Darryl's thoughts on the Christian Faith, Facts, and World Events
A couple of years ago, I had a major case or writer's block, especially in Apologetics. My problem was that I had pretty much spent my time as a Christian Apologist/Missionary answering every objection to the truth of Christianity that I had ever heard of or could even imagine. Eventually, I ran out of unanswered doubts and questions. I had read so many apologetics books and watched so many apologetics videos that they all started to sound the same.
Then, I stumbled across some Atheist vs. Christian or Creationist vs. Evolutionist etc. debate groups on Facebook. Because I do not enjoy debate I started off by asking some hypothetical questions like, "If there is no god, karma, or government, would murder still be wrong?" Then I collected (copy/paste into a separate file) the atheists' answers to my questions for future reference. At other times I would make a comment on an atheist's post and wait for one or multiple atheists to angrily respond. The most effective thing I have found is to play dumb and ask questions of specific atheists and let them reveal the dark side of their worldview. For example see this article: www.internationalfishers.com/blog/atheist-would-rescue-a-monkey-over-a-human-in-a-wheelchair .
Here are a couple of lessons I have learned that help me to get the most help from interacting with atheists online:
1. 1 Peter 3:15 a Great Guide: "But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer (answer=apologia=defense) to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect," Basically this passage reminds me to gently and respectfully present the evidence for the truth of Gospel and everything it is based on such as the existence of God, creation, and the scripture. Sometimes it is also necessary to defend God's attributes and character.
Within a few rounds of gentle and respectful Apologetics, I have even had a few Atheists thank me for being, different from other Christians that they have encountered. Atheists often use profanity and insults to intimidate or bait Christians into getting angry and irrational. Relax and enjoy the experience because, "Greater is He that is in us than he that is in the world."
2. Express Concern For Their Souls But Don't Expect to Win Them to Christ (But You Might Plant a Seed). Usually Atheists come at me with an attitude of anger and condescension. So, we have to remind ourselves that Matthew 7:6 probably applies. "“Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces." Obviously, if you are gentle and respectful, you will not call them dogs or pigs. Just remember that you are mainly there to collect their arguments in order to create apologetics vaccines for later. In a way, it is like how venomous snakes are milked in order to create anti-venom.
I have also noticed that among the atheists who I was able to deflate their anger and condescension, by being reasonable, firm, gentle, and respectful that as soon as their anger was defanged that they had no interest in continuing to communicate with me because without their anger to shield them, they actually might be open to the Gospel, so instinctually they hide from the truth. Romans 1: 18, mentions people who, "suppress the truth." This verse definitely applies to the atheists that I have encountered. I can only pray and trust that I was able to plant a seed of Truth in their hearts and minds.
So, if there is little hope of evangelizing the atheists on Facebook debate groups themselves, then why should we even bother?
1. We are commanded to go into all the world and preach the Gospel to everyone.
2. We can collect the latest arguments and develop Apologetics vaccines long before they become popular, entrenched, and published in books and other media.
3. We can help other Christians to become more confident in attempting to use apologetics to evangelize atheists that they know in real life.
A final note: When reporting the arguments of the atheists that you encounter online, I think it is a good idea not to identify them by their full name. I usually prefer to refer to them as "atheist A" etc. or first name only (I try to keep that information on file in case I am challenged). This is because I to not want my readers to see their arguments as only reflecting negatively on themselves as individuals but on atheism as a whole. By keeping them anonymous, there is no way that the original source can rebut my arguments or retract their statements. I believe this method could also be useful in rapidly developing Christian Apologetics materials related to cults etc..
A Christian Apologist, Author, Missionary, Husband, and Father. Darryl has an MA in Christian Apologetics from Biola University (CA), an MA in TESOL from Azusa Pacific University (CA), and a BA in Political Science from Truman State University (MO).