Christian apologist, popular speaker and author, Dr. Andy Bannister, says his journey into apologetics began with fledgling attempts at proving the Christian faith to a group of Muslims. Realizing his answers and resources were inadequate, Bannister read extensively and practiced interacting with unbelievers in winsome ways.
“The goal is to lead them to Jesus. We can become obsessed with winning the argument, even with our own denomination or pet theology. Start by listening. Ask questions about what they believe. Ask about their worldview. Repeat back to them what they’ve said and ask them to clarify. Not only will you get more of where they’re coming from, but often you’ll learn that the question they’re asking is not really what they’re asking.”
Before we think of far-flung places, Christians would do well to start with their own friends, families, and circles of influence, Bannister says. Even a simple invitation to one’s home, for instance, can open the door for further conversation and relationships.
Assumptions can be the enemy of meaningful gospel-sharing. For example, an evangelist can assume that his hearers want the answers to the questions the sharer deems important. However, finding out what is important to other parties and relating how Christianity answers their needs and questions is an important first step. Bannister explains,
“We leap into arguments. When it comes to the Gospel, I think we’ve missed the trick: how do we make people see the difference that Jesus makes? If Christianity is true, all those things you care about are depending upon it.”
Jeremiah paraphrases Blaise Pascal’s idea,
“Present the gospel to your friends and family in a way that they wish it were true, and then show them that it is.”
When it comes to defending your faith, you don’t have to have all of the answers. By genuinely listening to the needs and questions of those around you, you will better understand where they are coming from and discover how to best introduce them to Jesus.
Dr. Andy Bannister is the director of the Solas Centre for Public Christianity and an adjunct speaker for Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM). He is a professor, speaker, and author of books including The Atheist Who Didn’t Exist: Or the Dreadful Consequences of Bad Arguments.Andy Bannister: Tools to help you defend your faith