Which makes more sense?
I like questions. Many people do. It allows the person we are speaking with to share their thoughts. Many people love to offer their opinions on things, sometimes on just about everything!
Questions can also be annoying if we don’t use them in the right way. I had a friend who would often push the limits with his parents and really get under their skin. One day his father, who was already extremely frustrated, asked his son, in a very stern tone, “Must you ALWAYS answer every one of my questions with another question?” “What do you mean?” came the reply from his son! You have to know when to stop, but I’m not sure my friend had developed that sensitivity.
One of the best ways to know what questions to ask a skeptic is to simply listen to what they are saying. Too often, skeptics make various claims, and the Christian is so overly anxious to share what they believe, they don’t really listen to what the skeptic is saying. One of the easiest things to do is to ask follow-up questions, which leads us to the Question of the Month.
Skeptics often tell me that as long as they are good enough, doing more good than bad, they’ll gain entrance into heaven. This belief is very typical and never comes as a surprise. The follow-up question I ask is, “How do you know that’s the requirement?” Their response is, more often than not, “Well, that’s what I think.” I then ask another very critical follow-up question. “Which makes more sense; that God would judge people based on whatever standard each person came up with, or He would judge them based on His own standards?” To this day, every single skeptic has agreed that it makes more sense that God would use His own standards.
My next question is always, “With that in mind,” (i.e., their response), “Do you think it would be very important to figure out exactly what God’s standards are?” In one sense, the skeptic, at this point, is trapped. If they say, “No,” they are obviously being inconsistent with their own logic. On the other hand, if they say, “Yes,” they may feel compelled to pursue this further, but most likely, they don’t want to. My goal in all of this isn’t to lead them into a trap; it’s to make them think a bit deeper and ultimately lead them to the truth of the Gospel message.
My next step is usually to make the point that studying nature can certainly lead us to the logical conclusion that the immensely complex world we live in cannot possibly be the result of an accident. However, learning about the intricacies of DNA or the complexities of the human brain cannot reveal who created us, or why they created us, or what our eternal destiny is. The only way we could know that would be if whoever created us “left us a note.” It just so happens, that’s exactly what the Bible claims to be. In a sense, it’s a note from God telling us (a) He is our Creator, (b) why He created us, (c) what happened to taint His original creation, and (d) what happens to us when we die.
I usually mention the fact that I could easily write a book answering each of those questions and claiming those answers were from God Himself. What evidence could I offer to back up such a tremendous claim? That’s where you would hear crickets chirping! In stark contrast, the Bible offers many lines of evidence to back up its over 8,000 claims of Divine inspiration. I’ve touched on those evidences before and have a 5-part video series (DVD and streaming video) entitled, The Inspiration of the Bible.
Another option with the skeptic is to revisit their initial response, in which they indicated the requirement for entering heaven was “doing more good than bad.” A logical question would be, “How much more good than bad?” And, “Does one tremendously good deed offset numerous minor bad things?” And even more importantly, “How do you determine if something is good?” If they lean toward the concept of “majority opinion,” that can get them into trouble for many reasons. One of the more extreme examples would be the tragedy of the Holocaust. The majority of Germans (and others) viewed the Jews as not being fully human and were in favor of, or at least tolerant of, killing them! Was that a good thing because it was the majority view? And do we survey to determine the majority country-by-country or state-by-state? Maybe it should be counties within each state. And how often do you survey or vote because people’s opinions change over time? Do we vote once every ten years? Once every year?
You can see we have opened a veritable “can of worms.” There’s really no ultimate basis for determining right and wrong, good and evil. In fact, the only way something could be truly evil is if there existed a singular standard that was truly good, and everything was judged against it. Skeptics don’t believe in an ultimate absolute standard. Everything is relative in their mind.
I do not believe for one second the line of reasoning I just presented is sufficient to change the skeptic’s mind. However, I do believe it will “put a pebble in their shoe,” causing them to think a bit deeper and potentially question their current belief system. Ultimately, it’s the job of the Holy Spirit to bring conviction.
And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment (John 16:8).
It’s part of God’s design for us (i.e., Christians) to be involved in the process.
How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, Who bring glad tidings of good things!” (Romans 10:14-15)
This is just a mini-lesson in critical thinking and biblical application. Hopefully, it will aid you in sharing your faith with those God brings into your life.