There is an associate of mine who will be leaving my place of employment soon, so I took him out to lunch. Over the 3 years he’s been working there, we’ve had many opportunities to speak about Christ and the Christian worldview (some of those conversations are posted elsewhere on this blog). While we were having lunch (I paid of course :)), I asked him, after our many conversations about Christianity, what was still holding him back from becoming a Christian. During the course of the ensuing conversation, here are the objections that were raised. I’ve purposely left out my responses so that I might cause you to ponder what your responses would’ve been.
- The language of the Bible is “antiquated”
- Christianity is too simple
- God – an old man with a beard
- Jesus – what does he matter to me (just a guy that lived 2000 years ago)
- Doesn’t understand why Jesus is the only way, why not Buddha or some other religious leader?
- Doesn’t believe in hell – thinks hell is only something that Christians use to scare people.
- Doesn’t believe in sin.
- Doesn’t believe fornication is a sin.
- How can it be fair – we’ve never been told the commandments and now we’re supposed to understand we’ve broken them?
- What if you search for God and Jesus and can’t find them?
- Doesn’t believe that Jesus was sinless.
- Had a problem with original sin.
- If it is true that we are born sinful, why wasn’t Jesus sinful?
- Are all other religions wrong? That’s arrogant.
- Believes he’s a good person.
- Why doesn’t God just let everyone into heaven?
- Jesus isn’t God. He stated “He’s the Son of God!” very emphatically.
- [after I made a case for the deity of Jesus] Who was Jesus paying when he paid for our sins? Wasn’t it just God paying God – God paying himself?
- Doesn’t believe that Jesus existed.
- If Jesus did exist, he doesn’t think he was resurrected – resurrections are impossible – come on Steve, you are logically minded.
- Thinks there is some kind of God, but not the Christian God.
- Even if there is a God who created the universe, doesn’t believe that a miracle like a resurrection is possible – just wishful thinking.
- His boss was a hypocrite – wanted to pray at lunch and tell him about Jesus, but then was telling him about the $20,000 boat he was going to buy – shouldn’t he be giving that money to the poor?
There were more objections raised, but I just can’t remember them.
The night after this conversation occurred, our weekly men’s Bible study was scheduled, so I hijacked about 30 minutes of the session and handed out a copy of these objections to the 5 other guys who were there (from almost all generations – we had an 18 year old, a 22 year old, someone in their 40’s, 2 in their 50’s [including me] and 1 in his 60’s). We took time to go over these objections one at a time and I asked them how they would respond. As they gave answers, I pressed them when the answers given were insufficient. For example, when they said “you just gotta have faith”, I reminded them that other religions can say the same thing (e.g. Mormonism, Islam, etc). When they said “because it says it in the Bible”, I pressed them to tell me why I should believe the Bible over the Book of Mormon or the Koran or any other holy book for that matter. When they said that “you need to pray to God and ask if it is true”, I pushed back and told them that Mormons will tell you the exact same thing about the Book of Mormon, that you need to read it and then pray to God and ask if it is true. I didn’t let them off the hook easily. There were definitely some good answers given. In fact, I really liked how one of the guys came up with several questions he’d like to ask my associate to challenge his world view and how he came to his conclusions (Colombo type questions – “what do you mean by that”, “how did you come to that conclusion”). Although there were some good answers given, overall, I felt there was a lot of room for improvement.
Near the end of this session, I was letting them know that if they gave answers like this they’d be getting their butts kicked. I used that prospect of “getting their butts kicked” to encourage them to invest some time in becoming prepared to answer objections. I assured them there are good answers to these objections and that I would forward them my responses at a later time. When I was talking to the 22 year old at Church yesterday, he said he really enjoyed the men’s group on Thursday night and would love to do more of that. He was motivated to learn the answers and become prepared. I encouraged him to just start with a modest goal of reading the links that J. Warner Wallace posts on his twitter page (https://twitter.com/jwarnerwallace) every day.
I certainly can’t claim that this idea is original. I was inspired by listening to a J. Warner Wallace podcast where he had his son Jimmy (I think) pretend to be a “winsome” atheist and brought in a youth group to see if they could counter the objections being raised. The purpose of that encounter (same as mine at the men’s group) was to show them their need – that they are not prepared to answer the kind of objections they’ll be receiving.