Some youth at church submitted these questions to be discussed at youth group and I was asked to weigh in. Each could result in a lengthy blog post so I tried to provide just a few bullets. You are welcome to offer what your pithy responses would be!
1. How am I supposed to spread the word to my friends? Most of them are very smart Atheists.
· That is great that he/she wants to spread the word. Atheists can be a big challenge.
· Use diagnostic questions to see if they are really interested in a conversation or are just wanting to spout one objection after another from the “Big Book O’ Atheist Sound Bites” (not a real book, just an illustration I use to describe the behavior of people who have no interest in pursuing the truth). If they don’t want to learn more, heed Matthew 7:6 (ESV) “Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you.” You are under no obligation to share the Good News with people who are continually hostile to it. Just pray for them and perhaps try again another time.
· If they are interested in real discussions, then answer what you can but never fake it. If you get stumped, admit it and tell them you’ll get back to them. Seven important words: “I don’t know, but I’ll find out.” Then go ask one of us or look it up online and get back with them. You’ll learn and strengthen your faith in the process.
· Just because they are smart doesn’t mean they are wise. J. Budziszewski, former atheist and UT Philosophy professor says it well: “Though it always comes as a surprise to intellectuals, there are some forms of stupidity that you must be highly intelligent and educated to commit. God keeps them in His arsenal to pull down mulish pride, and I discovered them all.”
· At its core the atheist worldview is ridiculous (though I wouldn’t put it that way to them right away): They have zero evidence for how the universe came into existence. They have zero evidence for how life came from non-life. They have distorted one part (Darwinian evolution) out of one branch (biology) out of the dozens of branches of science and they pretend that we are anti-science.
· All people, including atheists, rely on all kinds of non-scientific evidence everyday – historical, eye witness, etc. We have lots of evidence for our views. For example, consider these “minimal facts” agreed to by virtually all historians (Christian or not) of the biblical time period.
Summary of the “minimal facts” approach: Nearly 100% of historical scholars from 1975 – present agree with the following statements (more here — http://tinyurl.com/ykzpu42). I submit that the physical resurrection of Jesus best accounts for these facts.
o Jesus really lived and was killed on a Roman cross.
o Jesus’ disciples believed He appeared to them.
o Jesus’ brother, James, went from being a pre-crucifixion skeptic to a post-crucifixion church leader.
o The Apostle Paul believed Jesus appeared to him and he wrote most of the books attributed to him, including Romans, I & II Corinthians, Philemon and others.
o 75% of the same scholars agree that the tomb was empty.
2. Why do we have bible study?
· What else would we do? Entertainment, fellowship and service are important, but the word of God is our foundation.
· Parents have the primary responsibility for their children’s Christian education, but the church now has a role. Check out the recent articles on religious surveys. It is embarrassing how little professing Christians know about the Bible. We make lousy witnesses when atheists know more about the Bible than we do.
· More importantly, the Bible is the primary way God speaks to us. It contains every important spiritual truth. If you aren’t reading it you aren’t growing.
3. How do you go about bringing up religion to other people? No one really ever wants to listen to people talk about it at school.
· Try using “faith flags,” such as comments about church or church activities. If people show any interest it might lead to further discussions.
· Be a good listener. Ask about their religious views. You may hear all sorts of bizarre things. Don’t pretend that false views are true, but make it a conversation and not a bludgeoning.
· Pray that God will show you where He is working in the lives of others and where you can fit in.
4. Is it wrong to evangelize if you believe in the things that make your faith, but are having rough times in your life?
· Great question. If we wait to evangelize until we have everything working perfectly then we’ll never evangelize. Being authentic about your struggles and how your faith impacts them can be a good witness.
· At the other end of the spectrum, you can’t live a careless lifestyle and expect people to take you seriously as a Christian.
5. If people are “going with the crowd” towards a bad thing, how do you lead them on the right path?
· Try to find others who agree with you (safety in numbers).
· Set a good example by not going along with the bad thing.
· Ask questions. Why are they doing it?
6. How do you handle Christians who don’t act so ‘Christ-like” towards you?
· Most of the time, shrug it off and give the person the benefit of the doubt. Maybe they are having a bad day.
· If it is a little more serious, pray about it and them.
· If it is somewhat or very serious, get other Christians involved (see Matthew 18 – Jesus anticipated this problem and gave guidance).
7. Why do bad things happen for no reason? i understand that obstacles are put in front of us to see if we can get through and to test our strength but sometimes i feel it’s just too much too handle, and it wont end. How is it that God will forgive us all for our sins, but some ppl will choose to do wrong and God will forgive them of everything in the end, while other that do right get nothing but the same in the end. Pretty much how is it that bad ppl and good ppl are both given forgiveness when the bad ppl have done so much more wrong.
· Jesus promised problems for believers: John 16:33 (ESV)I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
· We’re all “bad people” in the sense that we sin against God. Some people are better fakes than others.
· God only forgives those who repent and believe, so not everyone is ultimately forgiven.
· Don’t begrudge God for offering more grace to others — See Matthew 20:1-16. We should rejoice that He offers us grace at all.