How to respond more effectively when someone questions your faith

by Matthew Ruttan

“You don’t actually believe in God, do you?”
“Why would you read the Bible?”
“Why in the world do you go to church?”

Have you ever been asked any of those questions?

Last year I did an online survey of topics. More people wanted to know about how to respond more effectively when someone questions their faith, than they did to other huge questions like “Why would a loving God send people to hell?” or even “Why do bad things sometimes happen to good people?”

That tells me that many of you often feel overwhelmed or unprepared to respond effectively when someone questions your faith.

But it doesn’t need to be that way.

On March 11 at Westminster, I offered some help by looking at 1 Peter 3:15-16. We explored five biblical steps to help you respond to questions about what you believe.

If you take these seriously, I think you’ll feel more confident and more prepared when questions come up.

Here’s the main Bible passage:

“Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.” -1 Peter 3:15-16 (NIV)

When Peter wrote those words in the years after Jesus’ resurrection, he was speaking to Christians who were often feeling persecuted or marginalized because of their faith.

Because Christians were extremely loyal to the one true God of the Bible (and wouldn’t worship other gods or the Emperor like many other people did), and because of their commitment to the teachings of Scripture, and their adherence to a powerful ethical code of love, truth and serving others in and through their faith communities (which they called churches), they were often considered radicals or subversives. As a result they felt different, and were sometimes excluded from their families and some employment opportunities. Sometimes they faced physical harm as well.

So Peter wrote to encourage them—not only so they had renewed strength in the face of their critics, but so that they would feel better prepared to give a reason for their faith when asked.

What Peter said back then is still good advice to us today…
 

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How to respond more effectively when someone questions your faith