“I used to be a Christian, but…” and the Importance of Questions in Evangelism
by Derek Rishmawy
“Oh, I used to be a Christian. I know all about it.”
“Man, I was raised in church and then saw through it.”
“I’ve studied Christianity, so…”
Ever been talking about the gospel with somebody and heard something like this? It can be intimidating, right? You’re trying to talk about the good news and it turns out they already know about and have rejected it. I know I’ve been hit with that sense of uncertainty before. In fact, it happened to me just the other day at a coffee shop.
I, once again, somehow managed to end up talking to an avid young philosophy student. Now, in the course of things, he mentions that he was an atheist, but had been raised Christian, gone to
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a Christian school, studied other religions in college, and was now “kinda bored” with the subject. I thought, “Okay, well, I’ll bite”–because, clearly, you don’t offer the college pastor the unsolicited bit of information that you’re “bored” with religion, if you don’t want to talk about it. So I followed up and asked a question I was curious about, “Hey, so, just to be clear, I’m curious: what do you think the main message of Christianity is? Like, at the descriptive level, what is the main message or ‘good news’ Christianity teaches?”
What followed was a fascinating little pop-explanation of how religion came about through ignorance, fear of the elements, and a need to justify morality. So I asked him again, “So, what’s the main message of Christianity?” And essentially, he boiled it down to morality with the threat of the deity to enforce it. Nothing about grace, Jesus’s life, death, and resurrection in our place, the forgiveness of sins, the kingdom of God, or anything approaching the message of salvation found in the New Testament.
So then, despite his professed well-researched understanding of Christianity, he actually didn’t know the gospel…
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