Jon Noyes answers the question “How should I approach my atheist friends?” in this excerpt from To the Point LIVE: Intelligent Design.
I’m a relational person. So, I just like talking to people and figuring out where they’re at. The best thing about questions is, there’s very little responsibility on you. There’s very little pressure. You’re just on a fact-finding mission. Don’t be annoying with the questions. Try to work them in an authentic and real way. That’s how I do it with my atheist friends. When somebody’s an atheist—like my brother and my sister or my friends, who are atheists who don’t believe in Jesus—when they say something that’s curious to me that I don’t think lines up or is consistent with their worldview, I’ll bring it up, and usually it’s in the form of a question. I really like questions. I don’t bear the burden.
Oftentimes, one of the things that we as Christians do is, we take too much of the burden on ourselves. We are zealous for God, which is really great. I really want to see my family saved. I really want to see them know Jesus. I want them to see Jesus of Nazareth, this man from Nazareth, as I see him, as God. I really want them to know what I know. So, I’m excited to talk to them about it, but oftentimes what happens is, that excitement turns into, all right, now I feel like I have to answer every single question, or I have to back up every single claim that I’m not even making, necessarily.
Oftentimes, people will say stuff to me like, “Jesus never existed.” Sometimes we run into that claim, and we’re just like, “Oh yeah, well here’s Josephus and Tacitus, and here’s the New Testament, and here’s the Old Testament prophecies,” and so on, when instead you can say, “That’s really interesting. Jesus never existed. Do you mean he never existed at all as a human being, or he didn’t exist in the way that I think he existed?” You see how I’m seeking clarity here?
“No, I don’t mean he never existed as a human being. He’s just not who you think he is.”
Oh, okay. “Well, that’s cool. How did you come to that kind of conclusion? What are you basing your opinions on for this matter?”
Instead of me charging in and trying to offer 15 reasons why Jesus is God, I’m now having a conversation with somebody. What I love is that sometimes light bulbs go off. Not that people come around necessarily to our position, but sometimes light bulbs go off and people realize, “Maybe I don’t really know what I’m saying.”