What Non-Christians Think About The Bible & How Their View Should Inform How We Share Our Faith
I want you imagine meeting a person for the first time when they tell you either:
- Where they are from, or
- What sport team they root for, or
- What their favorite food is, or
- Who they voted for in the last presidential election, and…
Their response causes you to react, in a less than favorable way.
Imagine next that they begin telling you why:
- Where they are from is great—yet in your mind it is one of the worst places on earth; or,
- Their sports team is the best—yet it is your arch-rival; or,
- Their favorite food is delicious—but it makes you nauseous; or,
- Their flavor of politics is great—however you believe it is the root problem with our country.
Would you listen, really listen, to anything they had to say?
If you answer yes, then you are a better person than most. Most of us would spend a substantial amount of concentration to simply remain calm.
We are left with little brain capacity to even focus our disapproval on their ill-formed views!
Perhaps you think I am being dramatic. I start with this thought because often when Jesus’ followers are asked “Why do we believe “_______”?” We start our answer with, “Because the Bible says so.”
At that moment you have most likely tripped the non-believer’s brain to the frenetic state described.
Why? Not only because non-believers don’t believe in the authority of the Bible, but they don’t even believe it is accurate.
It is for this reason that I suggest that while we have our Biblical view clearly in mind, we do not start with the Bible as our authority—rather we end with it.
Let’s take an example: evolution versus creation.
You engage a non-believer and in the course of the discussion they find you are a follower of Jesus.
Non-believer: “Oh, you’re a Christian! You don’t believe in creation, do you?”
Your response: “That is a great question. What do you believe in?”
Non-believer: “Evolution, period!”
Your response: “Neat, the idea of evolution is fascinating. To be clear, when you say ‘evolution’, what do you mean?”
Non-believer: “Huh? I mean the world was started by a bang, and from that everything has evolved.”
Your response: “Okay. So, you believe there was a specific point in time when there was, well, nothing, and then there was something.
Non-believer: They might respond, “Yes”, or perhaps reiterate the “big bang”.
Your response: “Neat”, and then you might move to, “When I think of evolution, I think of the small changes that happen within a species over long periods of time.”
Non-believer: “Well sure, so do I.”
Your response: “The fascinating thing is the science, today, is showing there is “not enough time” for humans to have evolved from say, a fish, even with the oldest dating of that Big Bang—it is not adding up.”
“In fact, it is the “big bang theory” that started scientists down this path to reach this conclusion…”
Let me stop this hypothetical discussion here.
We will unpack this specific situation in a later post. The point of the above is to show a few things:
- Just because you don’t start with “The Bible says…”, doesn’t mean you are throwing out the Bible.
- We use information from the world they live in to help them better understand what they believe. We take this approach not to demean or degrade them. Rather, it is to help them think through what they believe – and we will learn.
- Afterall, the world they live in was designed, created and is being sustained—by Almighty God. And you and I know that if we are looking to make sense of this world – it is God’s Word that actually makes sense of it.
- In fact, when science finds Truth, it gives glory to the Author of Truth.
- In the end, BECAUSE THE BIBLE IS TRUE, the biblical view will be shown that not only is it not preposterous. Rather, it is at least as plausible, and more often than not, more plausible, than the predominant views held by people today.
I will return, in just a moment, to unpack this comment about “plausibility”, but first let me tie up the point I am trying to make.
When discussing ideas with a non-believer, we start with discussing their beliefs (the ideas they are “pre-supposing”) in order to find a time to share our beliefs.
→ We start the discussion from their presuppositional values
→ With the aim of sharing our biblical presuppositional values.
By starting with their belief system, we allow their minds to engage.
Note I did not say “argue”. I said “discuss”.
Often you will hear Christians use technical phrases when it comes to this idea of sharing our faith. We might say, “Oh, you are using evidentiary apologetics, I use biblical presuppositional apologetics.”
I write those words not to try and impress anyone, but instead to make two points.
Point One: I am not trying to have an argument. If I were, I would muster the mountains of evidence that exists supporting a Biblical view and crush my opponent.
They are not my opponent. They are a lost sheep, just as I once was. Instead, I am trying to have a discussion that invites the person to think about why they believe what they believe. Most people cannot tell you why they hold the beliefs they do.
Point Two: When they actually think about the issues and questions of the world logically, from their point of view, it surfaces all sorts of internal conflicts for them—without ever mentioning the Bible. That is what happens when real truth is brought into the mix—the sort of truth that comes from God and the Scriptures.
With truth simply shared (without ever referencing the Bible), the logical next step is they come face to face with their beliefs (and usually ask you yours).
In the end the truth of God’s Word leads to one of three outcomes:
- The world, as the Bible describes, now makes more sense to them—they are now considering God’s Word as a place to turn when in search of answers.
- The world, as the Bible describes, is now at least plausible—they are not dismissing God’s Word out of hand.
- The world, as the Bible describes,
Which, for today, just leaves plausibility and one other thought.
I tried to describe above an approach to a conversation that gets a person first making sure they can actually describe what they believe and why they believe it. You will learn much about them.
This approach will surface logical inconsistencies for which you have the answer. You will make a Biblical explanation plausible—something now, for the person, a possibility for perhaps the first time.
The manner we engage make believing in Jesus a plausible possibility.
Before you react—you and I both know Jesus is the Savior of the world – but that is a step of faith (even though we believe it in our bones).
In many smaller ways, you and I live taking steps of faith every day because view things as plausible. You and I drive over bridges, in tunnels, turn on stoves—all by acts of faith. Not blind faith, but faith none the less. Following Jesus is not blind faith—but it is faith.
“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it the elders obtained a good testimony. By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.”
In the end we must all take a step of faith to believe in God and His Son. It is not a Blind Faith. Rather it is well informed. Romans 1 tells us that the evidence is all around us—which means the Bible points to the world we live in as evidence of God—and so should we.
I indicated I had one last point.
I want to address a thought you might be having, “David is being too soft, he ought to be more direct.”
If you are having the reaction, I understand. However, let me start with a question. I am not sure how you came to faith. If a person introduced you to Jesus, and before the Holy Spirit took over, how did they engage you?
For me, they engaged me where I was in my life. They did not demand I agree that tithing is a sound principle that I must first accept before I come to Jesus.
Yes, I said “tithing”. I use this to point out that some of us will drive people away because we make believing in a long list of Biblical truths a prerequisite for accepting Jesus.
In this series, you (and me) are going to trying to find avenues into people’s hearts and minds, not compromising Biblical truth, but praying about how and when to take people the next step.