Ask Your Preacher
I work with a co-worker who claims to be an atheist. There are a myriad of apologetic books that speak to these types of people and their claims. However, I would like to seek your insights on how to best reason with this person. In the process of talking with him, he has actually asked me to share Scriptures of encouragement that he could share with his girlfriend. I have bought him his first Bible, Bible Dictionary, and a pamphlet on how to study the Bible, which he was moved by and gladly received. I also offered to study with him, but he has not yet accepted my offer. Still, he needs to be convinced that God is real and that we did not get here by accident. Is there a simple format or practical approach I can use?
Ironically, one of the best places to start with an atheist is to discuss their faith. The relationship you mentioned sounds like it is a “talk when we can” sort of situation, and so it can be hard to cover anything in a systematic, step-by-step way. Lord willing, you will eventually be able to have a sit-down class with this individual, but until then, you are really just trying to get him thinking about how important this issue is.
In the past, we have talked with our atheist friends about their faith, and it can really jar their eyes open. Most atheists believe they don’t have faith, but this simply isn’t true. An atheist cannot prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that there is no God any more than you or I can prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that there is. At some point, both the atheist and the theist have faith. Faith is an inevitable element of life. Anytime you trust something you can’t see, it is an act of faith (Heb 11:1). When we take an aspirin, we have faith that it isn’t laced with arsenic. When we drive, we have faith that the traffic light is telling the other lanes to stop when it tells us to go. We visit restaurants because we have faith in the recommendation our friend gave us, and we buy houses based on our faith in the home inspector’s report. Everyone lives by faith – this is an important aspect of life. If your atheist friend had no faith, he couldn’t function in life.
This is a great place to start because when an atheist realizes that they already live by faith, you can begin to discuss the fact that faith is based off of evidence. We believe in God because we have been given enough evidence that we can reasonably believe in His existence. Read “Is God Real?” for a basic list of evidences. When an atheist begins to view their life as a life of faith, it changes the discussion from “science vs. religion” to “which faith do I choose?”. In our humble opinion, this is a good, practical place to start.
My question is how do we know God personally, and what is it like to know Him personally?
Seeking To Understand
Dear Seeking To Understand,
We know God through the Bible. The Bible tells us about God, and it tells us about His Son. The Word of God is so close an embodiment of God’s ideals that Jesus was called ‘the Word’ (Jhn 1:1-4). It is through the Word that we learn to trust God and place our faith in Him (Rom 10:17). When we read Jesus’ Word, we see the mind of the Father and the Son (Jhn 12:49-50).
Is it a sin for a christian to marry a Muslim?
Dear Inter-Faith Marriage,
‘Inter-faith’ marriages have disastrous results, an awful track record, and God warns against them. The Bible’s most notorious example of this is Solomon. Solomon’s idolatrous wives turned the heart of the wisest man on the planet away from God (1 Kgs 11:4). If Solomon in all of his wisdom couldn’t resist the pull of a false religion, we should consider ourselves just as vulnerable. There is too much at stake. If your heart is turned away from God, your soul will be eternally destroyed (Heb 3:12).
No matter how much they love each other, there are only four possible outcomes for an inter-faith marriage, and only one of them is good:
- The Muslim eventually converts and obeys the gospel, becomes a christian, and is saved (GOOD).
- The christian eventually converts and becomes a Muslim, and they are both lost (BAD).
- They both make compromises in their beliefs, and the christian no longer fully serve the Lord (BAD).
- They both eventually renounce both of their belief systems, and are both lost (BAD).
The only positive outcome is the first one, and that isn’t any more likely to happen after you are married than before. Either the Muslim will eventually convert, or they won’t – getting married won’t increase the odds.
God warns against being ‘unequally yoked’ to someone with different values than you (2 Cor 6:14-16). Once you get married, you are ‘yoked’ to that person with a lifetime agreement. A godly marriage is designed around unity (Gen 2:24). If you aren’t unified on your core belief system, then everything else will be affected. Where will your children go to church/mosque? How much money will you contribute to Islam vs. God’s church? What happens when the Muslim wants to put up Koran writings around the house? These are just a few of the thousands of day-to-day problems you would run into. God tells us that a christian should marry someone ‘in the Lord’ (1 Cor 7:39).
Can a demon enter the spirit of a saved christian?
Demons no longer have the power to possess people, but even when they did, they couldn’t possess just any soul. Jesus bound the demons and prevented them from ever again possessing people (read “Exhorting The Exorcist” for details). Furthermore, Jesus taught that a demon needed an “empty home” to possess. If someone filled their lives with good behavior and godly faith, there was no room for a demon to take over. This is what Jesus taught in Matt 12:43-45. Demons never had the power to take over the life of a faithful individual.
Is it wrong for Christian parents to lie to their children about Santa Claus and the Easter bunny, etc.?
The Truth Hurts
Dear The Truth Hurts,
It is always wrong to lie; the question is whether telling your kids about Santa Claus is lying or not. Many christians have many different views on this. Some christians tell their children that Santa is imaginary because they feel that is honest. Other christians allow their children to believe in Santa and simply don’t dissuade them from the notion until they ask point-blank. No matter what, christians must in good conscience do what they believe is honest. Lying is always wrong (Rev 21:8). The debate isn’t over whether or not lying is a sin; the debate is over whether or not allowing your children to believe in something imaginary counts as being deceptive. Each must do what they believe is faithful and right… it would not be good to be too dogmatic on this point.