@Joeverdi It is great to hear that you want to be a witness in this situation. 8 minutes is a very short period of time when you are speaking, so my advice would be to pick just one main point - it is amazing how fast time goes by when you are giving a talk. Below I have included a wonderful book recommendation on how to practice the art of ‘Christian persuasion’ and a talk from Tim Keller at Google where I believe he provides a concrete example of Christian persuasion. Below that I provide an outline of a 15-20 minute talk that I prepared.
With only 8 minutes and a professor hostile to Christianity, my personal approach would be to try to get the class one big idea that would cause them to leave your talk saying, “I never thought about it that way.” I would not try to give them the answers. Instead, I would try to present one significant truth about Jesus or the Scriptures in a way they may not have thought about before.
The Lord Jesus grant you wisdom and open the hearts of those in your class
Outline for a 15-20 Minute Talk I Gave
Why do you need God? We all need love, permanence and assurance.
To support this idea, I began with the Greek philosopher Epicurus - who said that to achieve happiness we must all deal with 3 things - fear of divine judgment, fear of death and anxiety about tomorrow (Love, Permanence, Assurance). Epicurus’ solution was to set your expectations low - be satisfied with just necessities (no one really does this). Buddha once said - “When pleasure or pain come, the wise are above them”. So their solution to happiness was to have low expectations and ignore both pleasure/pain.
I then quoted an Atheist placard - “There’s probably no god, so stop worrying and enjoy your life.” However, there is a problem with this statement in relation to Epicurus’ 3 questions.
- Fear of divine judgment - ignoring God may deal with divine judgment, but someone becomes your lover and judge. It may be your work, your spouse, your looks - but in the end you rely on something outside yourself to validate your existence.
- Fear of death - the atheist solution is to ignore it, perhaps via chocolate, alcohol and entertainment. Or by trying to live the good life and hope to leave a great legacy.
- Dealing with anxiety - there is no means of dealing with anxiety without God - there is no ultimate plan. Anything could happen at any moment, including death. My friend at work said he liked to jog because when he was running he could forget his anxieties because of the exertion it required of his body. Without God there really is no good way to deal with anxiety.
Now, here are a few quotes, two from unbelievers, that demonstrate the vanity of trying to find meaning in a universe devoid of permanence and God. They show that there is absolutely no logical reason why not having an afterlife produces meaning - in fact, it obliterates it.
Thomas Nagel - Even if you produce a great work of literature that is read for thousands of years - eventually the solar system will cool or the universe wind down and all traces of your effort will vanish. It wouldn’t matter if you had never existed. And after you die, it won’t matter that you did exist.
Mark Twain, became morose and weary of life. Shortly before his death, he wrote, “A myriad of men are born; they labor and sweat and struggle;…they squabble and scold and fight; they scramble for little mean advantages over each other; age creeps upon them; infirmities follow; …those they love are taken from them, and the joy of life is turned to aching grief. In the end they vanish from a world where they were of no consequence,…a world which will lament them a day and forget them forever.”
C. S. Lewis - You can’t really love a woman while remembering that all the beauties of her person and her character are a momentary and accidental pattern produced by a collision of atoms and that your response to her is a psychic phosphorescence arising from the behavior of your genes. In order to move from cold, animal like sensuality to love while remembering this fact you must recognize the hopeless disharmony between your emotions and the universe in which you think you live.
Now, here is a very brief outline of how Christianity provides love, permanence and assurance
The Cross Proves God’s Love
- the King who died for rebels
God’s Care Gives Assurance
- the Prodigal Son - the Father’s Open Arms
Christ’s Resurrection Guarantees Permanence
- Lazarus (Martha - my brother would not have died)