How To Answer Your Friends’ Questions

In this post I am going to teach you a process that will let you answer your friends’ questions. Seriously. You can do this.

Before we begin, though, we need to recognize a more general point. Whenever we decide to learn something new, there’s a three-step process:

  1. Decide that the new skill is worth learning.
  2. Overcome our initial fears of not being good at the new skill.
  3. Become competent at the new skill.

When it comes to apologetics, I have talked to hundreds of people who buy into #1. “Yes, apologetics is a skill worth learning. It would be amazing to be able to answer my friends’ questions. I would really like to be able to do that.”

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Lessons from the Alex Rosenberg – William Lane Craig Debate

On February 1, Purdue University, in partnership with Biola University, hosted a debate between Dr. Alex Rosenberg and Dr. William Lane Craig, on the topic “Is Faith in God Reasonable?” You can already find audio of the debate and a summary of the debate online. The video can be watched at the bottom of this post.

I think there are a few valuable lessons from the debate:

Apologetics Is Important

Throughout the debate, Dr. Rosenberg presented a wide variety of terrible arguments.

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There Are No “Nones”

As part of one of the biggest religion stories of the past few years, Time Magazine said in March 2012, in an entry titled “The Rise Of The Nones,” that, “The fastest-growing religious group in the U.S. is the category of people who say they have no religious affiliation.” In October 2012, the Pew Research Center indicated that “one-fifth of the U.S. public – and a third of adults under 30 – are religiously unaffiliated today, the highest percentages ever in Pew Research Center polling.”

This trend is important and worth taking seriously. But, precisely because of the importance of this sociological change, it is essential that we use a better term.

The truth is that there are no “nones.” Why? Let’s look at three reasons in particular.

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Five Ways To Answer A Question

Christians seem to have a poor reputation for answering questions.

Would you like to know why people don’t listen to our answers? And do you want some ideas for changing this situation? Then this post is for you!

Let’s start by understanding the problem a little better. There are at least three reasons why people are not always interested in our answers:

  • For one, sometimes we are offering an answer when no one asked us a question.
  • Two, sometimes we seem to have only one way of answering questions: by giving a lecture. People start to doze off, frustrated that their mild curiosity has been taken advantage of and that they are now subject to a rambling theological discourse and a full-bore presentation of, say, the gospel message. It is like asking to see a movie trailer and being shown the extended Director’s Cut version.
  • Finally, the mismatch between our lives and words – this is called hypocrisy – means that others don’t really care what we think. They see our lives, they are unimpressed, and they decide they aren’t interested in what we have to say.

So today let’s break out of the box and look at five different ways to answer a question!

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The Breaking Glass Strategy

Our voices can, obviously, be used to communicate. But did you know that, under the right conditions, the sound waves of the human voice are powerful enough to break glass? Though this was once thought to be more of an urban legend than scientific fact, in 2005, on the TV show Mythbusters, the rock singer Jamie Vendera actually broke a crystal glass using only his voice!

Defining the “Breaking Glass Strategy”

The “Breaking Glass Strategy” is a tactic used when one message appears to be communicated, but in reality, the goal of the communication is to break things. To put it another way, the Breaking Glass Strategy is used when the actual words of the message make it sound like we’re have a reasoned discussion, but the real meaning of the interaction is entirely different.

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How Should the Church Respond to Doubt?

Whatever their worldview, everyone has doubts. Christians are no different.

Given this pervasive experience, every local church needs to acknowledge the reality of doubt. In preparing to respond to doubt, the church has a responsibility to anchor its approach in solidly Biblical principles. As we’ll see, however, this requires us to develop a wise and contextual understanding for the particular doubts and cultural norms of our friends and neighbors.

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Reason, Science and Progress: Who Wants it More?

In recent years, many atheists have prominently championed their allegiance to intelligent thought. For instance, there is “The Richard Dawkins Foundation For Reason and Science” and Sam Harris’ book “The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason.” Atheists sometimes refer to themselves as “freethinkers” and “brights.”

The public perception that these atheists are working hard to strengthen is the idea that there is a cavernous divide between “faith” and “reason” or between “faith” and “progress.” The strategy is obvious: atheists are to champion their love for reason and progress while highlighting stories of religious people who evidently hate reason and fight for culturally regressive values. Over time, this strategy is intended to further displace religion and develop a far more secular perspective around the world.

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Memorizing the Minimal Facts Argument for Jesus’ Resurrection

Let’s talk about memorizing the “Did Jesus rise?” argument.  (I recognize that if you’re still weighing whether or not the argument is true, this is probably not your first concern, and I appreciate the seriousness with which you are still considering the evidence).

Reasons (for a Christian) to memorize the argument:

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