By Scott Keith –
Not so long ago, right here on The Jagged Word, I made an offer to show up at any church within a reasonable distance of my house and participate in a Q & A session with any group of unbelievers a congregation could gather. So far, I have been invited to one congregation in Los Angeles and one Skype interview with a college from the University of Alabama. Needless to say, I am grateful for the opportunity to speak to real people who have real questions about life, faith, and salvation.
So, what type of questions did I expect to get during this sessions? Well, I’m not sure how to answer that. Part of me anticipated getting at least a few “life application” type questions. Another part of me expected to get at least a few “standard” apologetic questions, much like we are covering on the latest episodes of the Thinking Fellows podcast series on apologetics.
So, what types of questions have I gotten? Well, they’ve been all over the spectrum. Here is a sample of questions that I will attempt to address on Tuesday night in the forthcoming Skype interview.
- Why was Jesus baptized?
- Did Adam have a belly button?
- A book says that there is no archaeological evidence for the Israelite exodus from Egypt or for the city of Jericho. Is this true? Does it matter?
- Jesus cursed the fig tree. Does this means Christianity is hostile to the environment?
- Is it in agreement with Paul’s letters to Timothy, Titus, and the Corinthians for women to teach co-ed Sunday school?
- “I was sorta raised Roman Catholic, but I’ve just never understood how people are spiritual–like how they believe and feel all that.”
- How do you respond when someone says “You actually believe in God?” and “Religion is the opiate of the masses”?
My point in bringing all of this to your attention is to show that the questions that people have regarding the faith are often not of the high-browed, philosophical nature. More often than not, they are everyday questions about everyday things. Even though they often prevent people from accepting the one true faith, the questions are of a “basic” kind.
This is good news for all of us. It means that the apologetic task is not something in which only the overly educated can engage. Rather, it means that all Christians can feel free to share the faith with those they know and love who hold real and genuine doubts and be confident that, in most cases, their questions are not too far removed from everyday experience. In other words, be bold and be confident. After all, it not like we are being asked to spread a Gospel which is not true. On the contrary, the message we share is the truth. Though the objections of those who struggle with doubt are real, they are not insurmountable.
Our mandate is clear: “I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.” (1 Timothy 4:2) Be bold, but be patient, and be ready to give an answer (an apologia). “But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect…” (1 Peter 3:15)
As I wrap up, I ask you to notice Paul’s description of how we are to approach our task. He says: “be ready,” “reprove,” and “rebuke” when necessary. But he also says: use “patience,” be “prepared,” and use “gentleness,” as well as “respect.” In other words, don’t be a jerk. We share a message of hope, freedom, and salvation in Christ. This is the “Good News.” Thus, we approach our task knowing we share hope and truth with as much kindness and graciousness as our simultaneous saint and sinner butts can muster.
May the peace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ be with you as you go out to share that hope which is within all of you.