How do we share our faith on hot button topics?


(SeanO) #1

We often find ourselves in situations where we need to discuss hot button topics with unbelievers. How do we convey the truth in love? How do you seek to convey the truth in love?

I saw this article from Gospel Coalition and thought I would offer it as a launching pad for further discussion.

The first is research . Do not insult your peers with ignorance. Show that you care by investing time and energy into understanding these issues. Use correct terminology and read widely.

The second is compassion . Not only seek to understand the technicalities of the issue but seek to understand the heart of it. Why do your peers feel so strongly about this topic?

The third task is to break down walls and find common ground . Agree on as much as possible without compromising the truth. Find elements of their arguments which you can wholeheartedly support (for example, the need for good anti-discrimination laws to protect vulnerable people).


(Isaiah J. Armstrong) #2

'Do not insult your peers with ignorance. Show that you care by investing time and energy into understanding these issues."

You have no idea how many Christians need to hear that. It not only applies to sharing our faith on hot button topics, but also just researching and understanding the basics of Christianity (knowing what we believe). I am neck deep in this pursuit right now as I not only read but want to understand the essentials of the Christian doctrine. (The Cross of Christ by John Stott has been a HUGE help in this pursuit)

sorry to stray a bit off topic @SeanO , but this is a big issue that hits close to home (my church struggles with the essentials and so the rest of the congregation suffers the consequences of ignorance) right now. How can we convey the truth in love if we don’t even know what the truth is? (I am reminded of Stuart McAllister when he went to a well known evangelist movement where they kept saying “Jesus is the answer!” and left Stuart asking himself “What’s the question?”)


(SeanO) #3

@O_wretched_man “What’s the question?” haha - I like that… It’s so encouraging to hear of your pursuit of truth - hopefully you will be able to graciously help others in your congregation on that same journey. For some reason that I do not understand, Churches I have attended simply do not make a regular habit of helping congregants keep the big picture of the Bible in view. They tend to emphasize some subset of the Bible’s teaching rather than challenging people to really stretch their minds and wrestle to live within the larger meta-narrative of the text. And I think it is when we really begin to absorb that meta-narrative that we are able to address the more challenging questions of our culture about meaning, identity and eternity.


(Isaiah J. Armstrong) #4

I wholeheartedly agree @SeanO. If you went to someone from my church and asked them a question about God’s nature, most wouldn’t be able answer that question. I’m not trying to condemn my fellow Christ followers as I know many of them and love them very much, but it troubles me to see so many people possessing a “Blind Faith.”
This is what I mean:


I love this example he uses in this video:


(SeanO) #5

@O_wretched_man The author of Hebrews encountered a similar struggle with people living off of milk and never moving on to maturity and solid food. Not that milk is bad, but we should desire to grow up.

Hebrews 5:11-6:3 - We have much to say about this, but it is hard to make it clear to you because you no longer try to understand. 12 In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! 13 Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. 14 But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.

Therefore let us move beyond the elementary teachings about Christ and be taken forward to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death,[a] and of faith in God, 2 instruction about cleansing rites,[b] the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. 3 And God permitting, we will do so.

Sometimes I wonder if intellectual curiosity and the capacity to reason is a skill that should be taught in the Church. I know J. P. Moreland is a big advocate of doing that type of thing - teaching people how to think. That is a skill that has to be cultivated. Not everyone has the natural gifts to be a teacher, but many people can push themselves beyond what they are prone to do if left to themselves.

What are some things that you think keep people from taking the time to learn to think and wrestle with these texts? Here are some things that pop up for me right away:

  1. Lack the skills / ability
  2. Lack the desire
  3. Their life is so chaotic / they are barely remaining above water
  4. Need to truly come to know Jesus so that the desire to know God (only His Spirit can give this desire)

(Isaiah J. Armstrong) #6

As I read your article, this line jumped out at me:

As you speak, aim to lose the argument but win a soul.

That is really what we are all trying to do as Christian apologists, isn’t it? This is basically another way of saying that we are to answer the questioner, not just the question. We are to look beyond the question. Ravi Zacharias says that Jesus did this all the time. He always questioned the questioner to open up their own assumptions.

Thank you @SeanO for bringing this to light! It’s a great reminder for all of us Christians!


(Brian Upsher) #7

Hello SeanO and O_wretched_man and thank you thus far for an interesting discussion. I do agree that many churches do not stimulate enough thinking about our faith and dealing with hard questions or apologetics. But I was wondering if maybe the church leadership and the leadership role of Christian parents is failing many people in that they don’t emphasise the greatest command?

‘You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.’

In Deuteronomy 6:4-7 it states: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. “And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.

If we let Christ change our hearts to have Christ live in us and by His Holy Spirit grow into greater and greater communion with God, won’t that awake passion in Christians lives to want, with all their hearts, to know more about who God is and what He has said, but also to tell others about Christ in love? If we teach people how to do defend Christianity or learn logic of learn the cosmological argument or things similar, but their hearts are not first and foremost always seeking to grow in God’s love, are not church leaders in some way failing their congregations?

People who have been Christians for far longer than I have can hopefully shed more light on this as I am no expert. But I agree that if I go into a church and ask many members to tell me about God’s nature, or even to express the fullness of the gospel, they would struggle (not that these are simple questions). If we have church members who dont know the basics of the faith, but more importantly, dont even have a hunger to know more about God and to seek Him with all their hearts, then I think the defending the Christian message will probably also go over their heads. It could however lead them more into a personal relationship with Christ but in my experience the greatest trait of a good apologist starts from a foundation of an overwhelming and continuely growing love for Jesus Christ.

I know this is not in answer to the original question but was trying to follow on from some of the discussion points.

God bless :blush:


(SeanO) #8

@Brian_Upsher That is a great point. We can have all of the knowledge in the world, but without love we are a sounding gong or a clanging symbol.

I Corinthians 13:2 - If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.

However, as we grow in Christ it is our responsibility to learn and grow - we must grow from drinking the milk of the Gospel and love of God to maturity.

I Peter 3:15 - but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect

Hebrews 5:11-14 - We have much to say about this, but it is hard to make it clear to you because you no longer try to understand. 12 In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! 13 Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. 14 But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.

That said, I certainly agree that it is not philosophy or wisdom that saves us, but the cross of Jesus, who is the wisdom and power of God!

  • love is the Great Commandment
  • we are not saved by how much we know about God, but by knowing God through Christ
  • it is through the cross of Christ that we are saved - not our wisdom or intelligence

Matthew 22:36-40 - “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

John 5:39-40 - You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, 40 yet you refuse to come to me to have life.

I Corinthians 1:18-25 - For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written:

“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise;
the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.”

20 Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. 22 Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24 but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.

Grow in Knowledge

2 Peter 1 contains one of my favorite summaries of how we grow in our faith and I think it is very significant that it contains an admonition to grow in knowledge. In fact, it appears that knowledge is fundamental to the process of learning to love. If we do not have a good understanding of God’s character and what He has done, how can we learn from His example to love?

2 Peter 1:3-8 - His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 4 Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.

5 For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6 and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7 and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. 8 For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Fun exposition from John Piper on verses 3-4.