How can they not see it?
We’ve all been in conversations with people where we are astonished how they “just don’t get it”. It can be very frustrating and exhausting. This holds true for all sorts of situations, but we are going to restrict ourselves to the area of dealing with skeptics when it comes to discussing the Christian worldview.
When someone just doesn’t see something, it can be for various reasons. Sometimes they do clearly “see it” because it truly is obvious to them as well, but their pride will not allow them to admit it, so they continue to argue against it. Sometimes they have resisted for so long they actually start to believe their own erroneous point of view, in spite of the fact it may be absurd. Sometimes highly-charged emotions get in the way of being able to clearly, rationally think through the core issue. Sometimes they are so spiritually-blinded they are not capable of “seeing it.” There is certainly some level of spiritual-blinding occurring with all skeptics. And finally, sometimes they just truly don’t get it. This could be because we have not done the best job of explaining the issue, or in some cases, the other person lacks the necessary intelligence to comprehend the topic at hand.
In this brief article, I want to explore some of these reasons a bit further and offer advice as to how to more effectively communicate with the skeptic regarding critically important topics that will have a direct effect on their eternity.
One initial point I want to make is not to get too serious or be overly dogmatic about issues that are far from the core fundamentals of the Christian faith. For instance, if you find yourself in a conversation regarding drinking alcohol, this can obviously quickly escalate and cause further division between yourself and the skeptic. However, the misuse or abuse of alcohol isn’t really the ultimate problem facing the skeptic. Their relationship with Christ is what’s most important, and if that get’s corrected, other issues, such as alcohol abuse, can be properly addressed and corrected with the assistance of the Holy Spirit. We don’t “fix” people’s behaviors and subsequently introduce them to Christ. It should be the other way around (in most cases).
So, since there are various reasons why someone “might not see it,” how do you figure out which reason you might be dealing with in any given situation? The best way is through asking deeper follow-up questions.
I have a friend who is also in fulltime ministry, and he will often point-blank ask the skeptic, “If it turns out what I am saying is actually true, would you submit your life to Jesus Christ?” The response he gets is usually, “No, I still wouldn’t.” That’s a pretty strong indicator the skeptic isn’t interested in pursuing truth. They would much rather stay in their comfortable cocoon, feeling they’ll be just fine without having to change their views on anything.
If, on the other hand, the skeptic tells you they would commit their life to Christ if the things you are sharing are true, then you can head in a different direction with your follow-up questions. I would then ask, “What are your biggest reasons for [fill in the blank… not believing in God, rejecting the Divine inspiration of the Bible, believing Jesus is not the Son of God, etc.]?” You want to ask this question to ensure you don’t end up spending too much time discussing things that, even by the skeptic’s own admission aren’t really the issue.
What about times where you get the feeling the skeptic is so deeply entrenched that they truly, sincerely believe they are right in spite of the fact that some of their claims are borderline absurd? This can be challenging because you wonder if you are dealing with someone who is even capable of being rational. I was in a 3-hour conversation with an atheist, and at one point, we were discussing evidence of design in the world around us. I mentioned the enormous volume and complexity of information found in the DNA inside the cells of all living creatures and organisms. His response? “What information? There’s no information in DNA!” To be honest, his response caught me off-guard. I certainly was not expecting him to make such a bold, counter-intuitive claim. At the time, I wasn’t even sure where to go with that. It’s somewhat like being in a heated conversation with someone, only to have them half-way through tell you that they don’t even exist! (It’s not that there aren’t brilliant responses to claims like these, it’s just that you’re not always ready with the perfect answer to something you would never have dreamed would be said by the person you are talking to.) In my case, the atheist I was meeting with was told by someone else, “There’s no information in DNA and Christians who make that claim are extremely ignorant!” He was simply repeating something he heard from someone else.
With all this in mind, the most significant factor causing others “to not see it” is the “spiritual blinding” aspect. We read in 2 Corinthians 4:4, “the god of this world [Satan] hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.” And in 1 Corinthians 2:14, Paul writes, “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”
Jesus is the “light of the world” (John 8:12) and is ultimately the unbeliever’s only hope. The more we can share Scripture, the more effective we will be in our attempts to reach the lost. I am not down-playing apologetics and the use of reason and evidence when witnessing. I am simply saying the true power comes from the Word of God and not our own clever arguments.
Since this is the “December” Question of the Month, let’s commit to making a concerted effort to use this season to initiate conversations with others, with the end-goal of sharing Christ as their Savior, trusting the Holy Spirit to do all the “heavy lifting!”