4/28/17 Charles about 30
" I also will ask you one question…" Matt 21
Jesus asked a lot of questions. His famous "Sermon on the Mount" and his parables were full of questions. He was known to speak with the voice of authority, and it's not like he wasn't sure of his message, so why all the questions?
Jesus used a style of teaching that is known as the "Socratic Method". It was made popular by Socrates in ancient Greece, but it was perfected by the carpenter from Nazareth. The Socratic Method uses questions in dialogue to see if one's claims or beliefs can stand up to scrutiny. It works with basic human nature and our tendency to favor talking about our own beliefs rather than being interested in the beliefs of others.
Jesus responded to the self-righteous young man asking about eternal life with a question - "What does the law say?" Evangelist Ray Comfort and team at LivingWaters has rediscovered Jesus' use of questioning as he uses questions about the Ten Commandments to help people on the street see if their deeply-held belief in their own goodness can withstand the scrutiny of God's moral law.
For years now, I have been using good questions and active listening as my primary means of sharing the Gospel and our need for repentance and faith. Recently I had an hour-long conversation at a Starbucks with an unlikely man I'll call "Charles". Because of his same-sex attraction and effeminate mannerisms, he felt judged and rejected by his church and has now entered into the homosexual lifestyle. Because of his mistrust and defensiveness, our conversation would never have gotten off the ground without some good questions and active listening on my part to win his trust and keep the conversation going. I was able to challenge him toward repentance and abstinence without distracting him by being an "angry evangelist".
I try to encourage other Christians to share our faith this way. Unfortunately, it has also been discovered by atheists trying to talk people out of faith. In fact, videos demonstrating this method of converting people to atheism are increasingly popular on YouTube, attracting tens of thousands of viewers. They call it "Street Epistemology". They want to change the image of atheists from angry God-haters to friendly neighborhood skeptics, while converting as many people to atheism in the process as they can.
One series in particular, called "Street Epistemology Tutorial" offers step by step instructions for talking other people out of their faith. Believe it or not, they have a lot of helpful advice on approaching people on the street and quietly getting them to doubt their unexamined beliefs. I was critical when I first saw it, but I had to be honest with myself and say I often try to do the same thing, wanting people to question their deeply held beliefs in their self-righteousness, their unbiblical beliefs about God, their non-Christian religions, their secular disregard for things eternal, and yes, their atheism. Am I copying the methods of atheists? No, I'm copying the One they are copying - the uneducated carpenter from Nazareth.
By the way, I would be remiss if I didn't recommend my own Christian version of the Street Epistemology Tutorial. It's found on my YouTube channel at https://youtu.be/vac-Fn3QkWU, along with dozens of other videos of my street conversations. I have wondered why they don't have the popularity of the atheism videos, but then again, this is nothing new. People have been helping correct false beliefs and sharing the good news of Jesus for generations. Let's not be the generation that drops the ball or allows some misguided atheists to take over!