Friday, December 27, 2013

How to share the gospel?

Over at Charisma News, Greg Stier wrote an article entitled How to Share the Gospel With an Atheist. Some of what he says is refreshingly non-combative. Yet, he goes on to undo all his good, with ridiculous statements and claims. I'll try and ignore the stereotypical angry guy stock photo he used, and instead focus on the content. Let's look at his 'five points for sharing the gospel with an
1. Don’t be shocked, and do ask tons of questions. Some atheists like to shock Christians with the fact that they don’t believe in God. This brand of atheist pulls the pin on the “There is no God”grenade and drops it in the middle of the conversation, expecting Christians to run for cover.

Don’t be phased. As a matter of fact, start asking questions about their atheism. Find out what they mean by atheism (some are agnostics but call themselves atheists). Ask questions about their background. Were they raised in church? Do they have any Christian friends? Where were they educated about atheism?
Shock atheists? I suppose atheists of that sort could exist. But when I drop the bomb that I'm an atheist, it's not to try and scare anyone. Rather, it's to stay true to myself and be honest.

I actually welcome the advice to ask questions of atheists. Maybe that way, some of the false stigmas will fall by the wayside. However, it sounds like Greg needs to follow his own advice. If I were to answer his questions, I was raised in the Catholic church. Most of my friends are Christian. And I can tell you that my answers to these questions are pretty typical (though the branch of Christianity may differ).

But his question about how one was educated about atheism is an odd one. I guess he didn't ask many people this question, because atheism isn't like Christianity. We don't go to an atheist church, with an atheist preacher, that tells us stories of atheism. That's because atheism isn't a religion. Atheism is simply the lack of a belief in gods. There really isn't anything to learn. Sure, you can learn arrguments against religions, but that's a different topic that atheism in and of itself.
2. Listen deeply for the real “why.” Often atheists have a reason (other than “reason") for
becoming atheists. Listen for it. Sometimes it’s anger over losing a loved one. Other times it’s that they were hurt by the church in some way. But often there’s a “why” behind the lie they are embracing.
Personally, I don't know of anyone who is an atheist because of something bad happening to them, or having a negative experience with their church. In fact, I wouldn't even consider those good reasons for being an atheist. In my case, and those that i know, I am an atheist due to a lack of evidence to believe in the Christian god, or any other gods for that matter.

Greg claims that there's a reason other than 'reason' why we don't believe. Well maybe there's a reason other than 'reason' why he doesn't believe in Santa. Maybe the real reason he doesn't believe in Santa because he never got the drum set he wanted as a child.
3. Connect relationally. Atheists are real people with real feelings. They laugh, cry, talk and connect like anyone else. I think that too many times, Christians treat atheists as objects and not people.
He's spot on here. We are people just like everyone else. So don't treat us as sub-human like many of your brethren do. Set a better example, so that we may have more meaningful dialog.
4. Assume that, down deep inside, they do believe in God. I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who genuinely rejects the existence of God. Sure, I’ve met many who have claimed God’s existence to be a lie, but I’m convinced that, down deep inside, they really do believe there’s a God.Why do I believe that? Because Scripture makes it clear in
Romans 1:18-21 that there are no real atheists.
What hubris... Sorry to disappoint, but I don't  secretly believe is the Christian god just because of something the Bible says. The Bible is the very thing in question. Would he agree that there are ice giants? After all, the Norse beliefs say that there are. So it musty be true! Other faith make claims as well, so I guess a claim in an old book means that it's true?

What if I were to say that I don't think there are any real Christians. That deep down they know that none of it is true. Then as proof I offer the fact that Christians are all still afraid of death. If they really believed, they'd know they are going to Heaven and not be afraid. So tell me, how does it feel to have the tables turned.
They may try to suppress their belief in God, but sooner or later in the discussion, atheists say something like, “Well, if God is so good, then why does He allow ... ?” This is the point in the conversation where they have “forgotten” their atheism and revealed some of their challenges with not the reality of God but the nature of God.
 Sigh... Some people just don't understand hypothetical discussion. When an atheist talks about if the Bible is moral, you talk about it as if it were true. To compare it to reality to see what it would mean if the stories were true. Think about it like when you are discussing and work of fiction. What if I were to say that Sherlock Holmes is amazingly smart, yet rather full of himself? By saying that, am I somehow admitting that I secretly believe in the great detective. Or what if I said the The Doctor is amazingly clever, and an example to all? What if I state sympathy for Lyra and Will? What if I comment on the character displayed by James Bond? Do any of these statements mean I secretly believe they are real? Of course not! The same is true with mentioning God in such a manner.
If this is your idea of a love story, you have problems.
5. Frame the gospel as a love story (that just happens to be true).
A love story? Seriously? How many love stories do you know of that start out by telling you that you are horrible and deserve eternal torture, includes a few genocides, and then ends with a brutal human sacrifice. Sorry, but the gospel is not a love story.

Greg Stier said a few positive things in his article, but it's pretty clear that he still has a lot to learn, and a lot more questions to ask.

-Brain Hulk

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