opportunities to develop a conversation to show the weakness of the worldview being expressed in comparison to the Christian worldview. If we did, we would develop many more opportunities to share the gospel with our friends and neighbors. All that is necessary is some training and study in apologetics. In fact, that is one of the most valuable reasons to study apologetics.
An apologist is a Christian theologian that seeks to address the intellectual obstacles that keep people from taking faith seriously. They not only strengthen the faith of believers, but they also help believers become incredibly confident witness for Jesus Christ. The way I read Ephesians 4: 11-12, it leads me to believe an apologist is filling the role of an evangelist. They prepare people to actively engage in conversations with friends and relatives. It is not someone else’s responsibility to reach your family, friends, neighbors and co-workers for Christ. It is your responsibility, and apologists are there to equip you to have an answer. After just a little training, most people find that the same people that used to stump them are now the same people that they most want to engage in a conversation.
The best thing to me is to see formerly timid Christians go out to actively seek conversations with non-believers. As a student in one of our Ratio Christi chapter said, “Ratio Christi…taught me how to share my faith more effectively. Before Ratio Christi I found it difficult to witness to others about Christ. Well, with Ratio Christi, every week was an adventure on campus to witness to people. We saw God work and bless us with great conversations and even a few on-the-spot conversions.”
This happens with adults too. I taught a class recently on the Conflict of Worldviews, and one of my adult students took the assignments seriously. She started to ask one question to everybody she met that week. The question was, “What is Truth?” That one question led to a lot of conversations about Christianity and truth. One guy she talked with said that he and his wife decided to start attending a Bible believing church.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful to wake up every day knowing that you could be getting into a conversation that could lead to someone accepting Christ as their Savior? I have never been comfortable with most “methods” of evangelism. Almost everything seemed forced and uncomfortable. Being trained in apologetics is different because it is all about having conversations.