Greg Koukl of Stand to Reason explains how to rephrase the question that stops Christians in their tracks.
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In your conversations with other people about Christ, and Christianity, and the real important things, you are going to encounter what I call THE question., That is.
The the question that stops most Christians in their tracks.
And they don't really quite know how to deal with it.
The question was posed to me in an hour long, TV debate that I had with Deepak Chopra, the New Age guru, as we talked about spiritual things.
What he said to me, is, "So, you're saying that anyone who doesn't believe just like you is going to Hell." That's the way he put the question.
Some people have said, if you're careful how you push the question, you could win any argument.
The problem here is that this was a question about the exclusivity of Christ., A critical issue in Christianity.
But it was put in a way that made me look really really bad.
If I would have answered the question, "Yes.
You believe that Jesus is the Messiah.
Then you will die in your sins.
You would go to Hell.".
I would have answered correctly, but I would have really given the wrong.
I would have fulfilled a really negative stereotype that people have of Christians, and I would have played right into Deepak, Chopra's, rhetorical, hand, and I did not want to do that.
So in that particular circumstance, I side-stepped, the issue and went in a different direction.
We can't always side-step that issue, nor should we.
We need to address it because it's really really important.
But how do we do that? And? This is where the tactical approach, I think, is really golden.
Especially using the Colombo Tactic in its third sense.
And that is using questions to make a point.
Using questions allows us to make the point a much more powerful way, especially when we get stuck in a circumstance like this.
People asking us about Jesus being the only way of salvation.
This happened to me once in a Barnes and Noble, where I was giving a presentation for a book, I'd written, the "Relativism" book, and afterwards during the Q&A someone came up to me and asked the question, "Why do I need to believe in Jesus?" He, said, "I'm, Jewish., I, believe in God.
I tried to live the best life that I can.
Why do I need Jesus?" So there's.
The question again., Not as belligerently put as with Deepak Chopra, but the question.
Now here's a case where I want to lead up to the point.
I want to make the point by making a couple of steps.
I have a choice at this point.
I could go ahead and state my steps as part of my argument.
Put, my pieces on the table, so to speak, and then come to a conclusion, which leaves me with a certain liability.
Every time, I make a claim that is a stepping stone to my conclusion, the other person, especially if they're a little bit belligerent, can just deny the claim.
And now I get nowhere.
Instead, I am going to use questions to get those pieces placed on the table by the other person.
Because if they put those pieces on the table, it's, a lot harder for them to take them, off., To, deny them.
Let me show you how that works with THE question., Alright? And.
This person who asked the question there at the Barnes and Noble, I said, when he offered the question, "Do.
If I ask you a couple of questions?", "No, go, right, ahead.", Here's.
The first question, I, asked, "Do, you think that people who commit moral crimes ought to be punished?.
In other words.
The people who do bad things, should they pay for them?" And? He said, "Well since I'm, a a prosecuting attorney...", Yeah, I got lucky on the attorney part.
Most people have this sense, this deep intuition that people who do wrong.
Things should not get away with them, okay? And.
So I agreed with him., I agree.
The people who do wrong things ought to be punished.
Now we've got a piece on the table.
He, put it there because I asked him the question.
Second question., "Have you ever done any wrong.
Things?", That's, personal right?.
Do you think he said? He, said, "Yeah, I guess I.
He would have said, he didn't do any bad things, I want to talk to his wife!, You, know?, Of course.
Now we all know we've done wrong.
I, agreed with him.
So have I.
Then I said, "Now.
We've got another piece on the table." And.
So I said to him, "Look at where we've come just in two questions.
We, both agree that people who do bad things ought to be punished.
And we both agree that we've done those bad things., You know, what I call that?" I said to him.
This is not a good picture for us.".
Now, do I need to tell this man, he's a sinner? No.
He just told me., Do, I need to tell him that he's under judgment? No.
He just told me.
He wasn't thinking about that when he walked into the Barnes and Noble.
But, when I asked him a couple of simple questions that brought these moral intuitions, moral common sense, really to his awareness.
He laid them right on the table.
Now I've got something to work with.
Then I went from there, and I explained, "It's.
As if the judge is about to lower the gavel on the two of us in the dock, and we both know, we're guilty.
And we both know we deserve what we're going to get.
And then the judge pauses and says, 'by.
The way, are either of you guys interested in a pardon at this point?'" Look, when you know, you're, guilty, you're, much more open to an offer of forgiveness, and that's exactly where I wanted to bring him.
Then I explained in very simple terms about substitutionary atonement.
The judge took off his robe, and got in the dock, and took the punishment for us.
So that we could be set free., I, didn't use the language of substitution, I, just explained it because that's what God has done in Jesus, and that's.
Why Jesus is the only way.
The only one who solved the problem.
Nobody else could do this.
Only, Jesus, could., And that's.
Why we have to put our confidence in Him.
What I've done now is I've taken a very tricky, situation, THE, question, and I, I've approach it using a tactical, approach.
Getting help from the other person to get my pieces on the table.
So that when I'm going to make my case, now it's much easier to do.
So in light of what he's helped me to establish., And, I, don't know, if that attorney trusted the Lord or not, but at least I was communicating the Gospel to him, at least in a way that he could understand.
Now it just wasn't a matter of believing in God and living the best way you could live.
Both realized that's, not enough., If, we're, really guilty.
Then there's got to be a solution to the guilt, problem, and that's, what Christians offer in Christ.
God becoming a man to take the guilt upon Himself.
So that we can be forgiven – that's.
The reason Jesus is the only way.
The only one who solved the problem.
This is one way of getting to that vital point by using a tactical approach.
The arguments against Christianity include the suppositions that it is a faith of violence, corruption, superstition, polytheism, homophobia, bigotry, pontification, abuses of women's rights and sectarianism.What is the biggest question in Christianity? ›
The most important question in all of Scripture comes from Jesus, and he asks it very simply: “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answers the question correctly by stating, “You are the Christ.”Why don't people go to church anymore? ›
Among self-identified Christians, the predominant reason that non-churchgoers offer for not attending worship services is that they practice their faith in other ways. Upwards of four-in-ten (44%) say this is a very important reason for not going to church more often.What are deep questions to ask Christians? ›
When did you first know there was a God? When in your life did you feel closest to God? What makes you feel most connected to God? How do you balance all the priorities in your life?Is Christianity on the decline? ›
About 64% of Americans call themselves Christian today. That might sound like a lot, but 50 years ago that number was 90%, according to a 2020 Pew Research Center study. That same survey said the Christian majority in the US may disappear by 2070.What is the great controversy about in Christianity? ›
All humanity is now involved in a great controversy between Christ and Satan regarding the character of God, His law, and His sovereignty over the universe. This conflict originated in heaven when a created being, endowed with freedom of choice, in self-exaltation became Satan, God's adversary.What are the three truths of Christianity? ›
We believe that: (1) the Scriptures are God's revelation of himself to mankind; (2) they are infallible (never wrong); and (3) they are the divinely authoritative guide for our faith, belief, and manner of living (2 Timothy 3:15-17; 1 Thessalonians 2:13, 2 Peter 1:21).What are the big three in Christianity? ›
Christians believe that God is revealed through three dimensions: the Father, the Son (Jesus Christ), and the Holy Spirit.What is an ultimate question in religion? ›
Much religious education now, and perhaps more to come, is based on a consideration of what some have called ultimate questions. Questions like 'Who am I ?' , 'Why are we here ?' , 'What is the purpose of life ?' , 'Does the universe have meaning ?'What church is losing the most members? ›
The Presbyterian Church has had the sharpest decline in church membership: between 2000 and 2015 it lost over 40% of its congregation and 15.4% of its churches. Infant baptisms have also decreased; nationwide, Catholic baptisms are down by nearly 34%, and ELCA baptisms by over 40%.
Most people who stop attending church services still believe in God, according to new research commissioned by the Church of Scotland. Many who no longer attend church choose to express their faith in new ways, said Scotland's national Church.Why have Christians stopped going to church? ›
Among non-churchgoers who self-identify as Christians, the predominant reason offered for not attending worship services is that they practice their faith in other ways. Almost half of evangelicals in this category (46 percent) say this is a very important reason for not going to church more often.What are the three things to ask God? ›
In relation to God, we ask: 1) that His name will be honored, 2) that His kingdom will come, and 3) that His will should be done. In relation to ourselves, we ask: 4) that God will provide what we need, 5) that God will forgive our sins, and 6) that God will deliver us from evil.What are the 5 religious questions? ›
- Here is a listing of key and basic questions:
- What is Philosophy of Religion?
- What is Religion?
- Do religious experiences prove that there is a god?
- Do miracles exist? ...
- Do souls exist?
He created people out of love for the purpose of sharing love. People were created to love God and each other. Additionally, when God created people, he gave them good work to do so that they might experience God's goodness and reflect his image in the way they care for the world and for each other.What religion spread the fastest? ›
Studies in the 21st century suggest that, in terms of percentage and worldwide spread, Islam is the fastest-growing major religion in the world.Why are so many churches closing in the US? ›
As the US adjusts to an increasingly non-religious population, thousands of churches are closing each year in the country – a figure that experts believe may have accelerated since the Covid-19 pandemic.What is the official religion of the USA? ›
The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution says that the country shall have no official religion, and Americans have been debating where to draw the line between religion and government since the country's founding.What is the Christianity Today scandal? ›
Sexual harassment scandal
In an editorial on the magazine, the CEO of Christianity Today Timothy Dalrymple admitted that the society that owns and edits the magazine fell short on protecting the employees and apologized for the fact, promising strong and swift action against sexual harassment.
"The Great Controversy" is the detailed and fascinating history of the conflict between Jesus Christ and Satan by Ellen G. White, one of the founders of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church.
Perhaps the most famous of Jesus' anger issues occurred when he came across a temple to his dad, and found it full of moneylenders and animal-sellers. He was furious at this sacrilege, but he didn't just get mad—he effectively Hulked out, flipping over tables and knocking over chairs.What are the 4 truths of God? ›
When thinking and speaking of the good news, always keep the following four truths in mind: God is holy and righteous; we are sinful and rebellious; Jesus is the answer; but we must respond. God is holy and righteous. Understanding the gospel begins with an understanding of God's holy character and righteous demands.What are the 5 key ideas or beliefs of Christianity? ›
The 5 are: 1) Uniqueness of Jesus (Virgin Birth) --Oct 7; 2) One God (The Trinity) Oct 14; 3) Necessity of the Cross (Salvation) and 4) Resurrection and Second Coming are combinded on Oct 21; 5) Inspiration of Scripture Oct 28.Which is the oldest religion in the world? ›
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Why and from what was he created? Who created him? What does his creation imply about the status of human beings? Some or all of these questions are answered by a religion's creation stories.What are the five ultimate questions? ›
- Where did we come from?
- Where are we going?
- What place do we have in the universe?
- Does the 'created world' have an underlying purpose?
- Does the universe have a supernatural origin?
- If the scientific world-view replaces religious world-views, ...
- When the scientific account of the evolution of all life.
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Participation in houses of worship continues to decline, according to the study. Twenty-eight percent of respondents said they "seldom" attend religious services, and 29% of respondents said they "never" attend religious services. A decade ago, those figures were 22% and 21%, respectively.
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He Went To The Synagogue
The Gospels record that "Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues." Yet the Christian reader rarely ponders the significance of such an apparently common structure so central in Jesus' ministry.
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The term ietsism is becoming more widely used in Europe, as opposed to the phrase 'spiritual but not religious' which prevails in North America.What do you call a person who doesn't go to church? ›
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When the people of Israel were enslaved in Egypt, they cried out to God for deliverance. Then God answered their cry, using the expression “I am who I am” (Exod 3:14) to introduce himself as their deliverer. In English, that sounds like a philosophical statement about God's existence.Who was the first person on earth? ›
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According to the Bible, dinosaurs must have been created by God on the sixth day of creation. Genesis 1:24 says, “And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so.”What is the greatest argument against religion? ›
Critics of religion in general may view religion as one or more of: outdated, harmful to the individual, harmful to society, an impediment to the progress of science or humanity, a source of immoral acts or customs, a political tool for social control.What are the main arguments against the existence of God? ›
- Evil: Because evil exists, God cannot be all-powerful. ...
- Pain: Because God allows pain, disease and natural disasters to exist, he cannot be all-powerful and also loving and good in the human sense of these words.
- Injustice: ...
- Multiplicity: ...
Arguments for atheism range from philosophical to social and historical approaches. Rationales for not believing in deities include the lack of evidence, the problem of evil, the argument from inconsistent revelations, the rejection of concepts that cannot be falsified, and the argument from nonbelief.What was the rival religion to Christianity? ›
Mithraism is viewed as a rival of early Christianity. In the 4th century, Mithraists faced persecution from Christians, and the religion was subsequently suppressed and eliminated in the Roman Empire by the end of the century.What is the most popular argument for the existence of God? ›
One type of cosmological, or "first cause" argument, typically called the Kalam cosmological argument, asserts that since everything that begins to exist has a cause, and the universe began to exist, the universe must have had a cause which was itself not caused. This ultimate first cause is identified with God.
A religious war or a war of religion, sometimes also known as a holy war (Latin: sanctum bellum), is a war which is primarily caused or justified by differences in religion and beliefs.Is religion the enemy of human rights? ›
Some argue that religions and religiosity do not threaten human rights. Rather, the advancement of human rights needs the support of organized religions. Each of the world's major religions embraces some ideas that are consistent with and even predate modern human rights ideas.What is the strongest argument against the existence of God? ›
The “Argument from Divine Hiddenness” or the “Hiddenness Argument” refers to a family of arguments for atheism. Broadly speaking, these arguments try to demonstrate that, if God existed, He would (or would likely) make the truth of His existence more obvious to everyone than it is.What are the 3 arguments for the existence of God? ›
There is certainly no shortage of arguments that purport to establish God's existence, but 'Arguments for the existence of God' focuses on three of the most influential arguments: the cosmological argument, the design argument, and the argument from religious experience.Can you believe in God and not be religious? ›
In the U.S., belief in a deity is common even among the religiously unaffiliated – a group composed of those who identify themselves, religiously, as atheist, agnostic or “nothing in particular,” and sometimes referred to, collectively, as religious “nones.” Indeed, nearly three-quarters of religious “nones” (72%) ...What are 3 reasons people do not believe in God? ›
- Different reasons for being an atheist.
- Reasons focussing on lack of evidence.
- Reasons that treat God as unnecessary.
- Arguments for God aren't convincing.
- The problem of evil.
- Reasons to do with science and the history of thought.
- Reasons that treat God as meaningless.
The term God-of-the-gaps fallacy can refer to a position that assumes an act of God as the explanation for an unknown phenomenon, which according to the users of the term, is a variant of an argument from ignorance fallacy.What is it called when you don t believe in God but don t not believe in God? ›
The word atheist originates with the Greek atheos, which is built from the roots a- (“without”) and theos (“a god”). Atheism is the doctrine or belief that there is no god. In contrast, the word agnostic refers to a person who neither believes nor disbelieves in a god or religious doctrine.
Catholicism – 1.345 billion
Catholicism is the largest branch of Christianity with 1.345 billion, and the Catholic Church is the largest among churches.
Most mainstream Muslims would generally agree they worship the same God that Christians — or Jews — worship. Zeki Saritoprak, a professor of Islamic studies at John Carroll University in Cleveland, points out that in the Quran there's the Biblical story of Jacob asking his sons whom they'll worship after his death.
|Projected size of major religious groups for 2023|