How to Respond to Plentiful Questions by Inquirers Regarding the Verity of Christian Theism
Have you struggled with how to respond since you care for the lost, yet you only have a limited amount of time during your week?
This post offers some ideas that may help. And we ask the reader to offer any other suggestions or ideas relating to this challenging and often troubling matter. Perhaps this post will also assist everyday-Christians in their outreach with friends, family, and beyond.
A Christian blogger asked the following question on an Apologetics FaceBook page:
Someone by means of my contact form asked me a few questions. After I responded, he has sent me a constant stream of links to atheist sites (some written about me, others about creation issues and such) paired with the question: “Can this be refuted?”
I believe that he has a seeking heart that has been exposed to some questions, doubts, and/or apologetics. At this point, I’m unsure how to approach the situation. I don’t have the time to keep up with his e-mails (4+ emails daily), so I’ve largely just tried to respond broadly.
Many diverse apologists responded. Below are some of the more helpful ideas.
1. I would ask the person if they are being genuine. If it appears that they are a sincere pursuer of truth, then you can redirect them to websites that focus on apologetics. Many sites and blogs have an abundance of material that should help those who are genuinely interested in Christianity.
2. Here’s one possible approach:
You seem to have many good questions and I’m happy to try to help, but I work and have other commitments so I do not have enough time to answer four emails a day. Perhaps we can pick one question per week and really investigate it thoroughly. If that’s too slow for you, I can recommend some websites and books so that you can do some reading and study to help answer some of these questions on your own.
Please note: I generally find dialogues of creation issues to be the least profitable ones to have with people over the internet.
3. You may want to start by telling him what you just told us. You might also point him to other apologetics websites; perhaps give him a broader base of support.
4. I’m sure you already know this, but I’ll repeat it anyway: This man’s ability to believe is not dependent on you providing exhaustive answers. Do what you can and leave the rest in God’s hands. And pray. Too often I have kept silent because I could not provide a perfect answer. I’m learning that my response doesn’t need to be perfect, but it does need to be genuine.
5. An approach I’ve followed has been to answer questions on my blog rather than by email. That way I get double duty out of what I write.
6. I struggle with also. I struggle between wanting to try and answer questions of genuine questioners as well as Christians who are struggling with doubt. Part of my objective is for people to be able to answer these questions themselves. They need to learn how to do the research instead of just receiving a quick answer. Sure we all need the occasional quick answer, but just like we can’t call up William Lane Craig every time we need an answer, neither can we always be expected to be there for others in the same manner. Because of the vast internet resources, answers to just about every objection are available with a little searching. People need to learn how to find the answers on their own.
7. Often, I have people say: “I’m a huge fan of your website, can you point me to some other good apologetics resources?” To which I wonder, have they ever actually even BEEN on my website and looked around–even a little?
8. One thing that helps me, as well as the one asking me questions, is to ask them hard questions back:
- Do you believe in moral absolutes—why or why not?
- Do you have strong reasons to affirm Darwinism and if so what are they?
- Do you have any attraction to materialism?
- What atheist do you think makes the best case and why?
- Do you affirm that there may be solid proof for God’s existence?
- Have you heard any of the evidence concerning the resurrection of Christ–what do you think is the most compelling?
I aim to ask any inquirer more questions than they ask me as I try to make my questions relate to what they asked. One of my goals is to make my questions to them difficult to answer (but within the range of their ability). Often this gently forces them to investigate and find answers themselves as it teaches them to think; it also may filter out the pretenders. This works well for me and many times for the inquirer too.
9. The answers everyone has furnished have been very helpful to me:
- Pointing the inquirer to other websites
- Recommending books
- Turning the emails into posts
- Crowdsourcing in the CAA
- Setting the pace
- Knowing when to say no
- Asking good questions back. – Thanks for the great ideas.
10. I have discovered that the most important question is: What would it take for you to believe in God?
The reason for this question: Generally speaking, people want an unreasonable amount of evidence or evidence of a certain kind. I’ve had people answer this with: “I would believe in God if he showed up in front of people and we could videotape it and have a direct observation.” When people answer the question this way, I gently end the conversation. There is no point in trying to give various arguments that are not going to be persuasive to one seeking unreasonable evidence.
Furthermore, I agree that asking questions is a better way to go than trying to inundate the person with arguments.
Do You have any suggestions or ideas regarding this challenging and often troubling matter?? Please comment.
The great majority of these fine answers were not mine but were extracted from a post and the comments on Apologetics Bloggers Alliance (6/24/2012). ABA is a place where one can find interesting conversations and potent resources relating to apologetics. I did not add the commenters’ names for a host of reasons. Additionally, I edited only where it was deemed necessary without changing the meaning of the comments.
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