Hey Michael, I am new to Apologetics and i just have a question that im wrestling to answer. This is the point that I am wrestling with, people of other faiths might give some of the same reasons for their faith" our experience’s are very similar to people of other faiths, so how can we present Christianity in a way that triumphs over other world views an answer to his would really help me in my Apologetic journey.
How do we address people of other faiths who have similar reasons to Christians as to why they believe their faith to be true?
First of all, let me commend you on wrestling through questions! I think a huge step in the process of growing in our ability to more deeply understand and effectively share what we believe is to wrestle through questions ourselves. This always allows for more relatable engagement with people, because you will be able to speak more personally as a result.
Also, you’re absolutely right that people have all kinds of experiences that lead them to a whole host of conclusions, including other worldviews. The key questions is: What authority should we give to our experience and how should we interpret them?
The question you raised is very valid and an important one, especially because we live at a time where experience seems to have become the number one “truth test” when determining what to believe. In other words, it is common that people believe their experience is the most important thing to determine what is true. It used to be that people looked at their experience and tested it for truth to see if it really made sense of life or if it was consistent with what they already believed to be true. But now the trend is reversed. In other words, people use their experience as the lens for determining what is true - experience holds the highest authority. The major problem is that we cannot always trust our experience to lead us in a good direction. Also, we all have experiences that contradict each other at times, so we have to have something by which we determine which experiences are true and which might need to be thought through at a deeper level.
As a Christian I believe that the word (scripture) has the final authority and say, so I align my experiences with scripture, and I don’t come to conclusions about truth that go against or contradict what scripture is saying. Scripture is the lens through which I understand and interpret my experiences.
I think most people, even if they don’t believe in God or Christianity, would agree that they want to believe things that are true, and also that most people - when really pressed - would admit that they’d like to believe something that is true, even if it goes against what they feel, so long as they could be certain that it really was true.
However, there are also instances where people might not be looking for truth, but rather what personally or subjectively satisfies them at the time. When we’re using apologetics to help clarify what Christianity is all about, one of the things I keep in mind is that we’re inviting people to encounter Jesus in their experience, but also to know him as the embodiment of truth.
In Christianity truth and experience are not separate. In Christianity Jesus, who is the truth, can be encountered because he’s not just an idea, Jesus is a person. So that really sets Christianity apart from other religions. No other religion claims that your an know the truth personally, relationally.
I find it helpful to ask people questions until I really understand what it is that they believe. Sometimes we can be too quick to give answers before understanding another person’s position or belief. If we seek to understand their perspective first, then we are much better equipped to give answers that accurately speak to the questions they may have. Blaise Pascal said, “We must make people wish that Christianity were true and then show them that it is.” In other words, we can start at the level of talking about the things we desire (peace, relationship, forgiveness, hope, etc.) and then show that Christianity best explains those desires, but also most deeply satisfies them.
So, my suggestions to you are:
- Maintain scripture as the ultimate authority in your life and interpret your experiences through the lens of that truth.
- Continue to honestly wrestle through questions that you have.
- Ask others who have a different worldview meaningful questions so you can better understand what they think and why they believe what they do.
- Think of creative ways you can point people to Jesus as the answer, and don’t be afraid to use your own encounters with Jesus as examples!
I hope that’s helpful! Thanks for asking.