Countering Challenges – part 2 (2Cor 10.4-5)
Evangelism Sermon 6 – Countering Challenges and Overcoming Objections – part 2 (2Cor 10.4-5)
This is the 6th sermon on Evangelism, and the 2nd on the topic: Countering Challenges and Overcoming Objections.
“Why is there evil in the world?” “Why are Christians so intolerant?” If you’ve tried to talk to unbelievers about the Christian faith, you’ve probably encountered questions like these. And the effect is always the same – it puts you on the spot and on the defensive. In short, it makes it very difficult to witness. Through 2000 years of Church history, it’s always been the same. And that’s why Peter told the first century Christians to “always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you”. (1Pet 3.15-16.) The all time master at giving a defense was the Master, Jesus himself. And one of the things that stands out about how Jesus gave a defense is that he always got off the defensive. Jesus showed us for all time that when it comes to defending the faith, the best defense is a good offense. But that gives rise to another challenge. Peter says we have to respond to objecting unbelievers with “meekness and fear.” (1Pet 3.15.) How does one turn the tables, get off defense and go on offense meekly? Stated differently, how do you go on the offensive without being offensive? Once again, Jesus shows us the way. If you want to learn more, inquire within. I hope you enjoy the sermon. Thanks for listening. –Alan Burrow
1. In the sermon, Pastor Burrow said:
The truth . . . is by nature exclusive, intolerant, and even fragile in this sense: adding any element of non-truth makes the truth no longer true. In that sense, the lie is always tolerant (for any falsehood will do) and the truth intolerant (for no falsehood will do). But in another sense, the lie is equally intolerant, for the truth will never do. Every view is intolerant of something. The real issue is not tolerance or intolerance, but what is one intolerant of? Satan is intolerant of the truth, and God is intolerant of the lie. But the lie has the surface advantage of being able to pose as tolerant, for any falsehood will do.
With that in mind, consider the following.
a. In C.S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters, the demon Uncle Screwtape advises his nephew demon Wormwood on how best to turn his assigned human subject away from the Church and the Gospel. Here is his advice:
Your man has been accustomed, ever since he was a boy, to having a dozen incompatible philosophies dancing about together inside his head. He doesn’t think of doctrines as primarily “true” or “false,” but as “academic” or “practical,” “outworn” or “contemporary,” “conventional” or “ruthless”. Jargon, not argument, is your best ally in keeping him from the Church. . . . The trouble about argument is that it moves the whole struggle onto the Enemy’s own ground. (Page 1 (HarperCollins, 1942, 2001).)
Do you believe Screwtape’s description of the subject’s accustomed manner of thinking is applicable to our society today? What are some examples of how Screwtape’s “jargon, not argument” approach is employed today? What are the main categories people tend to put doctrines or assertions in today? Do you agree with Screwtape that “argument . . . moves the whole struggle onto the Enemy’s own ground”? How so?
b. In Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis said:
If you are an atheist you do have to believe that the main point in all the religions of the world is simply one huge mistake. If you are a Christian, you are free to think that all those religions, even the queerest ones, contain some hint of the truth. When I was an atheist I had to try to persuade myself that most of the human race have always been wrong about the question that mattered to them most . . . . But, of course, being a Christian does mean thinking that where Christianity differs from other religions, Christianity is right and they are wrong. As in arithmetic, there’s only one right answer to a sum, and all other answers are wrong: but some of the wrong answers are much nearer being right than others. (Page 35 (HarperCollins, 2001).)
Atheists often claim to be tolerant and accuse Christians of being intolerant. According to Lewis, in what way is Christianity more tolerant than atheism? How can you use this point when witnessing to an atheist, or even to a closed agnostic (who says that no one can know)?
2. a. Suppose you are trying to witness to someone, when they say, “Christians are so intolerant.” As a group, game plan how to respond. What is your next move? How do you move this person toward a genuine discussion?
b. Suppose they say, “Christians think they’re right and everyone else is wrong.” As a group, game plan how to respond. What is your next move? How do you move this person toward a genuine discussion?