Wednesday, January 15, 2014

My Afternoon at the Religious Freedom Monument (Part 3)

Where Do I Begin the Conversation?

In yesterday's post, I gave you three tools that you need when going out into the arena to dialogue with people who do not agree with our Christian worldview.  This morning I want to carry that a little further before sharing on some of the topics that Sunday's atheists wanted to talk about in a one on one dialogue. I will dovetail in future posts along with my responses to the gauntlets or "throw down cards" that atheists like to play in supporting their worldview.   Here are a few thoughts to keep in the back of your mind when you go out and be a case making ambassador for Christ.

Understanding Your "Arena" 

First off, like any ambassador, we need to understand the environment or what I like to say, "arena", where we are ministering. The event's central theme for this past Sunday was religious freedom. As I shared with you last time, I did a little research about this event, knowing it is an annual event and everyone was welcome.

One thing I had read in the local paper's announcement was that the Fredericksburg Coalition of Reason had something to say in the article and it was quite admirable. The spokesperson for the Coalition said,

“Three hundred sixty-four days a year, I may shake my head in amazement at the notion of a spirit world,” Jordan said. “But on religious freedom day, I am as happy to defend the rights of another to their worship as I am to hold fast to my own secular world view.”

And I found that to be true in my conversations from start to finish with those who were willing to dialogue.

Go with God in a Humble Spirit

Some folks might think, 'well Rob you were going there to stir things up and rattle some cages.'  Nothing could be further from the truth!  My mission was to go and meet people, make a connection with hopes to stir future dialogue and possibly be a catalyst for them to come to real trusting faith in Christ.  

I will tell you that it is never easy to walk up to a person without having a lump in my throat.  When the first words come out, the lump goes away, and I attribute that to the Lord giving me confidence and peace in asking the right question. 

Be Friendly

A lot of Christians, who run into people embracing a Christian worldview, like to "blast" atheists for their unbelief. Sometimes we need to remember that these are people that are created in the image of the God they do not believe in. It was not odd to me that the four I spoke to were cordial. But the reason for my previous statement is warranted from the fact that they were very pleasingly surprised that I was cordial to them. One asked me why. I told them that I was interested in them and was curious on why they believed what they did.  

But this tells me something else; that when it comes to doing outreach to atheists, handing them a tract and walking away does not cut it. We need to engage these people.  At the same time you need to know your faith and your convictions. This is why we need apologetics in the church.  On that thought, I was told that atheists are coming to churches in the area to help people in what they do not believe in the pew.

This kind of outreach is not your traditional EE, CWT, Four Spiritual Laws, Got Life kind of evangelism. We have to do it differently, which is a puzzle for those who are still not getting a pulse on the culture.  To do evangelism any other way in this arena is road map to frustration and potential disaster.  

Someone, told me that I should have "pricked the conscience" with the Word of God and that reasons for the Christian faith was a waste of time. Last I knew that the conscience was the seat of reason.  Although the conscience of the atheist is spiritually dead, the Bible is not a magic talisman to quicken it. The mission was to demolish whatever thoughts were coming up against the knowledge of God. The Holy Spirit was present in the conversation.  At the same time as it was for me, when I was a skeptic, God can and does use a reasonable conversant Christian, who keeps the Word in his heart and mind, and is ready to apply it without giving chapter and verse. ("Nuff said" on this matter for now.  I will have more of a response to the role of using apologetics in evangelism in a future post.)

What Happened?

I walked up, introduced myself.  The first thing I did was complimented the presentation of their banner. At the same time, I "dialed in" on the name of the organization, "Fredericksburg Coalition of Reason."  Do you see anything in the name of the organization that might spark a good starting point for the conversation?  

After introducing myself, I asked the one who appeared to be one of the leaders of their gathering this question, "where does 'reason' come from?" One of the reasons why I started with reason is that atheists consider themselves to be reasonable people, and reasonable people are usually cordial with reasonable questions.

That was a reasonable question to "Glen" and his response, "Evolution." The conversation was "off and running" and ended about 30 to 45 minutes later at the corner where a church stood on  a nice fall like winter (season) day. 

Look with the Hopes of Keeping the Conversation Open Ended

Atheists ridicule Christians for their belief in a Being that they do not believe in. When we converse with someone who embraces the total antithesis of our worldview, we need to be polite, cordial, and demonstrate the mind of Christ.  We need to remember that these people, who hold this worldview, are deluded by the naturalistic and scientistic philosophies that breed  naturalism, materialism, and hedonism (in some cases).  

When an ambassador goes to a foreign country that has been known to be hostile to his nation, he goes with the attitude of the diplomat, with the hopes of giving a message that is true and presenting the reasons why it is true. Since we are Christ's ambassadors, we have to live out the gospel in front of the atheist, before they will give it a hearing.  Hand them a Bible and it could end up, Lord knows where. Live out the Bible, and they will read you and perhaps think that there are other intelligent Christians out there who care about them.

In conclusion, the conversation with "Glen" has a potential for future visits.  We shared information and thanked each other for our time.  As I walked away, I prayed for another meeting with him. That may happen on the Coalition's turf at one of their meetings, should the Lord lead me to go and visit.  On that day, I will not be going alone.  

Tomorrow I will share how one gal responded to my question, "where does reason come from?" The conversation with her was shorter but very enlightening.  In that post I plan to demonstrate the contradictions of living out a time+matter+ chance worldview in a world full of design and order. 

Until the next time. . . thank you for reading The Real Issue.

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