Epic Failure: My Biggest Evangelism Mistake
by Sean McDowell
During a trip to Breckenridge, a beautiful ski town in the mountains of Colorado, a friend and I decided to get our hair cut at one of the little shops downtown. As we waited our turn, I read another chapter of the book I had brought along with me, a book whose title clearly indicated my interest in spiritual things.
When my turn came and I settled into the chair, the young hairstylist noted that I was reading a Christian book and wondered if it would be okay for her to ask me a question about God that had been on her mind. Of course I said yes, relishing the opportunity to talk about theology. After all, I had been studying apologetics and was ready with all the right answers. Bring it on, I thought, smiling to myself.
“Well,” she started, with just a hint of hesitation, “why does God allow so much evil and suffering in the world?”
Really, that’s all you got? raced through my mind. Why is this such a big problem? It’s one of the most oft-asked questions in apologetics, and I was ready with the classical free-will defense—emphasizing that God desires a relationship with us, which is possible only if we have free will. I made the point that evil can exist only if there is first a standard of objective good and there can be good only if there is a God. In other words, her very question, I pointed out, presupposes the existence of God.
This led to more questions, and I found I could answer each one pretty easily. She’d ask a question, and I had an answer ready at hand.
Things were going extraordinarily well, I thought, until she paused for a long moment, lifted the scissors away from my head, and then began to cry…
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