My family was grew up in the Conservative Baptist bubble that eventually popped for each of our family members one way or another. I am one of 6 kids and as some of you may already know my youngest brother Dan was married to the late author Rachel Held Evans. Dan grew up in the church, with christian friends and he went to Bryan College a Christian college in TN before getting married to Rachel and the rest regarding Rachel’s progressivist movement and the spiritual fruit manifested in in my brother that is most relevant to my question is more public than private history.
My question is how to best maintain the best relationship with my brother who I get the impression he believes “knows it all” about Christianity but has rejected the faith. I very much want to witness to him but it’s not like he doesn’t already know the bible or anything I would probably already say to him.
I have a Mormon friend who I have been friends with for fourteen years. In some ways, we are very close. Mormons are usually well prepared apologists. So is my friend. Lately, we have had some more spiritual talks. Paul did not use eloquent speech and neither did Billy Graham. Billy Graham did not have any gimmicks, no pop music lyrics, no magical touch or charisma, there was very little memorable about him accept his astounding ability to evangelize. How does he do it? I think the answer is that he doesn’t. God does. He prays and obeys. It’s that hard and that easy.
Just love him the best way you know how. From his upbringing he does know who THE savior is, but he has rejected the idea that he needs a savior. That rejection may not be permanent. We often have many chapters in our lives and his final chapters are yet to come.
Pray. Pray for him to come to that place where he knows he needs a savior and remembers who that savior is. In my prayer for my sister that prayer brought pain, recognition of her brokenness, and cancer. But without those she would not have had the real healing of her heart that made the difference for her in this life and now her eternal life (she died on '06).
I remind myself that as heartbreaking as it can be, God respects our free will to choose him or not. So I must also respect a person’s free will. Keeping your relationship with him as close and loving as possible may one day remind him who to reach out to when he needs what he’s been rejecting.
Stay intimate in your relationship with the Lord.
Pour out your heart in prayer to the Lord of all…
Prayer is secretly expressed love.
Stay connected with your bro if he is willing. Communicate your love for him and your love for your Saviour in respectful and appropriate ways. Commit to praying over all the aspects of your brother’s rejection of faith…(that you personally witness) and ask for grace to be a means of turning your bro back to trusting in God alone.
What a difficult situation indeed and I wish I could say there’s a magical answer.
I am experiencing something similar with some friends, family and I almost went through that.
I believe you have to understand the “earthly” reason behind his rejection. In the cases I am dealing with, it was first the “hypocrisy” of the Christian community they were living in (saying one thing and bevahing differently), then it was the lack of ability to answer some of the big “existential” questions and they went looking for answers elsewhere which led them to the conclusion that Christianity is false.
I think that we have a responsibility to be authentic, not to claim knowing it all ourselves, being ready to answer by continuously learning not just about Christian faith but about all other worldviews, showing understanding for where they are standing and unconditional love and acceptance.
I also view this as a spiritual war whereby the evil one will always go after those that have potential to bear the most fruit. Therefore, prayer and understanding of the spiritual evil schemes should equip us with the right armour. And afterall, they are children of God, and He will bring them back in due time even stronger.
This may not be a direct answer but I do hope you find it helpful.
God bless you and may He grant you to see your brother return to Him.
I also grew up in the conservative Baptist circles, and have found both John Lennox and Ravi Zacharias very refreshing in stretching my faith and answering tough questions that those in my immediate church groups couldn’t necessarily.
What would you say his worldview is now he’s walked away from Christianity?
Perhaps to reach him, ask questions of his worldview now that he’s rejected Christianity. Just continue to show Christ’s love and maybe try to use curiosity and don’t try to give answers, but ask him questions that he will find hard to push away but will stick with him after the conversation has finished.
Perhaps buy him a book for his birthday or Christmas. John Lennox’s recent book ‘Can science explain everything?’ is very well written on an introductory level and uses curiosity to build a case against atheism, and his other books cover things in more detail. His style of writing makes it hard to put the book down once you get into it. (Read it yourself first to be sure it will appeal to his area of expertise and personality type)
Ravi suggests 4 areas (below) a person needs to think about in their worldview. Just talk about one area at a time, maybe origins to start with. In my view atheism has a weak case for origins, and Hawking’s suggested self creating universe has issues pointed out by Lennox:
4 worldview questions.
How do you think the universe came into existence?
Thank you very much for this thoughtful response. To answer your question about my best understanding of my brother’s worldview; he claims to be agnostic in that he doesn’t know. Unfortunately since this difference in belief I’ve also noticed a distancing of our relationship such that it is hard for me to engage in a meaningful conversation regarding his beliefs. He seems to not necessarily want to discuss it directly with me although he has injected his opinions regarding doubt of God’s sovereignty into conversations I was having with other family members.
I greatly appreciate the suggestion of buying him a book, however he seems very sensitive to being “propagandized” by “evangelicals” so I feel I need to pray for God’s wisdom on how to approach him before doing anything.
I understand your experience. Two of my surviving siblings don’t share my faith. One has cut off from relationship with myself and her other sibling. The one I have contact with is quite aggressive in her “intuitive spirituality”. But, when it comes to living life she lives as a Agnostic.
Trying to communicate around issue of faith have been so “propagandized” by the secular materialistic leftist view…means a shut door on any discussion about God and transcendence.
If you haven’t read Tim Keller’s book ‘A Reason for God’, I would recommend you read it and assess whether it would be received by your brother. It addresses many of the the modern secularist objections to faith.
Other than that, I would encourage you to take your care for your brother into the realm of prayerful waiting and watching. As believers, I believe, our first line of action should be mindful, faithful prayer, regarding those who are outside of union with Christ.