Category Archives: Mentoring

Christian woman finds a way to discuss her faith with non-Christians

I found an interesting article where a Christian woman explains how she used to share her testimony with non-Christians. But that wasn’t working. So she decided to try something different.

She writes:

I’ll never forget the first time I shared my personal testimony with a non-Christian.

When the opportunity arose and I shared my story with an unbelieving friend, she replied, “That’s so cool. I’m so happy you found something that works for you.”

For me?

“It’s not about what works for me,” I said, trying to hide my discouragement. “It’s about what’s true for everyone.”

“That doesn’t make sense,” she responded. “That’s your experience, not mine. I had a similar revelation when I realized I could leave the church, and I’ve become a better person for my decision. Just as you were freed from your heaviest burdens by finding God, I was freed from mine by leaving God behind.”

I was devastated but I chalked it up to my friend’s hardheartedness. I decided to shake the dust off my feet and look forward to the next opportunity.

But time after time of sharing my testimony resulted in similar responses. People expressed enthusiasm that I was happy, that Christianity worked for me, and that I had “found my niche.” Yet no one considered my experience as anything more than just that—my own personal experience.

[…]I had been taught that sharing what God had done in my life was the ideal way to witness to non-Christians. A personal testimony was interesting yet non-confrontational, compelling but inoffensive. And yet, despite having shared my testimony with dozens of unbelievers, not a single person felt challenged to consider the truth claims of Christianity.

She noticed that her approach wasn’t actually in the Bible. There was a different approach being demonstrated by Jesus, and later by his disciples.

She writes:

When Jesus called his first disciples, he taught truth and provided evidence (miracles) to support his claims, then he asked people to follow him (Luke 5:1–11). In fact, this was his method whenever he went into new regions (see Luke 4:14–44; John 4:7–26). People decided to follow Jesus not on blind faith or a subjective feeling, but based on the evidence they had seen and heard.[i]

Jesus also used evidence to assuage the doubts of even those who had been with him a long time. John the Baptist was Jesus’ cousin, who leapt in the womb during Mary’s visit (Luke 1:39–45), baptized Jesus in the Jordan River, heard God’s voice from heaven, and saw the Holy Spirit descend on Jesus in bodily form like a dove (Luke 3:21–22). Yet when John experienced unexpected suffering, he began to doubt.

Jesus didn’t respond as many do today, by insisting that John “just believe” or “have faith” or “prayer harder.” Rather, he responded with more evidence, saying, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.” (Matt. 11:2–6).

[…]At Pentecost, the apostle Peter offered signs and wonders, fulfilled prophecy, and relayed eyewitness testimony to persuade people from all over the Roman Empire that the most reasonable explanation for what they were seeing was not morning drunkenness, but a risen Messiah (Acts 2:1–41).

On his missionary journeys, the apostle Paul reasoned with the Jews from the Scriptures, explaining and proving that Jesus was the Messiah who needed to suffer and rise from the dead (Acts 17:1–3, 17). And he reasoned with the Gentiles from outside the Scriptures, making a case with their own accepted beliefs to convince them (Acts 17:17–34).

In fact, in describing his mission, Paul told the Philippians, “I am put here for the defense of the gospel” (1:7, 16). This word translated defense is the same word from which we get our English word “apologetics,” meaning to make reasoned arguments or to provide evidence as justification. Using this same word, Peter commanded believers to “always [be] prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you”(1 Pet. 3:15).

So, she decided to dump the testimony approach, and try the Biblical approach. But she had to change it a little bit, since she couldn’t perform miracles herself:

We are not eyewitnesses to Jesus’s life and resurrection, but we have the accounts of those who were. We don’t typically see miracles, but we have millennia of biblical scholarship and archaeology that provide reasons to believe the accounts are trustworthy. We don’t often hear God speaking audibly or see him parting seas, but we have significant scientific evidence that shows the universe had a beginning, and millennia of observation to confirm the scientific principle that everything that begins to exist has a cause.

I think a lot of Christians never move on from approach she described that wasn’t getting results. And there’s a reason for that – studying evidence is hard work. But I can tell you from my experience as a software engineer, there is no better way to convince other people to adopt your view than to show them working code that produces results. If they have a prototype, they will adopt your design. Similarly with Christianity. If you have evidence, then you will be persuasive.

When talking about spiritual things with non-Christians, always remember the joke about the two men walking in the woods who meet a bear. One man starts to put on his running shoes. The other man says “what are you doing? you can’t outrun a bear!” And the first man says “I don’t have to. I only have to outrun you”. It’s the same with apologetics. You don’t have to be William Lane Craig to talk about your faith to non-Christians. You just have to know more than your non-Christian opponent knows about evidence.

The way things are going these days with the public schools and the mainstream news media, this is actually pretty easy to do. One or two introductory books on the origin of the universe, the fine-tuning for intelligent life, the origin of biological information, the origin of body plans, the historical reliability of the New Testament, the minimal facts case for the resurrection, etc. will do the job. You might need another one on philosophical challenges like evil, suffering, divine hiddenness, etc. But we’re talking no more than 5 books, and you’ll be effective in the vast majority of your conversations. If you can only get one book, I like Sean McDowell and Jonathan Morrow’s “Is God Just a Human Invention?” best.

What’s in an apologetics book?

Let’s look at the table of contents of my favorite introduction to Christian apologetics, which is “Is God Just a Human Invention?” written by Sean McDowell and Jonathan Morrow.

In that book, you will find 18 topics.

  1. Is Faith Irrational? (Commentary by: Gregory Koukl)
  2. Are Science and Christianity at Odds? (Commentary by: John Warwick Montgomery)
  3. Are Miracles Possible? (Commentary by: Gary R. Habermas)
  4. Is Darwinian Evolution the Only Game in Town? (Commentary by: William A. Dembski)
  5. How Did the Universe Begin? (Commentary by: R. Douglas Geivett)
  6. How Did Life Begin? (Commentary by: Fazale R. Rana)
  7. Why Is the Universe Just Right for Life? (Commentary by: Jay W. Richards)
  8. Has Science Shown There Is No Soul? (Commentary by: Dale Fincher and Jonalyn Fincher)
  9. Is God Just a Human Invention? (Commentary by: Garry DeWeese)
  10. Is Religion Dangerous? (Commentary by: Douglas Groothuis)
  11. Does God Intend for Us to Keep Slaves? (Commentary by: Paul Copan)
  12. Is Hell a Divine Torture Chamber? (Commentary by: Frank Turek)
  13. Is God a Genocidal Bully? (Commentary by: Clay Jones)
  14. Is Christianity the Cause of Dangerous Sexual Repression? (Commentary by: Kerby Anderson)
  15. Can People Be Good Without God? (Commentary by: Mark D. Linville)
  16. Is Evil Only a Problem for Christians? (Commentary by: Randy Alcorn)
  17. What Good Is Christianity? (Commentary by: Glenn S. Sunshine)
  18. Why Jesus Instead of the Flying Spaghetti Monster? (Commentary by: Darrell L. Bock)

Prominent atheist scholars are quoted in each chapter to introduce the challenges, and then scholarly arguments and evidence are presented to defend the Christian worldview. The language is simple enough, but the material is solid enough to use in a real debate. I would say that introductory books like this one are more than enough to equip you for everyone who will challenge you.

Why are these 18 topics important? Because these are the questions that atheists ask. These are the questions that cause Christians to leave the faith. These are the questions that your children will face in high school and college, which might cause them to leave the faith.

Let’s start with chapter one. One of the most prominent arguments by atheists is that faith is irrational. This chapter allows you to define faith using the Bible’s definition of faith, which relies on logic and evidence.

Atheists also say that Christianity is at war with science. In chapter 2, they discuss the history of science and how Christianity provided the framework that allowed scientific method to take root and flourish.

Atheists like to claim that miracles are impossible. Chapter 3 defends the view that God, if he exists, is capable of interacting with his created world.

Atheists love to put forward Darwinism as means to deny that God is the designer of life. Chapter 4 explains the concept of intelligent design, and why intelligent design is a better explanation for the history of life.

Atheists love to talk about how the universe has always existed, and there’s no need for a Creator. Chapter 5 contains a philosophical argument that is supported by mainstream science to argue that the universe had a beginning, just like the Bible says.

Atheists love to argue that life can emerge from non-life, and the process is simple. Chapter 6 is written by a biochemist, and it takes a look at the real complexity of the simplest living cell.

Atheists like to argue that the universe itself is just an accident, and there is no need for a Designer. Chapter 7 introduces the scientific evidence for fine-tuning and habitability.

Atheists like to say that there is no soul and no afterlife. Chapter 8 gives some arguments for the existence of the soul.

Atheists like to argue that Christians invent God because God makes them feel good. But chapter 9 explains that having an all-powerful God who can hold humans accountable is the last thing any human would want to invent.

Atheists like to talk about how religion, with it’s habit of teaching to believe in things that can’t be tested, causes religious people to do a lot of harm. Chapter 10 takes a look at the real record of Christianity as a force for good in the world.

Atheists like to talk about slavery in the Bible. Chapter 11 talks about what the Bible really says, and provides some rational responses to the accusation.

Atheists like to talk about eternal punishment in Hell isn’t a just punishment for just getting a few questions wrong on a theology exam. Chapter 12 provides an explanation and defense of the concept of Hell.

Atheists love to talk about how God commanded the Israelites to attack their enemies in the Bible. Chapter 13 explains who their enemies really were, and what was really happening in those wars.

Atheists feel that unrestricted sexual activity is very healthy and normal, and that the Biblical prohibitions outside of male-female marriage are repressive and unhealthy.  Chapter 14 explains why God has these rules in place, and supports his rules with evidence.

Atheists love to assert that they don’t need God, because they can behave morally on their own. Chapter 15 explains how to answer this claim by talking about how well atheism grounds objective moral values, objective moral duties, free will and moral accountability: the minimum requirements for objective morality.

Atheists think that the mere existence of natural disasters and human immorality are incompatible with the God of the Bible. Chapter 16 explains why this argument doesn’t work, and why even the concept of evil requires God to exist.

I have an atheist friend in my office who can’t defeat my scientific arguments for the origin of the universe, the fine-tuning and the origin of life. But still, he says to me, even if God exists, why would that matter to my life? Chapter 17 explains what difference Christianity makes in a person’s life.

Atheists think that the life of Jesus has no relevance to their life, and that he has nothing to offer them anyway. Chapter 18 explains the uniqueness of Jesus and explains why his resurrection is relevant to our lives today.

It’s important to understand that this book is not on the level of A. W. Tozer, G.K. Chesterton, Francis Chan, John Piper, etc. Those authors write for a Christian audience and therefore they do not equip you to answer realistic challenges from non-Christians. But the apologetics book we looked at actually equips you to answer challenges from non-Christians using logical arguments and evidence from mainstream history and science. You can use the material in that book in discussions outside the confines of your home and your church.

What books would you suggest to build up a young man who doesn’t like to read?

Here's some helpful advice for women about choosing a man
We have a shortage of good men in our society, how do we make more?

I link to Laura’s blog “An Affair With Reason” a lot, because she is very bold about her Christian convictions and uses reason and evidence when defending her views. She has started a new series where she talks about the conversations she has, where she is able to bring up Christian topics. This time, she had a conversation with a 13-year-old boy about his lack of interest in books.

She writes:

It was 9:15am and we were about to begin another grueling CrossFit workout. Nolan, a homeschooled eighth-grader and the youngest member of our morning workout crew, was moaning at the prospect of exerting so much energy on so little sleep.

“I was up so late! I just don’t know if I can do this,” he agonized.

I replied jokingly, “Were you up late doing some extra reading just for the sake of becoming a more excellent and informed person?”

He smiled. “I hate reading! Reading is the worst. I don’t think I’ve read a book since sixth grade.”

Knowing the critical impact that great books can make in a person’s life, I pushed back a little. “Well maybe you just haven’t found the right books yet.”

He replied, “Why do I have to read, anyway?”

And with this question I saw a teachable moment. After all, he needs to know the answer to that if he is to make the most of the knowledge and wisdom that are available to him through great books. Many activities compete for the attention of young people. If they don’t understand why something like reading is important, they aren’t likely to prioritize it, and when they are forced to read, they may look for shortcuts and complete their assignments with mediocrity rather than gaining the full benefits available to them. Without understanding the purpose or benefits of reading, they are likely to discontinue as soon as they no longer feel the threats of a teacher, parents, or a bad grade hanging over them.

“Well,” I said, “there’s the fact that reading great books can shape your values and priorities so that you’re better equipped to make good decisions that lead to thriving for you and those around you. Reading the right books will make you a better man, a better leader, a better husband, and a better citizen. You aren’t going to learn those things from the culture. Today’s movies, music, and tv shows will weaken you until you have nothing of value to offer a woman or a neighbor or your community. Our modern forms of entertainment are written with an agenda to spread values that are contrary to God’s values and contrary to the way He created reality. If you succumb to that garbage, you may be popular with your peers, but you won’t be successful in any sort of meaningful or ultimate way. You have to counter the constant lies with truth and goodness.

“Plus,” I added, “great books not only educate and inform; they also inspire and motivate us toward worthy goals. They point us toward all that is good, excellent, noble and praiseworthy.” (I had just read Philippians chapter 4 a few days earlier.)

“Daaang,” he said, in his yet-unrefined 13-year-old vocabulary. “Fine. What should I read?”

She goes on from there to explain why she is going to take up the task of recommending books to Nolan, and why it’s important to do so in the current culture. If you’re a man, and you’re feeling undervalued in this society, you’ll be very encouraged by what she had to say. She started out by looking ahead to what Nolan could grow into. Then she talks about how men are being treated today in a society that doesn’t value them. She talks about the kind of man she’d like Nolan to be. She’s very optimistic about the difference that Christianity would make to Nolan’s character and effectiveness.

What would I recommend to Nolan?

Lately, one my female friends has been investigating where I get my character traits from. It turns out that lots comes from the Bible. I was just reading Ephesians 4 for my Bible study, and I noticed how in verse 28 it talks about making sure that you work in order to have something to share. I made that same point in the podcast that I did on BLM with Tim Stratton of Free Thinking Ministries. I got my view of education and career from Ephesians 4. Many of my character traits and views came from reading the Bible at the right time in my life. So I recommend that boys read the Bible, and put it into practice. Start with Phillipians.

My female friend also found out that a lot of my views go back to classical literature and classical movies. When I was young, I was very disappointed with my parents. They seemed to have no plan for me. They made demands, but just to get good grades and to make money. They didn’t have any character goals for me. And most importantly, they didn’t lift a finger from day to day to help me to achieve anything – success, character, wisdom, etc. So I had to parent myself. And I did that by reading classical books and watching classical movies. I listed a bunch of them in my About WK page. For example, I taught myself to look past a woman’s looks to her character by reading “Great Expectations” by Charles Dickens.

I was influenced by classical literature, military biography, military history, military strategy, and evidential apologetics. So, here are my recommendations for a 13-year-old boy would be: “The Hobbit”, “Rifleman Dodd”, “The Screwtape Letters”, “Mere Christianity”, “The Problem of Pain”, “A Man for All Seasons”. I also noticed that people love this new book “Great Battles for Boys: WW2 Europe” – there’s a whole series of them. I also like classic TV shoes like “The Rifleman”, “Gunsmoke” and “Rawhide”.

Laura’s series on conversations

This is not the first time I’ve linked to Laura’s blog. I also did here for her post about apologetics and here for her post about talking to Muslims and here where she introduced her new series on conversations. What I like about her is that she has a mature view of the Christian life that I really respect. When I read her writing, I can tell that she is not involved in Christianity to feel good or to be liked. Her approach to being persuasive relies on reason and evidence.