Background Information You Need for Apologetic Engagement
by Amy Davison
Having knowledge of the top objections to Christianity is invaluable when it comes to apologetic engagement, but it is often the background information of the person you’re speaking with that can make all the difference in your outreach. This is because their past, perceptions, and present beliefs shape how receptive they will be to what you have to say. That’s why today we’ll focus on some 6 methods that will help you make the most of each opportunity.
1. What are your beliefs, views, ideas?
-This may seem like a no-brainer but plenty of folks charge into a discussion without completing this important first step. Try to imagine yourself as an agent on informational recon. Your goal is to gain as much background detail as possible so that you can have an accurate picture of the person and their views.
-Luckily, this is often some of the first things a person will tell you and they’ll usually have little qualms about sharing. Pay close attention to any definitions, assumptions, are caricature clues they provide. What does their body language and phrasing reveal?
-Be a good listener and ask for clarification. The last thing you want to do is make an assumption and base your approach on a misinterpretation. You aren’t Dorothy so avoid strawman arguments!
2. How did you come to those beliefs?
-Did these beliefs arise from evidence, experience, feelings or a mixture of the three? People will naturally fall back on intuition when they lack evidence for their beliefs, but intuition can be conditioned and influence by society and general opinion. Finding out what their foundation is made of will help you know which approach will best suit their needs.
-Do they have well-reasoned arguments or are they just spouting slogans? A few pointed questions will quickly reveal if they have thoughtfully considered their beliefs or slapped on a bumper-sticker.
-Those who make the claim shoulder the burden of proof. Greg Koukl in his book Tactics makes the important point that it is not our job to argue their position. If they make a bold claim they must account for it. Give them time to give their argument and ask for more info when you need it (see the first point.)
-Explain it back to them. This is for your benefit and theirs. They will know that you fully understand them and correct any misunderstandings, allowing you both to proceed knowing that you’re on equal ground…