The Top Ten Objections to Christianity

I can read down this list like one of David Letterman’s top ten lists, if you like.  See if you’d agree that these are the most frequently voiced objections to the Christian faith, and if you have another one or two that you think should be on this list, send them in to me and we’ll deal with that on a later info-report too.

So, in reverse order of how frequently skeptics bring these up, from our experience:


Question number 10:  If God exists, why doesn’t He show Himself to me?

Question 9 I divided into 9a and 9b; they both have to do with the perception that the Old Testament God is a God of wrath.

9a.  Your OT God is a God of wrath, and then He becomes a God of love in the NT; you can’t get your story straight.

9b.  How could it ever be right for God to order Israel to kill people?

Objection number 8:  Saying God created the universe doesn’t answer anything; who created God?

Number 7.  I believe that Jesus was a good teacher — but that’s all.

Number 6.  What makes you think the whole Bible is true?

Question 5. Why would anyone in his right mind want to choose a religion that makes you so narrow-minded?

4.  How can I take the Bible seriously when it teaches that the universe was created in six days a few thousand years ago?

3.  What about people who have never heard your gospel?  This goes together with number 2, and if you put these together I wonder if these might not be the number one, most frequently asked question:

Number 2:  With all the religions in the world, how can you be so arrogant as to claim to have the right one?

And finally the number 1 most frequently asked question among skeptics:
How could a good God allow such evil and suffering?

Okay, let’s jump right into that number one question:

1.  How could a good God allow such evil and suffering?

And this is a Biblical question.  Gideon asked, "O my lord, if the Lord is with us, why then has all this [this hardship] happened to us" (Judges 6:13)?

The most famous formulation of this question comes from Scottish philosopher David Hume, who was quoting Epicurus before him:  “Is God willing to prevent evil but not able?  Then he is impotent.  Is he able but not willing?  Then he is malevolent.  Is he both able and willing? Whence then is evil?”  Or the real question:  Where is God?
Now the first thing to do with any argument you wan to examine is to take it apart, and in this case we see a syllogism.  A syllogism is just two premises and a conclusion, and you always want to see if the premises are really true and if the conclusion logically follows.  So let’s examine the premises behind this argument:

Premise 1:  A good and omnipotent God would prevent all evil.
Premise 2:  Evil exists.
Conclusion:  Therefore, a good and omnipotent God cannot exist.

This is a logically sound argument — if you don’t get two picky — the conclusion logically follows from the premises.  But what about the premises?  Most people who are taken in by this do so because they go right by that first premise.  But would a good and all-powerful God necessarily prevent all evil? 

Can you think of any other reasons, besides God being malevolent or not very powerful, for Him to allow evil?

Some of the best ways to see the Biblical answer is first to look at some of the non-Biblical answers.  How do other worldviews solve the problem?

FIRST, there’s what I call the  “SEE NO EVIL” WORLDVIEW.  Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of the denomination or cult called Christian Science, simply denied that evil exists; that is, evil is illusory.

Hinduism and Buddhism take the same tack, which is a difficult one to take, when you try to explain to the parents of a child who’s the victim of a horrible crime.  Try telling them:  “Well, it’s not really a bad thing.”

SECOND, there’s the position that says:  GOD ISN’T ALL-POWERFUL.  Rabbi Harold Kushner wrote a very popular book called:  Why bad things happened to Good People.  His solution is to opt for a finite god.  His god is limited in power or intelligence; so he can’t be blamed for evil in the world.

THIRD, there’s the atheistic view that says:  THERE IS NO GOD AND NO POINT TO SUFFERING.  So once again, you’re at the funeral of someone who has just lost a loved one and you try to comfort them by saying:  “Don’t feel bad.  Your mom’s gone but, there was really no point to her life anyway.”

So how do you show that that first premise is wrong, about a good God not allowing any suffering or evil?

The first answer is:  The alternatives are worse, and don’t line up with what experience has taught us about evil.  The Biblical God is distinct from the universe and its evils, unlike pantheism and polytheism.  The Biblical God faces the problem of evil; pantheism asks us to deny that evil exists; it’s maya, that is, an illusion.

A second point is:  The alternative to the possibility of evil is a universe without free-willed beings.   Might there be a reason for a good and all-powerful God to want us to have the freedom to make bad choices?  Certainly this is the only way to permit the existence of beings who truly have wills of their own, meaning they can even use their wills against God and against one another.

Third point:  God may have morally sufficient reasons to allow evil temporarily for a greater, eternal good.  Visiting the dentist may be unpleasant, but that doesn’t make your dentist a sadist, as C. S. Lewis has pointed out.

And last point:  Since no purely intellectual answer will ever satisfy many of us, especially for people who are in the midst of suffering, it’s good to understand that the alternative to a God that allows evil and suffering is even worse, on an emotional level.  The alternative is that evil and suffering are completely senseless and serve no purpose.

My favorite short answer on the problem of evil would be:  The notion that a good and all-powerful God wouldn’t allow any evil or suffering is only a problem if you’re sure that God couldn’t have any higher purposes for us than to simply make the universe as cushy and comfortable for us as possible.


Question number 2.  With all the religions in the world, how can you be so arrogant as to claim to have the right one?

Okay, first, is this really a problem and are we really claiming to have one way?  Yes, we do. 

John 14:6:  “Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

Acts 4:12:  “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.”

So are we being arrogant to claim to have the one right way to heaven?
The answer is: There are a lot of laws and rules in physics and math that are the only right ones to apply to the situation; does that make us arrogant to apply them?  Can we choose among various laws of gravity to decide which ones we’d like to apply to us?  Should God’s laws be any different?

And when it comes to the matter of where a person will spend eternity, can he really go in two places at one time?  Do you think it’s possible to go to heaven and to be reincarnated as a cow at the same time?

So, for my main answer, I’d say this:  When it comes to the possibilities for the truth in matters where God is involved, there are two fundamental possibilities:   You decide which is closer to the truth: 

Possibility number 1: God is a cosmic blob, and we humans have the power to shape God into whatever we want.

Or possibility 2: God made us—we didn’t make Him. Therefore the way to God is up to Him, not us.  Now you decide which sounds more like the truth.

Sometimes the question is put this way:  How can it be fair for God to only allow people who accept Jesus to go to heaven?  And a short answer is: How would the alternative be fair?  Would it be fair if God brought everyone to heaven, whether or not he wanted to be with Him, with or without his heart?


Skeptical question number 3, which is related to the last one:  What about people who have never heard your gospel?

This may be an honest question, or the person may be looking for an excuse not to have to consider anything more about the claims of Christ.  If they can get you to show them that your God is unfair, or that people who join this belief system are extremists, their spiritual journey may stop right here before it has a chance to really begin.

So in the spirit of not being forced to play their game and not being made into an extremist, here’s one way to answer.  I’d point them to Christ’s words in Luke 13:29-30 and say:

Jesus tells us there will be people from all over the world in the kingdom of God.  He says: “People will come from east and west and north and south, and will take their places at the feast in the kingdom of God.” 

But in the next verse he says: “Indeed there are those who are last who will be first, and first who will be last.”  So he’s also telling us that many hypocritical co-called Christians who think they’ll be there won’t be.

In Matt. 7:21, he says, "Not everyone who says to me, `Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.”  These are also good verses to point out when skeptics complain about Christian hypocrites.  How can they argue with any of this?  Jesus’ words ring true.  And this isn’t the unfairness they were expecting.

The Bible also makes it clear that many saints who lived before Christ, who obviously didn’t know the name of Jesus, will also be in the kingdom.  And most believe that infants who die before an age of accountability can also be shown mercy.  So C.S. Lewis suggests that although no one “can be saved except through Christ, we do not know that only those who know the name of Jesus can be saved through Him.” 

On the other side, there are many Christians who believe that without knowing Christ, there is no further chance.  After all, no one deserves to have eternal life with God.

But the real concern isn’t whether God knows how to be fair.  The real issue is what you think of God.  Abraham asks, rhetorically: “Shall not the judge of all the earth do right?”  The real issue is, “Where are you going to place your faith?”  In yourself, or in Him?

And I think that’s a good way to finish that answer, whether you want to take C.S. Lewis’s more inclusivist viewpoint, or a more restrictivist one on the matter of whether unreached people all necessarily go to hell. xanax

The Bible is always directed at the people who are hearing the message, not the people who never will.  So you can certainly say:  If you know enough about Jesus to be concerned about the other people, you know enough to make a decision about Him yourself.


Question Number 4:  How can I take the Bible seriously when it teaches that the universe was created in six days a few thousand years ago?
Answer:  Unlike atheists, who have just one option for belief about how we got here (unguided evolution), the Bible believer has three broad options: (1) recent creation, (2) progressive creation (over millions of years), or (3) theistic evolution. Thus the atheist must try to make all evidence fit his one option, while the Bible believer can let the evidence lead him wherever it will.  So who’s the narrow-minded one?  And while we’re on the subject of narrow-mindedness:


Question 5.  Why would anyone in his right mind want to choose a religion that makes you so narrow-minded?

First:  The Bible is often mistakenly blamed when it’s just fallible people who are narrow-minded. 

Take the issue we must mentioned, of how life got here in all its diversity?  Again, who’s the narrow-minded one, between the one who has only one option for how we got here to the person who has many options and who’s free to let the evidence lead him wherever it will?

Or take the issue of whether extraterrestrial intelligence exists.  The materialist says there must be; otherwise we’re special, and that can’t be.  But again, the Christian has more options.  God could have created many civilizations out there and being an infinite God, have no trouble keeping track of each individual in each one.  Or He could have made the universe as huge as it is just for us.  So here’s another instance where being a Christian helps us start out without presuppositions, and we can let the evidence lead us where it may.

And if we are occasionally narrow when it comes to propositional truth:  That’s only to acknowledge that the truth is often very narrow indeed.  When we study logic, we learn that two contradictory statements can’t both be true in the same way.  That’s logic’s fundamental law of non-contradiction.  We also have laws in nature:  We don’t have many possible laws of gravity to choose from.  Realistic people acknowledge these laws.  When you step off the Empire State Building, you don’t break the law of gravity — the law of gravity breaks you.

The thing we’re most often accused of being narrow about in everyday life is this matter called sin.  When you refuse to participate in an activity that the world has no problem with but the Bible tells you not to, this can actually be an opportunity to tell people that what looks like narrow-mindedness is actually based on the most fundamental law that Christ came to emphasize:  the law of love.

Christ told us that all the law and the prophets could be summed up in two simple rules:  Love God.  Love your neighbor as yourself.  Paul said in 1 Cor. 16:14:  “Let all that you do be done in love.

Unbelievers bring up a whole host of objections to our faith where they have a different idea about what’s ethical than we do.  What about homosexuality?  What about premarital sex?

The Bible is very clear on those issues and we need to know where we stand.  And we can explain that we don’t do or encourage these things … because we love people; and real love doesn’t mean self-gratification, but doing what’s best for the other person, not using people.  We respect other people too much, we believe they’re made in the image of God, and so He knows best about what’s good for them. 

If we’re being narrow just because we like to be bigoted, that’s one thing; but if we’re scrupulous about our ethics because we love people, that gives us a whole different kind of reputation.  And that’s the reputation God wants us to have; that’s what creates an environment that warms people up to the gospel.


Question 6:  What makes you think the Bible is true?
Here we can answer with a question:  If God ever spoke to humans from ancient times, where else do you find more evidence for it?   Can you me one example of another sacred book that contains:

  1. more accurate history,
  2. more archaeological support,
  3. more fulfilled prophecy,
  4. more insistent claims of divine inspiration :  The Bible is filled with statements like: "Thus says the LORD," "The Word of the LORD," etc.—over 2,000 times within its pages. Most of the world’s major religions are founded upon writings that make little or no claim of divine inspiration.
  5. a higher plane of moral values than what Jesus taught (“No one ever spoke like this man.”)
  6. A religious founder who lived on a higher moral plane.
  7. So much evidence that the religion’s founder is God Himself (he claimed it: forgiving sins, accepting worship), and the prophecies about Him claim it (Isaiah 9, Daniel 7, etc.).
  8. A unique salvation that turns upside down all the other religions of the world.  While all the other religions give us things we must do to try to reach the divine, only in the Bible do we have this consistent message of how God reached us.

Another important fact is that the Bible is superior to all other ancient bodies of writings in fulfilling the four standard criteria that measure textual authenticity.  No other ancient texts are represented today by manuscript copies that (1) were composed so close to the time of the original, (2) are so great in number, (3) are so widely scattered geographically, and (4) are so alike in content and accurately transmitted over time.

So if someone says:  But how can you be so sure that the whole Bible is true, you might answer with this question:  How do you decide which parts to believe and not to believe? If you disbelieve the supernatural parts: Is it reasonable to believe that the God who created the entire universe would have a problem doing miracles?
Some say they trust God—they just don’t trust His Word. Can you honestly say you trust someone if you don’t trust his word? Would you say: “I trust my friend Jerry. I just can’t trust anything he says”?

And again, the best way to lead someone toward the gospel with this question is to point out the Bible’s uniqueness in its message:  The Bible separates itself from all the rest by claiming that salvation does not come from our work, but from His.  Which sounds more like a work of man, the texts that tells us how we’re basically good and give us a thousand different ways to reach God, or the one book that consistently tells us that we’re separated from God by our sin and God has provided a way to reach us?


Objection Number 7:  I believe that Jesus was a good teacher — but that’s all.

So we can ask: Why was Jesus get Himself crucified?   For being a great teacher?  You don’t get crucified for that.
What we want to do here is to get people to think about the few things most skeptics agree are a fact of history about Jesus:  Yes, he was a good teacher, but what was His teaching about, and what could He have said that would have gotten Him crucified? ultram

Everything we know about Jesus’ life tells us that Jesus was truly innocent of any possible charges except one:  No one says he was charged with any regular crime, like murder (and we know he had a reputation for being morally above reproach); he couldn’t have been charged with actually leading a rebellion against Rome (we know he taught people to render to Caesar what is Caesar, and we know his greatest follower taught soldiers not to complain about their wages), and yet, he was charged with sedition.  Why? 

We know the leaders among the Jews wanted Him executed.  And a charge of sedition was the only way.  But why did they want him executed?  Because He claimed to be much more than a good teacher.  He claimed to be the I AM, one with the Father, the one and only Son of God.

When Jesus asked: “Can any of you prove me guilty of sin?”, could any other people who have claimed to be the Son of God (David Koresh or any other cult or religious leader) get away with a question like that?

Has anyone else in history ever had such a prophetic build-up of his coming?
Jesus called Himself “the son of man” more often than anything else. Was this prophetic “son of man” just a man? Daniel 7:13-14 makes it clear this son of man would be worshipped forever.

Most people will admit this sounds like something more than a “good teacher.  But how do we know Jesus is the predicted Messiah?

Daniel (9:25) predicts there will be 483 years from the issuing of a decree authorizing the rebuilding of Jerusalem until the Messiah comes, bringing us right into the early first century, no matter which decree you use. And he says the Messiah will be cut off, or killed, and that afterward the temple and Jerusalem would be destroyed, which happened in A.D. 70.  If Jesus wasn’t the Messiah, who was?

Jesus claimed prerogatives known by the Jews to belong to God alone: He forgave people for their sins against God.  He accepted worship. He claimed to be the way, the truth, and the life. He claimed to have been sent into the world, from outside it, in order to save it. The religious leaders tried to stone him and finally had him crucified, because his claims, if he were a mere man, were blasphemous, even for the greatest of teachers or prophets. 

Short answer:  Jesus’ crucifixion makes no sense, unless he claimed to be something much more than a good teacher.


Objection Number 8.  Saying God created the universe doesn’t answer anything; who created God?

When people ask me:  “Who created God?”, this gives us the opportunity to talk about a unique, non-physical, being-in-Himself-type God of one small ancient group, the one entity we know about that meets the requirement of a first cause.

When I speak at astronomy conventions, after I’ve talked about the need for a first cause outside the universe, and how ancient Hebrew revelation is the only one that lines up with the modern facts among all the old creation myths, very often in the Q & A time at the end, someone will ask:  “Well, then who created God?” 

And I have to concede that as long as you’re talking about the limited, dependent gods of all the religions of the world in polytheism and pantheism, who are part of or one with the universe, there’s a problem there, because a limited God requires a god to have created him, and that one requires a god to have created him, in an infinite regress, just as the idea of our universe coming from another universe before it also brings you back into an infinite regress of universes with no final first cause to explain where it all came from. 

With the sole exception of ancient Hebrew revelation, all the creation accounts coming to us from ancient times, the myths, all offer explanations for the cycles of nature, which continue forever, and so you have an eternal universe.  And you always have this idea of physical gods who are part of the universe.
No matter how far back you go or where you look:  the Romans, the Greeks, the Chinese, the Egyptians, the Babylonians, the Sumerians—all had religions that explained the sun and moon and all of nature in terms of the bodies of the gods themselves, or parts of the gods, / and before the gods, there was this egg or chaos or watery mush, and the gods were formed out of that.  So, coming out of the physical watery mush, they were physical gods, each called on to explain physical parts of our universe—sun gods, moon gods, star gods, planet gods (where we get the names of our planets), sea gods, earth gods, sky gods, fertility gods and goddesses, animal-headed gods, always physical.  And the ancients made physical idols to represent them.  But in this one ancient case you have a God unlike all the others who won’t allow Himself to be represented by anything physical—no idols were to be made of Him. 

Why not?  A prophet, by the name of Moses, reminded these people that when God spoke to them, [quote]“You saw no form of any kind. Therefore,” he said, “watch yourselves very carefully, so that you do not become corrupt and make for yourselves an idol, an image of any shape, whether formed like a man or a woman, or like any animal...  And when you look up to the sky and see the sun, the moon and the stars—all the heavenly array—do not be enticed into bowing down to them and worshipping things that Yahweh your God has apportioned to all the nations under heaven.”  [Deut 4:15-19]  Very different from everyone else.

And unlike all the sun gods, moon gods, planet gods, star gods, who had names that tied them to their physical objects, this God simply went by the name I AM (as He introduced Himself to Moses, when Moses asked for His name), or Yahweh, which comes from the root meaning, “to be.”  He has being in himself.  He’s not dependent upon anything in the universe for His existence. 

So he’s described by this term that is the most essential thing we know about the First Cause:  The first cause must have being in itself, it can’t be dependent upon anything else, as our universe is, or there’s still be nothing.  All other conceptions of gods or universes are contingent, dependent upon something else. 

So when people ask me:  “Who created God?”, this gives us opportunity to talk about this non-physical, being-in-Himself-type God of this one small ancient group, the one entity we know about that meets the requirement of a first cause.

This God is uniquely described as outside of time and outside of space, holy, which means “set apart,” very unlike the physical gods, because He’s beyond even the farthest thing ancient people knew, beyond the heavens, where the birds fly around, and beyond the highest heaven, the abode of the stars.  Our universe can't contain all of Him.  And so one of their ancient kings, by the name of Solomon, prayed, "The heavens, even the highest heaven, cannot contain you.  How much less this temple I have built." 
He’s described as outside of time itself, living in our past, present, and future simultaneously, so that He could say:  “Before Abraham was born, I AM.”  With this God a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. 

So from the ancients until Aristotle, and from Aristotle until Einstein, people who were not influenced by this Hebrew group assumed that the universe had simply always been here.  But then during the 20th century we learned that the universe began with a “creation out of nothing,” as Nobel prize-winning physicist Arno Penzias told me, catching up to what this ancient group had been taught all along.

So, logically, and from science’s big bang theory, we know that whatever caused the universe must be outside of the universe, and in fact outside of time itself, which is exactly what the Biblical God alone claimed from ancient times.  An entity outside of time is the only kind that can break the eternal regress of cause-effect-cause-effect and can exist independently of everything else, eternal and without a beginning, having Being in Himself, as the Bible uniquely describes, the eternal “I AM.”

So, the short answer to “Who created God?”:  Of all the concepts of creators we’ve ever heard of, only the Biblical God fits this need for a First Cause that has being in itself, being beyond space, beyond time, beyond our cosmos.


Objection 9a:  The Bible’s picture of God just evolved along with society, from an OT God of wrath to a NT God of love.

The idea is that the OT God went around wiping out nations; the NT God went around delivering the Sermon on the Mount)

Of course, the answer is that this is a common misconception that’s only held by people who don’t know their Bibles very well.  In both the OT and the NT, God is wrathful when confronted by sin and loving when confronted by repentance.  We find this consistently taught throughout the OT and the NT, because God is always the same. 

James tells us in 1:17 that He “does not change like shifting shadows.” 
Hebrews: 13:8 says:  “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”

As a matter of fact, we might point out that in the OT, where people think God is always a God of wrath, the word "love" or lovingkindness" occurs 176 times.

When God shows Himself and proclaims Himself to Moses, what does He choose to emphasize?  Ex 34:6-7 says:  “And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, "The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; ….”  Seven statements to describe love followed by one to let us know He must also punish sin, and there we have the basis for the gospel.

We need to point out that it’s back in Leviticus that we first hear:  “You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the sons of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself; I am the LORD. (Leviticus 19:18).

The OT Law even spells out how Israel was to love aliens: The alien living with you must be treated as one of your native-born. Love him as yourself, for you were aliens in Egypt. I am the LORD your God (Lev.19:34).
The law of love didn’t just start with some new kind of God in the NT

And by the same token, all over the NT, we also have God’s wrath in the face of sin:  Hebrews 10:31:  “It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”  Jesus warns people about hell and uses that word more than anyone else in Scripture.  In Acts 5, Ananias and Saphira are struck down dead by God when they lie.  God takes sin seriously in the NT as well as the OT.


Question 9b.  But how could it ever be right for God to order Israel to kill people?

Obviously, from the verses we just went through, the normal state of affairs was quite different than the special situation skeptics always bring up, the command to conquer the promised land, and to destroy the Canaanites in the cities Israel was to occupy.  Sometimes they were commanded to destroy them, and sometimes to drive them out:

Numbers 33 is an example, beginning in verse 52:  “… then you shall drive out all the inhabitants of the land from before you, and destroy all their figured stones, and destroy all their molten images and demolish all their high places; and you shall take possession of the land and live in it, for I have given the land to you to possess it.”  Verse 55: “But if you do not drive out the inhabitants of the land from before you, then it shall come about that those whom you let remain of them will become as pricks in your eyes and as thorns in your sides, and they shall trouble you in the land in which you live.”
So the purpose of this command is clear:  Deut. 7:4 says:  “for they will turn your sons away from following me to serve other gods, ….”

And indeed, OT history tells us that this is exactly what happened, and first Israel, then Judah fell into idolatry and infant sacrifice and other sin as bad as the nations around them, with the result that the Lord took His protection away and had them carried into captivity from the promised land. 

So the short answer is:  Yes, for this special occasion of clearing the promised land of the worst of those who would be a sinful influence upon them, God used Israel to strike those people, but His people were never commanded as a nation to do that before or since.


And last, Question 10:  If God exists, why doesn’t He show Himself to me?

Reason number one:  In a word:  SIN.  The Biblical God is absolutely holy, meaning He will have no fellowship with sin.

Although God’s original intention was to have fellowship with us, our earliest ancestors broke off that fellowship by choosing sin and independence from God, effectively alienating our race from Him.  So if you want to see God, God wants that too, but it’s going to be on His terms, through His righteous Son, and you’re going to have to wait until He makes you a new creation.

And reason number 2:  GOD WANTS FAITH, NOT FORCED OBEDIENCE.  God wants to give us the opportunity to trust Him without being forced to do so.  If God were to show up at the Rose Bowl next year, manifest Himself in the sky for all the cameras to see and thunder out His message about His Son, yes, there might be conversions by the millions, and seeing may be believing, but that’s not the faith God longs to find in the human hearts.  Evidently, faith is a very precious thing in God’s sight, something He looks for carefully among humans.  Jesus said:  “When the Son of Man comes, will He find faith o the earth?” (Lu 18:8).

* * *

Okay, so those are 10 questions that come up over and over.  You could study those over, and you’d be set to go, answer-wise.  But sometimes what makes a greater impression than our answer is our attitude.

What’s the last thing Peter commands us in 1 Peter 3:15, the famous apologetics verse about always being prepared to give an answer?  Do this with … gentleness and respect.

Peter knew it’s possible to win the argument and lose the person. The goal isn’t to demolish the other person, to impress him with your awesome debate skills, or make him into your opponent at all.

Surefire Rules for Evangelistic Failure

In fact, it might be interesting to close out this discussion with a few brief ideas about what not to do, what many Christians are doing that are turning off people when they ask questions like this.

I call this “Surefire Rules for Evangelistic failure.”  Three rules.
Surefire Rule No. 1:  The next time you’re talking with an unbeliever, find an issue where you disagree with him and concentrate on that.  Whatever you do, don’t find common ground with them — that takes too much trouble.  But when you’re out for Surefire failure, the object is to get ‘em riled up and start a fight that would make for good reality TV. 

Surefire Rule for Evangelistic Failure No. 2:  Make unbelievers choose between the Bible and science.  This is a tried and true way to play into what they already think about Christians.  Make them think that they can’t believe the Bible and science at the same time.  Leave them thinking that to be a Christian, you need to go back to the Dark Ages.

And Surefire Rule No. 3: Have an “us-vs.-them” attitude.  Make sure they know you consider them the enemy.  Put them on the defensive.  Back them into a corner. And by doing that, what are they going to be thinking about?  Their next argument against you, rather than the Christian viewpoint. 

Now, these 3 strategies are tried and true techniques for evangelistic failure.  I’ve seen these in action.  Sometimes I’ve used these myself in amazing ways.

An easy alliteration is the two-word phrase to remember:  “Pummel people.”
Go on the offense.  Be offensive.  And these are actually scriptural principles, when you’re out to do the opposite of what Scripture says:  In 1 Cor. 10:32 Paul tells us “Give no offense either to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God.”  2 Cor. 6:3 says:  “giving no cause for offense in anything, in order that the ministry be not discredited.”